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[ALL/HP] Wolf Series (end) by:colibri

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发表于 2009-8-16 16:57:30 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
All right, sounds good :D

Summary: After his fifth year, Harry dropped out of his life and spent a year in muggle London's seamy underbelly. In this Part, Remus Lupin finally manages to find him, and Harry must decide whether to give up what little peace he's found and return to Hogwarts. But as usual, events conspire to make Harry's choice for him. Eventually Draco/Harry. Wolf is a six-part series and is complete.
Categories: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy Multi-Chaptered Fics Characters: Albus, Any, Colin, Draco, Harry, Harry/Draco, Hermione, Lucius, Original Character, Remus, Ron, Severus, Voldemort(Tom)
Genres: Romance, Dark Fic, Angst, Supernatural, Horror, First Time, During Hogwarts
Warnings: Sexual Content, BD, Non-con, Violence, Adult Language, OOC-ness, SM, BDSM, Rimming

Wolf—Part I: Where the Long Shadows Fall  by:colibri

Chipping by colibri
Heartfelt and unending gratitude to my beta Erin, and to Flick, who gave me a great deal of helpful advice and encouragement when I was certain I'd never be able to post.

Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter, its characters and settings are the copyrighted works of J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., her publishing companies and affiliates. No profit was made from the writing of this story nor was any malice intended in any way, shape or form to the author or the actors/actresses who so brilliantly have brought them to life. My versions of Rowling's characters would never be sanctioned, but I love them all the same.

And for those who feel ill at the thought of poor Harry using drugs...I agree with you. This story is not primarily about Harry using drugs. Also, I've taken the liberty of reverting to an older style of werewolfery than is common nowadays--back from a time when men were terrified by wolves instead of monstrous men.

Additional warnings: Some characters will die during the course of this six-part fic; but really, doesn't everyone expect a few Death Eaters to die? Also, Harry and Draco's relationship in this fic is a tumultuous one. If you are unable to stomach other (transitory) pairings, this fic will not be for you. If the idea doesn't make you vomit, however; please do give us a try! Finally, the warnings will get more severe as the story progresses. Thank you!

Part I: Where the Long Shadows Fall

1. Chipping

He's uncertain how he got here—doesn't remember, really. Nor does he know where here is. There's only one thing of any import now, and that's the pain. The sick ripping through his gut. The wrenching cramps and shakes. The chills. The dull throb in his head that tells him Something is missing, and You must get more now.

But then he sits himself up, and he knows exactly where he is again. Of course. He's certainly been here long enough. He takes a deep breath and remembers that he has felt worse. Much, much worse. It was in a time not so long ago, though much longer than he can remember clearly at this stage. And the pain isn't as bad as it'll get if he waits too long. Though really, there are much worse kinds of pain.

Luckily, fixing the problem should not be very difficult.

He finds his glasses and pushes them onto his face, then manages to stand with minimal fanfare and avoids tripping over…someone…as he stumbles toward the door. It's hard to tell because whoever it is is on the nod, head lolling forward. He thinks it's Lizzie, from the hair, though others squat here on occasion.

But here's the door. He moves on down the corridor a little ways and knock-knocks. The door opens to the sound of East Enders on the box, he thinks. Because East Enders is always on. And the shining, beautiful face of Stuart, "I love you, Stuart," he says.

"Have you got any money?" asks Stuart, looking a bit embarrassed, but also a bit put out and not extremely sympathetic.

He checks his pocket knowing the answer to that question without really having to think. "Two quid," he admits, though it sounds much more pathetic than what he should have said, which was 'no'.

"Then all the love in the world is not going to help you, Harry.” He says it apologetically, but not very.

Normally, he loves the way Stuart says his name, all whispered-like, the 'ah' very high, palatal, (like a girl would say). It reminds him of someone comforting, but not enough so to make him uncomfortable. That is a good thing, because his stomach is beginning to cramp again. "Quid pro quo, Stu? Give us a break?"

"You're only a number, but I'm fucking you more than my bloke, lately. No more trade. Need money as well, righ'?"

"Bloody fuck," he mutters under his breath, leaning against the jamb and deciding Stuart is neither shining nor particularly beautiful. In fact, he is thinking Stuart is likely the biggest bitch he has ever known, and part of him realises that that is saying quite a lot.

"And if you don't mind my saying—which I know you do," Stuart continues, still sounding embarrassed, his femmy lisp annoying Harry no end, "it would likely be best all 'round if you'd ride it out for a bit, and use your next tenner on food. You're withering, Harry. Really. It's not pretty in the slightest."

"Really?" he drawls in reply, and that reminds him of something, too, from another life. "I thought waifish was all the rage."

"I'm waifish," says Stuart. "You're skeletal. Get some food, Harry."


"It's only because I care," says Stuart with a smirk. "If you get your dashing good looks back, I may be interested in another trade," Stu finishes before slamming the door in his face, though not unkindly.

His retaliatory kick is less kind, his frustration a palpable thing, rushing through his veins. Fear. But it's cold and hard, the opposite of H. It is flaring and brightly coloured, instead of warm and brown. H is dark and quiet—lacking in distraction, in confusion, in responsibility. "Bleeding cunt," he murmurs, but there's nothing for it. He leaves Stuart's door and moves toward the building's egress.

* * *

He is thinking that Stuart was right, because he can't recall the loose stones hurting his knobbly knees like this before, and because the amount of money he's accepting for this is really rather pathetic. The prick in his mouth is only mostly-hard, though that has nothing to do with his own skills, which he knows are extensive. If they are no longer impressive to his circle, it is only because his circle comprises only bitches and cunts, all of whom are jaded. Besides, they are even more experienced than he is. He has only been tricking for…well, he thinks it's less than a year. And not steadily, because no matter what Stuart says, the man used to guard him jealously. And though he still had to work the johns for lodging, Stuart used to always supply his drugs in trade. It is another reason he suspects Stuart was right. If Stuart no longer wishes to keep him as pet, then he will have to start working for real if he wants to keep riding. He has far too many demons to keep at bay to go straight.

He swallows convulsively, wishing sperm had as much nutrition as mythology purports, and accepts the tenner without getting up. The john is gone by the time he catches his feet again, and it takes a monumental act of will to find his way to a food shop instead of going back to beg Stu. He buys the wilting carrots and apples that are about to go to compost, because they only cost a pound for the lot. He spends a fiver on cheese and digestives, because they have a lot of calories and some fibre, and Stu says if he's not careful, he'll get piles, which will mean definitely no trade.

He heads back home with his remaining six quid burning a hole in his pocket and wonders how long he'll have to wait before Stu will relent. He doesn't bother going inside his room, just to the loo where he uses the toilet before returning to the sink to wash his carrots and apples. Then he sits beside his door where Lizzie is still riding inside and tries not to wish he was her while he eats first an apple, then gorges on another before eating a carrot and forcing down a digestive. He has to wait another quarter of an hour before he's able to eat a bit of the cheese and then he only feels sick. He forces himself not to vomit, because hasn't the quid to waste. And he needs to get pretty again.

He swipes at a few beads of sweat that have dripped down his cheeks and wishes he were dead.

* * *

He almost smiles at the double-take, feeling better than he has in a long while. (Well, days at least.) He's not certain what feels better, the memory of lust in Stuart's eyes, or the mildness of his withdrawal lately. Not that it was ever bad. Stuart had insisted he wasn't that much of an addict, and that his problem was merely a desperate psychological need. He didn't much care what had been causing the sickness, as long as he could ride as much as he needed to and still feel this good when he wasn't. Stuart said there was a fine art to chipping. He thought maybe Stuart was prone to a bit of overstatement.

But now he's stalking his next john, and this one looks very promising, if the ravenous glint in his eyes is any indication—the lick of dry lips, the dilation of pupils. But no, the small scowl, the slackening of jaw. Not good. "Harry?" whispered in disbelief, in tones that rip through his gut like the worst withdrawal he's ever experienced. He thinks perhaps he is going to vomit and it doubles him over in pain. This is a shame, because what he'd really like to do just now is run. "Dear god," in a voice that sounds hoarse from…screaming, perhaps.

He is wheezing now, and seeing spots. He knows that in moments, he will faint, and he will be left here for all the world to see. But there is nothing he can do. He is already falling to his knees. And Remus Lupin's hazel-coloured eyes are wide and fearful above him when he finally loses consciousness.

* * *

He is awakened by his own moan, and wonders why he'd had the idea that he'd been feeling better lately. There is a vague memory of being thoroughly fucked, and later, of being watched while he shot up. Stuart wanking leisurely and enjoying the view. A stronger recollection of snapping off the tourniquet and settling back into the sofa, living the rush, and of Stuart coming on his face and chest, then licking it off slowly. He remembers settling back for the calm and quiet, letting his limbs grow heavy and unimportant. His legs, his arms, his head. His chest. "Stu…?" he says now into the darkness, and thinks that the last lot must have been very, very clean, because he barely feels sick at all. How long has he been lying here?

"Harry," whispered, but with urgency. "You're awake."

The light is dim but has a warmth that fluorescents and incandescent bulbs simply never manage. Then there's also the crackling sound. Flames. Memory rushes in to replace his calm with dread. It's not nearly as pleasant as H. "Professor," he says and notes that Lupin remains several paces away, wringing his hands and looking not nearly so shabby as he once had, though still drawn. Wan. Used up, he thinks, and is reminded of Stuart again. Of what Stuart had said about him.

"Oh Harry, what's happened to you?"

He blinks and realises he has no idea what to say to that. He realises almost a minute later that the incredibly unsettling sound he hears is his own laughter, and manages only to still that sound after a full minute of trying. "However did you find me?" he asks, instead.

"Pure dumb luck," is the answer, and it is obvious that Lupin has been asking himself the same question, if only to be prepared for this very occasion. The question, of course, was inevitable. "I'd given up for the night, actually. I was feeling restless—I'd gone for a walk."

"Not the nicest neighbourhood for a promenade," he replies, an understatement, of course. He raises an eyebrow.

"I'm less noticeable in places like that," Lupin says, smiling sadly. "My health…." but he leaves it there, to float between them. Lupin's disease, for lack of a better term, makes him look like an addict. No one would look twice in this quarter.

"Are we near…where you found me, Professor?" He doesn't wish to say 'home' in front of Lupin.

"Very, yes," Lupin says. "Two streets over. I've hired a room."

Harry sits very, very quietly indeed, fighting himself, fighting the past. Fighting his tongue. Losing. "Why are you here??" he finally spits, an anger as hot as any flame burning his gut and into his throat. "Why couldn't you bloody well leave me alone??" And he has, at some point, gained his feet. He refuses to feel foolish for it, and he refuses to start pacing. He refuses to look away from Lupin's glowing eyes. Do they always glow that way? Or is it simply the firelight?

Lupin doesn't answer straight away, but to his credit, he does answer within seconds. "Professor Dumbledore sent me," he admits. "We've been searching for you for months—since we found out that you were no longer at your aunt and uncle's."

Harry blinks. He doesn't really understand.

"You were supposed to write. And you did, though after a short time you no longer sounded very enthusiastic. Then you suddenly stopped. We thought you'd simply lost interest, since it seemed the Dursleys were doing nothing at all to hinder you to that point. After a fortnight, we finally contacted the Dursleys via telephone, and found out that you had run away. We've been searching for you ever since."

"That has got to be shite," he seethes, his skin flushing with helplessness, hopelessness, and anger. "You're trying to tell me you've all been searching for me for months and haven't managed to find me? That's rubbish, it is!"

"You left no clues, Harry! You took no money from your accounts... How should we have guessed you'd be turning tricks in an alley in blackest muggle London?? And shooting up! You've tracks all over your arms!" It seems that Lupin, too, can lose his temper, though with him it is more like an explosion of accusation that immediately dissipates, leaving the man even more weary and used up than before.

"Not just the arms," Harry says, managing to feign boredom. "Want to see others?" He's not as bad as some. Lizzie's worse, and Nicholas has several collapsed veins at any given time. But Harry has tracks on his thighs as well, and between his toes. He recalls one particularly lovely morning where Stu shot him up in the thigh, then licked the chill away. Sucked him off to peak with the rush. He can tell he's smiling by the horrified look on Lupin's face. Either that, or Lupin didn't like his offer. "I won't show you, then," he says with a shrug. "I certainly don't care."

"Harry—" but Lupin is obviously at a loss.

Culture shock, he thinks and has to stifle a giggle.

"Please come back to us," Lupin finally says, and there is an air of desperation about him. Hope and despair somehow perfectly mingled to a nearly deadly poignancy.

He wonders if there is some way to bottle that and sell it. He could be rich. He'd never be straight again. "Why should I come back, Professor?" he asks, mainly because he has no real desire to return, but also because he wants to watch Lupin's face for a while longer. He can't recall ever thinking the man so delectable before. Sweet suffering, and for once, it's not his own. He wonders what day it is.

"Because we love you, Harry, and we care about you…. You're dying here."

"I'm dying more slowly than I ever was at Hogwarts, Professor," and even saying that name feels like being stabbed in the gut, which hasn't actually happened to him per se, but he was stabbed in the shoulder once and that hadn't been particularly pleasant, "what with the way I kept having to face off against old Voldemort every blasted year. I mean, really. I'm only sixteen." Nearly seventeen, though. He wonders what time it is, and how long he's been here. He wonders whether Lupin has any money he'd be willing to part with. He wonders whether he'd be able to liberate some money without being overwhelmed by guilt, knowing that Lupin is destitute. He decides he has not yet sunk that low.

"Please, Harry. You're still in danger outside of Hogwarts—"

"I'm in danger inside Hogwarts!" Harry interrupts. "It's my destiny, to be in danger, Professor. It's my lot in life, to be miserable, then be a murderer or a victim. Neither of us can live, Professor, while the other survives. I can do naught but survive, and barely, until I am slain by Voldemort's hand. I am the walking dead, Professor, and everyone's 'love', whatever that means, cannot change it!"

Lupin looks as though he has been slapped, or perhaps kicked in the face. He seems to recall only vaguely the concept of breathing, and that is only in fits and starts. He stares at Harry and it is still very clear that he does not understand what is happening—what is being said. It occurs to Harry that Lupin likely does not know the prophecy, but that is of no consequence. Harry didn't mention that his words were from the prophecy. Besides, he's not entirely certain he wouldn't prefer for Voldemort to simply come kill him already, since he can't really afford the heroin. Not the way he looks now, even though he looks better than he did.

He is distracted by Lupin's sudden animation, by the jerky retreat as the man goes into his satchel and pulls out a phial. He watches as Lupin drinks it all down in a single breath and grimaces, then sighs tiredly and stoppers the empty phial before returning it to his satchel.

"What's that?" Harry asks, always curious nowadays about anything that looks like a drug. Not that he's found anything he likes as much as H. One never knows what the next great thing will be.

"Wolfsbane Potion," Lupin replies dully, his back facing Harry as he stares at one of the few candles lighting the room. "Tomorrow night is the change. Next three nights."

Harry blinks, surprised to realise that he had forgotten. He'd forgotten that Lupin's lycanthropy actually meant changing into a werewolf for three nights every moon. "Right," Harry says and sits back down on the bed, only now noticing he'd awakened on the bed earlier, not a sofa. Not that it mattered. The room is tiny, and aside from a single chair and table, there is only the bed.

"I wish I could convince you to come back with me, Harry," Lupin says, sounding even more defeated now than he had before. "But I can't force you."

Something about Lupin's particular…lot…makes Harry feel guilty. And sympathetic. "I will think about it, all right?" he says, not daring to look. He stares at his own lap, then lets his eyes close. It's getting very, very late. He's tired, and he needs to eat. He can't recall whether he has any food, but he's still got another hit hidden away at home. He can suddenly think of nothing else. "I have to go now," he says and stands.

He can't remember how he got onto the street, but he needs to orient himself for several seconds before he knows the way home again. He's very annoyed that he'd not managed to hook a john tonight when he only has one hit left. He's not using thrice a day any longer, but it's comforting to know where the next hit is coming from. He can go a whole day straight now, as long as he has a hit waiting.

"Alrigh'?" comes a voice that isn't Stuart's.

"All right?" Harry answers, catching a look at Lizzie's face. She's sitting in the corridor outside the room, a fag burning to ash between her trembling fingers. The corridor's sickly lighting only emphasizes the dark bruises under her eyes. She's skeletal. Harry thinks she might have been pretty once, but she hasn't been in quite a long while, now. Certainly not since Harry has lived here. She's very sweet though. She pulls the fag to her lips and drags deeply. It seems likely the biggest expansion her lungs ever feel now is when she's smoking. Her breathing has become noisy lately, and sometimes she coughs like she's drowning. Harry can't remember ever seeing her eat, though he knows she must. "Hungry?" he asks, thinking that perhaps reminding her that food exists will make her want some.

"No, thanks," she says with a smile, her teeth crooked and yellowed, the ones she has left, which is most—but not all—of them. "I'm fine," she says.

Harry doesn't bother trying to persuade her. "All right, then," he says. "I'm going to eat."

She nods contentedly and takes another drag, the smoke rattling its way into her lungs. Harry thinks she may be dying. He thinks she may have pneumonia. He also thinks death may be a blessing for her. He walks into the room and finds Nicholas nodding in the far corner, a needle still stuck in his arm. He fights the twinge of want and makes his way to the cupboard, where he finds ramen noodles in a cellophane pack and pulls out a saucepan. He goes through the ritual of preparing the soup—lighting the hob, filling the water, breaking the noodles in. He ducks into the refrigerator to pull out vegetables, which this week means wilted cabbage and rubbery carrots. One leaf of cabbage will do, he decides, then cuts a carrot into the pot as well. He is rather certain his circle would rib him for eating this way but it has helped, and he can't afford bacon and eggs, (nor fryers and bread nor…well, much of anything, really), and he hasn't got piles yet, unlike Nicholas, who’s had all sorts of health problems. He steps a bit away from the boiling pot as it fogs up his glasses.

"Nicky, are you hungry?" he asks absently, because it can never hurt to be courteous. But Nicholas doesn't answer, which is as Harry expected. In fact, it appears that Nicholas hasn't moved, and Harry thinks it may be decent of him to remove the needle from Nicky's arm, and get rid of the thing, really. It'd be a great service to the bloke to remove the tourniquet as well, since it's difficult to get the rush when the blood flow is stopped. He turns off the hob and lets the soup sit while he moves over to Nicky and cocks his head…frowns a bit. The tourniquet looks a bit loose, so Nicky must not have been all there when he started. Still, that's not what gets Harry's attention.

It's the stillness of the figure. Harry blinks, then turns away, back to his soup, because he doesn't need to look at Nicky again to know he is dead. Even with Nicky’s eyes closed, the resemblance to Cedric is unmistakable. Harry gets a plastic fork out of the drawer and sits down next to the cold radiator. He eats the noodles and vegetables out of the pot. Then he drinks the salty broth.

When he enters the corridor again, Lizzie is gone. He walks right down the steps and outside, turns left and goes two streets over. A right, and he enters the small, dimly lit anteroom of the motel, where he takes the stairs up to the first floor—to room 101. He knocks.

Harry says nothing when the door opens, but neither does Lupin, so everything seems all right. He enters and Lupin closes the door behind him. "You can share the bed with me, if you wish," says Lupin, since there's not really enough space on the floor for either of them to lie down in, much less another piece of furniture. It seems hardly to matter, what with the both of them being fully clothed anyway. Harry waits for Lupin to lie back down, then slips off his shoes and crawls into the bed beside him, welcoming the warmth of another body, and the lack of expectation. He pulls off his glasses and places them on the floor next to the bed, just slightly under it, so he won't step on them accidentally later.

He does not notice the silent transition into sleep.

Stillness by colibri
Chapter 2. Stillness

"Are you hungry?"

Harry pulls on his glasses. He'd not noticed Lupin getting out of bed, but the man is sitting at the small table now, on its single chair, eating eggs on toast. Harry can recall a time he would have eaten three or four times as much as is on Lupin's foam plate. The memory, however, is vague. "A little," he admits, though the sight of the food makes him feel a bit ill.

"You can have the rest," Lupin offers, pushing the plate across the small, circular table, its rough wood polished over black pits and pock-marks. "I'm full."

"Thanks," Harry says and crawls out of the bed. He rubs his forehead a little, his cheeks. He reaches under his glasses to rub the sleep from his eyes, then lets them settle again. He takes the foam plate and starts to shovel cool eggs into his mouth with a wedge of toast. Then he eats the toast. By the time he is finished, his stomach is protesting the heaviness slightly, but is otherwise relatively pleased. "What are you doing today?" he asks.

Lupin is watching him but not staring. Merely watching quietly, calmly. Assessing, perhaps. "I must remain here during the full moon," he says. "After that, I'll return to Hogwarts, to tell Dumbledore that I've found you."

"Are you going to tell him where I am?" Harry asks.

Lupin does not answer right away. "I was hoping that your arrival in the wee hours of the morning signified a change of heart, Harry. But if it doesn't, I will not tell the Headmaster where you are. Not if you do not wish it."

Harry drops the now empty plate into the bin, then picks up Lupin's fork from the table and drops that in as well. "I think, perhaps," he murmurs, not entirely certain he wishes to hear what he, himself, has to say just now, "that I don't belong here anymore than I belonged at Hogwarts."

Lupin does not answer, though he looks away from Harry's face and begins to scrutinize his own hands. Harry sees this through his own lashes, as he is not looking directly at Lupin either.

"It seems that people die everywhere," Harry continues into the silence, "and it seems there is rarely any good reason for it."

Lupin nods minutely, and only once, but it is enough. There is a certain set to his head, a certain rigidity of posture, that speaks of decisions and resolutions. Strength, perhaps.

"I think it may be more worth my time to suffer at Hogwarts, and get free food." But he will miss the H. He refuses to admit that the drug has started scaring him. He is comforted by the knowledge that his last hit is tucked safely into his jacket pocket, along with a clean, cellophane-wrapped needle he got at the exchange. He's beginning to think that food, however, may be nearly as nice.

"We'll leave after the full moon, then," Lupin says, and that's that. "We'll need to use muggle transport as far as King's Cross," he says. "Dumbledore has forbidden us to use any unnecessary magics."

Harry shrugs. He hasn't used any magic in ages. His wand was left, along with all of his school supplies and most of his (admittedly few) belongings, at the Dursleys'. The Dursleys hardly seem real to him anymore. Very little does, actually. "Will you come and find me when we're to return?" he asks.

"You may remain with me if you wish, Harry. There is no reason to return to…"

He obviously cannot think of what to call Harry's new home. The home in which Harry has lived for…he's uncertain, but likely the better part of a year, now. "Are you certain you wish for me to remain during the change, Professor?" he asks quietly, respectfully. There are some days Harry would like nothing less than for someone to watch him shooting up. Other days, he can't be arsed to think about it.

"You're welcome to stay, Harry," Lupin says, his demeanour thawing slightly, as though he is only now realising that Harry has agreed to return with him to Hogwarts.

Harry himself has not quite understood that yet.

"But I will not force you to remain. As long as you do not stray too far, I will find you when we are ready to return. All right?"

Harry nods, then looks about, the silence flowing into the space between them, transparent but viscous. It makes time seem too thick to move through—inertia suddenly insurmountable. "What day is it?" says a voice Harry can barely hear. He knows it is his own, because Lupin would not have asked the question, and because Harry has been wondering.

"It's June 18th. Wednesday."

Harry is surprised, though he is certain he shouldn't be. He's missed his entire sixth year. He feels like the year has simply disappeared before his very eyes. He recalls so very little of it. He then thinks that that had been the point. He'd got through an entire year without facing Voldemort. He could not regret that, even if he were to try. Which he doesn't. He nods instead, then says, "I think I'll nap for a bit."

"Would you like to go and pick up more food? There wasn't much breakfast, I know."

Harry shrugs. "Not really hungry. I'd really rather…" and he gestures vaguely at the bed.

"There's a toilet down the corridor if you like. And a bath. I've soap."

Ah, now there is a novel idea. Bathing. "That would be nice," he admits, as much to himself as to Lupin, and soon he is headed down the corridor toward the loo, trying not to get his hopes up that there will be hot water. There is very little hot water back at the house, but he rarely thinks of bathing anyway. Unless he's trying to pull some trade out of Stuart.

The room is small and dark, until he pulls the cord above, lighting the single incandescent which hangs starkly naked above his head. It leaves white circles burned onto his retinas, haloed by electric blue, and he stares at one of the brownish-cream walls until the colours morph and fade. The floor is of cream, brown, and grey tile, the individual squares no more than an inch to a side. There is an old-fashioned standalone bath in white porcelain and a handheld shower nozzle. He turns on the water to fill the basin, then locks the door. He hangs the towel Lupin has given him on a hook near the shower, then strips efficiently, his feet meeting the cool tile. His glasses go on the hand-basin ledge. He holds the bar of soap in his hand as he steps into the bath, gives a hiss, then adjusts the cold water tap up. The water is nearly scalding hot, and he waits several minutes in discomfort until the water is bearable and as high as his calves before sitting. He leans forward, resting his forehead against a knobbly knee. He waits for the basin to fill.

Provisions by colibri
Part I
3. Provisions

It is less than an hour later when he returns, he is certain of it. Professor Lupin is sitting cross-legged on the single chair, reading from a tome Harry feels is just on the far side of overlarge, for a mobile man. Perhaps Lupin keeps little else in his satchel. That book and his potions. Toiletries. "I left my toothbrush at…" he says and finds himself drifting off. He does not say 'home'. He does not say ‘the house'. He simply says nothing.

Lupin does not startle at the sound of Harry's voice. He places a frayed ribbon between delicate, yellowed pages, then closes the volume gently and lays it on the table. "We can go shopping if you like," he offers.

So they do. They purchase a toothbrush and a new tube of paste to share, because Lupin is running out. Deodorant, shaving foam, disposable razors. A small bottle of shampoo. And a travel purse to keep it all in. A three-pack of pants in extra small—black boxer-briefs. They're dear, but Harry has been assured that Lupin has been given money for this very purpose. Harry doubts Lupin means purchasing underpants, but does not argue.

Later, as they stop at a cafe for a cream tea, Lupin murmurs discreetly that he has owled the Headmaster and informed him of their plans to return to Hogwarts. Harry only manages one scone with clotted cream and half a cuppa before he is forced to admit defeat. He sits and swirls the tea whilst waiting for Lupin to finish eating. He wraps the remaining scone in a serviette and places it gently in his sack of purchases. For later.

They stroll along the pavement in a silence too filled with contemplation to be comfortable. But neither is it particularly uncomfortable. For Harry, it is as if he is walking alone, perhaps attempting to memorize these final few moments of freedom, before he is returned to his fate. His mutinous mind travels to the baser realities of the situation. He has only one hit left. If he uses it today, he will have to get another, and that will mean either going back to Stuart, or finding another dealer. Switching dealers is dangerous and desperate. He cannot possibly know the quality. Besides, he hasn't the quid just now. So he will not allow himself to dwell on the future, nor his lot, nor any bleeding prophecy. He will simply walk along beside his former professor and allow the din to wash over him as he looks into the windows of various and sundry bookshops, record shops, tobacconists, pubs…. They purchase nothing more.

They return to the room by 7 in the evening, and Lupin locks the door. He takes his dose of Wolfsbane and sits down at the table to read, and to wait.

Harry sits down on the bed with his purchases, sets the soggy scone aside, and begins to peel off price labels and rip off tags. He then places everything in the new purse except the scone, which he reaches to place on the table, and zips the purse closed. He deposits it on the floor next to the bed and pulls off his shoes, his socks. His shirt. His trousers. He crawls into the bed and murmurs, "Goodnight, Professor," before sinking into oblivion.

* * *

He is awakened hours later by a whining coming from the foot of the bed, whereon lies curled a wolf. The room has gone dark but for a single incandescent lamp on the table that Harry does not recall having seen before. The wolf is only dreaming and soon quiets again, though it whines several times and makes abortive running movements with its legs before Harry falls, once again, into sleep. When he awakens in the morning, the room is empty but for himself, though by the time he returns from his morning bath, Lupin has returned with breakfast. Lupin does not look well, but Harry has seen him looking this haggard before.

Lupin pulls the table closer to the bed, then gestures for Harry to sit there while he takes the chair. Between them, Lupin has set a foam container of pub breakfast, including eggs, bangers, black pudding, roasted tomatoes, and mushrooms, everything shining slick with grease. Lupin rips a brown paper sack open to form an impromptu plate, and inside are fresh baps, one for each of them. Harry snags one and tears it open with a plastic knife. He uses a plastic fork to fill it with eggs, then spears a banger. A bite of egg sandwich, a bite of sausage. He manages half of the sandwich that way, then gives up on the sausage to eat all but one of the tomatoes. Then he is full. "Alrigh'?" he asks, because he has just realised that they've not spoken a word since Harry fell asleep last night.

Lupin seems taken aback. His mouth is full of black pudding and he has his own bap in his hand, not more than a single bite remaining. He has to swallow before he can speak. "Pardon?" he asks.

"Did you sleep well, Professor?" Harry asks instead, trying to enunciate more clearly than has been his wont lately. He is surprised that he doesn't sound more like Stuart when he does—all lispy and femmy.

"Oh, yes. Thank you," Lupin replies, studying Harry, though with a hint of shyness, it seems. "You know that you can call me Remus, Harry," he says.

Harry thinks for a moment, then nods. "I'm sorry," he says, because he simply hadn't thought of it. He has no particular desire for another friend, even if Remus had already been his friend, once. Not like Hermione and Ron, but…and thoughts like that are right out. Only, they seem to open the floodgates. "School has already let out for the summer hols," he blurts.

"Yes," Lupin agrees. "You missed your sixth year at Hogwarts."

"I missed my sixth year," Harry agrees. He leans back on the bed, resting on his elbows, and is suddenly reminded that Remus is a man. He already knows that Remus finds him attractive. Remus also finds him criminally young and unapproachably damaged. The very thought deflates Harry's libido in a heartbeat. "What's on the agenda for today, then, Professor?" he asks.

Lupin sighs. "Stay out of trouble. Two more nights, then we go. Have you anything…you need to retrieve…? Any belongings?"

"I'd rather not go back there," Harry says and leaves it. "Nothing important," he decides to add, for the sake of clarity. The only thing that could get him to go back there now is Stuart's supply, and even that has not yet proven sufficient motivation.

"Perhaps we should purchase additional clothing for you," Lupin says, his eyes travelling critically over Harry's threadbare ensemble.

Harry quirks an eyebrow. "I'd say you're hardly one to talk, Remus. Your clothing is in an even sorrier state than mine."

"Yes, well," Lupin says, huffing up a bit in defensiveness.

"It's not my quid either, right?" Harry says. "You may as well purchase something with it as well."

"I'd really rather not," Lupin says, obviously pained by the mere thought.

They end up shopping together at a second-hand store, spending hours there, and both of them manage to find jeans and several t-shirts that are in good condition. Lupin even finds a grey button-down shirt that fits him perfectly. Harry picks up a rucksack large enough to carry all of his new clothing and the toiletries purse as well. Lupin pays for everything using the muggle money given him by Dumbledore or the Ministry or whomever it is that has ordered this search for Harry.

Afterward, they stop in at one of the booksellers they passed the day before, and spend over an hour in there as well. Lupin leaves with a book of H. C. Andersen fairy tales, while Harry finds a book of the collected works of Edgar Allen Poe. Later, when they arrive back to the room, Harry finds that the book does not fit in the rucksack with everything else. But that's all right. He eats the slightly drier, slightly more stale scone from yesterday and falls asleep reading.

That night, the dreams finally start up again, and he is awakened by the wet, slightly raspy tongue of a wolf lapping at his cheek. His scar is searing itself into his skull, and he is surprised it doesn't illumine the wolf's eyes where they stare concernedly at him from his lap. "Only a nightmare," Harry murmurs and finds himself petting the creature, scratching behind its ears. Hugging it close. But Lupin's wolf is nowhere near as friendly and playful and cuddly as Sirius's Padfoot had been.

Sirius. Harry gasps for breath, the name a clanging, jangling knell echoing disorientingly through the corridors of his mind, and pushes the wolf out of his lap. Sirius is dead, Sirius dead, Siriussiriussirius…. He is still fully clothed and he pulls off his t-shirt on the way to his jacket, which hangs on a hook on the back of the door. Preparations. Ritual. It suppresses the screeching inside his head. He pulls out his single remaining hit, the cellophane-wrapped needle. A lighter. He grabs a candle from the floor and plops it on the table, then sits down in the chair. Unwraps the needle with shaking hands and forces himself to take several deep, cleansing breaths. He can do this with hands trembling much worse than they are, but he'd rather have them steady. He lights the candle and turns distractedly to the wolf. "Shut it!" he hisses. He finds Lupin's book and opens it, takes the worn ribbon and uses it to tie a tourniquet on his left arm. He gives a silent prayer of thanks to whomever is listening that he's got at least one good vein on his left arm, since he's abstained for so many days now. He's actually had time to heal. He opens the foil packet. He'll use it, since he hasn't a spoon.

The cooking takes much, much longer than it should, but he's experienced that before as well. Anticipation. He ignores the whining sounds coming from his feet. He considers kicking the animal out, then realises he might have some trouble with that. In the end, it doesn't matter. The animal does not interfere.

He pulls off the tourniquet, and soon the last of his most valuable possession is painting his veins brown. He feels warm and alive again, then peaceful, and forgets what has driven him to ride. He stares at the candle's flame until his eyes close, and his head grows too heavy to hold up any longer. He no longer thinks of Sirius, he no longer feels the scar, and if he dreams of Voldemort, he does not remember it when he wakes.

Quid Pro Quo by colibri
Part I
4. Quid Pro Quo

Harry awakens in the bed and he feels…well, a bit like shite, and a bit like arse, and, perhaps, a bit like a pair of kicked bollocks, (though not recently kicked). Lupin is staring out the window looking about as good as Harry feels. Until Harry recalls that he's used his only remaining hit last night, and feels immediately worse.

Harry gets out of bed and Lupin does not acknowledge his presence, which really doesn't bother Harry in the slightest. He has more important things to take care of, so he pulls the toiletries purse out of his rucksack and heads to the loo, where he does his business and makes himself about as attractive as he can, given the raw material he has to work with. A couple of days of food have done wonders, though, and he looks…waifish. And certainly not his age. Stuart is a chicken-hawk. Harry looks at the new track on his arm and thinks it doesn't look too bad.

Back to the room where he pulls on a new pair of pants, his new jeans, and a t-shirt that blazons Siouxie and the Banshees across the front along with a faded photo of the band. Finally, the jacket, and he notices that the last of his supplies are not in the bin. "What did you do with my needle?" he asks.

"You shouldn't leave your bodily fluids lying about for others to appropriate," Lupin says, but nothing further, so Harry leaves.

Back at the house, it is as if nothing has changed. That means that Stuart took care of Nicholas somehow. Harry uses his key, then goes to knock on Stu's door. It's early enough that Harry has no doubt Stuart will be there. He is not disappointed.

"Harry, luv," Stuart says, his eyes lighting up. A fag hangs precariously from his lips when he smiles, smoke curling over one of his blue eyes. "Where've you been, then?"

Harry shrugs. "Came home to Nicholas…. Needed some time."

Understanding flashes across Stuart's face, then a hand comes up to take the smoke out of his mouth. He pinches a piece of tobacco from his tongue and squints at Harry. "All right, luv?" he asks.

Harry tries to keep his eyes from tearing and he manages that, but his eyebrows still draw close and he looks pained. He can see this from the answering pain in Stuart's face. "All right?" he replies.

"Aw, Harry," Stuart says and pulls Harry into his embrace. Pulls Harry inside the flat, where Stuart's boyfriend Richard is watching the box and smoking.

"Alrigh', mate?" Richard offers distractedly.

"Yeah, all right?" Harry returns, to be courteous.

Stu draws Harry into the kitchen and leans against the counter. The space is only just large enough for the two of them and a table. It's moderately filthy, but not criminally so. It's usually cleaner, but Stuart doesn't bother cleaning when Richard is over. "Nicholas was an addict," Stuart says crisply. "That is why I told you not to become an addict. I helped you."

Harry nods.

Stuart draws Harry into his arms again.

"I'm leaving," Harry says quietly, but clearly. His voice sounds small and high and reminds him of Stuart in this moment.

"Leaving?" Stuart says and draws back again.

"Yeah. Returning to Scotland."

"Scotland??" Stuart says, obviously floored by this news. "But you're not Scottish!"

"Yeah. I go to school there. Used to. I'm going back. I can't speak of it, Stu, but…" He takes a deep, fortifying breath. "Look, I've got 30 quid." He leaves it there, hanging between them. It's not even close to enough. He'd need more than twice that much for straight payment. But he's hoping.

Stuart sighs mightily. He finishes his fag and stubs it out in the sink with a tiny hissing sound. "You are absolutely the worst bloody investment ever, you know that?"

"For old times?" Harry whispers, though he'd not meant to sound so weak. So desperate.

"Richard wants you. If you spend the day with us, we'll call it quid pro quo. Right?"

Harry nods yes. He's never been given to Richard before, but it doesn't bother him. It's only another cock. And Stuart will be there.

And he will have another hit.

Lycanthropy by colibri
Part I
Chapter 5: Lycanthropy

When Harry leaves the house, he is both hard-ridden and riding. He shuffles along the pavement in the moonlit darkness and cannot recall what it was like, being taken by both of them. He was given some very clean H sometime in the very beginning, and when he left, he was given enough for two more trips, to see him on his way. And two clean needles as well, because Stuart is very fond of drilling his circle on safety. Harry is feeling comfortably numb when he is met by a soot-coloured wolf growling in the centre of the street, and is very glad he is stoned. "There isn’t much you can do about it now," he says to the animal and turns to bypass it. Tomorrow they leave, tonight he only wants to crawl into bed and sleep.

Then the wolf bays. The sound is both gleeful and chilling, and Harry finds himself paralysed. The wolf is before him again, showing a jaw full of glistening teeth. Harry has only a single moment of clarity—Moony isn't black—before the animal pounces, and sinks its razor-sharp teeth into Harry's side, through his t-shirt. A few moments of shock pass before Harry's switch-knife is in hand, then ripping at the animal's side. Again. Again. And Harry is running with a speed borne of desperation and likely adrenaline. He makes it to Lupin's room and is grateful the door is unlocked. He bolts it behind himself, panting and in a cold sweat.

Inside, Moony is baring his teeth, his hackles raised, and Harry is terrified he may be attacked again. Until he hears the whining. Moony seems to understand what has happened. Harry pulls off the jacket with trembling hands and hangs it on the hook. He pulls off his t-shirt and inspects the wound. It is…severe. "It's fortuitous," he says with no small amount of shaky amusement, "that heroin is an anaesthetic," and he takes his toiletries kit to the loo. He bathes, then returns to the room and rips up one of his new t-shirts to use as a bandage. He is tempted to use another hit, but decides it would be unforgivably wasteful at this stage, especially since he’s so close to passing out anyway. He crawls into bed.

* * *

Harry barely wakes when he is gathered into Lupin's arms, both of them still on the bed. He cannot understand the words Lupin is saying, but that's mainly because he does not care. He knows only that after a moment, there is the somehow still familiar feeling of a portkey dragging him away from his reality and dumping him unceremoniously somewhere else, where he immediately retches, though his stomach is predictably empty. He swallows down the bile and thinks it always burns much worse going down than it does coming up. His stomach is cramping. His side is on fire.

"…emergency…" he hears from Lupin, but it is of little consequence.

He is in a place that is at once alien and familiar. He has been here too many times before not to recognize it, and it holds surprisingly few negative memories. Still, Harry is in pain, and the hospital wing does remind him of that. "Did you bring my things?" he manages and his voice sounds rough. He remembers hours of sex with Dick and Stu and thinks he may have screamed quite a lot. He remembers bared fangs and thinks he may have screamed then as well.

"Hush, Harry," Lupin murmurs. "I brought everything. No need to worry now. Only rest while Madam Pomfrey tends your wounds."

He is given a sleeping draught, and promptly does.

* * *

In and out of consciousness, he slips. Time flies or crawls, but Harry does not mark its passing. Presences come and go, but he does not mark them either. He simply drifts on.

* * *

"…from the bite." The voice is familiar.

"No," equally familiar. "I think he's waking. Harry?"

Harry wants nothing more than to retreat from that sound. Those voices. But his side is a fiery mass of pain and tensing his abdominal muscles only makes it worse. "Unfortunately, yes," he rasps.

"Oh, Harry!" and he is enveloped in a hug that has…well, decidedly more hug in it than it should have had, if memory serves him. But memory often doesn’t serve him these days.

"I am getting so tired of the bloody tragedy in everyone's voices when they say my name," he says acidly, and Hermione stiffens against him for a moment, before relaxing herself slowly, and pulling away.

"Well, you've been missing for a year, mate," says Ron, whose voice has deepened so much Harry is surprised he still recognizes it. He has to look very high up indeed to find Ron's face. "And the first we see of you is in the hospital wing."

True to form, Harry thinks. He is starting to think that coming back here was a mistake. He no longer knows his two best friends. He wishes he were back at Stu's, but then treacherous memory flashes him an image of Nicky dead in the corner, and he remembers: People die everywhere, but at Hogwarts, at least there is free food. His stomach gurgles agreement.

"You're only hungry!" exclaims Hermione in nervous relief, her smile overly bright. "Madam Pomfrey!" she calls, and Harry can't believe how much Hermione's changed…into Molly Weasley.

Madam Pomfrey appears and notes immediately that Harry is awake. "How are you feeling, then, Mr Potter?" she asks briskly and comes to Harry's side, waving her wand over him, her lips moving slightly. She sighs almost imperceptibly, then looks into Harry's eyes. Awaiting a response.

"Fine," he lies.

"He's hungry," says Hermione.

"Righ'," Harry agrees, because it's easier, and because it's true. But mostly because it's easier.

And then Dumbledore arrives in a flurry of robes, looking every inch the wizard with his long beard and ridiculous hat. "Well then, Harry! You're finally awake!"

Harry decides his side doesn't hurt nearly as much as it could. He sinks further into the bed and turns onto his side, away from everyone but Pomfrey. He cannot deal with this just now.

The room falls silent and he sees Madam Pomfrey move away silently but quickly. Hermione and Ron are ushered out as well.

"Harry, there is food," says Dumbledore, and Harry can't be arsed. "And I believe Mr Weasley has brought you a chocolate frog."

"I wish you would leave," Harry says, "but I know you won't." He turns onto his back again but refuses to make eye contact with the Headmaster.

Harry doesn't watch as Dumbledore's figure seems to deflate, age, and collapse into a chair next to Harry's bed. "How could I have allowed this to happen to you?" he whispers to himself, and Harry is suddenly livid. His skin feels hot and his breath is short and loud. He cannot hold his tongue.

"I'd say this is the first time in quite a while that you've not been responsible for my…predicament. I spent one blissful year away from the hell that is my bloody connection with Voldemort. Only my own fear brought me back here, and it wasn't fear of that bastard."

Dumbledore sits in silence for several long moments, but his face looks more considering than stunned or angry or…well, Harry isn't certain he knows what type of reaction he'd been expecting. Dumbledore never does what is expected of him. "You've had no nightmares since you left the Dursleys'?" he asks.

Harry sighs and turns his eyes up to the ceiling. It is stone, exactly like all the rest. Grey and rough and lovely, in its own way. "Of course I have," he says, defeated. He has come back to the wizarding world—to Hogwarts. Of course he has to play his role here. The food is not free. "The dreams didn't stop until I started using. And I don't really know whether they stopped. I may simply not remember them, and I didn't feel any pain. I had another nightmare after I decided to come back. I had been straight for several days by that point. I immediately got loaded again and I stayed loaded until I came here. No further nightmares that I can recall."

"Right, yes," says Dumbledore, and of course the man is uncomfortable. Harry wonders how much experience Dumbledore has with the Muggle world. Especially this modern one. "You were attacked on the 20th of June."

Not really a question, but Harry nods anyway.

"Do you recall what the werewolf looked like?"

"It was dark, but I recall thinking that Lupin's wolf form isn't black. The one that attacked me looked black in the darkness. Other than that…" he shrugs.

Dumbledore stands, then, and looks down at Harry with concern. "This development is…unexpected, to say the least." He waves a hand and a small table appears bearing a tray. The tray is filled with sandwiches and a glass of pumpkin juice. Harry realises that, somehow, he had entirely forgotten about pumpkin juice. Dumbledore moves the table over beside the bed, then places the tray on Harry's lap after Harry has seated himself against the headboard. Harry has already begun eating a cucumber sandwich when Dumbledore speaks again. "You will change when next the moon is full, Harry," and his voice is grave. "You will need to take the Wolfsbane Potion, just as Lupin does."

Harry suddenly recalls where, exactly, that Wolfsbane Potion comes from, and feels gut-punched again. "Does Snape already know?" he asks, his voice barely a whisper.

"Professor Snape has not yet been informed of your presence. He is returning from a field assignment and should return to Hogwarts tomorrow. For now, however, I think perhaps Lupin would like to speak with you. He can offer you much insight into your new—"

"Lot," Harry interrupts. "My new strengths and weaknesses, yes?" He looks into Dumbledore's eyes and sees a real smile finally forming there. Decides he likes it.

"Yes, exactly that," Dumbledore agrees and makes for the door. "Welcome back, Harry," he says, and is gone.

* * *

Lupin enters the room not five minutes later, and Harry has already eaten as much as he can. He has replaced the tray on the table, and when Lupin seats himself in the chair, Harry gestures to the tray. The pumpkin juice is gone, but more than half of the sandwiches remain. "Have some food," Harry offers. When Lupin looks dubious, Harry adds, "I've already eaten my fill. The rest will go to waste."

"You don't eat like a growing boy, Harry," Lupin says in protest, but he takes one of the sandwiches and eats the entire thing in two bites before he speaks again. "You've barely grown at all this last year."

"Yeah, well, I suppose I won't get much larger than I am now." He shrugs. "It hardly matters. I doubt very much that an extra hand's reach will help me defeat Voldemort."

Lupin sits still for a few moments before taking another sandwich. He eats this one more slowly, but still does not speak until he has finished it. "Have you any questions for me, Harry?"

Harry doesn't even need to think. "How long does it take before you realise that it's true?" he asks. "How long before I understand that I've contracted lycanthropy, and shall never be cured?" He thinks perhaps he's said it badly, because Lupin's face drops and the man looks about ready to cry. "Not that I'm complaining," Harry adds lamely.

"Oh Harry," says Lupin. Harry thinks people are saying that an awful lot lately, though perhaps they always have. "I don't know what to say. Sometimes I still feel like it's all a nightmare, and that I'll wake soon and it won't be true. That I'll be normal again."

"And that Padfoot and Prongs will still be alive?" Harry asks in his quietest voice, as if keeping the names nearly silent will keep them from hurting. It seems to work a bit, but he may simply be numb from shock.

"And Lily," Lupin agrees, his voice even softer. "Harry, you've suffered too much."

Harry shrugs. He is feeling magnanimous now. He is feeling that Lupin has suffered far worse. He has always considered his own lot so horrid—his parents murdered by a psychopath who is out to murder him as well, a family that hates him, and a destiny he'd rather not contemplate, obviously. But Lupin….

Lupin had been infected as a small child. He'd been reviled and feared his entire sentient life. Harry may have been hated by his guardians, but he is much loved by the wizarding world, most of the time. Or had been. He supposes everything will change, now that he is an untouchable as well. Hogwarts’s newest pariah. Lupin had lost all of his very few friends when Harry's parents had been murdered, since Sirius had ended up in Azkaban, and Peter had supposedly been murdered. Lupin had been alone, penniless, and shunned for most of his life. Harry feels like an arse. "I'm very glad to have you, Professor. To help me," he offers.

And Lupin seems to understand the offering for what it is, and seems deeply touched by it. At a loss for words. His hazel eyes are nearly golden, they are so bright, and it is painfully obvious he is suppressing tears. Harry looks down at the blankets to give Lupin a bit of privacy. "I will do anything I can to assist, Harry. And you'll see, it's not as bad as one might imagine, from looking at me."

Harry frowns and looks into Lupin's eyes, confused. "What do you mean?"

"The transformations—they're painful, but certainly bearable. And with proper nutrition and the improved version of the Wolfsbane Potion, there's no need for you to end up as haggard as I am, aged before your time."

"You're not exactly haggard, Professor," Harry says, rather embarrassed. He thinks Lupin is actually quite lovely, despite the prematurely greying hair, and the lines about the eyes and between the brows. He can imagine Lupin was a beautiful youth. Stu would likely have fawned over him. "Though you do look exhausted."

"Please, Harry. I'm no longer your professor, and were I, I would not be so over the summer holidays. Call me Remus?" His eyes are pleading. He wants so badly to be a friend.

"Remus, then," Harry says, and the word feels strange on his tongue. But he will use it, and he will become accustomed. "You look tired, Remus, and it seems some rest, and eating the remainder of these sandwiches, would serve you better than sitting here at my bedside. My questions can wait until I've permission to leave the hospital wing."

Remus looks guilty for a moment, but then sighs. "I think they are going to keep you here a bit longer, Harry. For observation."

"Well, I'm not healed yet, after all," Harry allows. "Why aren't I healed yet, by the way?" It's one of the things that have been nagging at him, though he didn't realise it until just now.

"The bite of a werewolf cannot be healed magically. It will heal in its own time. Generally, however, your rate of healing will increase dramatically, as long as silver is not used to inflict the wound."

Harry thinks about this for a few moments and decides it sounds sensible enough. "Why are you feeling guilty, then?" he asks, because he is certain he did not imagine the twinge he saw.

"They are also keeping you here because of the drugs, Harry."

Harry blinks. "Because of the heroin," he says, to clarify.

Lupin nods. "They are…uncertain…how to deal with your usage. It is inappropriate for you to bring…that…here. They wish to ensure you will not attempt to bring any onto the premises, and that you will suffer no deleterious effects from being forced to abstain."

Harry finds this inexplicably amusing. "They're afraid I'm going to go into withdrawal? At this stage?" Amusing, yet also offensive. Slightly.

"Well, you already did," Lupin says, "though it was nowhere as severe as I had feared it might be."

Perhaps a bit more than slightly. "I'm not an addict, Remus," Harry says sulkily.

"My experience is limited, Harry. The little bit I know says it's impossible for you not to be, and that the withdrawal for heroin is very severe. Madam Pomfrey and the Headmaster preferred to take no chances. But you slept through two days with only moderate convulsions, fever and fever-sweats. And that could easily have been from the bite," he admits.

Harry thinks it likely a combination of both. He has certainly displayed those symptoms before, when withdrawing. "Did you check through my jacket pockets?" he asks.

"I could smell it in there, Harry. I didn't need to check."

"What did you do with it?"

Lupin—Remus—sighs heavily. "Nothing," he admits. "It's still there. But Harry, I'd like your permission to dispose of it. It no longer has a place in your life. And besides, I'm uncertain it will still have the same effect on you, now that you've contracted lycanthropy. We're resistant to…many things, both good and ill. To things which attempt to alter us in any way. Hence the rapid healing."

"…Oh," Harry says quietly. "I…I feel more comfortable knowing that I can get more," he admits, but when Remus doesn't answer him, he hides his face in his hands. He feels like crying, but doesn't. "You have my permission," he whispers, then promptly attempts to forget about it again.

"Shh, Harry," Remus whispers, and is on the bed beside Harry now, pulling Harry into his embrace and patting his hair gently. He smells faintly of soap and nervous sweat, and of something Harry can only name 'man'. Something faintly musky and primitive. Other things he cannot even place, much less name. Remus's chest is a plane of bony ridges and thin skin stretched taut atop. Harry's jaw clenches and his mouth waters just a little. "Everything will be different now. You'll see," Remus says, distracting Harry from his inappropriate thoughts.

Harry simply remains there, against Remus's chest, and allows himself to slowly relax.

Holding Patterns by colibri
Part I
Chapter 6: Holding Patterns

When Snape enters the hospital wing the next day, Harry is awake and sitting up in his bed. He is grateful that this is the case, and that he is fully clothed, because he needs every bit of armour he can get. "I wonder how long the wizarding world will mourn its lost Hero when it learns of the Great Tragedy," Snape says in that voice of honey-dipped razor-wire.

Harry looks down at the book he has been reading, the copy of Poe's collected works he purchased in muggle London, before the 'tragedy'. He places a bookmark to save his spot, then closes it. He lays it gently on the table beside his bed—the one Dumbledore conjured on Harry's first day of consciousness. Snape's face is unreadable, unless one counts the look of bored disdain that serves as neutral on the man's aquiline features. "I assume it will shun me, as it has Lupin, and bemoan my loss," Harry says. He wonders why Snape had ever scared him. He can smell traces of smoke and grass still clinging to the man, but no real potions. "I'm flattered that you would come to visit before even visiting your dungeons," he says.

"Don't be, you great, thundering idiot," Snape hisses in reply. "I was ordered here by our illustrious Headmaster, to assure you that I will be supplying you with Wolfsbane Potion, despite the unbearable disdain I feel for you, and my undying hatred for your dead father and his objectionable friends."

"I am much comforted," says Harry boredly. "Ta for stopping by, and all that," he adds as an afterthought, and picks up the book again. He does not need to be belittled by Snape. Besides, he doesn't really care what the man thinks of him at this point. He is here for the free food. And when he wants for company, he will seek out Remus.

He has a vague impression of Snape's jaw falling open in shock, but he is not watching, so he can't be certain. Regardless, Snape is gone in under ten seconds, and Harry is left alone again, to read in his book.

* * *

It is not until later in the afternoon that he is finally visited by Ron and Hermione again. They depart today and wish to say goodbye. And this time, Harry manages civility effortlessly, though he is still uncomfortable in their presence. Theoretically, however, he is very happy to see them, and grateful of their support. He thanks them for the visit, and apologizes for his behaviour when he first awoke. Ron forgives him happily and promises to write. He promises also to pass Harry's love and regards to Mrs Weasley and the remainder of the clan, before he goes.

Hermione remains behind, promising Ron that she will join him shortly. She sits down on the bed, her scent slightly acrid—nervous. "Harry, we thought we should mention…that is, we—"

"I hope this isn't about the two of you having become an item, because it really was inevitable," he says.

"Er…of course," says Hermione, blushing crimson. "Well, then."

"So it was," Harry says, hiding a smirk behind a hand. "I'm happy for you, really," and he is. He hardly knows them anymore, but he'd never particularly wanted to snog either of them, much less shag them.

"Well, yes," Hermione admits. "Last term, finally," she adds. "All year, it was only the two of us, and…well…we grew close."


"Of course," Hermione agrees. "But Harry, that wasn't the only thing I wished to speak with you about."

Now Harry is at a loss. "All righ'?" he prompts, because he'd rather just get it into the open.

"No one will tell us anything about what's happened, except to say that you were attacked!" she says in exasperation. "But Harry, we know there is something going on. You look…" it seems to pain her to say, or perhaps even to look at Harry, but she manages to overcome this in order to continue. "Harry, you look like you've been desperately ill for a long time, and…. Your arms, Harry! Have you been taking intravenous drugs?"

Harry is…yes, nonplussed might be the word. "Have I been…" He is startled at her euphemistic version of the question. "I've been using, and sometimes abusing, heroin for the better part of a year," Harry agrees. "I haven't been particularly ill, but I've been rather poor, and food was not always a…priority." There, he thinks that came out quite well. Honest, but not crude.

Still, she looks ill. Her face is pale and she seems to have withdrawn a bit into herself. She frowns and looks pained. "Is that why you've been so sick?" she asks.

It takes a few moments for Harry to realise that she means whilst he has been in the hospital wing. "Ah, well. That may be part of it. But the rest…" and he finds he really wishes to tell her. Hermione is intelligent, but she is also practical. And besides, he loves her, and he feels that if he tells her this, he will get her friendship back—that they will be close again, as they once were. He needs only to remove the barrier of secrets between them, and all will be right, again, with the world. "I've been bitten by a werewolf," he says, and waits.

And there it is. Her eyes grow huge and round, her mouth dropping open before closing again with a click of her teeth. "You're a…you've… Not by…?!" the last with horrified disbelief.

Harry is not a dunce, but there were not enough words in her ramblings to convey any kind of meaning Harry could decipher. "What?" he asks.

"…Lupin??" she manages, and that is enough.

"Oh! No! Of course, not!" he assures her hastily. "No, I don't know who it was," Harry explains. "Lupin wasn't even there." He realises with dawning horror the guilt Lupin would have carried had he been the one to infect Harry. He shudders with the thought. "Thank God."

Hermione nods almost convulsively. "I couldn't imagine him doing it," she admits, but the guilt she displays so clearly to Harry speaks to her having truly wondered for a moment.

Harry doesn't blame her, really. After all, Remus is the only werewolf any of them have ever met. "I shouldn't keep you any longer, if you and Ron are about to leave. But…could you not tell him, just yet?" Harry asks. "I'd rather tell him myself." Later. He doesn't really wish to examine why this is, but it is how he feels at this moment.

Hermione doesn't ask. She simply nods, then leans in close to place a soft, dry kiss on Harry's forehead, beside his scar, then withdraws again. "Later then, Harry," she adds before backing toward the door.

"Later," Harry agrees, and watches her go.

* * *

By the next day, Harry is bored to tears, and when Remus comes to visit, he begs in desperation for the man to plead with Dumbledore to let him out of here. He needs to get out. He'd rather be anywhere but here at this point, doing anything. Even scrubbing cauldrons in the Potions classroom would be preferable to lying here, in this bed, reading this bloody Poe book, (which is desperately depressing, by the way). But Remus can do nothing for him now but keep him company, and that only for a short while. An hour, perhaps two. Harry cannot keep track of time—he has lost the knack, after a year of living without it, outside it, altering it with H. Time has become fluid, speeding and slowing entirely depending on Harry's own desires, though certainly not according to them. His time with Remus flows by so swiftly it may as well not have happened at all. And then Remus must attend to other responsibilities for the Headmaster, and time may as well be dammed.

* * *

Harry doesn't feel the same, but mostly, he feels that the world has changed. It didn't happen all at once, but now it's unavoidable. Unignorable. He hears things, now. Things he could never have heard before. He hears Madam Pomfrey in her office shuffling pages and scratching away on parchment with quill. He hears her humming tunelessly when she forgets herself for a moment. He listens to her calm breathing.

But it's not merely sound that has been amplified. It's also smells. He'd always found the hospital wing particularly smelly, though not as disgustingly so as the Potions classroom. But now it is a riot of smells. A cacophony of scents, each of which presents itself clearly in his mind, in three dimensions, creating a sort of map. He can't place them all—doesn't know what they all are. But he knows where they are. Even Pomfrey's clean, well-scrubbed scent presents itself on his mental map. The mingled scents of her breakfast—eggs, bacon, tea, mushrooms. She is sipping tea now—Assam with milk.

Finally, there is the small matter of his vision. It's nothing supernatural, but he no longer needs his glasses. For now, he thinks it may be worthwhile. He has come to hate his glasses. Passionately.

* * *

Lupin comes again the next morning, that being Monday, and Harry thinks the man can sense a change. "How are you, then, Harry?" he asks, and sits in his customary chair. The only chair near Harry.

"All right," Harry replies distractedly. He is drowning in Lupin's nearness—Remus's nearness. But he likes the way the word Lupin feels on his tongue. The way it sounds in his mind. He notes that there are flecks of gold in Lupin's eyes that make them luminous. Luminous Lupin. He giggles a little and the sound startles him for a moment.

"You've started feeling it—the change…" Lupin says.

"I've been feeling it for several days," Harry admits, "but…well, it's become rather impossible to ignore." The golden sheen of light reflecting in the grey of Lupin's hair. The sharpness of his too-thin face. You're so lovely, he thinks but does not say. This much control, at least, Harry has learnt.

But his words—so benign he'd thought—seem to have taken Lupin off-guard. Surely the man can't have expected to remember the timetable of his own changes, so many years ago?

But no, it's not confusion or surprise colouring Lupin's scent. It's embarrassment. And desire, its musk heavy between them. Followed quickly by mortification, disbelief, confusion.

"I'm sorry?" Harry asks, not certain why there's a problem. "Did I say something inappropriate?"

"Ah…no," Remus says, and his cheeks redden only slightly. This is, however, a severe blush for the normally anaemic countenance. "I…well, what do you sense, then?" he asks.

And the only thing Harry wants more than to tell, at that moment, is to drown himself in this man. But he realises there is discomfort between them, and he doesn't wish to lose his only friend here. The unrelenting boredom of being the only student at Hogwarts over the summer would surely drive him mad. "A lot," he replies lamely. "All of my senses have been…augmented."

"Nothing more specific?" Remus asks, a smile forming on his modest lips.

"I…can see without my glasses, now. And…I can hear Madam Pomfrey breathing in her office. Her heart beating."

Now Lupin does look surprised. And he seems to have forgotten his own embarrassment. "You've nearly finished the change, then," he blurts.

"Yay," Harry says wryly. "Only the painful bit left, right?"

Lupin's smile resurfaces, sloughing off years and cares like so much dead weight. "True, but it's bearable. The potion is much improved. Which reminds me…" and now he grows sympathetic. Apologetic, perhaps. "You're to be released today."

"And this is negative how?"

"Well, you'll begin your private tutoring," Remus says, and Harry knows what is coming. He tries not to allow all hope to drain from him as he sits back to await the details.

"Flitwick, Binns, and Snape will be here for most, if not all, of the summer. McGonagall will be here part of the time."

"What about you?" Harry asks, disappointed.

"I'm no longer a professor here, Harry," Lupin reminds him sadly, "but I will, of course, remain. To assist you. No one expects you to grow accustomed to this situation overnight."

Harry nods.

"Snape will be providing most of your tutoring, however, I'm afraid. DADA, Potions, and Herbology."

Harry groans. Baffled, he says, "I cannot fathom why Dumbledore would have arranged this—"

"Professor Dumbledore," Remus corrects absently.

"Snape hates me," Harry continues as if never interrupted. "Our Occlumency lessons were an unmitigated disaster."

"I don't know," Lupin admits. "I can only assume that Professor Snape has agreed to the arrangement."

"Well, then," Harry says. There's no use arguing about it now. It is likely Snape will give up on him after the first hour anyway. He is not known for his patience, especially with Harry. "Why hasn't the Headmaster come to see me? Why didn't he tell me any of this himself?"

"It is not for me to second-guess the Headmaster, Harry," Lupin answers, but Harry knows that Lupin wants to make him happy.

Harry starts to get out of bed, but then hears Madam Pomfrey stirring, rising, dropping her quill. Harry is waiting expectantly for her when she appears, ready to stop him. She blinks but recovers quickly. "Well, Mr Potter," she says briskly. "It appears that your wound has been healing well. I have informed the Headmaster that I find no further need to observe you here. You are free to leave. But I must remind you, Mr Potter, that you are still not fully healed. If you experience any unusual pain from the wound or in general, or if the wound is somehow re-opened, return here immediately. You will visit me twice daily, before breakfast and after supper, until I say otherwise, understood?"

"Yes, Madam Pomfrey."

"Good," she says and moves a bit away from the bed. "Remember also, Mr Potter, that no further…drugs usage," the words do not flow so easily now, "will be tolerated. Any medicaments you require will be provided to you by either myself or Professor Snape. Is that clear, Mr Potter?"

Harry feels defensive. He has already allowed Remus to dispose of the last of his precious heroin. He still mourns the loss several times per day. The nightmares have not yet returned, but he is certain they will. "It is clear, Madam Pomfrey," he says with as little cheek as he can muster.

Madam Pomfrey nods curtly, her scent nervous and discomfited. She retreats to her office.

Harry notices that a stack of clothing has been placed on the bed before him, and he figures that is his cue to dress for lessons. He strips efficiently and pulls on a clean pair of the new pants he bought with Remus before they left muggle London. Next the trousers, then the white shirt.

"It's difficult to see you so thin," says Remus sadly. "You'd always been, but you're nearly skeletal now."

Harry is almost swimming in his old clothes. He'd barely grown taller this summer, and he'd certainly lost weight over all. "I'll fill out," Harry says, unconcernedly. "I always do when I'm at Hogwarts." He finishes knotting his Gryffindor tie, then shakes out his robes and pulls them on. "Where will I be staying, then?" he asks. After all, he will no longer be living in the hospital wing. He pulls on his socks, then his shoes, and stands, ready to leave.

"There are guest chambers in my rooms," Remus offers, "if—"

"Brilliant," Harry interrupts before Remus can talk himself out of the offer. "Shall we go there first, or…?"

"I'm afraid you're to meet with Professor Flitwick for Charms immediately. I will retrieve you in two hours' time for lunch, then deliver you to Professor Snape."

Harry nods his understanding. It will be a difficult day, but better than his time spent in the hospital wing.

"First things, though," Remus says, as if recalling something at the last moment. He pulls a wand out of his sleeve, and Harry recognizes it even before he has seen the entire thing. It is his, after all. He can almost hear it humming its satisfaction at the reunion. He accepts it silently, but knows that Remus can feel his gratitude.

And his ambivalence.

A Bit Off by colibri
Part I
Chapter 7: A Bit Off

Throughout his lesson, Harry finds he is surprised by how much comes back to him. Magic had fallen out of his life as easily as drugs had fallen into it. It seems somehow wrong for the magic to return so easily.

This is not to say that he's forgotten nothing, of course. He remembers those things he used a lot. Lumos and Nox, Alohomora. He remembers charms like Accio, Expelliarmus, and Impedimenta that were drilled into his head. Silly little first-year charms like Wingardium Leviosa. And he remembers spells that he'd never truly mastered or even tried, like Imperio, Crucio, and the killing curse. Needless to say, there is a lot of review necessary.

Flitwick, however, is patient and kind, as he has always been. Supportive. And because he is focussed entirely on Harry, and because Harry has nothing else to focus on, they make a great deal of progress.

Lunch is a pleasant affair, taken with Remus in his rooms, and afterward, Remus takes him to the dungeons, to the Potions classroom. It is empty when they walk in, yet filled with the mingled scents of hundreds of Potions ingredients, dozens of explosions, and, of course, the lingering scent of humans. Nervous—sometimes terrified—humans.

The door opens presently, and Professor Snape sweeps inside, black robes billowing dramatically as always, his beetle-black eyes trained on Remus. "Your presence is no longer required, Lupin."

Remus inclines his head, accepting his dismissal meekly, and squeezes Harry's shoulder in support before exiting the room. The door whispers closed in his wake, and Harry listens to Remus's footfalls until they have left the dungeons entirely.

"We shall begin with your remedial Potions work," Snape says, his voice strained, though Harry could not have heard it, before. Snape's scent is even more telling. The man is under a great deal of stress. He is nervous. He is angry. He is working very hard, indeed, to hide all of this from Harry, or, perhaps, from himself.

"Yes, sir," says Harry. He has no desire to argue. He is still grateful to be out of the hospital wing.

"I see you have failed to bring your texts with you," Snape sighs when in the past, he would have sneered.

"Ah, yes," Harry says, and he is less embarrassed than simply irritated at his absentmindedness. "Accio Potions texts," he murmurs, his desire strong. He wishes to begin this lesson before Snape works himself into an insult-spewing lather. The books are in his hands within the half minute.

"Perhaps for the future, Potter," Snape drawls, obviously regaining his balance, "you should simply bring all of your supplies to class. Texts, cauldron, and your student kit. But please refrain from Accio'ing the entire lot here now. It would never do to have you brained by your own cauldron." He turns his back in a billow of robes, but not before a sneer stretches across his lips.

Harry sighs inaudibly and rubs his eyes. It's going to be a very, very long day.

"For the next hour, you will revise the properties of many of the most important ingredients included in the standard student's Potions kit. Any questions you have, I will answer for you as you formulate them. Do not wait. We haven't the time to waste, as I fear that even with personal tutoring, you will have difficulty attaining even a basic understanding of fifth-year Potions, much less getting through the sixth." He turns to Harry again after having written a list of ingredients on the board, all of which are in the basic student's kit. Sea salt, iron, silver, quicksilver, powdered quartz, dried ginger, essence of belladonna, spine of lionfish, dried nettles and mandrake root. The list is obviously not exhaustive. "Begin with these. We will combine Potions work with Herbology, as the subjects are naturally complementary, so after you have revised the basic kit, we will move on to a more in-depth scrutiny of several very important ingredients, most of which are plants, including belladonna and aconite. By the end of the second hour, you will be able to tell me why we have been revising those particular ingredients. For the third hour, we will move to Defence, which will be a practicum. Are there any questions? Good." Snape gestures vaguely at Harry's texts and moves to sit behind his desk, where he promptly falls into a book of his own whose title Harry does not see. Harry begins his required reading.

Reading up on the basic kit, however, is less than engrossing, and he finds that his attention is drawn inexorably to anything but the text. The sound of his own breathing and beating heart. The sounds of pages turning and the scratching of quill on parchment. The steady inhalation, exhalation of Snape's breathing. The slow, steady tattoo of Snape's heart. He has no idea how long he has been stuck on quartz when that warm, smoky voice bores into his consciousness. "Either you have gained some truly extraordinary abilities over the past year, Mr Potter; or you have already begun failing spectacularly at the very simplest of tasks, exactly as I have always expected of you." His tone makes it perfectly clear which of the two options he believes true.

"Both are true," says Harry, not bothering to open his eyes. Snape's pulse has quickened with glee, his scent sharpened with annoyance and excitement. "There are things I find far more interesting than reading about the uses of rose quartz in beautifying potions."

"And I suppose it is those things you are currently pondering, instead of your assigned reading."

"Indeed, yes," Harry agrees and finally opens his eyes. "You smell like a predator stalking your prey," Harry whispers, training his green eyes on black, unwavering. "But I am no longer your prey, Professor." He watches in satisfaction as Snape's eyes go wide for a moment before he, once again, wrests himself under control, then smiles meanly.

"I suppose it is fortuitous that Mr Filch is here over the summer, performing various and sundry maintenance tasks on the castle, as you will clearly be spending a great deal of time with him during your detentions."

"I feel confident that Mr Filch will find my company as scintillating as you do, Professor," Harry says without inflection. "It will certainly be a pleasure for me to spend additional time relearning Hogwarts's corridors, for when I am, again, wandering about after curfew." He smiles, then, and adds, "Perhaps I will use my fairly-gained knowledge for illicit trysts, wherein I will demonstrate some of the 'truly extraordinary abilities' I have gained of late."

"Excellent," Snape replies, though his heart is slamming into his ribs and the man is beyond livid. He is also terribly confused, Harry guesses from the acrid mix of scents. "You will report to Mr Filch directly after your nightly examination by Pomfrey."

"Of course, Professor," Harry agrees. "For my detention." He waits a few beats before speaking again. "If you cared to know," he says, "I always learn better using practical exercises, as opposed to simply reading about things. If I can touch it and see its effects, I have little difficulty learning about it."

"I seem to recall your Occlumency practica getting you approximately nowhere."

"I also work better with people who don't hate me," Harry replies reasonably.

There are several long minutes of silence before Snape breaks it again. "Move on to your readings of belladonna, aconite, valerian, gou-qi-zi, peony, and mandrake."

So Harry pulls out his copy of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi and starts on belladonna, which is a bit too useful to be particularly interesting. He skips to aconite, and suddenly remembers. Aconite is another name for monkshood—also known as wolfsbane. He reads further and finds that gou-qi-zi is another name for wolfberry. Mandrake root is a common ingredient in antidotes and restoratives, as are the rest. It takes him about two minutes to decide that these are all ingredients in the Wolfsbane Potion. He is certain there are others Snape has not mentioned, but he is content to read about these. He settles back into his seat and allows the sounds of breathing to fade into the background.

When next he is interrupted, it is Snape informing him that his practicum is to begin, and that they are to resume their lessons in Occlumency. Harry has nothing in his mind just now other than the properties of aconite, belladonna, mandrake…and so he does not remember, really, why the lessons had been so terrible—and terrifying—before. He stands distractedly, hears Snape's authoritative 'Legilimens!' and thinks he has forgotten what to do.

He watches as some other boy's vague memories flit across the view screen of his mind, then lets them slip away. He sees only Snape's stunned face. "I didn't take out my wand," Harry says, dumbly.

Harry's statement does not seem to alleviate Snape's discomfiture. It takes him a few moments before he has recovered enough to close his mouth. "Again, then," he says with a scowl, and this time, waits for Harry to draw his wand. "Legilimens!"

And this time, Harry understands. This time, Harry remembers why he hated these lessons so very much. He sees his beloved godfather taunting Bellatrix Lestrange, sees the flashing red of a spell hit Sirius squarely in the chest. He watches again, in horror, as the figure arches back, falling through the veil.

He watches his own eyes bulging, his mouth opening in a scream as one of a long line of faceless, nameless men in his past forces a fist inside him and presses him painfully against a stinking alley wall.

He watches himself during his last bad withdrawal, before Stuart gave him the addict talk, convulsing and vomiting, wishing he could only hurry up and die, and failing.

He sees Nicky sitting pale, dead, in their room, a needle still in his arm. Watches himself turn away to eat his supper.

He hears Snape murmuring, "Holy hell," before Harry faints.

* * *

Much time can't have passed, he thinks. He awakens in Lupin's rooms, in Lupin's bed, the master of said rooms hovering over him protectively, but calmly, a cool cloth against Harry's forehead. "I don't think I like Occlumency very much," Harry manages, but his voice sounds destroyed.

"I think it's more the Legilimency that bothers you," says Remus with a wry smile. He seems to think for a moment, then leans down to place a cool, dry kiss on Harry's brow. "Feeling better?"

"Immensely so," Harry says, divided over whether to swoon at the contact or growl in his desire for more. Remus’s scent is impossible to ignore, Harry finds, and the situation is not helped by Harry’s position in Remus’s bed. Even though the linens have been cleaned by the house elves, there is still a lingering presence in the mattress beneath him, in the pillow. In the air around them. And, of course, the man is sitting right here.

Or was. Remus is suddenly nervous and guilty, and he has fled the bed. He is pacing the short distance from the bedside table to the armoire and back again. But then he seems to realise that his behaviour is suspect, because he stops the pacing and says, "So…ah…are you ready for supper?"

Harry blinks, the transition much too quick for his overheated brain. Most of his blood is still pooled elsewhere. "All right…" he says.

"Brilliant!" says Lupin brightly, then leaves the room. His voice carries easily to Harry's ears when he says, "I'll just go to the toilet, meet you in a mo'."

Harry thinks he's never heard Lupin so falsely cheerful ever. It's so obvious it makes Harry sad. Why is there even a problem? Lupin is no longer a professor, as he has reminded Harry many times. And Harry is nearly seventeen, and far from virginal. The attraction between them is undeniable, as far as Harry is concerned.

But denial seems to be a Remus Lupin speciality, and Harry cannot really cast blame, as he is perfectly capable of denial himself. Hence today's unbelievably disastrous Occlumency lesson. At least, that is his theory. He used the heroin to cope with his problems, and now that the heroin is gone, his problems have returned. He snorts a little laugh. It's ironic, he thinks, that heroin has been his Occlumency for nearly a year. He doubts an appeal using that logic would get Dumbledore to change his mind on the issue, though.

When Remus comes out of the en-suite to meet Harry, he has pulled himself together again. "Ready, then?" he asks.

"Are we going somewhere?" Harry realises. They'd eaten in their rooms earlier, and Harry had always eaten in the hospital wing before.

"Oh, of course!" Lupin says and looks embarrassed. "Yes, well…we try to take supper together, those of us who are here, whenever we can. You know…a bit of family."

"Ah," says Harry, and thinks he's not really ready to see Snape again so soon after this latest fiasco. But in the end, he decides he is simply tired. It's not as if anyone had expected the lesson to go well.

When they arrive, everyone but Binns is already there, including Professors Snape and Dumbledore and even Hagrid, who greets him with an enormous smile and stands to wrap him in his enormous embrace. "All righ', then!" he booms, knocking the wind right out of Harry.

Harry scents Fang in his clothes, as well as a mixture he automatically catalogues as 'Hagrid'—stale alcohol and scones, clean earth and something a bit like horse. Perhaps he's been attending the thestrals, or perhaps there is always that lingering scent of the various creatures he cares for. "All right?" Harry agrees, though he is being crushed.

"When th’ Headmaster said yeh'd come back, I could hardly wait ter see yeh! An' that I couldn't visit yeh! But now I see…been sick, 'ave yeh? Nothin' left of yeh but sticks an' sinew, is there?"

Which explains, of course, why he hasn't seen Hagrid yet. "Getting better every day," Harry says without guilt. It doesn't even matter whether it is at all true. It makes Hagrid feel better, and that is the only thing important at this moment. "We'll have to catch up later," he adds. "You must have millions of creatures to tell me about."

"Aye, lad!" Hagrid agrees. "When th’ Headmaster sees fit ter let yeh come. Yer welcome any time, Harry."

Harry nods, his smile still firmly in place and feeling natural enough. He moves to sit beside Lupin, whose scent is curious, but not overly so. The others' reactions vary, from Flitwick's cheerful contentedness to Filch's sourness. Snape is all embarrassed discomfiture. Dumbledore is simply dry and blank, as if his scent glands withered and died at some point during the transition from old to ancient. He smells of dust and parchment, of ink and lemon sherbets. Of Earl Grey tea. But no sweat. He is unreadable to Harry, and Harry finds this startling.

"How are your lessons going, then, Harry?" asks the Headmaster, and Harry realises that he has been staring, and that he has missed the courteous pleasantries that began this meal. The others are already loading food onto their plates.

Harry looks hastily at his own plate, then at the dishes and bowls before him. "Ah, slowly," he says before spying a dish of pork chops and selecting the smallest. A spoon of mash, gravy. "I think they've gone about as well—or as poorly—as everyone expected," he clarifies and takes a spoon of runner beans as well. He will likely never get the sound out of his head, of Stuart saying haemorrhoids, and the little curl of his lip when he said it.

"Harry has nearly caught up on his Charms work from fifth year," says Flitwick proudly. "By tomorrow, we shall start on the sixth year curriculum."

"Excellent," says Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling.

Snape says nothing, and Dumbledore does not ask. Harry is certain the Headmaster already knows what occurred during his lessons with Snape today. Even if Snape had not gone to inform him, Dumbledore would have asked, once he saw what a state Snape had worked himself into. It was rare, indeed, for the head of Slytherin house to show himself so out of sorts. So weak.

"I believe I have detention with you this evening, Mr Filch," Harry offers, since he doubts Snape has had time to tell the caretaker between their lesson and supper. "What time should I begin, Professor?"

Professor Snape looks horrified for just the slightest moment before recovering, barely. "After your appointment with Madam Pomfrey," who rushes in presently. Harry wonders that he hadn't even noticed she was missing. He notices, now, that she is the only witch present.

"Yes, Professor," Harry says, then focuses on his meal. His appetite simply has not returned. He hasn't had much of one since he left the Dursleys, really. Perhaps even since he left Hogwarts year last. He manages to eat all of his beans, a few bites of the mash, and three bites of his pork chop before he simply cannot eat another bite. He spends the remainder of the meal pushing food about on his plate and not meeting anyone's eyes. Especially not the Headmaster's. He lets the jumble of sounds and scents bombard him from all sides, quiet side conversations and feigned cheer. Hagrid's and Flitwick's innocent joviality. Pomfrey's brusque evasions when Hagrid asks about Harry's illness. Dumbledore's sly diversion of Hagrid's attention.

When Pomfrey stands to take her leave, Harry stands as well and delivers his courtesies without thought. He follows her to the hospital wing, where his healing bite is examined and redressed. He sits patiently while she runs her wand over him and clucks her tongue absently. "You're not gaining weight, Mr Potter," she murmurs.

"I have gained weight," he disagrees.

"Not nearly enough," she says. "Don't argue."

Harry's mouth snaps shut. He knows better than to argue with adults at Hogwarts. It never does any good. Of course, he's never managed to avoid it before, either. "Yes, ma'am," he says and settles again.

"The wound is nearly completely healed," she says, sounding almost disappointed, "despite your lack of appetite."

Ah, Harry thinks.

"And your body appears to be recovering from the…drugs…as well."

Harry has no idea what she could be referring to. He's not had withdrawal symptoms in days. But he doesn't wish to discuss the subject either, so he says nothing.

"Professor Snape has already begun working on your Wolfsbane, since your next change should begin on the 17th of July."

Tomorrow is the first, Harry thinks. The first of July. It will be a new moon during his seventeenth birthday. He gets a little start when he realises that the rest of his life shall be measured in this way—on a lunar calendar. He wonders how long this will be kept a secret. He has a feeling it won't be nearly long enough.

"Well, you're free to go, Mr Potter. Do avoid lifting anything heavy at your detention, all right?"

"Yes, ma'am," he says and leaves to find Filch's office.

Inside, nothing has changed. The room is still tiny and stifling, and the manacles are still polished to a gleaming shine. Mrs Norris, however, howls pitifully and spits when she sees him, running to hide behind her master.

"Mr Potter," says Filch, a mean little smile twisting his most incomprehensibly ugly face. "So glad you could make yourself available this evening."

"Indeed," Harry agrees easily, and he does not care enough for it to be a lie. He has nothing better to do than to be here, helping take care of Hogwarts. "I was hoping we could get quite a lot done this evening, since we never know when my services may be available for you again."

Filch looks like he has swallowed something foul, though what this disaster of a man would find foul is beyond Harry's capacity to guess. Chocolate Frogs, perhaps?

"Some cleaning or repair tasks that could be done much more efficiently with magic, I thought," Harry continues, reminding Filch of his own lack. "To ease the burden of your chores before the start of term. It's truly fantastic that you manage to keep the castle standing at all, when there is but one of you, and the castle is so very large." Harry is telling the truth, now. He really cannot fathom how this enormous task has fallen to a single squib. Perhaps the castle mostly maintains itself. Harry certainly never sees Filch scrubbing or repairing anything. There can't be that much detention, can there?

Filch, for his part, seems completely stunned. Unable to make even the slightest sound, much less an intelligent comment or, heavens forfend, take points. Can Filch even take points?

"Perhaps I should start by cleaning all of the castle's toilets? I know Myrtle's toilet is in desperate need of repairs." And when Filch says nothing, his mouth still agape, Harry says, "Excellent. I shall work until eleven o’clock or so—that should give me a good three hours. I think I'll make a great deal of progress in that time." He smiles and leaves, thinking he has not felt this happy in ages.

Out of Character by colibri
Part I
Chapter 8: Out of Character

Tuesday morning he splits between Professor Binns's droning litany of dates and facts, (none of which Harry will remember later), and Professor Flitwick's enthusiastic practicum of sixth year Charms. By lunch break, Harry is starting to feel like he may actually have some modicum of talent and Flitwick is positively ebullient. Harry has learnt five new charms today, all of which deal with air—thinning it, thickening it, drying it out or making it wetter, and changing its colour. All are potentially very useful. He still needs to practise them, but he has made all of them work several times with the professor.

He takes lunch with Remus alone in their rooms and smiles incessantly the entire time. He loves the way Lupin seems at ease today, in his company, and how their feet touch accidentally under the table on occasion, and Remus doesn't draw away. They talk about Harry's lessons of the morning, and how Remus will take a trip into Hogsmeade this afternoon to purchase supplies for himself and several others, including Professor Snape. Lupin asks, does Harry need anything?

Harry only smiles and shakes his head 'no'. "Not certain what I'll be needing yet," he explains. "But thanks, really," he murmurs.

"Harry…" Remus says, blushing again. The discomfort is back, but Remus isn't running. That's worth something, at least, Harry thinks, so he doesn't answer. Only waits for Remus to continue speaking. "This…thing…between us…."

Harry only nods encouragingly.

"It doesn't make any sense, firstly," Lupin says, his brows drawn down in confusion. "And, er…yes," he falters. He obviously has no idea what he's saying, though he may have an idea what he's trying to say.

"It makes perfect sense to me," Harry says reasonably. "I mean, we have something in common. And you are…lovely." Yes.

"I'm old enough to be your father, Harry."

"What a coincidence," Harry says, rolling his eyes. As if he didn't know that already. "I'm young enough to be your son."

"Well…then…you see."

Harry's brow lifts. "I do? What do I see?"

"And I'm not homosexual," Lupin adds for good measure.

And that certainly surprises Harry. He'd always rather assumed that Remus and Sirius had been together, not simply best friends. "Perhaps you're, ah, bisexual. After all, it's quite obvious you're attracted to me."

Remus is making himself ill with worry. "They'd be livid," he mutters.

Harry takes pity on him. "We needn't discuss it," he says, backing off. "Anyway, there's no point if it's not what you want." He gets up and isn't really disappointed. After all, anything worth getting is worth waiting for. He's in no hurry.

Patience is a virtue he's gained quite a lot of, apparently while losing most of the other virtues he'd once possessed.

* * *

Snape seems to have recovered somewhat from his…well, whatever it was evening last. He stands at Harry's entrance and nods at Harry's courteous, "Good afternoon, Professor." He waits for Harry to sit and lay his supplies out on the table before him.

"I have requested more time, which is why you are reporting to me directly from lunch," says Snape, and it is Harry's turn to stare dumbly, though he is, arguably, more prone to doing anything dumbly than Severus Snape has ever been. He knows this. The thing is, Professor Snape is also not known for explaining anything. At all. Ever.

"All right," says Harry, because it's all he can manage at the moment.

"We will begin with our Occlumency practicum, before you tire. It is absolutely vital we make progress in this."

Harry nods dumbly, thinking the man has the most blatantly sexual voice he has ever heard. He realises, too, that his mind is shying away from the things he does not understand nor wish to accept, and focussing, instead, on things that bother him less. Like Snape's delicious voice. Which reminds him of that so-very-complex scent. Snape positively reeks of nasty Potions ingredients, and even those that generally smell quite nice become atrocious when mixed with every other noxious smell the world has produced. Harry wonders if it is the wolf in him that makes him want to rub his face against Snape's robes.

"Mr Potter," Snape says, the command in his tone breaking through Harry's daze with absolute precision.

Harry gasps, then blushes crimson. Murmurs a breathless, "Sorry," before standing.

"I am not a snack, Mr Potter, for when you begin to feel a bit peckish. I suggest you learn to control your…more primitive impulses. They will only intensify as we near the full moon."

Harry can't believe he's been so transparent, that Snape could so easily…and then he recalls that Snape is a master Legilimens, and had had eye contact, and likely could very easily have figured what Harry was so blatantly projecting at him. "Yes, Professor," he agrees meekly. After all, Snape is tactless but otherwise correct, and Harry's staring had been somewhat lacking in courtesy as well.

"Now," says Snape, apparently willing to let it pass. "There is a basic but vital concept that seems to have eluded you, Mr Potter. We all have a past. We all have memories connected with every action we have effected. Positive, negative, indifferent. Strong emotions are more volatile, and provide very powerful hooks into our memories. Those memories tend to linger, to remain bubbling high in our consciousnesses, where they are easier to grab hold of. They also tend to make connections with other memories, and so draw other emotions into themselves. Our most powerful memories are those with the most powerful emotions attached, and with the most connections throughout our experiences. Hence, a single event, like Sirius's murder," and he says it entirely without malice, without judgment, without emotion of any kind—and yet, with respect, "can form linkages with many other memories and trigger a cascade of violently volatile emotions. Suddenly, a single mention of Bellatrix Lestrange, or merely the family name, becomes inextricably linked with his death. The Department of Mysteries, the Ministry of Magic. Professor Dumbledore, myself. Curses which arc red toward their targets…. Suddenly, most things in your life become linked with that single event."

Harry thinks he has never heard Snape speak so much before. He thinks he's never heard Snape actually try to teach before. But mostly, he attempts to understand what it is the professor is trying to explain to him, because it must be of vital importance if he is bothering.

"It is these hooks a skilled Legilimens can use to control you, Mr Potter. The first time I attempted to enter your mind yesterday, I failed. I found no hook, found nothing to trigger. I could read nothing that I saw. I swam through your mind and saw only the vague shapes of memories below me, like fish at the bottom of a murky lake.

"But when I finally caught your memory of Sirius, I was able to pull at it, and drag with it other powerful memories since. I was able to skim the surface and let these memories show me all I never wished to know about the last year of your life. Your mind relived them, interpreting them for me.

"The Occlumens must learn how to control his memories. You must learn to discipline your thoughts—to distance yourself from your emotions. If there is no hook for the Legilimens to capture, then he cannot interpret what is in your mind. The skilled Occlumens can lie with his thoughts and emotions—can feign connections and create memories to mislead the Legilimens.

"Do you understand, Mr Potter?"

Harry understands that Professor Snape is passionate enough about this that he has put aside all of his feelings about Harry in order to attempt to teach him this skill. Harry understands, also, that Occlumency requires a level of magic he cannot even begin to fathom. A level of discipline and control he may never attain. "I don't think I'll be able to do this, Professor," he says honestly, and wonders if the despair is as plain for Snape to see as it seems.

"Despite your dismal performance in Potions, Mr Potter, I am assured by my colleagues that you are quite significantly talented. Gifted, perhaps, and with a very strong level of innate magic. Overcoming the Imperius curse, while not as difficult as mastering Occlumency, requires a great deal of skill as well, and yet you managed it. Blindly, I might add. There are many skills a wizard can master through dumb luck and extraordinary power. I have very little doubt that you shall manage with Occlumency as well."

Harry is gaping. He wants to shut his mouth, but he's simply lost all motor control. Had Professor Snape just encouraged him? He manages first to blink, then to close his mouth with a snap. "Of course, Professor," he says before falling silent again.

"Yes, then," says Snape. "I believe we should allow that information to be assimilated before attempting to make further progress. I assume you were able to find the connection between all of the ingredients I assigned for your reading yesterday?"

"They are all used in the Wolfsbane Potion you have developed, Professor," said Harry. There is no doubt in his mind.

"Exactly. There are others, of course, including both arterial and venous blood of the afflicted," says Snape with some satisfaction, "but the full recipe is extremely complex—"

"I'd like to learn it, Professor," Harry interrupts rashly, only afterward remembering that Snape hates to be interrupted. "Sorry!" he adds, hastily. "I didn't mean to interrupt."

But the professor seems not to even have noticed the interruption so much as the content of Harry's statement. "The Potion is extremely complex, Mr Potter. You are incapable of preparing even the simplest potions without mishap."

Harry feels his jaw set itself stubbornly and attempts to control his defensive anger. "I am perfectly capable of learning things when they are taught. I will learn Occlumency, and I will learn to brew my own Wolfsbane Potion," Harry says quietly, but with a line of steel. "Professor," he adds, an afterthought. But not because he does not respect Snape's skills.

Snape's lip curls in a sneering approximation of amusement. "I see," he says. "And you've decided that I will teach you the Wolfsbane Potion, then?"

"I will learn it now even if you decide not to teach me," Harry says piggishly, knowing he is being silly now but completely unable to control it.

"Begin with completing the assigned reading then, Mr Potter. I will provide you with the ingredients list for the Wolfsbane Potion along with full instructions on its brewing. If you are truly serious about learning to brew it yourself, you are welcome to join me in the evenings to observe the preparation of your own potion."

"What time?" asks Harry. There is no way to back out now, even if he'd wished it. Which he does not.

"Nine o'clock," says Snape. "Now read."

Of Precision and Boundaries by colibri
Part I
Chapter 9: Of Precision and Boundaries

At supper, everyone is again present, and Hagrid remarks on how much better Harry is looking already, though it's only been one day, and really, Harry still hasn't been able to eat more than a few bites of anything.

Still, he does feel better—immensely so—and is grateful that it puts Hagrid's mind at ease.

Courtesies are exchanged all around, and Harry sits down next to Lupin again, who attempts to hide his discomfiture with only moderate success. "How went your lessons this afternoon, then?" he asks.

"Well," Harry says, though Occlumency is still beyond his reach. "Professor Snape is taking me back to the basics, learning how to clear my mind and gain some discipline over my emotions. It will take a great deal of work, but…I am confident," he says and scoops up a fried egg to deposit on his plate, then a rasher of bacon. He looks at the food on his plate, at the way it fills the porcelain with grease, and feels ill. He scans the rest of the table until his eyes settle on a plate full of spinach. "Mr Filch, could you pass the spinach, please?" he asks politely.

Filch startles, then nearly cringes away before passing the spinach on to Snape, who then passes it across to Flitwick, and on to Lupin, then Harry, who takes a spoonful of the spinach onto his plate, then begins to eat it. He makes it last through most of supper.

"Do you spend the entire afternoon working on Occlumency?" Lupin asks before taking a bite of his steak and kidney pie. Harry vows not to look at it again.

"No," he replies. "I also spend time on Potions and Herbology. I'm learning the Wolfsbane Potion."

Lupin is impressed enough to stop eating and turn to Harry. He swallows the mouthful of food he'd been chewing. "Really," he says. "That potion is extremely complex…I didn't think you enjoyed Potions."

"It's a bit more obviously practical than most potions one learns, wouldn't you agree?" Harry says vaguely, turning back to his spinach and finishing the last bite. He stares at the egg for several long seconds before cutting off a piece and popping it in his mouth. He thinks there has to be some other kind of food out there in the world other than fat fried in grease. He accidentally sees Lupin popping another bite of pie into his mouth. Harry decides there is definitely something wrong with him.

"True," Lupin agrees, equally vague, a slight trace of nerves on his scent.

But no one else is paying attention to their conversation that Harry can tell. Which means that Dumbledore is likely taking in every word. "I'll be continuing my education this evening. I'm to return to Professor Snape's workroom to observe his work on the Wolfsbane Potion at nine o'clock."

"Indeed!" says Lupin, but quietly. "How did detention go last night?"

Harry smiles a little, but shrugs and doesn't look at Remus. "It was very productive," he says. "I managed to clean all of the student lavatories."

"Without magic??" Lupin exclaims, drawing everyone's attention for several moments. When no further outbursts are forthcoming, however, the others drift back to their various side conversations.

"No," Harry murmurs, loud enough that only he and Lupin of this group would have been able to hear under normal circumstances. Once again, no one knows what the Headmaster is capable of. "I used magic."

"Filch let you get away with that?"

"Filch didn't say a thing, actually," Harry relays, then figures he may as well tell the story of how he ended up cleaning the toilets at all.

"I must say, that was bold of you," says Remus, looking both amused and impressed.

"I was hoping he'd see reason."

"Of course," says Lupin wryly, "because we all think of him as eminently reasonable."

"Perhaps we should," Harry returns, but he is quickly losing the ability to keep his bubbling laughter at bay, so he decides to change the subject. "What have you been doing with your days, then?" he asks.

"Not very much, I'm afraid," Lupin admits. "I assist the Headmaster with Order business whenever possible, but most of the time, I have little to do—take walks round the lake, assist Hagrid with his creatures and with maintaining Professor Sprout's gardens while she's away. Quite dull my days, really."

Harry has a feeling that Lupin does more for the Headmaster than he lets on, but he's already determined that it would be safest for everyone all round if he simply knows nothing of Order business. No one has come out and told him what the policy is on his being told anything, but it seems a bit daft to even consider telling Harry, when he's so obviously a direct conduit to the Dark Lord himself. Harry could be Voldemort's very best spy. Yet another reason to work harder on the Occlumency. And now that he has neither Triwizard Tournament nor beloved godfather nor even OWLs to worry about, there is nothing to stop him learning it.

Which brings him back to Snape, and his professor's about-face when it came to teaching Harry. Harry thinks it unlikely that any argument Dumbledore has put forth would be enough, since Dumbledore has always known the situation and, frankly, Snape should have as well. Why would Snape suddenly decide to treat Harry fairly? One might think that Snape had only acted the part of hating Harry because of any possible spies about, but the hatred seemed so very real. The unfairness so blatant. And…well…the Marauders really were pricks. Harry thinks that Snape was likely a bit of a prick as well. He thinks Hermione and Neville are the only teenagers in the world who aren't pricks. Well, and Luna Lovegood. She's too oblivious to be a prick—

"Come along, Harry," says Madam Pomfrey, startling Harry out of his reverie. But he is grateful, as he now has an excuse not to finish his supper.

"But Harry, you've not finished—" Lupin attempts.

"It's all right, I'm finished," Harry assures hastily, then follows Pomfrey out of the hall. Unfortunately, he can't help but overhear Hagrid's booming whisper behind him, obviously befuddled as to why Harry is eating so little.

At least he does not have to hear the answer.

* * *

Harry spends the slightly less than two hours between getting his wound re-dressed and going to Snape's chambers revising the Aerem-object charms he has learnt today: Desicco, Pingo, Condenso, Infuso, and Rarefacere. The hardest part is to localise them well enough to notice the effects. Gasses tend to equalise very quickly, neutralising any effects almost instantaneously; while making the effects farther-reaching has the disadvantage of making them affect the caster as well. The main dilemma is, once again, mental clarity and discipline. The localisation of the charms depends entirely on the caster's ability to will the effect, and will it precisely and clearly. Harry is able to sit stably on a thick cushion of air by the time he notices he is nearly late and rushes off to Professor Snape's workroom.

At Harry’s knock, the door opens on the professor's well-appointed workroom, and even the whiff of noxiousness he gets from outside the door cannot prepare him for what permeates every corner of the room once he is inside. He begins immediately to cough whilst, ironically, being overcome by a desire to suffuse himself with the smell.

A low, breathy sound breaks through his absorption, stroking his skin like so many warm fingers. It takes him several long moments to realise that the sound is laughter. He stands blinking at his potions professor until the man has pity on him and stops making that lovely, terrible sound. "I never would have guessed that observing a werewolf could be so thoroughly amusing," he says. He is dressed top to toe in black, as usual, though his robes are nothing near as full as those he normally wears to lessons—his bat-wing robes. These seem a bit more practical for brewing. His hair, as well, is pulled away from his face in a tail, fastened at the nape of his neck. It reminds Harry that his own hair is nearly as long, much of it reaching his shoulders now. It is not long enough to put into a tail that way, though. He thinks it may be time to cut it.

"If you'll move toward the desk, there," says Snape, pulling on a pair of well-used dragon-hide gloves, "I have prepared the list of ingredients and method for you. You may keep that, though I suggest you transfer it precisely into your personal Potions journal."

Harry doesn't own a Potions journal, but he has no intention of saying that to his professor at this juncture. Indeed, it would seem the better part of valour to simply start one now, with this most personal of potions as its inaugural glory. As the lunar calendar shall now mark his time, so shall the Wolfsbane Potion mark his sanity. "Thank you, professor," he says, and retrieves the scroll. It is feet long, all of it in the professor's small, spidery script.

"Have a seat, Mr Potter. You may watch or peruse the scroll. As you will notice, there are certain portions of the potion which need be performed during specific phases of the moon. For the next three days, the moon is occluded. We must harness the essence of the new moon in order to counteract the effects of the full moon on your mind. Tonight, I am simply preparing for that, so the session will be relatively short and uninteresting. You may ask questions as you formulate them."

Harry nods and watches for a time, as Snape prepares several empty phials, then begins finding ingredients. He measures out varying quantities, then seals them in weak stasis bubbles using a Moror Tempus spell that is bounded by the phials. Harry has never really thought about the subtleties of performing such magic. Hexes and charms have always been relatively easy for him, but those he's learnt so far have also been bursts of power and usually unfocussed and unbounded—they go as far as his power will take them, or until they hit something, whichever occurs first. The Aerem-charms he practised today were the first charms he's learnt that actually required bounding in order to limit their target areas, and more than minimal concentration.

Harry is slowly drawn to the scroll in his hands. He first peruses the list, picking out the ingredients he has already been given. Then he studies the others. The blood he has known about, of course. Armadillo bile and crushed scarab beetles, which he knows he has used in potions before. Jobberknoll feathers, (oft used in memory potions), chopped puffskein tongue, runespoor eggs, (of course, for mental ability). Grain alcohol, distilled water, and refined rapeseed oil are all used as solvents. That's basically it. The rest of the scroll is filled with method. Harry's jaw goes slack as he begins to read. It takes only a few minutes before he is despairing. "I cannot fathom how you created this potion, when even brewing it seems impossible," he mutters.

"Students often have difficulty following instructions, Mr Potter. You seem to have a particular aversion to things requiring patience, diligence, precision…indeed, everything Potions requires. You seem to prefer those magics that require only a simple, if powerful, application of your will and are complete all at once. The beauty, the art, and the science of Potions, is that their creation is a deep, many-layered process that takes place over time. Potions-making is a process wherein one can, at every stage, find beauty, harmony, and meaning." Throughout his speech he does not interrupt the flow of his work.

Harry no longer reads the scroll, and he no longer watches Snape to figure out what he is doing. He sits now, and simply observes the potions-master's movements. He admires the precision with which his long, elegant fingers grasp this phial or decant that liquid, swirl and stopper and replace. The workspace is perfectly suited to the man, of course, and his movements are sure and equally precise, as a choreographed dance. He sweeps to and fro, here and there, with minimal extraneous movement, avoiding instruments of every variety Harry has ever read about in his Potions texts and many he has not. A flash of memory suddenly lights behind his eyes, and he has spoken before even realising it. "What is the puffskein tongue for, Professor?"

"Calm," says Snape, and suddenly he looks up, takes a deep, calming breath. "That completes my preparations for tonight. Did you have any further questions?"

Why are you being so nice to me? But Harry doesn't ask. It will only draw attention to the fact that it is occurring at all, and Harry doesn't want to jinx this. He's learnt more from Snape today than he thinks he ever has. He's only passed Potions before because of Hermione's help. "Er…are you going to be busy? I mean, now?"

Snape's right brow arches impressively. "Of course," he says. "There is always work to do."

And Harry finds his heart sinking, though it shouldn't. He berates his own insanity for having even considered

"Did you have additional questions, Mr Potter?"

Harry blinks, his mouth opening again without his leave. "I was hoping you might be available for further Occlumency tutoring," he says in a rush. "It's…" Oh he sounds so silly! "so very important," he trails off, because Snape knows this, of course. Snape would never have agreed to train Harry otherwise.

"Occlumency tutoring," says Snape completely without inflection, and Harry realises that the overwhelming smells of the workroom have faded into the background, but so have Snape's. Perhaps they've simply been masked by the rest. When he focuses, he can hear Snape's slowly beating heart, his nearly silent breathing.

"The meditation…I had a bit of a breakthrough this evening whilst revising my Charms for today," Harry attempts to justify, now, because he has suddenly decided, again, that he hates the prospect of looking like a nit in front of Snape, however inevitable it may be. "I was practising Aerem-object charms, particularly Condenso—and then I was noting your Moror Tempus charm—how you even used it wandless. Bounded charms require such precision and mental discipline—I was thinking how they were related to the discipline required for Occlumency. The absolute awareness of your desired outcome. And yet, in Occlumency, you must be able to know your desired outcome without allowing it to grab your own attention…." Merely thinking about it makes Harry's head spin. Don't think about a white elephant. Once again, he feels he is way out of his depth.

Snape looks at him consideringly. "You are thinking, Mr Potter—a rarity for you, I expect. It is…heartening." His manner grows brisk then, as he straightens and chills to his usual demeanour. "The level of mastery of which you speak, however, is far beyond your abilities and also your needs, at this moment. This is the reason we are focussing on meditation, on clearing your mind of everything, including purpose. It is, in the end, simpler than the control a master wields. To be able to relax and allow your mind to clear is your first task, and difficult enough."

Harry nods and stands, rolling the scroll absently.

"We can, however, spend an hour working on your meditation, if you desire."

Harry doesn't waste time with surprise. "Thank you, Professor!"

* * *

When Harry returns to Lupin's rooms, the man himself is seated in an armchair close to the fireplace, which is not lit. A lamp shines its light onto the book Lupin is reading, though too dimly, really, to be healthy for his eyes. Perhaps werewolves need not concern themselves with such things. After all, Harry has no trouble seeing in the dimness of the room, and his glasses are lying on the table beside his bed, gathering dust.

"Good evening, then, Harry," says Lupin and lays down his book. His nose crinkles for a moment, but then he seems to forget and smiles calmly before yawning a moment after. "Good lesson?"

"A bit disheartening," Harry admits and holds up the scroll.

"Is that the potion?" Lupin asks.

Harry nods, then moves to take the seat opposite Lupin. "How was your evening?"


Lupin—Remus—looks lovely in the low light. The calm, like the lamp-light, smoothes the worry lines between his brows and in his forehead. The shallow furrows in his cheeks are only from laughter now, not scowling. The webs at the corners of his eyes, from squinting into the noonday sun. His lips are soft and somehow moist. Harry's own are nearly always a bit chapped. "That's good," says Harry, and his voice sounds just a hair too breathless.

It immediately puts Remus on guard, who suddenly seems to notice Harry's desire. Perhaps Harry is also scenting. It is likely. "Well, look at the time!" Remus says and stands hastily, his book dropping to the floor when he does, the man having forgotten all about it. "Oh!" he says, and bends over to pick it up again, checking to assure himself it is intact. It looks old, but whole. "You've lessons tomorrow morning, after all, yes?"

"Er, yeah," Harry agrees, annoyed that his libido has caused this flight response. "You needn't get up, Remus. I'm turning in anyway." He stands and moves quickly toward his room, to put distance between them. "If you want to read up on the method," he says and holds up the scroll momentarily, "you're welcome to borrow it."

Lupin is blushing furiously, but it seems already to be fading. "Thank you, Harry," he says and remains standing where he is before the chair, the book held in his hands already forgotten again.

Harry closes himself into his room and makes ready for bed.

Progress by colibri
Part I
Chapter 10: Progress

At Harry's next Charms lesson Flitwick is extremely impressed with Harry's progress. Harry is also proud. He revised for an hour before breakfast and had managed to improve overnight. And quite substantially. He cannot yet do all of the Aerem-object charms without thought, but he can do them consistently and well. Flitwick shows him how to work the same charms with an Aquam-object, then how to generalise using a Latex-object. Flitwick shows him how increasing the power behind the Condenso charm can turn not only water into ice, but air into ice. The amount of power the professor uses in order to affect this change, however, is significant. Harry manages it but is surprised by how much power it takes, and the ice sublimates to steam almost instantly. Flitwick then shows him how to perform a heating charm more subtle than Incendio, called Fervefacio, so that he can melt ice instead of exploding it.

Professor Binns's lesson is predictably boring, until Harry asks whether the professor knows anything about the Spanish Inquisition, which he has heard about on the telly, though it was a bit of a gag at the time. The professor seems entirely shocked by his lone student's asking of a question, and now that Harry thinks about it, he can't recall anyone having asked a question in Binns's lessons, not in years. He listens while the professor drones on about that for a while, and when he finds himself bored, Harry asks about the history of Christendom as it relates to Wizarding society. And so in this way, he manages not to fall asleep for the entire lesson, and though he doesn't learn very much, he has at least been engaged, and has learnt something. He decides he should look through his text and see if he can find anything interesting, then ask the professor questions all through the next lesson. The prospect is not a particularly exciting one.

It is his afternoon lessons he is most looking forward to. He made just the tiniest sliver of progress on his meditation with Professor Snape night last, and a hair more after returning and lying down for bed. He feels confident that he can look at that scroll today and not cringe at the sight. He will learn patience. He will learn how to see each step in the preparation of the potion as worthwhile in its own right, though still contributing to a whole that is far more than the sum of its parts. He will attempt to revere each step as if he were laying down a single brush-stroke in an oil painting. He has no talent for the latter, but the former—well, he is luckier there. He has strong magic, he is beginning to believe that. And he has highly developed senses, now. He is already beginning to be able to distinguish the Potions ingredients he is exposed to by scent. And goodness knows his body has an appreciation for them—the more…fragrant, the better.

He arrives at the Potions dungeon and delves into his reading with renewed fervour. He needs to know this information. He wants to know this information. His life now depends on a potion in a way both immediate and tangible. No other skill taught at Hogwarts has ever felt so relevant, though DADA has come close.

So he completes the assigned reading as quickly as he can manage while still assimilating the information, then moves on to the scroll, re-reading the ingredients list, then starting to read the method again, slowly. With patience. He notices the way the method is divided by moon phases. He notices the way some steps are chopping, pounding, infusing and mixing, whilst others involve spellcasting and harnessing elements or trapping essences. He pays attention to timing, and notes where some stretches of the method are hours-long and do not allow for rest—how they require diligence and stamina, and either an assistant, (so that one can chop whilst the other stirs), or the type of preparation Snape had done the night before. He notes how some ingredients must be added over and over, on different nights, during different phases of the moon; how some ingredients must be prepared in different ways and added to the potion. The aconite alone, (one of many poisons in the potion), must be added during every phase of the moon, while the runespoor eggs are added only during the phase of the new moon.

Harry immerses himself in this method, picking it apart, visualising, attempting to understand not merely the method, but the why. It is beyond him, most of it, but when he looks up certain ingredients, things start to make sense. The third and fourth time he looks up an ingredient, searching for answers to different questions regarding the same ingredient, he begins to get a feel for the individual parts. When he finally closes his Potions text and groans in exhausted frustration, he has begun to gain an appreciation for some of the ways in which the ingredients interact.

He decides that he absolutely cannot read another word about Potions and looks up to see if, perhaps, Snape is willing to move on—at least to Herbology, if not Occlumency. His professor sits engrossed in a book of his own, completely oblivious to Harry's presence. "Pardon, Professor?" Harry asks quietly, loath to interrupt the man though they seem to be on relatively solid footing, lately.

But Snape does not seem startled or at all put out, really. "So, you have finally surfaced," he says.

"I don't think I could read another word about runespoor eggs just now," Harry admits.

Snape lowers his head in acknowledgment. "Perhaps supper, then?" he asks.

"Well, I'm certain I could wait until we've had our Occlumency lesson, Professor." After all, it's not as though he's completely exhausted. He's really only tired of Potions.

Elegant eyebrows rise in doubt. "You've only half an hour to eat before Madam Pomfrey expects you, Mr Potter. I assure you, there will be time for our Occlumency lesson after supper. Before I begin work on the new moon phase of your potion."

Only then does Harry understand what Snape means. He's been reading on Potions for five hours without break. "Oh," he says dumbly and stands. His legs feel stiff. "Right."

Supper passes in a haze, and he barely notices that Lupin begs off almost as soon as Harry arrives. He eats a bowl of porridge that miraculously appears before him and is grateful for it. Surprisingly enough, it doesn't turn his stomach, despite the strange texture. He manages to force down more than half of a bowl, then eats a few bites of spinach, because it's there and it's very, very green, and he thinks it's pretty. He worries for a moment that he's going insane, but then recalls he's taken that journey already, and it hasn't made much difference, other than that he's just a bit happier.

He leaves with Madam Pomfrey and learns that his wound no longer needs to be dressed and that he should continue to be vigilant, whatever that means, since he's paid it no mind whatsoever since giving up his status as full-time resident of the hospital wing. He is back in the dungeons by half past seven, and Professor Snape is waiting for him, standing regally imposing, dark and severe, with his arms crossed and his wand in his right hand against his left biceps. He does not wait for Harry to draw his own wand before he intones, "Legilimens!"

Harry has only enough time to take a deep breath before it hits, and the first thing that comes to mind is, I must not think of a white elephant. It is not the proper way, and it's a bit of a cheat, but he confines his mind to it for as long as possible. He grows nervous and his emotions soon take over, reminding him of why he is thinking so hard of not thinking of a white elephant. But it worked for a time, and he is not crouched, weeping, on the floor when Snape withdraws, though he is trembling like a leaf in the wind.

"That was…better," Snape mutters, though the disappointment is clear in his voice. "You managed to maintain your calm for longer. If you'd pulled your wand, you could possibly have disarmed me, instead of waiting for me to break through your resolve."

"Yes, Professor," says Harry, because he's learnt that Snape appreciates it, and because, frankly, there's no argument to what Snape is saying. The man is right, of course, and the fact that Harry knows he should have pulled his wand does not make Snape less right. Besides, the wryness in Snape's tone says he knows that Harry had known this as well. He is reminding Harry because Harry hadn't pulled his wand, though he'd known he should have. He deserves the reminder.

"Again, then?" says Snape, though it's no question, and Harry has his wand out before Snape casts Legilimens again.

Harry is ready this time, and he knows it. It boosts his confidence. The only real thought in his mind when Snape attempts to enter is drawing his wand, and with that in hand, he pulls calm about himself. He suppresses metaphor, because he must suppress thought and connections. He lets thought slide away, envisioning only a flow of water, unencumbered by any objects in its path. Its sound is soothing, a rushing that could be water or wind but holds no particular associations. He has never heard this sound before, in life. Its colour is a watery blue he has never seen in water before. There are no banks nor shore, there is only water, and sound.

He knows not for how long he stands, immersed in calm. Only that Professor Snape's voice sounds almost pleased when it flows to him again. "Excellent use of calm," says the voice, and Harry wonders if he has ever heard a true word of praise from this professor before today. "This is what you needed to learn, what you need while you are protected at Hogwarts. It will be too obvious if you are facing the Dark Lord, but that hardly matters. He will be unlikely to believe that you are siding with him anyway." Snape's smirk humanises his face in a way that feels almost sacrilegious, but Harry finds he likes it.

"Thank you, Professor," Harry says.

They practise until 9 p.m., by which time Harry is able to maintain his calm whilst managing to fire off those spells he has drilled ad nauseam, namely Accio and Expelliarmus. He fights a surge of warm pride at Snape's, "It's difficult to believe that you have actually made progress, Mr Potter. We shall hope you haven't regressed by tomorrow's lesson." Harry would rather stay up all night practising than regress.

At 9, they move to Snape's workroom, and Harry watches for two straight hours while Snape begins the first part of the new moon phase of the potion, using many of the materials he had prepared earlier, as well as some he must prepare as he goes. Harry is even allowed to prepare the decoction of aconite for this stage, since it is difficult to bollocks up boiling water and adding a pre-measured amount of herb to it. Still, Neville could cock it up. But Harry doesn't.

He sits in his chair and revises the method, going over the pieces he has witnessed today and making connections to what he has missed that came before, and what is coming up tomorrow with the continuation of the new moon phase of the potion. He struggles to make sense, he struggles to remember, and in the end, he struggles to remain awake.

One can only struggle for so long.

* * *

"Mr Potter, I really must insist that you awaken and return to your rooms immediately. I will not have the other professors whinging to me about your obviously well-placed priority in my lessons."

Harry knows he's not been sleeping on a bed, because he remembers waking many, many times after a nod with this same (or a similar) crick in his neck. The difference is that today, he feels neither ill nor particularly shaky. He opens one eyelid experimentally and realises that he is in a room he has never seen before. It smells like Professor Snape.

"You haven't all morning, Potter," comes that voice again, silky even in its annoyance. "I already spend far too much time in your presence. When I return, you'd best be gone."

Harry listens as a door closes behind him, then gets off the sofa he is lying on. Snape must have lain him here the night before, and covered him with this quilt. He pulls himself seated, then stands. Stretches. And finds that his shoes have been removed and that they are sitting neatly next to the sofa, near his feet. His school robes, unfortunately, are a disaster. He puts on his shoes.

He sighs deeply, rubs his eyes and remembers again, with a jolt, that he no longer needs his glasses. He opens the door that seems most likely to lead out of the room, and finds the workroom. From there, he knows the way back to Lupin's rooms, where he showers and washes his hair three times, though it still is unlikely to get all of the smell of potions out. Not that he minds overmuch. It's everyone else he worries about. Mostly Lupin, though he's not sure why he cares. He wonders if Lupin enjoys the smells of the Potions laboratory as much as Harry does.

He somehow doubts it.

* * *

The morning passes and Harry is somewhat disappointed. He fell asleep the night before without having revised his History of Magic, and so is not prepared to make the lesson interesting. He spends the lesson skimming through chapters and reading those that seem interesting, instead of listening to Binns. Writing down questions for use next time. He promises himself that he will make the time to revise the text this evening.

Charms is as enjoyable as ever. It is the subject he is making the fastest progress in, and he has already gone beyond the scope of a sixth year class, though he hasn't yet covered all of the spells. Flitwick is indulging his curiosity shamelessly, teaching the charms in the syllabus, but then teaching related charms and theories for modification and for throwing related charms when one is in a bind. Harry can't imagine how boring it would have been to have had to learn all of this the regular way. He also can't imagine how he would have gained this level of understanding. He starts to empathize with Hermione's lust for knowledge. She doesn't have the benefit of private tutoring by masters in the subject, so she is forced to read ahead and read on the side, and then be frustrated when she wishes to ask her questions during class. She has to do extra credit work simply to get her questions answered. Harry has a feeling her questions are all of the essential variety as well. The ones that make synthesis and true integration possible.

After Charms, however, Flitwick tells Harry that he has been summoned by the Headmaster, and that the password is 'dots'. Harry has no idea what dots have to do with sweets, but he goes.

Now he sits before the Headmaster. Before him stands a table, and on the table stand a glass of pumpkin juice and a Yorkshire pudding filled with, of all things, maize and mash. Harry has never even considered mixing maize and mash, and to fill them into a Yorkshire pudding seems absolute madness. So he tastes it, and decides it fits in rather well with his already apparent lunacy. He eats several bites before he notices the Headmaster looking fondly on. "Oh, sorry, Professor," he says with mouth full, then swallows and drinks half of his pumpkin juice down.

"No, no, Harry," says the Headmaster, eyes all a-twinkle, as usual. "That's quite all right. Are you enjoying your lunch?"

"It's good!" Harry replies enthusiastically. He is already starting to feel full, but the portion is small enough that he's confident he can finish it. "I'm sorry, I'm certain you didn't bring me here only to feed me."

"That's quite true," agrees the Headmaster. "Professor Flitwick tells me that you are making extraordinary progress in Charms."

Harry nods a little. "I feel much more comfortable with this teaching style," he admits. "We never move on until I've understood everything, and we approach topics from many different angles as well, to reinforce concepts. It's very stimulating."

"Good, good!" says the Headmaster enthusiastically. "Even Professor Snape is pleased with your progress."

Harry stops chewing for several moments before he remembers again, then swallows before he says, "He didn't say that."

"Well, of course not," Dumbledore admits, still twinkling, still smiling. He looks much younger now than he had done at the beginning, when Harry had first returned from his…hiatus. "But it is apparent that he is."

"I think he is surprised that I care," says Harry and lays his fork down. He has nearly finished the pudding, but finds he cannot. Still, he's done well, he thinks. He stares longingly at the pumpkin juice, but his stomach is already sloshing.

"Harry, we were thinking that you might like to move into rooms of your own for the remainder of the summer."

Harry blinks. "Oh," he says. Lupin has kicked him out. Lupin no longer wants him about, making ill-conceived passes. "Er…I suppose that'd be all right, then." As if he has a choice. As if he wishes to remain where he's not wanted.

"There are several rooms throughout the castle that have, traditionally, been used for apprentices. It is rare for professors at Hogwarts to take apprentices, but not unheard of, and so there are rooms. You may, of course, take a dormitory in Gryffindor tower if you'd like, but they are a bit large and out of the way, considering where most of your classes are. They also tend to get lonely over the summer…" he says, and he sounds like he'd rather Harry not sleep in the dorms. "But sometimes what can feel lonely to some is merely pleasantly quiet to others. It is your decision."

"Where are the apprentices' chambers?" Harry asks before managing another sip of pumpkin juice.

"There is one near each of most of the professors' chambers, but I thought perhaps the room in the dungeon would be most convenient for you, since you spend more than half of your day in lessons with Professor Snape."

Despite knowing this already, it is a thought that had not yet occurred to Harry, and he finds it surprisingly disconcerting and yet…not. He nods absently. It seems a good enough choice. He could have made it back to his rooms last night if he'd been in the dungeons. "All right," he says.

Dumbledore smiles merrily, as if there'd ever been any doubt he'd convince Harry of…well, whatever he'd needed to convince Harry of. "That's settled, then."

Harry decides he has no desire to mention Remus. He wishes he could make things better between them, but Remus obviously wants nothing to do with him, and he's not going to be some stalker, passing messages through others. He'd not have been nearly as interested if Remus hadn't been attracted to him as well.

Harry stands. "If that is all, Professor…I'd like to get to my lessons with Professor Snape on time."

"Always a taskmaster, that one," says the Headmaster sagely, and twinkles, standing to lead Harry out of his offices. "Continued success, Harry…continued success." And then Harry is being transported down the winding staircase, and is deposited outside the stone gargoyle. A mad gleam comes into his eye and he almost laughs. Lunacy, he thinks. His life has become sheer lunacy. He casts Condenso Aerem and steps onto the thick cushion of air, feeling a slight heat through his shoes, and then he wills it forward and oh miracle of miracles, it works. And it's a bit like riding a broom, all balance and concentration, yet not. It is far better. And once he gets used to the idea, he is moving at least thrice his running pace. He makes it to the dungeons in record time. Just in time, in fact.

Snape seems surprised to see him. "I only just received word from the Headmaster that you would be tardy," he blurts.

"I took the train," says Harry and sits down behind his cauldron, which is always here now, though he's not used it yet.

"Of course," says Snape, then straightens to his full height, staring down his nose at Harry. "Shall I start taking points for impertinence, then?" he drawls. "I thought we'd come long past that."

Harry is startled. "I—I'm sorry, Professor." He'd forgotten that his lunacy was his alone, no matter how much others seemed to…well, fit in. "I used Condenso Aerem and rode a cloud here."

A fleeting look of…surprise? Snape's emotions are always so quickly hidden—when they're shown at all—that it's difficult to be certain of what one has just seen. But Harry is fairly certain. He simply doesn't understand why Snape would be surprised…. Oh.

"I'm sorry…I forgot about the prohibition against magic being used in the corridors. I simply didn't think of it, since there is no one to harm, and I wasn't duelling."

"Of course," says Snape and brushes it off with an elegant hand. "The prohibition is not to curb revision. But it was a…very creative use of the charm. Well done."

And so his Potions lesson begins on this day with a real compliment, and not even about Harry's Potions work. "Thank you, Professor."

Snape obviously doesn't wish to dwell on it. "We will commence our reading of the sixth-year advanced Potions syllabus. I trust you will continue to revise the Wolfsbane Potion during your free time, as well as join me for observation and practicum in the evenings."

"Absolutely, Professor," Harry assures.

"Of course," Snape agrees. "Open to page 605 in your text and familiarise yourself with the Flame Retardant Potion."

It turns out that the Flame Retardant potion is used to keep a witch or wizard from burning, as in, at the stake. It only lasts for approximately one quarter of an hour, but that's certainly more than long enough for the flames to get high enough to block out any view, and then to Apparate out of there. It's much simpler to prepare than the Wolfsbane Potion, of course, and seems, somehow, even simpler than most of the potions he's had to prepare during lessons in the past. He has a feeling that's more his perception than anything else.

So today, he uses the first two hours of his tutoring with Snape to learn and practise making this potion, then moves on to Herbology, for which Snape actually takes him outside, to the greenhouses, for once. Snape explains that they need to make haste in order for Harry to get through the applicable sixth-year syllabi before the term starts. Harry doesn't ask what he's to do about the subjects he's not taking over the summer. He can only assume (or hope) that the Headmaster has a solution in mind. He certainly doesn't care about Divination at all, but Transfiguration is an absolutely vital subject and his understanding is that McGonagall won't be returning until the second week of August. School begins on September 1, which gives him less than a month to learn a year's worth of Transfiguration. Needless to say, that is impossible. Especially since 7th years are bombarded with work, preparing for their NEWTs. He would not have time to catch up his 6th year and do his 7th at the same time.

Of course, the odds of him surviving long enough to have to worry about NEWTs are…well, not wonderful, certainly.

Then there's always the question of why he's not learning Care of Magical Creatures now, with Hagrid here and all. He should probably be revising it on his own, since the material is certainly important, (and perhaps more efficiently learned without the collateral drama of Hagrid's practica).

The hour goes quickly indeed, with Snape speeding through at least five or six days worth of material—dittany, fluxweed, ginger, lovage, mallowsweet, and sage—since he doesn't force Harry to actually plant nor re-pot nor harvest anything.

They return to the dungeons in time to spend another two positively gruelling hours at Occlumency, after which Harry is exhausted but beaming. He has managed to keep Snape out for nearly the entire two hours, despite teasing and taunting, hexing and enforced eye-contact. When Snape manages to cast a Befuddlement Charm on him, Harry forgets what he's trying to do and Snape gets through with a question about Sirius. Still, the progress this time is undeniable, and Harry accompanies the professor to supper.

Supper is entirely uneventful, except that, once again, there is food before him that he would never have considered eating before, but now finds himself intrigued by. A salad, with some sort of lettuce he's never seen before—dark green and not crisp at all, really—and cucumbers and tomatoes and runner beans and maize and flowers. And a vinegary sauce that smells just strong enough to fascinate him until he has eaten the entire bowl of salad, minus the flowers. Which he stares at for several minutes, and scents—a nontrivial task over the vinegar—and eventually eats, merely because it seems lunacy, and he is growing so very comfortable with lunacy. They both smell and taste a bit green and spicy but otherwise, not like much, and he finds he likes the idea of eating flowers. He imagines his insides growing lovely, with flowers in planters here and there.

And then he takes his leave whilst the rest are still eating, and goes to Lupin's rooms to find his things. He packs everything into his trunk that he can, then shrinks it to pocket-size. Only then does he remember that both Hedwig and his Firebolt are gone. He's not seen them since he left them with Ron over a year ago. He feels the corners of his mouth turn down in sadness, a completely worthless gesture as there is no one here to see.

He returns to Professor Snape's workroom and can immediately scent that the man has not yet returned from supper. So he waits outside the door, practising his Charms. He condenses air to ice and lets it go. He creates a cushion of air beneath himself and floats it a foot above the ground. He maintains that while using Infusio on another section of air before him, which he then condenses, causing a little localised bout of rain to puddle on the floor before him. He condenses the water to a sphere, then freezes it with a Conglacio, then lets it drop to the floor where it remains, melting only slowly, until he performs Fervefacio, turning the ice to water again. A stronger Fervefacio and the puddle boils itself off into steam.

And then he gets an idea. He puts his trunk on the floor and restores it, takes out one of his tatty old t-shirts—his least favourite. And he thinks, what would melting cotton mean? Speeding the particles, like Flitwick had said. Flame, he thinks. And he wonders just how related the Incendio charm and Fervefacio are. He uses Diffindo to cut off a swatch of the t-shirt, then returns the rest to his trunk. He then visualises his desired effect, and casts Fervefacio. The fabric smoulders to brown and black. His bum is getting hot, so he stands. He casts Rarefacio on the charred fabric and the fabric disappears in a puff of disintegrated soot, the particles only slowly settling around the floor below his feet.

"Fascinating," says that voice that could only be Snape's, and Harry lets the air below his feet escape its bounds. He lands, lightly, on the stone floor and quickly shrinks his trunk again, then Accios it to his hand and pockets it.

"Just revising, Professor," he says, hoping his blush is hidden in the darkness of the corridor, wondering why he is blushing in the first place.

"As a student should," agrees Snape. "You've still an hour before I resume the potion. Perhaps there are other places better suited to revision than outside my workroom door?"

Now Harry's blush is likely bright enough to light up the corridor. "Er…I was going to relocate to my new rooms," he explains hastily, once he has gathered his wits again. "I was hoping you would know where they are."

Snape's single raised eyebrow is the only clue that the Headmaster has, once again, exaggerated how satisfied Snape is with the new arrangement. Since, after all, it appears that Snape has not even been notified, much less asked his opinion.

Harry sighs. "The Headmaster has decided that I should relocate. He offered the apprentice rooms here in the dungeons," he explains. "I apologize, professor. I had been led to believe that you were amenable to this new arrangement."

Snape's mouth is set in a quivering line. "Of course," he murmurs dangerously. "The Headmaster," but he does not finish the thought. "Is there some reason for you not to remain with Lupin, since you and he share your condition, and the entire point was for him to assist you come your first transition?" His voice is betraying his anger slightly, but his violently pounding heart is far more damning.

"I believe it would be…inappropriate for me to speculate as to the Headmaster's reasons for having me removed from Lupin's rooms."

"I doubt it would be mere speculation," says Snape wryly. He is already distracted from his anger by the intrigue. Secrets seem to be a form of currency in Slytherin house, as far as Harry has been able to ascertain over the years.

Harry inclines his head in concession, but says no more on the subject. And when he meets Professor Snape's eyes, he is carefully blank. He blinks innocently.

The professor breaks into a smirk. "Well done," he murmurs, then intones, "Revelo," with a wave of his hand. A door is revealed in the corridor straight across from that to his workroom. "I've never had an apprentice," Snape mutters, "and a door has always been an irresistible invitation to mischief for curious children. Alohomora." The lock clicks and Snape opens the door with a sound like rushing air.

"Sealing charm?" Harry asks.

"Indeed," Snape agrees. "Vacuum seal, no less."

Everything is in perfect condition. It looks untouched, as if some student might have moved out yesterday. It is fully furnished, but only with the essentials—a comfy chair, a fireplace, a desk and desk chair, and a long, narrow bed in the corner. The room is large enough that there is easily space to walk about despite the furniture. A door in the left wall leads to an en-suite. "Thank you," Harry says, then moves to the foot of the bed, where he takes out his trunk and restores it.

"Finish settling in here, perhaps summon a house elf so that you might have fresh bed linen. Then return to my workroom. The door will open for you." With that, he leaves, closing the door behind himself.

"Dobby!" Harry yells, uncertain whether Dobby is even still here, much less whether Harry can be heard by house elves simply by yelling. But he needn't wait long.

"Harry Potter!" cries the small creature that arrives, and Harry sees almost immediately that it is, indeed, Dobby. "We thought you wasn't ever coming back!" he says, then wraps himself around Harry's leg very tightly.

"Yes, well, er…" Harry stumbles, not sure what to say. "I thought I wasn't coming back, too, to be honest. Dobby, I was hoping I could ask a favour?"

"Of course, Harry Potter! How can Dobby be of service to his favourite wizard?"

"I've moved to these rooms for the remainder of the summer, and I was hoping I could get fresh linen? For the loo and the bed?"

"One moment," says Dobby, before popping out, only to pop back in several seconds later with a stack of clean, white linen and a luxuriously thick blanket in Gryffindor red and gold. "Dobby's got all the linen Harry Potter is going to need!" he announces.

"Er, thanks, Dobby. But, I have to go to lessons now with Professor Snape. I hope I'll see you about?"

"Dobby's always here if Harry Potter needs him!" says Dobby and disappears into the en-suite.

Harry goes to his evening practicum.

(Chapter continues...)

Progress (continued) by colibri
Chapter 10: Progress (continued)

Harry is lost in thought—or perhaps fretting—when he accompanies Dumbledore to his offices after luncheon the next day. He barely notices their arrival, and does not notice the door closing behind himself.

"What can I do for you, Harry, my boy?"

Dumbledore’s words snap him to attention. He does not sit, but he does look up at the Headmaster. "Where am I going to be…kept…while I undergo the change this cycle?" he asks.

Dumbledore looks at him carefully before deciding what to say. Perhaps he is sorting out exactly what question Harry is asking. "Lupin has offered to remain with you at the Shrieking Shack, if you wish," he says seriously, "but there are no students here. The castle is not lacking in spaces. You could remain in your rooms if you wished. We would simply remove your personal items and furniture for a time in order to assure nothing is damaged."

"Right," Harry agrees slowly. He finds it somehow unnerving that no one has mentioned to him the fact that the Wolfsbane Potion won't be completed before his change this cycle. It took him several days of poring over the method before he'd even considered the possibility, but then it became shamefully obvious. The potion takes a full cycle to brew, and Harry must drink it starting five days before the change. Harry wasn't even infected until the last day of the full moon. So…the mathematics of the situation simply wouldn't allow for him to take the potion this cycle. And yet no one has broached the subject of his necessary confinement to him. "Must I be supervised by Lupin?" he asks quietly. He'd rather have as little as possible to do with Lupin at this stage.

Dumbledore seems surprised, then saddened. Harry suddenly realises he is noticing far subtler cues than he normally could. Still, the Headmaster can hide much better than he is at the moment. "Of course, not," he replies. "Professor McGonagall will not be back yet, however, and we have no other animagi here at Hogwarts…." But he seems to realise his error quickly. At least he doesn't mention Sirius. "You wish to remain alone?"

"Yes," Harry says, "I do. May I be excused?"

Dumbledore's eyes don't twinkle, but he nods and smiles, and says, "Of course, Harry. Have a good lesson."

Harry does.

(End chapter 10)

Lunacy by colibri
Part I
Chapter 11: Lunacy

The cycle turns and Harry approaches his first change with both curiosity and resigned fear. He has little time to think on it during the day, as he spends every moment in lessons, revision, or at meals. His appetite has improved, though only marginally, and the weight is not really coming back. But he feels better, at least, and his colour has improved slightly. He has even begun taking out a school broom for a turn every day before breakfast, practising a bit of snitch-chasing. He finds that he has got into a sorry shape, but the movements return. His body knows what to do, it is simply too weak to do some of it.

Still, there's not much time for flying, for he still spends evenings with Professor Snape and the now-comforting rhythms of preparing the Wolfsbane. Though every evening is somewhat different, there are patterns, and he has long-since committed the ingredients and method to memory.

It is only during the last two days or so before his change that he is no longer able to sit quietly in the workroom and observe. When Snape has him preparing ingredients or stirring, he is all right, but as soon as he stops, he begins to fidget nervously, and his body grows restless. He notices every sound, and has a nearly overwhelming compulsion to take down every beaker, jar, and phial and open it, experience its scent, even taste it.

The day before his change, he is useless in lessons. He spends the entire hour of Binns's lesson up on a window ledge, staring outside and watching birds and insects flit about. In Charms, he flies from extreme to extreme, causing no outcome at all when trying one spell, blowing a hole in a wall when he loses control in another. He finds the professor far more interesting than the subject, and follows the tiny man with his entire attention for long moments, noticing the nuances of sunlight on his pinkish skin, scenting the blood pulsing sluggishly beneath. The life.

At luncheon, he eats roast beef until he grows queasy, then goes to fly on a broom because he simply cannot bear to be inside a moment longer, and he'd rather vomit than sit about waiting for lessons. But he is brought down by the Headmaster not long after and taken inside again, where he is handed over to Professor Snape, because he 'shouldn't be alone outside' at this time of month, and because his lessons will 'speed the time' he must otherwise spend waiting.

He follows the professor to the Potions dungeon and watches Snape's every movement as if the man were a rabbit, or a deer, perhaps. He drowns in the sound of Snape's pulsing blood and rubs his neck against Snape's robes until he is forced by the man to stop. He basks in the smoky, yet mellifluous words that flow over him, though he doesn't understand very well what they mean, and cares even less. "Mr Potter, please control yourself." It means nothing to him. He knows only the feel, the scent of comfort, and the coolness of stone against his face. He is panting but it is not cooling him very well. There is something wrong, but he cannot fix it. He whines and the sound is wrong…soft and human. He bays and it sounds like a scream.

He is being held now, close to the scent of comfort which is smelling more and more like food. But he is not hungry. He feels ill. He needs to chew on grass, something green. To get this sickness out of his belly. He needs to fix what is wrong, the thing that makes him sound human, instead of wolf. He wants the human words to stop, the, "—going to take you to your rooms you'll be all right lock the doors wards check morning changefoodsoundsoundsoundsound—"

But then he is curling up on a large cushion on the floor, and the sounds have stopped, and he is alone and shaking, and nothing. Nothing at all, but a ball of dimmed light in the ceiling. Life simply stops and he falls asleep.

* * *

Until he is awakened by pain. Great, searing gashes of pain and enormous, bone-crunching smashes of pain. And he doesn't understand what is happening. He crawls from his soft, warm perch to the cool stone floor, but it does not help. He cries piteously as his bones crack and grow and remould themselves into new shapes and configurations. He screams in agony and fear as his skin stretches and itches and rips and heals. As his hair is shed and fur sprouts from every pore. As cartilage melts and reforms, as his teeth elongate, his tongue, his entire jaw. His skull. The world is agony, and he is too tormented to wish for death.

He lies in a pool of slime for he knows not how long, before realising that the pain has gone. He stands shakily, and finds that finally his body is right. Is whole. He is strong and agile. The scents of the world are his to understand and savour. His claws click against the stone of the floor and that is nearly right. Right enough that he is happy. He bays and the sound is full and strong. Young, yes, but strong. His ears are mobile and sensitive, and on the other side of stone, he can hear voices. Voices of humans. Of meat. He is bouncing off of stone that is soft onto stone that is equally soft before he realises he has moved. His legs are strong, his claws are long and sharp. He growls at the stone and charges again. There is meat beyond those stones, though he cannot see it. There is nothing here but a cushion that smells of meat—though a strange, familiar kind of meat—and stones.

He slams himself against the soft stone again and again, until he is tired and bruised, despite the softness. And then he lies down on the cushion and whines. The smell of meat is gone now, anyway, and the world is unbearably small and grey and dead. He scratches behind his left front leg, on the ribs, and finds that his claws feel good scratching, even if his skin does not. He scratches until he is bleeding, and then licks the blood up. It is not as good as human meat, but it is better than nothing.

He scratches himself bloody in many places, then licks himself until he has healed again. And then he nips at himself—at his tail, at the fleshy parts of his legs, though they are not very fleshy. His jaw wants to clamp down until bones are crushed, until blood floods his mouth. But he does it only once before learning that it is not as pleasant as he had hoped, then whines again until he falls asleep.

A dream wakes him—one wherein he is running, chasing after a little snake in the grass. It is lovely and quick, and he chases it with great abandon. It slithers to and fro, sometimes sidewise, and he follows, doubling back on the trail, hopping to follow. He stalks the snake as birds twitter in the branches above. He awakens and springs to his paws, then halts to scent the air, to listen for rustling, or hissing, or breath. But there is only his own breathing, and his own scent…the blood he has left to dry in his stone prison. There is no sound of meat from beyond the stone. There is nothing but the stone and the ball of golden light he cannot reach, even when he attempts to jump high, to catch it.

He bays and wishes the light were silver.

* * *

In the morning, he awakens aching and panicked, his voice raw, his nails cracked and blood-stained, his skin painted and encrusted with streaks of brown. He is naked and there is no clothing that he can see. He does not remember getting here, much less undressing. He is lying on a bloody cushion.

Slowly, he uncurls himself from his position and moves toward the en-suite, where he avoids looking in the mirror. There is a set of school robes on the toilet seat. He showers quickly once, washing the blood away, then showers again with more care. He washes his hair, beneath his nails, behind his ears. Even his ears are sore. He feels like he has been run through a wringer, not that he's ever used one. Aunt Petunia has an electric washer and tumbler.

He turns off the tap and dries himself on a fluffy, white towel, then dresses in school robes. He has no idea what time it is, but he is certain Dobby, at least, will offer him breakfast.

When he is still down the corridor from the Great Hall, he can hear the professors in there talking and knows it is not so very late. He pushes the door open, finding he is weak enough to notice the weight of it. He goes to the table and offers a subdued, "Good morning, Professors," before taking his customary seat across from Dumbledore and beside Hagrid.

The adults fall silent, and even Hagrid notices that something is amiss. "All right, Harry?" he asks.

"Certainly, Hagrid. And yourself?" Harry offers with nearly genuine cheer before taking the bowl of oatmeal porridge before him and adding bilberries, sugar, then milk, and digging in. It is positively delightful. He is starving this morning, he is certain, but he feels much more…sane today. He does not recall much of what happened the night before; only that he spent a lot of time sleeping, and that there had been people outside the door some of the time.

"I'm great, really," says Hagrid, sounding confused, but no longer particularly worried.

"I'd like to respectfully ask whomever was standing outside my door night last having a conversation if they could please refrain tonight," Harry says in an off-hand manner. "I found it…difficult to ignore."

"That is my fault, Harry," says Dumbledore. "It shan't happen again."

"Thank you, Headmaster."

* * *

The remainder of the day passes much like any other, although Harry begins growing restless again by noon, and is worthless again after his Potions lesson. He never even makes it to the Herbology section before he is carried to his rooms again, overcome. The change is more rapid this time, and slightly less painful, but no more disorienting. He still has no idea what is happening, despite having gone through it before. He passes the night in roughly the same manner he had the previous night, and wakes up again in the very same condition.

The third day passes even more easily than the second, and his dementia doesn't come over him until just before supper time. The change is even more expeditious and less painful, though still agonising. He still does not understand what is happening, but it hardly matters, because it is over so quickly.

When he awakens after the third night, he is exhausted but joyful, a feeling of weight having been lifted from his shoulders. He eats his oatmeal porridge with raspberries and honey and looks forward to his lessons. He realises he remembers how he spent the night, and hopes he will never have to do without the Wolfsbane Potion again.

* * *

Harry's seventeenth birthday is celebrated in the Great Hall, with all of the adults who are at Hogwarts for the summer, Hermione, and most of the Weasleys. Everyone but Bill, Charlie, and Percy, in fact, though Harry gets a lovely pair of dragonhide gloves from Charlie, perfect for Potions making. They eat cake and ice cream and mounds of food, and Molly nearly cries at how thin Harry still is. Ginny simply stares.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron take a promenade about the lake together and Harry is grateful for the escape, even if it is a bit awkward to have his two best friends here and feel like he knows nothing about them.

"So how's it been, then, Harry?" Ron asks, his hand clasped with Hermione's, though they both seem to be entirely focussed on Harry. He finds that very comforting, indeed.

"It's been all right," Harry admits with a little smile, already starting to warm to their company again. Something about these two people simply feels nice. And they smell warm and comfortable and soft. They hide no secrets. It's refreshing. "I'll be in 7th year Potions, Charms, and Herbology with you at least," he says with not an inconsiderable amount of pride.

"Really! That's wonderful, Harry!" exclaims Hermione and beams at him, then up at Ron. They are both taller than Harry now, though Hermione is only slightly so. Ron is, of course, the tallest bloke Harry has ever seen in real life.

"Hey, I won't be in Potions this year," says Ron, then smiles apologetically. "Snape only takes students with an 'E' on their Owl's, which I didn't get. I was in remedial Potions last year and this year I don't take it at all."

Harry is surprised, though he shouldn't be. And disappointed, which makes more sense. "Well, we'll still have Herbology and Charms, yeah?"

Ron nods and smiles, and it looks sincere this time. "You look better, Harry," he says then, seriously, but with a smile. "You've not grown much, and you're still thin as a rail, but—"

"Your colour is better," Hermione agrees. "You look healthy. Just…very thin."

"And a bit girlish," Ron says, then blushes beet red. It's very unattractive with his hair. That much, at least, has never changed.

"Ron!" Hermione scolds, then crosses her arms over her suddenly-distracting chest. This means that she has let go of Ron's hand, and her boyfriend looks both bereft and hurt.

"What?!" he says, and sounds both bereft and hurt as well.

"It's all right," Harry says with a shrug. It's true, after all. With the long hair and the…well…waifish build, he does look a bit girlish. He's much prettier now than he ever was when Stu had drooled over him. "At least he didn't call me a flaming pouf. That can wait until I'm actually getting laid again."

And though his cheeks flame with the embarrassment of it, he also smiles, just slightly, at how easy that was. More at Hermione's choked laugh and Ron's exclaimed "What did you say??" He hopes that telling Ron about being a werewolf is equally easy when he finally manages, but there is no time now.

Alohomora by colibri
Part I
Chapter 12: Alohomora

Professor McGonagall returns from her holiday on Sunday the 3rd of August and gapes at Harry through the entirety of the lunch hour, obviously shocked by his presence. Harry finds it beyond odd that Dumbledore has not informed her of his return.

After lunch, Harry is taken to meet with Dumbledore and McGonagall in the Headmaster's office, where he is promptly pulled into an embrace and squeezed to within mere centimetres of death. Then he is forced to sit and listen whilst McGonagall bombards the Headmaster with questions and is answered plainly. Far too plainly for Harry's tastes, especially considering that he has very, very rarely got a plain answer from Dumbledore. He is envious.

After the meeting, Professor McGonagall is silent. She does not look at Harry, nor does she look at the Headmaster. And when Dumbledore excuses them, she says, "Mr Potter, I should like to have words with you in my office."

So Harry follows her there, sits down in the chair before her desk, and waits for her to speak to him.

Which she does. At great length. And though he listens to all of it, most of it is rather outdated, and has been said by numerous others. The only thing new, really, is the question she asks after she's assured herself that Harry has no further inclination to use drugs—which he, frankly, hasn't even thought about in weeks, surprisingly enough. The question she asks is, "Were you aware that your position as Seeker has been filled?"

At that, Harry can only stare dumbly. "Er…" He'd rather assumed the team could not continue without a seeker. "That had been my expectation," he says diplomatically. He is too shocked to offer the, 'I'm not completely bloody daft, woman!' that runs through his head at top speed.

"We had a right rough time of it, you know," she berates, scowling, "trying to find a seeker at such short notice."

"But Ginny played the year before," Harry says incredulously. Did they actually hold trials again??

"Well, she wasn't all that good," says McGonagall huffily, "but she remained the best we could find. We lost the blasted house cup. Again!"

Harry doesn't roll his eyes heavenward, but he wants to. Desperately. He wishes he had a lesson with Snape or something. Anything to get him out of McGonagall's offices. He can't believe she is swearing over a house cup. "Well, I suppose she will improve over time," he offers hopefully.

"Mr Potter, you can't possibly be saying that you're not going to rejoin the team this year."

"You started by saying my position had been filled, Professor. I certainly wouldn't like to deprive Ginny of being Seeker, especially when I really don't think I shall have the time for practises this year. I've a lot of school work," even though he won't be a seventh-year, technically, and even though Dumbledore has said he will take the NEWTs with Ginny's year instead. He is hoping to broach the subject, soon, of extra tutoring with Professor Snape in DADA and Potions. He hasn't yet got up the nerve, but he's been meaning to do it ever since the end of his first change.

But McGonagall is looking at him as if flobberworms have started spilling from his mouth. Her own hangs slightly ajar for several long moments before she snaps it shut and sits up straight in her chair, the severe cut of her robes matching perfectly with the tight twist of her hair. "Well, you certainly needn’t make any decisions just now. You've the rest of the month, after all. You may be excused, Mr Potter."

So Harry leaves and returns to his rooms for more revision. He has already finished his sixth year Charms work and has taken to revising all of the charms he can fit in an hour each day, just for sport. He has become very quick at them. But during weekends, he can go through every charm he has ever learnt. He has a special list for when he forgets something, but mostly he seems to fall into bit of a trance, and the spells simply come. Sometimes he daydreams of duelling Lucius Malfoy, (mainly because he's found it safer to avoid calling up even the Dark Lord's memory). Sometimes he wonders why charms like Incendio or even Fervefacio are not considered unforgivable curses. One can kill with them, after all. One can torture quite readily with them as well. It seems to Harry that dark magic is all about intent. But then he always remembers some of the dark curses Snape has taught him (so that he could learn counters) and he realises there is a difference. For although dark curses could be used for good, their casting requires ill intention, though not necessarily toward the target. A fundamental disregard for the rights of others. Some require an innocent be sacrificed. Some require an equal trade, depriving the donor of the very thing the caster wishes to imbue the receiver with. Some, of course, kill or maim or torture. They all drain the caster's energy, and darken the caster's aura.

Sometimes, Harry watches Snape and wonders how many dark curses the man has cast. He wonders whether the man's aura is black as night. He wonders whether that is the reason the man is so sour that no one likes him. He wonders whether there is something wrong with himself, that he likes Snape. Granted, the man is generally a git, and often unpleasant, but it's in an amusing way. And he is an excellent teacher, when he bothers to make the attempt. Harry has had nothing but patience and exacting attention from the man since they began their private lessons this go-round. Snape has even managed to teach him the beauty in Potions work. Harry has finished his sixth-level Advanced Potions syllabus, as well as his sixth-level DADA and Herbology syllabi. The Herbology, however, was not as thoroughly done as the others, as he hasn't actually worked with most of the plants in a very real way. He hasn't had much of a growing cycle, after all. But he can recognize them all by sight and scent, and knows their properties, especially those used in potions work.

He finishes his Charms revision in the same way he does every day, now. He pulls one of a number of small bits of paper out of a stocking and reads it. He blinks when he sees 'Alohomora' in small, neat block letters. "Shite," he mutters and sits down on the floor next to his bed. The idea is to come up with a way to use whichever charm he picks out in a way it is not generally intended to be used. It gives him practise in sharpening and honing his intent as well as his discipline. He has got far better at wandless magic, especially since Snape has started helping him, but he is particularly proud of his improvement in silent magic, which he has not told Snape he has been working on.

He groans, exasperated, then stands again as he decides he may as well try for a bang. The charm is for unlocking doors, right? "Alohomora!" he cries and wills, then watches his door disintegrate with a loud whump of displaced air.

On the other side stands Remus Lupin, his hand up as if he were just about to knock, his jaw slack.

Harry too is gaping, but he recovers first, pushing his wand back up his sleeve and wishing he weren't blushing red as a tomato. "Er, Pro—Lu—Remus…." He is at a loss.

"Wh-what…what was th-that?" says Remus, obviously extremely discomfited.

"Charms revision," Harry replies quickly, hoping he can not have this conversation right now. "Used a little too much power."

"What kinds of charms is Professor Flitwick teaching you?" Remus reaches through the entry carefully, as if uncertain whether he will meet with the wood of the door.

"Nothing special," says Harry, and he can already see where this conversation is going. "Er…can I help you with something?" he asks.

"What charm did you use to do this?" Lupin asks.

Harry stifles a sigh. "Alohomora," he says. "Did you come to speak about the door?"

"Alo—you must be joking." Lupin looks ready to laugh, though he does not. And then he does a little, in disbelief.

This annoys Harry far more than he would, later, be able to explain. "No, I'm not joking," he bites off through clenched teeth. "If there's nothing further, I'd like to get back to my revision, please."

"But you've no door!" Lupin exclaims. "Alohomora doesn't destroy doors."

"Alohomora does whatever I wish it to!" Harry roars. "Alohomora!" he casts at the door to his en-suite, and it disintegrates in the same way the other had. "Alohomora!" he casts at his trunk and it flies across the room to splinter against a stone wall, spilling its contents onto the floor. "Alohomora," he whispers and the trunk repairs itself, though its contents still lie strewn across the stones.

Then Harry faints.

* * *

"What's happened here?"

"Professor?" Harry mumbles. His limbs are tired, his hands are burning. His brain is filled with fuzz. But he knows that voice anywhere. "You got me that time," he mutters.

"I’ve done no such thing, Mr Potter, you insufferable idiot. Now explain what happened."

"I've already told you—"

"When I wish to hear from you, Lupin, I will be sure to write you a script. Perhaps you should leave us now."

Ah…Harry remembers, now. He giggles, then thinks better of that. His head hurts. "I was revising my charms. But I drew Alohomora, and I couldn't think what I should do with it. So I disintegrated the door." He manages to sit up, slowly, and open his eyes thereafter. Professor Snape does not look as surprised as Lupin had, but he still looks surprised. Lupin looks torn between anger and worry.

"He repaired the trunk with it!" says Lupin. "Wandlessly!"

And that, Harry realises, is where he’d gone wrong. He had put his wand away, and then grown angry enough to cast wandlessly in front of someone else. That had been stupid of him. "Er," he says.

Snape's eyebrow quirks and Harry almost forgets his nerves in favour of giggling like a girl. Or a lunatic, which he is, after all.

"Good night, Professor Lupin. I trust we'll see your unfathomably annoying countenance at breakfast in the morning." Snape sits, glaring at Lupin until the latter does, indeed, leave Harry's rooms. Snape immediately summons a house elf, who assures that the doors will be replaced by tomorrow evening and asks if, until then, Mr Potter would like sheets hung up.

"Mr Potter will remain in my rooms for the night," Snape says with annoyance, then turns to Harry and snaps, "Get your toiletries and school robes. You've lessons tomorrow.

Flames by colibri
Part I
Chapter 13. Flames

For the remainder of the summer, Harry learns Transfiguration with Professor McGonagall instead of Charms, even though he really likes Charms. Professor Dumbledore has admonished him to be more careful about his casting, but has not otherwise disciplined him; neither for losing his temper at an adult, nor for practising spells in a way they are not intended to be used, nor for practising wandless magic. Indeed, the Headmaster is very vague in his admonishment, so Harry continues practising as he has been, while avoiding losing his temper, which is easy so long as he needn't speak with Remus Lupin.

He finds Transfiguration much easier than he expected it to be. It is not so different from a lot of the Charms work he's been doing on his own. While transfiguring an object is very different from the standard Accio charm, for example; it's not so very different from how he's used Condenso to make ice from air, or Diffindo to turn water into a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gasses. (The latter he hasn't told anyone about. It took him all day to figure out after reading in a muggle science text, and he caused quite an explosion when he tested the gas, though he'd been ready for it and contained it all within a spherical shield spell. It had given him a great idea for making makeshift grenades to lob at Death Eaters.)

Regardless, he makes great progress in Transfiguration, though he cannot complete the entire sixth-year advanced syllabus in the less than one month remaining. Professor McGonagall is very impressed and seems, occasionally, a bit distracted, or even nervous. She does not, however, mention Quidditch again.

* * *

Five days before his second change, Harry starts drinking the Wolfsbane Potion, which tastes absolutely, unimaginably foul. Still, there is something about it both attractive and repellent. He is drawn to it, but when he drinks it, it makes his skin crawl and his instincts scream and jabber incoherently.

But it works, and come August 16th, he is able to go through all of his lessons without incident. He merely feels a bit more tired than usual. He is helping Snape make more burn-healing salve for Madam Pomfrey when the change comes upon him. He lies down on the cool stone floor and screeches whilst his professor stares on in horrified fascination. Harry has offered to allow Snape to watch this transformation, in the interest of scholarship, and because Harry has forgotten how incredibly painful the transformation is.

Still, he recalls that it was worse before. The first time. And he thinks that Lupin was right—that the potion does make it less painful. It's just that it's still nearly unbearable. When he's done, he lies in a puddle of slime and blood until Snape casts Evanesco and Scourgify and transfigures a chair into a large cushion for Harry to lie on. Which Harry does, gratefully. He is more tired this time than he was last time, he thinks. At least the last day, which is the only day he recalls at all clearly.

In the morning, he answers Snape's questions about how the transformation felt and how it felt to be a wolf without the dementia. Then he answers Snape's questions about how the change was different with the Wolfsbane Potion, and how he feels now, as compared to how he felt after the first day of the change last time. Then Harry returns to his rooms and prepares for his day.
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Wolf - Part II - Back To School by colibri

Coming Clean by colibri
Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter, its characters and settings are the copyrighted works of J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., her publishing companies and affiliates. No profit was made from the writing of this story nor was any malice intended in any way, shape or form to the author or the actors/actresses who so brilliantly have brought them to life. My versions of Rowling's characters would never be sanctioned, but I love them all the same.

This is the second part of the six-part Wolf series and won't make much sense without reading Part I. Please note that, as stated in Part I, Harry and Draco's relationship in this six-part series is tumultuous. There will be other pairings to wade through on the way to relationship-land!

Part II – Back to School

1. Coming Clean

The students return to Hogwarts on Monday September 1, and Harry is waiting in the Great Hall when they arrive. He stands at the Gryffindor table, wishing he were a bit shorter—perhaps the size of a house elf, instead of 170 centimetres. He wears his hair in a tail at the nape of his neck because otherwise it looks a bit wild for school robes and, frankly, a bit queer. His fringe only reaches his chin in the front, though, so he has pushed that hair behind his ears on either side. Without his glasses, he looks like a different person.

The Great Hall fills quickly once the students start arriving, and he is soon surrounded by Gryffindors gaping, staring and exclaiming loudly all about him. He can scent a heady mixture of shock and nervousness—of disgust, excitement, and desire. He is too overwhelmed to place it all and is more than grateful when the Headmaster bids everyone take their seats and the Sorting Hat begins its song.

Harry sits sandwiched between Hermione and Ron, so grateful he could nearly cry. Hermione is holding his right hand, Ron is holding his left. Harry thinks there could be no two greater friends in the entire world. He feels so guilty, suddenly, that he left them without a word year last—that he left them to wonder and worry. He was a terrible friend. And then Ron leans over to whisper in his ear. "Oi!" he says. "Malfoy is staring at you." Harry groans, but he does not seek out Malfoy. He has had too many years of that one already. Just thinking of the bloke makes his stomach roil sickly and ache.

Harry spends so much effort not noticing Malfoy, he manages to completely miss the sorting as well. But he can count, and it appears that Gryffindor has picked up a record few students this year. Only four. They look tiny to him—like they belong in primary school. He wonders how they look to Ron.

"Hey," whispers Ron again, and this time, Harry notices the lovely tickle of it, and thinks perhaps he's not been fucked in a very long time. But he pushes the thought away again, firmly, and nods a little. "What happened to your glasses?" Ron asks.

Harry briefly considers lying, but then thinks better of it. He needs to talk to Ron today, because he can't have Ron finding out the truth from someone else. "I'll tell you later," he says into Ron's ear, hovering there, his lips so close. Ron has hunched himself way down and is leaning into Harry's space. "Tonight. It's…a story." A few millimetres and his tongue could swipe—

"—Hermione Granger, of Gryffindor House," says Dumbledore proudly, snapping Harry's attention back to the proceedings. She stands beside him and he shrinks lower, knowing he’s missed something important. "And Head Boy, Draco Malfoy of Slytherin." His eyes cannot help but be drawn to the shining figure that stands at the opposite end of the room, smirking knowingly. A year seems to have increased his arrogance dramatically. Harry can almost see the bloke holding out bejewelled fingers for his admiring subjects to kiss. He is flanked by Slytherin cronies who remain seated on either side of him, though the goon twins are conspicuous for their absence. Still, it is obvious from their relative heights that Malfoy has grown quite a lot. He looks…tall. Like his father. Even from across the Great Hall.

Harry watches him until he sits and his eyes lock on Harry's. Harry immediately occludes, though there is no evidence to suggest Malfoy is a Legilimens. It is simply automatic, because he feels threatened. Malfoy's face, however, grows momentarily confused and cocks to the side. Then his lip smirks just slightly and he looks away. Harry waits while his heart calms.

"What was that about?" murmurs Hermione in his ear, and Harry has no idea how to answer her. He shrugs minutely, then reaches for the mesclun salad that has appeared before him. He ignores the stares from everyone else at the table. He is determined to eat the entire portion tonight.

He fails, but decides that it's the addition of eggs to the salad that has filled him prematurely, and that it has nothing at all to do with Malfoy's unnaturally silver eyes staring at him from across the hall. He tries not to notice that Malfoy's hair has been cut very short and is no longer slicked back. The front is slightly longer, fading as it moves back on top. All of it is combed forward, then spiked up at the front. Harry has seen many men with that style on the covers of muggle magazines, though it's still too new for most, and only queer boys seem to be wearing it in any numbers.

But Malfoy's face has squared a bit in the intervening time. He is no longer quite as girlishly pretty as he once was. He is now…terribly handsome. Positively dashing, if Harry is to be honest. Malfoy is also staring at Harry, who's not had sex in months. Harry covers his face with his hands and groans.

"Oi, mate. Have some pudding, won't you?" says Ron, and he sounds concerned.

"Not hungry," Harry mumbles into his hands and does not look up, not even when the Headmaster gives his speech, and certainly not while Filch is reading his ever-growing list of rules. Some of them seem hopelessly (and sadly) outdated, now that the Weasley twins are gone. Harry thinks Filch will secretly miss them. The man's as miserable a git as he seems, but Harry can empathize. It must be a right terrible fate for a squib to work in a school of magic, surrounded by the wizarding world's best and brightest, nearly none of whom even appreciate their talent, much less try to develop it to its potential.

Harry is dozing by the time the mass exodus begins and his friends are rousing him, which reminds him that he needs to speak with Ron. "Have you got a minute?" Harry asks, but Ron is obviously preoccupied.

"I have to lead the first years," he says, "but why don't we just meet in the dorm tonight?"

"Er…I'm not staying in the dorms," Harry says, feeling any energy he may have had draining out of him. Ron looks…first confused, then crestfallen. "Oh, Harry," he says, and it makes Harry want to cry.

Which Harry finds supremely annoying. "Don't 'oh Harry' me. You sound like Hermione."

"Where are you living, then?" Ron says, a hint of exasperation creeping in.

"In the dungeons. Across from Snape's workroom. You can come see me when you've finished with your duties?"

It's quite apparent that Ron has so many problems with what Harry has just revealed, he doesn't even know where to begin complaining. But he nods hurriedly, then looks about, finding the other Gryffindor prefects and the younger students they are to lead up to the dorms.

Harry sighs and runs a cool hand over his forehead. May as well get some revision done, anyway. He has Transfigurations spells he's been itching to work on, and has been working ahead in Charms, since McGonagall took over Flitwick's tutoring times. His Transfigurations work is direr, however, since he's still working through sixth-year in that one, and he will be doing all of his work in the subject via independent revision, practise, and tutoring.

He is thoroughly immersed in transfiguring his bed into a horse when there is a knock on the door. Unfortunately—and embarrassingly—the horse is rather blocky, with feathers for a mane and wooden hooves. Still, it is better than his first attempt. He opens the door for Ron before painstakingly working on taking the 'horse' back to its original shape. "Sorry, Ron. I'll only be a minute."

Ron snorts his amusement. "Take your time, mate," he says and leans against a wall.

Harry finds Ron's presence distracting enough that he must actually clear his mind and refocus before he is able to continue. He really needs to get laid. But then he's done it, and the bed is back to normal. He turns to Ron and smiles…up at him. "Thanks for coming by," he says, then frowns a little. "No Hermione?"

Ron shrugs, his mouth still quirked in a half-smile. "She said I needed to speak with you alone. So here I am, and we're alone."

Harry shouldn't have asked because now he's nervous, and Ron's pulse is thumping wetly through his veins, and Ron's distinctly male scent is impinging on Harry's control, and really, Ron has filled out beautifully, though his nose is still a bit blunt to be traditionally handsome. "Er," is all Harry can manage.

"Is this about you being queer? Because really, I'm fine with it, though you staring at me like I'm a pork chop is not entirely reassuring."

"No!" Harry says, hastily. "I mean, it's not about me being queer, though I am grateful that you're all right with it. And I apologize for…it's just…er." He gives up. "Right. No, it's…much more complicated than that." He sinks weakly onto the bed and pulls his legs up to cross them before himself. "Over the summer, just before I was brought back to Hogwarts. Well, I wasn't in the hospital wing because of the heroin."

An eyebrow quirks and it reminds Harry of Snape, briefly. But then Ron is moving closer. He pulls a chair over to the bed and folds himself into it, though he doesn't really fit.

"Dilato," Harry murmurs with a wave of his hand, envisioning the way he wishes the chair to expand to fit Ron, and it does. It is a sixth-level charm Harry has long-since mastered. "Or, not primarily. I was in the hospital wing recuperating from an…animal bite," he continues nervously. "A werewolf bite," he finishes, because drawing it out isn't helping either of them.

"You were bitten by a werewolf?" Ron asks, his eyes rapidly growing huge and round. It makes him look like an eleven-year-old again, though the voice is far too deep for that. "Blimey, Harry! Wh…" He frowns, and questions seem to be rushing through his mind faster than he can grab them to ask. Until finally, "What does that mean, exactly?"

Ron is not a dunderhead. He may seem it occasionally, but mostly he is tactless and focussed on things like Quidditch and girls. But he does make connections. Harry knows that Ron has asked this question because it would be beyond tactless to ask him if he is now a werewolf, not because he has no idea what being bitten by a werewolf means. "I've already gone through two changes—one without the Wolfsbane Potion, and one with. I hope I shan't have to do it without again. It was…unpleasant."

"Cor!" Ron exclaims, shaking his head as if he simply cannot fathom what he is hearing. "Ho—wha—" and then, the eyes going even wider, and Harry can guess. "Did Lupin—?"

"No," Harry interjects firmly. "I don't know who it was, but they got me on my way back from…well, someplace I likely should not have been anyway, but was. What's done is done. I'm fine."

"You're a bloody twig, Harry! Are you going to be as sickly and wasted as Lupin always is??"

"I was a…twig," he says, rolling his eyes at the strangeness of it all, "before I was infected. But no, I don't believe it will be as problematic for me as it is for Lupin. He is destitute and does not normally eat well—"

"You ate nothing for supper—"

"I ate something healthy," Harry says firmly. He does not wish to discuss his eating habits now. He has enough difficulty worrying about that without interference. "But I think his mental state also has something to do with his health. He is not a very happy person, and he…well, whatever. The short answer is no, I don't think it will be as bad for me. And besides, Snape is already working to improve the potion's action on me. He's only researching now, but we will likely be prepared to test in a few months' time. For now, the potion I've got is fine and will last me several changes."

Ron leans down to rest his face on his hands, rubbing his eyes tiredly. "I can't believe this has happened," he says. "Why does everything miserable always happen to you?"

"What?" Harry blurts, surprised at Ron's opinion.

But Ron only shrugs. "How are we going to keep you from being killed the very first time He sends some Death Eater lackey? It will only take a silver dagger to the heart to kill you now."

And Harry, for some reason, has never thought of this. And though a dagger to the heart would have killed him regardless, the point is well-taken.

"No one has to worry about whether the killing curse will work on you."

"A silver bullet," Harry mutters. But there are many, many facets to the situation, and Harry refuses to panic without having time to think. He has spent too much time learning to control himself to give in to the first wave of panic that threatens to overcome him. "It’s not an issue to fret over now," he says firmly. "Hogwarts is warded, that's why we're all here, and still alive. I'll speak with Professor Dumbledore. But for now, I've mastered enough Occlumency to avoid any disaster like the one that killed Sirius. I'll…work on shielding next. I've already been working on shielding, but I'll work harder on it. Everything will be all right—or no worse than before, anyway. Only…don't worry, all right? You've NEWTs this year. That's bad enough."

Ron looks a bit green after a moment, but he nods. "I suppose this is top secret, though. To make certain You Know Who doesn't find out?"

Harry nods. It's even more important now. "Most of the Professors don't even know. Dumbledore, Snape, Lupin, and McGonagall are the only ones."

"Thank goodness Hagrid doesn't," Ron mutters, then stands. And suddenly looks goosed. "Harry, you enlarged this chair!"

Harry isn't sure what the big deal is about that. "Yes…?"

"Where's your wand, Harry?"

Oh. Careless again. "Er," he says and reaches into his sleeve. But it's not there.

Ron points to it where it sits on Harry's pillow. Harry sleeps with it beneath his pillow just in case, and tends to lay it on his pillow before bed.

"Yeah, been working on that, too."

"Seems you've made great progress," says Ron. "But I suppose that's a very good thing, if we hope for you to survive. ‘Night, Harry. See you at breakfast?"

Harry stands and nods, noting again their height difference. He wants to touch Ron, if only to shake hands, but he doesn't. He simply stands there looking small and frail before his towering best friend.

But Ron rolls his eyes in exasperation, leans down to pull Harry into an almost painful embrace, then says, "It's good to have you back, Harry. Please don't disappear again."

And it is all Harry can do to avoid crying. "See you at breakfast, then, Ron."

He watches Ron leave, watches the door shut quietly behind him, then summons his wand wordlessly. He still has time for more revision. He thinks shield charms have suddenly become his very favourite.

Timetables by colibri
Chapter 2: Timetables

Six o’clock Tuesday morning. September 2. Harry awakens to the claxon of his wand's alarm. He stumbles out of bed and falls into the bath, wishing he could fly for a bit to clear the cobwebs. But now that the other students are here, he cannot simply grab a school broom and go flying. There are rules now.

So he dresses and runs through his Charms revision, which takes him the rest of the hour before he must head to breakfast. He arrives toward the beginning, minimising the amount of attention he gets. Hermione is already there, of course, her nose buried in a text Harry immediately recognises as Arithmancy, mainly because it is the one she tends to read the most. "All right, Hermione?" he greets before sitting down to her right.

She doesn't look up, but sounds pleasant enough when she responds, "Good morning, Harry. Aren't you early?" though it's more commentary than a question.

"Hoping to start off on the right foot," he murmurs, assuming she is not listening.

But of course she is. She is more than capable of revising and listening at the same time. "Did you have your talk with Ron, then?" she asks, deceptively bland. No one would think their conversation important in the least.

"Yes," Harry replies and serves himself a dollop of porridge. He adds raspberries and honey, stirs it up, then adds a bit of milk. "I thought he took it well."

"Surprising," she says wryly, then eats a spoonful of now very soggy cereal.

They sit in companionable silence whilst the Great Hall slowly fills. By eight o'clock, Ron arrives and the Hall is packed and noisy. Hermione puts her book down just in time for the post, and delivery of class timetables. Harry wastes no time finding out what McGonagall has decided to do with him, and finds himself hopeful. It looks as though he will have three free blocks per week.

"What've you got then, Harry," Ron asks, leaning over Hermione's space to place his timetable next to Harry's. They quickly compare and find, "Well at least we've got all morning together Mondays…double Charms together this afternoon." He keeps looking. "History of Magic tomorrow morning, Double DADA tomorrow afternoon, and Herbology Friday morning. So at least one lesson together except Thursdays. Not horrific," he decides.

"Not Transfiguration, though," says Hermione thoughtfully.

"Professor McGonagall was here for less than a month this summer," Harry explains distractedly. He has free periods Tuesday mornings and Thursday afternoons for three hours each, and Thursday mornings for ninety minutes. So he'll start his independent Transfigurations work this morning. He needs to borrow a few animals from McGonagall or Hagrid, so he'd better get to that soon.

"You've not got Transfiguration in your plan at all," Ron notices.

"Independent revision. I'm too far into sixth year, but I didn't finish. I'll finish sixth year and start NEWTs levels this year."

"And you're doubling up on Care of Magical Creatures and History of Magic," says Ron, nose crinkling. "Sorry, mate, but that sounds horrid."

"Care's all right," Harry says, not liking the History doubling at all. "I have to go, though," he says apologetically. "I need to pick up supplies for my morning."

He rises hastily and rushes to the head table to speak with McGonagall. He manages to get permission to take several rats and budgies for his morning lessons.

His independent practise goes exceedingly well, and he makes it to lunch exhilarated. Even Malfoy's constant staring doesn't phase him, though in his agitated state, it does manage to get him a bit…hmm, yes. He spends only part of lunch eating, then takes a walk with Ron about the lake for the rest whilst Hermione goes to the library to start work on a Transfiguration essay they were just assigned today. It's a lovely day, and Harry and Ron manage to spend an hour together without mentioning a single thing of any import.

But seventh-year Advanced Charms is more than distracting enough to clear Harry's mind of any less-than-productive thoughts, and even Hermione is impressed by his mastery, despite the fact that he has to tone down his spells to keep from drawing attention. Like Hermione, he has already been practising most of the charms from this early on in the syllabus, but he has also been practising them wandlessly, and as part of his drill routine, expanding their effects and sometimes casting them wordlessly.

By supper, he is frustrated and full of energy, and hopes desperately that Professor Snape will be willing to continue his nightly coaching in Potions and/or DADA. He'd never realized how very lucky he'd been over the summer, getting his professors to himself for several hours a day. After only one day of the regular term, he misses it dearly.

So he places a mild notification charm on Snape's door to let him know when the man returns, and goes to his rooms to begin work on the foot-long Charms essay they've been assigned. Another thing he misses from his independent practise is the lack of written work. It seems like busy-work to him now. The essays merely steal time from actually practising the charms.

He has nearly given up on trying to start the essay in his room in favour of going to the library when his notification charm sounds its little birdcall. He jumps up and makes it to the door. He opens it to the vision that is Malfoy standing with Professor Snape outside the professor's office. "Mr Potter," Snape drawls, "I cannot imagine what possessed you to place a charm on my door."

Harry is already blushing, and trying desperately not to look at Malfoy, who is an imposing presence from across the room but, up close, is simply stunning. "Er," he says.

"Eloquent, as always," Snape mocks.

Malfoy's sneer deepens and he seems to be on the verge of laughter. Except that his scent is pure lust, and his pulse has quickened noticeably. "Good evening, Potter," he says.

Harry has to lick his lips before he is able to force words past the dryness of his mouth. "I was hoping to speak with you, Professor."

"My office hours begin at seven o'clock, Mr Potter. You may approach me then."

"Yes, sir," Harry says and ducks hurriedly back into his room, closing the door behind himself. He, for some reason, expects to hear Malfoy laugh as soon as the door is closed, but he does not. He hears Snape's door open and close, and that's all.

He decides to run through his Charms drills quickly, then practises the next lesson with expansions and wandlessly. By the time he finishes, it is seven, and he opens his door again.

On Malfoy.

"Potter," says Malfoy, leaning against the wall next to Snape's door, his arms crossed in front of his chest. He is alone. Harry is alone. But Malfoy has six inches on him, now, and quite a bit of breadth as well. Harry has a flash of himself being pounded into the wall, Malfoy smothering him from behind, and forces it down. "You've changed," says Malfoy with a smirk.

"Malfoy," Harry replies. "So've you."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Malfoy says and lets his left arm drop, then trails his right hand slowly down his chest. It is blatant flirtation, of course, and Harry can't tear his eyes away. Malfoy smells like lavender and musk. It's a strangely compelling mixture. "Since you're so obviously…impressed."

Harry manages to drag his eyes back to Malfoy's face. To those silver eyes that look slate grey in the dimly lit corridor. "What do you want?" Harry asks, because he is in way over his head. He could probably out-duel Malfoy, unless Malfoy has been doing a lot of practising, but it would be unwise to show his hand to a likely Death Eater.

"I know about you," Draco whispers, and it sounds menacing, though the words simply reach out and caress.

Harry feels his gut twist, and he is no longer…impressed. He is too terrified to ask what Malfoy knows. He slams his defences in place and calms his breathing. Automatic.

"Very good, Potter," says Malfoy silkily. "But I'm no Legilimens. I know about you because my father told me. And my father knows because He ordered it, Potter. Do you understand?" The last words are said with an intensity that would have stolen Harry's breath, if he'd been breathing properly.

Harry shakes his head minutely, because he can't possibly have understood.

"Think about it, then," Malfoy suggests and pushes off the wall. "And think about this," he whispers, then slips his elegant fingers into Harry's hair and cradles the back of Harry's head. He tilts Harry's head back until they are drowning in each other's eyes. "You should be wearing Slytherin colours, Harry Potter. Silver and Green." And then he is gone, and Harry is left shaking and weak against the wall beside his own open door.

It takes him several minutes to recover, and then it feels like a mile he ends up walking just to cross the corridor and knock on Snape's door, which still opens for him immediately.

"Mr Potter," comes Snape's smoky voice, and Harry thinks he's never felt this off-balance before in his life. "Close the door."

Harry closes the door, then collapses into a chair before Snape's desk. He is still shaking a little. He anchors an escaping lock of hair behind his ear with trembling fingers.

"You spoke with Draco, then," says Snape, and Harry tries not to startle at the use of Malfoy's given name. He nods, so Snape continues. "It appears that your being infected with Lycanthropy was part of the Dark Lord's plan. He is still uncertain as to whether he should kill you or whether that will prove his downfall. So he chose the option that seemed most prudent—weakening you without killing you."

Harry nodded. "Silver," he says.

"Yes," Snape agrees.

"I've started work on shielding," he says. "I mean, against silver specifically."

"Seems wise," Snape says neutrally. Neutral is as good as praise, as far as Harry is concerned. "So why are you here, Mr Potter?"

The subject shift is jarring but welcome. "I was hoping you'd be willing to consider coaching me during the term, professor. Any time you wished. At your convenience, of course. DADA or Potions, preferably both. Any time you'd be willing to give me…." He trails off as he realises how desperate he sounds.

Snape also seems surprised. "I thought you'd certainly wish to end our sessions. Haven't you enough work this term?"

"It is dull, compared to lessons with you, Professor."

Harry thinks the professor is pleased, though it does not show on his face. Something about the subtle shift in scent and colour. In posture. "Hand me your timetable," he says.

Harry fishes it out of a pocket and presents it, then waits while Snape looks it over. "You've quite a full schedule already, Potter. Are you certain it's wise to ask for additional work?"

"I'd wager few of those lessons are more important than what I can learn from you, Professor. But you're right, of course. I'd certainly not expect you to give me five evenings a week as you have been."

"You're welcome to assist while I prepare potions in the evenings," Snape says. “That is no hardship for me. I've enough confidence in your work to allow you to prepare some of the simpler potions that I must supply Pomfrey with regularly, freeing up time for me to mark. But that leaves little time for your other work. No, perhaps twice weekly and…" he looks over the timetable again. "Thursday mornings, from 8:30 until 10. I do not teach at that time."

Harry does not hesitate. He does not pretend to be considerate. He says, "Thank you, Professor. That sounds perfect. Which evenings?"

"Monday and Friday evenings," Snape says. "So that you might ask any questions that come up during lessons on those days, and so that we might reinforce anything you've learned. You are the only student of significant talent showing a true interest in Potions at the moment, Potter. It is only right that I teach you. Now leave me to my work."

Harry does not wait to be asked twice. He leaves Snape's offices and goes directly to the library, where he works on his Charms essay until closing, sitting silently with Hermione, who is doing the same. It is easy, and he finishes his rough draft that night. He will wake and complete it in the morning.

* * *

The next day, Harry has seventh-year History first thing. History is his absolute least favourite subject, besides Divination. But since he's no longer taking Divination, History is dead last. Still, after the first thirty minutes, he finds he has a much better time of it if he simply reads from his text instead of listening to Binns. He passes notes to Hermione when he doesn't understand something or has a question or comment, and she passes notes back when she has time.

After seventh-year History, he has sixth-year History, which is mostly revision for him but, frankly, feels new. He shares the lesson with Ginny Weasley, who is more than thrilled to sit with him. She passes him a note that says, "Ron says you're queer," and Harry blushes scarlet, so she passes another that says, "I think it's sexy," and Harry is mortified. But it breaks the ice, and Harry finds that she is nearly as competent in History as Hermione is, and that she is more than willing to pass notes with him during class the way Hermione did. Only, Ginny's are more sarcastic and far more entertaining.

He spends his lunch pretending to eat a plate of mixed vegetables but mostly working on his seventh-year History essay whilst Ron sighs in disgust at his two best friends completely ignoring him. He leaves them after he has finished eating, then returns to usher them off to Advanced DADA, which is being taught by none other than Kingsley Shacklebolt, though how he has got the time, Harry has no clue. It's quite a commitment, as the man has to prepare a syllabus and have office hours as well. Of course, he is offering his hours via firetalking, so Harry supposes it's less onerous than it could have been.

The material is all new for Harry as well, though he has been working hard with Snape. He barely managed to finish the sixth-year syllabus in time, though, since he spent so much time and effort on Occlumency. It’s also slowed his progress, (though it aided his understanding), that Professor Snape made certain he knew how to cast all of the dark spells he was learning to counter before they moved on, as well. He didn't actually cast them all, but he knows the theory and intent necessary. Snape had not wanted him to taint his aura too thoroughly, especially with the Lycanthropy being so fresh.

Supper, then more revision, during which he completes his History of Magic essay, then drills his Charms before revising DADA and starting the essay on Eviscerato. He falls asleep at his desk and wakes up with ink smeared across his face.

Skiving Off Quidditch by colibri
Chapter 3: Skiving Off Quidditch

Harry falls into a rhythm that works for him, and eventually Ron stops complaining about Harry's abandonment of Procrastination as a Way of Life. It somehow seems to get round the school that Harry is a bit queer, though it may have started with his queer eating practises and ended up overheard and exaggerated. Of course, since it's true, Malfoy's staring and Harry's blushing reactions are noted and provide credence to the rumour. Eventually, it is simply repeated as fact, and Harry does not bother countering it. He really doesn't care that everyone knows. He needn't deal with open showers, nor with sharing a dorm with potentially homophobic dorm-mates.

He resumes his after-hours coaching with Professor Snape in Potions and works DADA with Snape on Thursday mornings. It fits in nicely with his rhythm and helps to ground him. Professor Snape is the only professor he can stretch his wings with regularly, and sometimes he even brings Charms questions to his coaching. This continues until, during morning break on a Monday well into the term, he is called to Professor McGonagall's office.

"Please have a seat, Mr Potter," she says formally and waits for him to follow her direction. "I understand you are receiving additional coaching from Professor Snape thrice weekly."

"Yes, Ma'am," Harry agrees.

"Would you like additional coaching in Transfiguration as well?"

Harry blinks. "Er…yes, actually." He has not asked because he is relatively certain that Professor McGonagall is angry with him for skiving off Quidditch.

"I would suggest Tuesday and Thursday evenings, after supper, if that suits," she says crisply.

"Brilliant," Harry agrees quickly, before she can change her mind. "Shall I do any additional readings, or…?"

"Let's see how it goes, Mr Potter. I'd like to get a better idea of where you are, first. All right?"

Harry nods enthusiastically.

"Go on to class, then," she says, and Harry moves expeditiously to Care of Magical Creatures, filled nearly to bursting with anticipation.

* * *

By Tuesday evening, he is both nervous and excited. Finally, he will be able to measure his solitary progress against where he should be. After all, he's had precious little direction since the start of term, and he has just been trying to get through the sixth-level material so he can move on to the seventh. Sometimes he's simply not certain whether he's mastered every lesson, as they can occasionally be quite subtle.

He leaves supper with McGonagall, and they move to the Transfigurations classroom, where she proceeds to drill him on sixth-level material. First she revisits the material she has already gone over with him during the summer, which he knows without thought. It's been part of his drills, after all. Then she begins on the material he has been learning independently, and finds very little wrong. A subtle correction of intonation or concept here and there fixes every problem he has had so far. He could almost kick himself for not approaching her. By the end of her drilling, two hours later, he performs all of the sixth-level Transfiguration exercises without a hitch, though not quite without thought. He is completely exhausted.

"Mr Potter," she says as she moves to sit behind her desk and Harry falls into the seat before her. "Your work has been…exemplary. Fifty points to Gryffindor for your absolute dedication. I have never seen such an incredible turn-around in a student, in all of my years of teaching. I am, quite simply, stunned by the progress you've made."

Harry isn't used to this kind of praise. Flitwick is generous with praise to everyone, and always finds the best in all of his students. Snape is stingy at the best of times, and deprecatory at the worst. He has never given Harry points. But this. "Thank you, Professor," Harry says, though he feels most uncomfortable. He keeps his disappointment in his failure to approach her earlier to himself. He is grateful that she finds that he has spent his time wisely, since the Quidditch team has been suffering for it.

"I think it would be highly useful for you to work with me regularly," she adds.

"Thank you, Professor," Harry agrees.

"So tell me what you've been working on, then. Have you begun the seventh-level material?"

"I've skimmed the chapters, but not really," Harry admits. "It's taken me all of this time to get through the sixth-level material."

She nods. "Understandable. It's a great deal of material, especially without assistance. So how have you been working it?"

Harry looks worriedly at the door, then makes a hasty decision. He feels paranoid, but thinks it can't hurt to indulge the paranoia. He locks the door, casts a silencing spell over the room and looks back to his professor, who seems surprised, but does not remark. Then Harry explains his method. How he works the material until he is comfortable with it, then drills it along with his Charms work. How he attempts close variations, to improve his nuance and strengthen his intent. Then how he works everything wandlessly, to further hone his skills. He is desperate to tell her of this, because Snape is not a master in Transfiguration, and cannot assist him as much as he would like. But McGonagall can.

He is expecting the look of shock when he gets it, but he waits for her to speak. "All right," she says, finally, then draws a deep breath to calm herself. Harry knows her heart is beating too quickly—that she is both excited and a bit fearful. "Are you tired, Harry?" she asks, and Harry doesn't even notice the use of his given name.

He shrugs. "I'm all right." He's had time to recover now.

"Can you show me some of the variations you've been working? Or the wandless versions?"

So Harry runs through a standard Transfiguration and various related work, all wandlessly. It is much improved simply from the assistance she has given him over the past two hours. He could just kick himself.

When he is finished, she nods curtly. "So you've done this with all of the Transfigurations in the sixth year syllabus?"

Harry nods.

"Thursday, we shall move on to the seventh year syllabus. Go to sleep, Harry. It's been a gruelling day."

Harry takes her advice and goes straight to meditation instead of his drills.

He sleeps like the dead.

Deus Argento by colibri
Chapter 4. Deus Argento

By the end of October, Harry is moving through his days with barely any notice of time. From lesson to lesson, from meal to meal, from coaching to coaching, and a nearly comatose sleep. But he feels fine. His appetite has finally picked up, though he is completely unable to stomach meat except the day before his change. He's gone through two changes since beginning the term, and both have been uneventful, though they've both been observed by Snape in their entirety, whilst Harry has moved about Snape's office or, carefully, Snape's workroom.

He is headed back to his rooms to work after spending an hour winding down with Ron and Hermione one Wednesday night—his only night off during the week—when he is waylaid—pulled into a dark corner in the dungeons. He recognizes the scent immediately, of course. He recognizes most everyone by scent now. "Malfoy," he says calmly, though he is a bit annoyed. "I've revision."

"Of course you do, Potter," Malfoy hisses into his ear, and it sends revision rapidly out of his brain and replaces it with…well, desire. "Have you thought about it? …What I said last time?"

"You said quite a lot," Harry murmurs. He turns to face his captor as soon as Malfoy releases him. He knows he can see Malfoy much better than the other can see him. "I haven’t a clue to which thing you're referring."

"Any of them, really," Malfoy says and leans against the wall again, suddenly boneless and unconcerned, examining his perfectly manicured fingernails. "You would have been wise to consider all of them."

"Wisdom has never been a trait people have attributed to me," Harry drawls. Two can play this game. Besides, he is enjoying the line of Malfoy's body beneath his robes, and the heady scent of him, standing there, wanting Harry.

"Why don't you just admit it, Potter?" Malfoy says, not even bothering to make eye contact. Of course, he may not be able to see Harry clearly enough in the dimness.

"Why don't you cast a Lumos or something, so you can see me better?"

Malfoy is momentarily thrown off balance, but then does so and slips his wand back up his sleeve. Harry can, of course, cast a Lumos with a mere hand gesture, but it is an incredibly simple spell. He wouldn't be surprised if Malfoy is also capable of casting the spell without a wand and simply chose not to. Malfoy has always been more adept at subterfuge. The git. It reminds Harry of why he shouldn't be here. But he is soon distracted again. "Better?" Malfoy says in that voice that is now deep and cultured. Smooth as silk, or like the darkness under his blankets when Harry is warm in the middle of the night. He wants to drink Malfoy's voice. But it is the thought of mere moments.

"It was for your benefit," Harry says with a shrug. "I could, of course, see you perfectly without it. Thanks to your Master," he adds nonchalantly.

Malfoy's eyes narrow almost imperceptibly, but then all expression that is not expressly calculated is gone, again. "Back to my original question, then."

"Which was?"

"Why don't you just admit it, Potter?"

"Admit what, specifically?" Harry asks, though as soon as he says it, he regrets it. He doesn't want Malfoy spilling his secrets in the corridor for any student to hear. For any Slytherin to hear.

But, "That you want me," Malfoy says, and Harry would sigh with relief if he weren't so very breathless. Instead, he is speechless. "You should invite me to your rooms, Potter."

Harry takes out his wand and murmurs, "Revelo," focussing his intent on silver—anything silver—and on Malfoy. He finds only jewellery—the silver posts on Malfoy's diamond-stud earrings, a silver chain about his neck, a silver bracelet round his left wrist. Jewellery, and the body which it adorns. He gets a perfectly brilliant view of Malfoy's form in his mind. Harry is hard in his trousers, and breathless.

Malfoy interprets the gesture at least partially correctly. "I'm perfectly willing to let you undress me physically, Potter. That wasn't necessary." He's back to smirking, though his heart is hammering in his chest, now, and he is sweating, pushing more of that delicious scent into Harry's space.

Harry backs away, then turns to get back to his rooms. Malfoy follows him as far as his door, when Harry turns round again. "I have work to do, Malfoy. But," he adds hastily, "if you wanted to come by at the weekend?" He tries to sound like he doesn't care, but he sounds breathless and horny instead, his voice husky.

"Friday night?" Malfoy asks.

"At eleven o’clock? Or Saturday any time," Harry offers.

Malfoy nods. "I'll consider it."

Harry expects nothing more. Malfoy could never agree to someone else's limitations on him. "Good night, then," he says, and opens the door behind his back. He is drowning in Malfoy's eyes again before he manages to tear himself away and turn, closing the door on Malfoy's retreating footsteps.

He shudders in the dark of his room before he casts a Lumos so powerful, it heats his skin like a miniature sun. The release soothes him.

* * *

On Thursday morning, Snape announces that they will be working on Legilimency, which confuses Harry until he realises that Snape does not mean he will cast Legilimens on Harry, but that Harry will be doing the casting. On Snape. While Legilimency isn't exactly a Dark Art, it is used by any dark wizard who can manage it. Still, Harry already knows the defence. The more interesting thing is that use of Legilimency is heavily regulated by the Ministry of Magic.

But he does not complain. He simply waits patiently whilst his professor removes any sensitive memories to a pensieve, then puts it away in a cupboard. He gives Harry a look that says, I trust you will respect my privacy this time, Potter, then stands at ready, without his wand. "With this casting, you aim to penetrate my thoughts—to skim the surface of my mind and catch any wandering threads you may be able to see. You cannot understand the random electrical patterns in my brain, but only the memories and thoughts I call forth and interpret for myself and, hence, for you. True Legilimency works to utilize thoughts and memories related to certain topics, but we will attempt to get you into my mind before we worry about nuances, yes?"

Harry can smell the slightest hint of trepidation. Snape knows him too well to assume that Harry will fail at this stage. For a few lessons, certainly, but not indefinitely. Harry has grown too much as a wizard, and his raw power is no longer in question. He nods slightly and waits for Snape to show him the proper wand movement, though he does so without a wand. Harry then mimics it with his wand, keeping his mind blank, but for the movement.

"Yes," says Snape simply, and Harry stops his practise and looks up at his professor. "You may proceed."

"Legilimens," Harry declaims, willing himself inside Snape's mind, and finds himself instantly bombarded with what feels like millions of random images, words, sensations, sounds, colours. He is drowning almost before he's begun, and he doesn't even hear Snape's shouted counter that pushes him out again. He groans, his face pressed against the cool stone of Snape's office floor.

"Get up, you foolish boy," Snape hisses and grabs Harry by the arm, pulling him roughly to his feet. "I told you not to delve too deeply. Skim, I said!"

"Sorry, Professor," Harry mumbles, his brain feeling like it's been wrung out and yet filled over capacity.

Snape helps him sit down in the chair opposite the large desk, then perches on its edge, observing Harry. "The Dark Lord has determined that you are no longer a threat," Snape says, out of the blue.

Harry squints up at his professor wondering what this has to do with his spectacular failure. "I thought you were no longer a spy," he says.

"I'm not," Snape agrees. "The Dark Lord knows far too much of my allegiances, since he figured out how to link with you. But there are other ways of gaining information."

"How can he have determined that I'm not longer a threat, when he knows he's no longer capable of linking with me at will?" That just seems…daft, really.

"Prejudice," Snape says, "and your…rather spectacular weight loss. The fact that you've 'withdrawn' from daily Hogwarts life, especially quidditch. And your effective subterfuge. One mustn't forget that."

There is an unmistakable emphasis on the last and Harry nods. He has been much, much more careful about how he performs magic in front of others. Only Snape and McGonagall have seen what he is capable of lately. In all probability, the Headmaster does as well, though that is not Harry's doing.

"Voldemort is likely labouring under the misapprehension that the Headmaster has managed to shield your mind from him, finally."

Also sensible. Harry nods. "What about Draco Malfoy?" he murmurs, then, embarrassed even to bring it up.

"What about him?" Snape asks suspiciously, though nothing in his posture nor tone has changed. It's only a scent that colours the blankness.

"He has…propositioned me," Harry says diplomatically.

"Propositioned you," says Snape. "With what, Mr Potter? And please do get to the point sometime today."

Harry throws a very sour look at his professor and decides Snape deserves this. "With sex, Professor," he snaps. "Draco Malfoy wants to fuck me this weekend. I'm asking whether you feel that would be dangerous." He can't believe the stunned expression that comes over Snape's face. He finds it suddenly unbearably vexing. "Surely you can't have missed the rumours entirely, Professor," he says with impudent sarcasm. "The entire school is talking about how queer I am, and Draco is hardly hiding his current…infatuation."

"I hardly pay attention to rumours of my students' sex lives, Mr Potter, or I daresay I would spend all day doing nothing but that," Snape says haughtily, though it sounds defensive to Harry.

"Some spy. One would think that rumours concerning the Prince of Slytherin and the current Hogwarts Werewolf would register on the import meter. But I suppose the point is moot, as I've now come to you myself."

"Mr Potter, I would suggest you temper your insolence," says Snape dangerously, and Harry is suddenly reminded that this is Snape. Snape has been civil to him, but Harry has been almost obnoxiously diffident in return. "You may forget that you belong to a House, but I'm certain your housemates would not much appreciate you losing points for them."

Harry doesn't roll his eyes, but he wants to. He really does. Because he simply can't be arsed about his House, nor the House Cup nor even how his housemates feel about him. He has Ron and Hermione. He doesn't need anyone else. Except that, well, he'd really like to have sex with Draco, now that thinks about it. And he'd really, really like to continue his tutoring with Snape. "I apologize, Professor," he says with as much sincerity as he can muster, which is quite a lot, since he truly is sincere. "I only asked you about Draco because I trust your judgment, and because he has been rather insistent."

And then he casts Legilimens, without warning and reining himself tightly in. He thrusts himself into Snape's mind and skims the surface shallowly, pulling thoughts and memories as he goes, then escaping as quickly as he entered. He can almost taste the thoughts and memories on his tongue. Draco standing here, in this very office, throwing a tantrum. Draco warm and weak in his arms, weeping for the (very temporary) loss of his father. Draco whispering, 'I never knew you didn't believe…' his voice so small and weak. Draco's voice saying, 'I'll do what I can, but they'll likely kill me. Anything to keep you out of there….' the last echoing in Harry's mind. He can sort out nothing else, but it is enough, he thinks. "Well," Harry says. "That was…enlightening."

Snape is recovering slowly, then goes livid, only to calm himself again, pull himself to his full height, and straighten out his robes. When he meets Harry's eyes again, he is Occluding. "Well done," he says. "Excellent use of subterfuge. There is hope for you yet."

"Thank you, Professor." It doesn't matter how much of what Harry has said that Snape thinks was subterfuge. He feels safe enough letting Draco into his rooms now, though he will show him nothing of import. Draco could too easily provide the Dark Lord with valuable information, since he is obviously the new spy. Harry cannot help recalling, however, the feel of Draco weeping in his arms—in Snape's arms. It twists, inexplicably, in his gut. "May I be excused?"

"Yes, do get out," Snape says without inflection, as if the words do not speak for themselves, and turns his back on Harry.

Harry wishes he could say something to mitigate what he has done, but he can think of nothing, so he leaves, and goes to his Care of Magical Creatures lesson.

* * *

Friday afternoon is double Potions, and since it is an advanced class, the number of students is very, very small, and skewed toward Ravenclaws and Slytherins. There are only two Hufflepuffs—Susan Bones and Ernie McMillan—and two Gryffindors. Draco Malfoy is, of course, in the class, and though they are not allowed partners, Draco has taken to sitting next to Harry, while Hermione continues to sit on Harry's other side, for moral support, he supposes.

Lately, it has been Harry's wont to simply ignore everyone, even Hermione, (and especially Draco Malfoy), and focus his entire concentration on the potion in progress. Harry is more than up to this task. If he can Occlude against an insistent Snape, he can concentrate on a single bloody potion.

But today's potion requires a full thirty minutes of stirring right in the middle of its preparation, and once Harry reaches this point, he suddenly notices that he is actually in a classroom, surrounded by students, headed by a tall, greasy Potions master. And he notices, too, that there is a folded scrap of parchment on his desk that he does not recall having put there. He blinks, looks at it, cocks his head to the side....He wonders whether it wouldn't be more prudent to simply leave it where it is. He feels the curiosity coiling in his belly, compelling movement. He resists.

"Potter, read the bloody note," Malfoy whispers much too softly for an ordinary human to have heard it.

Harry, of course, is no longer one of those. But at least he knows who it's from, now. And he's got a rather sound idea what it's about, as well. He continues his stirring and picks up the note, unfolds it one-handed and reads the elegant script. "I'll be over at 10," it says.

Harry re-folds and pockets it. And then because he can, he wills it into a spherical shield, and casts a silent Incendio inside the shield. He lets the shield dissipate and casts a silent Evanesco on the ashes. His pocket is clean. He smiles to himself, then happens to look up at Malfoy, who has seen nothing but Harry's smile and nods just once before turning back to his cauldron. Harry sighs deeply, realizing that Malfoy has taken his smile for acquiescence to the change of time.

"Mr Potter, Mr Malfoy—" says Snape, right on cue. Harry could just groan, if he weren't in Potions in front of Professor Snape. "Is there something the two of you wish to share with the rest of the class? It must be both relevant and of great import, since you are discussing it during my lesson….?"

"No, sir," say Harry and Draco in unison. Harry hears various snickers around them and Hermione's near-silent 'bloody brilliant' beside him. Draco, unfortunately, sounded more than slightly impertinent when he replied, unlike Harry, who has meekness to a science. Harry does not blush. He only stirs.

"Well, Mr Malfoy," says Snape so very silkily, that voice like a poison mist over night-dark moors, shining in the moonlight. Beautiful—deceptively so—and deadly. "Perhaps Mr Potter can show us the note you passed him, then?"

"There is no note, Professor," Harry says meekly, regretting with every bit of his being having disposed of it, now. He looks deliberately into Snape's eyes, widens his own, begging Snape to read his mind and hoping the man can do it without words. He simply doesn't know.

Harry has no idea whether Snape has used Legilimency or not, but it feels as though the man has seen through his very soul when he draws himself up to full height again and says, "I see. Let us hope that this little farce hasn't destroyed everyone's potions, or we shall all have to redo them. During a Saturday morning detention."

Still, Snape takes no points, and Harry finds it amusing that after everything, the man still prefers his own house so blatantly. Harry doesn't care, though. His hand has not stopped stirring his potion for a single moment, it has become so automatic. It has saved him this time, but if sleeping with Draco is going to interfere with Potions, Harry is going to have to pass. Wandless, wordless magic is almost fulfilling enough to replace sex.

The remainder of the lesson passes smoothly, and for the final 10 minutes, the professor moves from cauldron to cauldron, testing the mixture for colour, consistency, and if those look safe, taste. Five of the thirteen students are ordered to Saturday detention and neither Harry, Draco, nor Hermione are among them. Harry breathes a silent sigh of relief.

* * *

Harry accepts Hermione's kiss on the cheek and harried, 'See you at supper!' before taking a more leisurely pace out of the classroom and out to his rooms. He easily has time to deposit his belongings before heading off to supper, except that Draco is there waiting for him. "I don't think I've ever seen a Gryffindor lie so very convincingly," says Draco with a smirk. "Bravo."

Harry arches an eyebrow, then shrugs it off and says, "Thank you,” before opening his door. It is keyed only to him, Snape, and McGonagall, through a warding he performed himself. He conjures a single Lumos sphere and enters. He feels Malfoy enter behind him and offers a wry, "Please, come in," without turning around.

"Where's the note?" Malfoy asks.

"I got rid of it as soon as I had the chance, of course," Harry says easily. It's perfectly true, after all, and hell, he has got quite good at lying. He lays his books on his desk and turns to his 'guest'. "I told you I couldn't see you until eleven o’clock."

Malfoy smirks, apparently forgetting about the note. "Yes, well…plans change. Now you're seeing me at 10."

"I have coaching with Professor Snape this evening."

"Until eleven o’clock?" Malfoy drawls, making his way over to the bed and sitting down on it. He is large and commanding. He fills Harry's bed with his presence. Harry licks his lips absently.

"I thought it might be nice for you if I had time to shower and dress before you arrived."

"Ah, I see," Draco says, then lies down on Harry's bed. And he knows what he is doing to Harry, for he proceeds to rub the side of his face and neck into the pillow and blankets beneath him. Then the back of his head, and to the other side. When he turns back to Harry, his face is delightfully pink, and Harry knows his scent will be all over the pillow. He is startled when a little moan escapes his parted lips.

Draco laughs delightedly and sits up, then stands. "Oh, Harry…I simply can't wait, I'm so excited." But saying it that way implies that he is completely in control, as always. Harry doesn't mind in the slightest, for Draco is burying his hand in Harry's hair again, cupping the back of Harry's skull. Draco's other hand travels the front of Harry's robes until it reaches his trousers, and a bit further. He feels that Harry can't wait either. "How delightful," Draco practically purrs, then leans down with open lips to ghost humid, heated breath against Harry's upturned forehead and cheeks. "I will come at 10:30," he says. "And be grateful, Potter. This is the first compromise I have ever made."

When Draco pulls away again, Harry feels bereft and disoriented. He watches the door close, thrusting him into silence, then sits down on the bed and buries his face in his pillows. He breathes deeply of Draco's lingering scent and shudders with want. It takes mere seconds to expose his aching length and minutes to reach a whimpering conclusion. Even with cleaning everything and straightening himself out again, he is only ten minutes late for supper, where Hermione and Ron greet him with cheerful waves and Draco pointedly ignores him. He sits down at the end of the table, across from his friends, where they've chosen to sit a bit away from the other Gryffindors.

"Oi, what's this I hear about Potions?" Ron asks, as if he's just heard the juiciest rumour he has ever experienced.

"It was nothing," Harry says, doubting he'll get away with it, but having to try, just the same.

"I saw him pass you a note, Harry," Hermione whispers.

"The rumours are true, aren't they," Ron accuses, a fascinating mixture of amusement and horror mingling on his face. "I know the pond is small, Harry, but are there no other fish in it?"

"He's extremely hot," Harry says, giving up the attempt to play this off.

"He's a Death Eater!" Ron hisses and a few heads pop up nearest them, despite the fact that Ron hadn't been whispering loudly.

Harry puts up a subtle silencing charm that will make their whispers sound softer than they really are, effectively cutting off their conversation from the others with no one the wiser. "I'm not trying to marry him, Ron," Harry mutters, because he doesn't think he should divulge too much about Draco's role in the war.

Both Ron's and Hermione's eyes bulge. "Harry!" Hermione chokes out.

"That is even too irresponsible for me to stomach," Ron says, a little impressed but mostly horrified. "You can't be serious."

"Of course I'm serious. He's absolutely the handsomest bloke at Hogwarts," Harry sniffs.

"Well, that may be true," Hermione concedes.

"He's also the evilest," Ron seethes. "Can't you find someone else? I mean…er…."

"Exactly," Harry agrees. "There is no one else. Besides, perhaps he'll let go some Death Eater secret when I make him scream, eh?" He's being deliberately crude now, but really, it's much more fun than telling them he's going to do what he's going to do and they can't stop him. Even the ever-so-popular 'I'm simply not allowed to say any more than this' is quickly growing tiresome. He pulls down his silencing charm and speaks in a normal voice. "Anyway, I won't discuss it any further or I'll be forced to give you details."

Ron is looking more than slightly ill and Hermione's eyes are shooting daggers, but Harry is unconcerned. He's eaten his plate of vegetables and is ready to go. "I've coaching now, so I'd best be off. Try to behave," he says then departs, noting that Professor Snape is already absent from the Head Table.

He makes it back to his rooms in record time by casting invisibility over himself and riding condensed air the entire way. He just barely has time to brush his teeth and grab his Potions things before rushing across the corridor and into the classroom, where Snape is preparing the lesson. Harry is barely on time and proceeds to make his preparations. The professor completes his own, then turns round and says, "That was extremely sloppy of you, Mr Potter."

Harry doesn't need to think to understand to what Snape is referring. "I agree, Professor," he says.

"What did you do with the note?"

"Incendio, Professor."

"I would have been alerted had you done that—"

"In my pocket, sir. Inside a spherical shield."

Snape pinches the bridge of his nose and shakes his head. "You are far too advanced, Potter," he says and Harry's jaw drops. But Snape pays no mind. "I cannot even fathom some of the magic you're using, and I could not even begin to tell you whether or not it is safe." He looks to Harry and seems, for once, out of his depth. "I've spoken with the Headmaster, and he assures me that you're doing nothing harmful. He, of course, is perfectly capable of understanding the level of magic you are performing, but he refuses to tutor you himself. I understand his need to maintain some distance, but this level of autonomy seems…unwise."

"But we learned shielding spells in Charms ages ago," Harry protests hopefully. "And Incendio is a first-year charm."

"Using will alone, Mr Potter. Not even a flick of the wrist. I was watching you. You closed your eyes for a moment, then smiled and the deed was done. I had no idea. I thought you had simply placed the letter in your pocket and were in the process of daydreaming pleasantly about it, which was why I went to interrupt you."

Oh, Harry thinks. It was actually for safety reasons. "I apologize, Professor."

But Snape turns to the blackboard again, his back ramrod straight, his robes billowing impressively. Those robes are like a shield to him, Harry knows. "We will be preparing the Mandrake Restorative Draught," he says, his voice back to its smoky arrogance. "It takes more than the few hours we have tonight, so we will set it in stasis when we've completed our lesson this evening. During your downtime, you will prepare more Pepper-up Potion. The first- and second-year Hufflepuffs have shared round a cold and Pomfrey's nearly run dry of the stuff."

Harry gets started whilst the professor sits behind his desk and begins marking scrolls with lovely red ink.

(Chapter 4 continues...)

Deus Argento (continued) by colibri
Chapter 4 continued...

Four hours later, Harry returns to his rooms, rushes to the shower, then stands under the steaming hot spray for a quarter of an hour before he deems himself Clean Enough. He does an extremely cautious Evanesco on a certain unmentionable (but essential) cavity, then towels off and shaves, though he barely needs to. Once per week is, generally, more than sufficient.

Only when he returns to his trunk does he realize that he has absolutely nothing to wear. At all. "Oh bloody hell," he mutters and wishes he were dead. He finds an as-yet unused pair of his black boxer-briefs. He pulls out a pair of the jeans he bought second-hand that actually fit him and chooses a plain, black t-shirt to wear along. He doesn't even have time to put on socks before there is a tapping on the door that startles the breath right out of him.

He rushes to open it, then is nearly knocked over by an owl before it makes a circuit and decides to land on Harry's bed. He takes the message from the owl's leg and allows the bird to leave again before closing the door. He scowls as he unfurls the paper, then groans.

Dear Harry,

I know that we've not been on the best of terms lately, but I hope you will at least read this.

I wish to apologise for the way I behaved when last I saw you. You have been going through a very difficult time, and I only served to make it more difficult for you, by avoiding you and…well…behaving in a generally inappropriate fashion. I hope that you will accept my apology, as I cannot bear to think that I may be the closest thing to family you have left, and am not even spending any time with you.

I'm staying at 12 Grimmauld Place at Albus's request, but am always available for you. We can fire-talk, or I can come and visit. Whatever you wish, Harry.

With love,

He barely has time to read the missive before there is another knock on the door, but this time it even sounds like Draco. He banishes the letter to the top drawer in his desk, then locks it with a flick of his hand before opening on…

"Gah," he says and nearly chokes on his own drool.

Draco eyes him doubtfully. "Is that what you wear for a date?"

Harry doesn't even bother looking down at his own clothing—just steps away to allow Draco entry before closing the door behind his guest. "I haven't anything else," he says without inflection. "Were we going out?"

"Not in that," Draco says, his nose curling. "Although…" and he stares thoughtfully at Harry for several seconds before continuing. "It does have a certain flair, doesn't it?" he murmurs and nods minutely, moving closer.

Draco, for his part, wears fitted black trousers and a tight, black jacket buttoned up the front that flares at the hips and goes up in the neck. Just five of the closely set buttons at Draco’s neck are left open, showing about five inches of a stiff, green collar. His boots are of polished black leather and have no laces that Harry can see. He stands as if posing for a fashion magazine. "You look far too handsome to be cooped up in here," Harry admits, realising belatedly that it tips his hand a bit.

But Draco preens. "Valentino," he says, as if that should mean something to Harry. "But I suppose you shall simply have to…let us say, divest me."

Harry finds the idea intriguing. He has never really been at all dominant in any of his sexual activities. The closest he has gotten is dropping to his knees unbidden and opening the trousers before him. Seduction has always been in one direction: with Harry as the object. He moves closer to this shining silver man, and wonders if touching him might just leave a scar. He breathes deeply of Draco's scent, which is different now—an unscented soap, this time, and no cologne, allowing Draco's natural nuances to shine through.

"I thought you might appreciate that," says Draco's deep, suddenly husky voice.

Harry doesn't bother to say anything in confirmation. He simply looks into Draco's eyes for a moment, desire dilating his pupils, and leans his face up, clinging to Draco's shoulders with strong fingers in order to taste those lips.

And taste them he does, for once they meet, it is only seconds before they both lose any semblance of control. While Harry hasn't really been pretending, Draco's shift is palpable. From fashion plate to wild animal, he soon has Harry pressed against a stone wall and lifted high enough that he can devour Harry's mouth, then neck and over to first one ear, then the other.

Harry manages to slowly unbutton Draco's jacket from the bottom whilst losing and regaining coherency in turns. He has the jacket pushed off and onto the floor by the time his own t-shirt has been removed. Draco's green silk shirt joins the jacket not long after, but by then, Harry is already naked. He is breathing when he can, attempting to keep up with Draco—tasting his mouth, his tongue, and drowning in the sharp musk of desire, bombarded by the fire beneath Draco's skin and the ice in the dungeon floors—as he is led, in fits and starts, across the small room and to the bed. He is laid out upon it, an offering to the deus argento that now towers above him on knees, nudus, skin blazing like the full moon, stretched taut over tight muscles and tendons and bones. Except there.

For Draco's manhood is now revealed, though Harry cannot recall the trousers being shed, nor the shoes and socks that would have made the entire thing possible. But here Harry lies before an erection as proud as Draco has ever been. It is perfect, as far as one can measure such things—long and thick with great heft and a rosy hue. The foreskin has pulled back exposing a beautifully flared and shiny head, which weeps now, over Harry's inattention. So he leans up slowly, allowing Draco to shift back and up, until Harry is sitting, and Draco straddles him, perfectly positioned for Harry to open his mouth, and devour.

A groan burns Harry's ears and tickles his tongue, the first unplanned sound his deus argento has made, and Harry swallows as much as he can, before returning to lavish attention on the slick head, on the fraenulum below it. He takes as his reward the salt slipperiness of Draco's appreciation, and the implacable hand of desire, which rests firmly at the back of his head and encourages whenever Harry comes up for air.

Harry is out of practise, but he has more than enough stamina to bring Draco off with his mouth. So he does. And with the rush of bitter, viscous fluid comes a broken sound so full of nuance, Harry thinks he will remember it until his death and still never tease out the meanings within it. But in there, he hears surprise, certainly, and perhaps a bit of adoration as well. That is enough to sate him, for now, and he allows this deus argento, now fracto, to lie on his bed, under his sheet and blankets, head on his pillows, and fall asleep, while his own erection slowly softens upon his thigh and the room's chill seeps in to cool his blood.

(end chapter 4)

Virgin Sacrifice by colibri
Chapter 5. Virgin Sacrifice

Harry wakes slowly, chilled to the bone, and he thinks this is the reason he has woken up, because he is still tired and sleepy. The stone wall is pressing into his back and explains a great deal about his discomfort…just not why he is pressed against the wall in the first place, nor why he is naked and not under his blankets. So he opens his eyes.

"I wondered how long you would lie there freezing before you woke up," says Draco, whose eyes shine like mercury in the hovering Lumos above.

Harry doesn't bother to ask why Draco let him freeze. They are not lovers. They do not even care about each other. Harry isn't certain why he allowed Draco to stay at all, other than that Draco is exceptionally handsome, and Harry has not been privileged to suck the cock of someone so handsome before. "Get out," he says, but not unkindly. His words are only rude because it is impossible to tell someone to get out and not be rude.

"I'd rather stay, thanks," Draco says quietly, no hint of his usual drawl.

"It's my room," Harry points out pragmatically. "It's my bed."

"I never got to fuck you."

"Tomorrow is a new day," says Harry.

"It is tomorrow," says Draco.

"No, it's today. But if you're saying you want to fuck me today, there is still a lot of today left, and there will be even if you return to your own bed now, and leave me mine so that I can sleep for a few hours."

Draco's face is expressionless, but he rolls out of the bed, then, and gives Harry the view of a lifetime as he bends to get his wand. He casts Extendo Lectum while Harry lies and feels the magic affecting the bed. He feels the intention in Draco's magic reshaping it beneath him. When the bed is large enough, Draco crawls into it again and with poking and prodding, encourages Harry to join him in the warmth he has already created. "Nox," Draco whispers, and they are in the dark.

"I'm not certain it's worth having you here if I can't see you," Harry says and thinks it sounds like he's teasing, which is far more familiar than he'd intended to get.

"Shh," says Draco and manoeuvres them until Harry is facing the wall and Draco is spooned up behind. There is a little life in Draco's prick, but not much, yet. "I need to tell you something."

"No revelations, please," Harry pleads softly. "I only want to enjoy one night of blazing good sex. Is that so wrong?"

Draco sighs exasperatedly and hisses a Lumos again. He lies on his back, wand in hand, arms crossed over his chest. He has the pillow now. Harry's pillow.

"What, then?!" Harry says and sits up, ready to push Draco from his rooms bodily if he has to.

"I've never done this before!" Draco cries, then stares at Harry as if it's Harry's fault.

"What on earth are you prattling about?" Harry blurts.

"This," Draco says, and gestures between them, chest to chest.

"Now you're a bloody liar," Harry says and gets out of the bed. "There is no way you are a virgin."

Draco looks immensely affronted at that. "I'm not a virgin," he says, as if the mere word carries with it some sort of disease. "That's not what I meant. I mean," and he gestures between them again. "With a…bloke."

There is something so wrong about that word coming from Malfoy's elegant mouth. "You've never buggered a man before," Harry sighs tiredly. "Right. Remind me to ask next time, so I don't get my hopes up. Just…get out." And he walks to the toilet.

"There's no need to be a git about it!" Draco exclaims hastily, and it does manage to stop Harry before he gets to the en-suite. "I'm simply saying I've not done it with a man before. I'm not saying I don't want to. Not sure of the mechanics…" he trails off.

Harry groans. The situation has moved far beyond awkward to absolutely mortifying, he thinks. "I'm not in the mood," he says. "Perhaps next term," and he locks himself in the toilet, sits down on the floor, his back against the wall, and bangs his head against said wall a number of times—perhaps fifty or sixty—before getting up and taking a piss. He flushes, then gets soap onto his hands and washes his face, brushes his teeth, rinses and dries. And the problem is that Draco is still out there. So he showers and washes his hair, then comes out and combs it. He can't be certain, but he has a feeling that Draco is still there. But now there's nothing else to do. He wraps a towel about his bony hips and opens the door.

There sits Draco Malfoy, possibly the most stunning man the world has ever seen, slowly stroking a prick lesser men than Harry would overthrow Dark Lords to sit on. It glistens with oil and Harry wonders which lubrication spell Draco has used. He'd like to use it all over Draco's body. "You're still here," he says.

Draco shrugs. "I want you," he says. "I'll have you."

I suppose you will, at that, Harry thinks, but does not say. He leans against the door-jamb to the en-suite instead. "I don't think you've laid a foundation for that assertion, Mr Malfoy," he says instead. "Your arrogance in this situation seems entirely baseless."

Draco leans back onto his elbows, flexing his abdominal muscles, and Harry's knees almost buckle. But not quite. The man is…unearthly. "Give in, Harry," says that voice of arsenic and honey. "Teach me how to please you." He spreads his legs a little, giving Harry a slightly better view, when the previous view had nearly killed him.

"What happened to 'Potter'?" Harry whispers and can't believe he has made a coherent sentence.

"Malfoys do not beg, Potter," Draco says, a line of steel in his voice—or is that silver? Deus Argento. "And Malfoys do not ask to be taught how to please another."

"Am I supposed to be honoured, then, Mr Malfoy? That you would debase yourself so? I did not ask you here." The anger is real now, and Harry has regained his balance. He can resist now, for as long as it takes. For as long as he wishes. There was a momentary lapse of reason, but now reason, once again, holds sway.

Only, Draco pushes himself off the bed in a rush of angry frustration, and so easily is Harry's control broken. He needs this. "Why are you making this so difficult?!" Draco exclaims.

And Harry whispers, "I don't know," and then, "I've never done this before, either," he admits. To Draco. To himself.

"Pardon?" says Draco, his anger pricked and deflated in a heartbeat.

"I've never done this straight before," Harry amends.

"Straight?" Draco says and tries not to look confused, while failing miserably.

"I've always been either high or…withdrawing," Harry explains. "I've only done this in trade."

Draco thinks about this for several seconds before speaking. "When you were a prostitute," he says, and when Harry nods, he asks, "You've never had sex that wasn't for money?"

"Or drugs," Harry agrees, since he'd simply not bothered, otherwise. That wasn’t to say he hadn’t enjoyed the trade—especially with Stu. But it is obvious the Dark Lord and his minions know all about Harry's sordid past. Why does he bother hiding anything?

"That is so fucked," says Draco, and Harry can't help but notice that that lovely prick is no longer quite so interested in the proceedings. "You are so fucked up, Harry Potter."

"Thank you," Harry says and slides to the floor. He's not feeling very amorous himself, to be honest.

"That's not a compliment, Potter."

"Back to 'Potter', then," Harry says.

"It's only a name, Potter. Like Harry. It doesn't mean anything. It's the intention behind it. Any wizard should know that."

"All right." Harry can't be arsed at this point. He's getting cold again.

"Harry Potter, the Boy Who Turned Tricks, Saviour of the Wizarding World."

"Harry Potter," Harry agrees, "the Boy Who Shot Up, Blowjob Queen of the Muggle World." It's less funny than it could have been, had it not been true.

"You're not much of a Queen, Potter," Draco says wryly. "You're not very effeminate."

Harry's brows quirk in surprise and he peers up at Draco. "I thought I was quite feminine."

"You're very pretty," Draco assures him, "despite that…" and Draco's nose crinkles daintily, "scar, but not particularly effeminate." Harry is startled to think that he's been scarred again. And the scar the werewolf has left him with is far larger than that first still sitting, nearly forgotten, above his brow. "Lovely, really. And male. I'm not attracted to you because I think you look like a girl."

Harry smirks. "I'm not certain you're attracted to me at all. I do seem to be, however, the only blue boy at Hogwarts at present."

"Other than me."

"Of course."

"I'd love to fuck you, Potter, if we could lay our demons to rest for the night. I hate to be the voice of rationality, since drama suits my image much better, but, honestly. You're a lovely, lovely boy. And I am…well, stunning."

"You are a god on earth," Harry says.

"Exactly," Draco agrees with finality, then sits down on the bed. "Come lie with me."

Harry doesn't so much decide as simply get up and move toward the bed. He pushes Draco down upon it, then moves slowly to straddle Draco's thighs. "At least I do know how to do this," Harry murmurs.

"Hmm," says Draco.

"I used a lot of drugs," in explanation.

"You had a lot of sex," Draco interprets.

"Hmm," says Harry, and wraps his fist round Draco's already-firming prick. "You have the loveliest cock I've ever seen," Harry says.

"I have the loveliest everything you've ever seen."

Harry is already hard and weeping. He moves until their pricks are back to back, then starts stroking them both, though they're a bit more than a handful for his small hand.

Draco hisses his pleasure.

"Which lubrication charm did you use?" Harry murmurs.

Draco grabs his wand where it lies, handily, on the floor next to the bed and murmurs 'Lubricoleo' as he points to their cocks. It's a strange construction—not even close to proper Latin—which means it's a real charm he's learnt from some book somewhere, not one he's cobbled together like most of Harry's useful charms are. Harry's mind stops wandering as soon as he starts fisting again.

He moans deeply when Draco's hand wraps around them instead, forcing Harry's away. Draco's hand is larger and can accommodate them both more easily. And it doesn't hurt that Harry starts moving up and down, adding friction at their fraenula. Soon they are both gasping for breath and making deep sounds of need. And when Harry can no longer stand the waiting, he pulls Draco's hand off, pushes himself up onto his knees, positions Draco's perfect prick, then lowers himself onto it. Slowly.

But not too slowly.

And Draco's eyes go huge and round, while his pupils contract to pinpricks of black, nearly swallowed by seas of glinting silver.

Harry does not see, for his own eyes are squeezed shut in pain, in bliss, in rapt concentration as he takes Draco inside himself and feels every nuance, scents every flavour in the room, hears their hearts pounding out of phase, creating a complex, driving rhythm; whispered words a susurrus about them, through the still, humid air, painting Harry's eyelids silver.

Once his skin touches soft, fine hair, he opens his eyes again. Draco's are still locked on Harry's face, though they occasionally stray to take in the rest of Harry's body, lingering long moments on Harry's now-straining erection, then being pulled to the place where their bodies meet when Harry raises himself off. Draco's mouth makes a little O, and it shapes the sounds that are forced from him. Can it be Draco's mouth that whispers so—a mantra, a litany, a prayer perhaps? Harry impales himself on Draco's shaft again, then again, until they share a rhythm, until the bliss has drowned the pain, until Harry's hand is milking his own shaft and they are both nearing the precipice.

And when Harry falls over, spilling his seed over hands, over silver skin, Draco's O's become strained, and he thrusts deeply into Harry, losing control of the rhythm for several long moments before he, too, races into climax, painting Harry's darkness silver.

It is all Harry can do to pull himself off of Draco and collapse on the bed beside him. The last thing he hears is Draco's murmured Evanesco.

Control by colibri
Chapter 6. Control

November 1, 1997. The day Draco Malfoy lost his virginity. At least, that's the way Harry likes to think of it. The day Draco Malfoy lost his virginity to Harry Potter. Thinking of it that way always makes Harry snort or smirk wryly, so he tries only to do that in the privacy of his own rooms.

Draco, of course, pretends that he hadn't lost his virginity that night, (or that morning, rather.) But the losing obviously broke a dam in him, because since that morning he can no longer keep his hands off of Harry, which Harry finds both supremely amusing and not a small amount unsettling. The latter, mainly because Draco can't even keep it together in public. They are caught snogging in the corridors several times by various Slytherins, but Draco doesn't care a whit. Since he is Head Boy, he has enough authority over them that he can't be arsed what they think.

Soon, however, it begins growing out of hand, and one fine Tuesday morning, that being November the 4th, Draco ambushes Harry outside the Great Hall when Harry is on his way to independent revision. Unfortunately, it’s just after breakfast, and there are plenty of people still leaving the Great Hall. Harry is struggling mightily to get Draco off of him when he hears McGonagall's absolutely horrified voice exclaim, "Mr Malfoy! Ten points from Slytherin for your absolutely disgraceful lack of control! And another ten for setting a poor example as Head Boy! And who—" followed by a gasp and…well, she should really breathe soon….

Draco manages to release Harry and even straightens Harry's robes a bit with trembling fingers before moving on to his own. His face looks like he is holding onto dignity, but the blush says he knows very well that he is failing. Harry is fascinated by how out-of-character this is for Draco.

Still, it is Harry whom she is gaping at now like a landed fish. "Professor McGonagall, I apologize for that…unseemly display," he manages without spontaneously combusting, though his face is surely scarlet. "It was a momentary lapse. It won't happen again," Harry adds hastily.

McGonagall is still gaping, and a whole mass of students are standing about attempting to be silent enough that they are not told to go before this drama has unfurled. Only then the doors slam open again and Professor Snape is there, staring intimidatingly down his nose at the mass of students, some of whom are taller than him, before he says, "I suggest you all get to your classes immediately, before you each lose 10 points for your respective houses."

Students scatter reluctantly, leaving only Harry, Draco, and two professors, neither of whom looks particularly pleased. McGonagall has finally shut her mouth.

"Mr Malfoy, what is happening here?" Snape asks. He always asks his own students for their side of the story first. Of course, McGonagall would have asked Harry, so he supposes it’s only fair.

"Er," says Draco, and Harry has to stifle a groan. Apparently, Harry has had a very bad influence on Draco, because before they started this, Draco would have been halfway through a spectacular and believable lie already. "I was kissing Potter," Draco says, finally, and it is Harry's turn to gape. "Shut your mouth, Potter. It's hardly attractive to walk about like a slack-jawed imbecile. It reflects especially poorly on me."

Harry doesn't understand how Draco is present enough to insult Harry but not to make up something better than, 'I was kissing Potter.'

"Ten points from Gryffindor," says Snape, "for not showing more restraint. And ten from Slytherin, for your absolutely atrocious taste, Mr Malfoy," he adds and walks off.

And Harry cannot help smirking. It is indeed rare to see Professor Snape take points from his own house. And Harry doesn't mind so much about losing points for Gryffindor, even if it wasn't really his fault.

McGonagall looks like she wants to say something, but walks away nonplussed, instead. Harry knows she is already late for her seventh-year Transfigurations lesson. "Perhaps you'll be able to control yourself a bit better from now on," Harry says, still smirking.

"Me?" says Draco, looking nothing less than shocked. And then he pulls Harry into another kiss, pulls away just far enough to say, "I've controlled myself about enough for one day, I think," before taking another languorous kiss and pulling away again. "Until tonight," he adds by way of farewell, then saunters down the corridor toward Charms.

Despite Draco's lapses in decorum, however, Harry and Draco actually have an agreement. Their 'relationship', whatever it is, will not interfere with schoolwork. Harry still has too much catching up to do, and Draco is sitting nine NEWTs this year. So they shall only spend real time together on Saturdays, and for the remainder of the week Draco doesn't come over until after eleven o’clock. This works well for both of them, and means that Harry is still able to do all of his extra private coaching.

After supper, Harry goes to meet Professor McGonagall in the Transfigurations classroom as usual for a Tuesday evening. She is, however, not there, so he sets wards on the room and silencing charms, then begins his Transfiguration drills. He has nearly completed the seventh-year syllabus now, though not as thoroughly as he has completed the sixth. Professor McGonagall makes certain he has all of the theory and form correctly, but she does not give him the time for expansion and the rest. So he works those drills until she finally arrives, setting off his wards spectacularly when she tries to break them instead of simply walking in.

When Harry slams open the door, she has transfigured into her Animagus form and is hissing and spitting at the door. "Sorry, Professor!" Harry apologises hastily and moves out of the way. The cat rushes in, her fur still standing on end, and Harry closes the door behind them. The cat is sitting in McGonagall's chair washing herself unhurriedly and after Harry has reset the wards, he merely waits. This is her way of calming herself before she resumes human form, Harry knows. His head of house is not overly fond of surprises, nor is she fond of looking nonplussed.

When she has gathered herself, she jumps down from her chair and shifts again, stern and straight as ever. "It's been quite a day," she says, and looks pointedly at Harry.

"I apologise, Professor," Harry offers sincerely. "I was drilling—I always ward the door when I drill, to avoid an unexpected audience."

"Of course, Mr Potter," she says and waves that away. "I was startled, but not hurt. I expect no less. I should have warned you that I would be late. No, I was more referring to your earlier…clinch…with Mr Malfoy."

Ah, Harry thinks, then says. "Well, yes. That was a bit unexpected for me as well," he admits. "I'm not certain why he feels the need—or the compulsion, it seems—to make such public displays. I'd much rather he refrained."

"It did seem that way, yes," McGonagall agrees. "Perhaps that will be the end of it?" She looks hopeful.

"It doesn't look promising," Harry says. "And he's much larger than I am. I could likely take him in a duel, but that would be giving a bit too much away. So he tends to get the upper hand."

McGonagall looks a little queasy, but soon shakes it off with a sigh. "I may as well tell you. I was meeting with the Headmaster, which is why I was tardy to our coaching, and you have my apologies for that. However, we were discussing your progress, so it was somewhat appropriate that we do so today.”

She peers down her nose (and over her spectacles) at Harry, but Harry finds her expression highly uninformative. He thinks it likely she is putting off the inevitable divulging of information. Adults always hate that, no matter how minor the information.

She continues presently, however. “We spoke of many things, Albus and I,” she says, “but the final word is that, if you wish, both of us think that you could sit your NEWTs successfully this year. You will have no difficulty earning the required five for Auror training, if you still wished to pursue that field. Your only borderline subject is History, and you are certainly passing that—both years. Unfortunately, we need to know by the Christmas holidays whether you would like to sit the NEWTs or not, so do start considering it now."

Harry looks down at his hands where they rest upon the desk. His wand is up his sleeve, as he has not even used it this evening. It feels more and more like an unnecessary prop every day. "This may seem a strange request," Harry says, "and I will, of course, respect your decision regardless, but I was wondering if you might be willing to allow me to attempt Legilimens on you."

"Legilimency?" McGonagall repeats, as if Harry's gone barking. "Have you been learning that on your own??"

Harry frowns. "Of course, not. I take lessons with Professor Snape, as part of my DADA tutoring."

Now she looks shocked. "Does Professor Snape allow you to do that to him?"

"It's rather difficult to practise without," Harry says, feeling a bit out of his depth. He'd somehow assumed that McGonagall and Snape were at least keeping each other apprised regarding his lessons. Apparently, that is not the case. "I’ve got quite good at breaching his mind, actually," Harry says, "but since he is the only wizard I have practised with, I have no idea whether I’m capable of performing the spell on anyone else. Which is why I asked you."

"Oh," she says, then sits down behind her desk. "Well, I suppose," she says dubiously. "I have very little knowledge of the art, you understand. Very little."

Harry had thought she knew everything about magic. "Well…er…I'll just say Legilimens, and then you try to think of nothing in particular," he says.

"Nothing?" she says.

"Right," he says. Only then he can't resist. "Like you wouldn't want to think of the meeting you had with Dumbledore just before coming here," he says, then casts and enters. And entering McGonagall's mind feels almost like the first time he entered Snape's, before he had learned about skimming. But it is simply because her thoughts are so undisciplined. So he pulls up even higher, almost out of her mind completely, and only skims the very surface, like a spider skating across a lake, and tastes. He sees Dumbledore sitting behind his great, cluttered desk, eyes twinkling, offering a sherbet lemon, offering tea, offering cakes. Professor McGonagall's voice refuses patiently, then with greater firmness and, finally, exasperation. 'Albus, the boy has advanced beyond my ability to supervise him in many respects. There are many spells he does not know, yet many things he can do without spells that I do not even know spells for. You simply must teach the boy.'

'He is fine, Minerva,' and Dumbledore twinkles. He looks younger, but still old. Then he is older again. 'Perhaps you should work on Animagus transformations with him, hmm?'

'I must ask about Draco Malfoy, Albus. Is it wise…?'

Disjointed conversations. Harry tries to find the end of the one about Draco, but it is buried, now. She is remembering her revision in Animagus transformation, and her mishaps. She is remembering splinching herself in her early Apparition lessons. Harry backtracks, trying to find the one thread he is looking for and manages. He follows it. '—Needn't concern yourself with Harry's dalliances, Minerva. Draco is no danger to him as things currently stand, and Harry is being very cautious. Please, do have more faith in me.'

Harry pulls out gently, so as not to jar the professor back to reality too abruptly. He waits until she seems mostly recovered before he says a quiet, "Thank you, Professor."

She seems surprised that he is still there. "Did you see all of that?" she asks.

Harry shakes his head. "There is too much to see in someone's mind. When you actively think of something, or remember it, I can see those thoughts, though they are sometimes difficult to interpret. Your mind was full of thoughts and memories. I saw only little bits and pieces."

"Go on, Mr Potter," she encourages. She will not give up without this information. Harry could lie, but he still has some Gryffindor honour left.

"I focussed on your meeting with the Headmaster," he says and shrugs. "Professor Snape has also asked Professor Dumbledore to teach me, and has been refused. And I saw of your concern regarding my relationship with Draco, which is really nothing particularly serious, by the way. And the Headmaster is right. I'm very cautious around Draco, because even if Draco isn’t trying to give information to my enemies, my enemies could simply take that information, as I have taken information from you." He waits for McGonagall's reaction and is not surprised, because she smells of fear and confusion and frustration.

She turns her back on Harry and stares at the blackboard for a time. Then says, "Professor Dumbledore has suggested we visit the Animagus transformation." She does not turn to look at Harry again.

"I can leave if you wish it, Professor," he offers.

She heaves a mighty sigh, then says, "No, that's all right." Softens a bit as she turns round and looks at him. "It is difficult to see your progress, Mr Potter, and know that I cannot help you."

"You've already helped a great deal, Professor. But it is difficult to see my own progress sometimes," Harry agrees, "and know that I am still more likely to die before I sit my NEWTs than not."

Stricken is the only word to describe her expression. But then she pulls it together again, as always. "The Animagus transformation," she begins, and Harry falls back on the familiarity of her teaching style.

Interlude by colibri
Chapter 7: Interlude

“Potions?” comes a voice, and it’s unmistakably Hermione’s. It’s not a surprise either, since Harry is in the library.

“Yeah.” Harry is, indeed, researching Potions, though this is a bit of an extra-curricular endeavour. Harry is rather certain he can find something extraordinary in the realm of charisma potions. Something extraordinarily useful as well as extraordinarily thoughtful. Something to impress Snape.

Hermione sits across from him at the table and a massive tome nearly as tall as the girl herself deposits itself daintily on the table off to her left, obstructing Harry’s view only slightly.

She will need to stand in order to read anything in it, but she does not. It is a signal that she’s on about something more than swotting just now. Harry continues to search through the book’s index, waiting for her to gather her nerve. Charisma Potions— Brewing Considerations; Effects and Side-Effects; Fundaments; General Considerations; History and Lore; Targets;…

And then she does. “Do you mind if I ask you a question, Harry?” she asks shyly.

Harry is surprised, mainly because Hermione knows nearly everything there is to know about Harry, including a good many of the most sordid details. “I don’t mind,” he says, and turns to the History and Lore section.

“Year last…when you were living…on your own…” and it gets Harry’s attention. The last bit seems a compromise the way she says it, as if she had been about to say something else but decided on something more politic. She is staring at her hands, which lie still before her, pressed together as if in prayer, though her pinkies are against the wood and her thumbs point skyward.

Harry waits. His time in muggle London is certainly nothing he needs to guard in terms of Voldemort and his evil minions. They know all the important bits already, and ‘important’ is a very loose term in this case. The only truly important bit is the one Voldemort himself caused. When Hermione doesn’t continue, though, Harry coaxes her gently with a simple, “Yeah…?”

“How did you come to…do…what you were doing?” She looks up quickly, then, to meet Harry’s eyes, and though Harry can scent a bit of nervousness on her part, she’s far too curious to be as meek about it as she initially seemed. She holds his eyes now without difficulty, but also without judgment.

But Harry is far less certain than she, what she is actually asking. “Well,” he begins, a bit put off by his own confusion. “I left the Dursleys with nothing…I realised I needed to find work.”

"Why didn't you draw from your account?" she asks, so gently.

"No trail," he says, shrugs. But it's not the entire story, of course. "No reminders. No ties," and he's not certain there isn't more, but he'd rather not delve too deeply. He looks up from the densely-written page, which he’d not even noticed himself fixating upon. It’s soothing, though—much more soothing than the look of encouragement on Hermione’s face. He pages forward to have something to do, though he can’t actually read this quickly. “Anyway...couldn’t really hire a flat on my own, with no money. And without my exams—employment is always difficult to find for the unskilled. It only took one night of sleeping under a bridge….”

“…Go on…?”

Harry shrugs. He’s come to the portion headed Effects and Side-Effects. He says, “I was trying to find shelter, so I found a bridge. There was someone else there—she said there were places that would give me work, but most of them paid nearly nothing. She said I’d do much better selling myself—that I’d do well. I was pretty and young. She wasn’t very pretty, the woman—her name was Stacy. Stacy said she knew a bloke who liked boys like me. She introduced me to Stu the next day.”

“Who is Stu?”

“He was…a friend. It was his house I lived in. He always let people stay there, as long as they at least made the attempt to pay. He took to me right away—let me sleep on his sofa. But…the nightmares. I woke him up several times that first night, and in the morning, I was a mess. It was horrid. I couldn’t stop shaking. It was far worse than it had been at the Dursleys'. He gave me some hash and it helped a little. It was a relief. And a revelation. Something so simple could make me feel better, even if only for a short time.

“Stu was a junkie, though, and even though he was a bit embarrassed about it at first, he could hardly hide it from me. He had tracks, you know? And when he was nodding, it was unmistakeable.” Harry is starting to relax into the telling, and is surprised at how reasonable it feels—sharing with Hermione. Sharing this. He’d always felt like talking about things like this was…well, somehow weak and maudlin. But this isn’t so bad, really, and he can even look at Hermione now as he speaks, instead of at the pages before him. “I asked him what it was like—it looked very peaceful. He said H was hard—it’s difficult to control. And kicking is almost impossible for some people. But it didn’t take long to convince him that if he didn’t let me try it, I’d just get it somewhere else. I thought I might die—I was desperate to take care of the dreams, and I thought it would help.”

“And it did,” Hermione says, her lip curling slightly in disgust, though she is trying not to show it. She is trying not to judge. “It took away the dreams.”

Harry doesn’t mind her disgust. She doesn’t know, after all, and in some ways, she’s correct. “Completely. But I did get very, very addicted. I used a lot—I needed to use several times a day to keep Voldemort out….Well, that’s not strictly true. I needed to use several times a day because I loved being on the nod more than anything in the world. But it was expensive, and after a time, Stu said I needed to work in order to support my habit. So I started tricking. It was easy and paid enough.” Another shrug. He doesn’t know what else to say, because in the end, he still doesn’t really know what she’d been trying to ask him.

“So…you were selling yourself and taking drugs….” This is nothing new to her, and yet she sits silently for an entire minute at least, mulling it over, before she says, “If it had been me…I don’t think I could ever have sex again.”

Harry blinks at her. He’s completely lost. And confused. And, “What?”

“After being…used that way. Random people….” She shakes her a head a little.

Harry still doesn’t understand. “What’s that to do with having sex?”

Now it’s Hermione’s turn to stare at him, apparently dumbfounded. “That seems obvious…it’s all sex, isn’t it?”

“But the nasty bit about tricking isn’t the sex bit. It’s the blokes being dirty and old and ugly bit.”

Hermione stares at him blankly.

“Some of the johns were even gorgeous—especially at the start, before I began neglecting myself. There were a few blokes…” he shakes his head in pleasant remembrance, “lovely. Free drugs, hot sex, and I got paid at the end. It was brilliant.”

Now Hermione is obviously doubtful. “So tricking was a pleasant bit of employment? Something to recommend to all of your mates, yes?” She obviously thinks Harry is lying to himself.

“Of course not,” Harry says, annoyed with the way it seems that Hermione is deliberately misunderstanding him. “It was terrible having no control over who hired me. And after a time, few of the blokes were at all shag-worthy. Some of them were cruel. But that’s nothing to do with sex.”

Hermione shakes her head once, quickly, as if she is attempting to clear something from it. Cobwebs or an unwanted thought, perhaps. And then she says, “What am I missing?” quietly and to herself. “I’m not asking the right question.” She looks up at Harry, brows drawn together, pained, and asks, “Does it make you happy, Harry—all of the sex you’re having?”

Harry knows there is something lost here in the translation. What does she mean, does it make him happy? “I love sex,” he says helplessly. He has no idea what sex would have to do with making him happy. “I don’t really think about it.”

“Well that’s hardly true. You think about it all the time!”

“I do?”

“Of course—seems you never think of anything else. And it’s not only you, either. Ron’s the same way. All you ever think about is sex!” but quietly, because they’re still in the library.

“I don’t think about it,” Harry disagrees. “I just want it. Has nothing to do with thinking.”

“How can you want it without thinking about it??”

“Well there’s not really time to think about it, is there? I mean, there’d be no time to think of anything else! The body simply wants it. The thinking is only necessary when planning is involved. Mostly I just look at a bloke and I want him or…or I don’t. If I’m close enough to scent him, and he’s desirous, well then it’s easy. We fuck.”

“Because of the Lycanthropy. I mean, you can scent it because of the Lycanthropy.”

Harry nods. That, at least, was clear. “It’s a blessing, really,” Harry admits. “I never have to wonder whether they want me anymore. Only whether they’re willing to give in.”

“Hang on,” Hermione says. “Back to…what you were saying. So…when you have sex with a boy…does it…mean anything?”

Harry is beginning to understand, now, he thinks. He is thinking that Hermione’s definition of sex has many, many bits wrapped into it that have nothing at all to do with sex. “It’s not supposed to mean anything. It’s only supposed to feel good. And…fulfilling. I mean, after I come, my entire body is filled with delight, and the better the sex, the longer the goodness remains. Sometimes I shudder in remembrance hours later.”

“And it doesn’t matter who the sex is with?”

“Of course it does.” What, is she loony? “He’s got to be at least somewhat attractive. And he’s got to learn quickly, if he isn’t very skilled. And he needs to be tidy. Mostly tidy. Though an Evanesco—“

“Yeah, all right,” Hermione says hastily. “But…what about feelings?”

“Feelings,” Harry says blankly.

Love, you know.”

“Love is…awfully complicated,” Harry says, as he doesn’t think about Draco.

“Doesn’t love make sex better?” she asks.

“How can sex be better? Sex is everything. Good sex is good. Better sex is better. Superlative sex is superlative. Love is…an emotion. It has nothing to do with sex.” That doesn’t sound quite right…even to Harry. “Well no. If I were to fall in love with someone, I would certainly hope sex would be involved.” Yes, that is true.

“So…do you want sex now?” Hermione asks.

“Yes.” He doesn’t think. He just says it. “Of course.”

“All the time.”


“Even after you’ve just had sex.”

“Of course. Especially.”

“How much sex is enough?”

“How obsessed with this topic are you, exactly?” he asks, snickering a bit and turning back to his book. This conversation can’t possibly be important. And the book is mentioning seminal fluids. Heh. How apropos! Closely related to binding…sex magics…emotional versus physical basis, (see Fundaments).

“I’m serious, Harry!”


Harry! I’m serious!”

He tears his eyes from the page. “And I can’t fathom why.”

How much sex is enough sex??”

Harry shrugs. What does she want? “It’s never enough. I’m physically incapable of getting enough sex. Even after I’ve been fucked so hard I’m sore and bleeding, I still want more.”

Hermione looks a little queasy, but she doesn’t mention it. “What if you’re feeling…under the weather. Have a headache?”

“Sex makes me feel better.”

“And it doesn’t matter who you get it from?”

“I already said it does.”

“I mean….” She must not know what she means, because she falls silent for a time. Harry goes back to the index, deciding the charisma potions can wait for a mo’ while he looks into binding magics. Only, Hermione finally decides what she is attempting to say. “Does the fact that you and Draco are an item mean that you’d rather have sex with him?”

Oh, is that what she meant? “Sex with Draco is superlative. But if, say, I were in a room with Draco and…some other dishy bloke?” Yeah, Harry can’t really read and fantasise simultaneously. “Perfection would be Draco fucking me, and then while he’s waiting to get it up again, the other bloke takes me. That would be beyond superlative. And then Draco could fuck me again. And the other bloke could…assist.” Harry is getting a bit randy thinking about it—getting blown while Draco fucks him? Yeah, that’d be brill….

“You’re thinking about sex,” Hermione accuses, wrenching Harry from his fantasy, much to his own great disappointment.

“You asked!”

“Indeed I did. Obviously, you don’t think about it all the time, or it’d be quite plain for everyone to see that you were. Your eyes go all glassy and you’re practically drooling.” She shakes her head a little. “I had no idea men were so…whorish.”

Harry’s brows go up all on their own. “You thought it was only me?”

“I didn’t know you were this whorish.”

Harry’s not quite certain he appreciates being called whorish, now that he thinks about it. “Perhaps you shouldn’t have asked, then,” he says. He feels a bit betrayed, to be honest.

“No, it was quite a lesson,” she says and stands to open the tome she’s brought, now that she’s finished her interrogation.

Harry feels slightly cheated he’d not gotten something equally educational out of her. Only then he can’t think of anything he’d wish to know from her. He’s far more interested in binding magics, just now.

Generally used to bind demons or other coerced spirits to physical objects, he reads, in order to contain them whilst their magics are either voluntarily or involuntarily exploited. One of the most well-known examples of this usage is that of the genie, bound to its lamp. Yes, Harry has most certainly heard of that! Note that this particular usage is often enhanced with an exit condition, allowing the bound target to free itself without further participation from the caster by fulfilling a certain set of pre-determined conditions.

Suddenly, Harry gets a feeling deep within his chest—a hollowness he cannot yet name. There is something here calling to him. His body shakes slightly with the pounding of his heart, and he dries his fingers distractedly on his sleeves as he reads on. Even a naked Draco lying on the table before him would go unnoticed, now.

Rote Learning/Calm by colibri
(This posting includes Chapters 8 and 9. Chapter 9 is extremely short)

Chapter 8: Rote Learning

Harry has to cancel his standing date with Draco for Saturday because Professor Dumbledore has entrusted Professor Snape with the task of teaching Harry how to Apparate. So on Saturday, they take a Portkey to a field somewhere near Hogwarts but away from any muggles, (there are quite a large number of fields that fit this description), and Snape proceeds to teach Harry the theory, and then the practise of Apparition. Unfortunately, foul-ups are less fun in this case than they are in, say, most Transfigurations assignments or Charms, for they result in Harry splinching himself. This isn't particularly painful, nor even that dangerous, but it is extremely embarrassing, especially since he is learning with Professor Snape. As he did with Occlumency, Harry is finding it exceedingly difficult to simply get it right. After all, he needs only visualize himself in the new place, then will it to be so. It is wandless magic that practically any trained wizard can perform, though not all would do it over long distances. Still, Harry is failing. Repeatedly and spectacularly.

Professor Snape is of the opinion that Harry's body image is off, and that this is, in turn, causing the splinching. He directs Harry to Transfigure a patch of ground into a full-length mirror and scrutinise himself thoroughly for a full half hour before he is willing to have Harry try it again. So Harry does. He cleaves a layer of grass and topsoil from the ground of the correct size, levitates it, transfigures it, then sets it to hover. He does all of this with a series of hand gestures and his own will and intent. Snape doesn't say a word. And then Harry stares at himself. And stares at himself. And when he has had enough of that, he creates another two mirrors which he attaches to the first on either side, and uses them to see himself from the sides as well, and then from the back.

And then he frowns, and the glass mirrors Harry's frown back at him. And he really sees himself, noticing that he has changed. That he looks very different, now, than he had…well,whenever it was he last really looked at himself. Likely before he left Hogwarts in his fifth year. Perhaps sometime after he moved into Stuart's house. He gestures decisively and his clothing deserts him, folding itself neatly in a pile at his feet. He stands naked in a field, in early November, in the Scottish highlands. It's not the best plan, but it is what he does. "Calefacio Aerem," he murmurs, willing the air around himself to heat, willing it to remain in place, like a blanket about him. It is a weaker charm than Fervefacio, but he doesn't want to boil himself.

He stares at his nakedness in the mirror, and sees not Harry Potter, but just a young man. He is short, but not so very, anymore. He is achingly thin, but not entirely without muscle. He has fading love bites across his bony chest, and fresh ones on his neck. He has long, raven hair that tends to obscure his face, and cascades down his back. He has bright, green eyes with thick, raven lashes, and a pink mouth with lips that are not very full—certainly not very girly. His nose is unremarkable and his chin is neither strong nor weak. He has a few hairs growing about his nipples, and a sparse, black trail leading from his navel to the thatch of pubic hair. His legs are thin and hairy and not very attractive. His knees are knobbly and a bit bruised. His feet are just slightly too large for his frame. His vertebrae show through the skin of his back, and his ribs are visible all the way round. His bum and thighs are the most muscular parts of his body, from his exercises with Draco.

Harry is made up of many parts, but he has never really taken the time to look at them, much less look at the whole. He has never really acknowledged that there is a whole, before. A person who is more than the sum of his parts. A person who is more than the bloody Boy Who Lived, more than a cursed werewolf, more than a willing arse, a hungry mouth, a hard cock.

"Vestio," he murmurs, and his clothing dances back onto his body again. He ends the Calefacio charm, then returns the mirrors to where their raw materials came from and melts them back to their original forms. Like patches of sod, they will grow back into the earth again. He turns to Snape, who stands calmly watching him, a black tower of grace and power, and says, "Apparate."

And then he is observing his professor from behind, the figure still unmoving but for the whipping of hair in the wind, and flapping of robes. "Apparate," he says again, and is observing his professor from the right side, then again, from the left. Again, and he stands a mile away, facing that black, dancing flame, his professor, his teacher of survival skills. This time, he does not utter the word before he winks out with a pop and returns to stand before his professor again. "Thank you," he says, and places his right hand squarely in the centre of Snape's chest. He stands for several long moments feeling Snape's hammering heart before the other man takes a step back out of fear.

"Shall we return, then?" Snape asks, and there is no hint of the fear in his voice. "Are you confident?"

"I am," Harry replies. And, "Yes. To Hogsmeade. Outside the Shrieking Shack," Harry clarifies. "I need some new clothing," and he Apparates without incident to the road outside the Shrieking Shack, to maintain discretion. Professor Snape arrives a moment later looking resigned, and they walk the short distance toward the main thoroughfare. After a time, Harry says, "I think my skewed self-image has also been negatively affecting my ability to complete the Animagus transformation."

"It's possible," Snape agrees. "But that may also have to do with your Lycanthropy. I have never heard of a werewolf who was also able to complete an Animagus transformation."

Harry nods and falls into thought again. This time, though, his thoughts are centred on the man beside him. Something happened today, Harry knows, and it was more than him simply learning Apparition. Professor Snape had forced him to take a good look at himself, and Harry thinks that perhaps the professor also got more than an eyeful. Snape had been scenting strongly of confused desire when Harry ended up standing before him. Harry had been so drawn to it, he had reached out and touched….

He is suddenly reminded of an image from his professor's mind, of holding a weeping Draco Malfoy. He recalls the twisting in his gut, and decides that it was jealousy. He wants so desperately for Snape to hold him as well. Draco is the only one who even comes close, and that is only when they are fucking, or asleep. Draco kisses, bites, shoves and pounds, but he does not embrace. He does not hold or comfort. Harry and Draco are not in love. They are fucking because they seem to be the only two queers in the school, and because they are both beautiful and desirable, and Draco finds that Harry is good enough for him. Harry simply appreciates a beautiful man when he sees one. There is nothing more between them.

They reach the main road and turn left away from the Three Broomsticks, toward town, which is bustling today, it being Saturday and all. The older students are allowed to come in any weekend and many have. It is not a Hogsmeade weekend for the younger students—hence Snape’s availability to accompany Harry.

They pass the Post Office and Honeydukes, then Harry suddenly realises that something has changed. He slows, then halts, Snape halting beside him, for a few moments; then moves on hurriedly, past Zonko's, and ducks into Gladrags. Snape enters behind him, looking not at all hurried, but his posture is an obvious sign of discomfort. Professor Snape is at the height of his elegance when he is uncomfortable.

"Welcome," calls a witch's voice from further inside the shop but growing closer. "I hope I can be of assis—" for then she is there, standing before them, and blinking owlishly behind small spectacles. She is young, perhaps in her twenties, but Harry recognizes her as one of the seamstresses who works here full-time. "Harry Potter," she finishes, and her discomfort holds a shade of pity that puts Harry's teeth on edge.

People have, of course, found out about his Lycanthropy. It was inevitable, really, since the Dark Lord arranged it and had no reason to forbid his Death Eaters spreading the glad tidings. It was also the only way to explain why Harry had his own quarters. The prefects had a bit of privacy, but they were still housed separately within the dormitory areas. No other student had been assigned truly private quarters before. Even Remus hadn't, because his Lycanthropy had remained a secret at the time. But since Harry's had not, parents felt far safer knowing that he was kept away from the general student populace. It suits Harry's purposes perfectly, of course, and everyone at Hogwarts is so accustomed to the truth of it, and the fact that it affects their lives so little, that it's become a bit of a non-issue.

That is not the case here in Hogsmeade. The people here fear him, and pity him, and many hold more than a small amount of hostility toward him. As far as they are concerned, the Wizarding world's hero has been murdered by a werewolf, leaving only another of its evil kind behind to haunt them. They've lost the Boy Who Lived and gained a skinny nobody in return. A skinny nobody who associates with both Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy.

This girl however, whose name is Rosalie Devonshire, seems to be more of the fear and sympathy type than the resentment and hostility type, which Harry supposes he is grateful for. "Yes, thank you," he says and offers a meek smile. He has a role to play, after all. So many roles to play. "I need new school robes and casual attire. And one formal." She has him look through a catalogue of wizard photos that pose for him and smile, (not knowing who he is), and he chooses three different outfits not including the school robes—one formal, two casual. Gladrags doesn't really do muggle clothes, but that's not what he's here for anyway.

He pays, then he and Snape exit the shop with an assurance that the clothing shall be delivered by the beginning of next week. They leave Hogsmeade expeditiously, taking the main thoroughfare back toward the Three Broomsticks, then continue on from there. The road will curve round the lake and end at Hogwarts.

"I'd forgotten what a stigma it is," Harry says, once they are alone on the road and surrounded by silence.

"To which of the many stigmata you bear are you referring this time, Mr Potter?" Snape drawls.

"I hardly think it's fair to call my keeping company with you a stigma, Professor," Harry counters with a smirk. "Nor my dalliance with Draco Malfoy."

"Dalliance? It seems more than a dalliance to me, Mr Potter. Have you ever spent more than a day apart?"

It is unusual for Snape to take an interest in Harry's personal life except as it relates to his cycle or to his safety. "That's hardly relevant," Harry says with a shrug. "We've never even had a conversation. Not that wasn't about sex, anyway," he amends.

"Ah, yes," says Snape, his delicious voice now caustic with sarcasm. "I forget how deep and meaningful adolescent relationships can be."

Harry snorts. "I never said it was deep or meaningful. It's just good sex. And a lot of it."

"I doubt that," Snape mutters almost inaudibly, but he has, apparently, forgotten that Harry's hearing is…exceptional.

"I heard that," he says and is nearly certain he hears Snape's heart skip a beat, then redouble its efforts. "It's unlike you, to take an interest in my sex life."

"I have not taken an interest," Snape says firmly.

"Were you admiring my naked form, Professor?" he teases.

"When would that have been, Mr Potter?" always the master of subterfuge.

"When I was following your orders to learn the dimensions of my own body."

"Ah. Were you naked?"

"Indeed, Professor," Harry says, deciding to play along. "For nearly three quarters of an hour."

"In the Scottish Highlands. It sounds like you should be grateful I was not paying attention, Mr Potter. It was…quite cold, was it not?"

Harry can't help laughing. "You know that I cast a warming spell. But fine, I'll let you play ignorant. For a master Occlumens, you certainly are a horrible liar. Your pulse rate spikes uncontrolledly, and you practically reek of discomfort."

"Perhaps I'm simply uncomfortable with your line of questioning, and with your suggestion that I was taking an inappropriate interest in one of my students."

Harry hadn’t thought of that. "…Oh. Is that what it was about…" He feels bad. A bit, anyway. "I apologise, then. It's difficult to remember, sometimes, when we spend so much time together."

"See that you do, however, Mr Potter, or we will be forced to spend far less time together."

Harry nods and they pass the remainder of the journey in strained silence.

* * *

When Harry gets back to his rooms, there is a warded note stuck to his door. He dismantles the wards silently, though it takes some time and a bit of finesse, then removes the note and enters his rooms. 'Let me know when you've returned,' says the note, which is obviously from Draco. So he showers and dresses in muggle jeans and a t-shirt before making his way to the Slytherin common room. There, he tells the door, in Parseltongue, to open. It seems that no matter what the password is, the Slytherin common room door will always open to a Parselmouth.

By now, the students have become accustomed to seeing Harry there. He is there nearly as often as he is in the Gryffindor common room, though he never lingers in Slytherin. He simply makes his way to the Head Boy's rooms directly, where Draco is inside revising and looking delectable. "I've returned," Harry says.

"Apparently so," says Draco, not looking up for several minutes more. Until he has finished writing something. And then he does, and turns to Harry wearing only a pair of pyjama bottoms low on his hips. "Good lesson, then?" he asks.

"Yeah," Harry agrees.

"Then why are you acting like you've lost your best friend?"

"Am I?" Harry doubts that very much. He leans against one of the posters on Draco's bed. "I shouldn't be."

Draco shrugs. "Well, I summoned you for a reason."

Harry doesn't dispute Draco's use of the word 'summoned'. The fact of Draco having to wait for Harry at all would have been completely unacceptable in Draco's worldview. "All right," Harry says, and waits.

"I've decided to take up with a girl," Draco says, and Harry feels like he's been punched in the stomach. But he manages to make his pained gasp nearly silent.

"All right," he says, his voice weak.

"It's nothing personal, of course," Draco says and turns back to his work, "since I will require an heir. Her name is Cécile Leoncourt," and he pronounces the name in perfect French. Draco speaks French, of course. Sometimes he does it while they're fucking. "I was seeing her during the summer holidays. She graduated from Beauxbatons last year. I asked for her hand, and her father has finally sent word of her acceptance."

"Ah," Harry says. Wizarding betrothals are foreign to Harry. He supposes he is lucky he will never have to worry about them, since even if he weren't queer, or barking mad, or a werewolf, he'd still have very little chance of surviving to the age of twenty.

"This doesn't have to affect you, really," Draco continues, his quill now flying across the page, as if this conversation takes no more than the barest hint of his attention. "I still have every intention of fucking you daily."

"Of course," Harry says. He thinks he's in shock.

"Cécile and my marriage shall be a thing of convenience."

"Like my arsehole," Harry says, though he'd only meant to think it.

Draco stops writing to look back at Harry. He quirks one silver-white brow. "No need to be vulgar, Harry," he chides with some amusement.

"I think I deserve to be cut loose as much as any of your other conquests," Harry bites off. His jaw is clenched so tightly it is painful.

"But I’ve no desire to cut you loose," Draco says, and his confusion seems completely sincere, and likely is. "My betrothal has nothing to do with our arrangement," he says as if this were perfectly reasonable and really should be obvious.

"We have no arrangement," Harry spits out and turns to leave.


But Harry is already out the door and running. He wishes he could skim back to his rooms, but he's forgotten his wand, somehow. It was stupid of him. He has made it to the common room when Draco's annoyed voice calls out, "Potter, don't make a scene!" as though Malfoy isn't the biggest drama queen in the school. He could have let Harry escape, after all, if he hated scenes so much.

Harry is out of the common room and into his own within the minute. He grabs his wand, then makes his way to McGonagall's offices, where Draco would not think to look until well after he'd given up searching out of sheer boredom.

But Harry is unlucky. She's not there and he's not certain why he thought she would be. Perhaps because Snape seems always to be in his workroom. So Harry goes to the Transfiguration classroom and unlocks the door without thought, then wards it behind himself. He slips to the floor, his breathing laboured, and absolutely refuses to cry. Refuses. He refuses for a full thirty minutes, the entire time wondering why this is bothering him so much. He and Draco don't have a relationship. They fuck. A lot. They don't even like each other. They don't even know each other, other than in the carnal sense. And besides, it's all about what Draco wants, anyway. Not only that Draco always tops, because Harry actually prefers bottoming, but simply that Draco would never even think to ask Harry if Harry is satisfied with their current arrangement. Draco doesn't care about things like that. Harry is a pretty doll to him, a toy to satisfy Draco's whims. And though Harry is flattered by Draco's attentions, and has been from the start, there's no good reason for him to go mental because Draco decides to see someone else.

Well, other than the fact that Harry hasn't been particularly realistic about what's been going on. Even though he knows he is nothing but a toy to Draco, he has been hoping that would change, somehow. That one day, Draco would suddenly wake up and realise he was in love with Harry, and would grow tender and caring or at least be willing to hold Harry and smile occasionally during sex. He'd given Draco a small piece of his heart, because really, he didn't have that much heart to give; but Draco hadn't even noticed, and certainly hadn't returned the gesture.

Harry rubs his face and groans, angry that his refusal has failed. He wipes his face on his t-shirt, then gives up and pulls it off entirely, to use as a snot-rag. It's a crappy t-shirt anyway.

He stands and grips his wand firmly, then breathes deeply for several minutes, clearing everything from his mind. It's not important now. He is here because he wants to perform some magic. He wants to challenge himself. And right now, there is one thing he has been failing spectacularly at, and he's tired of it. Besides, he knows it will work, because he knows who he is, now. He is a young man who has lived through quite a lot, thank you, and is proud of that fact. He is a young man who can accept what he is, and love it.

He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, then wills his transformation with a sigh. He could weep at the painlessness of it.

Except that wolves don't cry.

* * * *

Chapter 9. Calm

Harry completes the Animagus transformation twenty or so times before he decides the novelty has worn off. Then he shifts back to human form, transfigures a desk into a large cushion, and transforms back into a wolf. He lies down on the cushion and falls asleep.

(End Part II)
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Wolf - Part III: Two Steps Forward, Three Back

Settling by colibri
Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter, its characters and settings are the copyrighted works of J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., her publishing companies and affiliates. No profit was made from the writing of this story nor was any malice intended in any way, shape or form to the author or the actors/actresses who so brilliantly have brought them to life. My versions of Rowling's characters would never be sanctioned, but I love them all the same.

Thank you, Erin, my wonderful Beta!! Thanks, also, to Flick for your help!

This is the third in a six-part series and will make no sense at all without reading the preceding two parts.

In addition to the above warnings, the following apply: domestic violence, animal abuse, ill-conceived sex, illegal sex, some highly squicky begging for sex, Harry in makeup, ugly blokes, melodrama, and Harry having sex with what may seem like everyone except Draco. Don't you just hate that?

Part III – Two Steps Forward, Three back
Chapter 1: Settling

Harry spends a few hours with Ron and Hermione on Sunday being bad company, though not nearly as bad as he's been at some points in the past. Today he is merely sulky, instead of insufferable. Ron puts on the righteous anger he does so well, while Hermione tries to be sympathetic when really she just wants to say 'good riddance to bad rubbish.' Harry can tell. Mainly because she says, "You can do so much better, Harry!"

"Yeah," Ron agrees decisively.

It feels nice to have their sympathy, though, and their presence relaxes him. Perhaps too much. "He didn't love me anyway," Harry whispers and imagines he sees the wind tearing his words away and whisking them off to the land where thwarted love goes to die.

"Of course he didn't love you," says Ron. "That git is incapable of the emotion. Of any emotion, really."

"He does arrogance very well," Harry says and wishes even his friends could hold him. But no one can do that. Harry is alone.

Only…he recalls when term began in September, and his friends were flanking him, giving him support. And they were touching him then. And he remembers how Hermione has kissed him on the cheek before—several times, even. And he wishes he knew how to make that happen again—how to make it all right to reach out his hand and feel someone else's warmth. He's paralysed with need.

"He does ungrateful pillock brilliantly," Ron adds, then sighs. "Aw, mate. I'm sorry you got dumped, but I can't say I'm not relieved. I don't think looks are enough to build a relationship on," and he shrugs.

"Oh, Harry," says Hermione, and Harry blinks.

A thought flits through his head quicker than lightning, and he sighs forlornly, though inside, he is hoping. Hoping. And…yes! Hermione's arms enfold him and even though he has hoped for this, he stiffens automatically for a moment. But then forces himself to calm, to relax into it. And instead of pulling away as she normally does, Hermione tightens her arms about him, and the scent of her is contented.

"Oi, Harry…she's my girlfriend," says Ron, who is obviously more surprised than worried Harry will steal his girl.

"Sorry," Harry says and pulls away reluctantly.

"Ron's simply jealous he never gets to hug you."

"Blokes don't go around hugging each other anyway," Ron says unconcernedly.

"That's why you're all so violent," Hermione says, crossing her arms over her chest and sticking her nose in the air. "It's a shame, really."

"Well, I hug you, don't I?" Ron says, obviously reacting to her tone. This has become entirely too serious for Ron.

"Yeah, it's fine to hug your girlfriend, right? So what about Harry, then?"

Harry has decided that Hermione is a very dangerous woman. "Leave me out of this, yeah?" he mutters.

"Well I'm sure Harry doesn't like things like that, right? Or he'd be chasing skirts."

Harry scowls. That hardly seems fair.

"Oh Ron, you stonking great pillock!"

Stonking? Harry thinks. Hermione's vocabulary seems to have broadened a bit over the term.

"What??" Ron exclaims.

"Well being a homosexual man has more to do with liking men's bodies than whether a person enjoys a good hug, I'm sure!"

"And how would you know that?" Ron says, his face predictably flushed.

"Well I like men, too, don't I?" she says. "But I'd certainly wish for a bit more of the cuddly bits than I get from you! Doesn't mean I'm going to run about chasing skirts," she finishes.

Ron blinks and seems torn between indignation and—if Harry is guessing correctly—arousal at the thought of Hermione 'chasing skirts'. "Cor," Ron says.

Hermione sits back primly, pretending to order her skirt and jacket, though they are already perfectly arranged. She truly is a lovely girl—Harry's uncertain when that happened, but there it is. "I'm sorry you had to see that, Harry," she says, obviously snubbing Ron now. "It's always an ugly thing, to be confronted with such offensive ignorance."

Harry rolls his eyes. "I wasn't very offended," he offers for Ron's benefit. "I think that coming face to face with the people in Hogsmeade yesterday was far worse."

"Did they say anything?" Ron asks, now subdued. All three of them are.

"Not to me, no," Harry says. "But I can hear them all the same. They don't realise how good my hearing has become. Perhaps they don't care. I don't know, really."

"Doesn't matter anyway," says Hermione. "They haven't the first idea. They judged Lupin that way as well. Besides which, no one here at Hogwarts seems to mind."

Harry nods. "I'm very grateful that things have calmed here," he agrees.

"I suppose it's a good thing you were sleeping with Malfoy, then," Ron says, sounding scandalised he'd even think it.

"Why?" asks Harry, surprised.

"Otherwise he'd have led the committee to get you booted for it," Ron says with a shrug.

Harry thinks Ron might be right, and it makes him shudder. With both Draco and Snape being civil, this term has been the best to date, despite all of his problems, despite the extra lessons, despite the fact that he's had to give up Quidditch. Despite the fact that he's been separated from his House. "I never thought about it that way," Harry admits. "I hope he doesn't go back to that. I'm not certain I could bear it." And he thinks that it's embarrassingly pathetic that he doesn't know. "I don't even know him well enough to guess how he's going to treat me now," he says incredulously. "That's awful."

"Cheer up, Harry," says Ron. "You'll find someone else."

"I'm not worried about that," Harry admits. "I'm too busy anyway. He was taking up my sleep time." He stands slowly and straightens out his robes. "I've got to return to my revision," he says apologetically. "It looks like I may be sitting my NEWTs with you lot after all."

That gets Hermione's attention. She pops right to her feet. "Really? But how? You're not even in the seventh year advanced Transfigurations course." Ron gets up slowly as well, since it appears his girlfriend has no intention of remaining by the lake, snogging.

"I told you, I've been coaching privately with Professor McGonagall. I've finished seventh year Transfigurations. I'm revising now."

Hermione is speechless.

"That's a bloody lot of swotting," says Ron, the distaste obvious.

"We're still in first term!" Hermione adds.

Harry is starting to think that he's said too much. "She's been accelerating my course, in case Voldemort decides to try again, now that I'm back at Hogwarts. My Lycanthropy has made me more vulnerable than ever."

Hermione is still flustered, but she does nod now, and a bit of worry seeps into her eyes. "Oh dear, Harry. That's true…oh they should have been tutoring you ages ago!"

"Remember the Occlumency lessons?" Ron says, reminding her that they had, indeed, tried to coach Harry earlier.

"Fat lot of good that did," Harry agrees with a smirk. "But things are better now. For once, I feel like I've actually learned more than one useful spell during the year. So that's something."

"Well, now I understand why you're so desperate to revise," Hermione says, then pulls him into her embrace again. "We'll see you at supper, Harry," she says, and he can hear the smile in her voice before she pulls away, then looks into his face fondly and tucks a lock of hair behind his ear that has fallen out of his tail.

"Yeah, Harry," Ron says, and Harry turns to his best friend in the world. Ron suddenly pulls him close, and into a nearly smothering embrace. He is so large, and strong, and warm around Harry. "It's not that I don't love you," Ron whispers so softly that Harry has to strain to hear. "It's only that it's a bit awkward, being a bloke and all, and you being gay. But if giving you affection can avoid gits like Draco Malfoy in future, I'll hug you any day."

It's a speech, and it's a bit out of character, which is likely why Ron is trying to be as discreet as possible, but it's very thoughtful of him and Harry appreciates it all the same. He basks in the closeness a few moments longer before he steps back, the action causing those arms to release him immediately. Ron is blushing, but he doesn't comment any further. "Thanks," Harry whispers so that Hermione will neither see nor hear, then more loudly, he says, "At supper, then," and flees.

* * *

Harry spends several hours revising his spell-work before finishing up his seventh-year History essay. By the time he's completed it, it's time for supper, and he has managed to forget his depression. Only then he has to join the rest of the school.

He is a bit earlier than most of the students and goes directly to sit in his customary spot at the Gryffindor table. Only there, sitting where Ron normally sits, is Draco Malfoy. Harry cannot make himself move forward, and Draco merely stares, no expression, his body language saying nothing in particular. His scent—curious, Harry supposes.

They must seem ridiculous, the two of them not moving. Just staring at each other. Except that Draco is sitting while Harry remains frozen on his feet. So Harry tries to calm the flush brightening his cheeks and sits down across from Draco. He does not, however, look up, and none of the others who arrive say anything to him, though he can smell their curiosity and surprise. Even Hermione and Ron move a bit further away, though they remain the closest to Harry and Draco of the Gryffindors.

The food arrives, and Harry attempts to go about his daily routine. He spoons peas and mash and maize and carrots onto his plate, and takes the small salad that always arrives for him.

"Do you always eat like this?" Draco asks conversationally, as if genuinely curious.

"Yes," Harry says and takes a bite of his salad, chews perfunctorily, then takes another bite. He is not interrupted before he has finished the entire (admittedly small) bowlful. He then puts it back to the centre of the table where it disappears, and starts on his mash.

"I suppose that explains a lot," Draco says, and it takes a moment for Harry to remember what the conversation was about. He adds nothing. Draco starts heaping food onto his own plate. Harry can hear whispers across the Hall about Draco Malfoy eating at the Gryffindor table.

When Harry has eaten as much as he can, he begins to rise, only Draco is faster. He reaches a hand across the table and captures Harry's. "Aren't you going to finish your supper?" he murmurs.

"I am finished," Harry replies, but he sits back down, because he, unlike Draco, truly hates to cause a scene.

"Then wait for me," says Draco, and withdraws his hand.

Harry wants to scream at Draco and refuse. Instead, he sits there and waits. Because Draco is so beautiful. Because there is no one else. He sits there and hates the fact that he is queer. Only then he berates himself for that and hates, instead, that none of the others boys here are queer—at least, none that know it yet. He is beginning to have some suspicions about one or two of those Hufflepuffs. Regardless, Harry has already determined that there is nothing wrong with him. It calms him, and he finally gets the strength to look up at Draco—to watch that handsome jaw working. And he smiles a little, knowing he's had that.

"I can feel you staring at me, Potter," Draco drawls before looking up himself, then smirking, chewing finished, and swallowing.

Harry pulls the elastic from his hair to have something to do with his hands, and because he knows that Draco likes it when his hair is loose and falling in his face, drawing attention to his eyes. Draco waxes very poetic on occasion, when confronted with Harry's eyes. But nearly always in French. "I'm not staring," Harry says, slipping the elastic from one wrist to the other. "But I am growing bored." He's become adept at mimicking Draco's toff accent—that bit of ennui that seems to seep into everything.

Draco turns silver eyes up to him. "We'll make it worth your time, luv," he says, putting on his woofter airs, batting his nearly invisible eyelashes.

Harry chuckles and gives up. He supposes he'll let Draco win this one as well, though it's difficult to keep track when he's got Draco's perfection above him or below him or beside him, and Draco's other perfection drilling a hole from his arse to his throat. I'll find love later, Harry thinks, and stares.

Hormonal by colibri
Chapter 2: Hormonal

Harry and Draco lose another twenty points each for their respective houses when Snape catches them in a clinch outside the Potions classroom Monday afternoon. Once again, it is entirely Draco's fault, as he has even less control now than he had before the 'break-up', (as Harry tends to think of it).

Still, Snape does not mention it when Harry shows up for his evening coaching session, likely because Harry is still the best student in the class, and Draco is second-best, since Hermione is entirely too Gryffindor to count. What they do outside of lessons is entirely their own affair, other than their inappropriate tendency toward exhibitionism. Harry can forgive Draco his impropriety, however, because he secretly feels that the rest of the school needs to be shocked out of its homophobia, (or into it, as the case may be). The other students need to at least realise that it's an alternative, not simply something to laugh at on the telly.

"I did it," Harry announces before Snape has a chance to tell him what they will be working on tonight.

"I'm certain you've done many things, Mr Potter. What I'm not certain of, is whether you should be telling me about any of those things."

"I completed the Animagus transformation," Harry clarifies.

"I don't know why I'm continually surprised by what you're capable of," Snape mutters. "Perfect bloody Potter."

"I'm not my father!" Harry snaps before he remembers his place and shuts his mouth, stands up straight and looks at the floor. "I'm not my father, sir," Harry says with a bit more decorum, then risks a look into his professor's face. He sees amusement flit across the distinctive features before disappearing entirely.

"Indeed, you are not," Snape agrees. "I daresay your father would have bullied you mercilessly had you been in school together," he says meanly. "Small and pale and rail-thin, a Gryffindor pouf consorting with Slytherins."

Harry won't rise to the bait. "He could try, sir," he says instead. He knows his father was a bit of a bully in school, but Snape was a prat as well. Harry is of the opinion they were all prats, the lot of them.

Snape's little smile is genuine this time, though (as usual) it doesn’t travel much further than his eyes, and he nods once before changing the subject. "Have you completed the transformation successfully more than once?" he asks, all business now.

"Many, many times," Harry confirms. "Close to one hundred times now."

"I suppose you're quite certain what animal you can become, then," Snape says wryly.

"I hope so," Harry agrees.

"Well, perhaps you'll show us sometime in the near future, Mr Potter? Must I always cajole every bit of information from you?"

Harry tries to look hurt. It's not that hard, since he's had a lot of practise. "Well, when I offer things, I'm never certain you're interested."

"Oh for pity's sake, Potter!"

So Harry transforms himself, then yawns mightily to show off his jawful of beautiful teeth before baying impressively. He takes the opportunity to get very close to the human and enjoy the scent he hasn't experienced fully since the last full moon. It's intoxicating, and he is soon rubbing against Snape's cloth-covered legs, leaving the occasional hair.

"That's quite enough, Mr Potter," says Snape, his voice strained, his scent a heady mixture of fear and fascination, with just a hint of desire. Harry likes that bit quite a lot.

He shifts back to human form right where he is, and ends up with his full length pressed against Snape's body. He takes another deep inhalation and shudders, before stepping away again.

Snape is staring at him in horrified fascination. "Eyes," he manages, though only weakly. The voice tingles deep in Harry's belly.

Only, then he realises what Snape has said. "Pardon, sir?"

"Your eyes…. You've not changed them back."

Harry frowns, then pulls up the hem of his robe and transfigures it into a mirror. He looks at his…yellow eyes. They nearly glow from his face. And when he smiles, he notes that his canines are just a hair longer than usual. "Mmm…I think I was a bit distracted, Professor," he says, and his voice sounds low and seductive, even to himself. He can sense Snape's intimidation. It makes him a bit wanton, sensing that he is the Alpha here. He reverts the mirror and lets the hem fall…looks back into Snape's face and finishes the reversal of his lupine form. "Easily remedied," he says and smiles.

"That's, ah…" Snape swallows almost convulsively. He hasn't yet regained enough composure to remember his posture. He's forgotten how to hide himself. Harry almost feels sorry for him, except that he wants Snape to be off balance. He likes the man this way. He thinks there are many ways he'd like the man, and it warms him. "That's very impressive, Mr Potter," Snape finally manages with nearly as much sarcasm as he’d hoped for.

Harry is suddenly very close to Snape again, and he holds up a hand before his own eyes, where Snape can see it. And he allows his nails to melt into claws. He traces a single claw down the side of Snape's face, across a cheek, and over Snape's lips. Drinks in the fear. "Mmm," he hums again. "Yes. Do you want me, Professor?" Harry asks. He is too short to kiss the man without some manoeuvring, so he coaxes the man to look down at him, with gentle fingers and sharp claws. When they are only a centimetre apart, Harry runs his tongue over Snape's lips, then withdraws again. He holds his hand between them, and his claws become nails again. "Your fear is a temptation to me, Professor. Twenty points from Slytherin,” he drawls, and smirks, “for your abysmal lack of control," mimicking Snape's own tones. Then he steps away again, allowing the man his personal space.

Harry watches with hidden amusement while Snape runs the gamut from embarrassment to rage. When the Professor allows himself to speak again, the rage has been smothered to a low boil, but it is equally amusing to watch, as far as Harry is concerned. I caused this, he thinks and preens. A tiny, hidden part of him wonders when making Snape angry had become play, and whether it has something to do with Harry's raving lunacy. But, "Your behaviour is absolutely beyond the pale!" Snape rages in a very quiet voice. "If I thought you cared one whit, I would remove every point from your House, but I have realised that you do not. That you no longer associate with any but two of your housemates, and that you worry not at all about whether the rest adore you or despise you. So instead, I shall do this: Your private coachings with me, Mr Potter, are terminated. Indefinitely.

"Now leave."

Gobsmacked. That is the only word for how Harry feels at this moment. He has made a terrible, horrible miscalculation, and now the absolute worst thing possible has happened. "No!" he says without even realizing he'd planned on speaking. "You can't—"

"No, you can't, Mr Potter. You cannot treat your Professor with such blatant disrespect and expect that there will be no consequences. Now get out, before I banish you!"

Harry runs, then, and locks himself back in his rooms, mainly because he realises that he has no choice, and that—oh horror of horrors—Snape is right. Harry has behaved…like a bully. He is as bad as his father ever was. And he was bad to Snape, just as his father and the rest of the Marauders had been before him. Snape is right—it was inexcusable. It was unconscionable.

"Fuck!!" Harry screams and casts his anger at the wall.

Unfortunately, the wall explodes.

And even worse, it is the wall separating his rooms from the dungeons corridor.

And in case he'd wondered what else could go wrong, a crowd of Slytherins is now standing out there, gaping at him from the corridor.

The only good thing is that it appears that no one was hurt.

Now Draco runs up and looks shocked, though he takes charge immediately. "Get Professor Snape," he says to the nearest person, who happens to be Millicent Bulstrode, and she moves through the rubble to pound on Snape's door. Snape should already have heard the commotion, unless he's silenced his rooms, but a knock can get through that spell. "Harry, are you all right?" Draco says and looks concerned. "Don't move. Try to think about what you were doing. We can't have you triggering another."

It takes Harry several seconds to realise that Draco thinks Harry's room has been compromised, and that Harry has inadvertently set off a curse or some other sort of trap. He nods dumbly and is grateful everyone thinks him so helpless.

Professor Snape opens the door presently with a sour, "What the bloody hell is i—" before he notices the destruction that is the corridor. And then he looks up to see that Harry's wall is now a pile of rubble on the stone floor. "I hate you, Potter," he says, then walks away, toward the stairs that lead out of the dungeons.

The students stare after their Head of House in stunned silence before looking back at Harry, then to the Head Boy.

"Off to bed, then," Draco snaps. "I don't want any of the rest of you setting anything off. Go on!" and the others scatter, except for a number of seventh-years—Pansy, Blaise, Millicent. Crabbe and Goyle did not make it back to Hogwarts after fifth year. The most Harry had heard was that they'd ended up at Durmstrang, but he'd not had the interest to ask Draco about it. Draco stares at the destruction for several seconds more. "It may not be safe to clean this mess up," he says.

"I say leave it," says Blaise, "and let Potter stand there all night."

Pansy agrees, as evidenced by her nodding, but Millicent doesn't seem to have much of an opinion either way.

"If we can get you out of there, Potter, you can stay with me," Draco says, ignoring the others entirely.

Blaise snorts in disgust and says, "I hope you're both incinerated," then walks back toward the common room, Pansy trailing behind.

"Were you using magic, Potter? When it went off?" Millicent asks.

Harry thinks very, very quickly. Remembers that his wand is up his sleeve, so that it's at least close by. He nods. "Yeah, I'd done a Lumos and put my wand away when the wall exploded." The lie flows so very smoothly, he almost scares himself.

"So perhaps it's triggered by magic," she offers.

Draco seems slightly annoyed by that statement of the obvious, but he says nothing, which is not as unusual as it would once have been. "Try to move, then," he says to Harry.

Harry pretends to be afraid, then takes a step and waits. When nothing else happens, he takes another, and another, until finally he is standing beside Draco, and all three of them are looking into Harry's room. "Well, that worked out," Harry says, letting relief show in his voice and posture. Just in case.

"Do you need anything from your rooms for tomorrow?" Draco asks.

So Harry has to go back inside again and gather his things. He hands his clean clothes to Draco to carry, but Draco pushes them off onto Millicent. Harry carries his school books, and the three of them head back to Draco's rooms, where Millicent takes her leave.

The Head Boy's quarters are extravagant, and the bathroom is no exception. It's separate from the toilet of course, unlike in Harry's rooms. The bath itself is a lavish, sunken affair, much like the Prefects' bath, only better; so it is with great anticipation that Harry sinks into the water and watches Draco enter as well. Only Draco gets an evil glint in his silver eyes, then transfigures the warm water into warm oil. It's a bit disgusting at first, but only a bit, and then it's very, very nice. It’s a bit too slick to be convenient, and yet they manage. There are things more slippery than olive oil, and that is good, because this is most definitely olive oil, (extra virgin, and highly refined, removing a good deal of the fruity smell), and Harry is able to get enough leverage that Draco can push into him, then pound him into the side of the tub, their grunts and muted cries echoing against marble tile.

And once Draco has come—which is always after Harry has—he pulls out and transfigures the oil back to water. He relaxes onto the ledge that runs round the inside of the bath. "How can you live a single moment without me inside you, Potter?" he says, contented and disgustingly self-satisfied.

"I manage," Harry says and lounges as well, relishing the steady, twingeing reminder of Draco's cock inside him. "You could fuck my mouth," he offers because he wants it, not because he thinks Draco is quite ready yet.

"We need to find out how someone got into your rooms," Draco says instead.

Harry is not a good enough liar to deal with this. He berates himself, again, for his own stupidity.

"And we need to find out who did it," Draco continues. He sounds languorous, but he is not. He is worried, and his fear does not blend well with the other scents in the room.

"Professor Snape will tell the Headmaster, and the Headmaster will deal with it."

"But we need to know, Potter," Draco says, and he no longer sounds quite so sanguine. "I had no idea this was going to happen."

"I realise you're an evil git, Malfoy, but really, must you be personally involved in every plot against my life?" Harry is trying to diffuse the situation, but it doesn't quite work.

"I'm supposed to know," Draco grinds out from between clenched teeth. His chest is flushed with anger. "There aren't supposed to be any attacks against you. You're no longer a priority! You're weak. You've been neutralised, and Father said I could have you—that you'd be safe!"

Harry doesn't know what to say. He's rendered speechless again. In his own arrogant, childish way, Draco Malfoy seems actually to care about him. Draco feels powerless because he sees that Harry was in danger and could have been hurt—or killed—without his knowledge. He sees that he could not protect Harry, and it terrifies him. It angers him. "Considering how inept the attack was," Harry says carefully, "doesn't it seem much more likely that it was done by a student acting alone?"

Draco looks at him as if he's grown a second head. "Are you telling me that any of the Dark Lord's attacks have ever been anything but inept?" He snorts and shakes his head.

"Perhaps you should maintain a certain level of respect, Draco? He is your lord, after all."

Draco sneers, turning his anger toward Harry suddenly. "As if you'd let me fuck you if you thought I was still one of his lackeys. Come off it, Harry. I'm not daft. I know that you know I'm working against him."

Harry has nothing to say to that, really. Except, "I was more thinking about Voldemort's ability to see into your mind. You'd likely do well to make it a habit to pay your respects to him at all times, for when he questions you again."

"I've also practised Occlumency, though I'll admit you've worked at it longer, and are likely better at it than I."

"That's a big admission," Harry says, quirking an eyebrow.

Draco sees the humour in that, at least.

"Anyway," Harry continues, "Voldemort's attacks often go wrong, but not this wrong. I escaped without a hair singed. And we mustn't forget that the last attack succeeded spectacularly. No, I think I've simply annoyed one too many students, and someone decided they didn't like me anymore. Perhaps someone was hoping you'd actually dumped me."

"That was a bit facetious, wasn't it?" Draco says with annoyance.

"Humour—it's what keeps us sane," says Harry. "But sex would be even better. Let's just see what Professor Snape and the Headmaster come up with, and I will make certain to remember to put up my wards next time." He's fishing, now, but it's worth a shot.

"What do you mean, 'next time'?" Draco says, but his tone tells Harry that it's working.

"Well…" Harry begins. "I, er…that's to say," and he thinks of that moment when Draco's cock first breaches his sphincter and it makes him flush. But a flush is as good as a blush—lust, embarrassment. Draco certainly cannot smell the difference. "Well, I was a bit distracted. And when I got back to my rooms, they'd not been warded." And he risks a little peek up and sees Draco's look of utter betrayal. "I'm sorry, all right?? I was nervous, because of what happened before lesson today. But it won't happen again."

"You bleeding cunt!" Draco screeches at top volume, and it feels like the sound will burst Harry's eardrums, the way it echoes about the room. Draco launches himself at Harry and starts pummelling away at him. Hard. Which is not, exactly, what Harry had had in mind when he'd thought of a diversion. No, this hurts. A lot. The very first blow leaves him stunned and reeling, but then it just keeps going. And…oh, he can't breathe. Draco is so strong, now.

It's a relief when he loses consciousness.

Wolf Years by colibri
Chapter 3: Wolf Years

Harry wakes in the hospital wing and wishes he didn't immediately recognize the smell. He wishes that he didn't feel as at home in this bed as he does in his own, and that he didn't viscerally remember the pummelling that has brought him here. Mostly, he wishes he weren't alone, in the dark. He knows he's alone because he can't smell anyone about, so he casts a weak Lumos to keep him company, and wishes he were dead. It makes him remember H, and he turns his face into the pillows, because H is such a loser drug. He knows that now, and he cares, now. Still, it feels so perfectly wonderful when it is painting his veins, and worlds better than this.

He gets out of the bed and goes to look at himself in the mirror. The bruises and cuts have been healed and he's left with a mild headache. Nothing a little sleep won't cure. He wonders how, exactly, he got here. He's wearing a pair of the hospital wing pyjamas, and none of his own clothes are about.

He takes off the pyjamas and lays them on the bed, opens the door, then transfigures into a wolf and slips out of the room. He is stealthier in his lupine form than he could ever be as a human, and he can scent out much more efficiently who is about than he could otherwise. And hear them. He manages, in this way, to avoid Filch and Mrs Norris; and a couple of trysting Hufflepuffs as well.

When he gets back to his rooms, they've been repaired. He regains his human form since he can't perform magic as a wolf, then un-wards the door and slips inside again. He is guessing that Snape knew immediately that Harry had done the damage himself—hence the comment. It would have meant that there was no danger in anyone repairing the room with magic. Harry himself could likely have repaired it had there not been an audience.

Except that there is something odd about Hogwarts herself. The stones carry strong magic, and can sometimes behave unpredictably. Still, he could have at least tried, since he'd been able to destroy the wall.

"Tempus," he whispers. It's three o'clock Tuesday morning, and he has a very full day. He collapses into his bed and falls into sleep again.

* * *

Harry thinks perhaps he's been abused and battered too much this week, what with it being only Tuesday morning, and decides to skive off at least part of his three-hour independent revision session. And while he's at it, he figures it can't hurt to skive off breakfast as well. He writes a note to the Headmaster, then folds it into a tiny paper aeroplane and gives it its target. He uses a modified banishing charm and opens his door, throws it in the general direction he wishes it to go, then wills the rest.

His next stop is the owlery, where he's not even gone to visit Hedwig at all this term. She likely hates him now, so he takes an entire sack of owl treats. She'd been left with the Weasleys at the end of fifth year, and when Harry had left the Dursleys', he'd essentially assumed he would never see her again. And it wasn't as if Ron hadn't needed a proper owl. But Ron hadn't adopted her. The family had only used her because it would have been cruel to keep her about and not.

It's cold in the tower, and Harry knows there is another student in there when he arrives, so he waits until she leaves. She’s a first-year Hufflepuff he vaguely recognizes by scent but nothing else. Once he's alone, he slips inside and finds Hedwig sitting on a perch. She spots him immediately and cocks her head, as if in question. Harry draws near and offers an owl treat, which she takes with less enthusiasm than she would have, so long ago.

"Sorry I've not been to visit," Harry murmurs and reaches slowly to scratch between her feathers, in case she wishes to reject his advance. But she doesn't. "Things have been…a bit odd since I returned."

She hoots softly and ducks her head once, twice, then turns to nip his fingers gently. He offers her another owl treat, which she accepts with more enthusiasm this time.

"I've missed you, though," he says. "I was hoping you could be Ron's owl, since I thought I'd never see you again when I went to London. But I'm glad I have you. I haven't so many left as I once had." He sighs and realises there is something he needs to do.

He Scourgifies a spot and sits down on the floor. He grabs a shed feather, which he modifies easily into a quill, then looks about the room. He takes an owl treat and turns it into a small bowl; Accios some droppings into it, and turns that to ink; then uses a handful of straw to make parchment. He writes:


I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to reply, but I honestly did not wish to speak with you. It may be petty and childish, but I felt that you were a depressing influence on me, and I knew at the time that a depressing influence was not what I needed. Things are better now, and I find that I sometimes consider speaking with you, and I am no longer upset by the prospect.

I don't know how much about me Dumbledore has told you, but many, many things have changed since you left, though the essentials remain the same. If you wouldn't mind seeing me again, I'd like to see you. I promise I won't try to pull you….

Sincerely yours,


"Desicco," he whispers, mainly to keep himself company. It is, after all, one of the first charms he learned to cast without wand or word. He folds the parchment and stands, holding it out for Hedwig to see. "Would you mind delivering this for me?" he asks with a little smile, contrite and hopeful.

Hedwig hoots, perking up significantly, and flaps a little with excitement. She ducks her head and waits for Harry to approach. She presents her leg and Harry secures his note, then wards it. If anyone other than Remus or Hedwig touches it, it will turn to water, even if someone is only attempting to untie it from Hedwig's leg. And this way, it won't harm Hedwig either, like an Incendio self-destruct could.

"All right," Harry murmurs, offering her another owl treat. "This is going to Remus Lupin, at 12 Grimmauld Place. It's unplottable, but you can find that, right?" She's been there before, after all. "I don't want to endanger anyone, so try not to be seen…?"

Hedwig ducks her head, then looks impatient. Harry moves out of her way and watches as she takes off into the morning greyness. His latest Tempus tells him the others should be in the midst of breakfast, so he takes out his wand and casts an Obfusco about himself. He moves to the very window Hedwig just left out of, then uses Condenso on the air around most of his body, leaving his head free. He has wanted to try this for so long, but hasn't got around to it. He is nervous, but exhilarated as well, as he wills the air to bear him upwards, then out of the window. And then he is outside the tower and it is nearly like flying. It takes his breath away, but the air around him soothes the natural instinct that wants him to panic. When it gets too bad, he simply closes his eyes, and he can feel that he is being borne up.

He lowers himself to the ground near the lake, then transforms into his lupine form. He can feel that the Obfusco charm does not follow his transformation, but that is now irrelevant. He keeps out of the open, but allows himself to run, stretching his legs, filling his lungs.

He runs and plays until he is too hungry to continue, and then it is time for lunch.

* * *

"We were worried when you didn't show up for breakfast," Hermione says, looking concerned.

Harry is too busy stuffing salad into his mouth to be able to answer politely, so he speaks with his mouth full. "Had something to do," he says. He is sitting with his back to most of the room, across from his two friends, who he knows are holding hands under the table. He would think it was really very sweet, if he weren't ravenous.

"Really," she says, looking sceptical. "This has nothing to do with Draco Malfoy?"

Harry had managed to completely forget Draco's existence. Now he blinks and scowls. "Why would you say that?" he asks, and decides to admit to himself, at least, that Draco was exactly the reason why he hadn't made it to breakfast. He needn't admit that to anyone else, though.

"Because he didn't make it either," says Ron before eating another bite of his fish. Harry finds the smell revolting, though he kind of likes that about it.

Harry thinks about what Ron's said for a moment, then decides he's not so surprised. "I wasn't with Draco," he says with a shrug. "I went to the owlery, to see Hedwig. Then I went for a walk." He finishes his salad and thinks he's awfully full for not having eaten breakfast. He looks at the full plate of yorkie—this time with various green vegetables in a white sauce—and sighs. He breaks off a piece and pops it into his mouth, then chews desultorily.

"Harry Potter?" says Ron with mock-surprise, "Skiving off a lesson? Shall I welcome back my old friend, or is it but an aberration?" Ron snickers.

"It's an aberration, I assure you," Harry says with a smirk, then rolls his eyes. "I even did a bit of practise while I was skiving off. Hermione would be proud," he says and winks at her.

Much to his surprise, she blushes.

"Oi, Potter. No flirtin' with the missus."

Harry is too surprised to take it as the joke it is. "I wasn't!"

Ron just chortles and stares at him as if he's grown tail feathers. "Only joking, Harry. Turning into a bit of a mug, aren't you?"

"A mug," says Harry and calms his racing heart. "Righ'." But she had blushed. He wonders what that was about.

"Don't look now, but he's starin' at you again," Ron offers.

Harry has no intention of looking, since it would involve him turning round, and that would be entirely too obvious for his tastes. "Well he can bloody-well stare all he likes," Harry mutters darkly.

"Already broken it off again, then, the two of you?" Ron asks, obviously sceptical.

"He got a bit angry with me night last," Harry says. He's given up on the remainder of his food, but he continues to push it about because he feels a bit hurt that his stomach has betrayed him so. And perhaps a bit guilty as well.

"Perhaps that has something to do with the incredibly large number of points the Slytherins have lost lately?" asks Hermione.

Harry shrugs. "I shouldn't think so. But I've not really been keeping track."

"Yeah, well, perhaps you should," says Ron. "You've lost us quite a few as well, mate."

"No more than fifty. Same as any other term." Harry shrugs it off. "I'd think he's lost about the same for his house."

"No," says Hermione slowly. "I think he may be responsible for the 100 points the Slytherins lost last night," she says.

"I don't remember that happening," Harry says, surprised at that revelation.

"None of his housemates are speaking to him," Ron says, obviously thinking about it.

"Exactly," Hermione agrees. "And he keeps staring at you, and ignoring them."

Harry wonders if this may have anything to do with his loss of control. Had the professors actually believed Draco responsible for the 'attack' on Harry? He frowns. That couldn't be it, could it? "Oh bloody hell," Harry murmurs. "I can't think about this right now. Haven't we got a Charms lesson to go to?"

"Yes," Hermione agrees and stands almost immediately.

Ron, however, looks heavily put upon. "Not sure why you lot even attend. You've already finished the book," he whinges. But he follows them to the classroom regardless. Harry doesn't give Draco Malfoy another thought.

* * *

"So. The Headmaster informs me that you have successfully managed your Animagus transformation," says McGonagall with a smile threatening and banked excitement writ large on her face.

"Yes, Professor," Harry agrees, then transforms, remembering Snape's complaint. He transforms back almost immediately.

"No difficulties now?"

Harry shakes his head no. "I can do it without thought, now, though I sometimes leave parts of myself if I'm extremely distracted."

"Leave parts unshifted?"

Harry nods. "But it's easy to remedy." He allows his ears to transform into his wolf form's ears, then transforms them back. "

"It's that simple for you, then," she says and nods thoughtfully. "Well, that's excellent. I suppose you'll be wanting to know what next we're to work on?"

"That'd be brilliant," Harry agrees, though he'd not thought so hard on it, actually.

"Yes, well," she says and sits. "The way you perform magic has left me… a bit at a loss," she says. "You've left off using spells much of the time." The confusion on her face does not fit her, and it makes Harry feel uncomfortable. "You've honed your usage of raw power until it has become nearly indistinguishable from the more refined magic we use in spells—that we direct with wands. You seem to have learned to create your desired results by simply broadening those spells you do know, and focussing your intent. It makes learning more spells a bit moot.

"That isn't to say that I couldn't teach you more spells," she adds hastily. "Only that…well…you don't seem to need them for most things. Unless you were attempting a very large, complex working at a distance, or tied to an object or the like, it’d be rather moot.

"So I spoke with the Headmaster, and he has advised me that the most important thing for you now would be to expose you to situations—to duelling, specifically—and to allow you to hone your magical reflexes. And so to that end, the Headmaster has requested that Professor Flitwick take over this time from me, as he is the superior duellist."

"Can't he just take Professor Snape's times?" Harry asks. He'd prefer Professor Snape take him back, but knows it's too much to hope for.

"The Headmaster has only instructed me that Professor Flitwick is to have this coaching slot, and that I shall resume my purely advisory capacity as your Head of House. You can always come to me with anything, Mr Potter…any concerns you might have. All right?"

Harry nods, not certain why she would be mentioning it now.

"For now, however, I am to bring you to the Headmaster."

"Oh?" Harry blurts in surprise. "All right…?"

They make their way there and McGonagall offers the password, "Daim." When Harry looks questioningly at her, she simply says, "No idea," and they are inside, being borne up to the headmaster's circular office.

Inside, nothing seems to have changed, though Fawkes has seen better days—(he never looks his best as a chick). Dumbledore stands eyes a-twinkle, his demeanour jovial, and offers them sherbet lemons, then tea and scones, then biscuits, and finally, a seat.

The last, they accept.

"So, Harry!" says the headmaster. "You've mastered the Animagus transformation!"

"Yes, sir," Harry agrees. "Though I'm curious to see what effect it will have on my lunar transformation."

"As are we all," Dumbledore agrees, and the glint in his eyes is no longer that of a jovial fool.

"You mean you don't know?" Harry says. It seems impossible that the Headmaster wouldn't know something to do with magic.

"You're a first, Harry, my boy. There aren't so many lycanthropes running about that we'd expect to see one also master the Animagus transformation. Besides which, only two of you have the benefit of Professor Snape's Wolfsbane Potion."

Harry hasn't thought of it that way before.

"Which reminds me, you are to report to Professor Snape Thursday morning to continue your private coaching, as Severus is the best duellist we have in the Dark Arts. He also happens to be our only duellist in the Dark Arts," Dumbledore adds, as if making a joke.

Harry is gaping for so many reasons right now. Firstly, he can't believe his luck, that Dumbledore has got Snape to change his mind, (or has forced him to, more like). Secondly, "You're going to make him use dark magic against me, sir?"

"Professor Snape is quite capable of using a limited amount of dark magic without harming himself, Mr Potter. Have no fear."

"He's certainly used it in the past," mutters McGonagall.

"Now Minerva," scolds the Headmaster, though he still twinkles. Perhaps there is warning in those eyes. But he turns to Harry again. "Thank you for notifying me of your plans for your independent learning this morning, Harry."

"I thought, since I was doing something a bit out of the ordinary," he replies, feeling stupid, now. "I'm certain you knew where I was regardless."

"Everyone seems to think me omniscient," Dumbledore says with a smile, as if he isn't. And yet, he’s not denied it. "Well, thank you, Minerva. I'd like to speak with Harry for a few moments."

"Of course, Albus," she says and offers a small smile to Harry before heading out of the office.

"Quite a bit of trouble you found yourself in yesterday, eh, Harry?" says Dumbledore, putting Harry off balance. The Headmaster does not usually speak this way to him. As if he's a bit disappointed, and a bit curious, but not at all concerned.

"Yes, sir," Harry agrees, though he doesn't know to what, specifically, the Headmaster is referring.

"One hundred points were removed from Slytherin House for Mr Malfoy's…lapse. He could very well have been expelled for such violence."

"Well," says Harry, since now he feels badly, and responsible--now that the Headmaster has forced him to acknowledge the memory. "It wasn't entirely his fault, after all. It was my fault for exploding my room. He was…afraid. For me. I think. He didn't take it well."

"He feared for your safety, and so he beat you nearly to death? That hardly seems appropriate, Mr Potter."

"I don't think he beat me that severely…" Harry says, hoping that Dumbledore will say, 'Well, that's true, but…'

"There are advantages to your Lycanthropy, Harry. One of them is your ability to heal ordinary physical wounds more quickly than most of us can. That is what saved you last night. That, and Mr Malfoy's eventual guilt. It was he who brought you to the hospital wing, and that is the main reason he was not expelled."

Harry finds himself growing defensive, though it is not he who is being berated. "I would think Draco's spying would be a good reason to keep him about as well," he says cynically.

"Nothing is worth keeping him here if he poses a danger to you, Harry," says Dumbledore firmly. "Or to any other student, for that matter. And nothing you did could have justified that type of behaviour on his part. That you have invited him to spend time with you in an intimate way does not give him ownership of your body, Harry. That is something that you must always keep in mind. I can understand why you were loath to protect yourself magically, but I cannot help but worry that there were other reasons you allowed him to hurt you so." He sits very quietly, observing Harry for many long moments before he takes a deep breath and sits up straighter. "I will be keeping a more vigilant eye on him for now, Harry. This must not be allowed to happen again."

"I hardly think it's an issue. We haven't been very close lately."

"Be realistic, Harry, and you're less likely to be caught unawares."

* * *

At Wednesday breakfast, Harry sits next to Hermione again, this time facing the room, and Ron. And the Slytherin table at the opposite end. When Draco comes in, he does not look himself. And instead of angry or vindictive or even petulant, he looks…haggard, is the word. It's incongruous, of course, that Draco Malfoy should look anything but gorgeous. But haggard? That is blasphemy. Harry takes out his wand, for appearances sake, then sends a whisper across the room to land in Draco's ear. "Draco," he says, and waits for the other to look up, startled. To make eye contact, and seem pained, before looking down again. "You mustn't fret, Draco. It doesn't become you," Harry sends.

Draco gets out of his seat and heads for the door. So Harry leaves the remainder of his breakfast—he's not hungry anyway—and rushes out as well. He doesn't catch Draco up until they're at the stairwell down to the dungeons, which means that Draco has run a bit. "Fleeing? From little me?" Harry taunts mildly. "Condenso Aerem," he says conversationally, and Draco stops as if he's hit a wall, though a cushioned one. "Am I so frightening?"

"Yes," says Draco. "Finite Incantatem!" he commands, breaking Harry's Condenso.

Harry allows it—it's served its purpose, for Harry is beside Draco now. "I would like for us to forget about last night," he says.

"I don't think that's possible, Potter," Draco moans, apparently on his last nerve, "because I crossed a line last night, and Professor Dumbledore has put me on probation. Another misstep, and I'll be off to Durmstrang, which is not really the best place for me to be at the moment."

Harry doesn't know how to deal with this anymore. "Look, Draco. I'm not saying we need to pick up where we left off, but…well…I simply think you need to let this go. If it'll help, just know that I've forgiven you for…you know. And that I'm really very sorry for frightening you as I did. I'll be certain to ward my rooms, you'll be certain to keep your violence in check. Everything will be fine. And since it was preoccupation with each other that caused this in the first place, perhaps we really should stop seeing each other."

Draco sighs, then throws up his hands in defeat. "Can't be arsed," he says and walks toward the Slytherin common room. "We'll see you about, Harry Potter. And we'll try to remember not to lust after your pretty end." He's shaking his head the entire time, like it's simply ridiculous to even consider…whatever he’s considering.

Harry thinks he may not be the only lunatic here at Hogwarts. And then he thinks about how he and Draco managed to stay together for less than a month. He snorts his amusement before heading off to History of Magic. It seems a very long month, now. He wonders how long a month is in wolf years.

Duelling Practise by colibri
Chapter 4: Duelling Practise

"Firstly, I'd like to make it clear that I have been ordered to perform this duty," Snape says, obviously seething. Harry thinks the last time he's seen the man this angry is after the pensieve incident. "I hope I manage to kill you."

"That seems fair," Harry agrees.

"I don't care whether it's fair, Potter. Only that I get to hurt you for 90 minutes straight today, and then again tomorrow, for three hours. That is why I am doing this."

"Understood, sir," Harry agrees, and then drops to the floor with a scream, writhing and wondering why he's not dead yet—remembering that, yes, this is what Cruciatus feels like and no, he doesn't like it. Not at all.

And then it's over, fifteen- twenty minutes later. Perhaps fifteen seconds, to be more accurate. It only gets worse from there, and after five minutes of duelling with Snape, Harry has decided he may as well just kill himself, for Voldemort will surely do him in within a minute. He is obviously painfully inept. He's quite certain he's got no idea how he managed to survive all of his other duels with the Dark Lord and his minions. It's a bloody farce, really.

"You're not even trying, now," says Snape with disgust. "Get out."

"I can't breathe," Harry explains. "Makes it difficult to cast."

"You're an absolute imbecile if you think I'm listening to that rot. We both know you are capable of casting without wand or word. You needn't breathe to cast Expelliarmus."

Snape has a point there. "Touché."

"So wake up, Potter!"

Harry gestures and Snape's wand flies out of his hand with enough force to burn. "Sorry," he says, though not about the burn. About not thinking more clearly. "I think breathing helps me think, too," he says.

"Nothing can help you think," says Snape. "Incendio," he says and Harry's robes burst into flame.

Harry is shocked, but smothers the flames to death in an instant, after he is no longer frozen. His hair has been singed, his eyebrows are gone, and his skin is tender from burns. He casts a silent Fervefacio at Snape and watches the man flush, then scream. Harry breaks off his own spell after only a few moments, but Snape is already down. Fainted dead away. And Harry feels extremely guilty for taking his anger out. He casts a silent Mobilicorpus and remembers to take out his wand before rushing Snape to the hospital wing.

Yet another disaster. This does not bode well for Harry's future duelling training.

When he tells Madam Pomfrey that he's cast Fervefacio on a human, she nearly laughs. Until she looks at Snape and says, "That appears to be dangerous." And then Harry is bustled to the side while she takes over. She gives Snape a fever-reducing potion and that does the job. He's not, after all, hurt.

"Wha', in Slytherin's name, 'm I doing in th'ospital wing?" Snape demands, his mouth slurring. Harry hopes it's not permanent.

"Recovering from an errant spell, it appears," says Madam Pomfrey. "But you're free to go. I've no use for a whinger like you in here. Up!"

So Snape pulls himself onto his own two feet and, after a moment of steadying himself, moves to the door, where he suddenly notices Harry. His face screws up in some semblance of disgust and resignation. "I suppose you brought me here," he says.

"Yes, sir," Harry says.

"And I suppose you cast one of your silly, otherwise harmless charms and I succumbed like a first-year student."

Harry tries not to smile, but he mostly fails. "Well, I don't know how silly it was," he says, and follows Snape out of the hospital wing. They don't speak again until they are safely ensconced in Snape's offices. Snape puts up his wards automatically, including the silencing wards. "I can't counter when I don't know you're casting," Snape says simply, then indicates the chair before him. Harry sits down, trying not to look dejected. He really wants to work with Snape. "What charm did you use?"


"You like that one."

Harry shrugs. "Doesn't matter. I could have used Alohomora. You were an obstacle, after all. I cast Fervefacio because you used Incendio. It seemed more aesthetic."

Snape sits down primly in his own chair. It's safe with Harry, because he is taller than Harry when they both sit. It would not have been safe with Ron. Or Draco. But Harry is the smallest boy in his year, in height and bulk. Harry has no bulk. "You had time to think of aesthetics?"

"Not really," Harry admits. "My instinctive sense of aesthetics," he amends. It's a little bit of a joke, but only a little bit.

"I think you're taking this queer thing a bit seriously. Your sense of style otherwise is quite horrific."

"Being facetious, sir," Harry says, but he's blushing a little at the jibe, and at the thought that Snape's sense of style might be impressive. He'd love to see Snape in a muggle clubbing kit.

"Of course." Snape spends several moments watching Harry, thinking, before he speaks again. "What am I to do with you?"

"Extra Potions lessons?" Harry asks hopefully.

"You get quite enough of that already. Four lessons per week. You may as well be my apprentice."

Harry does a silent cheer as it confirms that all of his coachings with Snape have been reinstated. "That sounds brilliant, sir!"

"I'm not offering, Potter. I'd kill you after a month."

"You could try, sir." Snape looks as though he thinks Harry is challenging him. "If there is anything left after Voldemort is finished with me, I promise to come back here and let you attempt to finish the job."

"Your sense of humour has become decidedly dark of late, Mr Potter."

"The power is going to my head," Harry deadpans. "I wonder if the Dark Lord still wants me on his side."

"I think the Dark Lord, imbecilic bigot that he is, would reject any assistance you could give simply because of your Lycanthropy. He has underestimated you, and it shall be your weapon. We can but hope it is enough."

"Is there a plan brewing that I don't know about?" Harry asks, somewhat surprised by the turn their talk has taken. It sounded almost as if there is a confrontation on the horizon, but from the amount of activity Harry has heard about, there is nothing of the sort. And then Harry remembers—he is completely out of the loop. "Has the Dark Lord been staging attacks??"

"Not in England, no," Snape says. "Elsewhere. But he is growing bolder, for many of the attacks have been successful. He has already had more success gaining followers, since he managed to restore most of his prior beauty. Many will follow a leader simply because he looks a leader."

"Tom Riddle was a handsome man," Harry recalls, though not with any kind of appreciation. He cannot keep his lip from curling in disgust. "But he was a hideous monster when last I saw him."

"Yes, well…potions are lovely things, and terrible as well. Far too powerful. I believe he may also be taking a charisma-enhancing potion, but since I'm no longer his Potions Master…."

Harry nodded. "Why are you telling me this now?" Harry asks.

"Because you need to know, if you are ever going to fulfil this duty with which the wizarding world has burdened you."

"Did Dumbledore ask you to tell me?"

Several moments of silence before, "No. He has forbidden anyone to speak of such things with you."

Harry's not certain Snape is telling the truth. He considers, briefly, using Legilimency to force the truth from Snape's mind, but decides against it. It is irrelevant why he is being given this information, as long as it is true. But…. "Has he forbidden everyone in the school from telling me?"

"I think he has only spoken with your friends, Miss Granger and Mr Weasley. Perhaps Mr Malfoy, though Draco may have his own reasons for not telling you anything. He does not report to me."

This surprises Harry, but he doesn't wish to belabour it. He supposes he doesn't listen to enough gossip, nor associate with enough of the other students, that he would have heard if Voldemort had been staging attacks elsewhere. "Well," he says. "I suppose it's a shame I don't look like a leader," Harry says. He knows it's true, after all.

"We have plenty of wizards and witches who can lead, Mr Potter. We haven't so very many with the necessary power. You, however, help tip the balance. My main concern is that when you next battle the Dark Lord or his minions, you will have the power to kill. Without the killing curse. And it's an awesome power, Mr Potter. It can be…overwhelming. And yes, before you ask, I have killed. I speak from experience, and it is not a pleasant thing."

"The Death Eaters seem to have no qualms," Harry says. "And Voldemort himself."

"One does grow inured to it in time. Some even learn to enjoy it. And a very few begin to crave it. It is a great deal of control to hold over another—to determine whether they live or die. For many Death Eaters, gaining control over others is already a priority in their lives. It is not so large a leap, to take a fancy to torture and killing."

Harry can recall a time when all of this would have sounded completely alien to him. He can recall a time, not so very long ago, when the very idea of torturing someone seemed so foreign as to be but a disturbing faerie tale.

Things have changed since then. He has his own memories, now. He has seen the glint of sadism in more than one eye during his time as a trick. And while the Cruciatus Curse is much more painful than anything any muggle has ever done to him, having a too-dry fist slammed into his bowels had been a level of torture he'd never imagined someone capable of perpetrating on another human being. That the muggle had caused such pain with his own hands had been the most inconceivable thing of all. Both Cruciatus and Avada are clean curses. There is no blood, and there is certainly no shit left on the caster's hands.

Harry realises he has been silent for a long time. When he looks up, Snape is observing him, still. The professor says, "You've a lesson in five minutes, Mr Potter."

Harry stands, not really wanting to leave. There's just something about the professor that is comforting. Perhaps it's his darkness. Harry feels like he and Snape come from the same place, somehow, whereas his other friends come from some sunny land of rainbows and family holidays. Draco, of course, isn't even real. "I'm sorry the duelling practise didn't work out, Professor," Harry says sincerely.

"Yes, well," says Snape and stands to tower over Harry again. "I was able to throw the Cruciatus on you more than once. That will serve as your apology for disturbing me with your tantrum Sunday last.”

"And what of the Incendio, then?" Harry asks.

Snape thinks on that for several moments. "Perhaps that shall serve as an apology for the disrespect that caused me to cancel our coachings in the first case, hm?" He doesn't seem to be joking. "And your word, Mr Potter, that it shan't happen again."

"It shall not happen again," Harry assures fervently. "I was taken slightly by surprise by…well, many things. But you're just so very…" appealing, attractive, delightfully multifaceted. He blushes severely and backs toward the door, before he realises that turning toward the door will hide his face from view. So he does. "I'll see you in Potions, then," Harry finishes lamely, then slips out and closes the door behind himself with a sigh of relief. "Stupid, stupid Harry Potter," he mutters, then heads to his Care of Magical Creatures lesson. Hagrid's lessons are usually blessedly distracting. On the way, he is certain to fix his hair and clothing and re-grow his eyebrows. The Lycanthropy has already healed his burns.

* * *

He meets with Professor Flitwick that very same evening, and the Professor is his usual cheerful self. All "Good evening, Mr Potter!" and "Well, isn't this exciting?"

And Harry isn't particularly excited about duelling with Professor Flitwick, because it seems to him that either he duels for play, in which case he's not learning very much for his battles to come, or he duels to win, in which case the professor may get hurt. "I'm not certain how this is going to go, Professor," Harry admits.

"Of course, not! You've never duelled with me before. Well, stance, please."

Harry takes the position.

"Wand out, Mr Potter," Flitwick reminds him.

"Oh, sorry," Harry says hastily, and while he is getting it out, the professor casts a charm over him that he has never heard before, and his Latin isn't really good enough that he doesn't have to look things up. Promo Veneficium simply doesn't ring a bell. "Er…" he says.

But Flitwick moves right along, casting various charms that Harry dodges or deflects easily. So he doesn't think much about it. Until Flitwick manages to get him with a well-placed Expelliarmus and Harry is wandless. Flitwick gives him no time to think at all—he Accios the wand and immediately casts Petrificus. In a split second, Harry realises he is never going to beat Flitwick with regular duelling techniques, which is rather the point. He hasn't landed a single hit, while Flitwick has hit him with a great number of charms already. He doesn't even make the decision. He relaxes into that space where free-association lives, and casts Speculum wordlessly, to reflect Flitwick’s charms, then follows it with a burst of condensed air…. Only he sees the offensive spell manifest in the air before him, gathering, then rushing at Flitwick, which the professor narrowly dodges. He suddenly realises what that first spell must have done.

He casts burst after burst of Condenso, high low, to the sides, and the professor can't duck them all, nor dissipate them all, but most of them, he can. And he's an even smaller target than Harry. Harry is getting desperate. He hurls flaming objects wordlessly which the professor bounces easily off a shield, casts Incendio at the professor and is blocked. Then he casts the most powerful Diffindo he's ever thought to use and causes a piece of the stonework ceiling to fall, while rapid-casting Infusio, Condenso, Conglacio, so that Flitwick slips and falls on the now icy floor while protecting himself from falling stone. The air is alive with colour—with Harry's power—and he condenses another glider for himself and rushes into the air, to remove himself from where Flitwick expects him to be. A localised Rarefacio Aerem round the professor's head is quickly dispelled, but his "Incarcerous!" though aloud, slips through. The professor cannot escape the Incendio Harry casts next, though he whispers it aloud instead of casting it wordlessly.

The professor's scream brings Harry back to reality with a start, and he quickly douses Flitwick's robes and Evanescos the ropes. He is shaking, but the Professor is much worse off. "Sorry, Professor!" Harry whispers once he runs to his Professor's side to help him up. "Are you all right?"

"Quite all right," Flitwick replies, a diminutive figure covered in dust and wet and scorch marks, his hair tattered and singed, like his robes. He is surprisingly jovial for the situation, but his smile is shaky and he is trembling so severely it's more like quaking.

"Should I get Madam Pomfrey?" Harry asks.

"No, I'll be quite all right in a few moments," he says, but then continues, "but I should like for you to fetch the Headmaster, if you'd be so kind, Harry?"

"I'm not certain I should leave you. Would you like to accompany me, Professor?"

"No-no, Mr Potter. I think you should go fetch the Headmaster, and perhaps ward the doors while you do so? I'll just sit right here and await hi—"

But the point is mooted by the Headmaster’s present arrival. He pushes open the door and wards it behind himself with a gesture that Harry spots, though he never would have done before. "Goodness!" he says twinkling, then smiles at Harry and Professor Flitwick. "Quite a mess you've made of the room here, eh Filius?"

"Quite so," agrees Flitwick, "quite so, yes," and he is nodding. Harry thinks the man may be in some pain.

"How went the lesson, then?" asks Dumbledore, as if nothing at all is amiss.

"Shouldn't the professor's…condition be attended to?" Harry asks.

Dumbledore waves his hands a bit and Flitwick's robes are restored and dry. The floor is dry and clear of debris. A bit more, and the ceiling is repaired. The water on the floor is evaporated. There is still evidence of the duel, but it's far less than it had been, and mostly involves things that were knocked about by fists of air, or scorch marks here and there. "There. Far better, don't you think?" says Dumbledore.

"Our duelling practise went splendidly," Flitwick answers, then, and sits down atop his desk. He's so very small, after all. "I daresay I wouldn't have stood a chance had I not cast the Promo Veneficium charm you reminded me about. Very useful, that."

"Indeed," Dumbledore agrees. "You might wish to learn that one, Harry. And wandlessly and wordlessly if you can, since you wouldn't want to teach it to your enemy, in case he doesn't know it. Otherwise, it's likely preferable to avoid its use."

Harry is so confused and generally off-balance right now. "All right, Professor," he says.

"Well, Mr Potter, I think we may have duelled enough this evening…?" says Professor Flitwick. He looks exhausted.

"Yes, Professor," Harry says. "Thank you." He walks over to the door and presses cautiously at the ward with his magic. He finds that it's a very simple ward, meant only to give warning to its caster and to avoid eavesdropping, not keep anyone out. He decides not to unravel it before he leaves, so that Dumbledore won't have to recast it.

Back in his rooms, Harry works further on an essay for Potions before going to bed. For the first time since it's happened, he doesn't even think about the fact that he's alone.

The Man In Wolf's Clothing by colibri
Chapter 5: The Man in Wolf's Clothing

Harry continues his duelling practise with both Snape and Flitwick, after Snape has received some assistance. Snape is much improved after he has learnt the Promo Veneficium charm and can see that Harry is casting, if not what. In some ways, he is a better duellist than Flitwick, because he is ruthless. The only spell he won't cast is the Killing Curse, which leaves quite a number of extremely dangerous and unpleasant spells. At one point, Snape casts Eviscerato and it actually hits Harry. Harry is surprised it's not more painful—one would think being eviscerated would hurt more than the Cruciatus, but it doesn't. One would also think being eviscerated might be fatal, but Harry survives quite well, thank you, while Snape gapes, then rushes to his side and puts him back together. That is the end of their lesson for that day, though Harry learns an interesting way to heal Eviscerato that he hopes he never has to use on anyone.

He has convinced Snape to allow him to practise duelling twice per week instead of thrice, and add an extra Potions lesson for the second three-hour block, the Friday afternoon time slot. It's become a bit of a relaxation for Harry—a solid block of time wherein he needn't expend vast quantities of power trying to injure or defend or think. In Potions, there are recipes to follow, and even when one is experimenting, one writes the recipe first, then prepares it, occasionally (but not usually) making minor changes. When done correctly, Potions is deliberate and predictable. Duelling is…not. But he is improving. And he's been getting better at the Promo Veneficium spell, which is tricky to learn because he can't simply practise it on his own.

At the end of the evening, Snape helps Harry clean up the potions-making supplies then moves to his office, where Harry follows, since it is evident his professor has something to say. He sits in the chair across from Snape's desk.

"The Headmaster has asked that you not take the Wolfsbane Potion this cycle, if you are willing. Because of your successful Animagus transformation."

Harry isn't certain he's understanding this correctly, because it sounded as if Dumbledore is asking him to become a brutal killer for three nights this month. "What?"

"As we have no idea how your ability to transform will affect your lunar transformation, the Headmaster has asked whether you would be willing to test the interaction by not taking the Wolfsbane Potion."

"So Dumbledore—"

"Professor Dumbledore."

"—has at least a suspicion that I will be able to assert control over my lunar form because I can transform into a wolf??"

"I…yes," Snape decides to say.

"And what do you think?"

"I haven't a clue," Snape answers neutrally. "But I am hopeful that if you are already in wolf form when the moon rises, perhaps you won't be forced again."

"And where would I be kept, then?" Harry asks. He has only a vague recollection of what happened last time he hadn't drunk the Wolfsbane, but pain was a large part of it. He remembers pain, but not much else.

"With me," says Snape, and part of Harry agrees right then. The rest cannot believe this might be true.

"That sounds imprudent," says Harry. "I wouldn't wish to attack you."

"If you are willing to do this, Mr Potter, you will transform into your lupine form well before moonrise, then be monitored by myself until there are signs that you are losing control, at which point I will ensure that you are shielded and transport you back to your rooms, which will be cleared and warded for everyone's protection."

Harry finds himself nodding, though he's not certain when that began. "All right," he says. "I'll be with you until I lose control."

Snape stands then and says, "Good night, Mr Potter. And remember that your behaviour will be more erratic now that you're not taking the Potion. If you ever feel…out of sorts, you can come to me or the Headmaster."

"I'll be useless in classes by the 10th or 11th, won't I?"

"That is likely, yes."

But Harry nods once, curtly. "It can only help further my current image as a worthless wizard within the Death Eater community," he says by way of emphasising the positive.

"Of course," Snape agrees.

Harry goes to bed.

* * *

In fact, the students and professors start noticing a difference as early as the 8th, and by the 10th, Harry is half-mad at least. There is a worry that he won't have the capacity to make the Animagus transformation on the 13th. Still, it seems that no matter how bizarre Harry's behaviour becomes, he is quite capable of transforming from man to wolf and back again. So they allow it to continue—not that there is a choice, at this late date.

On the 11th, Harry is cornered by Draco in the corridor between his rooms and Professor Snape's during the break before Care of Magical Creatures. Well, perhaps not so much cornered as violently forced up against a wall. Harry, for his part, enjoys the contact far more than he is capable of expressing verbally. He simply moans as his eyelids flutter. What goes through his mind is not the sort of thing that goes through human minds much, and likely is not as lupine as it could be either. And he is a bit deviant, after all. He feels himself, four limbs grounded on packed earth, leaf litter below his paws, and Draco Malfoy mounting him from behind, though Draco is quite human. There is no part of this that strikes him as odd, and the low growl he emits is one of pleasure.

It is also entirely lupine.

"Fucking hell, Harry," Draco mutters with very real fear and confusion, pulling away a bit. And Harry attempts to follow—he wants so to bury his face in Draco's neck, in the intoxicating scent behind Draco's ears. "What's the matter with you??"

Harry is completely incapable of rational thought while Draco is so close. Indeed, he is incapable even of speech. But Snape arrives presently, whence Draco doesn't know. He is grateful, though—and Harry can scent it easily. "Professor!" Draco says with urgency. "Harry's not doing well this cycle. Something's wrong."

"Oh really," drawls Snape in that voice like honey over charcoal. "Perhaps it has something to do with you attacking him in the corridor while you should be attending lessons, hmm?"

"I didn't attack…" Draco begins defensively, but…well, he kind of had. "He's been behaving strangely for days. I wanted to confront him."

"Well, you've done that now, haven't you? So be off, and allow me to concern myself with The Boy Who Bloody Growls. Off!"

Draco backs away and Harry follows. He hasn't understood any of this conversation, though to be fair, it may be because he simply doesn't care what the strange yelps and growls mean.

"Not you, Potter," growls Snape, and it draws Harry's attention long enough that Draco is able to slip quickly away. "I think you may have had enough school life for this cycle, hmm?"

Harry is drawn to the tall, black-robed man as inexorably as his wolf-form is drawn to the full moon. He bares teeth that are a bit transformed—a bit longer in the canines already—but Snape does not back down, and Harry cannot smell anything on him but potions. No fear at all. The imposing figure towers over him, the arms crossed in front of its broad chest. Harry finds himself on knees, then hands and knees, and rubbing that spot behind his ears, at the juncture to the neck, on the man's robes. He seeks favour from the Alpha, and if he gains it, perhaps he will win another kind….

"All right, Mr Potter," says the man, his voice gentle and soothing, flowing over Harry's form like a warm tongue-bath, like a gentle fog on the moors. "Into my chambers, then," says the man. "Up, on your feet." He is lifted to his feet, but the balance is off and he doesn't like it. He sighs and shifts, and then all is right. His robes no longer hinder his movements, his claws tap-tap against the stones. The scent of potions ingredients makes him feel safe. "All right, that'll work as well, I suppose," says the man and he is kind and warm, a benevolent Alpha for as long as Harry can please him.

* * *

Over the next few hours, Harry falls into and out of lucidity. Snape does not take his lessons in the afternoon, nor the next day, in order that he may supervise. Harry becomes Snape's charge as Snape passes the time in work—preparing potions, marking papers, reading. And always remaining vigilant for some clue that Harry's lunacy has grown out of hand.

Friday evening, the last night before the full moon, Snape does not sleep. He takes a potion and remains wakeful through the night. But Harry can smell no worry from Snape, and so he does not worry. In the morning, he regains some semblance of understanding of his surroundings, and he sits on his cushion like a huge lap dog, silently watching the Potions Master doing this or that, moving here or there, sitting and thinking. Harry has a litter box in the loo like some pathetic cat, but he is used to this, from when he has spent his cycle in his own rooms.

In his times of lucidity, however, Harry grows bored. He is not accustomed to spending so much time in wolf form—not even during his cycle. And when he can no longer bear doing nothing, he moves over to where Snape sits reading in his large, lounging chair and whines. Snape does not even notice at first, but then Harry prods him with snout and rubs against him and whines again.

"Mr Potter, what in Merlin's name is the matter?"

Mr Potter, of course, cannot articulate very well in this form. Nor can he do magic. He yelps a little, then pushes his wet nose against the book, which Snape pulls away immediately. He yelps again, doing a strange, whinging impression of human speech, then pushes his ears forward. Nudges the book again, though he must move almost between the man's legs to get at it now.

"You wish for me to read aloud?" Snape asks, though he sounds like it's unlikely.

But Harry yelps just once and nods. It feels awkward in this form, as it involves his entire head and neck (instead of only his head) in a large, bobbing movement.

"Well, I suppose it can't hurt," Snape says to himself, "though it's so much slower—"

Harry whines pathetically.

"Of course, I've already read every volume in here several times."

Harry thinks that may be an overstatement, but if so, only just.

"Well, move away, then, Mr Potter. I can't read with you in my lap there, staring."

So Harry moves back to his cushion and curls up. Within moments, Snape's lovely, warm voice envelops him in comfort, and Harry listens to academic research on the history of Charisma Potions until he falls asleep.

* * *

He awakens with the moon, and the man is seated, perfectly aloof, with the object in his hands and a tiny moon hovering before him. The man smells of many things, but none of them fear, and none of them wolf. But he knows the man by sight, for his eyes are strong. He sits, then stands, then stretches and shakes himself. He uses the scratchy box he has marked before. It is a small space, but he is not Alpha and so he uses what he is permitted to use.

He returns to the warm space where the man is seated, and the man is looking at him now. So he crouches small, to show that he understands that he is not Alpha, and he scoots himself forward, into the man's presence. The man opens his mouth and makes sounds he cannot understand, for the man has no scent. He grows fearful that he will not please the man. But he listens again to the man's voice, and though it is strange, it does not sound displeased. He scoots himself forward again, until he has come to the man's feet, and rubs himself upon them, and rubs himself into the floor, and whines.

He feels, suddenly, that the man is touching him. The man is petting his fur lightly—marking him. And he is blissful. He has been gifted. He crouches there, perfectly still, while the hand touches him still more firmly, no longer releasing him. And there are two hands, and they part his fur and rub and scratch his skin, and he must have pleased the Alpha. The Alpha must be pleased, for the Alpha gives, and it is good.

He lies and basks until the man pulls away slowly and makes lovely sounds that are pleased and pushes him away. He moves to his cushion, looking back to be certain that the Alpha is not angry—that the Alpha is not baring teeth or raising his hackles. The Alpha is certainly not growling. So he lies down on the cushions and watches the man sit back and stare at the object again, the tiny moon glowing in the man's face.

The man gets up and uses the cold room with the scratchy box, then comes back. The man puts an object to his mouth which scents sweetly of wild herbs, then sits again with the object and the moon and stares, but does not see him, lying on his cushion. The cushion the man has given him. He will fall asleep soon, but the man does not sleep. He thinks perhaps Alphas don't sleep. They remain vigilant. They protect.

* * *

When he awakens again, he feels the pull of the moon strongly, and he is cold and hot, and the man is no longer covered in wide, black fur, but only thin, white fur. It is the way of Alphas, he knows, that they can shed and don their fur at will. That is not for him. He is not Alpha. He lies on his cushion and his fur is the same, and it no longer covers the pink part of him that lies on the cushion exposed and uncomfortable. He bathes himself and bathes the pink part of him so it does not dry, and he hopes that the Alpha is still pleased, and will grace him again.

The man looks up, then, and makes sounds that are not angry, and he is hopeful. He stops washing himself and feels the cold against his pink bit. He crouches and moves toward the Alpha, rubbing his neck against the ground, so the Alpha will not be angry he is approaching. But the Alpha does not growl or raise his hackles or show his teeth, so he moves closer and listens to the lovely sounds that the Alpha makes. He cannot make such sounds—they are not for him. He crouches at the man's feet and rubs himself against them, though they are soft now, covered in soft fur instead of hard fur. The man has no scent.

More sounds, and the hands touch him again, gingerly, behind his ears. Slowly their touch becomes more firm, and moves from his head to the scruff of his neck, until he is pulled standing, (though still much lower than the Alpha), and his head is resting on the man's leg and he is nearly surrounded by long arms. Sounds and sounds rain down until he is, once again, pushed away. But this time, gently.

He hopes. He backs away slightly, then turns and crouches again, presenting. He holds his tail up and sways slightly. He feels his pink bit growing hot against the cool air.

Only then there are sounds that are no longer so pleased. He does not understand what he has done wrong. He turns to the man, terrified that he will be bitten and clawed. He crouches immediately to the ground, lies flat on his stomach with his head down. He whines. He rubs himself into the stone beneath him. He approaches to rub his snout into the man's feet. The man barks and stands to tower above him. The man pushes him onto his cushion and slaps him on the rump. He hides his face under his paws and whines until the Alpha leaves the space and makes a loud, banging noise. The space is silent, now, and dark.

* * *

In the morning, Harry awakens completely lucid, still in his wolf form. He has no recollection of the night before, but he also has no recollection of pain, and thinks this is a good thing. Snape is nowhere to be seen, and he cannot scent the man anywhere. He suddenly realises that Snape, clever man that he is, has cast some sort of spell, (or taken a potion, more likely), to suppress his natural scents. It's ingenious, really, since this way, Harry cannot smell his fear. It is calming, though it is also a bit strange that the man smells like an inanimate object instead of an animal.

Harry has nothing at all to do. He putters about while Snape sleeps, for he has decided that that is what the professor must be doing. He is bored out of his mind. He attempts to figure out why he cannot do magic in this form by attempting to do magic, and fails miserably. He wonders whether it'd be horrible if he just transformed one paw into a hand, so that he could grab a book and read in it. Two fingers and a thumb?

Harry wants to cry. He paces. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth until he thinks he's going mad—madder than he was before. Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and nothing is changing, except that his boredom is increasing, and his frustration is mounting, and he feels helpless, and stifled, and he swears he can't breathe in here... And then in a fit of frustration unlike any he has ever before experienced, he rips his cushion to shreds.

It gives him something to do for an entire half hour.

And then he has nothing to do again and no cushion to lie on. He manages to fall asleep for a little while, but he is so rested out, it merely heightens his frustration. He awakens and paces again, paces again, paces again, until he decides that anything is better than this, and begins to gnaw on one of Snape's chairs.

Harry grows angry that Snape would have left him here alone all day with nothing to do at all! He starts pulling down various objects he can reach, though he does not touch books and he does not spill dangerous ingredients upon himself. But he topples chairs and pulls scrolls onto the floor. He marks the room in various places, then spills his litter box onto the bathroom floor. He bays in the confines of the en-suite and it echoes painfully in his head. Still, he does it again because it's something to do.

When he grows tired of baying, he races about through the room, skidding on parchment and feathers, trying to tire himself out. He jumps about, up into the air, trying to walk on his hind legs and mostly failing. He attempts to use his paws to turn on the tap in the toilet, and manages, though he cannot turn it off again.

Finally, after hours of mayhem, he tires himself out and goes to lie in the spot his cushion used to be.

The air is still full of feathers.

* * *

He startles awake to a shriek that cannot possibly be pleasure, and when the man crashes into the room, the man's teeth are bared and the man's hackles are raised (in that strange way only Alphas can, where it is only the fur on their heads and it involves using those long, clawless paws), and the man is howling in a way that terrifies him and leaves him quaking. He does not understand why the Alpha is so angry, but he thinks it may have something to do with the fact that his own scent is all about the room. He does not remember, but his scent is marking this room as his own territory, and that is terribly wrong. He will have to fight with the Alpha for dominance.

But he doesn’t want to fight. He wants to lie at the man's feet and be petted and hear warm sounds that are not screeching or growling. He wants to hope that he has a chance of pleasing the Alpha—that the Alpha will find him worthy of mating.

Now it seems that he will never succeed in this. He crouches, quaking, in the corner while the man rages and turns around a circle again and again, then holds a twig in his hand. The man howls at him. Then there is only pain.

* * *

He is mewling like a newborn cub, and his body feels as if it has been tossed about by a dragon, then sat upon. He cannot move his limbs and it pains him even to breathe. He opens his eyes and cannot see very well, so he closes them again. He hears sounds and they hurt his ears. The mewling hurts inside him as well. When he is touched, he flinches in pain and attempts to move away, but he cannot. Warm droplets of water cause him to yelp when they land on his nose. Another, louder sound stabs into his ears, but then, blessed darkness.

* * *

Harry awakens overly warm and almost too comfortable to believe. He remembers pain, this time, but not what caused it. He remembers tearing up the room yesterday, though, and figures he got punished for it.

Why, then, is he lying curled up in Snape's bed, with Snape's arm about him and Snape's long body pressed against his spine. He yawns and a sound comes that is very obviously not human. But that's all right. He's not, after all. He needs to void, but has a feeling his litter box has not been replaced. More importantly, however; he does not want to leave Snape's bed. It is the first reminder of the man's scent he's had in days, since whatever magic Snape has performed in the workroom and on himself to clear it, has not been performed in this room. The scent is a bit old, of course, but it comforts Harry and…well…it is a bit sexy as well.

Snape stirs, then mutters nonsense words in his sleep before turning halfway away. Harry decides the situation with his bladder is a bit more serious than he's given it credit for being, and so he works to stand on the bed, then nuzzles in Snape's hair.

Snape pushes him away with a weak moan.

Harry jumps down off of the bed and makes his way to the door which is predictably closed. He cannot open it in this form. So he returns to Snape again and drags the covers from him with teeth, then starts licking at Snape's hand. He attempts to convince himself that he will not think of what licking hands can lead to. Especially since it would never happen in this form. Snape would run screaming from him if he knew. Hell, Snape can't even handle a little flirting from a (mostly) human male.

Snape's eyes open one at a time, his face wary. His eyes follow as Harry moves to the door and scratches gently. "So, you've decided you needn't spray my entire quarters, now?" he asks, and his voice is even sexier than usual. Harry's body is going to start reacting any moment, and that is not good, since he's wearing no clothing at all. Harry turns to the door again and scratches again. "I can't imagine what could possibly have possessed you yesterday. You seem rather lucid when the moon isn't out."

Harry realises Snape must have assumed he'd been overcome by dementia yesterday when he tore the house apart. He's not certain he prefers Snape being misled, since it means the man won't realise what a horror it is being alone here all day, doing nothing. But he is grateful when Snape opens the door, and runs to the en-suite, where his litter box has, indeed, been replaced. He voids both bladder and bowels, then eats the meat placed in a bowl for him on the floor in the sitting room before returning to the bedroom. There, Snape sits on the edge of the bed, obviously gathering the strength to face another day.

"This is miserable," Snape says, and Harry can only agree silently. And add a bit of whimpering. He moves toward the doorway, then back toward Snape again. Goes a bit further toward the door, then back again. Pulls, gently, on the cuff of Snape's pyjama top.

"You wish for me to leave this room. But I suppose you'd wish for more than that. I suppose you'd prefer to actually go outside and stretch your legs a bit. But you know I can't take you out of here, even if you’ve shown yourself to be less than a bloodthirsty monster this time."

Harry whimpers, for he thinks he knows a way. He shakes his head, then heads toward the door again, and back. Waits until Snape sighs then stands. Harry takes off toward the bathroom, turns on the bath awkwardly and waits for Snape to arrive and fix the water properly. He sits patiently while Snape stares at him and eventually says, "I'm not undressing in front of you." Harry turns his back, then, and waits while Snape gets undressed and lowers himself into the basin. He then turns back round and watches. Snape scowls sourly at him the entire time.

After the bath, Harry runs back to the room and watches surreptitiously while Snape dresses himself in long, black trousers and a black polo shirt. Then a black pullover, stockings, boots. Black muffler. Black outdoor, heavyweight robes. He seems willing to let Harry lead the way, at least for a time.

So Harry takes them out to his own rooms and waits for Snape to open them. He goes to his trunk and touches a paw to it. It recognizes him immediately and opens. He pulls out his little-used invisibility cloak and brings it, awkwardly, to Snape.

"Ah, this blasted thing. I suppose you suggest I hide you in it?"

Harry nods that awkward nod again, then ducks his head a little, waiting.

"I'm going to regret this," Snape mutters, but he does it. He covers Harry's form with the cloak, then decides to cover himself with it instead, and drape the remainder over Harry. It is extremely awkward, but good enough. Snape follows Harry out of the room, warding it behind them. They then continue carefully out of the castle. It's Monday, after all, and though most of the students are in their first class, there are always people in places they shouldn't be.

Out they go, across the grounds, until it becomes clear where Harry is leading them. The Whomping Willow is difficult to miss, after all. "Absolutely not," Snape says and stops moving. "We are not going there."

Harry can't argue about it, and he can't press the knot without Snape's help, so he simply sits down on the ground, lays his head on his paws, and waits.

"No," Snape whispers harshly. "I can't go there. I simply cannot. But…we can take a promenade about the grounds…." The only thing that sounds like him is his voice. "I need a bit of motion as well. Will that suit?"

Harry has to agree it seems reasonable, so he stands again and when Snape starts moving, he follows closely, so as to make it as convenient as possible.

It's a lovely day, for winter, and though it's snowed and frigid, it's also sunny and bright. At one point, Snape clears a spot on the ground near the lake and they sit, Snape warming the air for them, though Harry's coat protects him quite well.

The silence is comfortable and drowsy, occasionally broken by the whistling of wind through barren treetops, or cracking ice as the giant squid pushes against a newly frozen section. It is not so cold that the lake has been freezing quickly, but…

"Can you remember at all what is occurring when the moon takes you over?" Snape asks quietly. He stares out over the lake and does not move. Harry is not certain how to answer, since the man doesn't look at him. He whimpers a little, and Snape does look down at him, then. Harry shakes his head a little from side to side. It's really very awkward. He makes a whine that goes down at the end. Maybe that can mean 'no'. "I see," says Snape and turns back to the lake. "Did you destroy the room yesterday on purpose?" Snape asks. When Harry doesn't answer, he says, "I'll take that as a 'yes'. I suppose I can guess why."

Harry whimpers…he doesn't want to get in trouble again. He remembers pain, but not why. Still, he doesn't want Snape angry with him.

"I think this has been the longest three days of my life," Snape says, and Harry silently agrees.

* * *

He awakens back on his cushion and opens his eyes to a space once again in order. Objects are where they once were. There are no feathers scattered about. The man is sitting with an object and the tiny moon is glowing upon the man's face. He does not question this, because the man is Alpha, and the man can create things and the man can make things disappear. That is a power the Alpha has, but it is not for him. He hopes that the restoration of order means he is no longer in the man's bad graces.

He stands and finds the pain has completely disappeared and he accepts this, again without surprise and without question. He watches the man and sees eyes flicker toward him. Sees that the man's teeth are not bared, that the man does not growl, that his hackles are not raised in that strange way Alphas have. There is tame fire beside the man, for the Alpha can also control such wild things as fire. He cannot, and so he must not be near it, for it eats flesh and bone and fur alike. The fire fears nothing, not even teeth.

He goes to the cold space with the scratchy box and finds it there, so he uses it as the Alpha requires him to do. Then he returns to where the man sits with his object, bathed in golden light from the tiny moon. He does not understand why the tiny moon gives golden light instead of silver, but thinks maybe it is because it is so tiny and so close. He crouches and slides himself nearer to the man, for he does so wish to curry favour. He remembers when the man was pleased with him and petted him for ages and ages.

The man makes soft, warm sounds and holds out a hand, and he nearly shudders with anticipation—nearly stands to run to that hand. But he controls himself and stays low, then ducks his head under the hand and melts into the petting. It makes his insides wet and watery, though he has already used the scratchy box, and he is panting now, because the man is using both hands and nuzzling into his neck, breathing of his scent. When he licks the skin of the man's face, it is smooth and furless in that strange way Alphas can be, and he sinks into bliss.

The man leans back again, some time later, and makes more sounds, but he simply listens and continues to bask in the petting, though his pink bit is drying out and uncomfortable. He hopes so fervently that the Alpha will choose him today and mount him, but the Alpha was not pleased, before, and hurt him. Because he had marked the room. He does not understand why he would challenge the man so, but it could only have been him. So he enjoys the petting and ignores his pink bit.

And then the petting also stops, and the man leans back and takes up the object again, and he thinks the man has not pushed him away. Perhaps the man is pleased. So he moves away a bit, slowly, and turns to face away, and raises his tail and whimpers. And the man makes sounds that are not angry, but are not pleased either, for he recognizes pleased sounds when he hears them now. He backs a little closer and presents a little higher—please see, he thinks, I am not worthy, but I am willing. He whimpers pitifully and his legs shake a little. His pink bit is heavy and distracting under his belly. His snout rests on his paws. His back is strong to maintain this position for so long.

And the man does, finally, come nearer, though the man does not mount. The man comes to his side and pets him again on the scruff, and he whines a little, though he likes the petting. And the man makes sounds that are not pleased, and rain falls from his eyes in that way Alphas can make rain that is salty, though he cannot. That is not for him.

The man moves him so that his head is in the man's lap, and the man pets him again, and so he stops presenting for it is too uncomfortable, and he curls up in shame. He must bathe himself, and bathe his pink bit, because it is hurting from being dry. But while he bathes himself, the Alpha pets him still and creates more rain.

Subconscious by colibri
Chapter 6: Subconscious

Harry awakens in Snape's arms again, and does not recall how he got there. He also has no recollection of pain, though, and that's worth a lot.

He stirs and Snape stirs. He gets to his feet and realizes he is on his cushion, and Snape is mostly on the floor. That cannot be comfortable, he thinks but cannot say, for he is still a wolf.

"Bloody Potter," Snape groans and ever-so-slowly pulls himself seated. "Please reverse your transformation and get out of my rooms."

Harry does, and does, more than thrilled to accommodate.

He returns across the corridor to his own rooms and lies in the bath until his skin is wrinkled and pruney. It is Tuesday morning and he realises, belatedly, that the term is finished. He was demented at the end of term, and missed the very last days. The only good thing he can think of is that at least Ron and Hermione are both remaining over the Christmas Holidays.

There is nothing in particular he should be doing today, so he lies in his bath until the water is cool, then reheats it, revelling in the power of his magic again flowing out of him.

He goes to the Great Hall for brunch and is surprised at how many children have remained. There are at least fifty, he thinks. Before he entered, they were quite a rowdy bunch. Now they either stare or try not to. He suddenly recalls his behaviour from before the change and sighs in resignation. He makes his way to the Gryffindor table and takes his regular place with Ron and Hermione.

"Rough weekend, mate? You don’t normally avoid us completely…." hints Ron, and there is at least a small smile on his lips, along with the concern. Hermione stares worriedly.

"Another boring cycle, as far as I can remember," says Harry. It's only a small lie. "Spent it mainly ensconced in chambers, you know." He reaches for food to pretend that he is unconcerned.

"You were behaving quite…erratically…before," Hermione says, a question in her voice. "Before the change, I mean. It hasn't been like that before."

"'Mione is afraid something is changing," Ron finally comes out and says. "That the Wolfsbane Potion isn't working for you anymore."

"Well, Hermione needn’t worry about that," Harry says, a bit annoyed she couldn't have said it herself. "The potion is working exactly as it should."

She is hurt and Harry can scent it on the wafting air, but Ron has a hotter temper. "See now, mate," he says, keeping his voice low so that everyone around them will know that this conversation is supposed to be private. Harry avoids sighing, because that won't help the situation at all. "There's no reason to take it out on us, whatever's wrong with you. We've been nothing but supportive."

"Indeed," Harry says. "Nothing is wrong. Everything is as it should be. I've killed no one and nothing over the weekend. I was supervised the entire time. Will that suffice?" He leans in to finish the second half of his salad and decides he ate enough as a wolf that he needn't eat anymore just now. He's lost his appetite. "I need to revise Potions," he mutters and gets up to leave. He’s missed a full Double Potions lesson, after all.

"You need do no such thing, Harry Potter," Hermione growls, though in a human way. It reminds him of something, but he can't place what. "You've already completed your NEWTs revisions in Potions—I know you have." She's whispering so softly, Ron needs to strain to hear her, and he is right next to Harry. "Do not run away from us. We're your friends." She is pleading, and there is a certain level of urgency in her voice that worries Harry. That makes him wonder whether he may, perhaps, be behaving irrationally. So he sits again. "You should really eat more than that," she adds.

"Don't push your luck," Harry says darkly, but he stays and waits until his comrades have finished eating and they can all three leave the Hall together.

He can practically feel them wanting to say something, and when it gets too tense, he says, "I can't speak of it," and they say nothing more on the subject.

"Have you really finished your NEWTs revisions in Potions?" Ron murmurs.

Harry nods.

"What about the other subjects?" Ron asks. They are headed toward Gryffindor tower. Harry realises he hasn't been there in quite a long while.

"I've not finished in History or Care of Magical Creatures. And one can't really finish revising. I practise all the time, and revisit the material when I have time." He shrugs.

"You'd do well to learn from Harry, Ron," Hermione says primly.

"Why?" Ron blurts. "He swots even harder than you do. It's not healthy, you know," Ron says, shaking his head.

Hermione seems stunned for a few moments, but then scowls. For the next hour, she is preoccupied, Harry notices. She doesn't even complain when Ron suggests they go flying on the Quidditch pitch. She does, however, run to get some of her books so that she can revise whilst they fly. Once she is gone, Ron turns to Harry and says, "Well, I think I stuck my foot in it that time."

"Perhaps," Harry says diplomatically, though he is inclined to agree.

"What she fails to realise," Ron continues, "is that you're revising to save your arse, while she's only revising because she wants to have the highest marks in the school. I can't imagine her reason is a powerful enough motivator."

Harry thinks that Ron is more perceptive than he lets on, but also that surpassing everyone in school is a much more powerful motivator for her than Ron can possibly understand. It's certainly powerful enough to make Draco revise. Draco does gobs of revision, and Draco is also extremely intelligent, like Hermione—who returns presently, levitating a train of books before her. She smiles brightly and says, "I'm ready."

"I hope it's not snowing," Ron says with mock-annoyance, “or the books will surely be ruined." He is certainly used to the way she is by now.

"Don't be silly, Ron," she says, only half-interested in answering him. "That's what Impervius is for."

"Yes, of course," says Ron and smirks at Harry and says, "after you, luv," indicating that Harry should pass through the portrait hole first.

Harry snorts. "You'd best be careful, Ron, or someone may think you've gone limp in the wrist."

"Yes, well," says Ron, following him out. "If I had, you'd be first to know about it. That's certain."

Harry is touched. It's quite a large compliment, no matter what, specifically, Ron had meant; because that, Harry isn't certain about. Even if Ron's comment signifies only that he can joke about it, it is enough. "All right," Harry says and they hurry to catch Hermione up, who is so engrossed in a book it is only practise that keeps her from falling down stairs or bumping into walls.

* * *

He and Ron fly for a long time, both using school brooms because Harry has essentially given his Firebolt to Ron. He can't imagine using it now that Sirius is gone. The pain is older and more tolerable, but still very, very poignant. Harry does not even wish to see the Firebolt, and he's only been to the Gryffindor game at the beginning of the term. They'd done rather well, considering, but had still lost to Slytherin. Draco is as ruthless and underhanded as team captain as he was as seeker. Perhaps worse.

"A one-on-one game, Harry?" Ron calls. They are only hovering, but the wind is cold and biting this late in December and they must speak loudly to be heard over it.

"I'd rather not," Harry admits reluctantly.

"Catch me if you can, then," Ron offers with an evil smirk, "within the bounds of the pitch."

Harry smiles a little, then nods his acceptance.

"You're up, then, mate," and Ron is away.

Harry speeds after him almost immediately. He has no trouble being comfortable on a broom, despite the fact that he's not flown since the start of term, and before that he'd not flown at all since fifth year. He'd been a natural on the broom from the start, and very little has changed since then. He has better control over his own magic, of course, but he's grown very little and weighs not much more than he had as a fifth-year.

It is a difficult thing, to catch someone who flees in three dimensions. But it is even more difficult to flee. The chaser has the advantage, as he can see everything as it occurs. The runner must choose what to watch—where he is going, or where the chaser is. Not both. And so Harry manages to catch Ron in only a few minutes, and Ron catches Harry in even less time than that. They play this many times, both improving so the games last longer.

Harry is enjoying it immensely, grateful simply to be outside. To be outside with Ron, flying free, is a wonder indeed; even if he is freezing to death and feels as if his nose will fall off from frostbite. He feels it would be unfair to warm himself with magic, for Ron does not seem to be doing so.

Still, after over an hour of this, Ron suggests making the game more difficult. "Duelling catch!" Ron says with excitement. "We can cast charms at each other—"

"Absolutely not," Harry vetoes, and his mood is suddenly punctured. "It's too dangerous."

"Come now, Harry! Surely you don't think I could hurt you—you've gone against Death Eaters and…and him, even."

"It's not me I'm worried about," Harry mutters, but Ron cannot hear him, of course. "It's too dangerous," he calls, and heads for the ground again.

"Wait, Harry! It was only a suggestion. We needn't stop flying!" He rushes to catch Harry up, then paces him.

"Nah, it's all right," Harry says, realising that Ron had meant nothing by it, and that it didn't have to be such a large thing. But darkness had stolen over his heart, and now he is thrust into a funk. It makes him so angry, sometimes, that he cannot share more with his best friend—that he must lie. Ron and Hermione have never betrayed his trust. They have never told anyone anything they oughtn't, when they've known not to. It seems monumentally unfair. "I'm freezing to death," Harry offers by way of explanation, and it is quite obvious that he isn't exaggerating all that much.

"Oh, sorry! Should have cast a heating charm, mate," Ron exclaims. "What good is it swotting all the time if you can't use what you've learned?"

Harry is gaping. He knows he shouldn't—it's not very attractive. That was what Draco had always said. 'Not very attractive, Potter, and yet it reminds me of something you're quite good at.' He snaps his jaw shut and blushes. "I didn't think it'd be right, if you weren't using one."

"Got more meat on the bones, haven't I?" Ron says smirking. "Keeps me warmer."

Harry thinks Ron's managed to put just exactly the right amount of meat on his bones. Of course, he'll never be as handsome as Draco, but he's far nicer. And far, far straighter. Harry hates his life.

They put their brooms away, then head up toward where Hermione is still sitting immersed in her books, oblivious to the outside world. She appears to have cast a heating charm as well for the air shimmers where it hits the gradient. Ron leans down to give her a kiss on the cheek, which manages to get her attention. It's rare for them to show any kind of more-than-friendly affection in front of Harry, as if Harry has ever protected their sensibilities. Hermione blushes bright red, then goes overly cheerful, jumping up and turning her bright eyes to Harry, then Ron. "So, good flying, then?" she asks.

"Brilliant," says Ron, and Harry can suddenly scent what's going on. Apparently, flying makes Ron a bit randy. Harry can empathise.

Hermione's head, however, seems about ready to explode like an overripe tomato.

"I just remembered!" Harry fibs with rather authentic alarm, "I’ve a meeting with Professor Snape!" He checks the time worriedly, then moans, "Oh, I'm late already! He'll be furious." Harry begins racing down toward the pitch again. "Sorry…thanks for the turn, Ron!" and he disappears as quickly as his two feet will take him.

Once he is in the dungeons, however, he wonders what he's going to do with his time. He'd had no plans—he'd only wanted to spend time with his friends. But they certainly deserve a bit of private time as well, especially now that the rest of the school is so empty and they actually have a shot at being alone together.

He makes it to his rooms and lets himself in, then takes another bath, though this one is much shorter. It helps to warm him from the frigid air, and reminds him that he's also a bit randy. Something about flying on a broomstick. Or, perhaps, something about watching Ron fly on a broomstick.

But he doesn't touch himself. He stares at his own hard prick for…well, a long while, and eventually it goes down again. Mostly. The heated water keeps it from shrivelling into his body, of course. He washes his hair.

Just as he begins to grow pruney, he gets out of the bath. He shaves using a depilatory charm because, frankly, it gives him the girlish skin Draco had always preferred. He can't be arsed to change the routine now. He combs his hair and stares into his own eyes. They are still green, but look larger in his face, now that there is less of his face. They look sad and border on elfin. He would be more self-conscious about it, but he knows people find it attractive about him—that his eyes appear so large, even though it means he's skinny as a stick. "Pingo Oculum," he murmurs and thinks of eyes black as soot—black as Snape's eyes, and it looks as though black ink fills the green, until they are all pupil. Black eyes suit him, he thinks. They match his hair. "Pingo Oculum," he murmurs again, and the sclera fill with black ink as well. He likes this even better. He looks like a monster, now. Far more than in his wolf form. His wolf form is natural. This is so close to human, yet not. "Desicco," and his hair is dry.

He leaves his eyes this way—black within black—as he moves out of the en-suite again to dress himself. He chooses jeans that nearly fit and a plain t-shirt that fits well—extra small. He silently colours all of it black as well. He conjures a small cord and uses it to tie the front of his hair in a knot at the crown of his head, letting it fall back a bit, but he doesn't bother to look at it. He's alone, after all. His hair is already slipping out of the tie since it is so silky and heavy—when it's this long, the unruliness is weighted out of it.

Harry sits down on his bed with his History of Magic text and begins revising, to gear up for the next term.

* * *

He only knows he has fallen asleep because the insistent tap-tap-tap on the door has his heart pounding in adrenaline-soaked startlement. He casts a simple charm to see who it is, and is surprised (and a bit pleased) that it is Snape. He waves the door open but does not get up.

"Mr Potter," says Snape whilst closing the door, then turns to face Harry. He blinks, then squints. "Mr Potter, I hope that your eyes are merely cosmetic."

"Huh?" Harry says, knowing that his eloquence has always been Snape's favourite trait about him. He groans internally.

"Your eyes, Mr Potter. Have you coloured them?"

It takes Harry another several seconds to remember what Snape could be talking about, but then it becomes obvious. "Oh, yes, of course," he says. "Yes, I coloured them."

"You do realise that extended use of the Dark Arts can cause such changes to occur in some?"

"Er…" Harry has to think very hard before he remembers that he hadn't realised. "No," he says. He lets the colour bleed from his eyes, because he knows that Snape had been startled. He can scent it on the air. "I'd forgotten I'd done it," he admits.

And then they stare at each other, for several long moments. There is awkwardness between them, when before, there was only annoyance. Harry can't even bring himself to ask why Snape has come. He puts his books aside and gets off of the bed, because it's something to do. He stands there in his stocking feet and black muggle clothes and feels very, very small before this man. He feels like kneeling before him.

Snape clears his throat, startling the both of them, Harry thinks. "Mr Potter, I recounted your transformation cycle to the Headmaster this morning. Although he felt it may not be necessary to do so for you as well, I believe that it should be your choice. There is nothing in the telling that would prove dangerous to you in your role with the Dark Lord, and it may be better for you to know why it would be preferable for you to continue to drink the Wolfsbane Potion."

Harry stands there blinking for a long minute before he realises that Snape has essentially asked him a question. "Would you like to sit down?" Harry asks. "Or, would you prefer your office, perhaps? I'd prefer your office." The last is a gift, because he knows the professor would prefer to sit behind the desk in that big chair and tower over Harry. Harry thinks he rather likes being towered over by Snape.

Snape gives a curt nod, and they move across the corridor to Snape's offices where they take their customary seats and Snape begins. "It seems that, as during your normal transformation without the Potion, you have no recollection of what occurs once the moon has risen. Your behaviour alters dramatically as well. There is no physical change, however, and perhaps most importantly, you do not become violent.

"In fact, during my observations, you became exceedingly meek. I spent a great deal of time researching wolves, and though your behaviour was not quite analogous, it seems that you fixated on me as the Alpha, or leader, of whatever pack you decided you belonged to."

Harry finds this last jogs some slight bit of memory, though it is likely only from the very last night of the transformation. He is reminded that he'd had some recollection after the last night of his first changeover as well.

More importantly, though, Harry feels that this is true. Even now, he looks upon Snape and feels safe—feels the man's power and wishes to please him. It has been thus for quite some time now, but was nothing to which he paid particular mind. He'd been busy, after all.

Snape seems to struggle with something but finally wins—or loses. Either way, he continues, though he sounds a bit strangled. "Indeed, you seemed insistent on offering yourself, despite the obvious lack of species compatibility and despite any…discouragements I presented."

"Offering myself," Harry says, and thinks that can only mean one thing if Snape is blushing over it. He wishes Snape had meant 'offering your life', but that is certainly not it. He remembers waking up in Snape's bed once, and wrapped in Snape's arms this very morning. "I take it you did not accept my offers," he says carefully. He simply can't imagine that the professor would have. Not with the way he'd reacted in the past.

"Of course, not!" Snape hisses, obviously deeply offended.

"I didn't think so," Harry says, as calm as his professor is agitated. It seems to work, calming Snape a bit as well. "What happened on the second night."

Snape's face grows hard and forbidding. "I awakened to the disaster you'd created of my chambers," he says curtly.

"I don't remember you awakening."

"You'd shifted into your lunar personality already."

"So what happened?"

"I was furious. Enraged."

"You cast Cruciatus on me, didn't you," Harry says, not really a question. He has suffered Cruciatus just enough times to know what its aftermath can feel like, though to still remember the pain in the morning—it must have been severe.

"I did," Snape admits.

"And then I awoke in your bed."

"I refuse to speak any further of this."

And what is surprising to Harry is not that Snape doesn't wish to discuss it, because that's to be expected, but that he is willing to admit that he doesn't wish to discuss it. That he's so desperate not to discuss it, that he'd rather ask for mercy. "You know that I'm attracted to you, Professor," Harry says instead, because he can't resist baiting the man, now that he's been refused an answer to his question. "I suppose my lunar personality was only attempting to fulfil my subconscious desires."

"It is entirely inappropriate for you to be attracted to me, Mr Potter," Snape says and meets Harry's eyes for only the briefest moment before he begins arranging things on his desk. They do appear to need arranging, for the desktop is cluttered with scrolls, but it is still obviously an evasion.

"I've thought about this, Professor," Harry says, "and I've come to the conclusion that the only valid reasons you may have for rejecting me are two: the first is that you are not attracted to me, for whatever reason; the second is that I'm walking dead, and there's not much point in starting a relationship with me, or really, getting attached to me in any way. I know for a fact that you are attracted to me, though only on occasion, it seems. So that may be a good reason. The second is a far more reasonable basis for rejection, and is the reason I haven't tried harder. Not, as you may think, that you have rejected my advances in the past."

Snape's scent says he is desperate for Harry to leave, and yet, is saturated by desire. "You are not 'walking dead', Mr Potter," he manages to choke out. "For the first time in years, I believe our side has a real chance of defeating the Dark Lord. Your progress has been extraordinary, and your power is undeniable.

"However, it is never appropriate for a student and teacher…" and he can't even say it.

"There are always exceptions, Professor, and frankly, every exception has been made for me but that one. I'm not trying to force the issue. I'm only being forthright. I feel comfortable with you—more comfortable than I do with anyone else, anyway. Even Ron and Hermione. When I'm not with you, I feel out of sorts."

"When you are with me, we both feel out of sorts," Snape mutters.

"That's not the same thing. When I'm with you, I feel randy. You feel out of sorts, and that is more likely because of your morals than your instincts. Unless you've the same problem Remus has," he amends.

"I doubt very strongly that I share anything with that man," Snape says, though the disgust is not as thick as it would have been for…others.

"Remus is a bit homophobic, and he insisted that his attraction to me didn't exist because he's not a homosexual." Harry shrugged. "Denial and all that."

"Have you propositioned all of your teachers, Mr Potter?"

Another evasion, but Harry smirks. "No, sir. Only the men."

Snape seems startled, then realises Harry must have been joking. "I know you've not propositioned Professor Flitwick. Nor Hagrid."

"Blast, you've seen through my lies. Regardless, I don't think you're completely straight."

"I've no clue why I'm even having this discussion with you, Mr Potter—"

"Because you're interested, Professor," Harry says, finally frustrated enough to stand and move toward the desk. "I can't see how denying it is more useful than the alternative."

"And what is the alternative, Mr Potter?" Snape does not raise his voice, and he does not stand. He leans back so he need not look up at Harry. "To merely acknowledge it and move on? Or to fuck you?"

Merlin! That word! "Well, the first would be a start, but…." He smirks. How can he not find this conversation titillating? If Snape is waiting for Harry to convince him that this is the wrong course, he will be waiting for a very, very long time.

Snape sighs. "Get out, Potter," but it's not said meanly, and Harry does an exultant little two-step in his head. His heart does one in his chest that has nothing to do with love and everything to do with excitement.

"Thank you, sir," Harry says and exits.

Interludes by colibri
Chapter 7: Interludes

Harry is called to the Headmaster's office Wednesday morning and told in no uncertain terms that he is absolutely not to revise over the Christmas Holidays. He is, in fact, to 'relax, Harry. Rest. There will be plenty of time for revision when the new term begins,' all with twinkling eyes and a jaunty lilt to the voice. Harry takes it all to mean that he'll be getting neither private coaching nor duelling practise over the holidays.

While he doesn't mind so much not having the coaching, he does mind having no excuse to spend time with Professor Snape. In fact, he has never really noticed how much he's been looking forward to even scenting the man on the air, or seeing him in lessons, until now that he no longer does. Snape rarely takes meals in the Great Hall and there's certainly no other place Harry would have the opportunity to see him.

Harry is brooding alone at the end of the Gryffindor table when he suddenly notices that someone has sat down before him, and that the scent does not belong to one of the four or five people he normally associates with. And since he hasn't been eating for quite some time, he looks up.

To see Colin Creevey. He's surprised. "All right, Colin?"

"Yeah, all right, Harry?"

Harry shrugs. "'M alive."

"Yeah…." says Colin. He is nervous. He is…many things. Harry tries to ignore the jumble, because it might make his stomach ill, so soon after eating.

After several minutes of silence, Harry raises his eyebrows questioningly. Then offers, helpfully, "Can I do something for you, Colin?"

Colin blinks. Says, "Er." Suddenly, Harry has an idea how Snape must feel when confronted with Harry's ineloquence. "You were…different…before," Colin says and blushes scarlet. He looks very young, though he's not even a full year younger than Harry.

"Before?" Harry has no idea what the boy is on about. The statement is so vague as to be true without meaning anything at all.

"Before the full moon," Colin whispers almost inaudibly. But not to Harry, of course. "You were…friendlier," he says.

Harry finds this highly doubtful. He tends to be moody before the change. And then he realises: not friendlier, more randy. "Ah," he says.

"I thought…." The blush is looking painful now. Colin hides his face in his hands. Mutters, "This is impossible."

Harry doesn't even think before he speaks, nor does he make any particular decisions. He simply says, "Would it be easier to talk in private? You could come to my rooms."

Colin looks up at Harry through his fingers, eyes a soft, chestnut brown. There is too much energy pent up in the wiry frame, though, and it makes Colin tremble ever-so-slightly. "Could I…" he has to swallow past a lump in his throat, "bring my camera?"

"You can bring it, but I may destroy it—up to you," Harry says and stands. His legs are slightly stiff from sitting so long. He leads the way, and Colin has apparently decided to bring his camera, since it's still hanging about his neck. He's never anywhere without it, really. He often takes photos during their Care of Magical Creatures lessons, presumably still sending photos home to his da, though he could merely be using them for revision, for all Harry knows.

Harry opens the door to his rooms and stands to the side, allowing Colin to enter. Colin is slightly taller than he is, he notes, though he knows that Dennis is still shorter. He closes the door and wards it again—doesn't bother keying it to Colin. He has no illusions that this will be a regular occurrence. "Better?" Harry asks.

Colin spins to face him, as if shocked at Harry's presence…or perhaps his own in Harry's rooms. "Er…"

"Privacy," Harry explains, gestures about the room. There are obviously no others here. "You were trying to articulate something to me."

"Er, yes…. I. Right."

Right, Harry thinks. "Chair?" Harry offers and gestures to his single chair. "Or bed," and he indicates the bed.

Colin looks ready to faint.

"Let me guess, then?" Harry offers, because he's not so patient, after all. "You're feeling a bit confused and Draco won't look sidewise at you."

Colin is now horror-stricken, obviously. "No! I mean… Malfoy has nothing to do with it."

"All right," Harry concedes. It was only a guess, after all.

"You're…beautiful," Colin says, and his eyes go slightly dreamy, despite looking straight at Harry. But then Colin blinks, and pulls himself together again. "I've always thought so," he adds, "but lately—I mean, since you've returned. Something about you…just…you're like an angel, Harry…." and he seems frustrated by his failed attempts at eloquence.

Right, Harry thinks again. Perhaps Colin fancies himself in love, in which case this may not have been the very best idea. "Did you fancy taking wanking photos of me, then?" Harry asks crassly. He is certainly no angel.

Colin swallows, his eyes are huge. But he is still a boy, after all. "Yeah," he admits.

Harry is slightly surprised, but only slightly, and he certainly doesn't evince it. "For yourself—not to share."

Colin nods enthusiastically. "'Cept with Dennis."

That is so much more information than Harry wants. But Dennis is nearly fifteen now. Hardly a baby. Not legal, but not a baby, either. "Not certain how I feel about that," Harry admits.

"Or not," Colin amends.

"That all, then?"

"All what?"

"You only fancy photos?"

"I've…er…never, well."

"You're a virgin."

"Righ'," Colin sighs.

"'S’not that rare," Harry says and shrugs, then pulls off his tight, black t-shirt. "Photos first?" and when Colin nods, Harry sheds his black jeans as well. He stands in black boxer-briefs. "Pants?" he asks.

Colin can't have enough blood in his body for an erection, what with his head about to explode. And yet, Harry can see the erection in the other boy's trousers, even if he hadn't been able to scent the precome already. "Oh, Merlin," Colin says weakly, and Harry thinks that perhaps Colin wouldn't be able to hold his camera steady anyway.

"Do you have a tripod, Colin?" Harry asks. This entire situation is too bizarre to give him an erection yet. But it’s certainly amusing.

"…Y-yeah." He pulls a small object out of his camera case and mumbles a Finite Incantatem on it. It expands in a pop of magic. Colin sets his camera up, then looks helplessly from it to Harry, it to Harry again.

Harry approaches Colin then, without haste, but also without caution. He doesn't want to give the terrified boy an opportunity for flight. He stands nearly naked before Colin and reaches hands to either side of the other boy's face, staring into the chestnut eyes, then down to the pink, slightly chapped lips; the nose too cute to be handsome; the features too boyish to be pretty. But Colin is not a bad-looking bloke. He's simply plain in the sense of unremarkable. He is…inoffensive. His face could never launch a thousand ships. A dozen, maybe, but one, certainly—that of his true love. Harry is not that person, but he isn't very picky either, and deprived, he is. One might even say 'sex-starved'.

He kisses Colin's lips gently—the merest brush of skin against skin—feeling the slight chap that overlays softness. Colin takes a deep breath through his nose, sounding surprised. Harry listens to Colin's heart pounding double-time in his chest and kisses those lips again. Still dry, but with more pressure. And Colin has certainly kissed before, for he knows what is coming later, and short-circuits the build. When next Harry's lips near, Colin's are parted, and warm. Moist air hits Harry's skin, so he accommodates, parting his own lips and deciding he no longer needs to rein himself in so severely.

They are snogging, then—mouths parted hungrily, both making little sounds of want, and Colin's hands showing that he is no longer so very shy, and that he wants Harry in a very real, very visceral way. Colin knows full well that Harry is no angel. So Harry backs off, allowing the other to lead.

Colin guides them both toward Harry's bed, then up onto it, and he begins shedding his kit awkwardly whilst trying to maintain his arduous snogging. Harry helps out as much as he can, but he is quickly losing touch with reality and control and…ohhh, a hand pressing timidly at his prick through his pants. He gasps into a mouth and has to think to remember whom he's snogging. "Colin," he murmurs, because a good trick can always murmur the correct name in the heat of passion. "Let me suck your cock."

"Fuck," Colin groans and Harry would be amused at how even innocent boys like Colin Creevey turn into nasty, swearing demons during sex, only he's not that lucid just now. Colin gets up and loses the rest of his kit, including his y-fronts, which Harry is secretly grateful for. Y-fronts are something like the least sexy underpants ever created for a man, which is saying quite a lot, because men's underpants tend not to be very sexy.

"Why don't you set up the camera to take some shots?" Harry offers magnanimously. He's not sure why he thought of it, but there it is. Perhaps the last thought he'll have in a while.

He waits patiently whilst Colin does just that, the leaking prick losing the smallest bit of its turgidity while its owner concentrates on other things. But then Colin is near Harry again, apologising, explaining, "It'll snap one every thirty seconds or so."

Harry just nods, then positions them so that the camera will have a view, and he swallows Colin's prick in one go. It's not that large, after all. A good, safe size, as Harry used to always think of it. Hand-sized, and curved slightly downward. A little thin, but with a fat, mushroom-shaped head. It's a lovely prick, actually, if one is a connoisseur, (as opposed to a dilettante). Of course, Harry would take just about anything up his arse right about now, he is so desperate. A girl in a strap-on. He mumbles a lubricating spell and starts to prepare himself, groaning around Colin's prick.

Colin, for his part, sticks to pulling gently at Harry's hair and kneading Harry's scalp while murmuring, "Oh, Merlin—" over and over again. Occasionally, Harry hears something like, "So good," or "…beautiful," but Harry knows that anything is beautiful while you're fucking it. Then he reminds himself that he is an attractive boy. Yes. And then he finds his own prostate and doesn't think much anymore, his instinct alone helping to keep Colin from coming too soon.

Of course, the boy is a virgin, and nothing will make this last long. Harry pulls off just in time to get the first spurt of come into his mouth on camera, thanks to a bit of wandless manipulation of said camera, then closes around the pulsing prick again to suck the life out of it, Colin grunting and moaning the entire time.

In the end, Colin collapses onto the bed and Harry crawls up his body to straddle his hips. He leans down to kiss Colin with a come-flavoured tongue, which the boy finds initially strange, but quickly warms to, (or forgets about).

Harry's prick is still hard and leaking, and his arsehole is begging to be filled. But he will wait. Next time. Next time. He rubs himself randily against Colin's spent package, though he knows it's not likely to be incredibly comfortable yet. Colin is too distracted by Harry's mouth, though, to worry about it. And Harry's hand kneading his arse. And Harry sucking and nipping his way to an ear, then whispering, "Get it up for me again, Colin. I need you to fuck me."

Very soon, there is life in that prick again, and Colin is gasping. Harry casts more lubrication, wordlessly, and raises himself to sit above it. After angling it properly, he lowers himself. Such an easy size. He takes it quickly, so that he can begin fucking himself now. Which he does. "Fuuuuuck," Colin moans, his voice bouncing with the force of Harry's landings.

"Pull me off, Colin," Harry commands breathlessly, and relatively meekly. A bit of 'please' behind his words. A bit of desperation.

But Colin is no role-player and has no particular need to dominate Harry. He reaches for Harry's prick without hesitation and begins wanking awkwardly, what with the angle being different from what Colin is used to doing to himself. Still, he grows quickly accustomed, and they manage a rhythm. A very fast rhythm. And Harry is quickly falling into bliss. A cock is a cock, when it's stretching your arse, he thinks irreverently, and pretends he doesn't wish it were Draco fucking him, or even Ron. Or Snape, oh God, those long limbs and taut body, the indescribable scent of him….

Harry convulses with the force of his orgasm. It knocks the breath from his lungs, leaving him nearly silent. He only gasps, eyes wide open and unseeing. He does not even notice that Colin comes inside him.

Knockturn Alley by colibri
Chapter 8: Knockturn Alley

Colin ends up staying the night and by brunch on Thursday, has become entirely comfortable with the act of seducing Harry. They have been fucking almost without pause since they began, but it is time for Colin to rejoin his Gryffindor world. He is not in love with Harry—no more so than he'd been before, anyway. He is simply a fan, Harry thinks, and now he has fan photos as well. Harry has seen a few of them and thinks them quite good. He thinks maybe Colin was right: Harry looks like an angel. A fucking angel.

After brunch, all of the older students are allowed a trip to Hogsmeade, with Professors Flitwick and McGonagall acting as chaperones. The older students take lists from the younger who aren't allowed to leave Hogwarts, and everyone makes the slog in the frigid wind, trying not to slip and slide in the ice and snow.

Harry walks with Hermione and Ron most of the way, the two of them talking amiably, including Harry in the conversation whenever possible. It's comforting and typical of them to try. Not that he's in a particularly foul mood today. In fact, having spent a goodly amount of time getting laid lately, he's in rather high spirits. They notice, but do not ask about it.

They also notice Colin Creevey, though.

"Have you seen Colin lately?" Hermione whispers from her position in the centre of their little trio. "He's positively glowing."

Ron snickers. "Can't imagine why. He looks like he's had a girl, actually. But I don't know of any interested in him who stayed behind for the Christmas Hols. Have you heard anything, Harry?"

"Not a thing," Harry says, all innocence. He's got very good at it. He's found that the prettier he's become, the easier it is to fool people. Now that his hair is long and he's lost his sporty physique, he's more girlish than ever. It's as if people simply trust girls more. Entirely bizarre, Harry thinks, since girls are so much more conniving. Perhaps all Harry needs to do is wear a frock, and Voldemort himself will take him in as concubine.

They eventually get to the village and split up, since they will be purchasing gifts for each other. Harry, however, has…additional plans, and those he must see to first.

He walks into an alleyway and casts an obfuscation charm to avoid notice, then Apparates to the one place in Diagon Alley he knows well enough to feel confident about: the Leaky Cauldron. He finds the toilet and lets the charm dissipate, then takes a long look at himself in the glass. From a pocket, he takes out a tiny purse, then restores it. He fishes out his hairbrush and works his hair expertly into a high horse-tail, which he fastens with a black hair-tie. He's not worn makeup in ages, but it's easy to remember how to put on the simple stuff he needs. Lip tint, a demure shade of pink he 'borrowed' from Hermione a while back, (she somehow never noticed it missing). A light brown eye liner. Mascara. He uses lip tint for rouge and inspects the subtlety of his handiwork—decides it will do.

He adds the finishing touch—concealer, for his scar—then pulls a bit of his overly long fringe down on either side to frame his face. "Lovely," he murmurs and manages not to roll his eyes. He pulls the hood of his cloak back up, re-stows his newly shrunken purse again, and leaves the toilet.

The brick wall opens as easily for him as it would for any other who pressed the correct brick, because the wall is a fair wall. Harry passes into Diagon Alley.

* * *

The bustle is incredible—worse, even, than just before a Hogwarts term begins. Everyone is out doing last-second Christmas shopping and paying little attention to those around them. It is good for Harry. He walks sedately but with purpose, down the way to the left, then another left just across from Gringotts into Knockturn Alley. He knows exactly where he needs to go.

Borgin & Burkes is the largest store in Knockturn. It’s just a few down and on the right, and by far the most useful, unless you're looking for something extremely specialty. B&B has a bit of everything for the Dark Arts practitioner. It also happens to have a number of things very useful for the Master of Potions. Harry spends a few moments picking up empty phials before approaching the proprietor—Mr Borgin himself. "Pardon me, sir," he says meekly, and his voice sounds androgynous enough to fit either boy or girl. It doesn't take much work to make it this high and he can keep it up indefinitely and without thought.

Mr Borgin turns to see him, then does a double-take. He can't believe his eyes, apparently. "Miss?" Then he frowns a little, peers a little closer, and finally smiles. "Oi, if it isn't Harry Potter," he says silkily.

Harry's features are known to everyone, it's true, but he’d been certain most would have difficulty recognising him when he's walking about as a girl with his hood up. That, apparently, is not the case in here. The situation is unexpected, but not unsalvageable. "Mr Borgin," Harry says, though they do not know each other. He lowers his hood.

"What can I do for you, Mr Potter? Not everyday we get such a celebrity in here. And one of such infamy," he adds with a queer bit of glee, his watery blue eyes glittering with malice.

"I need a Runespoor," Harry says, all business.

"Expensive, those," says Mr Borgin. "Don't think you could afford that, laddie."

"How much are they?" Harry asks without betraying a thing. There are so many layers to this game they're playing. Harry's only experience with shadiness of this level has been during his time tricking, and the rare times he has sought drugs from someone other than Stu. It almost makes him laugh, to think how being a junkie has led him here.

"Quite a lot," says Borgin thoughtfully. It is this evasion which gives Harry hope.

"I have galleons," Harry offers, letting his reserve slip just a bit, for show.

"I doubt you've enough galleons to pay for a Runespoor," says Borgin. "No, I doubt that very much."

Harry does not, of course, have enough galleons with him to pay for a Runespoor. He turns wide eyes on the proprietor and looks his most desperate. He's certain that's very desperate indeed, his eyes being so very large and sad.

Mr Borgin has no interest in charity nor sob stories, but in himself? Absolutely. Mr Borgin is a businessman, and a shady one at that. And he is also a bit of a Death Eater sympathiser and a generally nasty bloke. The opportunity to humiliate Harry Potter is worth more to him than a cauldron full of galleons.

Besides which, Harry Potter is prettier than most of the slappers he gets, (and even those, he gets only rarely, and then only because he has a rather flourishing business, which means jingling pockets).

"I think I might give you a discount, Mr Potter, on such a serpent if you were to…perform a favour for me in return."

"What manner of favour is this?" Harry asks suspiciously. He fingers a phial he has pocketed surreptitiously.

Those watery eyes glitter lasciviously, but Mr Borgin does not immediately answer. "I've heard interesting tales of you, Mr Potter," he says instead. "That you've been infected with Lycanthropy is, of course, common knowledge. However…" and he flushes a little bit—with the excitement of it all, Harry supposes—"I've heard tell that you fell on rather…difficult times year last. That you were forced to tarting it up on street corners, Mr Potter, and plying your wares to any lonely bloke who needed a hole—or a… hole. Is that true, Mr Potter?"

Harry blushes prettily, his embarrassment real enough. Part of him thinks himself a big girl's blouse for shying away from his own reality. He'd done what needed doing to survive. Now, he has come here expecting this kind of treatment. So why the bizarre embarrassment?

On the other hand, even being in this old man's dirty presence is embarrassing. And demeaning. And that is the reason he is here. "I do not wish to speak—"

"Oh it's brilliant, I say!" Borgin croons, his face aglow with triumph. "But Mr Potter, I want to hear you say it! I must hear it!"

Harry is not that upset about having to say it. The memory of it is much worse than admitting it to someone who already knows. But Harry makes a show of how difficult it is. "I…" still blushing, "was a boy for rent," he forces out and pretends to pull pride around himself like a shield.

"A little prostitute," says Borgin, eyes closing in bliss. "Yes, yes. Oh, Mr Potter, you shall make me such a happy, happy man!" Borgin pulls his wand and with it, closes and locks the door, shuts the blinds, and finally places the sign in the window that says, "Out to Lunch, will return at _____.” He comes out from behind the counter already unbuttoning his outer robe. "To your knees, Mr Potter," he says gleefully.

"Perhaps I do not need the Runespoor so desperately," Harry murmurs with feigned breathlessness, fingering the phial in his pocket. Mr Borgin is far uglier up close than he seemed behind the counter, but Harry only barely notices. He's serviced worse, and for less. Much, much less.

"But Mr Potter, my Runespoor is one of the rare juveniles with all three of its heads intact. And with your unusual abilities in Parseltongue, you should be able to keep it that way. Wouldn't that be a boon?" He nearly cackles, the laugh is so menacing. "Besides, you cannot change your mind, now. Incarcerous!"

Harry is bound but is still able to lower himself to his knees. He watches as the dumpy old man's trousers are exposed, followed by boxers which are pulled down. The penis is fully engorged Harry guesses, though it still lacks a bit of turgidity. It likely gets no harder than this, considering the man's age and current level of arousal. He smells extremely randy.

Harry moves himself nearer, until he could reach out his tongue to the prick. But he doesn't.

"Go on, Harry Potter," Borgin murmurs. "Show us what a real professional cocksucker can do."

So Harry does. The prick is on the slightly small side, but still easy enough to gag on when one has no control over the situation. Harry is, however, unconcerned. He pulls the prick deep into his throat and tongues the underside with pleasure. He closes his eyes and can almost imagine himself with someone else—someone he wants desperately—though he knows they've a body nothing like this one. He works on Mr Borgin's prick like it is the font of life and if he only coaxes it enough, he will win eternal health and youth.

It takes a long time to bring the man off, but then it comes, and Harry catches it all. There is not so very much, but there is enough, and freely given. He forces his bonds off with a silent Finite Incantatem, then spits every drop of semen from his mouth into the saved phial, which he stoppers and casts a Moror Tempus charm over.

Mr Borgin, in the mean time, is recovering, but noticing that something odd is going on. "Wha—?" he asks foggily.

Harry stands and straightens his robes, wipes his lips of tint and flexes his power in an Obliviate that will erase Harry's presence from this shop entirely. It takes quite a lot of power to overcome the wards in the shop, but not more than Harry can muster. He immediately casts a Stupefy as well, and the man falls over. He moves into the back of the shop where he calls, quietly and in Parseltongue, to the Runespoor. She is in a basket at the end of an aisle of other baskets full of hissing and clicking. He takes the entire basket and makes his way back to the main room, where he casts Mobilicorpus on Mr Borgin. He then moves the body back behind the counter and stands him up, replaces the obfuscation charm on himself, and undoes the blinds and the sign. Then he leaves, and once he is clear of the shop, he undoes the remaining Stupefy. The man will remember nothing.

Harry returns to Diagon Alley and goes to Flourish & Blotts, where he finds a book called Case Studies and Statistics: Using varying methods to lend credence to research in the Magical Sciences, and another called Great Witches in History, 25th Edition. He purchases both for Hermione and has them gift-wrapped before shrinking them to fit in a pocket. On his way out, however, he notices a book about techniques in wizarding photography, and thinks fate wishes for him to get a present for Colin, though he'd not even thought of it before now. So he adds the book, called Capturing the Soul: An Artist's Handbook of Photography, to his purchases.

For Ron, he gets a broom-charms upgrade kit—'Just Apply and Fly!' It promises to make any broom fly faster and safer with better manoeuvrability, as well as softening the cushioning charm that tends to be a bit stiff on some models, like the Cleansweep II. It costs quite a lot, though, and it's difficult to know whether such things work. But the proprietress in Quality Quidditch Supplies swears by it. She says it's increased the top speed on her sister Meg's Firebolt by fifteen miles per hour, and her sister flies for the Pride of Portree. Harry decides that if it's good enough for Meg, it's good enough for Ron.

Besides, he can tell when people are lying.

He has it gift-wrapped and shrinks it, then adds it to his pocket.

Harry is only carrying the basket full of Runespoor now, and as long as he continues to speak to her once in a while, reassuring her, she is content to have calm, susurrant conversations with herself. Harry mediates any disputes he overhears, but she appears to be rather grateful to be moving, at the moment.

He returns to the Leaky Cauldron, into the toilets again. There, he (belatedly) rinses out his mouth, then checks to be certain his lipstick is entirely gone, not really caring about the rest. When another quick look about himself tells him only what his nose already has—that he is alone here—he Apparates back to the road outside the Shrieking Shack, then hurries back to meet up with his friends at the Three Broomsticks.

Hermione and Ron sit at a corner booth, completely oblivious to the outside world. But while other couples might be holding hands or acting sickeningly sweet, his friends have chosen, instead, to quarrel. From what Harry can hear, which is entirely too much in this establishment, Hermione is cross with Ron for losing Harry, and Ron is saying that it's not his bleeding fault, and that they were supposed to split up, after all. And anyway, Harry's not that late. Only an hour. They're both afraid for him.

So Harry rushes up to the table and sits down next to Ron, facing Hermione. "All right?" he says and flashes a winning smile.

They both sit, stunned, staring at him.

"Wha? 'M not that late, am I? Had to pick this up—a stonking bit o' trouble, it was."

"You're an hour late, Harry!" Hermione hisses. "And why on earth are you wearing makeup?"

"Long story," Harry says, as if it would bore them. "I've really got to get back to Hogwarts, though. She's getting a bit anxious at travelling about, even though she's in the basket."

"She?" asks Ron.

"The Runespoor," Harry says unhelpfully. "Her name is…well, it's unpronounceable to most people, so you may call her 'Susanne,' if you wish."

"Is she going to be your new pet or something?" Ron asks doubtfully. Harry hasn't even shown them the snake yet, and he has no intention of doing so just now.

"No," Harry says with an amiable smile, then stands. "Have the others already gone back?"

"Of course, Harry," and Hermione sounds very tired. "An hour ago. We were to contact a professor if you hadn't returned within an hour."

"Ah, well, good thing I did. Let's go, then."

They return to Hogwarts in unbroken silence.

Of Christmas and Gifts by colibri
Chapter 9: Of Christmas and Gifts

"Stroppy wanker," mutters Ron with disgust. "Worse than a bloody girl, you are."

"I heard that," says Hermione, her nose buried in a book. She is currently revisiting an extra revision book she read for Care of Magical Creatures on the Runespoor, its keeping, and its magical uses. Harry has Susanne hidden, however, in case a certain Professor were to miraculously decide he wished to visit. He sighs dejectedly.

"I said he's worse, didn't I? And besides, you're not a bloody girl. You're my very own, utter favourite girl, aren't you?" He has learnt well what needs to be done to keep a girl purring, even if he tends to get it half or a quarter wrong every time. It seems good enough for Hermione.

"'M not stroppy," says Harry, though he really is. He's going through Snape withdrawal, and at this stage in his life, he has decided that it is far worse than heroin withdrawal. He refuses to consider the stupidity in this assessment, and in its own way, it's likely true.

"Did you really fuck Colin Creevey?" Ron asks again, the fifteenth time today, in fact. That's not even to mention the other days he's asked.

Those other times he's asked, Harry has simply ignored him, or said no. This time, he says, "No. I don't top."

Ron stops dead still, then flushes a most unattractive shade of red.

"Hasn't he shown you the photos?" Harry continues, feigning boredom. This is actually the most fun he's had in days. Since Colin fucked him, in fact, and that was nearly a week ago. "There was a particularly good one of me catching his come with my tongue. And another—truly breathtaking—of us coming together. Rare, that. He's got his hand twisted in my hair, and he's riding my arse l—"

"Oh that's bloody-well enough, Harry Potter," Hermione says with disgust. She's not really disgusted by his queer lifestyle or anything, but, as far as Harry can tell, she seems still to have a rather romanticised notion of Harry's queerness, and this random fucking about business disappoints her immensely. "You've already given him a haemorrhage."

Ron does look like a blood vessel has burst in his eye. His eyelid is twitching. Harry is impressed. "Is it the visions of gay sex, I wonder? Or is it jealousy? Perhaps the two of you aren't tumbling enough."

"You're disgusting!" says Hermione and gets up to leave Harry's room. No one stops her, mainly because Harry can't be arsed, and because Ron is still speechless. Harry realises that Hermione's never called him 'disgusting' before. It makes Harry feel like a real man, for once. He smirks to himself, then says, "Oughtn't you try to calm her or something?" looking to Ron and feigning innocence with wide, green eyes and earnestness.

* * *

Ron is Breathing. He is calming himself, slowly. He is a prefect, after all. He's accustomed to dealing with difficult students, though few students are as difficult as one Harry Potter, Former Saviour of the Wizarding World, the Boy Who Was Fucked By Colin Creevey and Draco Malfoy, though not at the same time. The boy who is, somehow, as beautiful as he is damaged. Ron sighs heavily and doesn't scold Harry, though he wishes he could, just once. It's only—well, it seems rather pointless, when Harry's crassness seems to have finally broken the almost habitually depressive boy out of his funk.

"Not certain it's as much fun, when you just shrug it off," Harry says, calming to low again.

Ron leans over to where Harry sits against a chair leg, and kisses him softly on the lips.

Harry doesn't move, and Ron slowly pulls away before turning to stare silently into the crackling fire.

"What was that about, then?" Harry asks, his voice small and strangled.

Ron shrugs. "Did you mind?"

Harry shrugs. "I'm a bit of a slut, really," he says, his voice still small, but no longer as strangled.

"You're a bit of a twat, really," Ron offers. "But don't insult me."

"I love you, Ron, but you've always been a better fit with Hermione. Even if you weren't extremely straight." He touches fingers to his lips gently, absently, before lowering them again. Ron pretends not to notice. "Which you are," Harry whispers, an afterthought. "I've never even fantasised about taking you from her."

"That's nice to know, I suppose," Ron says. "Kissing you wasn't disgusting at all."

"If you weren't straight, we'd not be kissing like that."

"You and Colin didn't kiss like that, then?"

"Perhaps once."

"And then?"

"And then not again."

* * *

The silence stretches between them, and Harry's heart is beating so loudly, he can no longer hear Ron's. Ron's scent, however, is aroused, and a little bit fearful. Curious, Harry supposes. Scents aren't that exact—there's less nuance. He stands on his knees and leans over to kiss Ron's lips, running his hand into coarse, ginger hair, parting his lips to gently tease. Until Ron is pressing expertly into him, tasting of the chocolate frogs he's been addicted to since childhood. And eventually, Harry ends up on his back before the fire, with Ron above him, Ron's long, muscular body pressing into his, erection pressing into his thigh.

And Harry is only thinking that really, he shouldn't be doing this. And Ron shouldn't be wanting this, much less doing it. Ron should be with Hermione, not chafing his so-impressive prick against Harry's curled hand. They should not be here, on Harry's floor, gasping into each other's mouths.

But oh, Harry wants Ron inside him. In his mouth, in his arse, in his soul. And when he pushes Ron away, he is weeping in his denial. And most of him is screaming Why oh why do you have to be so fucking moral??! Morality has never brought him anything of value. Or, well, he doesn't know. But morality did not get him Ron's tongue down his throat, nor Ron's thick, heavy prick in his palm. He hears his own whispered, "Wantwantwant," even as he's pushing Ron away.

"Wha—?" Ron asks in disoriented surprise. He's probably never even considered that he would get this far with a bloke, much less be rejected by one at this stage.

* * *

"Can't have you…" Harry says with broken voice, tears streaming down his face. Ron can count the number of times he's seen Harry cry on one hand. Two fingers, even. "So sorry—" hiccoughing. Harry is running, shutting himself in the toilet.

Ron only slowly gains enough mental capacity to understand what has gone wrong, and then he feels incredibly stupid, and not just a bit priggish. Taking advantage of Harry to satisfy his own curiosity. Perhaps if he'd asked first—but no, he'd just taken. And now Harry's completely torn over it. Guilt-ridden, most likely. He taps on the door and calls, "Harry? All right, mate?"

"Yeah," comes the muffled reply from the other side, falsely cheerful. "Just need to wash me face."

Sure, thinks Ron. He believes that Harry is all right the way he believes he could have felt what he'd felt with Harry just now and still call himself completely straight. Which is to say, he knows it's not true, but is willing to go with the lie for the sake of expediency.

There is a knock on the door and Ron goes to answer it. He is shocked to see Professor Snape standing there.

Snape seems equally surprised to see Ron, though Ron spends quite a lot of time here. And then he thinks that, perhaps, it is obvious that he and Harry have been snogging. He has a faint recollection of Harry sucking and biting at his neck, and his lips are likely a little bit pinker than usual, if not still slightly swelled. "Professor," Ron offers, trying to keep his thoughts calm.

Snape, however, has always had the uncanny ability to make students feel like they are being opened up, their innermost secrets laid bare to be perused at Snape's leisure. "Mr Weasley," says Snape.

Harry chooses that moment to return, likely to save Ron from Certain Belittlement—a fate worse than death. "Professor," Harry says with perfect reserve. There are no signs on him of their previous activities as far as Ron can see. Harry must have magicked them away somehow, though he has no wand with him. Perhaps he has potions for that.

"Mr Potter. I appear to have interrupted…something."

"Not at all, Professor," says Harry without inflection. "Ron was just leaving to catch Hermione up."

"Indeed," Ron agrees hastily, and gathers his school books. "See you at supper, Harry," he says and moves past Snape to escape.

He decides upon leaving the room that he'll not inform Hermione of the short time he and Harry have just shared.

* * *

"To what do I owe the honour, Professor?" Harry asks, all business-like. He attempts to hide that he is out-of-sorts.

"I have had the misfortune of overhearing quite a large number of rumours regarding your sex life during the holidays, Mr Potter. I've heard that you allowed one of the Creevey brothers to make a wizard film of your relations and display it in the Gryffindor common room. I've heard that you bedded both of the Creevey brothers at once and let them photograph it. I assumed there is no more than a grain of truth in any of the rumours. And yet, I arrive here, and you have quite obviously been dabbling with Mr Weasley as well."

"I got tired of waiting for you, Professor," Harry says wearily. "So I decided to take Colin up on his naive offer. Ron, I can assure you, was a mistake. A mistake that I did not instigate. And I will certainly not be a party to any repetition."

"Ah, yes—belated nobility."

"Failed morality," Harry offers. "Are you jealous?"

"No," Snape lies. It is so obviously a lie, Harry almost laughs.

"He was jealous. That's why he kissed me." It's likely a fib, but only a fib. Not an actual lie. "You're welcome any time, Professor, but what brings you here?"

"I thought you might like to assist me in brewing more of your Wolfsbane potion," Snape says. "You have only enough for one cycle remaining."

"I'd be thrilled to, Professor." He can't think of a better way to spend Christmas Eve.

* * *

After the large Christmas Eve supper, Harry follows the other Gryffindors up to the Gryffindor common room, where everyone drags their blankets and pillows, and perches on any available piece of furniture or on the floor. They stay up all night, some of them. Others fall asleep early on, Hermione and Ron among them, Hermione on Ron's lap, Ron's head against a chair's arm rest and snoring quietly.

Colin gets ribbed for having had sex with Harry, but it is obvious the others are fascinated, and that it's the reason they bother. Eventually, they dare him to kiss Harry, who is enjoying the atmosphere but mostly revising his History. Colin appears before him and whispers almost inaudibly, "Would you mind terribly, Harry?"

Harry looks up from his book and offers a private smirk just for Colin. "Not if you make a show of it," he murmurs back.

"You want me to make a show?"

Harry nods, just once.

So Colin straddles his legs and takes the book from his hands, then takes him by the hair and pulls him into a snog so desperately sexual, it should have been illegal for most of the Gryffindors in that room to witness it. But they do, and Harry hopes it is being seared into their minds forever. Harry also hopes that Colin won't stop any time soon.

"Good God," says Dean with a mixture of fascination and horror Harry finds irresistibly delicious. Even more delicious than the mixture of scents and tastes he can absorb from this situation.

"All right, Colin—I think you've won," says Dennis, who sounds a bit petulant, actually. And squeaky. His voice hadn't changed much when it changed, but perhaps it's not done yet. The bloke's only fourteen, after all.

Colin pulls away slightly, regaining his balance. Harry says, "He already won—last time he pulled me." There are a couple of snorts, though most of the assembled are still too shocked to have assimilated his comment. And then he smirks again, this time for the entire group, before he takes his book and moves to a chaise longue outside of the action. He reads for another few minutes before allowing himself to doze off.

* * *

In the morning, Harry is awakened by manic excitement and the sound of tearing paper. He opens his eyes to see that everyone is surrounded by presents. Including himself. He groans eloquently.

"Aw Harry, didn't get any sleep, mate?" Ron asks with mock-concern. He and Hermione are sitting on the lounge where he lies and have, apparently, covered him with all of his presents.

"Got sleep," Harry mutters, mealy mouthed. "Teeth…gah…."

Hermione pulls out her wand and casts a Scourgify on his mouth. It helps immensely, though it doesn't provide that lovely mint flavour. She should really work on that. "Better?" she asks.

"Yeah, thanks," Harry agrees and sits up slowly, so as not to push all of his presents to the floor.

"We had to wait for you to wake up before 'Mione would let us open your gifts," Ron whinges.

"Well 'm awake now," Harry offers. "Open away."

"Aren't you going to open yours?" Hermione asks.

Harry picks one at random—well, one that looks familiar. It has to be from the burrow, and it makes him feel warm and comfortable again, that he's received another present from Molly and Arthur. He opens it to find another jumper and more homemade chocolate fudge and cakes. He can't but smile contentedly as he pulls the new jumper on. Still emerald green. It's a good colour for him, after all, and fits him perfectly. There is a note with the gift this time.

Dear Harry,

I hope the jumper is too small for you, but Ron says you've not grown at all over the term, and that you're still as thin as you were. I've made this jumper the same size as that I knit for you in fourth year, Harry. Please eat these sweets and put some meat back on your bones!

Happy Christmas!


Arthur & Molly

"What's it say, then?" asks Ron curiously. He's already licking fudge from his fingers from his own package. Harry has a nearly uncontrollable urge to lick those fingers clean for him, but catches it just in time.

"You seem to've told her I look like a starving fourteen-year-old."

Ron blushes a little, but not much. "I didn't say it that way, certainly," he objects and turns up his nose. "And anyway, she needed to know how large to make the jumper, didn't she? Couldn't make it the same as mine, could she?"

Harry rolls his eyes. He's not certain he cares anyway.

"Couldn't even make it the same as 'Mione's. She's bigger than you."

"All right, your point has been made," Harry says before this goes on too long. "She has insisted, however, that I eat all of these sweets, so I'd best get started." He takes a cake and stuffs it into his mouth. Sugar cake—delicious!

"Well you've other gifts to open yet, Harry. Before we can get to yours," Hermione explains almost patiently.

So Harry puts the remainder of the sweets on the floor and takes the next gift. It is from Remus, and Harry blushes a little. He'd not got anything for Remus. He's not even communicated with the man since he wrote that bit of post. Inside, there's a note that says, 'Happy Christmas, Harry—Hope to see you soon. This was Siri's—he would have wished for you to have it.' It's a wizarding photograph of Sirius and James together, young and cocky and beautiful, smirking at the camera in 70s muggle dress. Harry guesses it's taken in muggle London somewhere, but not enough is visible in the photo. The photo is old and not very well cared-for, as if its existence had been forgotten. It likely had in those days Sirius spent in Azkaban. Remus must have been going through Sirius's things.

Harry, for his part, can barely hold it together. He runs a reverent finger down the side of the new frame and watches his father and godfather posing, then turning to each other to snicker, then turning back to the camera and posing again. Then James waves at Harry, and Sirius whacks James on the back of his head quickly before turning back to Harry, all innocence—except for the private wink. "Bloody hell," he murmurs.

"Let us see, Harry?"

There are tears standing in Harry's eyes, but he hands over the photo frame and ignores them, grabbing at his next gift. It is small, but he is shocked at whom it's from. Professor Snape. It pops him out of his misery in rather a hurry, and he ends up flustered.

He grabs for the next gift instead, sniffing a little, distractedly. A rather bizarre gift from Hagrid leaves him puzzled but cheered nonetheless—it is a wooden hair clip in the form of a kestrel that Hagrid has obviously whittled himself. The likeness is very, very good, but it doesn't move. That's a good thing. It's been glued to a metal base that does the actual hair holding.

"That's interesting," says Hermione with a little frown and plucks it from his hand when he offers it, at her request. "A kestrel?"

Harry nods.

"He gave me a unicorn," says Hermione and hands the piece back. "It's very good, too. He gave Ron a Gryphon."

Harry finds that surprising. "Ron's not got enough hair to hold back."

"It's a comb, actually," Ron corrects and fishes in his pocket for it. Lets Harry take a look. "Ace, eh?"

Harry has to admit that it is very nice.

"That leaves only ours and that little one," Ron says with excitement. "Hurry it up, then!"

"I'm saving this one for later," Harry says and pulls it into his lap. "We can open each other's now." So they do, and Harry has received the latest edition of Moste Potente Potions from Hermione. He is thrilled, as he's been borrowing Professor Snape's older edition for a while, now. Hermione loves her two books, of course, though Harry's never seen her see a book and not love it. Ron receives a gift from Hermione he refuses to show Harry, but that makes him go redder than pickled beets—redder than the maroon jumper he's received from his mother. Most unattractive. And highly amusing.

From Ron, Hermione receives a set of ladies' lingerie in red leather, and Harry has to wonder what they're doing in private and why Hermione is not too embarrassed to show this gift to Harry. Oh yeah, and how Ron got the cash for it. "Oi, did you get that in muggle London?" Harry blurts.

Ron still hasn't recovered from his blush, and for good reason.

"Of course," Ron whispers, hiding his face. "They 'aven't got ace kits like that in Diagon Alley, 'ave they?"

"Not in my experience, no," Harry agrees, then snickers. "Oh, this is priceless. I wish—"

"Oh, Harry!" comes a cry from across the room, though it's not from a girl, which is something.

It's from Colin, and he suddenly remembers that he's given Colin a gift, and thinks that, perhaps, it hadn't been such a brilliant idea.

Colin rushes over and hits his knees in front of Harry. Everyone is staring at them, now, and Harry's face is glowing. It's extremely uncomfortable. "You didn't need to get me a gift," Colin gushes, though, at least, with some decorum, now.

"I just happened to see it when I was leaving the shop. Thought of you." Harry shrugs, embarrassed. He should have left the book where it was.

"Oi, Harry! Ace gift!" says Ron, waving his broom upgrade kit. "Been lookin' at this but couldn't justify getting' it, me. Thanks, mate!"

"Most welcome," Harry offers, then turns back to Colin, who is blushing shyly at him.

"I, er… that is to say…." Colin attempts.

Harry is feeling a bit of déjà vu.

"I wasn't certain if you wanted to receive anything from me, really," Colin says. "But…er…Imadethisforyou," and he holds out a flat package that looks like a photo frame even while wrapped.

Harry blinks, then takes the package delicately, a small amount of trepidation slowing him, making him cautious. He tears the wrapping from the frame, unfastening it from the back, then turns it over again.

It's a muggle-style photo—one he hasn’t seen. Of him. In sepia tones. Asleep. His hair falls artfully across his face, his shoulders, his pillow. The sheets are rumpled. He is naked but happens to be demure in this position, the angle of his leg just so. His lips are sleep-swollen to fullness. His lashes form a chocolate fringe against the near whiteness of his cheeks.

He looks up at Colin and doesn't know what to say.

Colin seems to take that as a compliment and smiles contentedly. "Thanks for the gift, Harry," he whispers, and looks down at Harry's lips for a split second, but doesn't take anything. His cheeks are still slightly pink when he gets up and walks back over to his friends. There, he takes up the book Harry has given him and begins to read it, his mousy brown fringe falling into his face.

Ron very gently takes the photo frame from Harry's loose grip and looks at it. He is forced to share with Hermione, who also wishes to see it. It is she who speaks. "It's lovely, isn't it?" she says. "You look like an angel, Harry." She gives Harry a little smile.

Ron doesn't say anything, and his scent is a jumble of confliction. Harry suspects it has something to do with their now slightly more complicated relationship. "I should get back and shower," Harry says, gathering his things and gently extracting Colin's photo from Ron's not-so-loose grip. "Happy Christmas, Ron," he offers and embraces him, accepting Ron's murmured, "Happy Christmas," in return. Then on to Hermione, who hugs him back and says, "Happy Christmas, Harry," into his ear before kissing him, chastely, on the cheek. "Happy Christmas, 'Mione," he returns with a smile when he pulls away.

He gets up and moves to the portrait hole, calling a relatively cheerful 'Happy Christmas' to the rest of the Gryffindors before making his exit, then conjuring his air-glider and surfing his way almost recklessly back to his rooms. He makes it in under three minutes, which has to be some sort of record, then opens his door to grab Susanne, who was hidden and, so, not transported by the house elves. He leaves his other gifts, except the one from Snape, which he takes with him, and the real gift for his professor, which he has in his pocket.

He rushes across the corridor and knocks. The door opens for him, and he moves on, and on again to Snape's private rooms. There, he knocks again and hears a voice call, "If the wards have let you this far, you may as well come in."

Harry snickers, then uses a burst of magic to open the door. The professor sits in his favourite chair with a pair of strangely coloured socks on his lap and several large tomes on the floor. "A good taking this year, eh Professor?"

Snape seems to have to interpret what Harry has said, looking about himself on the floor before looking back at Harry. "Indeed," he says, then holds up the socks. "Another pair of unusable socks from the Headmaster. I see you do not come empty-handed."

"'Sonly fair, since you've given me a gift," Harry says and places the basket in the professor's lap. The socks are dropped to the floor on top of one of the books.

Snape's eyebrows quirk and he looks down at the basket, intrigued. He opens it without further ado. "Well…well done," says the professor, suddenly breathless. His excitement wafts over to Harry on barely moving air currents. "Oh my, she is lovely," he says and is instantly enamoured. "Where did you find her? And intact!"

"Knockturn," Harry says.

"Knockturn!" Snape exclaims and Susanne hisses her startlement. All three of her heads are in agreement, but they soon start arguing about whether this man will be a good master to her.

Harry calms her down with assurances that Snape is simply startled at his incredibly lovely and unique gift. That he is especially impressed by Susanne's good temper and ability to curb her bickering, to compromise. He reminds her of the meaning of the word compromise, and of how she's to call on Harry if there is ever a disagreement that she cannot clear up herself. That Harry will always come as soon as he can to help. And all three heads agree and really, they are quite enamoured of Harry and would do anything for him.

"You must remain calm, Professor," Harry says in a soothing voice. "You know how volatile the Runespoor can be. It has taken a great deal of work on my part to assure that she keeps all three of her heads."

Snape visibly calms himself to a state of staid excitement, and while he does so, Harry quickly begins unwrapping his own present from Snape. Inside is a wooden box. He opens that as well, and inside that, is a chain of near-black, metallic-seeming links. He never wears jewellery, but it's lovely, and it's from Snape, which would be reason enough to wear it. "It's lovely, Professor," he says, and removes it from the box. It is heavy, and the links are perfectly smooth in their roundedness.

"It's a…ah…mind-link chain…"

Harry is surprised. That is not only very powerful magic, but also a bit frowned upon. "Mind-link," Harry repeats, to be certain he's got it right.

"Yes," Snape says, "but it's been limited. It will only activate when you are in lupine form. And it will only set a link with the wearer of the companion chain," which he then pulls from a pocket and holds out to Harry.

Harry's eyes go wide. Is Snape offering to mind-link with Harry during Harry's cycle? His heart hammers in his chest and he grows almost unbearably warm. He ignores the chain in Snape's hand, and takes his own. He places it over his head and it magically expands to accommodate his skull, then contracts until it forms a choker about his neck. The links warm instantly and feel soft against his skin. "What's it of?" he asks.

"It's a form of enchanted hematite."

"Thank you," Harry offers, completely overwhelmed. He notices the second chain still in the professor's hand. "I want you to wear it," he says.

Snape sits silently and still for several moments, but in the end, he doesn't argue. His heart is hammering as solidly as Harry's is as he slips the chain over his head. Harry watches as the chain expands and contracts around the milky smoothness of Snape's neck. Oh to be that chain!

Harry's lips go dry with want, but he sits still and makes nary a move, for fear of breaking the moment. Only then he remembers. "Oh, I've another gift for you," Harry says, and fishes the phial out of his pocket. He'd had to be extremely stealthy to make this particular potion without Snape's knowledge or—perhaps more importantly—consent.

Snape takes it from his fingers and opens it, wafts his hand over it, then frowns before closing it again. "What is this, Mr Potter?"

"It's a charisma potion, sort of," Harry offers, suddenly embarrassed. "And before you punish me, it's very limited in its effects, and it's not a dark version—though it may as well be, I suppose."

Snape draws himself to his feet and stands peering down at Harry with his professional demeanour in place. "Explain everything, Mr Potter," he growls sexily—though it was likely not meant to sound sexy.

Harry is doomed. "It's against Mr Borgin," Harry says carefully. "A single drop, divided and rubbed behind each of your ears, or on your wrists, and Mr Borgin will bend over backwards to serve you. More than that, and you may have difficulty fending him off."

"Mr Potter!" Snape says, scandalised, his eyes huge and round, showing whites around the black of his irises.

"He'll never again overcharge you or refuse to sell you something, simply because you betrayed the Dark Lord!"

"But…Harry!" and the use of his given name shocks Harry silent. "How did you get that man's ejaculate?" with just a hint of disgust twisting his mouth.

"Oh…er…about that," and Harry admits he'd forgotten that certain things would be obvious to a Potions Master. The fact that only ejaculate would cause such a sexual reaction from the target. And, of course, that a light version of the potion requires that the ejaculate have been freely given. "Well, see, that's the cosmic irony of it all," Harry says. "Or the cosmic payback, I suppose. When I asked to purchase a Runespoor, Mr Borgin decided that only my pleasuring him would be proper payment to ensure he would even name a price. So I sucked him off, and, well…."

"And what price did Mr Borgin name?" Snape asks, deadly calm.

"None. I ended the Incarcerous charm he'd cast on me, then Obliviated and Stupefied him. I didn't free him again until I'd liberated our friend Susanne from his stores and erased all traces of my presence from the shop. And you should realise, Professor, that Susanne was really very tired of sitting in that basket, in the dark, unable to see the sun, and paralysed to keep her from self-mutilation! It was a noble thing I did, Professor!"

Snape heaves a mighty sigh before muttering, "Merlin save us from the nobility of Gryffindors. Though I suppose it was your Slytherin side that sent you there in the first place. I can't say I won't find this useful, Mr Potter, nor that you could have done this to a nastier man. However, it seems extremely unlikely that the Headmaster allowed you to take a shopping trip to Knockturn Alley alone."


"Which means unauthorised Apparition as well as solitary travel—"

"Well, see—"

"Forget I asked," Snape says tiredly. "I no longer wish to know. Thank you, Mr Potter, for the gift. Gifts. They are both much appreciated."

"Happy Christmas, Professor," Harry says weakly, stifling a sigh.

It hadn't gone as spectacularly as he'd hoped, but, well, his hopes had been unreasonable. What had actually happened had been far better than he should have hoped for. He runs fingers against the smooth hematite of his choker and is fascinated by its texture—and warmth—against his fingers.

"It suits you," says Snape, his voice like silk drawn across Harry's skin.

You suit me, Harry thinks but does not say. He has already made too many errors of speech in this man's presence. His errors in thought are bad enough. "As does yours," Harry says, only it comes as more of a whisper. He has given himself away, but it's nothing new. Snape already knows of Harry's desire.

Harry is suddenly aware of his dishevelled appearance. He has slept in his clothing, though he now wears the Weasley jumper covering his rumpled t-shirt. He's not even showered this morning, nor brushed his hair. "Er…I should go… wouldn't want to miss brunch."

Snape nods minutely—the merest tilt of his head—then says, "Happy Christmas, Mr Potter," before Harry turns to leave.

(chapter 9 continues…)

Of Christmas and Gifts (continued) by colibri
Chapter 9: Of Christmas and Gifts (continued)

Harry wears the new formal robe he purchased earlier in the year, though it’s more like a gown. It is black satin, of course—since that is the most versatile—and fitted through the torso with an A-line silhouette, widening at the hips to fall in rounded folds just above his feet. The standing collar is stiff and high in the back, tapering to high, rounded points below his jaws and opening to a V, showing the wings of his clavicles and down to a few centimetres above his sternum. The sleeves are fitted but bell out at the wrists, falling long enough to cover his hands. He wears his hair long and full, to his waist, but with the collar-length fringe that normally falls into his face loosely pulled back in the wooden kestrel Hagrid has given him. He wears his boots for the slight, three-centimetre lift.

The dark, metallic sheen of his new choker draws attention to the paleness of his skin, much more profound lately than it had been when he was younger and played Quidditch all the time. He lines his eyes with black and wonders, briefly and with amusement, whether he has as much makeup as Hermione. But he knows he doesn't. He's not had much opportunity to purchase, after all. The professors, however, let him get away with just about anything he wishes, including wearing makeup in lessons, though normally he doesn't bother.

A hint of rouge, a hint of colour to the lips, and Harry deems himself ready. He hopes to attract Snape's eye for at least a few moments, but if not, he is starting to think that pulling Colin again might not be such a sorry idea.

He takes the slow route to brunch because it would never do to be seen hovering through the corridors expertly. He wishes he didn't have to bring his wand, though, as it doesn't really match his ensemble. Ah, nothing like a bit of dry humour in the morning.

Apparently, his taking the slow route has just the desired effect, making him late enough that everyone turns to see him enter. He is not the only one dressed up, of course—this being Christmas Morning and a time of some festivity or, at least, great masses of 'good food'. But without Draco here, Harry is the most stunning boy in the Hall, which isn't saying very much. Boys don't generally try (unlike Draco). Still, some of the girls look quite fetching. Like Hermione.

Harry throws a brief look toward where the adults sit, a few smiling at him in greeting, Snape ignoring him completely, Hagrid waving excitedly, and…Lupin. Harry gives a slight nod to all of them, then sits down across from Ron and Hermione. "Hello, again," He says.

"You certainly did rush off this morning," Ron says, but he seems cheerful enough about it.

"I had a couple of other gifts to give," he explains. "If you'll recall the Runespoor?"

"Oh, right," Hermione says, perking up. “Did Professor Snape like her?"

"Of course. He was quite rightly gobsmacked," says Harry with a smirk.

"Happy Christmas to all," says Dumbledore, suddenly standing and twinkling, not just his eyes, but his entire robe. It is a deep, midnight blue and twinkling with stars throughout, matching his tall, conical hat. "I hope that the holidays have been enjoyable and restful, and that you will continue to enjoy them for the next week or so. The remaining students shall return by the second of the new year, and the second term shall begin on January 5.

"For now, enjoy your meals, and do not forget that the Christmas Feast shall commence promptly at five o'clock."

"How many times can one person eat in a day?" Harry mutters.

"Well, mate," says Ron, already reaching for a plate before it's fully materialised before him, "most people tend to eat thrice a day, and some of us add morning and afternoon tea. You seem to find twice a day sufficient, but you are also a sack of bones."

"Though you do look lovely this morning," Hermione says, hastily.

"Thank you, Hermione, for noticing. And you are simply gorgeous," he says, haughtily ignoring Ron. "I've no idea why you have that thing hanging on your arm."

Ron, of course, gets huffy, as he should and is expected to do. "Whose arm would you rather she had? Certainly not yours."

"I can, at least, appreciate her beauty," Harry says, unconcerned.

"I doubt that very much," Ron mutters. "Besides, you never seemed to find my looks particularly objectionable before."

Harry raises an eyebrow and looks directly into Ron's eyes. I don't think you meant to say that, his eyes say, and Ron's go large. "What adolescent crushes I may or may not have harboured in the past," he says lightly, "were never acted upon, and so, are no one's concern, yes?"

"That's true—awfully rude of me," Ron agrees.

Hermione looks suspicious. Harry knows that she is far too intelligent to have missed what's gone between her two best friends just now, but perhaps she won't wish to comprehend.

Harry takes a dish of sautéed, mixed vegetables, all julienned and lightly salted and delicious. He eats a full serving before he's stuffed, then has a bit of blancmange for pudding. Not very much, but enough so that Ron actually stares at him, then shrugs when Harry scowls in return. Ron simply says, "I'm only thrilled you're having something, for once." It rather puts Harry off his pudding. But he's more than happy to take a bit of sliced pear to nibble on. It's quite juicy, and he imagines Snape watching him eat, licking at his fingers, catching dribbles of pear juice on his lips. By the time he is done, he can scent arousal on the air.

It is not, however, Professor Snape he can scent. No, this source is, of course, far closer. Ron is blushing painfully, but so are many of the Gryffindors, and not all because they want Harry. Some more likely because they find Harry's antics embarrassing or, perhaps, offensive. Colin, however, is likely to be a bit turned on. "Well, I suppose that's enough, then," Harry says with a sigh, then stands to go. "Happy Christmas, again, everybody," he calls, then moves toward the doors. He hears someone rushing toward him but doesn't bother turning until they are both outside the Great Hall.

* * *

"Harry," says Remus, and watches as the boy turns round to him, angelic face belying the shameful effect he always has on Remus, now—that effect he can no longer hide from himself, but must always control. He tries so hard not to scent the air.

Harry’s face lights, but only slightly, and his rosebud lips form words Remus has to think to decipher. “Happy Christmas, Remus,” he says, and searches Remus’s eyes.

Remus can see that Harry is handling the transformations better than Remus ever has. Even as a child, Remus had looked sickly and wan, never quite able to recover from the pain and sleepless nights. Harry, however, is as radiant as ever, despite his severe weight loss. Remus is certain it has something to do with Harry’s extraordinary power—perhaps even with Harry’s destiny. Harry is special, and things are never the same for him as they are for others. Remus is glad. “Happy Christmas,” Remus replies. “Have you time, or…?” he asks, hoping for a chance to reconnect here. They’ve drifted apart, Remus knows, and it is truly a shame—that Remus could have allowed his own unforgivable weakness to come between himself and this boy, when Remus is the closest thing to his family Harry has left.

But, "Yes," Harry answers quickly, and without further words, leads Remus down into the bowels of the castle, the silence between them filled with the duelling sounds of their boots on the stone floors. It gives Remus both the time and the opportunity to notice Harry’s robes, which are long and somewhat fitted. They are revealing, and flattering to Harry’s slight form. And they are feminine.

Remus knows that Harry cannot possibly be ignorant of Remus’s desire. It is as plain between them as the contents of supper. It is as clear to scent as Harry’s banked desire and wariness. But Remus is the adult, and Remus must maintain his control. He must do what is right for Harry, no matter what Harry may think he wants. It would never be right—for them to complicate their relationship further with sex.

Harry opens the door and steps aside, allowing Remus entrance, and Remus can feel Harry’s power like a tingling across his skin as the boy wards the door. "It's good to finally see you again," Harry offers, though it is plain he is as uncomfortable as Remus is. He is once again before Remus, now, skin glowing in the room’s warm lighting. It is strange for a Gryffindor to live without windows, Remus thinks incongruously.

"Albus has kept me surprisingly busy," He offers sheepishly. "But it wasn't all work." He takes a deep breath. Can’t they just talk? Remus wishes so desperately for things to be between them as they once were. They have always been complicated, but this attraction—it is unbearable!

"Ah, it wasn't?" says Harry. Is he answering Remus’s question? Is he asking one of his own? Remus can barely maintain the thread of this conversation in his current state of distraction. There must be a better way, he thinks, then remembers the thread again.

"I had a fair bit of time to think, as well. And to finally go through all of Sirius's things." He sees the photo frame on Harry's desk and feels something inside his chest burst. He still cannot look upon Sirius without the most profound pain and sadness. And yet…

And yet, it is a reminder. Sirius’s image, there, is a reminder, and a strength. Sirius, Harry’s Godfather, had allowed his own immaturity to affect Harry—had allowed his pride and impetuousness to take his support away from the one person who needed it—and deserved it—most. It was inexcusable, though forgivable. It was tragic. Remus picks up the frame and fingers it lovingly, but in his heart, he finds resolve, and he can suddenly breathe again. Remus must be Harry’s Godfather, now. It gives him that last bit of strength he so desperately needs.

He smiles a little, then turns to Harry. "I found a few photos, but this was the only one with your father."

"Thank you," Harry offers.

Remus replaces the frame, and another on the desk catches his eye. Already a test of my newfound resolve, he thinks with amusement. But he is all right, and grateful for it. "A muggle photo," he says.

"Yes," Harry agrees.

"Of you,” since that much is obvious.


"It's…very artistic." It’s nearly pornographic, Remus thinks, but only nearly. He has seen a great deal of photographic art in the muggle world that is as revealing as this. It is different, of course, because it is Harry. "Did your boyfriend take this?"

"My boyfriend?"

Remus looks to Harry again, surprised by Harry’s reaction. "Professor Dumbledore told me you had a boyfriend."

"That was a while ago," Harry says.

Ah, thinks Remus. "You're no longer together?"

"We never really were," Harry says and shrugs. "And no, Colin Creevey took that photo. He's a Gryffindor in the same class as Ron's sister Ginny."

Lupin nods. "Yes, I remember him. Small boy, mousy brown hair. Camera."

"Yes, exactly," Harry agrees. "Though he's larger than I, now."

"Not that difficult," Remus says apologetically.

Harry shrugs. "Truth is truth,” he agrees, and he doesn’t seem upset about it. Remus supposes Harry is content with that particular portion of his lot. It’s nice to know, that Harry can be content.

Conversation, once again, peters out, and they stand there staring at each other. Minutes pass that feel like hours. Then, "Harry, I know things have been a bit…difficult…between us, lately—”

“It’s all right, Remus,” Harry says, then shakes his head slightly and smirks. “I can scent that things have changed.”

Remus wonders briefly whether the change really was as profound as that, but Harry constantly surprises him with his power. It is uncanny. “I know I’m not your father, but I want to be a support for you…. I want to be someone you can trust.”

Harry blinks, seemingly surprised, then says, “I’ve always trusted you.”

Remus nods and thinks everything will be all right, after all.

* * *

For hours, Harry and Remus talk, making up for lost time. They talk of things past and things present, and Harry finds it a relief to him. He hasn’t considered—at least lately—that having someone like a father-figure again—one he trusts completely—might be comforting. But it truly is, and he only regrets that he cannot be completely forthcoming with Remus.

By the time they cast a Tempus, it's only one quarter of an hour before the start of the Christmas Feast. Remus rushes off as he needs to go to his rooms before supper, and Harry rushes to get himself ready. He barely has time to apply more elaborate makeup than he'd had on for the morning, much less change. He applies slightly more dramatic colours to his eyes—though still keeping them understated, since he's not trying to drag. He was never one for the drag queenery. That had always been Stu.

He's not certain what has made the difference, but Snape can hardly keep his eyes off of Harry all night. Of course, the man also keeps shooting murderous looks at Remus, which means he's likely jealous, despite the fact that Remus has, somehow, managed to overcome his attraction to Harry. Though Harry had initially been slightly disappointed at that outcome, he’d found over the course of the afternoon that it was truly a superior outcome to the one he’d thought he wanted. That said, he wouldn’t be at all disappointed if Snape’s misconceptions led to a bit of action on that front.

This time, Professor Snape interrupts him before he's even finished his pudding and asks him to come over tonight, for further preparation of the Wolfsbane. Harry, of course, agrees, and tries not to stare at Snape’s retreating form. The feast runs so long, though, that there is just sufficient time for Harry to change his clothes. There is not time to remove his makeup.

* * *

Snape is standoffish—even more so than usual, that is. He does not greet Harry when Harry arrives, nor does he say anything but, "I will supervise." So Harry begins the preparations. There is a lot to prepare for the new moon phase, but not so much to actually brew tonight, so the work is easy and should be relaxing. Mindless, really.

Instead, it is fraught with tension and false criticism from Snape the likes of which Harry has not experienced since fifth-year Potions. He ignores it as best he can and continues until he has completed everything, then cleans everything up and sheds the apron, leaving him in a ratty black t-shirt and ragged blue jeans. He stands then, with arms folded across his bony chest, and stares at Snape. "That was extremely unpleasant," he says.

"I care naught for how pleasant or unpleasant your experience preparing the Wolfsbane potion is. I care only for whether it is done properly."

"I was doing it properly," Harry says quietly, but he is losing his temper. He can feel it.

"You were doing it sloppily, Mr Potter, and ten points from Gryffindor, for questioning my teaching methods."

"We're back to that—" Harry says with amazement. "You know, that's not a teaching method, that's bloody petulance! You're like a twelve-year-old who's not got his way!"

"Out!" Snape screams, spittle flying, rage making his eyes bulge crazily. "OutoutOUT!! GET OUT!"

But Harry absolutely cannot bear this. "NO! YOU BLOODY FOOL!" he screams right back. "Now SHUT UP before I slap you out of your hysterics, you pig-headed bastard!"

And it is apparent that Snape absolutely cannot believe what he's heard. Harry can see him gathering for something, and makes a peremptory strike, putting him in a full body bind as easily as breathing. "Shall I tell you what this is about? Or are you quite self-aware enough to know it yourself, Professor?" He waits a few more moments before letting go the bind, then remains tensed for retaliation. When Snape only stands there panting, trying to get his rage under control, Harry continues. "If you want me, you can have me. If not, I will not stand idly by, pining for the one prick who may never gain his senses."

"You're fucking Lupin, now," Snape actually comes out and says, confirming Harry’s certainties. He can admit to himself, though, that he is surprised that Snape is certain enough to actually make accusations.

"No, right now I'm standing here before you, wishing you were fucking me. And no, Lupin is not interested in me that way, and we won’t be fucking." Harry shakes his head in disappointment. “You’re so certain you know everything, aren’t you.”

They stand facing each other, Harry's body poised but relaxed as he waits, Snape's posture speaking of first defensive surprise, relief, then abject misery. He looks as though he would implode if he could—simply pull into himself until he ceased to be.

* * *

It is inevitable, Severus will think later, the breaking that occurs—though in which direction it would happen was, until then, hardly a certainty. But there it is, and there is Severus, taking a single, uncontrolled step toward Harry. A step that brings him near enough to grab the (infuriating, tantalising, indescribably beautiful) boy by the shoulders and pull him into a kiss that is awkward and painful, full of teeth and noses and banged lips. Until Severus sobs just once into Harry's mouth, and his hands move to Harry's face, and his control begins to reassert itself. Until the kiss eases with Severus’s fear—nothing has happened, no flames have come to consume them, nor have the ghosts of Harry's dead parents (nor godfather) come to curse him for defiling their innocent boy. He should have known—they had let the boy live as a junkie for a year; they'd hardly have standing to disparage Severus for his lust.

And oh how sweet the boy is, like the chocolate he has denied himself for decades. Like…cakes. Or…he doesn't know. His experience with sweetness is so very limited. And even his kisses do not sully Harry’s honeyed lips. It seems he is unable to defile Harry Potter—but he should not be surprised at that, either. Harry Potter is a power unto himself.

"Take me to your bed," Harry whispers damply against his ear. "Severus…" sibilant, like Parseltongue.

Severus, Severus, Severusseverussss…. Severus Snape has never loved his own name so much as he does in this moment. He wants to hear Harry say it again and again. He wants Harry to whisper it into his mouth, between his teeth and over his tongue. Severus. Take me to your bed, Severusss.

Severus stumbles them toward the door and it is open. They move through, bumping the doorframe, grazing various objects on their way. And then Harry has turned them, is backing his way onto the bed, sliding up and dragging Severus with him with gentle fingers on cheeks, behind ears, carding through hair.

Severus hears the rolling sibilance of Harry's whispers, saying things that make no sense—saying things that Severus should be saying. "So beautiful…" Harry is saying, and, "Please, Severus…need you inside me…" and "Wanted you for so long…" Part of Severus's psyche is flattered and pleased that Harry would mean these things of him. The rest is thinking Harry is insane, and that Severus himself is insane, as he's hearing Harry's voice saying these things though they must be coming from Severus's own mouth. These are all things he has said to the boy in his own mind.

Harry whispers a slithering Divestio and Severus's robes remove themselves from his person, along with all of his under-clothes. Effective, but not very subtle. And Severus thinks he's commented on this, for Harry moans and murmurs, "Next time—promise. 'Ll be more subtle."

"And what of your robes?" Snape remarks even as he continues to kiss along Harry's slender neck, avoiding the choker he has given the boy for later.

Harry doesn't even bother with the incantation this time, and the robes peel themselves off suggestively before joining Severus's. "Lubricoleo," Severus hisses, already growing wanton. Harry's prick is a steel rod digging into Severus's hip, and his own is in Harry's. "Severus…just fuck me now…longer later, alrigh'?" When Severus tries to insert fingers, Harry shakes his head, then pulls his legs up to rest with his knees behind his arms, exposing his puckered entrance completely.

And Severus can barely keep it together, with this view. It's been a long time since he's had a partner, and he can't recall ever having a partner as achingly lovely as Harry Potter. Or as flexible. He groans as he sinks himself into the soft, moist, slick channel and thinks he may die. Right now. Of bliss.

"Yessss," Harry hisses, and Severus can feel Harry's hand start to work between them on Harry's solid prick. "Hard and fast this time, Severus. Need it—"

Severus hasn't enough control to do anything but 'hard and fast this time'. And it is exceedingly fortuitous that Harry is overly randy just now, because Severus is also completely unable to make this last. The point is rapidly mooted by Harry's cry of release and the flood of warm slickness across Severus's belly. He pumps for perhaps a minute more before his own release into Harry's bowels, then collapses on top of him. They lie this way for several minutes before Harry seems to fall asleep and Severus decides that may not be such a terrible idea.

(end chapter 9)

Of Courage and Cowardice by colibri
Chapter 10: Of Courage and Cowardice

There is something about this situation that makes it completely unfamiliar. And this despite the fact that the elements are all well-known and recently experienced. He is warm, he is wrapped in a hard, angular body, he is extremely well-fucked, and he is in Snape's bed. But he is also in human form, and adding all of those things together is what does it. He shudders with lust just from the realisation. I've had Severus Snape. Severus fucked me last night. And even though it had been desperate and rushed, it had been wonderful, and his body is still singing. He presses himself back into the body behind him languidly—slithers a bit, to get a reaction.

Severus only moans a bit at first, then makes little noises that say he is waking. He moves his left hand against Harry's skin, up his thigh to his hip, then down his abdomen and up, over ribs to rest over his heart. "Harry," Severus whispers, and his scent is fearful and desirous at once.

"Good morning," Harry whispers in return, equally leery of rending the early morning quiet.

"You're awake…" says Severus, and the fear only grows stronger.

"Of course," says Harry, not certain why Severus would be so fearful. "I've been waiting for you to wake—with bated breath, I confess. You absolutely must take me again, as last night I was entirely too impatient. You must think me horribly undisciplined and an absolutely frightful bore in the sack. I assure you, that is not always the case."

"Absolutely not," says Severus, pulling back slightly.

"Good," and Harry turns to smile at his Professor. Those eyes are so dark, it's like seeing into the centre of the universe. Snape is equally unfathomable.

"No. We cannot do this again," he says.

"Of course, not," says Harry with a smirk, his heart hammering incongruously inside his chest. "Last night was our first time together—that shall never be repeated. But I assure you, I am not so very attached to first times. I find myself already anticipating the second, third, even ninetieth time. Those are worth no less to me."

"You know exactly what I mean, Mr Potter."

Harry's temper snaps and he stands onto his knees to tower over Severus. "You're completely daft if you think I'll let this end here! You cowardly shite! You want this as much as I do!!"

"And you are a selfish, thoughtless child if you think I'm going to give up my position at this school for a sweet bit of arse! I'd rather live the remainder of my miserable life with only my own hand for company, thank you!"

"As if you've not already fucked me! What difference will it make now? You've already betrayed whatever rule it is you’re referring to!"

"Once is weakness, Mr Potter," Snape says, his anger draining from him as it is replaced by depression. He rolls over into his pillow, so that his next words are muffled, but still audible to Harry. "Twice is a wilful disregard for rules."

"It's absolutely ridiculous, Professor—that you should deny us this because of some stupid bloody rule somewhere. What does some centuries-old wizard know about what we need to stay sane? What right does anyone—even Godric-bloody-Gryffindor himself—have to deny me this bit of happiness on the eve of my murder??"

Snape lies there silently while Harry's breathing fills the silence of the room. He feels only desperation, and a pain in his nose and behind his eyes, the heaving of his ribs. It is unconscionable—that he would be denied this. He has done everything for them—everything! He is to forfeit his life, or commit murder, and all for them!

Snape turns over slowly, his eyes shuttered, though his brows are drawn. It could mean so many different things. "It is not the 'eve of your murder,' Mr Potter. Don't be so melodramatic." But he seems uncomfortable now that he's said it, and stares at Harry. He reaches a hand up haltingly and catches a tear on his thumb.

"That's not freely given, so don't even think about it," Harry mutters darkly, though he is mostly joking.

"I have few qualms about using the Dark Arts," Severus says as if to continue the joke, but he sounds completely serious.

Harry moves, then, to straddle the other man, though Snape is under the sheet and quilt, and Harry sits, naked, atop. He leans forward until his hair curtains his face and he scents Severus's gradual remembrance of pleasure. He runs a hand through his hair and pulls it to one side, for a better view. "I think you should have fewer qualms about using me."


"No, I'm serious," Harry interrupts. "Another few relationships like that thing with Draco, and I might not survive long enough to battle Voldemort at all."

"Perhaps we should forbid you to date, then," Snape says snidely.

"And disappoint the raging hordes—"

Snape raises his eyebrows in extreme doubt.

"All right—teeming masses, then." Harry ignores the snort of amusement. "There are several boys who'd be devastated if I were no longer able to play the role of willing vessel for their seed, Professor."

"For Merlin's sake, Mr Potter!"

"All of whom I'd be willing to give up, Professor, for the secure knowledge that I could satisfy only you from now until eternity."

"Even your professions of undying fidelity are sarcastic."

"Not sarcastic, Professor!" Harry is hurt—or is pretending to be hurt, at least. "I would be willing to be faithful to you. Absolutely faithful, in deed."

"In deed," Snape says, still amazed by Harry's gall.

"Well, I can't very well look at Draco and not even be moved, Professor. He is quite possibly the most beautiful creature ever to have walked the earth. I will never be able to erase the artistic perfection of his form from my thoughts, much less my memory. That would be like…like asking Colin Creevey to forget what it was like fucking me." Harry thinks it would be cruel to ask such a thing, even if it weren't impossible. They had managed good sex by the end. Not stellar, but good.

"The point is moot, Mr Potter, as you and I shall not be continuing…this…and so you need not remain faithful to me. Even Draco would be a better choice than I, for you."

"You're a stonking tosser, Professor Snape. I hope you have to wank fifteen times a day to the image of me folded beneath you just to be able to walk a straight line. I hope you look at every boy's face and wonder whether he's fucked me, and whether he was as good as you. I hope you wonder every day what it would have been like to have me worshipping you, as I was meant to do. God, I hate you so much!" Harry gets off of Snape, hisses "Dress!" in Parseltongue because it sounds more sinister, and doesn't even slow down on his way to the door. His shoes slip themselves on in perfect time with his steps, and by the time he opens the outer door, he is fully dressed, if still a bit rumpled. He enters his own rooms and screams, this time careful not to release any pent-up anger in the form of magic.
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Wolf - Part IV: Acceptance

Waking Up by colibri
Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter, its characters and settings are the copyrighted works of J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., her publishing companies and affiliates. No profit was made from the writing of this story nor was any malice intended in any way, shape or form to the author or the actors/actresses who so brilliantly have brought them to life. My versions of Rowling's characters would never be sanctioned, but I love them all the same.

Thank you, Erin, my wonderful Beta!! Thanks, also, to Flick for your help. To the wonderful people who’ve given me reviews so far: whether just a few words or a an involved bit of constructive criticism, your effort is greatly appreciated!

This is the fourth in a six-part series and will make no sense at all without reading the preceding three parts.

In addition to the above warnings, the following apply: possible squick, Harry in makeup, melodrama, voyeurism, references to Harry's past indiscretions, and Ron having issues with his sexuality. This is absolutely the least angsty Part of the series.

Part IV - Acceptance
Chapter 1: Waking Up

Harry sits listlessly at the breakfast table, stirring his bowl of porridge as if he has some intention of eating it. But he hasn't. He's not even considered it. He is moping. It is his birthright. Even Draco's radiance cannot attract his attention today, even after weeks of not having witnessed it. Hermione and Ron haven't a chance and they know it, so they don't even try.

Harry has not even heard Professor Dumbledore's welcome-back speech, not that it matters. Harry is a student in his own school. He is surrounded by students of Hogwarts, but he is not one of them. He used to fantasise that he is Professor Snape's apprentice. Now, even thinking the name makes the bile bubble in his stomach.

He does not even notice the loud, scraping sound that draws everyone else's attention. Nor does he notice the hollow tap-tapping of heels echoing off of solid stone floors.

The, "Mr Malfoy!" works, however. Yes, Mr Malfoy seems to have lost touch with something—reality, his control perhaps—as he stands there holding Colin Creevey up by his Gryffindor school tie. Professor McGonagall is there as well, telling Mr Malfoy to drop Mr Creevey this instant. As if Colin were dying or something, instead of simply growing terrified and perhaps slightly choked on his collar.

Mr Creevey seems to think there is nothing amiss, however, as he says, "It's all right, Professor," or rather, squeaks it. "We can," followed by a huge gasp, "discuss this in the corridor."

"Yes, let's," agrees Mr Malfoy with a voice like gravel and dust and lets Mr Creevey down before hauling him, still by the tie and at a speed far too great to be convenient for Mr Creevey's height, out of the Great Hall.

Harry has a sneaking suspicion that this is about him, but part of him thinks that he is growing awfully arrogant, lately. Still, he is the only thing those two have in common, as far as he knows.

He has only just decided that it has nothing to do with him after all, and that he will remain here, moping, for a bit longer before going to class, when he notices the entire Gryffindor table staring at him. "What?" he asks defensively.

Dennis's jaw drops. "I thought for certain you'd go defend him! I mean, it's about you, isn't it??" Dennis seems to think that means he should go defend his brother instead. Runt that he is, he still seems to have foolish Gryffindor courage to an art form.

"Sorry," says Harry hastily before standing. "On my way," and he is. He ties his hair back from his face as he jogs to the door so he can see.

Draco and Colin are far enough away that Harry couldn't have heard their conversation inside the Great Hall. But he can hear it now. "…filth!"

"How many times do—"

"Jason says he saw them!"

"Jason is a liar! I've not shown those photos to anyone. Not even Dennis!"

"Except for the one you gave me," Harry says, startling both of them, though Draco manages not to let on. "The muggle photo."

Colin goes pinker than he was, but he nods. Even in this situation, Colin's desire reaches out to Harry. It seems the boy has become completely enamoured.

"And that photo was hardly revealing," Harry says to Draco.

"Well," and Colin looks down at the floor, "you were nude."

"Everything was covered," says Harry unconcernedly. "I'll show it to you, Draco, if you wish."

"I want to see all of them," Draco growls at Colin. "Every last one."

"No, you don't," Harry says coldly.

"I've a right to see those photos!" and Draco's voice is finally rising. He looks away from Colin for the first time, turning those silver eyes on Harry, and he is all jealous rage and…despair.

Harry is completely floored. "Are you out of your tree?" he asks incredulously. "What, in Merlin's name, would give you the right to see those photos, Draco?"

Draco looms over him, and he's not certain when the other had got so close. Or even whether it had been Draco to move or himself. He simply doesn't know. And he doesn't think about it for very long, either, since he is presently drowning in one of Draco Malfoy's extremely effective snogs. It's really rather unfair that Draco should be so beautiful and so talented. So completely delectable. Harry is overcome, of course, and can barely keep his eyes open once Draco pulls away.

But Draco's desperate hurt grounds him, and he has soon recovered enough to be able to speak. "Are you trying to say something?" Harry asks, "because I believe I asked a question. The fact that you are both attractive and sexually adept does not somehow give you the right to see those photos."

Draco turns to Colin, then, and hisses, "Leave, now!"

Colin does not wait for another invitation before he rushes back toward the Great Hall. Harry is too slow to keep the boy from going. Besides, it's likely a good idea not to keep Colin here for this. "I suppose the photos weren't that important, then," he quips.

"You're mine, Potter!" Draco says softly, but with great fervour.

"Riiiigh'," says Harry. "Except, I'm not, because we've already had this discussion, and you are going to marry some French bint, and I'm going to be murdered before I get my Apparition licence. So…not certain where you got the idea."

"You're not going to be murdered. I told you that already—Father says you'll be safe."

"Sorry, luv, but your da is a lying arse. Still, I assure you, that has no bearing on our relationship."

"I know he's a liar," Draco brushes off with annoyance and mounting frustration, "but he's serious. You're no longer a threat, everyone knows that. As long as he doesn't know the rest of the prophesy it's simply safer to leave you. He's winning with you alive, there's no reason to touch you."

"So, perhaps it will happen after my Apparition test," Harry says dryly. "The Dark Lord will, eventually, come after Harry Potter. I have no illusions; neither should you….But that isn't why we're not together, Draco." Both have, of course, conveniently forgotten about the beating; and so that is neither here nor there. "I will not share you," Harry continues, "while I'm forced to remain faithful to you alone. I'm not your bound concubine, and I won't be. Besides, you've never loved me. It's not worthwhile, to wait about hoping you someday will."

Draco stands for a moment, brows drawn together, once again the picture of confusion. As if he can't possibly understand that Harry could refuse him. He suddenly grabs Harry by the back of the head—by the hair—and kisses him hard enough to send them both into the wall behind Harry. He kisses Harry like his life depends on it—with a passion that is very much Draco, actually, but makes no sense to Harry—not in this context. He scents of terror and dominance at once—and anger. In the corridor behind Draco, students are rushing by, tittering and whispering—some guessing at what has happened, others assuming they are simply back to their corridor-antics.

But Harry pays very little mind to the rest of the world. He cannot resist Draco—he's never been able to, really, and certainly not since they began fucking. And Draco is kissing him now with a passion that feels more real than anything Harry has ever experienced before. He thinks that perhaps he doesn't need love, if he has this.

Draco is supporting him, holding him up against the wall, and he pulls away from Harry's mouth just far enough to murmur, "We are together."

And Harry can't believe he is capable of speech at this point, much less the speech he makes. "There was never any question as to whether you are stunning, or whether you are a good kisser, or a phenomenal lay. It doesn't take much to make me come, Draco Malfoy. Now please, I've got to get to lessons. If you'll be so kind as to avoid beating on any other blokes I invite into my bed, I'd very much appreciate it. Cheers."

And he walks away.

Courting by colibri
Chapter 2: Courting

Draco does not bother him in Potions, which is good, since Harry is far more preoccupied with Snape. Things seem very different now, though, in the light of day, and with the confusion that is Draco's earlier scene still so fresh in his mind. He no longer knows what to think, and is starting to veer toward celibacy.

He is very distracted, but can complete this potion in his sleep, even with Snape's occasional sniping. He would get full marks on this potion if Snape were fair, but Snape is never fair toward Gryffindors, no matter what the circumstances, and so he will lose a point here for colour, and a point there for consistency, and though his potion is exemplary, he will end up tied with Draco. And though Hermione's potion is as good as Draco's, she will be third in the class. That is simply the way of things.

Harry decides Snape's punishment is never getting to fuck Harry again, and knowing that the only thing between them is Snape's own bloody morality.

In the evening, he goes to Snape's quarters to work on the Wolfsbane potion and things are tense, but not nearly as tense as they've been in the past. Snape seems to have decided that the decision has been made and that he shall no longer fret over it. Before Harry leaves for the evening, the man has the gall to say, "It is likely a good thing that you are back with Draco. He is a far better choice for you than…others."

Harry doesn't even bother to dignify that with a response.

* * *

Tuesday morning, an enormous eagle owl Harry recognises as Draco's drops a beautifully wrapped package before Harry. When he opens it, he finds it filled with chocolate frogs. He distributes them to the rest of the Gryffindors as he has little desire for chocolate, and even less to be bought. He does not look toward the Slytherin table.

Tuesday evening, when he arrives at supper, there is a single red rose laid across his regular spot. He moves it to the side and eats. He does not take it when he leaves.

Wednesday morning, at breakfast, there is another gift at Harry's regular spot. This time, however, it is a book. A tiny book, by an Aleister Crowley, entitled The Book of the Law. Harry thinks he has heard of it, but has not read it. He scowls, perusing the strange, poetical text. When he leaves the table, he takes the book with him. It's a book, after all. He also finds it strange Draco would give him a book by a muggle author, even one as obsessed by magic as Crowley.

At Wednesday supper, he finds another gift, wrapped again. Inside is a small, shiny box of polished onyx. He opens it to green velvet and a softly-sung song he does not recognise. It is both haunting and beautiful. He closes it quickly and pulls it under the table, where he hides it in his sack. He stacks the paper on his plate and they both disappear when he places them toward the centre of the table.

He spends the evening with Hermione and Ron, as he has every Wednesday for ages, and stares at the box entirely too long. Ron is irritated with him at first for accepting the gift at all. Hermione is intrigued that Draco is bothering. When she insists, Harry opens the box and the song begins again. It sounds nothing like a music box and everything like there is a real ensemble inside, invisible, playing for Harry's benefit. Strings and a flute, perhaps, playing something that sounds like wind. And a woman singing. The longer it goes on, the more real it feels. Harry closes his eyes and can almost see her singing.

Mon âme vers ton front où rêve, ô calme soeur,
Un automne jonché de taches de rousseur,
Et vers le ciel errant de ton oeil angélique,
Monte, comme dans un jardin mélancolique,
Fidèle, un blanc jet d'eau soupire vers l'azur!

Vers l'azur attendri d'octobre pâle et pur
Qui mire aux grands bassins sa langueur infinie
Et laisse, sur l'eau morte où la fauve agonie
Des feuilles erre au vent et creuse un froid sillon,
Se trainer le soleil jaune d'un long rayon.

His French isn't even passable, really, but it's good enough that Harry knows it is French. He understands the words for soul and dream and calm and a few other things, but not enough that he knows what the woman is singing. Still, it’s beautiful—possibly the most beautiful song he's ever heard, though to be fair, he's never cared much for music.

"May I see it, Harry?" Hermione says, and Harry hands it over reluctantly. She looks inside the box and feels the pretty, velvet lining. She turns the box over and finds nothing. "It's beautiful," she says and hands it back.

Harry has no comment, really. He agrees. He is baffled. It seems that Draco is attempting to buy his…his what? His sex? His loyalty? His affection? The gifts aren't gaudy enough to feel cheap. They seem…genuinely interesting. Special, somehow. He goes to bed early that night, skipping his Charms practise and moving directly to his meditation. He needs it.

Thursday morning, there is another book. It is shrunken and inside a carrying case of black leather. When he takes it back to his rooms, he removes it from the case and the tome restores itself. It is massive and obviously rare. It is, in fact, a book on the Dark Arts written by a wizard named Jacques DeFléau. It is in French, but Harry knows translation spells that work fine for prose. Poetry is much, much more difficult.

Regardless, the book is a treasure, and Harry thinks that whether Draco has stolen it from his father's collection or has bought it himself, the price must have been extravagantly high. Harry does not return it, and he spends his free period reading in it.

At supper, there is another rose laid across his place, this time with a note attached that unfurls at his touch. "Please let me see you tonight," it says. Nothing else. He breathes in the rose's scent from where it lies on the table and thinks. And feels. And in the end, he looks up to find Draco's eyes trained on his—glinting silver across the room.

Harry ignores both flower and letter during his supper, but he takes both with him when he leaves.

* * *

Harry has never removed Draco's power-signature from his wards, and so Draco could easily walk in any time he wishes. He need only try. But he never does, and at the knock on the door, Harry knows it is Draco because he can scent the familiarity from the crack round the jamb. "Draco," he says as the man enters, and the room is dark, lit by a single, small candle's flame. It is more than enough light for Harry's spell-work practise. But it does not reveal nearly enough of Draco's beauty. He reaches for his discarded wand and casts a Lumos sphere to hover in place above them.

"Harry," Draco says, and is just the tiniest bit nervous.

"Did you have something to say?" Harry asks. This is far too awkward, really, and he's not enjoying it, despite the view.

"Ah…thank you," says Draco, and Harry is certain Draco has never thanked anyone for anything before. Not sincerely, anyway. "For letting me see you tonight."

"All right…" Harry says, and can't help but be mistrustful. A Malfoy does not behave in this fashion.

Draco moves near to where Harry is still seated on his bed, then lowers himself, gracefully, to his knees. He places his hands on the bed sheets, then moves them to rest, gingerly, on Harry's thighs. He looks up into Harry's eyes and says, "I want you to be mine again, Harry Potter."

"What makes you think I was ever yours, Draco Malfoy?"

"When I told you about Cécile, you were not pleased."

"That may be true," Harry agrees.

"You said that you deserved to be cut loose, like any of my other conquests."

"I'm surprised you were listening," Harry mutters, and it is not a lie.

"I am always listening," says Draco, perfectly serious, before continuing. "If you were to be cut loose, that presupposes that you were, in some way, tied to me."

"Ah, the pitfalls of logic," Harry concedes. "It is difficult to reason your way out of truth."

"I want you tied to me, Harry."

"I told you already, I will not be your bound concubine. I will not be your bloody mistress on the side!" Harry is offended that Draco would even ask him again, much less expect this of him!

"I know!" Draco says as fervently, though he does not yell. He clasps Harry's thighs with greater force. "I want you to marry me, Harry Potter."

(Chapter 2 continues…)

Poem by Stéphane Mallarmé – Setting referred to is by Maurice Ravel.

Courting (continued) by colibri
2. Courting (continued)

Harry is learning Draco's face. He was studying the beauty of it before—the symmetry, the perfect balance, the aristocratic features. Now he is observing the emotions behind it, attempting to decipher the meaning of Draco's last words. But he is having a dickens of a time with it. In the end, he is forced to simply ask. "What?"

"I want to marry you instead of Cécile."

"You want for me to be your wife, instead of Cécile." Harry can't wrap his mind around it, though he really is trying.

"Well, you could hardly be my wife, being a man and all, but…essentially, yes."

"And what of your precious heir?"

"There is a bit of magic…it is messy and difficult and…well, usually it's a bit dark. But…I might be able to adapt it. With Snape's help, I think I could do it."

"And what, exactly, does this 'bit of magic' do?"

"It can allow for a man to bear a child."

"Of course," says Harry. "No. I refuse."

"I could do it!" Draco offers hastily. "Just because I top doesn't mean I can't carry the child. I didn't mean to imply that you would be the mother."

"You, Draco Malfoy, a mother?" Harry stares, and he knows it's rude, but…Merlin. "You are, quite possibly, the most selfish person alive. You'd make a terrible parent!"

"Then marry me, Harry. You could mitigate the damage."

Firstly, Draco Malfoy would never admit to being bad at anything. Secondly…well, that first one was quite a start. "Who are you, and what have you done with Draco Malfoy? You know, tall bloke, looks a bit like you, actually. Utter git."

Draco flushes with indignation. "You're not exactly the bloody personality princess either, Potter," he spits. "You're always either in a sulk or randy enough to've lost all reason. You're never good for intellectual conversation. And you're a bloody werewolf, for Salazar's sake. Not exactly a prize!"

"Well why exactly are you asking for my hand, then?" Harry cries, and yes, he is exasperated. As he should be. That is the real question, after all. And, indeed, one he is dying to know the answer to.

Draco seems not to want to answer that question. "You're even more beautiful than Cécile, you know," he says conversationally.

"Ouch," says Harry. She must be a dog.

Draco's brows quirk. He reaches into an inside pocket and pulls out a wizarding photograph. He hands it to Harry. "And before you grow jealous, I don't always carry it about with me. Only when I know I'm going to propose to you, and think I might need it."

Harry rolls his eyes, but then snatches the photo from Draco's fingers. He ignores the twinge of fear in his gut and looks at the woman in the photo. She is…stunning—a caricature of golden beauty. Much like Draco's mother—fair of skin and eye, with hair like spun gold. Unlike Draco, who ended up with his father's silver-white hair that so strongly points to their Veela blood. "You are a raving lunatic, Draco Malfoy," says Harry calmly, and hands the photo back.

"And why do you say that, exactly?" Draco asks, tucking the photo back into his pocket.

"There is no way that I can even begin to compare with that girl in looks. Not that I am concerned about it, mind. I'm simply being realistic."

"You still have a somewhat negatively biased self-image, but that's neither here nor there. I want you to marry me. You've time to think on the question, but not too long."

"Draco," Harry sighs. This is surreal. "Honestly, you can't want me as your…partner. You don't even know me."

"Of course, I do," says Draco, again brushing off the complaint like so much dust from an old photo frame.

"No, you don't. And you have very seriously underestimated the danger I'm in." When Draco tries to answer these allegations, Harry presses onward because things have spun out of control. "Draco, just as you have a part to play in this unfolding battle, so have I. It cannot but be so. I am the bloody Boy Who Lived, and the fact that I've contracted Lycanthropy and my life has become more complicated, doesn't mean there's no role for me to play. And simply because you've decided I'm your new favourite toy, doesn't mean that I'm immune from harm. Your petulance will not save me from the Dark Lord. That I can guarantee."

Draco sits silently for several minutes before he speaks again. And when he does, his body language speaks of wariness. "So you're saying that you've been lying to me."

"I'm not saying that, but we are all lying to each other here, Draco. Some lies are smaller than others, and I cannot tell you how large the lies I've told you are. Besides, when I try to tell you the truth, you simply refuse to believe me. I tell you Voldemort has no intention of letting me live. You don't believe it—"

"He never concerns himself—!"

"It doesn't matter! He will, and when he does, I will likely die. But I will still fight back! I will not roll over and take whatever he hurls at me. That, I can also promise you. But if you wish to spend time with me, you have to accept that. My life is no neater than yours, and may be a bit messier. We both have dangerous roles to play. And just as I am not given reports of your activities, neither is anyone given reports of mine."

"You're always here, Harry," Draco says tiredly.

"True. I told you, I cannot be honest with you about this. I mustn't…. But if you still wish to spend time with me, Draco, and to lie with me, knowing that you do not know everything; well, then I would have no objection. I love sex with you."

"I want more than sex," Draco murmurs almost inaudibly.

"Well, perhaps we should start with keeping each other company. Perhaps you should try keeping me company through my cycle this time. See if you can bear the scintillating conversation."

"It starts week next," says Draco. "On the 12th." It speaks well of him—speaks to his sincerity—that he knows when it will start.

Harry nods. "Yes. I started my Wolfsbane Potion yesterday. Taking it, I mean."

Draco says, "All right."

Harry suddenly remembers the mind-link choker. He wonders whether he should give it to Draco to wear, or whether that will be too dangerous. He decides he may need to discuss the matter with Professor Snape. "Well, I need to sleep, now. Tomorrow is a long day."

"Every day is a long day for you," says Draco. He does know Harry's schedule, after all.

"Yes, well, it's particularly long when I'm brewing the Wolfsbane Potion and have been doing it for days. Professor Snape has been…difficult, lately."

Draco keeps his eyes trained on Harry's sternum when next he speaks. "Can't I stay?" he asks, and his voice is so small, Harry might be inclined to think Draco is pretending he hasn't just asked permission for something. A Malfoy does not ask permission.

"For what?"

"You said…" says Draco, but then does something so completely out of character, Harry is utterly without defences. He slides his hands up Harry's thighs in a completely non-sexual manner, until they are behind Harry's hips, and then lays his head down in Harry's lap. It is an embrace. Harry's mind is screaming in warning, while the rest of him is drowning in warmth. It is not until he feels hot tears sliding down his face several minutes later that he knows he's really in trouble.

"Nox," he whispers to save himself the embarrassment of having Draco look up and see tears on his face. He waits a few more moments, until he is certain he can speak quietly without giving himself away. "All right," he says, and pulls himself away, forcing Draco to move. He secretes his wand underneath his pillow and pulls off his t-shirt, leaving the boxer-briefs because he can't be arsed. He lies down in his bed and immediately buries his face in his pillow, to remove the tears, then dries them with a quick burst whilst Draco is undressing, and attempts to relax whilst Draco settles into the bed behind him, running a large, warm hand up Harry's thigh to his hip, then forward and down, to his somnolent prick.

Draco begins to kiss his neck—feather-light touches at the nape. Draco's hand moves instead to Harry's head and removes the tie holding Harry's hair in a tail. He runs his fingers through Harry's hair along his scalp, lips at his ear, whispers, "All right?"

Harry says nothing, but he sighs and turns slowly, so his hair is not pulled. And though his own arousal is slow and hesitant tonight, it helps that Draco's is not, and he pulls Draco's tumescence into his fist. He drinks in Draco's appreciative hiss between parted lips, then allows himself a kiss.

It's a bit of a surrender—kissing Draco—because Harry cannot resist Draco's lips—cannot experience the hot, demanding tongue, the nip of teeth, and remain aloof or unaffected. His own moans are singing with Draco's, and his own hard prick is in Draco's fist. And they are both panting and gasping—near release—when Draco breaks away and rushes, "Do you want—" between gasps, "to top?"

It's nearly enough to startle Harry out of the mood. "Of course not," Harry hisses, and in a moment he has Draco turned onto his back, has used the Lubricoleo charm, and is lowering himself down onto Draco's straining cock. And he thinks that, while this new Draco is strange and unsettling, there are certainly some things about him that he likes very much. This new vocalism, for example. While Draco has never been that still, he has tended to lean toward the cautious side of staid. This wanton groaning and gasping makes Harry feel extremely well-appreciated, thank you very much. Harry is warmed by Draco’s desperate melting into pleasure as Harry accepts him inside, and as Draco moulds Harry around him. Draco's hands are pushing bruises into Harry's sharpened hips, and that is the only reason Harry notices that Draco is not working on Harry's prick. Draco is nearing climax alone.

Harry is suddenly too fascinated to worry much about his own physical state. He watches in rapt concentration as Draco's mouth gapes wider; as his breaths become gasps, then groans; as his eyes go from barely closed to screwed shut; as his abdomen goes from flat to so taut it vibrates; and Draco's pistoning becomes nearly painful in its intensity. Harry himself is gasping from the beauty of this vision when Draco's head is suddenly thrown back, the air in Draco's lungs is expelled in a great whoosh, and Harry imagines feeling the rush of warmth that is Draco's seed inside of him.

Draco, for his part, seems entirely stunned at his own orgasm, and it takes him several minutes before he even opens his eyes again. Of course, he can see very little in the darkness that is lit only by one nearly-spent candle. Draco swallows audibly before being able to speak. "Sorry," is all he manages, though.

"For what?" Harry can't even imagine, at this point. Granted, he's not thinking so very well, either—

Draco wraps his hand, gently, around Harry's flagging prick. It's been ignored for too long, Harry supposes, for it's certainly not because he's lost interest. Not a chance. "For ignoring your needs," Draco says, tongue in cheek, though he is more serious than Harry feels quite comfortable with.

"You've provided us with quite a high level of entertainment, Mr Malfoy. I'd hardly say we were left wanting."

"Parts of you, then."

"Easily remedied," Harry assures. He isn't certain exactly when he's grown comfortable enough to banter with Draco during sex, but he likes it, he decides. Perhaps not all the time, but it's nice just now.

"Are you certain you've no desire to top?" Draco offers again.

And Harry grows suspicious. "What? Have you heard from someone that bottoming is transcendently lovely and now wish you'd tried it?"

"I assure you, I've not spoken to anyone about my sex life over the hols—except in the vaguest and most general of terms. You certainly seem to enjoy it, though."

"Perhaps I'm simply a masochist, Draco Malfoy, and you are not." Harry narrows his eyes to peer at Draco, as if it will make all lies apparent. He could use Legilimency, but Draco would know he was doing it. "Is this something to do with getting me pregnant? Because I'm not certain I'll ever agree to that."

"Harry, I would never trick you into becoming pregnant," Draco says seriously. "I might trick you into providing necessary ingredients for making the potion that's required, but the rest…"

Harry rolls his eyes. Of course. Draco is still Slytherin. But the point is well taken. Draco would not play with Harry's life or a child's life in such a fashion, because he is not evil. But a git, he is. "Have you expressed your desire to marry me to your father yet, Draco dearest?"

"Could we possibly get you off before we disgust the mood right out?"

Harry reaches under the pillow and takes out his wand. "Lumos," he casts, creating a slew of light spheres of different sizes to hover about the ceiling.

Draco's brows quirks. "Impressive, that."

Harry feigns surprise. "Really?" He knows it's impressive, but he's used his wand, so it's not that impressive. He takes a slow, thorough look at Draco and grins. He says, "Yes, I suppose I'd agree." What is not impressive, however, is the soft, slug-like feel of Draco's now-spent cock still lodged in his arsehole. It slips out wetly when he lifts himself and he immediately casts Evanesco to take care of the evidence before replacing his wand under the pillow.

"Have you even topped before?" Draco presses on, apparently not content until he has beaten this horse to a rug.

"Yes I've topped, Draco. I simply don't enjoy it as much as bottoming. I feel like I'm missing something when there's no cock in my arse."

"Well, I'm not really ready to go again," Draco says apologetically, as if Harry can't tell this himself. "Perhaps you'd enjoy topping me."

"I'd feel like a terrier mounting a Great Dane," Harry dismisses.

"Quite a conquest, that," Draco says, as if Harry's statement only strengthens his own argument. "Come on, Harry. Don't you want to take my virginity?"

"Please, Merlin, save us from Slytherins and virgins—"

"Harry Potter!" mock scandalised.

"I don't want your bloody virginity. I want you when you've been a slut for so long, people are willing to pay you gobs of cash just to fuck you."

"People are already willing to pay me gobs of cash to fuck me. But I think it's because I'm virgin tail." Draco preens, but recognises when his cause is lost, for the time being. "Get off, then," Draco says and Harry is soon on his knees with his prick down Draco's far-too-talented throat, watching that sinfully perfect arse sway slightly before him. It is a temptation, he can admit, to fuck Draco Malfoy. If only to be able to say it—Yeah, I fucked Draco Malfoy.

Harry's prick nearly aches, it has grown so hard. And he is saying things he cannot himself understand as he moulds Draco's head between his palms and wishes the hair were long enough to grab onto and pull, or at least to hold onto to keep from floating away. And when he is mere seconds from climax, Draco pulls off, because he is an evil bastard, and says, "Really, Harry…you should at least have fucked me once."

And Harry is so bloody blue by that time, he cries, "Fine!" and is behind Draco before Draco has time to position himself. "Just stay like this—it'll hurt you less. Bloody virgins," he mutters while apologising, internally, to his cock for the endless teasing tonight. He lowers himself to Draco's perfect, virgin hole. It's pink and pulled so tightly closed, it's difficult to believe even a pin would fit in there. "Hand me my wand," Harry mutters, and when he gets it, performs another Evanesco, just in case. Though it seems very likely Draco has been planning this.

Harry keeps his wand nearby, for later, but for now he lowers his face to kiss at Draco's well-muscled arse, running his face against the silver fuzz. He massages the globes gently, spreading them to expose the hole to the cooler air in increasingly common intervals. Until he introduces his tongue, and Draco lets out a startled yelp.

"What are you doing?" Draco asks, almost panicked.

"I'm licking your arsehole," Harry says in between swipes with his tongue.

"Don’t do that," says Draco.

"You're on the bottom, you have absolutely no say," says Harry, and decides maybe this is worth topping for. "Besides, I won't fuck you unless you're prepared. And also, you're perfectly clean. I cleaned you myself."


"Shut it, Draco, or I'm not doing this and you'll be a virgin forever."

"Hardly forever," Draco mutters, but he does shut it, then.

Harry continues his ministrations, and though Draco is, at first, extremely resistant; after several minutes of thorough work on Harry's part, Draco appears to be a convert. He is presenting like a natural, and moaning and groaning enough to make Harry's cock weep with the beauty of it.

Harry adds a finger to the tonguing, and Draco barely notices, though at two, he certainly does. It feels strange, he says, and hurts a little, but Harry is careful and goes slowly, and he casts the lubrication charm before adding a third finger and discontinuing the use of his tongue. Draco is able to take the twisting and stretching Harry is doing, but it is not overly comfortable for him, and Harry can scent on him that he is afraid.

"We don't have to do this," Harry says quietly, and feels a bit of a git for still being hard enough though he knows Draco is afraid and doesn't really want to do this. He honestly can't understand why Draco is pestering him so about it. "I'd really rather bottom."

"No-no!" Draco insists, and presents a bit more, curving his back severely, (which always makes Draco crazy when Harry does it), and says, "I want you to fuck me," which really isn't at all fair, because Harry can barely keep from groaning at that, much less deprive Draco of what he is so obviously gagging for, for whatever reason.

"All right," Harry whispers, and increases the amount of lubrication before placing the head of his prick at the loosened hole. Slowly, he begins to press himself inside, while Draco begins to pant with the pain. "Try to relax a little, Draco," he whispers but does not ease up. It would only make matters worse. "I've almost got the head in." He feels stupid for saying it, but it lets Draco know, at least, that he's going slowly, though he knows it feels like he's ripping a new arsehole.

"Oh fuck," Draco moans, and he is not at all enjoying this.

Harry gets the head inside and stops. "It will help if you bear down, Draco."

"Bear down," Draco whimpers. "Righ'," into the pillow he is, obviously, biting.

Harry removes himself gently but quickly, and Draco whimpers again. "I'm sorry, I can't do this," Harry says.

"Fuck," Draco says with great feeling and obvious disappointment. He is shaking with releasing tension and he lies down on his back. "I'm sorry," he says, but he can't look at Harry.

"It's not important to me," Harry insists, because it's not. Really not.

Draco seems not to be listening, though. "It's so much more difficult when I can't see you," Draco says. "It makes me nervous, and all I can think about is the pain. But when I look at you…" He reaches out a hand to caress Harry's cheek—a gesture so tender, Harry's not sure where it's come from. Though it seems to be in line with the rest of this evening's anomalies. "Can't you do it this way, Harry?"

"It's more painful this way," Harry says, exasperated. "I can barely feel a thing in the other position anymore, which is why I prefer this one. Or against a wall or something," Harry adds as an afterthought.

Draco seems to think about that for a few moments, because his prick is perking slightly. "I want you to try this way. And I want you to kiss me while you're doing it."

"Fine!" Harry growls. He doesn't understand at all what the big deal is, and why Draco is forcing this, and why Draco has to make him feel like a prick about it. "But I'm not stopping this time. I don't care if you're screaming bloody murder and crying a bloody river, you git."

Draco smirks and reaches down to take his own prick in hand. He starts working it, and manages to get it to rise before he pulls his knees up.

Harry places a pillow below Draco's hips, but is just annoyed enough not to bother fingering again. He just starts in with his prick and gets to pressing, thanking his sadistic streak for letting him enjoy the look of astonishment on Draco's face. The sheer bloody terror that overtakes him for a moment. But then Draco becomes determined, and his hand works that cock more fiercely, and Harry gets himself another inch past the head and starts thinking, Hm…this is nice. "Remember to bear down," he whispers, then pushes with renewed vigour.

Draco gasps and loses his resolve, says, "Wait-wait…just…a moment…" while he regains control over himself. An entire minute passes as Draco breathes and tries to relax. Harry can't feel the difference, really—especially since his cock is likely losing a bit of blood in the interim. But then Draco says, "All right," and Harry moves again, first out a little, then in a bit more. Out a little, then in a bit more. "Just get it bloody inside already!" Draco suddenly exclaims and pushes up against him, and Harry has no choice. He is there. Draco's cry echoes in his head.

Harry is panting now, from the strength it takes not to start fucking Draco. But he has quite a lot of control after all of this time. He moves slowly, leaning forward, his shoulders against Draco's thighs, and begins to rock until soon, he is impaling Draco with long, languid strokes that use his modest length to good advantage.

Draco is pulling himself in time, and though he is panting still, he is no longer afraid, and the pain is obviously bearable, from the way he is staring at Harry's stomach and chest, then up to Harry's face occasionally, and not really showing the pain.

Harry forces Draco's legs further back, angling Draco just so, and then receives indication that he's succeeded in his aim when Draco says, "Ohhh…yes, that's nice," and seems to forget the pain altogether, though Harry knows from experience it's less that than that the pain simply melts into unimportance, and seems only to further enhance any other sensations. He increases his own speed and starts to drift out of the moment, thinking about this and that. The smell of pickled mandrake root, the feel of Susanne's scaly hide across his naked belly, hazy memories of drugged sex with Stu, the realisation that his body isn't conditioned for topping. At all. And that even though he's quite an active bottom and often rides Draco to climax, it's just a different set of muscles, really, and he is going to be sore later.

"Salazar's scales," Draco hisses in surprise. "I'm going to come, Harry," he explains, as if Harry needs the warning. It becomes quite obvious when, a moment later, Draco's sphincter makes a valiant attempt at squeezing Harry's prick off at the root but really only succeeds in making Harry gasp with a nearly painful pleasure. Slick wetness splatters Harry all the way up to his chin, but splatters Draco even more. "Yes!" Draco groans as he continues to come for a few seconds more, his hand still running through slickness to massage the last dregs of pleasure from his prick. And then he looks up at Harry with silver eyes that look more seductive than should be possible, and says, "Come inside me, Harry."

Harry figures it is time to oblige, and so does, slamming heartily against Draco's buttocks and thighs, and shooting his seed inside Draco's tight heat. It feels like it goes on forever, yet is over much too quickly. He pulls out before he has softened and falls back onto his hands and bum. "Ugh," he says. "Where's my wand?" He looks about for it.

"What d'you need that for?" Draco asks through a yawn.

"Clean us up," Harry manages. He is rapidly losing the battle against sleep. He'll have to get up very soon if he's going to remain awake.

"Oh," says Draco. "Have to use the toilet," he says, then, hastily, and runs away, taking his wand with him.

Harry isn't overly surprised. Draco will likely feel like he's having diarrhoea for a bit, but it will dissipate quickly. Harry's prick isn't really large enough to cause any kind of severe cramping. Draco's is, but Harry'd had practise. Still, it's a bit surprising that Draco takes his wand, which Harry is reminded of when he feels magic being performed in the loo. It reminds Harry to find his own wand, though, and put it under the pillow again. He cleans himself and the bed wandlessly, then gets up and makes the bed that way as well. He banishes the hovering spheres, then turns out the candle by hand. Finally, he lights a weak Lumos over the bed to allow Draco to find his way, and crawls back into it.

He falls asleep almost as soon as he's settled.

Imperious by colibri
Chapter 3: Imperious

Harry awakens in Draco's arms, which is nicer than he would care to admit. Draco does not usually spend the entire night when he falls asleep here. He hates having Harry see him at anything less than his best, and he hates even more finding himself cuddling with Harry. Accidentally, of course. So Harry is surprised that Draco has remained.

"Wake up, Malfoy," Harry murmurs and shakes the other boy gently but with purpose. "We have to get to breakfast."

"Not hungry," comes Malfoy's (perhaps predictable) response.

"You will be," says Harry darkly but he doesn't really care that much one way or the other. Harry gets up and goes to the en-suite in order to get ready, and by the time he's finished, Draco is gone from his rooms.

Harry pretends he doesn't feel a bit lost and cold at Draco's absence.

* * *

Draco fails to make it to breakfast and lunch, but he shows up for supper and drops a folded note at Harry's place before continuing on to the Slytherin table. The note is typical of Draco—Just a 'Thanks for night last. I'll be over at eleven o’clock.' Draco certainly hasn't changed that much, Harry muses. He takes the note discreetly under the table and disintegrates it wandlessly. No one is close enough to feel it, but Ron and Hermione arrive presently. Hermione had gone to find Ron after his Divination lesson.

"So, Harry…back with Malfoy again," says Ron. "Not that I'm surprised." He reaches for the salt to add over the top of his yorkie, which looks like something involving bangers and very little vegetable matter. "Thought Colin was a better fit, though, meself."

"Colin is very nice," Hermione agrees.

"I agree," and Harry does. "But Draco seems to have intimidated any interest right out of the bloke, so Slimy Slytherin wins the day, once more." He finishes his salad and moves on to the plate of vegetables he has decided to eat in its entirety tonight. It's become a very bad habit indeed, that he eats so little. He simply knows that if he'd not eaten so little last year, he would have grown more. He's been stunting his own growth despite knowing better. It's pathetic.

"You can't just let him bully you into going out with him!" Hermione says, positively scandalised.

"Yeah," Harry agrees. "He let me fuck him last night," he offers.

"He let you…?" Ron asks incredulously.

"Had to almost force me. Anyway, I need to run along. Revision to do for Monday."

"It's Friday!" Ron exclaims. "And there are parties to attend, Harry. Parties where you may just find some other, nice bloke who's a bloody pervert. I'm sure he'd be immediately taken."

"Thank you, Ron, for that amazing burst of insight. I'll be certain to do that some day—some other day, when going out to parties and the like does not involve dropping by the Hufflepuff common room and drinking firewhisky and smoking pot until everyone starts groping each other," and he leaves.

Harry has not actually made it to any of the Hufflepuff parties, mainly because of his status as a recovering junkie. It would be rather stupid and counter-productive of him to place himself in a position where drugs are being offered. He's honestly not quite certain, yet, that he's that strong. In fact, he's far more certain that he isn't.

Harry is nearly finished with the Wolfsbane Potion. He completes the required steps for this evening before returning to his rooms to finish up two History of Magic essays he's begun and start an essay for Herbology whilst attempting to dream up a topic for Potions. By eleven o'clock he has long since forgotten the time.

* * *

Draco knocks on the door before simply entering. "Are you busy?" he asks, though he would not leave even if Harry were. Which he is, in a manner of speaking.

"Of course," says Harry.

"Well, I said I'd come at eleven o’clock, and it is now five minutes past eleven, and I wish to speak with Harry Potter."

"Fine," Harry growls and puts away his books. "What do you want?"

"Well, a kiss might be a nice start," says Draco with a smirk, completely unaffected by Harry's annoyance, and walks over to kneel before Harry where he sits on the bed. He kisses Harry softly at first, runs his tongue across Harry's lips, then traces the same path across them with his thumb as he looks into Harry's eyes. There is a scent Harry can't quite place.

"What have you been doing all day?" Harry asks. "You weren't at meals."

"I was at supper," Draco counters. "Why, did you miss me?"

"Yes," Harry says, then scowls. He'd not meant to say that.

But Draco beams. "Brilliant!" he says. "I missed you, too."

Harry's not certain it makes him feel better to know that at least he wasn't alone in his embarrassing sentimentality. Still—

"Harry, I want you to tell me how Dumbledore expects you to fight the Dark Lord."

I can't tell you that, Draco, Harry thinks, but what comes out is quite different. "I've grown adept at wandless magic." And his eyes bulge as he claps his hands over his mouth, which is now keening and wailing. But then he lets loose. "GET OUT!!!GETOUTGETOUT! LIAR! TRAITOR! MURDERER! DEATH EATER! GET OUT BEFORE I KILL YOU! FUCKING CUNT!" He's backed himself against a wall, teeth bared in a terrified snarl, and Draco is still kneeling next to the bed, his eyes huge and round, his jaw slack.

Harry bangs his door open without warning, then propels Draco out with a thought, the force great enough that Draco cries out when he flies across the corridor to slam into Snape's office door. Harry slams the door shut and removes Draco's signature from his wards.

Harry stands against the wall, quaking with terror and betrayal. And still, the only thing he can think is—They will surely kill him now…my beautiful Draco—because he knows that Draco is no traitor to Dumbledore. He is a traitor to Harry, of course—betraying his trust completely—but not to the cause, exactly. He's simply a Slytherin.

Harry lets out a bark of weak laughter. It suddenly explains why Draco was so keen to get fucked last night. He used my semen as a basis for a compulsion potion. It's brilliant, and poetical in its justice. The spell is closely related to that he made for Snape for Christmas, after all. So that's what he was doing all day. He could have sucked me off. But Harry has no answer for that just now.

Harry slides down the wall and curls himself small, in the vain hope that his life might end right now. Quickly and painlessly. Before he has to see anyone else he cares about murdered.

Approbation by colibri
Chapter 4: Approbation

When the world didn't end, Harry eventually uncurled himself and put himself to bed, mainly because he was cold and his bony bum was aching from the floor's stones. Now he wakes to the feel of a caress on his cheek, and is about to expel Draco again before he realises two things. The first is that Draco can't get into his rooms anymore. The second, is that Snape is the one touching his face. He turns away from the wall to find the man sitting next to him on Harry's bed. The hand, of course, disappears so quickly it might almost have been a dream.

"What are you doing here?" Harry rasps. It seems he had been doing an awful lot of shrieking.

"Draco came to me last night."

"He was wrong."

"Yes, he was. Very wrong, indeed. He knew that when he was doing it. He was doing it because he wanted to help you."

"That's a load of crap."

"Well, it's what I've determined," Snape says dismissively, and sits up straighter. "It is not, of course, what he told me."

"Which was?"

"That he had asked for your hand, and didn't feel it was appropriate for you to keep things from him."

Harry supposes that does sound more like something Draco would say. It's also completely ridiculous, but it's certainly what Draco would say. "He didn't have to propose." Harry knows that Snape hates petulance, but since he's already spoken with Draco, he must have grown inured to it.

"I'm still at a loss," Snape admits. "But it seems more likely the reason he did this is because he fears for you. He says you told him Voldemort will kill you."

"Of course I did. And he likely will."

"Draco was convinced that you were delusional, because Voldemort has neutralised you as a threat. Draco knows that your behaviour has been highly erratic. He wanted to see why you would be so certain."

"He wanted to know whether I was having delusions of persecution and needed to be checked into St. Mungo's."

"Or perhaps a muggle psychiatric hospital."

"Righ'," agrees Harry, though it's only a joke. They could never put a real wizard in a muggle institution. A squib, perhaps, but not Harry. Not a werewolf, certainly. "So the git did this for me. And now he's useless as a spy."

"He's a decent Occlumens," Snape says.

"That's not good enough. And Voldemort can see through an Obliviate."

"I believe it is good enough, Mr Potter. He is not to your level, but he can keep me out of his mind every time. He needs to think about it—to intend it—in order to be successful, but he always does when he is away from Hogwarts. He already knows far more than you do about the Order, and the resistance in general, after all, and he has kept that from Voldemort."

Harry, of course, doesn't even need to think about Occlumency anymore, it has become so ingrained. Sometimes he meditates because it helps him feel better about his day or his lot or…whatever. But he needn't do that in order to keep anyone out of his mind anymore. And he is quite adept at projecting lies, now. He sighs. "I knew there was something going on, but I continue to be a mostly decent person, and I let my feelings for Draco—whatever they are—keep me from probing him. Like a fool, I trusted him."

"It is not so great an error as you seem to think, Mr Potter. Trusting someone does not require that they always behave honourably. It requires only that they always behave in your best interest, and tend to make things better for you in the end. His concern was for both of you, because he genuinely seems to care for you. No, he would not admit that, either."

"Why are you telling me this?" Harry says, and he feels like his energy has been completely sapped.

"Because I care about both of you, Mr Potter, despite what you might think of me. And I…approve."

"Approve." Harry does not understand. Even though he likely understands, he does not understand.

"As Draco's godfather," Snape says, standing up again to pull his armour about himself, "I approve of his choice in partners, and if you were to accept his betrothal, it would please me. Good day, Mr Potter."

Snape escapes Harry's rooms before Harry has had a chance even to consider closing his mouth again.

Moments of Lucidity by colibri
Chapter 5: Moments of Lucidity

Harry makes it out of bed eventually, but it is a struggle. He is exhausted and depressed. He is set adrift. And he is thinking very hard about what Professor Snape has told him. He is nervous, because he realises that his feelings for one Mr Malfoy are a bit stronger than he'd expected. And he realises, also, that he feels somehow lighter for Draco having found out the truth, and it makes him feel almost excessively guilty.

So he shows up for Sunday brunch in the nick of time, and is surprised to find Draco sitting at the Gryffindor table waiting for him (though not as surprised at the other Gryffindors must have been). He has been speaking to Harry's friends, obviously, and Harry has an irrational fear that Draco has told them everything as well, though he knows better.

Draco would never confide in them something like this.

Draco notices his entrance, of course, because they are already somewhat attuned, the two of them; and Draco does not offer a smile, but he also does not look away. He sits at the table, all silver arrogance and lazy aristocracy. When Harry sits down across from him, Harry blushes—a physical reaction he simply cannot control. Like his prick hardening a bit. His mouth is set, though, and it might look like anger.

"Good morning," Draco says.

"It is morning," Harry agrees.

"Harry!" Ron hisses from where he sits next to Draco (and yet as far from him as politesse will allow). "Is it true?"

Harry shows no reaction, but his heart skips a beat or two. "Is what true?" Harry says, and casts another dampening field about them. Neither Ron nor Hermione notice, but Draco's eyes widen a bit. He is attuned now—he is going to notice these things. Harry glares at him, but only for a moment.

"That Draco proposed to you??" Ron hisses.

Hermione hides her face in her hands, though her scent is more confusion than sadness. She is, apparently, baffled. It's an interesting change. She shakes her head a little bit and mutters, "I can't believe it," in a voice only Harry could hear.

"Did he tell you that?" Harry asks, pulling a bowl of oatmeal porridge to himself and adding raspberries and honey, then a tiny bit of milk.

"Of course!" Ron hisses.

"Well, I suppose it's true, then," Harry says and looks at Draco again. "Are you going to convert?"

"Convert?" asks Draco, the confusion not meshing well with the arrogance.

"Yeah, to Gryffindor. To please me. I've no parents to offer a dowry to. Not even a godfather."

"That book I gave you, alone, is worth more than the Weasleys."

"Then, perhaps, you should have saved that for the dowry," Harry says easily and begins to slowly eat his porridge. It is delicious, but the bowl seems to grow very large, indeed, as he's watching it. He's not certain whether it's some sort of house elf magic or if it's just another manifestation of his own lunacy. He measures the bowl around with his hands, though, and it seems to still be only just larger than his reach, so it must be his lunacy. Unless his hands have grown as well. So he measures his hands to his face and finds that no, they are the same. And really, he thinks his friends would look at him much more strangely if his entire head had grown.

As of now, they are only staring at him as if he is mildly insane, which he is.

"Well, what did you answer??" Ron nearly screeches in his overexcitement.

"I haven't yet," Harry says, as if this much should be obvious. And it should be, really.

"You mean you're considering?" Ron seems to be having a coronary.

"You really shouldn't eat rashers for breakfast every day, Ron," Harry scolds.

"Of course he's considering," Hermione says tiredly and butters a slice of toast. "Harry's a fool for a gorgeous bloke."

"I am," Harry agrees.

Draco preens, even as he's smirking devilishly. He's very handsome this morning, Harry notices suddenly. Not only great-looking, as he always is, but truly handsome. He's dressed for the occasion. Harry takes a look under the table. Indeed. Draco is wearing a tight, black polo shirt that shows his broad, strong shoulders to great effect, tucked into black trousers. With a black belt that has a polished silver buckle that is, very subtly, a snake.

Harry is, of course, wearing ratty jeans and a ragged t-shirt, but at least they nearly fit. He knows that Draco finds him sexy regardless of what he's wearing, since he can always scent it, but it helps that Draco's eyes are always shining lust at him.

"That doesn't mean you have to marry him," Hermione continues, as if Harry hadn't just drifted away from the conversation entirely.

"He's a bit of an underhanded bastard," Harry says, and Ron grins triumphantly.

"Exactly that!" Ron exclaims, and the others about the table hear it, of course, and turn to look his way for a few moments. Ron does not notice, though.

"Well, you've dressed for the occasion, haven't you, Draco?" Harry says. "Fancy a reply?"

"Well…yes, I have," Draco admits, though now he is embarrassed about it. "And I would like a reply."

"It's not even been a day you've given me," Harry says, frowning into his porridge.

"It's been more than a day," Draco disagrees. "I asked Friday night. It's Sunday now."

Harry has to think very hard about that. "Because last evening was when you betrayed me."

"Right," Draco agrees.

"All right, then," Harry decides and goes back to his breakfast.

"'All right, then,' what?" says Ron.

"He'll marry me," says Draco and beams. It makes him look very young and a little bit evil.

"But you're not going to be the mother. Because I can tell you right now, I'm never bloody fucking you again. No matter how much you beg."

"Mother?" says Hermione.

"And I'm wearing the gown. Because you're entirely too large, and your shoulders are far too broad. It would look ridiculous."

Draco rolls his eyes. "Neither of us has to wear a frock, you nit."

"I think I like wearing frocks," Harry says and has finished eating breakfast, though the bowl is still half-full. He is stuffed. Filled up. "Did this bowl grow again? It's ridiculous—to expect a bloke to eat this much. I mean, really."

"We didn't think you'd notice," says Hermione with a blush.

"Not notice?" Draco snorts. "Harry notices everything, you know." But then he stands. "Is it too much to ask, to get a kiss from my fiancé?"

"In the Great Hall, with witnesses?" Harry asks and stands as well. Draco really does look smashing in a polo-neck.

"You said yes??" exclaims Ron.

Harry lets go the dampening field he had erected and says, "No, I said 'All right, then,' but that's close enough." And then he gives Draco a kiss over the table, relying on Draco's support to keep him from falling into a dish of eggs. "Now, I really must get back to my revision."

"I'm coming with," says Draco.

"We'll talk later, Harry," says Hermione with worry.

"Yeah!" agrees Ron, still very much in shock.

Draco takes Harry's hand as soon as they're away from the table and nearly drags him from the Hall. As soon as the door has closed, Draco turns to him in all seriousness. "Are you all right? You seem a bit…off."

"I'm a little bit loony, but it gets better the further from the full moon I get."

Draco seems to think on that for a moment before shrugging it off. "That sounds reasonable. I think I like you this way, anyway. It's soothing."

"Fabulous," Harry agrees. "Would you like a lift back to my rooms?"

"I don't know what you mean, but I suppose I'm up for it."

So Harry casts invisibility over them both, then works the Condenso Aerem large enough for both of them. "I could levitate you directly, of course, but this is so much more fun." And then they are riding through the corridors at top speed, since Harry has gotten very good at this over the last term. Draco is cackling maniacally whilst holding onto Harry for dear life.

"This is brilliant!" Draco exclaims after he's regained enough breath to be able to speak again.

And then they arrive. Harry opens his door and brings them to a halt, lowering them gently to the floor and closing the door behind them, resetting his wards. "I'm glad you enjoyed it," Harry says and doesn't sound very glad, really, though he is. He sounds distracted as he goes about taking his dose of Wolfsbane.

"You did all of that wandlessly, and without incantations of any sort," says Draco, amazed. "I'd never even guessed what you were capable of."

"I worked hard for that. I believe I was beaten to a bloody pulp over that on one specific occasion," Harry says and pulls out his Potions. He has an essay to complete, though it's a bloody waste of time, as far as he's concerned. He should be spending time on subjects he's not fond of, and not particularly good at. Like History of Magic.

"I should finish that one as well," Draco mutters to himself. "But Harry…I'd much rather see what else you can do."

Harry has already seated himself at the desk and is beginning to fall into the book Hermione gave him for Christmas. "I'm also fairly good at giving blowjobs," Harry says distractedly, but he has already forgotten that Draco is there, and doesn't notice when Draco opens the door and Accios his own texts and supplies, then closes it again.

"Harry, could you reset the wards, please," Draco says, and Harry does with a negligent wave of the hand. Then he doesn't surface again for several hours.

* * *

"Harry, it's supper time," comes Draco's familiar voice from above his head. Draco smells like earth and salt and ink, traces of musk and leather beneath. Blood. He lays a soft kiss on the top of Harry's head, as if they're in love.

"What are you doing here?" Harry asks and yawns, stretches a bit.

"I was working on my Potions essay," Draco says.

"Oh. I was as well," Harry offers and stands.

"You finished it an hour ago," Draco agrees. "And then you were working on History of Magic."

"Yeah. I hate History. I think I fell asleep."

"No, it likely just felt that way. So, is it always this way before your change?"

"What way?"

"That you're…easily confused? And forget things?"

"I think it's always different, actually," Harry says. "I don't recall it being this way all the time. But last time, I didn't take my Wolfsbane at all."

"I will await further explanation," Draco says, "before I have a fit at how completely unacceptable and utterly irresponsible that was." He is very obviously calming himself.

"Professor Dumbledore wished to see what effect the Animagus transformation would have on the forced transformation of the Lycanthropy."

"Because, of course, you have mastered the Animagus transformation as well," Draco says and lets loose with a single bark of disbelieving laughter. "If you weren't so completely beyond the realm of the possible, I think I'd be jealous, Harry Potter. And instead, I find myself gloating internally."

"Gloating?" Harry looks down at his own clothes, then looks at Draco. "You are extremely lovely, today," he recalls.

"I am always lovely," Draco agrees, "but I meant that I am gloating over having pulled you, Harry Potter. No one else could have pulled you."

"Lots of men have fucked me, Draco Malfoy. I've even fucked several other than you."

"All in the past, my lovely pet. All in the past." Draco's smile is warm and languid as he pulls Harry into the circle of his arms and looks fondly down into his eyes. It makes Harry feel dizzy. "And to think, I shall have children with the loveliest, most powerful wizard of modern times. It is a fate worthy of a Malfoy, I think. And that is why I gloat."

"I could gloat," Harry says and places his hands against Draco's well-defined chest, though it is hidden by black fabric.

"Yes, you could," Draco agrees. "But everyone is already jealous of you. I must say, it makes me feel even more privileged, that the rest of the world does not even know, yet, how very exceptional I am, to have pulled you."

"So when did you want to begin making an heir, Mr Malfoy?"

"Well…we've not yet perfected the potion, my dearest Mr Potter. And since you and I have only just begun our engagement, I would say now would be a bit premature. Don't you agree?"

"Of course," Harry agrees, though really, he has no opinion at all on the subject just now. No, just now, he is only thinking that it would be exceedingly brilliant if Draco would fuck him. "You smell like sex," Harry says before burying his face under Draco's arm. It's lovely, really. Not strong enough, but better than nothing. It's a tease.

"Supper," Draco says sternly, though Draco's pulse spikes and the scent of lust increases. Draco then drags him to the Great Hall, and sits him down at the table with Ron and Hermione before walking off to the Slytherin table, leaving Harry bereft and a bit distracted. Though, to be fair, Harry was already a bit distracted.

"Hello, Harry—how are you this evening?" asks Hermione.

"Very well, thank you," says Harry without thought. That is what he was taught to say when someone asks him how he is this evening. He is taking a bap and buttering it and eating it. It settles his stomach, so he takes another. "How are you?" he finally remembers to ask in return.

"We're well, Harry. How did it go with Draco?"

"Draco is well," Harry says and finishes the second bap. He thinks it might be nice with some chocolate, and then chocolate appears, and he takes a square and eats it.

"She means, about the wedding," Ron says.

"What wedding?" asks Harry.

"Your wedding, to Draco Bloody Malfoy."

"Oh," says Harry and finishes the chocolate. He licks his fingers one by one, and thinks that Draco's fingers taste better. He wonders if Draco would let him bite that lovely skin and lap at his blood. "I don't know if there will be a wedding. His father doesn't know about the betrothal yet. Perhaps it's not even official without his consent. I think he'd never consent."

"Well, that was particularly lucid of you," says Hermione, the scent of worry suddenly gone from her overall picture. She tucks in presently.

"Thank you," says Harry, though he's not entirely certain to what she's referring. "He's really spectacular in bed, though he's just atrocious as a bottom."

"Just eat your supper, Harry," says Ron tiredly. "Sometimes I wonder why I continue to be your friend at all."

Harry frowns.

"That is simply unacceptable, Ron. How would you like it, losing your mind once a month and then losing your friends because of it?!" Her eyes are blazing. Harry thinks that in this moment, she is blindingly lovely. Except for the way she's scowling.

"It's not like he appreciates it!" Ron returns defensively.

"Of course he does," Hermione dismisses. "Don't you, Harry."

"Of course," Harry agrees. Harry appreciates many things, like the way the candlelight reflects off of Ron's longish hair. "Hey, you've not cut your hair," Harry says.

Ron snorts and shakes his head. It seems to calm him, somehow. "Right, mate. I can't very well have it short if Malfoy has his short, now can I?"

"Really?" Harry hadn't realised there was a rule about that. But he shrugs it off, then notices Professor Snape getting up from the head table, regal and sinister at once. Harry sighs. "I had him, once," he says.

Ron follows the path of Harry's eyes and snorts again. "Now he's really delusional," he says to Hermione.

Hermione grimaces. "It is growing worse, isn't it. Oh, Harry."

Harry can scent a blur of emotion from Snape as he approaches, but very little of it is want. It makes him a bit sad.

"Mr Potter. If you and Mr Malfoy would please come to my offices directly after supper."

"Yes, sir."

"He might not remember, sir," Hermione offers meekly, cheeks flushed with the embarrassment of drawing attention to herself.

"Will you remember, Mr Potter?"

"I remember many things, Professor," Harry replies.

"Hmm," says Professor Snape. "I see. Thank you, Miss Granger," and he walks off toward the Slytherin tables instead.

"That really is a lovely choker, Harry," says Hermione.

"I can't see it," says Harry, and puts his hand to it. "It's warm, like skin."

"Hematite, isn't it?" asks Ron.

"Yes," Harry agrees. "Why isn't Draco sitting here?"

"Because he's a Slytherin, and Slytherins sit at the opposite end of the Hall," explains Ron, patiently. "Otherwise, we'd always be fighting one another."

"He's so lovely," Harry says and sighs dreamily, then gets up to go see Draco at the Slytherin table.

"Cor blimey," mutters Ron and hides his face in his hands. "He's completely hopeless."

Hermione twines legs with her boyfriend under the table. "He'll be all right. He always is. And Draco seems really taken with him."

"So now he's Draco."

"He's been Draco, Ron. I think Draco likes to care for Harry. The way he made certain Harry got to his seat before going off to Slytherin today. He knows Harry's not all there right now."

"But why isn't he all there?"

"His behaviour seems a bit…random just now, is all," Hermione postulates. "As if he has no inhibitions and no cares, so he simply says whatever pops into his head. There are no filters on anything, so he is completely credulous, and completely honest. Or, at least, far more so than usual."

"Ah, so now would be the perfect time to ask him about all of his dirty little secrets?" Ron asks, rolling his eyes.

"I have a feeling most of the secrets he'd think to tell you would involve a certain silver-eyed Slytherin."


* * *

"Harry, what are you doing here?"

"They said you had to sit at the Slytherin table because you're a Slytherin," Harry says and goes to stand behind and next to Draco, mostly behind Millicent Bulstrode. Pansy and Blaise are staring daggers at him from across the table.

"What the bloody hell is wrong with him?" asks Pansy, her pug-nose shrivelled in distaste. She is looking at Harry with something like revulsion.

Draco's scent goes from curiosity with a tinge of embarrassment and want, to anger with a broad streak of dominance. "Nothing at all is wrong with him, which is why I've chosen him for my boyfriend. You, however, may just be the ugliest girl Slytherin has ever seen. It's a shame you can't simply…fix it. I suppose suicide is always an option."

"She's not that ugly," Harry says, cocking his head to the side to see if that helps. "A bit plain. But she's no uglier than most of the students, Draco."

"Potter, if you would please stay out of my power struggles, it would be most appreciated. Thank you."

There are various snickers from round the table, but Pansy is gaping and bug-eyeing like a landed fish.

Harry sits down next to Draco, which involves pushing Millicent over. If she hadn't moved of her own volition, Harry would not have succeeded, of course.

"What the—?!" Blaise.

"Potter, I'm nearly finished eating. Can't you wait until I come and fetch you?"

"They said you were a Slytherin so you couldn't sit at our table—"

"Hasn't stopped him before—" mutters Teddy Nott.

"—but since I was almost in Slytherin, I thought I could come and sit with you."

"Wait a moment," says Pansy, no longer gaping, her brow raised. "Did you say 'almost in Slytherin'?"

Harry pays her no mind whatsoever, since his has already moved on. He is staring at Draco's lovely, lovely face, which is staring back at him in confusion. He wants a kiss, but Draco has no scent of lust at all. "What did you mean by that, Harry?" Draco asks.

"I want to kiss you," Harry whispers, and it works—he can feel the nearly instantaneous lust rise inside Draco, pushing that lovely scent of man to the surface, where Harry can cover himself with it. He is kissing Draco before Draco realises what he is doing.

And then Harry is being pushed away, gently, but firmly. "Harry…what did you mean before, about almost being in Slytherin?"

"You're in Slytherin House," Harry says, confused. Oh why had Draco stopped him??

"Are you in Slytherin House?" Draco asks, trying a different tack.

Harry frowns. "No, I didn't want to be. You all are very mean to everyone. And evil. And in league with Voldemort—"

"Well, I see," Draco interrupts, taking Harry's hand firmly. "I think it's time we put you to bed."

At the mention of bed, Harry is ready to go, everything else forgotten. He stands and leaves the table, Draco right behind him.

* * *

They walk hand in hand to the dungeons, and on to Professor Snape's office, where Draco raises his hand to knock but Harry simply opens the door and walks inside, Draco still in tow. Professor Snape is there, marking papers, evidently waiting for them. "Good evening, Mr Potter, Mr Malfoy," he says and stands, then moves round his desk to stand before them. "Did Mr Potter remember?"

"I don't think so, no," says Draco, his hand still firmly gripping Harry's.

Professor Snape reaches into an inside pocket of his robe and pulls out a handful of stones. Only then he arranges it to show that it is a chain, like the one Harry wears round his neck. "Harry, do you remember this necklace?"

"Of course," says Harry. "You were wearing it, so you could help me during my change."

"This next change would have been the first, yes," Snape agrees. "But Mr Malfoy tells me you've accepted his proposal."

"Which proposal?" Harry asks. There are so many, Harry thinks.

"Of marriage," says Draco tiredly. "You're my fiancé."

"Of course I accepted Draco's proposal," Harry agrees. "Why wouldn't I?"

"This is hopeless," Draco mutters.

Snape pinches the bridge of his nose. "There has to be some way to change the potion so that this particular set of side effects does not occur again."

"I would be most grateful," Draco agrees. "He says whatever he thinks—it's dangerous."

"Perhaps we'll have to confine him to quarters again," Snape says, obviously agreeing with Draco. "Well, regardless, this chain is of enchanted hematite. Its purpose is to create a mindlink between the wearers of the two chains. Harry cannot communicate normally whilst in lupine form, but he will be able to communicate with you, if you are wearing the chain."

"And you were going to be wearing this?" Draco asks, surprised and, perhaps, slightly jealous.

"I have supervised Mr Potter's changes before, Mr Malfoy."

"This is a bit intimate, though, sir," and little stains of pink are visible at Draco's cheeks.

It is the wrong thing to say, and Draco realises it almost immediately. Snape pulls himself to his full height, and his robes seem like a black hole made fabric—as if he can draw the soul out of any mere mortal at will and capture it forever in those midnight folds. "Mr Malfoy, perhaps you should show a bit more respect for your Head of House," says Snape in that voice of black tar.

"Yes, sir," replies Draco hastily. "That was inappropriate of me to say."

Snape turns to Harry, who has been watching and scenting the posturing with fascinated intensity. "Mr Potter, do you mind if Mr Malfoy wears this chain instead of me?"

Harry reaches up to his own chain and looks at the other, hanging from Snape's hand. "It would be lovely on Draco," Harry thinks and so says.

"Will he be this incoherent the entire time, sir?" Draco asks.

"I've no way of knowing, Mr Malfoy. Do you not wish to wear the chain?"

"I do!" and hastily snatches it from Professor Snape's hand. "I absolutely do, yes. I was only curious. And…well, if things get out of hand, can I come to you?"

"Of course, Mr Malfoy. The chain does not make you Mr Potter's keeper. It simply gives you the ability to hear Mr Potter's thoughts. You needn't even be in the room with him, though you seemed to be of the opinion that it would help to convince Mr Potter that you were serious about your proposal."

"I want to stay with him," Draco agrees, but he is nervous. A bit.

"You are welcome to come to me with any questions or concerns, Mr Malfoy, as always. I am still your Head of House, and I have been Mr Potter's de facto counsellor for quite some time, now. So unless there are any further questions…?"

Draco looks at the small chain, then puts it over his head, where it expands to slide down, then narrows again to sit, warmly and comfortably, against Draco's neck.

"It is lovely," Snape agrees with Harry's earlier prediction.

Draco's attention is drawn to Harry, who seems to be scenting in Snape's direction with a look of hunger in his eyes. "Well, I think we'd best be going," he says, attempting to hide his discomfort. This Harry he understands better—the one who is randy beyond words and control, pouncing on anyone who shows the least bit of arousal. And the least bit is very little indeed before Harry can pick up on it.

He does not sigh with relief until they are back in Harry's rooms. "What am I going to do with you?" Draco mutters.

"Fuck me?" Harry asks hopefully. "Are my lips not sweet? Is my body not inviting?" He drops to his knees before Draco and opens the button and zip on Draco's trousers. He pulls down both trousers and pants at once, exposing the long, flaccid length of pale prick. It's already been filling, but not yet tumescent. Harry swallows it in its entirety until he is nosing about in silver-white pubes and Draco is breathing heavily, feeling his cock expanding into Harry's throat.

Harry is a young man of many, many talents, but none more appreciated by Draco—at least in this moment—than his ability to suck cock. Later, Draco will likely be more appreciative of Harry's ability to take a cock as big as Draco's up his arse with no preparation but a quickly muttered Lubricoleo spell, and love it. But for now, his groaning is in appreciation of Harry's oral talents.

* * *

Things manage, somehow, to improve over the next couple of days and by Monday supper, Harry is perfectly lucid again, if still a bit eccentric. Of course, Harry has been eccentric for quite some time, now, so that does not bother anyone. He had been allowed to go to lessons, and is extremely grateful for that, when he can be. He hates missing lessons because of his…condition.

What is most troubling to him, however, is that he does not recall accepting Draco's proposal, though he supposes he would have accepted regardless. It's only…part of him feels like it should have been a special moment, somehow, and now it's lost forever, and he resents it. And so, when Draco comes to his rooms after supper, Harry lashes out.

"What kind of sick prick are you, taking advantage of my dementia as you did?!" Harry rages as soon as Draco comes through the door.

Draco is at a loss, but intensely dislikes being blamed for anything. "You've never minded me fucking you before—why should it make a difference that you're a bit nutters when I do it?"

"That's not what I meant!"

"Well, then," and Draco manages in those few seconds to regain his composure. "To what, exactly, are you referring, dearest Harry?" Draco lays his school things down near the door and turns to Harry expectantly, crossing arms over his chest.

"I meant," Harry seethes, though he's got his voice under control now, at least, "forcing me to answer your proposal whilst I was out of my mind!"

Draco blinks and a flash of hurt comes over his face before it shuts down, and Draco's body grows hard. "I'm sorry. I didn't realise you were regretting it already—"

"I'm not! And I didn't say that, anyway!"

And Draco's righteous anger is deflated before it has even got off the ground. "Well what the bloody fuck are you saying, then, you bint!?" He is frustrated—exasperated. Why can't Harry be a regular bloke? Why does he have to act like a hormonal girl??

But Harry seems equally lost. Now that he's done the yelling, he really has no idea what he's angry for. It's over already. What does he expect? "I don't remember," Harry blurts, and flushes with embarrassment. He collapses to sit on his bed and hide his face in his hands. "I don't remember accepting. I wanted it to mean something, but I don't remember."

Draco thinks that his assessment was more right than he'd initially thought. Harry is acting exactly like a girl. So Draco has to think of how, in the past, he has used his wits and imagination to appease girls. It certainly always involved talking. So, "Oh," he says. "To be perfectly honest, Harry, I didn't realise how affected you were when I asked you. I didn't realise until much later that your behaviour was actually off because of your cycle. Sometimes you seem to be dancing to a different tune, but it's only because there is so much in your head the rest of us can't know about, or can't understand. You care about different things than we do, and than you used to. You react differently to situations. It confuses most of us—or, at least, it confuses me, and I know it confuses Granger and Weasel. Your acceptance was vague and strange, but I didn't think there was a real reason for it at the time."

Harry blinks and stares at Draco, then blinks again. Says, "Oh. All right." What else can he say? It's a much better explanation than he'd been expecting. He'd actually been expecting Draco to storm out in a rage while Harry himself tossed things about in his room wandlessly, dissipating some of the pent-up magic he's been building up because of the change.

But now they've apologised to each other, essentially, and Draco is here, and Harry is randy, and so…yes.

The Corruption of Draco Malfoy by colibri
Internal thoughts in italics, mental speech in bold.

Chapter 6: The Corruption of Draco Malfoy

On the afternoon of the 12th of January, Harry smiles sadly at Draco, who is eager to see the change because he cannot understand, and gives him a last kiss before he transforms into his wolf form. They both wear the chains and suddenly, Harry can hear Draco calling out to him without his lips moving. Harry, can you hear me? he calls with great excitement.

And Harry has to admit, it makes all the difference. He grins in his lupine form, which means his jaw is open and he's panting a bit and licking his canines. I can! Harry replies. Wicked!

Isn't it just? "Can you understand me when I speak aloud?"

Of course, you git, Harry says and snorts. I'm still me in here. That's the point of the Wolfsbane Potion.

"Only making certain," Draco says huffily. "So…what do you do whilst you're transformed like this?"

Not very much, Harry admits. That's why it's so miserably boring. I can't read, I can't do any magic, and usually I can't even have a conversation with anyone. Last time, Professor Snape read to me on occasion.

"I can do that," Draco agrees. "We can revise…History of Magic is your favourite, yes?"

Harry groans in his head and meets Draco's mental laughter. I do need the revision, though, Harry agrees.

"How will I know when the lunar transformation takes place?" Draco asks.

The hope is that you won't. Last time, I wasn't taking the Wolfsbane, so I lost contact with reality and retreated into my lupine instincts. This time, there should be no difference.

"All right."

So they begin to revise, and the day wears on.

Supper is brought to them by a beaming Dobby, who sets up a table for Draco and lays out a dish of raw steak cubes for Harry before leaving. "I find it amusing, the way you eat no meat at all when you're a human, but as a wolf, you eat nothing but."

The balance of the universe must always be maintained, young Draco Malfoy, Harry says in his most pedantic voice. Funny how, in his head, it sounds exactly like Professor McGonagall.

"Harry, can I ask you a personal question?"

Could I stop you?

"No," Draco admits.

Then consider carefully whether you truly desire an answer to the question, before you ask it.

Silence falls between them again as they finish supper and sit in comfortable lethargy. But, eventually, Draco does speak again. He is quiet, this time, and hesitant, but also resolved. "Did anything happen with Professor Snape, when he was wearing the chain?"

Professor Snape did not give me the chain until after my transformation ended for the cycle.

"Did anything happen during the cycle?"

Yes, Harry says. I threw myself at him at every opportunity, and he pushed me away.

"So…nothing has ever happened with Professor Snape?"

This is going to be eating at Draco forever, Harry knows. Draco and he are bonded enough already that Draco can feel that there is a piece missing. Draco can feel that there is a lie between them, or a truth that has not been spoken. Under normal circumstances, Harry would feel no particular need to tell him. Indeed, there are secrets that are better left unspoken—especially when they will never be found out. But this one is a living secret between them, and it wishes, desperately, to be unearthed. It will come out of its own accord later if Harry does not offer it now, and later, no one will have the ability to choose the time. I have had sex with Professor Snape, Draco. Once, and never again. I think he regrets it dearly.

Draco is silent, then, for a long time. Harry guesses it is at least half an hour. Dobby comes and takes their supper things away, and Draco goes to the en-suite to shower and change for bed. When he comes back out in pyjama pants riding low on his hips, Harry nearly whimpers at the beauty of him. Draco stands in the doorway, straight and tall, and looks down on Harry's form. "You don't regret it."

No, Harry agrees.

"You love him," Draco says.

I find his presence comforting, Harry says, but I think he is more a father to me than a lover. Still, yes, I think I do.

Draco stands for several minutes longer before nodding curtly. "I think that's the same way I feel about him. I was never really attracted to him for long enough to try to get him in bed, though," he admits. "All you seem to have to do is bat your eyelashes at someone and he falls into you."

I didn't just bat my eyelashes at him. It was actually a very difficult seduction, Harry says with a frown in his mental voice.

Draco stares at him incredulously before bursting into laughter. "You are unbelievable, Harry Potter. And the biggest slut I have ever had the privilege of meeting. I think you are worse than Pansy and me combined."

That is saying a lot, Harry agrees. Pansy is a whore and has slept with every Slytherin who would have her, including the girls. Not certain it's true, but it would be quite a title to bandy about. Hello, I'm Harry Potter, World's Greatest Slut.

Draco chuckles, but is wearing a genuine smile, now. He falls gracefully to his knees before Harry and reaches out to him awkwardly, running fingers through the fur at Harry's cheeks, then round Harry's ears and down his neck. "Is this all right?" Draco whispers.

You don't have to be gentle, Draco. I'm a hearty woodland beast, Harry replies with great amusement.

"I've never seen a wolf so close before," Draco admits. "You're so large." There is a bit of fear in Draco's scent, but mostly, it is fascination, and fondness for the man inside the body.

"Small for a wolf." Suddenly, Harry feels a brightening inside of himself, and he steps back a few paces before baying loudly. The moon is calling, and he is answering.

And then, just as quickly as it began, it is ended. Harry sees that Draco is staring, startled. The moon is out, now, Harry explains. That is all the difference you'll see. He walks back toward Draco, but very slowly, and then lowers his muzzle to rub against Draco's hand where it hangs, forgotten, by his side.

Draco soon finds his courage again and reaches, gingerly, to pet Harry. Over the minutes, he grows more comfortable, and more confident, and more bold. Until he is obviously enjoying the softness of Harry's fur against his skin. "You're so dark," Draco says. "Can you choose the colour of your own fur?"

I don't know, Harry admits. I've never thought about it before.

"Does it feel nice when I pet you?" Draco asks, but does not stop.

It is blissful, Harry replies honestly. I would be content to remain in the circle of your arms forever.

"I think I'm sleepy, though," Draco admits after yawning for the fifteenth time. "We haven't been sleeping much lately." Mainly because Harry has been insatiable, and Draco has been obliging him.

You're welcome to the bed, Harry says with amusement. As if Draco isn't always welcome to the bed.

"Where are you going to sleep?"

Professor Snape always made a cushion for me out of one of the chairs.

"…Oh…" Draco says, then looks about the room. He transfigures the desk chair into a cushion, then levitates it over next to the bed, toward the head. "All right…good night, then, Potter."

Good night, Draco.

Harry knows that Draco is watching as Harry turns three circles round his new cushion before settling down onto it. The light goes out with a mumbled Nox, and soon, Harry falls into sleep.

* * *

Harry awakens as soon as the moon's influence is eclipsed by that of the sun. He needs no window to know this—he simply knows, like a Nox going off in his head. He leaps from his cushion and heads toward the loo, transforming to human form between one step and the next, in time to open the door with hands.

And it feels good—very good, even—to be a man again.

He closes the door quietly behind himself, then takes a few moments to stare at his own human face in the glass before setting the shower with a wave.

The water feels heavenly against his skin, and he is thankful for the sparseness of his own body hair, for once. It's nice with such a contrast—to feel smoothness against the pads of his fingers when he spreads soap across his stomach, his chest, and into his face. The depilatory spell is second-nature by now, and he gives a fleeting thought to using it everywhere—on his legs, on his pubic hair. Even his head. But he gives a little smile and shake of his head and does not. Perhaps he will ask Draco, but certainly not his head. He loves his long hair, even if it does take a full twenty minutes to wash it properly. Just now, he has the time.

His hair has always grown far more quickly than seemed entirely natural to anyone. If he hadn't wanted it cut, it had grown back overnight. And now that he wants it long, it grows at least three times as fast as anyone else's he's noticed. It's already more than midway down his back when it's dry, and reaches his waist when wet.

He is distracted by the door opening and Draco's morning scent. "Harry?"

Harry peeks his face out of the shower. "All right, Draco?"

"Yeah," though Draco is bleary-eyed, and his hair is a disgrace. "Ugh," he mutters with disgust when he looks at himself in the glass. "I should really be waking up first—to avoid him seeing me like this," he mutters to himself, forgetting, for the moment, that Harry can easily hear him.

"Why don't you join me?" Harry offers, rinsing the last of the shampoo from his hair and twisting it before throwing the rope of it over his shoulder.

"Because I want to be clean before I fuck you," Draco says, and Harry shudders.

"All right," Harry agrees eagerly, mostly failing to hide it. He doesn't bother shutting off the water, as Draco passes him on his way out. The space is small, but large enough. He grabs a towel and dries himself before wringing his hair gently in the basin, then wrapping it in his towel for a moment.

And then he remembers—Draco knows everything now. He nearly cackles with glee, then casts a silent Dessico on his hair on his way out of the en-suite, then a Scourgify on his towel before he has it fold itself and levitate back to its place on the wall.

"Bloody show-off," mutters Draco, but he is impressed, not disgusted. And they are both more than slightly randy. Draco's shower is over in under five, and then Draco makes his grand entrance, all wet skin and jutting cock. "Maybe you could try that on me?" he offers.

Harry does without a thought and almost regrets it, since it removes those lovely beads of water from Draco's skin. But then he's forgotten all about it as the tingle has left Draco's nipples as hard as they were when he was cold. Oh yeah, and a drop of precome dribbles from the distended head of that cock, which Harry couldn't have seen before, what with all the water. He is afraid to speak, since he has a sneaking suspicion all that will come out is a gurgle.

Draco stalks toward where Harry is reclining on the bed, that unwieldy rod pointing the way before him, bobbing lewdly. It's ridiculous, Harry supposes, but he finds it not in the least funny. And now that it's here…well, it's exactly the right size to occupy his hungry mouth, and gag his throat, and really, he didn't need to breathe anyway. And this way, his gurgling sounds more like moans, and that's better as well. Far preferable.

"Yessss," Draco is hissing, "suck it, Potter," as lewd as can be, and grabbing handfuls of Harry's silky hair as he fucks Harry's willing throat. And then he begins murmuring in French, and Harry understands not a word of it, but God, does it sound sexy—low and fluid and, really, it reminds him of Snape, in a kind of remote and safe way. Draco is too gorgeous (and real as he slides down Harry's throat) to be pushed out of Harry's head by someone else.

But then Harry is pulled off by the hair, and Draco is gasping as he pushes Harry onto his back and climbs atop, devouring already bruised lips until he pulls back to gasp breath. Harry is overwhelmed as always, though today Draco seems particularly out of control. "Tu est comme un tempeste," Draco whispers, "mais tres puissant. Mon petit ‘Arry, mon amour."

Harry understands his name—and he understands 'mon amour', and he wonders if Draco has always been so tender—to call Harry his love. It makes Harry's insides twist in a knot. He does not know what to do.

But he needn't have worried, for Draco's whispering turns to a word Harry does recognize, and Harry sees that Draco is dropping his wand to the floor, and then Harry's legs are bent over him and Draco is pressing inside and Harry forgets all about fear and love and….

* * *

They take breakfast in the Great Hall managing, somehow, to be on time. It is a success Harry attributes to Draco's extreme skill at making himself look beautiful in under a minute, because really, Draco would not be seen in public looking anything less than stunning, and if it took him as long to achieve that effect as it would, say, Pansy, they'd still be in Harry's rooms and would likely be there all day.

Harry had had plenty of time to put on his school kit, spell his tie on, and plait his hair. But he'd not had time for makeup, which was all right, because that time had been spent getting fucked, and Harry would rather get fucked than apply makeup any day.

"Hmmm…don't you look pleased this morning," says Hermione from her place opposite Harry. She is sitting next to Ron today, so neither of them can see Draco, but Harry can just make him out from over their shoulders if he cranes his neck. But he is not doing that now.

"Do I?" says Harry with a smirk. "You two don't look particularly deprived either," Harry notes. He can smell them on each other, though it is not incredibly fresh. It's on their clothing. But it's no secret they're fucking as often as possible. Harry wonders what kind of contraceptive Hermione is using, because he can't imagine Ron using rubbers. It reminds him of Draco's heir, and sobers him a bit. It's a subject he's not entirely ready to contemplate yet.

"How did the change go?" Ron asks quietly, with genuine curiosity. It's nice, that the worry is no longer there.

"Surprisingly well," Harry says and offers a smile. But he is slightly taken aback when he scents Ron's spike of desire. He has to clear his throat before he continues. "I, er…had Draco there with me. With these," he says and runs fingers over his choker, "we were able to talk while I was in wolf form. It was nice, not being alone."

"What is it?" Hermione asks. "I thought it was only jewellery."

"It's a link," Harry says, though it's not as simple as that, of course. She will make all of the relevant assumptions, and she will be right, or at least, mostly right. "It's only triggered when I'm in lupine form. But I mostly slept through it, as usual," Harry admits. He snags an apple and a banana, feeling even less like eating this morning than usual, likely because of the huge plate of meat he ate night last. It makes him a bit queasy even thinking about it.

"Good morning, Harry," comes the familiar voice of Colin Creevey, who is only just arriving.

"Good morning, Colin," Harry offers and tries not to show his absolute surprise at being greeted. Colin is staring this morning—positively staring. He can barely make it to his seat, he stumbles so often. Harry frowns and casts the familiar dampening about himself and his friends again. They are, once again, too distracted to notice. "What's going on?" Harry asks, hoping they will know.

But Hermione looks just as baffled as Harry does. "No earthly idea," she admits. "But he's not the only one who's noticed," she says.

"Noticed what?" Apparently, she's not as in the dark as Harry is.

"You look radiant today," Ron blurts.

And Harry expects Hermione to turn to Ron in anger but instead, she nods enthusiastically. "Yeah," she agrees. "Like a Veela, only I can feel it as well."

"A Veela?" Harry's not certain he likes that comparison. He gets up and stalks to the Slytherin tables, pointedly ignoring the appreciative stares he gets along the way. What is going on? "Malfoy," Harry says once he is standing across from Draco, behind Blaise, who turns to sneer at him. Only the sneer kind of melts and the jaw goes a bit slack, and Harry can smell want instead of anger. "Malfoy, did you do this?"

"Do what?" Draco asks, and he seems perfectly normal, actually. Right down to the irritation when he notices others staring at Harry. "Blaise, keep your hand to yourself!" he hisses, and Harry notices that Blaise had been about to touch his thigh.

Harry moves back a bit. "Did you cast some sort of charm on me?"

"Of course, not," Draco says, his irritation mounting as he notices others behind Harry.

Harry can smell Colin Creevey approaching. "What about the compulsion spell you put on me?" Harry asks, almost desperate for an answer at this point, though really, he thinks he may be overreacting.

"That worked only on you, and it was a potion, and it only worked for thirty minutes per dose, and Snape confiscated the rest of it once he found out about it."

That does seem to damper that theory, Harry agrees. "Well what is this, then?"

"It's likely just you," Draco says. "Go back to your friends before you get molested over here. I'll fetch you when I've done eating."

"They're going to molest me over there, as well!"

"Then go ask the Headmaster! But get away from Blaise!"

Blaise is all but drooling by this point, so Harry backs away quickly and then turns to the head table, where he approaches with some level of trepidation. "Er, Headmaster?"

"Harry, my boy!" says Dumbledore, as if Harry's appearance here is a complete surprise. "What can I do for you?"

"Professor, I seem to be causing…er…a bit of a reaction amongst some of the other students."

The Headmaster looks out across the Hall's tables and beams and twinkles and says, "Why yes, indeed!" as if it's no cause at all for concern.

"But…Headmaster, I don't know why it's happening!"

"Yes, that's understandable, Harry," the Headmaster agrees. "Nor do I."

That is neither what Harry had been expecting nor hoping to hear. "Oh," he says. "I suppose I should go, then." From what Harry can scent, the other professors' reactions are ranging from lust to confusion to pity, and many are feeling quite confusing mixtures of all of the above. The worst, by far, is Snape's self-loathing added atop his own mixture. It makes Harry feel just awful, and he retreats hastily from the Great Hall. What's another missed day of lessons for the freak? He's missed so many, and he's so far ahead, it hardly matters anymore.

But Draco comes to him in his rooms not much later, and says, "McGonagall has summoned you to her offices immediately."

"Do you feel any differently, Draco? When you look at me?"

"No, Harry," Draco admits with a small smile. "But I'm always overwhelmed by your beauty," and he kisses Harry in that way that has become so familiar, and Harry melts into him. For several long minutes, everything is right with the world. And then Draco pulls away again. "Perhaps I do feel differently," Draco says, "but it's not only today. Go see your Head of House."

Harry goes, leaving Draco to his Arithmancy.

* * *

"Mr Potter," says Professor McGonagall. "Please, sit."

So Harry sits in the chair and feels small. He's not certain how not growing can make him feel like he's shrinking.

"Tell me, Mr Potter, has anything changed?"

"Since when, Professor?"

"Since yesterday, when you did not get this kind of reaction from everyone?"

Harry has to think about it. "Well, I don't think so. I had my first night of the change last night, and I spent it with Draco. It was nicer than usual, though, because I didn't have to spend it alone. Draco and I were able to communicate with these chains," he says and fingers the warm stone lightly.

"Really. What is it?" she asks and holds her hand out, obviously wishing for Harry to take it off and hand it to her. So he does. He feels no differently for having lost it.

"It's only a charm, to allow the wearer to form a mindlink with the wearer of its twin. But I have to be in my lupine form for it to work."˙

"Really. Ingenious. And dangerous. Imagine if You Know Who got his hands on this."

"That would take some work," Harry says darkly. He doesn't like even the suggestion that he should forego the relief of wearing it because of that faint possibility.

"I would suggest, Mr Potter, that outside of those three days you are undergoing the change, these chains should be securely hidden away. And I would also strongly suggest that Mr Malfoy not be allowed to leave the premises with his chain in his possession. I'm certain you see the logic in this, Mr Potter."

Harry has to get over the initial anger at her presumptuousness before he is able to see what she is getting at. And then he is terrified. "No one must know what these do," he whispers. Draco could be kidnapped for the chain, if they knew what it did! He feels ill and depressed. The chain could essentially be used as a back-door into Harry's mind—past his Occlumency.

"Hmm…that's odd," says McGonagall.

"What's odd?" asks Harry. He'd forgotten she was even present.

"The influence, whatever it was. It's gone. The one that made you seem so…compelling."

"Really," says Harry, though he no longer cares. "I suppose that's convenient, then. Can I have my chain back?" He receives it from McGonagall's hand and slips it back over his head. Nothing changes. "I suppose I should go to my independent revision, then."

"It was a fortunate coincidence that I needed to see you this morning anyway. The plan was for you to work with me, today. I’ve a lesson prepared."

"All right." Harry doesn't care one way or the other, though he supposes it is a nice change to get a teacher, rather than doing Transfigurations research in the library. He's been faltering a bit lately, trying to decide what to undertake next.

So McGonagall takes Harry through a course in highly advanced transfigurations—turning a pencil into an eagle owl and back again, for example. Or a desk into an elephant. These workings are difficult because they require 'creating' a great deal of mass, and then 'destroying' it again, though that is not the actuality of what is occurring. The mass is 'created' using the caster's power, so the transfiguration involves the merging of matter and power into a larger mass. The transfiguration which 'destroys' mass requires that the caster turn the extra mass into power, then either assimilate or dissipate that power.

Unfortunately, the release of power tends to be explosive unless perfectly controlled. Harry is nearly undone by grief after destroying an elephant the first time he attempts to reverse the transfiguration. But McGonagall reminds him that he created the elephant—he can recreate it. It is not real, in the sense that a real elephant is real. It has not lived a life on the African savannahs, and is unlikely to be quite accurate internally. It was only a desk before. Still, it is difficult to imagine that the elephant was a desk, when now, it is a million chunks of bloody flesh, bone, and fat.

McGonagall has him gather all of the gore that was once the elephant, then transfigure it back into a desk. He has never done something like that before, and, somehow, it seems entirely wrong. But he manages, and feels his entire body sigh with excess power as he dissipates it into the air around him. And once he has done that, it is obvious what he did wrong the first time, and how it needs to be done in future. It takes some concentration, but it is not difficult. Not really. Not difficult in the way that creating the elephant had been.

Still, three transfigurations from pencil to various large creatures wears Harry out, and he is forced to rest for the entire break before he feels up to walking to Charms.

He makes it on time, and sits down with Ron and Hermione, who both seem wide-eyed. "Oi, Harry," Ron whispers. "What happened this morning?"

"Dunno," Harry admits, trying to pretend it's no big deal and mostly failing. "Seems to've gone, though," he adds with a shrug. That much, at least, is true.

"I'll bet it's got something to do with that bloody Malfoy," Ron says darkly, and Harry doesn't even bother to respond.

But Hermione does. "And what, exactly, Ronald Weasley, do you think Draco Malfoy could have cast that would have such an effect on everyone, hmm? And why?? He seems the jealous sort to me. Doesn't seem the sort to enjoy half the student population groping his boyfriend, does he? Unless your hypothesis is that he's doing it just to embarrass you, as you were so very obviously taken with Harry as well!"

Ron looks about to vomit, he's so green. It is a bit damning, that Hermione noticed Ron's…infatuation, as it were. "Er," says Ron, and the subject is left, for now.

But not forever, and that is most unfortunate. When Hermione later leaves to gather supplies for their little group, Ron simply cannot resist disparaging Draco again. "He's a sneaky bugger, Harry!" Ron hisses. "And he knows enough dark spells to get all of us into trouble, he does."

Harry seethes, because he doesn't want to cause a scene in front of the rest of the class, especially when Hermione's been so reasonable, unlike her git of a boyfriend, who simply can't bear to admit that he's attracted to Harry, a bloke, and that it might have nothing at all to do with the Dark Arts or compulsion spells or anything at all like that. Oh how Harry wishes Ron would come out and admit it, and realise that he's bloody jealous of Draco Malfoy—that Ron can't bear to look on Harry and know he'll never get to taste Harry again. Ron had been putty in Harry's hand!

Only now, Ron smells of desire and desperation, and says, "Please, Harry…have I offended you somehow? I certainly didn't mean to. I swear it!" He is nearly hyperventilating in his fear.

Harry thinks this behaviour, though gratifying, is a bit abnormal. He squints and peers into Ron's face, then scowls. "You've not done anything wrong," Harry says. Not unusually, anyway, and it's as if he's admitting it to himself, though he'd known it already. It suddenly feels true, and he has no idea why he'd got so angry. Ron always behaves this way when it comes to Draco. Harry feels a sudden need, and looks about. They may as well be alone, the two of them, as much attention as the others are paying them. "Do you think I'm beautiful, Ron?" Harry whispers, and he feels his power lick along the other boy's skin, caressing him, tasting him, desiring him.

And Ron's reaction is immediate and strong. He gasps as his eyes flutter closed a moment and a deep flush suffuses his cheeks and neck. "Oh Merlin," Ron chokes, "yes. Yes, yes, Harry," and his desperation is a beautiful thing. It makes Harry feel strong.

"Thank you, Ron," Harry says, then backs off a bit, pulling his power into himself again. "I'm sorry. It wasn't your fault."

Ron's eyes open languidly, and Harry can scent just the slightest whiff of precome on Ron. Oops, sorry, he thinks but does not say. "All righ', Ron?"

Ron, however, is still in a daze.

"Ron!?" Hermione manages to nearly screech, all at the loudness of a whisper. It's an impressive feat. "Could you possibly stop drooling all over Harry? I mean really, this is embarrassing enough."

It can't possibly be coincidence that Harry is called to the Headmaster's office at that very moment by Professor McGonagall. She accompanies him—"For your own protection, Mr Potter, and everyone else's as well,"—uttering the password to the gargoyle, ("Jolly Ranchers"), and then riding up the moving staircase with him. Inside, the Headmaster offers them lemon sherbets, which they politely decline, then tea, which McGonagall accepts, then pumpkin juice, which Harry agrees to, and then chairs, which they both take.

Dumbledore sits there twinkling for several minutes, but for once, Harry is in no hurry to find out what he has to say. He sits there silently, drinking his pumpkin juice, until Professor Dumbledore finds it the right time to begin.

"It appears that Mr Potter has come to understand what was occurring at breakfast this morning. Am I correct, Mr Potter?"

"I can guess," Harry agrees. "I believe I was causing the reaction."

"Well, that seemed rather obvious before," says Professor McGonagall.

"What Harry means, Minerva," says Dumbledore gently, "is that he was willing the reaction he received. That he was causing it with his own innate magic."

"I think I was feeling exceptionally good this morning—rather happy and loved, actually, and was projecting it onto everyone around me. The more sensitive people were, the more they noticed. Except for Draco. I was too focussed on him to accidentally project anything onto him."

"And what about Ronald Weasley, Mr Potter?" Dumbledore prompts.

"That was what made me realise, of course," Harry admits. "I was incensed at his accusations against Draco. I wished for him to…to grovel and beg for my forgiveness. And then he did, and I thought…well, yes, I'm in quite a lot of trouble, if I'm casting Imperio without even knowing it, now."

It is the last which wrenches Professor McGonagall into reality. "Imperius? Albus, this can't be true."

"No, you're right, Minerva. It's not quite the Imperius Curse, but it is a very powerful compulsion. I think it only works when there is a certain amount of truth underlying it. For example, Harry could not have induced such strong desire in those who found him unattractive. But for those who already found him attractive, they suddenly noticed it far more than they'd ever considered before." No one mentions Ron Weasley again. "Still, it is a very powerful bit of magic to be casting about without thought. It is a magic you would do well to master quickly, Mr Potter, as it will likely prove very useful in future, as well as being dangerous now."

Harry nods his agreement. He has the balance of the afternoon to work on it, since he'd left at the beginning of his double Charms lesson. By the time he is ensconced in his rooms with Draco this evening, he will have this little bit of magic under control. This he vows to himself. "May I be excused, Headmaster?" Harry asks.

"Yes, I think that might be a good idea," the Headmaster replies, and his twinkle is almost sad, somehow.

* * *

By the time Draco arrives, Harry is fairly certain that he's got the control he needs over this new manifestation of his power. Draco agrees to serve as a test subject, and Harry feels more confident after seeing Draco's reactions change and the like. He is especially pleased when he changes into wolf form, automatically cutting off any magical influence he might have, and Draco doesn't seem to change at all. Small victories. Can you hear me? Harry asks.

"Yes," Draco replies with a small smile.

Good. Er…Professor McGonagall brought something to my attention regarding these chains that I really should have considered myself, but hadn't.

"And what's that?" Draco can no longer resist, and leans to pull Harry close to the bed whereon he sits, then to pet him affectionately. It is interesting, the way Draco so quickly loses his inhibitions with Harry in lupine form, but is so cautious with displaying affection otherwise.

Well, these chains can be used as weapons against us. We need to be very careful where we keep them. And if you are walking into the serpent's lair, as it were, you should likely make certain you are not wearing it.

"Of course," Draco agrees. "I have considered that."

Harry is silently relieved. I knew there was a reason I haven't decided to regret saying 'yes' yet.

"Indeed," Draco says and nuzzles his face into Harry's furry neck. "Your coat is so soft," he whispers. "I want to brush it."

Harry thinks that sounds like the most delicious thing he's ever heard.

"Accio comb," Draco summons with his wand, and Harry's comb—which Draco uses almost exclusively, now, since Harry uses a hairbrush—lands gracefully in Draco's palm. Draco then transfigures the comb into a brush that looks like no hairbrush Harry has ever used. "I don't know what a wolf brush would look like," Draco admits, "but I believe it should be somewhere between a hairbrush and a currycomb. What say you?" Draco offers with a smirk.

Harry noses at the thing and smells it. It's made of rubber and metal and wood, but that's hardly surprising. The bristles are firmer than on his own hairbrush, though, and the head is larger. The handle is longer, as well. Harry licks at Draco's hand a little.

"Does that mean you approve?" Draco asks, but he seems to feel he's interpreted correctly, because he begins to use the brush gently on Harry's head. "Perhaps you could join me on the bed, hmm?" Draco offers and takes the brush back.

Harry leaps onto the bed, waits for Draco to sit with his back against the wall, then lies across Draco's lap and melts when Draco begins to brush him again, this time with a bit better leverage. He sighs contentedly and then yawns moments later, but Draco takes no notice of the impressive display of teeth as once he would. He simply continues to groom Harry, cleaning out the shed fur gathering in the brush periodically with an efficient Evanesco.

After some time, Draco says, "Turn over, then," and Harry does. Then the entire thing begins again, and is as heavenly on his belly as it had been on his back.

And when Draco is finished, he yawns and says, "I think it's time for sleep, don't you?"

Harry yawns in reply and jumps down to the floor, where Draco once again transfigures the chair into a cushion for Harry. Harry walks a circle thrice upon it before settling, as is his wont.

"You're awfully far away," Draco mumbles, already warm with sleep. And yet, he still manages to transfigure Harry's bed into something much, much simpler. A mattress on the floor. The mattress is larger than that on the bed had been, so Harry thinks that Draco has simply converted the bed's former mass into one large mattress. Still, it is impressive. Draco lies at the edge closest to Harry's cushion, and they are at each other's eye level now. Harry falls asleep with Draco's hand against his belly.

* * *

Wednesday morning, Harry and Draco enter the Great Hall together, and any looks they receive today are entirely because of their celebrity antics and not because of any uncontrolled influence on Harry's part.

Draco walks Harry to his seat at the Gryffindor tables before moving on, as usual, and today when Harry smiles at his friends, everything seems back to normal. "All right, then?" he asks.

"Care to share what was going on yesterday?" asks Ron.

Yes, definitely back to normal. "I am the most shaggable bloke at Hogwarts," says Harry with a shrug. "You knew that already."

"I thought Draco was the most shaggable," says Hermione, obviously happy with the return to banter.

Harry can admit that things have been awfully serious lately, and even though Hermione has always been a serious girl, she's also been used to Ron and Harry not being so serious. She's a bit of a worrier, and it's taken its toll on her. He's very impressed, though, by her resilience—even when her boyfriend is making eyes at their best friend. "You could try shagging Draco, but as I believe I've mentioned on several occasions, he does not take well to penetration. He's really a bit of a namby pamby."

"Urgh, Harry…that's too much information, mate. Truly," says Ron, his expression pained.

"I thought you'd be pleased," Harry says with mock-surprise. "Finding out that Draco's such a big girl's blouse; he whinges and pouts and even weeps like a ponce when he's takin' it up the arse. I mean, I know it's not very manly to admit that your prick's not very large, but I'll do it. Mine is quite a normal size, really. Certainly nothing monstrous like his. And still, he's all weepin' and 'please Harry, just give us a mo.'"

Ron is looking awfully green.

Hermione looks like she's going to laugh up her intestines, likely entirely because of the look on Ron's face.

Harry has, however, succeeded in his goal, which is getting Ron off the subject of yesterday's bit of magicking. All in a day's work, Harry thinks with satisfaction. They wolf down their breakfasts, now that they've spent half of their time, and then rush off to History together. It's a grand morning, Harry decides, and smiles the entire way.

* * *

At supper, Professor Snape and Draco walk into the Great Hall together late, and Harry can scent all sorts of worrying Potions ingredients on both of them, though most of it has already begun dissipating. Harry is sitting across from Hermione and Ron, and nearly screams when Draco simply winks at him before moving to the Slytherin tables.

Harry is distracted and touchy throughout supper, and nearly jumps up when Draco finally makes it over. "Ready to go, Potter?" He asks, as if Harry hasn't been ready since the moment Draco walked in. "Good evening, Miss Granger. Weasley."

"Good evening, Mr Malfoy," Hermione offers with a polite nod. She's been trying to be civil to Draco since the engagement, and been doing a very good job, actually. Draco hasn't mentioned anything about it, but it's been ages since he's called her names, and he's been civil to both her and Ron since he started dating Harry even the first time round. Ron, however, has been unable to do more than grunt replies.

"So, let's get to your rooms, shall we?" Draco pushes. "We've essays in every subject, and after tonight, you're going to have to make up for all of the time you've been unable to hold a quill. You'll need to stock up on sleep, Harry."

They desert the Great Hall, with Harry barely mumbling good nights to his friends, and go directly to Harry's rooms, where Draco appears to have made some…improvements. "I knew I shouldn't have coded you back into the wards," says Harry, though he doesn't really mind.

"It's only a few things," says Draco defensively. "I'm here far too much to have to keep summoning from my own rooms. This way, I needn't waste time or energy on retrieving my texts or transporting clean clothing."

Nor will he have to worry about his quidditch practise things, nor his leisure reading materials, nor his special grooming products, nor any single piece of his entire bloody wardrobe, since Draco has completely moved himself into Harry's rooms. "Is there anything at all left in those opulent Head Boy quarters?" Harry asks, trying to sound angry when really, he finds this extremely amusing.

"My bed," Draco says with triumph.

"Ah, yes. I see," Harry nods sagely, then waves a hand at the quilt that now lies on the bed. It is Draco's quilt, and in Slytherin colours—until Harry's magic takes it over, and all of the silver in the pattern turns to gold. Harry finds it a lovely compromise. The green, after all, matches his eyes. "Much better."

Draco seems to see the absurdity and snorts in amusement. "All right, perhaps I should have asked first," he concedes, though it's also not very Malfoy-like of him.

Harry shrugs. "I don't mind," he says, "though we should, perhaps, have moved into your quarters," then sets about starting his essays for the evening. He works until Draco reminds him that it is time, and then transforms into his wolf form.

"What happens if you don't transform first?" Draco asks soon after the moon takes over.

The moon will rip the wolf out—will pull its fur from my skin by force, force its claws to replace my fingernails. The moon will twist my bones into new shapes and mould my skull with its luminous hands. It is among the most painful experiences I have ever suffered.

Draco is silent for many minutes before Accioing the brush he made the night before and using it to, once again, drown Harry in bliss. And this time, when Draco has gone over every centimetre with the brush, he uses his hands—his fingers—to explore Harry's skin. "You are very quiet in this form," Draco murmurs after some time has passed. "Even though you can speak to me, you don’t."

I'm content, Harry admits. Here, beneath your attentive hands.

"Does your body feel the same, inside there?" Draco asks.

Harry isn't certain what Draco means by that. I don’t understand.

"When I touch you? Does it feel the way it does when we are both in human form? Or does it feel differently?"

I think it feels differently, Harry says, but it may simply be that your intentions are different…? I don't know.

There is more silence before Draco speaks again. A silence filled with confused scents and delicious hands. Harry doesn't mind the confusion so much. "You said, before…that when you were with Snape, you threw yourself at him, and he refused you."

Harry has to work hard not to stiffen, but he manages it, and then he gets his breathing under control. Learning to meditate has likely been the single most difficult—and most useful—thing he has done, for along with it has come a level of control he'd never even dreamed was possible. Yes, he agrees.

"You were in wolf form."


So you must feel the same…urges, or very like them…? Draco asks mind-to-mind, as if this has suddenly become too personal for words. Perhaps too difficult to say.

I don't remember what happened. I know only what Snape told me after my cycle was over…. I think there was very little human in me, when I did that.

Draco yawns again. He is obviously very sleepy, and Harry is being lulled by the sleep-smell of him. But Draco seems not to want to sleep tonight. "Do you still feel desire for me, in this form?" Draco asks, his eyes closed as he continues to card through Harry's fur.

Harry thinks it a bizarre type of question. Not because it isn't a natural extension of the previous conversation, but because Draco feels no desire for him in this form. It seems a purely academic question, and Draco is far too sleepy to care about questions this theoretical. I think desire is a bit of a mutual thing between us, Draco. If you feel none for me, it is difficult for me to feel it for you.

"But I'm beautiful all the time," Draco protests sleepily.

Yes, you are, Harry agrees. Go to sleep, Draco.

"I want your desire all the time," Draco says petulantly, though it's rather cute when he's nearly completely asleep.

Go to sleep, Draco, Harry prompts again, not even bothering to disguise his amusement this time. He moves away so that Draco will no longer be able to reach him, and then Draco may as well undress and lie down, so he does.

Harry curls up beside Draco on the bed and allows Draco's even breathing to carry him to dreams.

* * *

Once again, Harry awakens with the waning of the moon's influence and knows that his cycle is over. He opens his eyes, prepared to leap into the shower, when he is startled by eyes of silver, awake and staring at him.

"Good morning, Harry," Draco says, and he looks as if he's been awake for some time. Long enough to've showered.

Harry hadn't even noticed, apparently. Harry is about to shift when Draco lays a hand under his jaw.

"Wait," Draco says. "Stay like this for a while longer?"

I'd really rather not, Harry says, and would be scowling if he had that kind of facial mobility in this form.

Draco begins petting him again, slowly, languidly, curiously, and with a bit of that natural dominance that he always exudes. So Harry allows it—enjoys it, even. And he is still mostly human, so seeing a naked Draco hovering over him when he opens his eyes after a time—well, it's a bit of a shock and a bit of a pleasure as well. He doesn't know why he'd expected Draco to be dressed, but there it is. "Mmm," Draco hums as he notices. "You do want me," a bit of triumph, but mostly languid, content. "Your body is so different this way," he says, then runs his hand along the furred sheath of Harry's prick, careful not to touch the slick, pink penis where it is now partially emerged.

Oh God, Harry groans internally. This is so embarrassing. He attempts to get away from Draco, but Draco then grabs hold of the sheath. Gerroff! Harry whines, and his lupine throat agrees.

"I want to see it, Harry," Draco murmurs, desire a bit like lust but mostly like dominance deepening his voice and making Draco sound dangerous. It's sexy, even if this is terribly unnerving. Harry finds himself wishing he weren't so very human just now, in this wolf's skin.

No, Harry insists and tries to pull his legs to his body, to block Draco's view. When that doesn't work, he just shifts right there, banging into Draco every which way in the confusion. "You're such a bloody perv," Harry says irritably.

Draco, for his part, is trying to get away now, if only to make space. And then he settles again, that curiosity back in full force. "It's part of you."

"Yeah, well it doesn't have to be a sexual part. Merlin." Harry crawls out of the bed and can almost feel Draco staring at his arse. He ignores it in favour of a shower.

It's lovely how regenerative a shower can be. Soap and hot water and a bit of a massage. He washes his hair again for good measure. It's the end of another cycle, after all. And even if Draco is a bit strange about it, at least he's not running in terror. Harry hadn't been at all certain that Draco would still want him after witnessing the change.

He turns off the water and dries himself with a thought, then emerges to his room, which has been set in order. His cushion is gone, his bed has been restored and made, and Draco is sitting naked upon it, stroking himself slowly and pretending he's not doing this entirely for Harry's benefit.

Harry, for his part, is nearly drooling already. He finds himself, as always, impressed not only by the size of Draco's equipment, but by the heft of it—the solidity and thickness…the deep ruddiness when it is so engorged.

"You could stand there watching," Draco agrees, then meets Harry's eyes. "But I had a thought."

"Really," says Harry. He's not paying that much attention. Not to what Draco is saying. But that single bead of precome shining clear at the tip—for that, Harry's attention is nearly undivided.

"Would you be as squeamish if I were a wolf as well?" Draco asks as he pulls up on his shaft, forcing foreskin to cover the glans. It pulls his scrotum high up the shaft as well and draws attention to the darkness below.

"Er…wha'?" Harry is mildly certain that something strange has been uttered, but he's not certain what it was.

"You're easily powerful enough to do it," says Draco.

"Do what?" and Harry is able to tear his eyes from Draco's tackle and meet Draco's eyes instead. "Sorry?"

"Transfigure me into a wolf, Harry."

Harry scowls. "Why would I do that?"

"So we could both be wolves."

Harry understands, now, what Draco is after. He groans, perhaps a bit melodramatically, but only a bit. "Malfoy!"

"What?? What, Harry, is so strange about that? We'd both be wolves. And that way, it'd be less…pervy, or whatever."

"Nothing could make this less pervy," Harry mutters.

"But you'll do it for me? Won't you, Harry?" He gets off the bed and glides toward Harry, all perfectly chiselled flesh and threatening prick. Deus Argento.

Harry makes a very deliberate gesture and wills the transformation. He hears a pained intake of breath then opens his eyes to the most beautiful wolf he has ever seen. He smiles a little, despite himself. "Well, I suppose it's fitting, that you're lovely in this form as well." And all white, from the points of his ears to the tip of his tail. Exactly as the ferret had been, back when times had been simpler.

Of course, Draco agrees, and Harry is a bit startled that the chains still work. He supposes they were less specific than he'd been told. As long as one of them is in lupine form, it works fine. That does make sense, since the chains are identical. Now you, Draco orders, and instinctively, he acts the Alpha, his tail high and ears up. No fear at all.

Harry's transformation is far simpler and painless. He is certain he could make it easier for Draco a second time. There, happy now, Mr Malfoy?

Draco is far larger and stronger than he in this form as well. Of course. Quite, Draco agrees and advances, threatening. He is asserting his dominance.

Harry has no desire whatever to get into a pissing contest with Draco Malfoy, (the irony of which is completely lost on him at this moment). Draco is already Alpha to him. So he tucks his tail firmly between his legs, lays his ears flat against his head and hopes for the best. If it's not enough, he'll crouch as well. He's no idiot, and he doesn't know how good Draco's instincts are.

They appear to be quite good, however, and soon, Draco is approaching without threat, simply nearing an acknowledged inferior. He nuzzles at Harry's neck and begins to lick at the fur, then nip at it gently. You smell wonderful, Draco sends distractedly, like sex.

Draco does as well, Harry notes, but it's getting muzzy. The scent isn't only distracting for Draco, and Draco is pushing him down. So Harry lies onto his side, exposing his belly. He could not be more submissive than this, and Draco takes advantage. He nuzzles at Harry's half-exposed penis, then licks at it, though more for the scent and taste than any kind of sexual stimulation. Harry gets the feeling that Draco is a bit more wolf inside than Harry is. Especially when Draco's licks move further back to his entrance. Still, it is relaxing and arousing at once, to have the Alpha's undivided attention, and to know that the Alpha is pleased. There are pheromones in the air that force Harry into pleasure, that enhance his arousal and desire to please. And when Draco's jaw clamps lightly around his lower back, forcing him to his feet, he is eager.

Harry can smell the mix of fluids Draco's body is releasing—semen and other secretions to ease the way. He hopes it's enough, but doubts it. So he transfigures himself, in a heartbeat, to human form to cast the lubrication charm, and back again.

Draco is startled, but only backs away a bit and growls until Harry regains his submissive posture. And then Draco mounts, forelegs keeping Harry in place, Harry moving his tail out of the way to allow the slick penis entrance.

It is easier in this form, he finds. Draco isn't as disproportionately large, and the shape is more conducive. It's also much, much faster. A minute or so, and Draco has shoved himself all the way inside and is releasing his seed.

And then, pain.

Harry yelps in startlement before he realises what has happened, and stops struggling. He stands utterly still as Draco dismounts, then turns round, stretching him with further pain. Oh Merlin, Harry sends, and is almost startled by the sound of his own voice in his head.

Mmmm…Harry… sends Draco, who sounds more human than Harry had expected, and seems extremely pleased with himself.

You may think this funny now, Harry sends with a bit of growl, but we're going to be stuck like this for up to two hours, and we have lessons in less than that!

Draco's mental laughter is infuriating, though Harry should have expected it. Oh love, you're so melodramatic. You’ve only to shift us out of wolf form.

Easy for you to say. I'll likely end up with wolf baculum in me after I transform. I knew this would be a bad idea. You're such a perv!

You loved it. I can see it now: The Boy Who Lived To Be a Slut, Caught in Bestiality Scandal! It'd be front page, it would, Draco crows mentally.

Oh for fuck's sake! Harry sends, then transforms himself, and finds that aside from the sheer unforgivable pervery of it, the knot feels much more comfortable in this form than before the transformation. Which probably says far too much about Harry's looseness. And with that thought, Harry nearly vomits and turns Draco human again. "Never again!" Harry yells, pulling himself away and then to his feet. "And ew! By the way!" He goes back to take another shower, still hearing Draco's whooping laughter behind him.

He does not, unfortunately, get the private shower he had hoped for. "Be grateful we weren't cats," says Draco and peeks his head inside the shower before deciding to invade Harry's space completely. He takes soap, lathers his hands, then attacks, pushing Harry against a tiled wall and rubbing the solid muscularity of his body against Harry's slick skin.

"I can't believe you expect me to do this again now," Harry mumbles, but there is far too much desire in it for him to get away with the lie.

"You didn't come," says Draco, as if it's all perfectly reasonable, and he slowly lowers himself down Harry's body, kissing and licking and biting along the way—lapping at rivulets of running water—until he takes Harry's solid prick into his mouth and begins working.

Harry thinks perhaps Draco isn't all bad. And really, he's an exemplary lay.

They miss breakfast, but, at least, make it to lessons.

Three-Penny Show by colibri
Chapter 7: Three-Penny Show

On Saturday, Harry manages to convince them both that doing some revision and completing some of the millions of essays they have due in the next week would be prudent. And so despite sleeping in and fucking an awful lot, they manage to do quite a bit of work before Draco decides that really, it would be unfair to deprive himself any longer. And so he drags them to the shower again, where he washes Harry's hair with attention bordering on reverence, and then proceeds to wash the rest, somehow managing to keep the shower purely functional, despite the fact that both of them are hard with want.

Harry is about to return the favour, when he hears a knock on the door to his rooms and curses someone's timing, though whose he knows not, yet. "Someone's at the door," he mutters.

"Really, I heard nothing," says Draco, unconcerned.

"Of course you didn't," Harry agrees and gets out.

"Well you needn't answer it," Draco says with a surprised scowl.

"It could be important," Harry says. "It could be a professor." He dries himself with a thought, then takes a towel to wrap about his hips. "Just finish up here and hopefully it's nothing."

"It had better be important," Draco mutters.

"Let's hope it's not, shall we?" Harry mutters in return, then shuts the door behind himself and runs to the other, which he opens a crack. "Ron," he says, with no small amount of surprise.

"Sorry, bad time?" Ron says nervously, taking in Harry's state of undress, though all he can really see is a bit of Harry's shoulder.


"I only came because Hermione…well, she wanted us to go out for supper, and thought perhaps we could go doubles. Give…him a chance."

"Oh…all right…I mean, we can ask, certainly," Harry agrees, though it sounds like a bit of a fiasco waiting to happen. He steps away from the door and lets Ron inside, who closes it behind himself.

"By the way," Ron says and suddenly blushes scarlet. "I was wondering if, well, since you've your own room and all, if I could borrow the cloak. I mean, the invisibility cloak, since, er—"

Harry doesn't laugh, but he wants to. Desperately. "Of course," he agrees, and moves toward his trunk. "I haven't used it in ages. I was wondering how you were getting to 'Mione's rooms."

"There are ways," Ron chokes out, "but there'd be easier ways." He catches the cloak when Harry tosses it at him. "Thanks, mate—"

"Haaarryyy…" Draco suddenly calls from the en-suite. "I hope you're ready for me," and the door cracks and Harry gasps and Ron is suddenly gone. Which means he's beneath the cloak, because Harry can still smell him near as life. Draco peeks out, though it's not the sexiest thing he could do, but rapidly remedies that when he opens the door fully and takes up his usual pose. Harry hears just the softest gulp from Ron, and scents a whiff of fear. "Come on then, it can't have been bad news, if they're gone already. So it can wait. I, however, cannot."

Harry watches in mixed horror and delight as Draco begins working his own prick and thinks, Oh my—I should have said something. Or, at least, not have let Ron put that cloak on. But now, things have already gone much too far, and Draco would be furious. That thought, of course, has a bit of its own amusement value. "It was Ron, come to invite us for supper," Harry says.

"Ah, no wonder you've lost the mood," Draco says and stops wanking. "Accio towel!" he summons wandlessly, and Harry's towel flies to Draco's hand. "Getting better, eh?" he says, but is too focussed on Harry's nakedness to harp on it. Summoning, for some reason, is one of the easier spells to learn wandlessly. Which is good, since it's one of the most important as well.

Harry watches Draco hang the towel again and offers, "It was Hermione's idea. For us to go doubles."

"Perhaps we can discuss it after we've taken care of my needs, hmm?" Draco asks most solicitously, and Harry finds it very sexy, that Draco is so focussed. He always has. And now that Draco is here, standing before him, he can't really resist, and his prick is forgetting all about Ron who, from what Harry can tell, has moved as far from them as he can get, which is about by the door. Harry is certain Ron will find a way out before long.

So Harry accepts Draco's kisses and remembers, all over again, exactly why he finds Draco so completely irresistible. The intensity, the attention to detail. Draco is running hands through his hair, moulding his scalp the way he petted Harry in his wolf form. And even though Harry had found the pervery a bit overmuch, it somehow makes him feel even more comfortable with Draco, knowing that he can be both accepted and desired in either form.

Draco is moving them onto the bed, devouring Harry's neck, undulating over him as he fists their cocks together. And then Draco is moving down Harry's body, licking across a delicate collarbone, teasing at peaked nipples with his hot, wet tongue, tracing the ladder of Harry's ribs and down to the shallow navel. "Spread for me," Draco whispers languidly, and Harry moans as he complies, scenting the spike of dominance and lust. Draco loves how flexible he is and doesn't really care how he got that way. He only cares that he can grab onto Harry's inner thighs and push the split wider, exposing Harry's package completely—putting it on display for Draco, who swallows his prick to the root easily. Another advantage to being modestly sized.

Harry's groan is most heartfelt, and nearly covers the gasp of another. It was certainly too soft for Draco to hear, but Harry could have heard a conversation going on down the corridor. Ron's gasp is like a claxon in this quiet room. It confirms that the other man is at the door, Where he's got a perfect view, Harry thinks irreverently. Let him watch. Harry tweaks his own nipples distractedly whilst watching Draco’s mouth on him.

And then…oh yes! Draco pulls off of Harry's shining, ruddy cock, and pulls Harry's legs together, then pushes them toward Harry’s face. Harry pulls them back behind his shoulders and murmurs an appreciative "Yes, yes, yes" whilst Draco places first one pillow under his hips, then another. And then, Draco uses his tongue to lave Harry's sack, then perineum, before completing the journey to his already-relaxed hole. Harry doesn't need preparation, but rimming is a beautiful thing in its own right, and he is grateful every time that Draco got over that bit of squeamishness. Draco had, of course, had to do it, after it'd been done to him that once. So something good had come of that betrayal. Harry almost smiles at the thought, only then Draco's tongue breaches him, and he cries out his pleasure, and takes his own prick in hand. Just a slow pulling—he doesn't want to come, after all. Not before Draco fucks him.

The rimming seems to go on forever, sending Harry into a bliss that should be impossible this side of heaven. And yet—it is over much too soon. Draco suspends himself over Harry and waits for Harry to lick Draco's face clean, since Draco has been drooling all over Harry's arse. They are kissing now, and Harry's cock is jumping, painting tiny, moist trails on Draco's chiselled abdomen. "So needy," Draco murmurs with some amusement against Harry's lips, then pulls back again, sits on his knees, and finds his wand to murmur the lubrication charm.

His cock is huge and weighty and looks as impressive as it is against Harry's tiny hole. Harry knows; he has watched it in the glass before. And now Draco begins to press in, and Harry groans his heartfelt appreciation, drinking in the pain of it, the pleasure of being taken, the bliss of Draco's dominance. He feels pride at how smooth Draco's initial stroke into him is—it is not hindered by fear or squeamishness or pain on Harry's part. Harry's skill adds to Draco's elegance, and there is no awkwardness before the fucking begins in earnest.

Draco is feeling particularly inspired this afternoon, as he takes Harry through a variety of positions when normally, he'd do one or two and call it a session. But just now, he seems to be enjoying the moulding of his lover—the small measure of control in it—and he takes Harry from his back to a side-saddle, then onto his knees; pulls Harry up until they are back to front and Harry is in Draco's lap. He lies down, turns Harry to sit facing him, and has Harry fucking himself hard and fast as Draco wanks Harry's solid flesh. He then flips them, so that Harry is on the bottom again, and Draco fucks him with both legs up so he can suck at Harry's feet and toes.

That's about as much as Harry can take—it's something Draco has never done before, and Harry is overwhelmed by the strangeness and sensation. He comes a geyser across his own chest, crying out softly as he twists his hands in the bed sheets.

And when he is spent, Draco lets go his feet and leans over him, then murmurs, "I'm going to cover you with my come, Harry…. So beautiful…drown you in me…" and he's pistoning so fast, it seems impossible, and Harry can barely breathe through the intensity and Draco's Alpha scent.

Draco is true to his word. He pulls out before coming and his hand is a blur on that massive cock, until thick spurts of his semen are flying onto Harry's chest and mingling with Harry's own. A few make it as far as Harry's mouth, and he licks them away, knowing Draco appreciates the view. Draco's cries aren't quite as soft as Harry's had been, and the growls are irresistibly sexy to Harry, the way they're so intimidating and possessive. And when Draco is finally spent, he moves to straddle Harry's hips and rubs the huge head of his still-solid cock in the mess of spunk he has left on Harry's skin. They both pant, trying to regain their breath, until Draco leans down to kiss Harry's forehead, then cheeks, then lips. And the kiss is soft and tender, and says things that Harry is still not comfortable hearing. But it's all right, because as long as Draco says them with kisses or touches, there is still a safe ambiguity about them.

Draco sits up again, takes his wand, and says, "Evanesco," and the evidence of their passion is gone. He stands beside the bed and helps Harry up. Says, "Now what is this about—"

Another knock on the door has interrupted them, and Harry realises that Ron is still in the room, and that Ron's heart is now racing. Harry announces, "It's Hermione," for everyone's benefit. "Perhaps you should go hide in the loo."

"Perhaps we should simply dress," Draco says with a smirk, and it is the better idea. Except….

"Good plan," Harry agrees. "Only we need a shower. Just start one, I'll be right there." He grabs his wand and Accios a towel, ignoring the strange look Draco gives him that he'd bother grabbing his wand for that. But Draco closes himself in the loo, and Harry breathes a sigh of relief. "You really should have got out while you had the chance," Harry whispers.

"Fuck," Ron whispers in reply, or perhaps only in fear.

Harry ties the towel about his waist and opens the door on Hermione. "Hi!" he says brightly.

"Er…is this a bad time?" she says and blushes, taking in Harry's dishevelled appearance and state of deshabille.

"Draco and I were just about to shower. We're going out to supper, right?"

"Oh, yes. So Ron did make it."

"Of course," says Harry with all the requisite confusion. "He stopped by to let us know, and I lent him the cloak."

"The cloak? The invisibility cloak?'

"Yeah," Harry agrees and nods.

"Oh, he's likely gone for a turn with that. He loves that cloak. I'll go find him. Can you two be ready in thirty? We've reservations for seven o'clock."

"Ace!" Harry agrees. "Meet at the front gates?"

"Perfect," Hermione agrees. "I'll find Ron."

"I would suggest the girl's loo," Harry says, "but after all this time, he's likely already gone to meet you in your rooms."

Hermione snorts. "One would think he's outgrown that sort of thing. It's not as if he doesn't get to see me all the time."

"Men are dogs," Harry says with a shrug. "And some of us are wolves," he adds deadpan.

"Harry, sometimes you really scare me," Hermione says, though she's only slightly discomfited. "It's good you've found Draco or you'd have scared some girl half out of her wits. Well, see you, then," and she's off.

"Later," Harry agrees to her back, and once she's a way off, "You had better hurry, to make it back before she does."

"Righ'," Ron agrees. "Thanks for covering for me."

"Certainly," Harry agrees and watches the hood come off, exposing Ron's flushed face. "Bit hot under there, is it?" Harry asks.

"Er, yeah," Ron agrees. He is staring at Harry's eyes, then lips, then taking short detours down Harry's bare torso. The desire wafts off of him in waves.

"Off you go, then," Harry reminds him, then steps away from the door. "I assume it's a bit of a dress-up affaire?"

"Er…yeah, righ'," Ron agrees.

Harry closes the door in Ron's face, but gently, then joins Draco in the shower.

The Maharajah's Palace by colibri
Chapter 8: The Maharajah's Palace

Harry and Draco arrive at the front gates and find Ron and Hermione already waiting for them. It is dark and dreary, of course, and they are all bundled in long, black cloaks and their school mufflers. "Good evening," Hermione offers first.

"Good evening, Miss Granger," Draco replies, because he has manners, and "Weasley," because he still can't bear Ron.

"Malfoy," Ron squeezes out, but at least he didn't say 'ferret', which is something. Especially since Draco managed not to say 'Weasel'. "Harry."

"Where are we off to, then?" Harry asks, reminding himself that he'd known this would be a bad idea as soon as he'd heard it uttered, but the least he can do is try to make a good time of it.

"The Maharajah's Palace," says Hermione, "though it's more of a tent. It's that tiny Indian place across from Madam Puddifoot's."

"I don't recall an Indian place," Harry admits.

"It's new," Ron offers. "Came up when you were…away. Sixth year."

Draco snorts. "Away," he mutters. But he takes Harry's hand and gently runs his thumb over Harry's knuckles. "Well, let's be off, then. I could eat a cow."

"Not at the Maharajah's," says Hermione. "They're Hindus. At least nominally."

"Whatever that means," says Ron, but he takes Hermione's hand, not to be outdone, Harry supposes, and they make their way.

Harry and Hermione do most of the small-talking, ensuring their respective boyfriends are kept away from each other. After a time, Hermione leads the conversation toward NEWTs, as is her wont, and Harry can hear Ron's private groan.

"Have you started your revisions yet, Draco?" she ends, to everyone's shock.

"Difficult not to, with Harry revising constantly. Not to worry, Granger, I'm sure to best you in every subject."

Hermione sniffs. "You can certainly make the attempt," she says. "How is it going with History, Harry? Ginny says you've been staying awake in her sixth-year lessons."

"Barely," Harry admits. "I'll be pleased if I manage to scrape by in the NEWT. No matter what I try, I simply can't be arsed in that subject."

Hermione, of course, has no basis for understanding Harry's reticence. The subject is one of her favourites—right up there with Arithmancy. "It's Professor Binns. Even I find him dreadfully boring." Which is saying a very lot, coming from Hermione.

They make the left turn toward Madam Puddifoot's, and there it is: a small, gaudily decorated restaurant with the words 'The Maharajah's Palace' dancing above. And the dancing is literal, for the letters are made up of little dancing women painted in various poses. Ron opens the door for Hermione and nearly growls as Draco takes it over to let Harry in. Draco makes ignoring Ron nearly violent.

They are greeted inside by a tiny, dark-skinned man—as tiny as Flitwick, only thin as a rail—dressed in a long, tunic-type dress in cream-coloured silk, and trousers of the same colour which hang in decorative folds at his feet, as if too long. He wears a short coat of the same material atop the tunic, only it is embroidered in gold designs. On his feet are brown sandals barely visible from beneath the trousers. "Welcome to the Maharajah's Palace," he says in a voice soft and smooth as warm butter and shows them to their table. It is one of five in the entire establishment and sits just beside the window, which is hung with colourful fabrics and beads. He waits for them to choose seats and spells their cloaks to a cloak-rack near the door. He then presents them each with a menu, and assures them he will return to take their order momentarily, before backing away and out of the room.

"Nice man," says Hermione. "He gives excellent service."

"We are the only ones here," Ron says darkly, though that is more likely because of the situation than any mistrust he would have for the proprietor. He is seated next to Hermione and across from Harry, who sits next to Draco. They could not, unfortunately, have got Draco and Ron any further from each other than that. So now, Ron keeps throwing hostile looks in Draco's direction, and Draco continues to aggressively ignore him.

Harry is getting indigestion from watching this.

Hermione seems oblivious, though Harry can scent her irritation. She is expending a great deal of energy ignoring it. "Perhaps we should look at the menus. The food will hardly order itself," and she does. So Harry picks his up as well. Inside, various dishes present themselves in succession, wizarding photos complete with descriptions and hovering aromas. Harry thinks it's the most effective presentation he could ever have imagined, as he sits there gaping at the variety.

In the end, he chooses the Palak Panir with extra peas while Draco chooses Tandoori Chicken. Ron fumes at having to order something other than Tandoori Chicken, which, from his grumbling, is his usual but off-limits, now that Draco has chosen it. So Ron picks the Booti Kabab, which appears to be lamb, and Hermione chooses her usual Chicken Pasanda and promises Ron he can share it with her. They each order a mango lassi, except for Harry, who asks for his plain. The proprietor backs away again and is professional enough to remain pleasant and unconcerned despite the posturing antics of two of the men in the party. Harry wonders, fleetingly, who is going to be paying for all of this, since it's quite expensive. He decides that Hermione and Ron have likely worked this out beforehand, and refuses to consider it a moment longer.

"How are Molly and Arthur?" Harry asks, only realising afterward that he's not heard from either of them since Christmas.

"Well enough," Ron replies with surprise, looking up to meet Harry's eyes, then skirting away again. He takes a piece of crisp bread and dips it in one of the various sauces placed about the table. Harry thinks the breads are called pappadums, but he can't really remember. "Mum's finally stopped complaining about Fred and George leaving school... Since they're turning such a fat profit now, I’d guess."

"I think it's more that they've been very adamant about never going back," Hermione says, smiling ruefully. "As if they would be taken back."

"They took me back," Harry says, and almost immediately regrets it. He has effectively stifled conversation, once again. The silence expands uncomfortably into the space between them.

But Draco steps into it with ease and the grace of natural sarcasm. "Yes, darling, but you are the Boy Who Lived To Thwart Everyone's Expectations,” he says. “Besides, the Weasley twins have already learned all they need to know to be a success in their chosen field. They're already far more successful than the rest of their entire family combined. Perhaps they'll find respectable girls and start their very own clan of society Weasleys. They might even purchase a new name, to remove the…" and Harry can almost hear the curl of Draco's lips before he finishes, "stigma."

Harry groans inwardly and hides his face in his right hand—the one that's not held firmly in Draco's. He doesn't want to see Ron's head explode. He really doesn't.

"Now that was hardly necessary," says Hermione, a bit taken aback, though, to be fair, she's not really that surprised. "Can't you give a compliment without couching it in insults?"

"I suppose I could," Draco drawls lazily, "but it's so much more fun giving Mr Weasley an aneurism."

Mr Weasley, for his part, appears to be exercising an amount of control Harry has never witnessed from him before. Ron is breathing himself to calm, and pointedly looking anywhere but at Draco and Harry.

"I think, Mr Malfoy," Harry begins, because really, it would be wrong for him not to support his best friend, "that if you can't behave yourself this evening, then you may have to move back to your opulent Head Boy quarters for a time. To think about your priorities."

Draco snorts dismissively, until he realises that Harry is serious. "It was purely in jest," Draco says with disbelief, turning to Harry, who meets his gaze.

"Perhaps we can keep it in better taste, then?" Harry offers wide-eyed, to mitigate any threat. It would never do to have Draco asserting his dominance against Harry right now. Harry then pulls out his most powerful weapon. He whispers, "It really makes me sad…when you and Ron argue so. It distracts me from…other things," and he slides his hand ever-so-discreetly up Draco's muscular thigh, and lets just the tip of his tongue moisten his bottom lip.

Draco melts into a puddle of desire and Alpha protectiveness. "That would never do," he murmurs in agreement, and seems to exert a herculean effort to avoid kissing Harry right there. But he can't stop his hand from tracing Harry's cheekbone and running back into Harry's hair, which is pulled into a French braid tonight. He leans near and whispers, "You look lovely tonight, mon petit Harry," and pulls away again with a little smile.

Harry's breathlessness is no act.

And then the food is there, and everyone moves away from the table a bit to allow the proprietor to serve them. Ron, for his part, is still gaping at what he has witnessed, whilst Hermione smiles dreamily, as if all of this romance is simply too much for her to bear. Harry feels a bit sorry for her: if she thinks this is romance—sexual innuendo and dominance posturing…. Of course, Ron is rather oblivious. And Harry supposes that Draco whispering French nothings in his ear is a bit romantic.

"Please, I hope you will all enjoy your meal, and call on me should I be able to offer anything further," the proprietor adds before backing away once again.

So they begin their meal, and there is no further sniping between Draco and Ron. Indeed, Draco is so solicitous, it’s as if he is waging a war of peace against Ron, all pleasantness and politesse. He has turned on his courtier personality and does it with flair and a certain level of believability Harry finds impressive indeed. The strangest thing, though, is that Ron seems to respond well to it, as if disarmed, and though he finds himself the butt of a joke on occasion, it is no more than anyone else. After all, Draco's wit has always been rapier.

Harry, for his part, is even more charmed than he'd already been. He does not even finish half of his dish before he is ready to drag Draco back into his bed. He is seriously considering a little wank-session in the loo and excuses himself, hoping that no one will notice the bulge in his black, satin robes. They are fitted, after all, though flaring a little at just the right spot. He accepts the little kiss to his temple and escapes.

Inside the tiny toilet are a urinal and a single stall, and Harry is still debating when he goes to stare at himself in the mirror. He is flushed with desire, and he's been biting his lips—that much is obvious. He is glad he wore no makeup, since it allows him to splash cold water onto his face without concern.

"All right, mate?" asks Ron quietly, then closes the door behind himself. He seems cheerful enough, not really concerned. But a little, he is.

"Yeah, ace," Harry says and takes a towel to dry his face. "And you?"

Ron shrugs. "Better than I expected," he admits. "Your boyfriend seems able to feign civility when necessary."

Harry snorts. "Indeed." Ron is so blind sometimes. "I think manners are something Draco knows much more about than your average wizard, Ron."

Ron leans back against the tiled wall. There is still barely enough room in here for them to be more than a few feet apart. "About what happened earlier…."

Harry can't believe Ron is bringing this up. And now. "It's unimportant. As long as he doesn't find out, there's no harm."

"You're beautiful, Harry. And it was brilliant, watching you."

Harry doesn't know what to say. "Well, I'll be certain to get a video recorder, then. So that I can provide you further entertainment. Or, wait, a pensieve, yeah?"

"Don't be that way, Harry," Ron says, and he is obviously hurt. "I thought I would die, when I realised what was going to happen in there. When I saw Malfoy standing in that doorway. But no matter how…pornographic it got," Ron says with some difficulty, his face red as a beet, "it was obvious to me how much he cares for you. How much he…well…I got very jealous, of course—that he's managed, somehow, to gain a piece of your heart when we've always despised him so. He's always been so hateful toward us. But…though I can't ever say I approve of you marrying the git…. Well, at least I don't think he'd be the worst choice."

Harry thinks he might be gaping….finds that, yes, he is, because his jaw snaps shut with a click when he asks it to. "Thanks," he manages, though how, he's not sure.

Ron shrugs, then moves to the urinal and proceeds to expose himself unselfconsciously. "It was highly pornographic at times," he says, but he must not be thinking about it too hard, for he is perfectly capable of pissing into the urinal.

"Right," Harry agrees weakly, pointedly staring anywhere other than at that urinal. He knows, from their single groping session, that Ron's erect cock is nearly as impressive as Draco's. Harry wonders whether he should be disappointed the pissing is going as well as it is.

"Why did you come in here, if you didn't need to go?" Ron asks with a smirk, closing himself up again and going to wash his hands.


"Have anything to do with that stiffy you were trying to hide?"

"You're a beastly man, Ronald Weasley," Harry mutters. At least his 'stiffy' is long gone.

And then he is backed against the wall behind the loo's entrance, and Ron is pressed against him, leaning into him, inhaling deeply of the scent of his hair, then whispering into his ear, "Be happy I'm not so beastly as all that, or I might not have the control necessary to resist you." And then Ron licks a trail down from Harry's ear to where his neck is finally covered by his robes, and despite Harry's surprise and anger, he is hard when Ron pulls away gasping. "I think we should never be alone together again," Ron says, and leaves.

Harry finds himself sliding down the wall and landing his scrawny arse on the cold, tiled floor.

* * *

He manages, only barely, to pull himself together and face his comrades again. It takes a full three minutes to do so, but Harry thinks that, in the grand scheme of things, three minutes is quite a short time. Draco beams at his return and pulls him into his lap for a moment. "I thought we'd lost you," he says and nuzzles at Harry's neck before allowing him to slide off and sit on the seat again.

"Not feeling so well," Harry says apologetically and does not look in Ron's direction.

"Oh, Harry," says Hermione. "You're not used to eating such rich food. You always eat like a bird at Hogwarts. Do you need to go home? Lie down?"

"I don't want to spoil it for everyone," Harry realises belatedly, his cheeks heating again. "I'm feeling much better."

But everyone is looking at him with concern now, except Ron, whom Harry doesn't look at to ascertain what expression he may be showing. "Well, I'm finished eating already," Draco says cheerfully enough. "It was delicious, by the way. I can take Harry home."

"Don't be silly, we'll go—" says Hermione, but is interrupted by Ron whispering in her ear. Harry is very careful not to hear what Ron says. "Or…if you don't mind? They do have such delicious desserts."

"Of course," says Draco with a smile, which he then turns on Harry. "We'll just take a bit of fresh air, and by the time we get back to Hogwarts, I'm sure you'll feel right as rain," he says.

"Of course," Harry agrees and plasters a smile on his face as well.

Draco drops several galleons on the table—easily enough to pay for both his and Harry's dishes—and at Hermione and Ron's protests, simply says, "I absolutely insist. I can certainly pay for my own date," though it's not exactly the proper way of doing things, and then they're bundling into their cloaks and Hermione is kissing Harry's cheek and Ron and Draco are shaking hands.

And then they're outside, and all pretences are dropped. "What did he do to you?" Draco says darkly, and Harry has a sinking feeling in his gut.

"Whatever do you mean by that?" Harry asks, sounding perfectly ignorant.

"Don't try your tricks on me, Harry Potter. I know he did something because I read him when he came back from the toilet. I'm no Master Legilimens, but I can recognise guilt when I see it."

"It's none of your concern," Harry says coldly and starts off, back toward the castle.

"Of course it's my concern," Draco says, keeping up easily. His legs are so much longer, after all. "You're my fiancé!"

"You know, I'm not so certain of that," Harry growls. "After all, you've told neither your father nor Cécile. I should think it technically impossible for a man to be engaged to two different people at once, and since she came first—"

"I can't believe you're attempting to deflect me from the real issue with this…rubbish. As if you've any doubt as to whom I'd rather be with. That's bloody nonsense."

"Whatever," says Harry.

"What did he do, Potter?? If you don't tell me, I'll ask him myself!"

"Go ahead," Harry says, but it's pure bravado. That is most certainly not what Harry wishes for Draco to do.

"Fine," Draco says, and immediately turns round, then starts back toward the restaurant.

Harry is only able to let him get ten paces or so before he gives in. "Stop, Draco!" he calls quietly, but with real fear, and stands there in the snow, waiting for Draco to catch him up again. "You're a git, you know that, don't you?" Harry says, defeated.

"Perhaps," Draco says, unconcernedly. "Tell me what he did." He takes Harry's hand, though, and it warms Harry a bit—calms him slightly.

"You mustn't do anything about it," Harry says.

"I suppose that is the condition of you telling me?"

"Yes. And it's also common decency, to respect my wishes in this. Otherwise, it would be entirely too embarrassing to tell you at all."

"Fine, I'll not do anything about it," Draco agrees grudgingly.

"Ron is…attracted to me," Harry says.

"Obviously," Draco replies, much to Harry's surprise.

"What do you mean, 'obviously'?"

"It's obvious, Harry. He stares at you constantly, he's always trying to impress you. He practically reeks of envy whenever I touch you."

"You can't smell envy on him."

"His eyes all but glow green," Draco says. "Regardless, I know he's attracted to you. Has been for ages. But I know you haven't let him fuck you, because he hasn't that air of smugness."

"You are unbelievable," Harry says, shocked. "Are you saying Colin has an air of smugness?"

"No, he has an air of terror, that I put into him as soon as I found out he'd had you, which is a good thing, or he'd still be chasing after you. Bloody Gryffindors and their ridiculous courage."

"You had no right to do that, by the way. We'd broken up."

"Yes, well, now we've not, so the point is moot. What did Mr Ronald Weasley do?" His tone says, very clearly, that it will brook no further delays.

"He licked me."

Silence, and Harry can't tell if Draco is angry or amused. Perhaps both. Perhaps neither.

"I'm sorry, did you say he licked you?" Deadly calm. Not good.

"Yes," Harry agrees. "Only once, and very short."

"Where did he lick you, Potter?"

"Here," Harry says, and draws his cloak aside. Shows Draco the path of Ron's tongue as they stand in the freezing snow in the middle of the night with the wind whistling about them.

It is many seconds before Draco speaks again, but then he says, "He licked your neck, like a bloody lover, and you liked it." Harry doesn't get in a single word of protest before Draco continues on. "That's why you were so upset, instead of slapping him or screaming at him. Because you liked it. I know you, Harry Potter, and you are nothing if not a slut."

Harry stands there in the snow gaping, not sure why, since Draco is right, about everything all the time, it seems.

"At least you had the decency to feel guilty over it. Did he even ask you first?"

"No! He didn't ask me first! And I hadn't expected it at all, either! He'd only just finished telling me how he'd essentially decided it was all right for me to marry you, and then he did that!"

"I don't need his bloody approval—"

"Well, I haven't a bloody family to gain approval from! I've got Hermione and Ron, and lately, I've got Snape. So getting Ron's acceptance is worth quite a lot to me. It's also, might I add, more than you've got from your family, so I wish you'd just shut it!"

Harry picks up the way back to Hogwarts again, and Draco is beside him. They are both brooding, though for different reasons, and Harry has a feeling that neither of them is overly concerned by what Ron has done, anymore. It was a gesture of Ron's attraction, but means little since Harry doesn't truly return it, and since Draco has no fear that his own position is in jeopardy.

* * *

When they finally return to Harry's rooms, they shower themselves warm, then have sex on the floor by the fire, with Harry's quilts transfigured into some unnameable fur and Draco certain to lick every centimetre of Harry's skin. To mark Harry, undeniably and finally, as his own.

Harry feels something inside himself break, and something else forming, and when he comes, he wonders (with suppressed panic) what this new wholeness is he feels, that keeps him so warm in the circle of Draco's arms.
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Wolf - Part V: Life Skills

Of Breeding and Predation by colibri
Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter, its characters and settings are the copyrighted works of J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., her publishing companies and affiliates. No profit was made from the writing of this story nor was any malice intended in any way, shape or form to the author or the actors/actresses who so brilliantly have brought them to life. My versions of Rowling's characters would never be sanctioned, but I love them all the same.

Thank you, Erin, my wonderful Beta!! Thanks, also, to Flick for your help. To those who have reviewed, I continue to be unable to thank you all enough for the words of support and criticism. You all make
this worthwhile!

This is the fifth in a six-part series and will make no sense at all without reading the preceding four parts.

***In addition to the above warnings***, the following apply: graphic torture scenes, definite squick, severe animal abuse, gang-rape, unmitigated violence, rampant deviations from character, and more of Harry's almost unfathomable fickleness.

Part V – Life Skills

Chapter 1: Of Breeding and Predation

Other than a massive fest for Ron's eighteenth birthday Sunday, March 1, (which Harry makes it to only for a while, until the children are ousted and things become a bit of a bacchanal), the winter term turns out to be mainly uneventful and even a bit relaxing, despite many of the students' growing panic about the summer term, and the inevitable examinations that come with it. Harry finds he cares little for whatever stress the others pile on themselves, and that Draco has no difficulty at all in controlling any nervousness he may be experiencing. Perhaps it is something about that unfathomable arrogance.

Or—perhaps it's not unfathomable, as the bloke is generally as brilliant and handsome as he thinks he is. That is Harry's unbiased opinion, of course.

So it comes as something of a shock when the daily routine is broken by Harry being summoned to the prefects' offices, where Draco is currently 'on duty', which Harry supposes means that Draco is available to meet with students. Who would actually meet with Draco willingly in his capacity as Head Boy, Harry doesn't care to think about. Regardless, a first-year boy Harry recognizes from the Slytherin common room manages to find the courage to knock on Harry's door, and he is still there, quaking and trembling, when Harry opens it. "Mr-Malfoy-would-like-to-speak-with-you," the boy says all in a rush, his voice high and pure without yet a hint of the change that will all too soon make him squeak and crack most unattractively.

"Perhaps I don't currently wish to speak with Mr Malfoy," Harry drawls, examining his nails, which were very recently painted silver and green but which he had, thankfully, returned to their natural state only moments earlier. Harry points his kohl-blackened eyes in the little boy's direction and attempts to seem threatening, which requires his quiet voice. "Perhaps," he whispers, "you should inform the Head Boy that Mr Potter doesn't wish to be disturbed just now. Hmm?"

The boy looks about ready to faint. His eyes cross a bit before he takes three rapid breaths in succession. "Please, Mr Potter! He'll flay me alive if I deliver that message!"

So it appears that no matter how evil Harry acts, everyone knows that Draco is the greater evil of the two. "What will you do for me, little snake, if I do this for you?" Harry asks, still trying for sinister. He thinks it's working, by the way the boy slinks backward, trying to get away from Harry. Harry thinks it may be an amusing skill, this terrifying small children, but it's not particularly useful. He thinks he may have found a lot more use for this if he'd actually been in Slytherin his entire time here, and had built up more credit. "You will fear me," he adds in Parseltongue, because he can.

The boy faints.

"Bugger," Harry mutters, then makes his lonely way to Draco, resetting his wards behind himself before he gets too far away.

It's a long walk to the tower but he arrives eventually, and when he enters the office where Draco sits behind a desk, he is somewhat disappointed that Draco is simply brooding and doesn't greet him with lurid smiles or lascivious words. In fact, Draco doesn't greet him at all, merely tossing a piece of parchment onto the desk, near Harry, before turning his back to stare out a window onto the greenish season one might term 'Nearly Spring'. Nearly Spring is primarily noted for its occasional snowfall which rarely sticks, and its vast tracts of mud.

Harry picks up the parchment, which Draco obviously intends him to read, and sits down in the chair which faces Draco's desk. This is what is written:


I am, as ever, most pleased to hear of your exemplary scholarly pursuits and, of course, Slytherin's imminent triumph in all things House. There was never a doubt in my mind that you would become the leader you so clearly deserve to be.

I am, however, more concerned by this other business you discuss. Although I am certain our Lord would enjoy nothing more than the denigration of the False Saviour by his relegation to the position of subservient wife and breeding cow, made to bear the Slytherin heir of a family loyal to the Dark; I must insist that he shall not be allowed to play that role in our family. Were it not for his Lycanthropy, he would likely be worthy of the Dark Lord himself, but as that most heinous of stigmata has rendered him useless as foe to our Lord, so has it also stripped him of any utility as breeding stock. We cannot be certain that his disease will not transfer to any progeny he bears, and that is an unacceptable risk. Perhaps it would be acceptable for a Nott, or a Crabbe or Goyle—where a diseased child could simply be culled—but not a Malfoy.

I am certain that this short missive has made clear why you must continue to keep your pet as only that—a pet. M. Leoncourt has already expressed his delight in relaying that the plans are well underway for your wedding to Cécile in October. I trust you will continue to justify the not-insubstantial pride we have in you, Son.


"I suppose now would be the time we both pretend we are surprised by your father's reaction," Harry says, and though he meant it to sound sarcastic and unconcerned, his voice is hollow and lifeless. Some small part of him is laughing mirthlessly, and cynically noting how glad it is it did not witness the original letter Draco sent to his father—for surely that letter was every bit as denigrating to Harry as this reply. But most of Harry doesn't even pay attention, because Harry knows exactly what Draco's role is in this entire mess, and knows exactly what Draco is supposed to feel for Harry.

"Of course we're not surprised," Draco growls and turns back to face Harry before sitting in his chair. Even seated, he is a presence to fear, or worship. "We're livid." Draco's cheeks have taken on that pallor he only evinces with white-hot rage—that whiteness that makes him seem otherworldly, for while mere mortals' cheeks fill with heated blood, Draco's fill with quicksilver. "He's a fool!"

"Yes," Harry agrees, "but not for his opinions on whether I would make a good breeding cow." Because the senior Malfoy is right, of course—Harry could pass on his Lycanthropy, if he were to carry a child. It seems that it may have occurred in the past. Though it is a rare thing for a female werewolf to become gravid, there is ancient lore which says that Lycanthropy can be passed in such a way. Unfortunately, so much of that lore is muggle, and so it is difficult to determine whether any of it is true.

"That wouldn't be an issue if I were to bear the child."

"It might still," Harry says and shrugs. It hardly matters—Harry will likely be dead before the potion is finished. He knows that Draco and Snape have been working on it secretly. He can even recall when it started. But he hasn't mentioned it, because Draco obviously hasn't wished to discuss it. Draco also failed to mention that he had written to his father of his desire to marry Harry instead of Mlle. Leoncourt.

Draco breathes heavily through his nose, and the sound is loud in the room. He appears to be attempting to calm himself, but it’s not working very well. No, not very well at all. "I will not sit passively and wait to be married off to that bint after I have promised myself to you!" Draco suddenly explodes. "I refuse!"

Harry's not certain what good this petulance is doing, but he supposes he agrees with the sentiment. He'd rather got his own hopes up as well. It simply does not seem to make any sort of difference. "Have you a plan, then?" Harry asks.

Draco blinks, then thinks for a moment, then stands and turns his back again. Obviously, he does not have a plan. "Of course," he lies.

"Well, I also have a plan," Harry offers.

"And what is your plan?" Draco asks, still facing the window. He is hesitant, though it does not show in his stance. Only his scent betrays him.

"I will go to Malfoy Manor and…convince Master Malfoy to change his mind."

Draco snorts and turns about, takes one look at Harry's face and grows serious. "That's preposterous," he says.

"Well, only in the sense that I use the word convince, and pretend that going to Malfoy Manor would not involve a duel with Voldemort," Harry concedes.

"You would have to murder my father to convince him."

"Yeah, I wouldn't like to be the one to murder your father," Harry agrees, mainly because he doesn't want Draco to hate him.

"There's absolutely no need for you to put yourself in danger this way. That's what the Order is for."

"Not really," Harry says sadly. "I think they're mostly about in order to gather intelligence and help protect me."

"I won't allow my father," and the hatred in that word makes Harry feel a little bit better about his decision, "to draw you out of safety. I'll simply break off the engagement with Leoncourt without his approval."

"Because losing your inheritance really isn't that important to you," Harry agrees, careful not to show his sarcasm, despite the fact that it's blatant.

"After the Dark Lord is deposed, my father will have no fortune to bequeath. I will have to make my own way."

"Of course," Harry agrees. It is easy to agree with something so completely hypothetical.

"Harry, for Merlin's sake!" Draco shouts and pounds the desk once, hard, with his fist. He knows that Harry's made up his mind. He hates not making all of the decisions. "You're not ready!"

"You're not ready," Harry disagrees. "I've been ready for ages. I'm floundering here, Draco. I'm waiting to die."

"You won't die!"

"Perhaps not, but I'm certainly not living now. I'm marking time, but I don't want to do that anymore. I'm still a bloody Gryffindor, no matter what everybody thinks. I still want to meet my foe face to face, and on my terms."

"When?" Draco asks, though his demeanour shows that he has not yet given in.

"If you wish to help me, I will include you in all of the planning. If you do not, I will tell you nothing. That is the deal."

Draco stands again, enraged, "You don't dictate terms to me—!"

"I do now," Harry interrupts and stands as well. Draco may be dominant in virtually every other aspect of their lives, but this is Harry's place. It is Harry who has been training to fight the Dark Lord. It has been Harry's life dictated by that monster since the day he was born. It is Harry's decision, when he shall do battle, and where. "You make your own decision, but if you wish to be a part of this, you can bloody well follow my rules. I'll give you time, you know where to find me once you've thought on it," Harry says and leaves.

He is surprised that he doesn't even make it back to his rooms before Draco catches him up. He is not surprised, however, that Draco is unable to actually speak his decision aloud at that point. Draco pins him to the wall almost as soon as they're closed inside Harry's rooms, then fucks him with a desperation Harry finds frightening.

They lie together in the darkness that night, and Harry pretends Draco is not weeping, and feigns sleep when Draco whispers, "I'll follow you. And I'll avenge you, if that's what it comes to in the end."

A Second Chance by colibri
Chapter 2: A Second Chance

There are many plans made in the coming days, and no one is privy to them all—least of all, Harry. In fact, Harry is certain, at times, that he knows less of what is going on than any other single person in the school, except, perhaps, some of the first year students.

One thing he does know, however, is that he is going to be fitted for new robes, and while it seems stupid and a waste of time, he can't help but be chuffed. The occasion is great enough that he is accompanied by both Draco and Snape, (the latter as chaperone, of course), and that they take the floo all the way to London, to patronise Madam Malkin's Robes For All Occasions, instead of simply going to Gladrags. Harry wonders how often Madam Malkin provides robes for The Boy Who Lived's Final Showdown With The Dark Lord.

She greets them all with great courtesy and politeness, as one would expect, though Harry can see she is not overly fond of Draco, finds Snape somewhat repellent, and harbours a feeling much like sympathy mixed with disgust (and a bit of regret) for Harry. She is very professional throughout, as Draco skillfully and knowledgeably orders her about, choosing fabrics, choosing styles, and generally directing Harry's fitting. Madam Malkin is also less than thrilled with the garments she's being ordered to create, Harry gathers, and he wonders whether the Dark Lord has his own personal seamstress, since he can't imagine Madam Malkin providing robes for, say, a Dark Bacchanal or other evil orgy type of situation. It allows him to smile when next she reminds him to, "Stand up straight, Mr Potter, if you please?"

They leave with an assurance that the garments will be ready in three hours’ time, and Harry is very pleased to realise that Madam Malkin did not once comment on how thin he is, and thinks perhaps it's not all bad, this being reviled by the general populace.

From there it’s on to Knockturn where they stop in at Borgin & Burkes. Harry tries to ignore the queasiness in his stomach and concentrates instead on the wand in his palm. "Let us now see, Mr Potter, whether your Christmas gift was worth the…trouble," murmurs Snape as the door closes behind them.

"Can I be of—" comes Borgin's voice before it is abruptly broken off by its owner, who appears most pleased. "Professor Snape…and the most infamous couple of a generation. The honour," he says mockingly, then comes nearer. Only that lascivious glint in his eye is losing focus…has lost focus…has become…something watery and weak. "My, Professor Snape…it's been so long…since I've had the…ah…pleasure. Yes…" and Harry and Draco are completely forgotten.

Draco looks at Harry questioningly. "Your gift?" he mouths.

Harry nods once, but does not smile. Being in this room again…it's not as easy to dismiss as it normally would be.

"You'll have to tell me about it," Draco murmurs.

"I think you may have to ask the professor," Harry admits. He notes that Snape and Borgin are in deep discussions about various and sundry items the professor needs, so he backs away, then turns to look at…well, whatever is about.

"That bad?" Draco asks.

"Not really," Harry says, and wonders whether he is lying. "Just…ancient history," he finishes lamely. "Do you need anything here?" he asks, to change the subject.

"Of course not," Draco replies idly.

"Is there some other place we can go looking, then?" Harry asks, loath to admit that he is uncomfortable in this shop but…well, there it is.

"There's a little place called Sade's Sabbat, which has some…interesting items."

"Hmm…if you find them interesting, they must have something to do with either clothing or sex."

"Or both, my dearest Harry," Draco agrees, smiles evilly, and leads him out of the store with a shouted, "Going to Sade's!" in Snape's general direction. If the professor has any misgivings, he does not share them with his charges. "I'm so pleased you've agreed to it, Potter!"

Sade's Sabbat is near the end of the alley, and tiny. In fact, it looks little more than a single boarded-up window in a shabby brick facade. Draco rings a little bell, however, and within seconds, a large, violet-coloured eye peeks from a hole in one of the wooden planks. "State yer business," says a hag's voice that is none too pretty.

"What kind of business do you think we're here for, Scarlett, you warty old hag. Now let us in before Jezebel skins you alive."

That must be the password, for the sound of grating boards on stone signals the opening of a door previously hidden behind the planks. Draco smiles back at Harry and drawls, "After you," with a smirk so evil, it seems a bit much even for Knockturn.

Harry's brow quirks, but he decides Draco would never actually put him in danger on this sort of outing, so he enters, feigning a confidence he does not quite feel. But his trust is justified, for he is not accosted as soon as he enters.

The shop is very different on the inside from what its exterior might suggest, though that should not be a surprise. Many things in the wizarding world are not what they, at first, appear. Sade's Sabbat, on the inside, is spacious and very femininely appointed. It is decorated in shades of pink and peach and though Harry can appreciate those colours, he is not so fond of them that he enjoys being immersed.

"Well, if it isn't Draco Malfoy," says a woman as lovely as her voice is sensual, (which is very), and approaches. She wears diaphanous silk robes that cover less than they reveal, though they do cover the important bits, and a veil before her mouth, which emphasises the deep darkness of her large, wide-set, black eyes. She brings with her an air of sensuality and languor when she approaches and bestows kisses on both of Draco's cheeks through her veil. Harry can see the red of her lips through its translucence. "To what do we owe the pleasure?"

"Harry and I were ordering robes at Malkin's," the last word said with no small amount of distaste. "I thought it might be nice to have some…more appropriate garments commissioned."

At that, it is as if she has been given permission to acknowledge Harry's presence. "Ah, the Famous Harry Potter," she says, and Harry can hear the smile in her voice, as well as see it through her veil. Her scent is alien enough as to be indecipherable. There is something about her that is…not human. Harry finds her singularly unattractive, despite her obvious beauty. "You have changed much over the years," she says. "He is far prettier now, no?" she says and looks back to Draco in amused commiseration.

Harry doesn't mind being discussed in this way. He is mostly preoccupied by what it is about this woman that so repels him. I'm not that gay, am I? he thinks.

"He is worthy of me, Jezebel, and I desire something that will suit him. Play to his strengths." It's a command.

She comes closer to Harry, looks him over from crown to toe, then takes out the little kestrel holding his hair back. She runs her hands through the thickness of the silk strands and a thumb across Harry's left cheekbone. "Let me see, then," she says, and stands back, waiting.

Draco comes between them and smiles fondly at Harry. "Do you mind?" he asks almost inaudibly, though Harry has a feeling this woman has heard.

"You wish to display me," Harry says, not really questioning.

"Only for the purpose of having you fitted with something…suitable. She has no sexual interest in you."

Harry shrugs. "Whatever." This is nothing.

"You will see, it's not nearly so bad once she gets started," he adds with dry humour, then steps away again, pulling out his wand. "Divestio!" he intones, and Harry's clothing peels off in orderly layers until he stands naked before them. It is very obvious indeed that he is also completely uninterested in Jezebel.

But Draco is right. Once he is naked, Jezebel becomes the artiste, and Scarlett appears in order to be ordered about. Fabrics are pulled, including various leathers and other more non-traditional choices. Draco leaves Harry there alone after about a quarter of an hour, promising that he will return shortly. Harry hopes that Draco will have no trouble finding Snape, since they've already been gone longer than Harry anticipated.

In the end, Jezebel decides on something involving blood-red silk, black chains, and black patent leather. Draco returns whilst she is gathering her tools, and is told that this piece will take three days to complete, and would he like the piece owled to him or held for pick-up? Draco does not ask the price—merely dresses Harry with a wand-flick before assuring her that Owlpost will be most sufficient—he trusts that her work will be satisfactory and yes, he shall be at Hogwarts during that time.

"Can't wait to see that one," Draco murmurs with excitement as they exit the store and meet Professor Snape, who is waiting for them in the alley. "Have you all of your necessities, Professor?" Draco asks, as if they had not just spoken. Perhaps they haven’t.

"Indeed," Snape replies with a curt nod. "I believe it is time to retrieve our packages from Madam Malkin's," and they all return most expeditiously to the robe shop, where Harry is forced to try on every piece in case alterations are needed.

The pieces are lovely, though, Harry must admit, and even Malkin seems to grudgingly admire Harry in them. Draco insisted on several colours, and so now Harry has formal…well…gowns mostly, in burgundy red, deep green, black, golden, and a peachy pink kind of colour that is most feminine and now reminds him of Sade's Sabbat. The gowns are all cut long and slim, not at all made to hide that Harry is male. The peachy gown has a halter top, and is tight enough that it would show every rib, were it not of a stretchy crushed velvet. It does, however, show the bulge of his manhood before widening to accommodate a modest stride. The burgundy is an off-the-shoulder piece, also in velvet, though not crushed. The black and green are both v-necks with high collars in silk satin and dupioni, respectively. The gold is a set, with tight, three-quarter trousers, a white tunic to hang on the outside, and a fitted robe atop that is more like a coat, but is not worn closed. It is likely the most masculine set Harry owns at this point, (other than school robes), since he doesn't even buy things like this for himself. He tends to prefer robes to trousers in wizarding wear just on general principle. Trousers are for muggle clothing, he has decided. But Draco is paying, so Draco chooses.

Once they have finished at Malkin's, they return to the Leaky Cauldron, then floo back to Hogwarts, Draco marching their numerous parcels behind them because he cannot bear the thought of Harry carrying anything and certainly would not carry anything himself. Snape, of course, wants nothing to do with their purchases at all, and is always attending to his own dignity.

They part ways in the corridor and Draco sets the parcels to unpack themselves without fanfare. "My darling Harry!" he then gushes. "You were a vision," and he pulls Harry against himself and pulls Harry's hair out of his face, since Harry failed to retie it after Jezebel's fitting.

"Were?" Harry asks and pretends to be miffed, though he's not, really. He has found that he enjoys very much being the centre of Draco's attentions.

"School robes are not exactly the most flattering, love," Draco says with a tsk in his voice. "I could remedy the situation for you," he offers and loosens Harry's tie. "Not fond of these bloody Gryffindor colours anyway."

Harry snorts. It breaks the mood a bit, but only slightly. Until Draco gets a devilish look in his eye and moves Harry into the centre of the room before stepping back a pace, then two. He falls to one knee and looks up into Harry's face with a bit of curiosity in his own. "What?" Harry asks.

"I was wondering something," Draco says with a small, secretive smile.

"And what is that, pray tell, Mr Malfoy?" Harry plays along, though it's difficult not to smirk.

"Well, I was wondering, Mr Potter, if you might accept my proposal," he says, and pulls out a little velvet box, which he holds out to Harry, "of marriage."

Harry looks at the box without taking it. He looks at Draco, then chuckles incredulously. "You're joking," he says, because Draco simply can't be serious. Harry has already accepted Draco’s proposal, after all—even if he can’t recall the details.

But, "No, not really," Draco says and flicks the box open, "though it may seem that way at first." His eyes are twinkling to rival Dumbledore's.

Inside the box lies not a ring, but a set of four tiny, steel…well…balls. Harry frowns and tries to get a closer look. He gingerly takes the box from Draco's fingers. "What are they?"

"Aren't you going to answer me first?" Draco says, barely holding his own laughter in check. "You can't simply take the jewellery and then decline the hand."

Harry does smirk this time. "Well I haven’t yet changed my mind. Of course I'll bloody marry you, if we make it that far. Now what's this here?" and he pulls out one of the balls. Only it turns out to be two balls attached by a thin, slightly curved, metal rod. He holds it up to the light.

"Nipple rings," Draco says with undisguised glee. "Well, not rings, barbells, but close enough to rings, I thought. Engagement nipple rings!"

"Oh bloody bugger," Harry says, then laughs. The mere image of perfectly proper Draco Malfoy walking into what Harry assumes was a muggle piercing establishment and asking for nipple rings in his haughty manner. Yes, I should like those, there, and have them boxed, will you? They're an engagement present. "Wicked!"

"Good," Draco agrees. "So, let's put them on, then."

"Draco, I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm not pierced. Anywhere. At all."

"Of course I've noticed. But I've learned this ace little charm. Completely painless, of course."

"Lovely," Harry says and is still smiling when Draco comes nearer to claim his mouth. And they kiss for quite some time, before Harry murmurs a hushed, "Thank you," against Draco's lips.

"You'll remember this time," Draco replies just as softly, and begins to undress Harry slowly, kissing every part as it is exposed, until Harry stands only in his trousers, flushed and wanting, his erection pressing maddeningly against his pants.

Draco is suddenly holding one of the little barbells between two fingers, his wand in the other hand, and sitting high on his knees. He doesn't even bother to unscrew a ball—simply holds it up to Harry's left nipple, which is peaked already from Draco's earlier suckling and the cool air of the room, and casts, "Transadigo Cutis."

A split second only, and the deed is done. Not exactly painlessly, but near enough as to make no difference, and with no healing time necessary, Harry thinks it's a good deal all round. "Nice spell, that," he says, impressed.

"Thank you," Draco says and throws his wand onto the pillows behind them.

"Don’t I get the other?" Harry asks.

"No, that one's for me."

"Ahh…" though it was what he'd assumed. "So…shall I set that one for you?"

"You haven't practised the incantation."

"Now you're joking," Harry says. "I can't possibly bollocks up something as simple as that."

"My nipples are sensitive," Draco says with a frown. "I don't want to lose sensitivity."

"Righ'," Harry says, "I'm certain that's your main fear."

"Well it is," says Draco, now petulant and a bit defensive.

"You can do it yourself if you wish," Harry says. He doesn't really care, after all.

Draco sighs, "You're certain?"

"Draco, if I can't do a simple piercing incantation, I think the wizarding world is in even direr straits than it thinks it's in."

Draco looks at him for a few moments before snorting, mostly at himself. "I suppose that's true," he admits.

"Fantastic," Harry says sarcastically. "So, if you don't mind," he adds with raised brows, then silently casts a Divestio on Draco and himself, to get rid of the clothing Draco hasn't already removed. He decides to make quick work of the piercing, summoning the other barbell so that Draco won't have time to lose his nerve. "Which nipple, then?"

"Same," Draco says, and Harry places it with a thought. "Ow," Draco says.

"Big girl's blouse," says Harry. "It can't possibly have hurt that much."

Draco smirks. "That's true, but you didn't have to be such a show-off about it."

"Of course I did," Harry dismisses. "I'm the Boy Who Lived."

"Of course," Draco agrees, before most conversation is suspended, for a time.

Master of the House by colibri
Chapter 3: Master of the House

Harry isn't entirely certain what arrangements have had to be made in order for him to get into the coach on April 3rd, but the end result is that Harry and Draco escape the castle at 11:30 p.m. exactly, under cover of an obfuscation charm, and run immediately to the coach, their trunks trailing them invisibly. The coach is silenced and Harry is kept invisible until they are well away from Hogwarts grounds.

"Well, I reckon we've made it, then," says Draco with a sigh of relief once they've made it to Hogsmeade and watch the coach leave. "Here, are you ready?"

"No," Harry admits, but he has one hand firmly gripping his trunk and the other clasped just as firmly in Draco's.

"Well, my father's promised you safe harbour, so…as long as you're a good pet, we should do all right."

"Of course," Harry agrees, his stomach doing a lazy jig.

"I doubt the Dark Lord will be there tonight."

"Brilliant," Harry agrees.

"We don't have to do this."

"Where is the bloody portkey?"

"Right," Draco agrees, and holds it out so that they can both grasp the cane, which Harry knows is made of human bones. "Ten seconds," Draco says, and grasps his own trunk with his free hand, then kisses Harry like it's his dying act. They pull apart just before the portkey activates, and Harry feels himself being sucked into his own navel.

The nausea is incredible. It reminds him of simpler days, when the only magic was found in a syringe.

And then they've arrived, and Harry wishes travel weren't quite so…immediate…in the wizarding world. "Excellent," says a voice that he recognises from nightmares past. Unfortunately, those nightmares are all based on reality. "Welcome home, Son. And welcome to you as well, Mr Potter."

"Thank you, Mr Malfoy," says Harry dutifully, eyes downcast even from inside his deeply hooded cloak.

"Ah, Father!" says Draco, and sounds every bit the prodigal returned. He removes his own travelling cloak and tosses it aside, where it is caught by a house elf before ever touching the ground. Draco is dressed grandly, of course, as this is a formal homecoming for him. He is here, ostensibly, to show off his prize to both father and Lord. He wears robes of Slytherin green with a formal, ruffled tunic in white, and silver breeches. His hair, of course, is perfectly gelled, but it seems odd to Harry that father and son should look so differently now, especially as Malfoy senior's hair remains long. "I cannot express my pleasure at finally having returned home! And at such an auspicious occasion," the last offered a bit more quietly, darkness barely seeping in. Harry is impressed.

"Indeed," says Mr Malfoy, but looks with curiosity upon Harry. "But you forget yourself, Son, and leave your pet to stand swathed in travel robes when I would see him."

"Forgive me, Father," Draco says, then moves to Harry's side. "It is a grand pleasure to present…Harry Potter," he says, then pulls the hood slowly from Harry's hair before unclasping the cloak and removing it as well. He throws it to the side and it is as forgotten as the other.

Harry wears his older black robes, the ones he wore to the Christmas Feast, as he shan't be entertaining any…special guests this evening. Still, he is lovely in them and he knows it. His long, shiny hair falls into his face because his head is cast forward, hiding his eyes, but he can scent Lucius Malfoy's instant arousal, as well as hear the aborted intake of breath, the staggered pulse, before the elegant hand is poised at his chin and, gently, forces him to meet silver-grey eyes. "Harry…Potter…" says Lucius Malfoy, and nothing more. He simply licks his lips once, and stares.

Draco plays his role to perfection, though Harry can scent the possessiveness mounting. Luckily, that scent is perfectly expected in this situation. "Is he not lovely, Father?"

Lucius does not bother to answer. He stares for a moment longer, then says, "Your mother has taken to her bed for the night," at which time he finally draws his eyes away from Harry, though not his hand, and looks to his son. "We shall take breakfast in the atrium. 10:00 a.m."

"Of course, Father," Draco says, all pleased excitement. "I look forward to seeing Mother again."

"She looks forward to doting on you. Off to bed, then, and I shall ensure that our Mr Potter is shown to his rooms presently."

Draco blinks, scowls. "But father, surely I can keep my pet with me—in my rooms."

"Is it not a bit inappropriate for you to maintain such…relations…with your mother under the same roof?" The man sounds positively scandalised, in a mild way.

"I'm not certain," Draco begins darkly, "I can manage the entire holiday without him, Father," and he sounds every bit the spoilt child grown up, whose tantrums have only grown deadlier over time.

"Do not fret, Son. Your mother shall take her leave tomorrow after breakfast—shopping in Paris, I believe, then Milan. She has so many things she wishes to purchase for you—perhaps for your pet as well, once she has seen him again. I'm certain she'll be…smitten," with a little, unfathomable smile. "Now run along, Draco, and we'll see you in the morning."

Draco calms himself, but he is far from happy as he departs, taking the stairs two at a time, caring not a whit for decorum.

"And you, my dear Mr Potter, shall follow me." So Harry does, only belatedly noticing that his trunk, like Draco's, has already disappeared. He can only guess that it has been brought to his rooms for him.

They ascend the stairs in the opposite direction Draco has gone, though they both lead to the same walkway on the second storey. Draco, however, continued right, whereas Mr Malfoy leads Harry to the left, then down a right turn, and another. He opens a door onto a room so opulent, Harry has never even fantasised its equal. It is more opulent by far than the Head Boy rooms Draco has so carelessly tossed aside. Harry supposes he understands, if this is what Draco is accustomed to.

The floor is of a dark wood Harry cannot name, and piled with rugs in green with silver serpents throughout. There is a large, wooden armoire ornately carved to match an enormous four-poster bed across the room from it. Still, even with two mammoth furnishings, the room is in no way overburdened, and there is plenty of space in which to keep the matching dressers and vanity, as well as a full-length oval mirror on a stand.

The bed's green velvet curtains are drawn back and tied with silver cords, and the bed is layered with green and silver pillows, as well as the silver-embroidered, green velvet eiderdown. Harry feels it is safe to assume he has been put in the Slytherin Room. The question is only whether every guestroom at Malfoy Manor is a Slytherin Room. Harry hopes that one day, he will grow up and live in a house and never have anyone walk in and know immediately what bloody school house he was a member of.

"The en-suite is through here," says Mr Malfoy and opens the door for Harry, which is just beyond the bed on the left wall. Harry approaches dutifully, to gape at the green marble and silver fixtures, the fluffy white towels, the sunken bath. All of the fixtures are sculpted in the form of serpents. Harry does not roll his eyes heavenward. "I assume you would like to freshen before bed," says the host, and waves his cane negligently at the bath, starting it to fill. Another wave, and a dressing gown appears at the side of the bath, along with matching slippers, all in green. Harry decides to think of everything matching his eyes, instead of being Slytherin colours.

"Thank you, Master Malfoy," Harry says, and curtseys slightly, to have something to do.

"Enjoy your bath, Mr Potter. Your belongings have been placed in the wardrobe."

Lucius Malfoy takes his leave, and Harry looks about the bath, then sighs. He is about to begin disrobing when a squeaky voice startles him out of his reverie. "Is Mr Potter needing assistance?" asks the house elf, who wears an immaculate tea towel pinned into place with the Malfoy family crest, in silver. Harry is glad he has no particular reaction to silver unless it's used to wound him. He's never been surrounded by as much silver as he has been since entering the Manor.

"Not really," Harry admits. "I'm sorry, what's your name?"

"Ninny, sir," says the little elf, and Harry supposes it's as good a name as any other house elf name he's heard. Only….

"Well…all right, Ninny," he decides and allows the elf to disrobe him, though she must stand on a stool to do it.

"Is Mr Potter wishing to wash his hair?"

"Not tonight, Ninny," Harry replies, and then his hair is magically pulled into a knot on the top of his head, and something like an Impervius is cast over it (though he hears no incantation). When he enters the bath presently, he can feel the water being repelled. "Thank you, Ninny."

"Is Mr Potter wishing assistance with his bath?"

"No thank you, Ninny. I think I can take it from here."

"Mr Potter needs only call for Ninny and she will be here! For any need!" Harry thinks she may be a bit overexcited.

"Thank you, Ninny. Good night." She winks out, and Harry sighs further into the bath, grateful, at least, for her assistance with his hair. It's convenient that he needn't use his own magic. Especially since he's not entirely certain where his wand has got to.

He dozes for at least fifteen minutes, though likely closer to half an hour, before washing himself thoroughly. He silently chides himself for dreading a single night alone, remembering a time when he spent nearly every night alone. But the mere thought of Draco sends blood rushing below, a hand to trace his own length languidly, and another, to circle his opening. He allows a finger to penetrate and imagines it is Draco's tongue preparing him, teasing him.

Then he remembers where he is with a start. He swallows uncomfortably and darts eyes about the room, as if afraid the house elf has returned, though he does not scent her presence. He actively attempts to calm his own breathing and pulls the drain, getting out of the bath and drying himself with one of the fluffy towels before wrapping himself in the dressing gown and slipping his feet into the provided slippers. He goes to the mirror and notes the single comb holding up his hair. It is lovely, made of wood, he thinks, and lacquered in black with green serpents throughout, of course. His hair is dry, but beginning to fall a bit where it is shorter, softening the otherwise slightly too masculine lines of his face. He's a bit too thin to pull off a woman's softness. But that's all right. He's not a woman, and Draco doesn't want a woman anyway.

He re-enters the bedroom and closes the en-suite door behind himself, only to realise that he is not alone. It is not Draco, however, who sits on Harry's bed, but Lucius. "Was the bath to your liking, Mr Potter?"

"Yes, sir," Harry replies, his gaze falling, again, to the floor. "Thank you, sir."

"Good," says Mr Malfoy, and moves to the edge of the bed before standing. He is not quite as tall as his son, but it is close. Lucius Malfoy is still a tall man and there is a hardness to him his son lacks—a darkness, perhaps, though Harry isn't certain he can sense that on such a superficial level.

Mr Malfoy smells clean as well, as if he has also just come from his bath. He likely has, but it cannot hide the scent of lust that still exudes from him in great waves. He wears a dressing gown of black silk embroidered in white tigers, and it is fitting, that he should be covered in predators, with those silver eyes staring at Harry as hungrily as Draco's ever have. "I think it time, then, Mr Potter," Lucius murmurs with an undercurrent of steel, "that you pay your respects to the Master of the House."

"Yes, sir," Harry answers. It's been less than a year since he left his night-time work. He has not forgotten its rules. He moves to stand before Mr Malfoy and drops to his knees.

"Oh dear boy, no," says Lucius with glee. "Not so quickly as all that." He is positively delighted. "Stand, Harry Potter, and allow me to enjoy you as my son has. I'd no idea how beautiful you have grown." He guides Harry to his feet again, then removes the dressing gown, running gentle fingers along Harry's collar bones, then down. He takes note of the barbell in Harry's left nipple before moving further. Harry's sex is flaccid now, but Harry has no fear that he will be able to perform.

The gown is dropped to the floor, and Harry steps out of the slippers when he is pulled forward, then led onto the bed, where he kneels so that he is nearly tall enough to reach Lucius Malfoy's lips with his own, though he does not.

Lucius removes the comb from Harry's hair, and the raven mass cascades down shoulders and back to tickle at ribs and waist. "You are lovely," Lucius says, searching Harry's eyes, "but there is more, if my son is so taken with you. He's always been a bit of a libertine, and he's never cared a whit who his partners were, as long as they were well bred. To remain with you…" He pushes Harry onto his back, and Harry allows it, his knees still bent, placing his feet under his arse. He lies there, his hair spread below him on the eiderdown, and waits for any indication of what Lucius desires of him.

He watches as Lucius gets off the bed to remove his own dressing gown, then pyjama bottoms. His penis hangs limp but heavy and long—longer than the hang of his pendulous balls. He looks every inch the breeding stallion, though he has but one heir. Harry wonders about it, because it's something to do that is safe while Lucius stalks him, crawls back onto the bed and straddles him low enough that his heavy penis nearly touches Harry's skin, though the man is on all fours. "Perhaps it is only because you are Harry Potter, hmm?" murmurs Lucius as he searches Harry's face.

Harry feels himself slipping away, going blank, and wonders whether Mr Malfoy can see it as well—whether it will anger him. He parts his lips slightly and moistens them, thinks of what he wants—what he needs—and whispers, "I am everything he wants me to be," on a sigh. He blinks languidly, feeling the weight of his own lashes rest gently on his cheeks for only a moment, before it is over. "What can I be for you, Master Malfoy?"

Never in all of his ruminating on this and that--on his imminent death, on Voldemort and his followers, on the problem of Lucius Malfoy--had he ever imagined that his lover's father would be anything but a torturing master, demanding pain and degradation at every turn. He would not have been surprised at repeated Crucios added merely for spice. He would not have been surprised by dry fists, or urine on his face.

And so, of course, Lucius Malfoy manages to surprise him in grand fashion, for the longer this goes on, the more obvious it seems that what Lucius desires from Harry, is love. And adoration, of course. And grand flights of pleasure. Lucius Malfoy seems to Harry to be one of that certain class of john—the 'happily married', 'straight' bloke with a frigid wife and a desperate need for affection. Man of the house, doting father, ruthless at work, starved for sex. Lucius spends what seems like hours kissing Harry, once he realises that he can, and that the kisses will be returned with fervour. Harry needs not feign this—a kiss is a kiss and requires no emotional attachment, no matter what the poetry says. But if he lacks for desire, he simply thinks of Draco; and he thinks about what he wants—about how close to finished this entire ordeal is—and there is desire enough for many, many heinous things.

And when Lucius finds he can no longer contain himself, he reaches, (with his hand, in muggle fashion), to a jar of lubricant that has likely been placed by some blasted house elf, and massages his own massive erection before introducing fingers to Harry's opening, which is, of course, ready for more. It appears that Harry is always ready for more sex—even from Lucius Malfoy. He does not worry about it, simply pulls his legs up and back, under his arms, presenting both gaping hole and jutting erection. He is grateful that Lucius does not expect more foreplay from him. "Please, Master Malfoy," he says in his best seductress, large, green eyes infused with plea. Please fuck me, say his eyes.

Lucius Malfoy is suddenly gasping in his desperate desire—his need. He hurriedly places pillows beneath Harry's hips, then presses smoothly in, his cock every bit as weighty as Draco's. His balls are even heavier. Harry can feel them against the smooth skin of his arse, hot and soft and slightly tickly with fur, so very manly, unlike Harry's own hairless bollocks.

Lucius groans once he has entered Harry fully, then begins a slow rhythm, leaning over Harry, holding himself up with arms likely weaker than they used to be, but quite well enough up to this task. As are his hips, which pound into Harry hard enough to please any bottom slut. The sound of skin against skin is maddeningly sexual, and Harry ramps inexorably toward climax, like Pavlov's dog, no matter what the surrounding circumstances. Only then he realises that Lucius is speaking to him, and that he must pay attention.

"So wanton, you are," Lucius is saying…"are you so wanton with my son?"

"Yes, Master Malfoy." Why lie? Harry has no idea what the 'right' answer is, after all, and guesses the answer will be right if Lucius wishes it to be, and wrong if he does not.

"Is your hole always so ready, waiting for him?"

"Yes, Master Malfoy."

"Ohhh…" The rhythm speeds a notch and Lucius changes his angle just so, causing burst after burst of pleasure inside Harry. Harry's mouth gasps open, along with his unseeing eyes, and little cries escape entirely without his leave. Draco does this to him, but regular johns—no. Tricking does not feel like this. "You like that, don't you," not a question, as the thrusts speed.

"Agh—agh—" is about all Harry is capable of.

"Yes…oh, I've surprised you," and Lucius's hand is between them, wrapped round Harry's steel erection. Harry's too close, and his cries have become a constant keening. "Come for me, Harry Potter. Come for Lucius Malfoy, most trusted servant of the Dark Lord," his voice suffused with triumph.

Harry comes with a scream and a burst of semen that goes on for an eternity of split seconds, then fades. But Lucius Malfoy continues to pound into his arse without slowing. His face is rapturous, though he's not yet come, and he soon begins to speak again. "So broken, little Harry Potter," he whispers. "Did my son do this to you? Or were you already beyond repair when they found you? Oh, delight!" And then he looks into Harry's watery eyes. "Has my son fucked you in dark corners, pet? On cold, stone floors? Against tables in classrooms? Yes, yes, of course. Has he tied you with restraints, belittled you with words? Oh little pet! Has he taken you during your change, yet?"

Harry's eyes go wide and he freezes for a moment, before realising he has shown reaction, and only belatedly thinking that yes, the reaction was correct. Everything is fine.

"He has! Oh yes…." And Lucius Malfoy's eyes close a final time, as he sighs into his own climax, pumping what seems like gallons of seed into Harry's arse. And once he is done, he pulls out, his cock glistening with grease and spunk, and stands Harry on all fours. He makes Harry wait until the spunk starts to drool from his so-stretched arse down his own modest ball-sac. "I can't tell you what a delight it's been, Harry Potter," Lucius says, and traces a finger through his own spunk on Harry's skin. "And how much I look forward to taking you in a week's time, at the Dark Lord's knee, bound and baying at the moon.

"Now, remain in exactly that position for another ten minutes, at least, and enjoy the sensation of my seed tracing your skin. Do not wash yourself, but crawl into this bed and sleep, soiled as you are. Tomorrow, I shall allow my son to have you again, as reward for the impeccable job he has done with you. I think I've never been so proud of my little boy," and Lucius Malfoy takes his pyjamas and dressing gown, dresses himself, and leaves.

Harry thinks there was once a time he would have wept, but now he simply stands there, on hands and knees, and imagines it is Draco's seed tracing his skin, and imagines that Draco is watching in delight, reminding Harry how beautiful he is, how lovely Harry looks with Draco's seed upon him, how only Harry is worthy of him, how he wishes, so desperately, to start a family together. "You can mitigate the damage, Harry," he says again.

Harry smiles, and falls asleep before the ten minutes have passed.

Of Things Past...And Food by colibri
Chapter 4: Of Things Past…and Food

Harry awakens under the covers and, somehow, clean. He thinks it has something to do with Ninny, but he will not broach the subject with her. He is grateful, in that detached way he gains when life is full of details, and he would rather dwell on grand arcs. There is no time to dwell on minutiae, there is only what he wants—the end to this torturous journey. There is only the mission.

And so he doesn't smile with joy when Draco enters the guest room to fetch him, though it is, indeed, joy he feels. And lust, yes, despite the past evening's…sport. "Good morning, pet," Draco says, his smirk evil and condescending and very, very sexy. "I trust you've rested well?"

"Yes, Draco," he replies, because they've decided it best he call Draco by his given name, and save the appellation 'Master' for the father. He tingles a bit inside at the anger and disgust he scents from Draco, though he wishes his lover had it under tighter rein. He is fairly certain Lord Voldemort can scent subterfuge. Snakes have a fairly well developed sense of smell, after all. He melts at Draco's touch, though it is only an elegant, soft-skinned hand against his cheek.

"Did you please my father, then, Potter?"

"I can only hope that he is pleased with my service, Draco; I cannot presume."

"Of course," Draco agrees, then snorts. "Wear the coral, then," he says, and stands leaning against the door.

"Oh, coral," Harry says. He hadn't realised what that colour was. Coral. It sounds nice—tropical. He hopes that one day, if he lives through this, he and Draco can go on holiday to the Caribbean. Perhaps see some coral. And fish. And…sand.

"Today, Potter," Draco growls, taking his frustration out in the only way he can.

Harry obliges, slipping on the gown easily, then tying the strings of its halter top behind his neck. His back is exposed, from the wings of his scapulae to just above his coccyx, in a type of keyhole cut that manages to hide most of his too-prominent ribs. Draco had, of course, got him shoes in every colour as well, though that was at Gladrags and after the gowns were purchased.

"Ninny!" Draco calls, and Harry simply can't get used to the name, no matter how many times he rationalises it to himself. But there she is now. "Fix Mr Potter's makeup, Ninny, and lead him to the atrium. We expect him at ten o'clock, sharp."

"Yes, sir, Mister Malfoy!" Ninny assures about as gravely as a house elf can, then sets about her work with incredible professionalism. It really is strange, Harry thinks, that these creatures are kept as slaves, seem to like it, and provide work of such a high quality.

Draco takes his leave, and Harry is left to reminisce at how lovely Draco looks this morning—all in silver and white, except for his black shoes—whilst completely ignoring the work Ninny does on his face. He is certain he will look divine in the end and is already bored of the idea. Mostly, he thinks he is trying to not be nervous about meeting Narcissa.

* * *

Harry is shown to the atrium and arrives two minutes early, as is appropriate, since he must not be late. Draco arrives exactly on time, while Lucius arrives a minute later, and Narcissa trails in only moments after that, looking dreamy and quite absent, otherwise. She has the look about her of a woman who has become a bit too dependent on laudanum—not that Harry would know that. Opium was always too weak for his circle. Why waste the quid on opium when one could get something stronger? Junk was a far better buy. Still, Narcissa Malfoy looks like a woman who does not care…about anything. She is a woman walking through a pastel-coloured reality, where nothing really matters. Harry smiles a little in commiseration, even as his gut twists.

"Good morning, Beloved," says Lucius to his wife, and there seems little affection between them, though the air is more indifferent than hostile. She simply does not care. She's lost her…volition. Harry almost giggles when he thinks that volition and Voldemort have the same linguistic root.

"Good morning, Dearest," says Narcissa in reply, a vacant smile on her perfectly painted face. She is lovely and lifeless. Except when she looks on her son. "My little Draco!" almost an exclamation. It is odd, though, that she seems surprised to see him. "Have you only just arrived?" and confused.

"Yes, Mother," Draco confirms, his smile practised, though perhaps a little sad to see his mother so. Only a little, Harry thinks, because Draco does not fully understand what is wrong with her. Harry thinks that Draco more likely sees his mother as air-headed than addicted. "I only arrived last night."

"And see, Beloved. He has brought a guest," says Master Malfoy and holds his hand out to Harry, who hastens forward meekly and curtseys deeply before the Lady of the House.

"Oh, sweetling," says Narcissa, her voice softening to doting and cuddly. "And who is this lovely thing?" Harry can hear the smile in her voice.

"Why, it's Harry Potter," says Lucius, the thinnest sliver of feigned surprise colouring the otherwise amused drawl, "false saviour of the wizarding world. Isn't he a vision?" He is gloating again, and nasty. Harry, once again, doesn't care. "Stand, Mr Potter—she's not the Queen." Even to his own wife, he is a beastly man.

Harry stands and scents dawning horror in the Lady's profile. Confusion, disbelief, disgust, and horror. "What is this, then?" she asks, more confused than she should be, and certainly more surprised. "Painting a boy so, in mockery of woman? Why do you do this, Lucius? Is it for Him and His vile perversions? Lucius??" She is shaking and distraught. Apparently, Lucius had been ironic at Harry's arrival yesterday, when he had said Narcissa would be 'smitten'.

"Calm yourself, woman," says Lucius in disgust. "Sit at the table and be still. Drink your milk tea and pretend to nibble at your scone. Then leave, and stay away until no earlier than the 19th of April. Our Lord desires your absence when he arrives, and for the duration of his visit."

Harry is embarrassed that Lucius would treat his wife so, and that Narcissa is so far gone she does not understand her own husband's part in this madness, nor even her own. He is both embarrassed and disgusted that Draco is forced to witness a relationship so warped. Harry's dead parents will always be in love with each other, and will always love him most in the world. Harry's parents will always be perfect. Draco's have little left to recommend them as parents at all.

Harry is led to a seat next to Draco, while the Master and Lady of the house sit at the head and foot of the table, respectively, and very far away from each other. Breakfast is eaten in near silence, with Harry managing to choke down an unreasonably delicious scone whilst Lucius and Draco each eat enough for two. Narcissa is obviously anorexic, though as a result of her addiction or simply her psychological trauma, Harry cannot guess. She barely manages to pretend to nibble at her scone, but certainly does not eat more than a tiny bite or two of it, and she does not add sugar to her tea, though she does drink it. She is lovely and delicate as a bird, as such a fine lady should be. She is pale as milk and graceful with listlessness. Harry thinks it a miracle she has lasted this long.

Harry wonders if, perhaps, others look at him and think the same thing. He takes another scone and, at least, makes an attempt.

After some time, Narcissa stands and leaves, coming round to kiss her son on the cheek, then her husband, before trailing out of the atrium. Silence follows her, and for several minutes afterward, only the clinking of cutlery on porcelain speaks inside the atrium. Harry only now finds it in himself to pay attention. It is bright and sunny here, enclosed in glass. And warm, though outside it is still cold with April's rainy chill. The light, young greens have begun to overtake Nearly Spring's muddy hues in the forest beyond, but here in the garden, magic has turned this young season to a riot of colour. It seems a perversion, like everything else here, that such beauty should surround such corruption. Hogwarts' Nearly Spring would suit the Manor's heart far better.

"Might I have my pet returned to me today, Father?" Draco asks, still seething with privileged petulance. It is not so much an act, after all. Draco has been spoilt rotten.

"Of course," says Master Malfoy, all indulgent father, now, that the Lady is out of the way. "I am most pleased by your work with him. We shall have to discuss it later. I have business to attend this morning and into the afternoon. You may take your luncheon as you see fit, but supper will be formal, in the Grand Hall. We shall be…entertaining. Have your pet in red or green, hmm? I think our Lord will be most pleased."

"Thank you, Father," says the worshipful son, all solicitous smiles now that he's gotten his way. He rises, Harry shadowing him, and moves to kiss his father on either cheek before taking Harry by the wrist and dragging him from the room with a, "Come, Harry Potter, I wish to play," his voice as sinister as ever his father's had been.

Still, Harry does not fear. He feels only the heat of anticipation in his cheeks and loins, his growing desire hidden from no one by this gown. Luckily, there is no one here, which also allows Draco to be far more accommodating than he, perhaps, should, slowing a bit to allow Harry to keep up in these less-than-sensible heels he wears. They come to Harry's guest room, where Draco casts a privacy ward and Harry carefully tests its boundaries with his power. He finds cracks here and there and shakes his head minutely. Draco probes the wards as well, and works harder, expanding another privacy shield within the first. Harry expels a silent sigh of relief and whispers, "Merlin."

"Was it so terrible, my love?" Draco whispers in return, silent as a breath, a small smile upon his lips, before spinning a web of silken kisses about Harry's face.

It still discomfits Harry, when Draco speaks of love, but just now, he will take what affection he can get. "Your father is difficult, but your mother…worries me."

"My mother?" Draco seems to think Harry jesting.

"She seems quite drugged, Draco. And I'm amazed she can stand, with so little meat on her."

"You're one to talk," Draco says, pulling back a bit and scowling. "She is every bit the Lady of the Manor," Draco says dismissively, pulling off his coat and starting on the buttons of his shirt. "It's all about appearances, you know. And they are all equally thin, if they can be—the Society Ladies."

"Your mother isn't eating because she's anorexic, but she can not eat because she simply doesn't care. She barely understands what's going on around her. She's listless and distracted. And I've only spent an hour with her. Narcissa is a Black, and they are not brainless idiots. They are spirited and arrogant. Your mother showed very little impetus toward anything today."

"What drugs, then, do you think my mother is taking?" Draco asks with some hostility, no longer the least bit interested in play, Harry thinks morosely. He wonders if it would not have been better to have kept his opinions to himself. But then again, what difference will it make? He has the feeling there will be sufficient rape to satisfy any cravings for sex he may have in the foreseeable future. It nearly makes him laugh, though that would be inappropriate. "Wizards do not use drugs."

Harry doesn't even bother mentioning that he was quite addicted to drugs, as Draco is likely thinking that Harry wasn't much of a wizard at the time, while he considers his mother a witch all of the time, though it seems unlikely Narcissa Malfoy is much good with a wand in her current state. "I think she's taking some sort of opiate, and I'm guessing she is fully capable of making it herself. They're not so difficult."

"I suppose you were making your own heroin, then?" Draco asks, lip curling in disgust. His eyes flash at Harry only briefly, but it becomes apparent that Draco is having difficulty even looking at Harry, much less meeting his eyes.

"Of course, not," Harry says with a sigh. He is definitely regretting this now. "But laudanum is extremely simple to make, and I've seen recipes in some old Potions volumes. Unripe poppy pods, alcohol, sugar. It's very simple. And, frankly, I recognise some of my own symptoms in her, though they are far weaker. Still, I am convinced that to be as bad as it is, her addiction has gone on far longer than mine ever did. I haven't done the research, so I honestly don't know how dangerous it is for her, but her anorexia…that can be fatal."

Draco can no longer look at Harry at all. He is staring at the bed, and anger and confusion are the only scents Harry can pick up. But then Draco makes a slash with his wand that is a very obvious Finite Incantatem, though he also says it, and then leaves the guest quarters entirely, with Harry standing, dejected, in the centre of the room. Yes, today, I did not exactly play my hand well.

* * *

Harry changes out of the gown and into a set of plainer black robes with a high collar. He slips on his sensible black boots, then calls for Ninny, who arrives presently. "Ninny, would it be possible for me to take a tour of some part of the Manor? Only until I am needed by Master Malfoy or his son? The library, the gardens? Anything?"

"If Mr Potter would like, he may swim in the indoor pool, or Ninny can take him on a tour of the gardens. But the gardens are cold, Mr Potter. Perhaps he is liking better the pool. It is heated! Master Malfoy swims in it every day!"

The last bit makes Harry nervous. "You're certain Master Malfoy has said it's all right for me to use it?"

"Oh yes, Mr Potter! Absolutely! The Master has said 'the Potter boy might do well with a bit of sport—might put the rose petals into his cheeks. Perhaps you can lure—'"

"Yes, thank you, Ninny," Harry interrupts, not really desirous of hearing exactly what Lucius had to say about Harry (to Draco most likely). "I will take a swim in the pool, then, if there is a swimming kit available?"

"Of course, Mr Potter!" she says and offers a pair of green and silver shorts that look remarkably like muggle Speedos. Of course, he can't really imagine what the wizarding version of swim gear might otherwise be.

So he changes, yet again, donning the matching slippers and house robe that appear, also by magic. He follows Ninny out of the room, along a corridor, down a flight of stairs he has not seen before, then down another corridor that is entirely glassed in and shows a lovely view of manicured landscaping, to an indoor pool hall. It is predictably well-appointed, complete with skylights, sauna, hot bath, and that ever present hollow dripping sound that somehow makes these places feel creepy when they're not full of screaming children, even in the middle of the day.

"Well, I suppose there's nothing for it, then," Harry murmurs to himself, and doffs the robe and slippers before stepping into the shallow end of the basin. The water is heated not quite warm enough for comfort, but he braces himself, then sighs into it, dunking himself all at once, and the pain is over. Then, it is about relearning the art of swimming, which he'd never been that good at in the first place. He is far from drowning, but he'd never had much opportunity to practise. So he's less than graceful, can't really do any strokes correctly, and tires very easily.

Despite this, Harry begins to relax into it, and finds the feeling of being surrounded by water a calming one, and somehow far more enjoyable than it should be, especially now that the water feels almost warm. It is lovely, to be carried by water the way he can spell air into carrying him with the Condenso charm. The only work he need do here is to lie very still and hold his breath, for as soon as he lets it out, he sinks.

When he holds his breath, he can also swim under the water, and sink to the bottom, where all is calm and still, and he can pretend he is alone in his own world. He wishes he had hold of some gillyweed again. He would stay down here until it ran out. Perhaps spell himself a tail and pretend to be a merman.

He learns to do somersaults and is getting the feel for doing handstands when he realises that he is no longer alone. He's uncertain why he realises this, though, as the company does not enter the water with him, and his nose is quite full of snot at this stage. He makes certain his hair is slicked down behind him when next he surfaces, turned toward the presence that has joined him. His belly is torn between relief and nausea when he sees it is Draco, still wearing the clothing he wore to breakfast. "Harry Potter," he drawls lazily. "Not much of a swimmer, then, are you?"

"No, Draco," Harry says without inflection. He does not meet Draco's eyes, and he does not know how Draco feels about him at this moment, nor will he, from any conversation they have outside of a privacy ward.

"Get out, Harry Potter, and dress yourself. I wish to take lunch." With that, he turns his back and stalks from the room, leaving Harry to scramble to the steps and out of the pool as quickly as his legs will take him. Harry dresses and races back to the guest room, thankful the way is actually easy to navigate, though Ninny meets up with him halfway there.

Harry bathes quickly and washes his hair, then realises he has no idea what to wear as Ninny spells his hair dry. He decides on his old black robe again—the one he arrived at the Manor in—and slips into it quickly, then adds the sensible boots. He twists his hair into a knot and fastens it with a long comb, lets Ninny apply black kohl to his eyes and red paint to his lips, then follows her to the atrium again, where lunch is laid out but Harry is, once again, the first to arrive. He stands before a chair to the head's left, facing the side he sat on with Draco this morning.

Draco arrives presently, and takes his position across from Harry. "Sit, Mr Potter," Draco says, then waits for Harry to sit before doing the same. He casts two privacy wards in quick succession, then looks to Harry to test them. Harry nods minutely. "I needed to think," he says, reaching for a roll of French bread and slicing it open, then taking a butter knife to butter it. "And I looked in Mother's rooms. I found this," he says, and takes a small bottle out of a pocket, "on her bedside table, of all places." He places it on the table near Harry's right hand, then begins eating the bread.

Harry stares at it for several moments, then takes it and unstoppers it, sniffs at it, and quickly re-stoppers it again, before putting it down as close to Draco and as far from himself as he can. There is a familiarity to that scent that Harry does not like at all. It makes his belly twist and his mouth water. He has to wipe at his mouth with the back of his hand, leaving trails of red on the paleness of his skin. He is embarrassed at his desire. It takes a lot to embarrass Harry now.

"It's laudanum, then," Draco says, though he does not sound surprised, and has not asked a question.

"I think so," Harry says, and his voice is slightly broken. He has to wipe his palms on his robe. He takes a quick, hitched breath, and whispers, "Can you get rid of it?"

Draco looks surprised when he meets Harry's eyes, then scowls. "Is it difficult for you?" as if it’d never even occurred to him.

"I would feel more comfortable…knowing it is not…available."

"Relego ampullam in thalamum."

Now Draco is just showing off. Harry could have banished the bottle with a thought, but Draco's grasp of Latin is far superior. "What's a thalamus?" Harry asks, because he can at least recognise second declension accusative when he hears it.

Draco smirks. "Look it up, Harry Potter."

"Should I Accio a dictionary, Mr Malfoy? I've no wand, but I'm certain it'd cause no great furore."

Draco rolls his eyes heavenward. "Merlin save me from amateurs. Harry Potter, do you believe for one moment you can convince me you would actually betray yourself to my father and anyone else he may currently be meeting with here in the Manor? Please."

Harry smirks. "You win again."

"I always win," Draco confirms. "So, are you going to eat? Or am I going to call you anorexic and start looking through your things for dangerous substances?" Draco is no longer smiling. He seems perfectly serious, though he knows full well that the only drug Harry has in his possession is the Wolfsbane, which he needs to start taking tomorrow. It reminds him that there is an element of urgency to this mission that is almost unrelated to the mission itself.

Harry steals the half of Draco's roll that lies buttered but untouched on Draco’s plate, then quickly takes a large bite, snorting as Draco's jaw drops in disbelief. "I was going to eat that," Draco says.

"Now you get to eat a new one," Harry offers.

"Lazy git."

They chew in silence for a bit, before the Lycanthropy issue reminds Harry of other things. "Night last, when your father came to me…"

Draco nods, but he does not look up from buttering a third roll.

"He asked me whether you had…had me, during my change."

Draco blinks, looks up at Harry, then lays his roll down on the plate.

"And what did you say?"

"Nothing," Harry admits. "I was shocked."


"He was very pleased. He took my silence for affirmation."

Draco nods, then takes a bite of the new roll. He chews it thoughtfully. "He thinks I fucked you while you were in wolf form and I was in human form."

"That seemed to be the case, but I'm uncertain why he would have been so pleased by that," Harry admits.

"Your wolf form would not have understood—since Father does not know about the Wolfsbane potion. Also, it would have hurt you a great deal, I think," Draco says. "My size is…generous."

And Draco's generosity is much appreciated. Harry keeps his smirk in check. But Draco's size as a wolf had been much smaller. "True".

“Besides, I would have to have bound you or used some other torturous method to keep you from harming me.”

Harry hadn’t even thought of that, he’s so accustomed to keeping his mind. He finishes his own roll and pours himself tea, to which he adds two lumps. "I believe he is looking forward to repeating your performance. Although, without the courtesy of being in wolf form."

"Yes," Draco says. "Well…I suppose that only adds further urgency."

"Agreed." Six days, he has. "I think I need you to fuck me right now," he whispers.

"You need to eat something more, Harry."

Harry takes boiled young carrots in butter sauce, adds some spinach, and begins to eat them. His plate looks very large and white round the green and orange he has chosen, but he refuses to acknowledge that fact. The plates are very large, after all. And he is vindicated when he finishes and Draco does not complain at his failure to take more food. He simply waits for Draco to finish his own meal, then waits for Draco to dissolve the wards, and finally follows Draco to Harry's rooms again. There he is ravished for the better part of an hour before they share a bath, after which Harry is ravished again. Draco does a thorough job of cleaning them both up, inside and out. There must be no traces—that is part of their mission—their path toward their goal.

By the time they wake from their nap, Harry's negative associations with the room have been thoroughly trounced by the positive, and Draco leaves him to prepare for this evening's formal, with a note that he should wear the green silk dupioni.

Little Dragon by colibri
Chapter 5: Little Dragon

Ninny comes to assist Harry with preparing for supper. She braids his hair into a single long tail to get it out of the way, then applies only lipstick and rouge. She uses a depilatory spell to shape his brows—something he has never bothered with himself. His legs are also stripped of their light fur. With magic, she helps him into the green gown since though he is small for a man, he is much larger than a house elf.

The gown is long, of course, and stiff, as dupioni tends to be. The collar reaches his ears in the back but plunges dramatically in front, the V showing milky white skin to just below his sternum. The skirt is straight, but slit down the outside front of each leg, to allow him to walk. The gown is tight, and boned so that he is kept in perfect alignment. On his feet, he wears black sandals with only a short heel. His feet, like the rest of him, are very pale between the straps.

When he is finished, Ninny magics his hair out of its braid, then performs a spell that sets it to ringlet loosely before she pulls just enough of it back into a knot that Harry's face is not obscured by it.

After that, he is whisked downstairs again to a wing of the manor he has never before seen, and kept waiting outside a set of double doors alone, until Draco arrives. Harry knows that the others are already inside because there is not a sound from in there, but there is the hum of powerful magic—silencing wards. Harry tries not to hyperventilate.

"You look ravishing," Draco murmurs hotly against his hair, then traces a finger from his Adam's apple down to where the V-neck ends, "but I'll refrain from mussing your lipstick." A spark of humour Harry very much appreciates.

"Thank you, Draco," he replies meekly, but his hand is anything but, as it seeks out the bulge of turgid flesh at Draco's centre and gives a promising squeeze, before withdrawing again. Draco, too, looks ravishing, though he has been allowed the privilege of manhood here, Harry thinks with some irony. He can still recall a time when Draco was the pretty fop. But Draco now wears formal robes of black with green under-robes that show at his wrists and collar. The cut is very slim and shows Draco's shape to good advantage. Harry wonders what Draco is wearing beneath, but does not ask.

They both face the door, as if sensing something, and a moment later, the doors are opened outward upon a grand dining room filled with smoke and laughter, clinking glasses and raucous voices. All of that, however, ceases, as they are announced by a human butler Harry has not seen before. "Master Draco Malfoy and his pet," says the man, before standing aside to allow them entrance, then closing the door behind them again.

The general texture of the silence is one of lightly woven interest, but that slowly thickens as confusion, then outright disbelief are added to the weave, when guests realise exactly who Draco's 'pet' is. It seems the only two present who are not surprised, are the senior Malfoy and the Dark Lord himself. It is to the latter Draco has led Harry, and to whom they are both, now, paying their respects. Draco drops to one knee and inclines his head, his position obviously much improved in this circle since fifth year. Harry, however, curtseys all the way to his knees, then bows forward until his forehead is on the floor. There are things that Harry wants. There are goals. This is how he will attain them, he hopes. He has hope.

"Ah, yes…Draco. How splendid of you to join us this evening," says Lord Voldemort, his voice still more sibilant than average, but no longer that of a barely humanoid snake. "And with such a lovely…gift."

"An honour, My Lord, and a privilege," says Draco, keeping his head down. This is the first time in ages that Harry thinks of his Occlumency, and sends silent thanks to Snape that it has become second-nature to him now. He prays that Draco's is good enough to get them by. "I only hope that his presence will bring much satisfaction to you, Lord."

"I'm certain it will, young mister Malfoy. Yes. And you, little Potty. Raise your eyes and look at me." It is practically a request to read him, but Harry does not falter. He raises his body until he is merely kneeling on both knees, and looks up at the Dark Lord. "What do you see, Potty?"

"You are beautiful, Lord," says Harry, and it is true. He is beautiful. Handsome. He is not entirely human, but near enough. His hair is black, like Harry's. His eyes, also green. They could have been brothers, nearly. Voldemort's pupils are still slitted, however, and his nose, ever so slightly smaller than seems quite natural. His tongue, however, remains deformed, forked still, though thicker. Nearly human. Tom Riddle was a handsome lad, and Lord Voldemort has almost completely reclaimed that pleasing form.

"Do you fear me, Potter?" Voldemort asks, as if he truly wonders. Perhaps he does, since Harry shows no reaction at all, now. But Voldemort cannot understand the reason.

Harry has withdrawn again, into his tricking place. He does not know if the man is forcing a dry fist into his arse. He knows only there are goals, and he needn’t think of what they are, just now. "Yes, Lord," Harry says. There will be plenty of time for dignity later.

"Good," says the Dark Lord, his eyes alight with anticipation, "for I believe tonight will be a night of celebration, for all of my inner circle." He turns to the rest of the party and smiles magnanimously, the glint in his eye one of triumph and pleasure. "I think we shall all dine, now, and for dessert, we shall feast…" He turns his eyes back to Harry, "on the Boy Who Lived!"

The gathered's rumble crescendos again as excitement stirs the inner circle to heated conversation. Voldemort sits at the head of the table and Lucius Malfoy sits at the Dark Lord's right hand, while the foot of the table is empty. Harry does not recognise all of the Death Eaters present, but he knows at least three who are missing—Bellatrix Lestrange and her husband Rodolphus, and Wormtail. Their absence is, of course, glaring in this context. Harry has a feeling that Rodolphus's brother Rabastan is also missing, because there is no one here who looks even remotely like Bellatrix's husband. Regardless, there are only thirteen people seated about the table at present, including Draco and Harry, and Harry knows there are more Death Eaters in Voldemort's inner circle than that.

Pipes are tamped out and snifters emptied before the table is cleared, then filled instead with food. Harry is uncertain whether he is expected to eat or not, though an empty plate has appeared before him. He sits at Draco's left hand and Draco sits at Voldemort's left, across from his father. Harry wonders whether it is a position of distinction for Draco, or whether Voldemort simply wishes to keep an eye on them. Perhaps a bit of both, though Harry can sense no unease within Voldemort, and the remainder of the party seem to be convinced, for the moment at least, that Harry is less a threat than an anomaly. For the moment, they are correct.

"Eat, Harry Potter," says Lucius Malfoy from across the table with that same mix of arrogance and disgust he uses for his wife. "You must maintain your strength for the Lord's pleasure."

"Not to worry, Lucius," says Voldemort, still magnanimous in his victory. "I can animate a corpse for hours—do not fear that a malnourished boy shall cause me difficulty." His eyes flash briefly at Harry before he is distracted by something else.

Harry takes the dish of roast potatoes nearest him and spears several. He takes the butter Draco hands to him. And the spinach. Draco does not pass him anything further, and Harry is grateful. For everything. He begins to eat slowly, spearing a potato with his fork, then slicing off a sliver with his knife. It is soothing, to focus on this, though the chewing and swallowing become distracting and tiresome after several iterations. He takes a break from that by simply cutting the remainder of his potatoes into small bits, then cutting the spinach as well. He takes more butter, as the tray sits right before him, and watches it melt upon the spinach. He ignores Draco's rapid consumption of vast quantities of roast beef.

Next to Harry sits Walden Macnair, who keeps stealing glances at Harry and accidentally rubbing against him. The overpowering aroma of food, drink, smoke and sweat does not hide the desire Macnair is sending his way. Still, it's not exactly sexual. Little of what Harry is scenting in the room is. He gets the feeling that most of these men aren't very homosexual at all, but will be more than thrilled to fuck Harry Potter, just on principle. Harry eats another slice of potato and notes that even Draco doesn't want Harry sexually right now. Of course, Draco is likely a bit…distracted.

Harry finishes half of the potatoes he has taken and all of the spinach before the food and service are banished, only to be replaced by the pudding course. The table is loaded with everything from gateaus, cakes and biscuits to chocolate mousse and crème brulée, to a plain blancmange. Even fresh fruit are available, from sliced strawberries, peaches, kiwis, and oranges on a tray, to whole apples, pears, bananas, and pomegranates in a bowl. And a huge bowl of grapes as well. It is difficult to get so many different kinds of beautiful fresh fruit this time of year.

This time, it is Macnair who passes him food—the tray of sliced fruit. Macnair holds the tray for him so that he can fill his tiny dessert plate and offer a quiet, "Thank you, sir." He does not know if Macnair thinks Harry recognises him, but it is easier and, perhaps, safer to simply remain vague about everything. Besides, Harry does not know enough about Macnair to make recognising him even remotely useful.

Draco passes him a bowl of whipped cream, and Harry takes a spoonful and thanks Draco as well. It goes deliciously with the fruit, and Harry manages to eat all of what he has taken, though it is, admittedly, not much. Still, he feels full and hopes the evening's festivities do not include too much of the Cruciatus Curse early on, or he will lose it all again. He wonders whether a request to that effect will be well-taken and nearly smiles.

After pudding, the men all sit back, and conversation gets rowdy again as Old Ogden's Finest disappears rapidly, warming bellies and cheeks and, occasionally, tempers. Even Draco partakes frugally, which is a rarity mainly because he spends all of this time with Harry, who cannot. Lucius is also somewhat judicious in his usage, while Voldemort takes a tumbler but seems to have no intention of drinking from it.

Harry cannot sit back, because of the boning in his dress. He alone sits quiet and formal, the picture of androgynous perfection, and waits to perform his duties. He needn't wait long.

"My Lord?" comes a voice that Harry recognises as being either Crabbe or Goyle. He has never been introduced to them separately and they have no real personality, either of them. If he had to guess, he would guess Crabbe, because he has a vague recollection of what Vincent looked like back in fifth year, and thinks this 'gentleman' looks a bit like him. Whoever he is, he has certainly been imbibing in quantity. His words are slightly slurred, but he is a large, large man. "You mentioned something about us getting to have fun with Harry Potter?" though it comes out sounding more like 'Yew menshin'd sumfin' abou' us ge’in' to 'ave fun wif 'Arry Po'er?'

The Dark Lord looks a bit annoyed, but not enough to punish his dim-witted underling for being exactly what he has always been: dim-witted. "Indeed, Crabbe, indeed. I suppose I would enjoy watching a bit of sport to get me in the mood." He looks at Harry with a thoughtful expression, and Harry continues to look at the bottle of firewhisky nearest him toward the centre of the table. "Well, Potty. I believe this is your lucky day. I can't imagine you've ever had eleven at once, eh?" and then he begins to laugh. Laugh and laugh, before he manages to utter an amused, "Have at him, then!" still laughing.

Macnair is the first on him, pulling him roughly from his chair and dragging him—nearly carrying him—to the nearest wall, where he devours Harry's mouth, and Harry tries his hardest to accommodate. He closes his eyes, and feels others pressing in round him, pulling the gown from his body, biting him, kissing him, spitting on him. He's not certain how he ends up on the floor, but he does, of course, and hard cocks of all shapes and sizes are shoved into his mouth and his arse, sometimes two at a time, and he is forced to drink seed from men whose names he does not know, and forced to be grateful for the spunk seeping out his arse, for it is the only lubricant he has received. Blood is never enough.

Really, it's not so different from old times, though Voldemort was correct: he's never had so many at once before, and, perhaps, hasn't even had so many in one night. He lost track before it even started tonight, so it's difficult to feel the difference anyway. He tunes out the sounds of rutting, of orgasms, and the smell of men who do not normally have sex with each other—or anyone, really—and so do not clean themselves properly.

The only thing Harry really pays attention to is the trio of important men who remain seated at the table, watching, (or not watching), his defilement, (though it is difficult to defile something as spoilt as Harry Potter). "Aren't you going to take part, Lucius?" asks Lord Voldemort, sometime after Harry has already taken his first three facials.

"Not really interested in mixing with that lot, My Lord," Lucius replies respectfully, though there is no way to mistake the disgust in his tone. There is also no way to mistake where it is aimed, however, and so he is in no danger.

Indeed, Voldemort seems to find it amusing. "Understood, my faithful servant. Shall I set aside some time for you, then, before I take him?"

"It is all right, My Lord. I had the…pleasure…of taking him yesterday, upon his arrival. I was not about to report to you without ascertaining his state myself. My son is talented, but arrogant—"

"Father!" Draco hisses with embarrassment.

"Silence, whelp," says Lucius without thought. "I took Harry Potter, and was able to report to you that he is well and truly broken. Unfortunately, he is a bit too broken for my tastes, though I am certain that lot won't know the difference. Draco likely finds the boy a great joy." How easily he insults his son.

"And why is that, Lucius?" asks the Dark Lord, intrigued. Harry groans with the introduction of a particularly large prick into his arse, though whose, he does not know.

"I find I like a bit of broken weeping, My Lord. A bit of self-pity and despair. Mr Potter, however, seems no longer to find himself worthy of pity. He simply takes the pain and humiliation as his due." Harry can hear the shrug in Lucius's voice. He does not think about Lucius's words, however. He is attempting to avoid drowning in spunk, which takes some skill, at this point. He has swallowed quite a lot now. "I think Draco would enjoy him, though, for Potter seems to still enjoy sex quite a lot, and takes every bit of pleasure as if it's a gift. I did not have to work very hard to make him climax night last. There seems no bar to him receiving pleasure."

"Is that your experience, Draco?"

Draco sounds petulant when he answers, but respectful. "Yes, My Lord. Potter begs me every time—to fuck him, to come inside him. He drinks my seed as if it were ambrosia. His arse is equally hungry for it. And in the end, I always have the joy of seeing my childhood nemesis in those dead eyes and knowing…I am fucking Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived—reduced to a sex doll." Draco is enjoying this immensely. No one ever said he wasn't a right bastard.

Voldemort's chuckle is deep and rich and tickles Harry's skin with pleasure. Harry is desperate for pleasure at this point, for these men are completely inept at delivering it. Macnair is currently having another go at fucking his arse and has no idea what he's doing, other than sawing in and out as quickly as possible and pressing bruises into Harry's thin hips. Harry is on his knees with Crabbe's prick in his mouth. Crabbe does not smell good, but Harry has long ago grown inured.

"Young Mr Malfoy, I think I should like to bestow upon you a gift—for this treasure you have bestowed upon me."

"Truly, Lord?" Draco is thrilled.

"You are a handsome lad—even more handsome than your father."

"He has the advantage of youth, My Lord," says Lucius, and his tone is ambiguous.

"Sour grapes, Father?" says Draco.

"I have no use for your bickering," says Voldemort, and that argument is ended. "I think I should like to sample you, young Mr Malfoy."

And even through everything going on in the room, Harry can hear Draco's heart skip a beat, then thump wetly in his chest. "It would be an honour," Draco says, but his voice trembles just slightly.

"You're apprehensive, Draco?" asks Voldemort—indulgent, but not entirely pleased.

"I have never…" Draco swallows. "I've never…been taken, before." He is playing this perfectly and Harry is very impressed. The blushing virgin, never been fucked. And it's close enough to true. This will hurt Draco a great deal. The man's only been fucked once, and nearly cried the entire time. Harry almost laughs at the sliver of sympathy he feels for Draco. Here he stands on hands and knees, covered in spunk, Macnair dumping still more in his stretched arsehole, more tired old blokes panting and waiting to be able to get it up again so they can shove into his mouth or arse. His own prick has been flaccid since the beginning, and no one has even bothered acknowledging that he has a prick.

And there sits poor Draco, about to get personal attention from the Dark Lord himself, and likely to get doting attention, at that. Life isn't quite fair—on its face, at least. Harry doesn't even sigh when Macnair pulls out.

"Ah…yes," says Lord Voldemort, chuckling fondly now. "You're a virgin in that sense. Not to worry, Draco. I have a bit more experience with this than those cretins over there. Mr Potter's made hardly a sound the entire time and look at him. Not so pretty now, Mr Potter," he says to Harry's slimy face. "But not to worry, you shall be pretty again by the time I take you. Lucius, have Mr Potter brought to my guest chambers after he is thoroughly cleansed, inside and out. And have him prepared as well. Almond oil should do nicely."

"As you wish, My Lord, so shall it be done."

"Excellent. Bring him in when he is ready. Do not worry if you are interrupting."

"As you say, My Lord," Lucius agrees.

The Dark Lord stands, then, and takes Draco's arm in his hand. "The remainder of this lot can take their leave most expeditiously," and he exits. Only seconds later, Harry doesn't even remember what Voldemort was wearing.

(chapter 5 continues…)

Little Dragon (continued) by colibri
Chapter 5: Little Dragon (continued)

As ordered, the remaining nine take their leave immediately—some even before they are dressed—and Lucius takes Harry to his guest room to be…disinfected. Lucius supervises this himself, (though it is Ninny who does most of the work), muttering to himself the entire time about how the 'heathens' have cared for the Dark Lord's property; and about what a disgrace it was for them to have been rutting in each other's filth. He gives Harry a healing potion to insure he gets neither intestinal worms nor any other type of disease commonly passed by the ingestion of faecal matter. Harry pays little attention, except to be certain he knows exactly which healing potion he is given. He knows this one is safe enough when not mixed with alcohol.

Harry is bathed twice, his hair washed both times as well. After that, he is dried, then cleansed internally, then oiled by Lucius himself, before Ninny ringlets his hair again. It is a fascinating effect, Harry thinks, as he spies himself in a mirror—watching the hair pull itself up into perfect little curls. It makes him look very young and androgynous. Of course, he rather is.

"I am informed by Draco that he has had a suitable bit of clothing made for you as I requested," says Lucius and goes to the wardrobe. He riffles through the small collection of gowns before finding what he is looking for. "Excellent. This is perfect," he says, and draws out the custom garment Draco had made at Sade's Sabbat. Harry feels a pang of confused betrayal rip through his gut, but squelches it ruthlessly. He takes a deep, silent breath and lets it out again. Draco is a bastard—that was never in question. Harry should not be surprised that he was lied to. But he knows Draco's loyalty. He has seen it in Draco's eyes. He ignores the little screaming voice that reminds him that Draco has sounded perfectly loyal to Voldemort all night. Harry refuses to think that Draco may be an even more adept Occlumens than Snape. That would be impossible.

He sinks further into his listlessness as Lucius has Ninny help him dress in the garment. Harry has not worn it for Draco except to try it on after its initial arrival from the shop. Draco simply assured that the fit was perfect, then put it away again. "For better times, Harry," he had said. This is not better times, Draco, Harry thinks, but the garment still fits perfectly.

At the top is a collar of black patent leather. It fits snugly but is comfortable enough, the leather as soft and supple as patent can be. At the garment's centre is a waist cincher corset, also in black patent, which closes at 23 inches, but which Lucius only has Ninny cinch to about 25. This leather is thick and durable, with internal metal boning. It is constricting to Harry, but not very. She must redo the cinching once to insure that the crack in the skin of his back is straight. At the bottom is a black patent pouch to cradle his manhood, the leather on the inside extremely supple, though there is only so much that can be done with patent to make it comfortable in sensitive areas. It will not be forgiving if he gains an erection. A depilatory charm removes what little hair he has.

The three main pieces are linked—and indeed, the pouch is held on—by thin, black metal chains that gleam in the warm lighting of the room. The pouch is attached to a thong of these chains, and the thong is attached to the bottom of the corset. From the front of the collar run five of these same chains to attach to the front of the corset. Lucius mumbles a few words and gestures with his cane, and the barbell in Harry's left nipple turns black to match the chains. The remaining armlets, of the same leather as the collar, are fastened to his biceps and wrists, and the armlets of each arm are attached by gossamer silk chiffon in a deep, blood red. The anklets are not attached to the rest of the outfit, but all of the leather is fitted with D-rings in strategic locations.

Harry’s eyes are lined with black, bringing out the green, and his lips are painted as deeply red as the silk. His finger- and toenails are coloured to match his lips. And then he is ready—nearly two hours after Voldemort left the Grand Hall. Harry does not wonder how Draco has fared. He tries not to think of Draco at all as he is led from the room again.

* * *

When they enter Voldemort's guest rooms, Harry is too overwhelmed by the scene to truly understand the opulence. Besides, he's become almost inured. It is only wealth, after all, and Harry already knows that the Malfoys are wealthy. He may not have understood it when he arrived, but he has long since come to understand it viscerally. Their wealth pervades everything.

Still, it is of no real consequence, because Draco sits on the bed looking extremely well-fucked and quite pleased about it. He lounges naked beneath the sheets. There is neither comforter nor eiderdown in evidence. There are love bites and scratches over every inch of his white skin, from the neck to where his torso disappears beneath the linens.

Far more interesting, however, is the man who lounges before them. He is naked as well, also decorated by a few scratches and bites, and draped artistically over a large, upholstered chair, his right arm trailing nearly to the floor where its hand cradles a snifter of green liquid. His left leg rests over the arm of the chair while his right is stretched on the floor. His prick is flaccid but large, resting across thick, curly pubic hair down to his right hip bone. His bollocks, like Lucius's, are pendulous, though furred in dark hair instead of white. His eyes, however, are red once again, and this sets Harry's heart beating just a little bit faster. Not a lot, but a little. Harry, too, is capable of changing the colour of his eyes at a whim. He wonders whether the green or the red is natural for Voldemort, and thinks the red is, still.

"Ah," says Voldemort, "lovely," his voice dreamy and far away. "Your timing is impeccable. As is your absinthe," and he picks the snifter up again and holds it to his lips. His eyes flutter almost imperceptibly as he drinks, then he lets his arm drift, slowly, to the floor again. "Oh yes," a small, reminiscing smile, "and your son."

Draco preens.

Harry has, once again, fallen into indifference—fallen out of time. An idle tune drifts through his head and he follows along behind it. He hears words and realises that it is Greensleeves. It's a lovely tune, and drowns out any other words bandied about in the real world.

Harry is present enough only to follow instructions given him, but he needn't be aware for his body to react as it should, for him to say what he is told to say, for him to cry out in pleasure when Voldemort breaches him with that thick, heavy cock—when those large, heavy bollocks caress his skin. Voldemort draws an orgasm expertly from Harry's throat without ever touching his prick, while Draco watches enraptured, covering Voldemort's back with kisses and bites and murmuring words of adoration.

After Harry's orgasm, Voldemort continues to pound away at his arse, and Harry's eyes fall to Draco's face. His lovely, smirking face. Only there, the smirk disappears for a moment, and there is the tiniest hint of wink, and then Harry sees it, in Draco's hand. A small phial, and a tiny knife of sharpest glass. The murmured words do not, for the slightest moment, falter, but Harry closes his eyes again and knows peace. He squeezes the muscles of his sphincter against the onslaught of Voldemort's thick prick, and groans a bit as he pants. He allows himself to inhabit his body again, and truly feel the pleasure as he coaxes the slow build to a second orgasm. If there is one thing Harry must admit, it is that Voldemort has incredible stamina, though is all simply dark magic in the end.

When Voldemort finally comes, it is a silent but deeply felt experience. Harry feels a great exhalation of undirected power and climaxes again in sympathy. He does not think it was intentional on Voldemort's part, and wonders if, perhaps, the absinthe had not been the best idea the Dark Lord had had. And then Harry thinks that the absinthe had likely been Draco's idea.

The huge prick is withdrawn from Harry's arse and Voldemort flops onto the bed. "Get out," he snaps in Harry's general direction, though it is likely more aimed at Draco. "Tell your father he must attend me briefly, and then I do not wish to be disturbed, not even by a house elf."

Draco already has his clothes in hand when he grabs Harry by the wrist and pulls him from the room. "Come along, Potter," he snaps, pretending to attempt to salvage his dignity, but he is obviously pleased as punch. As soon as they are outside the room, Draco starts sprinting toward Harry's guest room. They rush inside and Draco calls another house elf named Cobby, then has him fetch Lucius for Lord Voldemort. He then casts a set of wards that leave even Harry impressed before collapsing to his knees, shaking like a leaf and curled in on himself, his hands pulling at his hair.

Harry simply stands and watches. He cannot bring himself to offer any kind of comfort—is uncertain whether Draco even wants it. And what would Harry do anyway? But then he feels inadequate, so he drops to his knees as well, and places his hand on Draco's trembling shoulder, but says nothing.

Slowly, Draco seems to calm himself, and then looks up into Harry's face, and smiles a little. "Not quite a heart of stone, eh?" he says, his face dry of tears but his smile still a bit forced. He takes Harry's hand from his shoulder, then brings it to his lips and kisses it, before letting it go. He heaves a mighty sigh, and draws two items from the folds of his robes where they lie puddled on the floor before him. Two small phials, to be exact. One of them is half-filled with blood. The other carries a few strands of short, black hair.

Harry stares at the lovely sight, then whispers, "You got them."

Draco nods, and his smile grows a bit more natural. "Team effort, love. My brains and your beauty. Well…my brains and beauty and your arse. I don't think he even felt it when I got the blood, he came so hard."

"Did you feel the energy release?" Harry breathes, still transfixed by the phials.

"Yeah. I think he drank too much absinthe. It gave him incredible stamina though, I think. And you, coming twice. Good trick, that. I may have to fuck you longer in future, to see if I can induce that. Perhaps it's dark magic."

Harry rolls his eyes. "I can assure you, no dark magic is required to make me come twice. Only time."

Draco palms the two phials again and sighs, the smile disappearing. "Oh love, I'm so sorry."

"For what?" Harry is baffled.

Draco scowls, part anger, part confusion. "For what he made you do."

"What did he make me do?" Harry remembers nothing. Nothing at all.

"You really weren't all there. I thought you looked a bit distant—even more than sometimes." He uses his free hand to caress Harry's cheek. "He made you say some…not so nice things."

"Oh." Harry shrugs. "Don't remember. But you were a success tonight. That's all that matters."

Draco nods. "Only one part left." He searches through the pile of fabric again before pulling out another phial. He flicks his wand and murmurs, "Exhaurio semen ad ampullam."

"Showing off again," Harry mutters. The tingling inside is mildly discomfiting, if also slightly pleasant. Knowing that Voldemort's seed is being removed from inside of him, though, is very pleasant indeed.

"I recall many instances in which you showed off, Potty. Now let me have my moments of glory. I did not spend a year with a private Latin tutor before Hogwarts to never use it again, yes?" He has capped the phial now and places it with the others. "Well, try to sleep, Harry. Things will only get more difficult from now on, and I'll likely not get to see you very regularly."

Harry nods. They had already known this, though to be honest, neither had expected Harry to have to entertain all of the inner circle of death eaters. It was a bit of a blessing, though, that the Lestranges and Pettigrew had been absent. They would have been the most difficult by far. The others were mostly ham-fisted nitwits.

Draco slips into his robes, then hides the phials in a pocket and dissolves the wards gently. He is getting very good at it—very subtle. He then hides his wand again and leaves Harry to crawl, alone, under the covers. Harry sleeps like the dead.

Whims by colibri
Chapter 6: Whims

The next morning at breakfast, that being Sunday morning, Harry wears the gold and white, with white stockings and black shoes, because that is what Ninny dresses him in. His hair is pulled into a single French braid at the back of his head and tied off with a matching gold ribbon. He does not wear the outer robe, however. He kneels on one knee at Lucius's feet when he arrives because Lucius is already there and Voldemort is not, making Lucius Master again. Draco arrives only moments later, dressed much as Harry is, though he wears grey and white. "Good morning, Father," he says, whilst Harry is still moving to the seat Lucius had indicated for him. Draco takes the seat at the foot of the table this morning. "I trust you had a pleasant night?"

"You are fortunate, my dearest son, that Lord Voldemort finds your…machinations amusing," Lucius begins without even acknowledging Draco's greeting. Harry feels his stomach do a lazy roll in anticipation. "Because I assure you, I do not."

"Machinations, Father?" drawls Draco most irreverently, and Harry has a feeling this has nothing to do with Harry and Draco's scheming. "Whatever do you mean?" Draco is a consummate actor. He plucks a single, perfectly crisped rasher from a dish and takes a bite, then begins chewing and looks across at his father.

"You have brought the Dark Lord a single gift. Do not think it has placed you among the ranks of his most trusted inner circle. Do not think that his…sexual favours…mean anything more than that he finds your arse shapely and your skin supple."

"Jealousy does not become you, Father," Draco says, and even Harry is mildly offended by Draco's behaviour, when he gets over the blinding humour of the situation. "You are past your prime. And Harry Potter is no mere gift. You whinge about how he is too thoroughly broken, attempting to sully my work in Our Lord and Master's eyes, but he can easily see through your envy, Father. I have handed Lord Voldemort the Boy Who Lived on a silver platter, and there is nothing you can do to top that. I shall sit at our Master's right hand before this is over, and it shall be I warming his bed. Not you."

Lucius's rage shows itself quite like Draco's tends to. The man is white with it, all colour having drained away, except that in his flashing eyes. Only instead of simple rage, there is also pleasure in Lucius's countenance. "It will be difficult, little dragon, for you to warm his bed, when you are on your way back to Hogwarts."

Draco blinks. "What?" he blurts, then colours slightly.

Lucius smiles tightly. "Lord Voldemort has ordered that you return, immediately, to Hogwarts."

"I don't believe you," says Draco.

"I don't care," says Lucius. "It is the Lord's will, and so it shall be done."

Draco scowls in disappointment and confusion. "But why?"

Lucius's smile disappears again and he is all business. He begins taking breakfast for himself and mutters, "Eat, Mr Potter." Harry takes food for himself as well. "Because we have received word from Hogwarts that one Mr Harry Potter has disappeared without trace, and that because you are his boyfriend," the word nearly spit out, "they thought you might like to know, and were hoping you might return in order to assist them in their investigations. Naturally," Lucius continues, the smile returning, "I agreed that you would, as it was most unfortunate that they had lost Mr Potter. Lord Voldemort was adamant that you continue your ruse of spying for their piddling Order, and so agreed that you should return immediately. This, most conveniently, removes your presence from the Manor as well. Be certain to thank that bumbling Dumbledore for me when you've arrived."

Draco is now the one white with rage. Harry is triply impressed by Draco's acting. "If you think that my return to Hogwarts and convenient removal from the Manor will be enough to eclipse the memory of my exemplary service in our Lord's eyes and thoughts, you are deeply misguided, Father." He is breathing now, though—calming himself. Colour is slowly returning to his lips. "My service is superior because I am superior. There is no way to disguise that. Now if you'll pardon me, I have preparations to make before returning to Hogwarts."

"No, in fact, you do not," says Lucius. "Your belongings have already been packed and your trunk awaits you in the entrance hall. You will go there immediately and Apparate to Hogsmeade, where you will then make your way back to the school. They are expecting you in…" he pulls out an antique silver pocket watch, "why, they are expecting you within the hour." Lucius smirks evilly. "Run along, then, Son. Have a pleasant Summer Term."

Draco storms out of the atrium, Harry completely forgotten, of course, and slams the glass door behind himself. Harry is surprised it doesn't shatter on impact. He takes another bite of his toast with jam and pretends he hasn't seen or heard a word of this.

Lucius also seems content to pretend that Harry doesn't exist as he finishes his breakfast.

It gives Harry time to think. Although it was not exactly what they had planned, it would do. They'd not expected Lucius to be so enamoured of Voldemort, certainly, and it has introduced some complications. They had bargained on Draco being forced to pay a visit or, in the best case, simply sending word back to the school that Harry wasn't here, (or was, depending on what Lucius wanted). With that word, (or the visit), Draco would have been able to transport the phials he had filled night last back to Snape and the rest of the Order. Now, Draco will be able to take the phials there himself, but getting the resultant potion back to the Manor will be more difficult.

Harry doesn't sigh. It will take two days to brew regardless. He will use those two days to think, as will Draco and Snape and the rest of the brilliant minds in the Order. Harry has hope. The end is so near—he can all but scent it in the air.

Lucius looks at Harry after a time. Quizzically, Harry thinks. "Do you find my son handsome, Harry Potter?"

"Yes, Master Malfoy," Harry whispers, because now his honesty is dangerous. The difficulty is that Lucius already knows the answer to his question.

"More handsome than I, Harry Potter?"

"You look much alike, Master Malfoy," and this is true. Harry likely only finds Draco more handsome because Draco isn't an evil sorcerer. "He has the softness of youth, you are more distinguished, sir."

Lucius Malfoy doesn't seem to know whether he's angry or pleased. "Come, Harry Potter. I think I should like to sample the Dark Lord's gift a bit more before he returns from his errands."

Harry acquiesces without a word, simply standing and following meekly where Lucius Malfoy leads, which is back to Harry's guest room. With a word and slash of his cane, Lucius divests Harry of all clothing, including the ribbon that ties Harry's braid. The hair, of course, does not immediately come loose, but Harry can feel it tickling at the small of his back. "Such long hair you have," says Lucius Malfoy. "I've been growing mine for years and it does not match your length. Have you used a growth charm?"

"No, sir," says Harry. "It has always been the manifestation of my magic—that my hair grows unnaturally quickly. My family hated me for it, and for not being able to stop it."

"Muggles," Lucius spits. "I still cannot fathom what Dumbledore and the rest of those bleeding hearts find so worth fighting for, the fools. Our kind, superior in every way, have been relegated to the shadows, persecuted by Muggles at every turn, simply for being better than they, and more powerful. It is against nature!"

Harry does not disagree. Frankly, his quarrel is more with method. He's not a great supporter of the muggle world. Of course, he's not a great supporter of the wizarding world, either. He'd be happy enough to simply run away to a tropical island somewhere and be done with the world altogether. Though it might be nice to have Draco there with him. For the sex. It simply seems rather silly to do away with muggles when the wizard population is so small that there's already a dangerous amount of inbreeding. Besides, it doesn't seem like the pureblood families are more likely to create strong wizards—not if he and Hermione are any example. And while Draco is extraordinary, Ron certainly is not. Nor is Neville.

"But of course you wish to save them, as you are not pureblood, and so would be murdered yourself, hmm?" Lucius smiles meanly. "Poor little Harry Potter." And then, in a shift of mood, "You disgust me! I find myself no longer in the mood to even touch you. Stay here, in this room, until you are summoned for supper. I am certain the Dark Lord will expect your presence, however offensive it may be." He turns and is gone, while Harry remains alone and naked in the centre of the room. Harry notices with regret, that his nipple is still pierced with black instead of the silver steel that Draco had given him. Another in the long list of things he cannot change, yet.

After some time, he decides it is safe to dress again, and so wears the only pair of jeans he has brought with him, and a white t-shirt. The jeans have grown comfortable with time, as they are essentially the only pair he wears. Through repeated launderings they have grown soft as warm butter. He doesn't even bother wearing pants with them. The t-shirt is threadbare, but that doesn't concern him in the slightest. He likes that the fabric is thin. The outfit is the exact antithesis of the wardrobe he is required to wear in their presence, and so it is perfect.

He risks setting up a trip ward in the corridor, so that he will know if someone is coming, and then goes into the en-suite and casts a privacy bubble—just a little sphere of silence about himself three metres in diameter. Inside it, he runs through his old routine, practising his wandless, wordless magics to centre himself. He works from simple to difficult, ending with his practise on Promo Veneficium, which is still suffering from his lack of guinea pigs. He thinks he's got it now, and wordlessly, but he can't be sure it'll work. He sighs, then reaches out to his trip ward and dissolves it, before gently dissolving his sphere.

He has time to drink his Wolfsbane Potion, then take a nap before he is bathed and prepared again by Ninny. He is dressed in the burgundy velvet, his hair artfully piled atop his head. He thinks that, perhaps, if he survives this, he will cut his hair. He is growing dreadfully tired of playing the Dark World's bitch.

Harry enters the Grand Hall when told and stands at his place until Lord Voldemort appears, dressed all in black, from the ruffled black silk tunic to the black satin, fur-trimmed over-robe. His eyes are green once again. Lucius is also dressed in black formal robes, though he wears a green dress shirt tucked into black trousers beneath. "Good evening, Lucius," Voldemort says when Lucius kneels to kiss the hem of his robes. Harry falls, always gracefully, to his knees and lays his forehead against the floor again. He kisses Voldemort's hem when he is allowed to, and stands when ordered. He takes his seat after Voldemort and Lucius have seated themselves, at the head and foot of the table, respectively. Harry sits in the centre of the side to Voldemort's left, facing the door. He cannot see both the Dark Lord and the Master of the Manor at the same time from this vantage, their positions being so distant from each other, so he looks unwaveringly at his plate, or at the tablecloth just beyond it. Harry is somewhat surprised how much more uncomfortable he is knowing that Draco is gone. He is not the only one to note Draco’s absence.

"Where is your son, Lucius?" Voldemort asks as the butler decants wine into his glass. Voldemort swirls it round, takes a sip to test, then nods and hands the glass back to be filled. Harry's eyes fall back to the tablecloth.

"He has decided to return to Hogwarts, Lord," Lucius lies. Nothing further.

"Without consulting me?" says Voldemort, disbelief mixed with amusement. "How foolish…and daring. Did he mention why?" Harry thinks that Voldemort must be able to tell that Lucius is lying.

"Apparently, the staff have noticed that Mr Potter has gone missing, and sent word here, to my son. They were concerned that Draco did not know, and thought he might wish to assist their efforts at retrieving Mr Potter again. Draco decided that it would be best to keep up appearances, and return to Hogwarts immediately."

"Ah, I see," says Voldemort. "Well, the boy certainly takes the initiative."

"Yes, My Lord."

"But I suppose that is what makes him more than simply a minion," and Harry can hear Lucius's suddenly staggered pulse and scent the alarm. Voldemort does know, then. "He is intelligent and resourceful, your son. And see what a gift he brings. Harry bloody Potter." Voldemort sounds grudgingly respectful. “Though it was my own plotting that neutralised him.”

"But his initiative endangers your plots, my Lord," says Lucius, and seems not to realise that it sounds suspicious, the way he speaks against his own son. "His 'taming' of this boy could have gone horribly wrong—"

"But it did not, my dear Lucius," Voldemort interrupts. "It did not. Now, if you'd attempted it, it would have, eh?" and even Harry's stomach does a lazy roll at those words. "Your son's luck seems to have improved over the years, while yours most certainly has not." He takes of the roast pork before him, and mash, and gravy. Harry turns his eyes to see that Lucius is taking food now as well, though his heart is still pounding. Once he sees that they have begun eating, Harry reaches for the mash and ladles a generous spoonful onto his plate, then adds a small spoonful of gravy, and begins to eat.

There is silence through most of the meal, but during pudding Voldemort informs Lucius that he will have Harry again tonight, and that he expects to meet privately with Lucius for business discussions over breakfast. Tomorrow is Monday, Harry thinks. Already this is wearing on him, and still he must wait days until the remainder of the plan can unfold. He thinks that at this rate, Lucius may be the one to murder him, instead of Lord Voldemort.

"Oh, and have someone in your staff see to it that Mr Potter gets some motion. He is growing frightfully vapid. I prefer my concubines with a bit more muscle tone, though they needn't be as radiantly perfect as Draco. Some exercise, yes?"

"As you will it, My Lord, so shall it be done."

"Excellent." Voldemort stands and Lucius and Harry follow suit. "Come along, Potty," says Voldemort, and Harry moves to his side meekly. He follows the Dark Lord back to those opulent guest rooms he was in yesterday, and tries to appear discreetly awed at Voldemort's casual use of power. A wave of the hand and all of the room's candles are lit, as is the fire in the grate. Another, and the Dark Lord's outer robes are banished, likely to the armoire. His silk shirt is fine as gossamer, but he wears black, satin, three-quarter length, fitted breeches beneath. He stands in stocking feet (also black) so he must have banished his shoes as well. Harry lets a bit more awe show, but still does not look up any higher than Voldemort's waist.

"I can't decide," says Voldemort, drawing nearer, "whether to bed you or torture you." He is so much taller than Harry—but so, it seems, is everyone. Perhaps Pettigrew is the same height—Harry can't recall—but he certainly out-masses Harry by quite a lot. "And then I am reminded that I'm the Dark Lord, and I can do both. So which shall I enjoy first? The bedding, or the torturing? I think that the bedding should come first, and then the torture, so that I need not concern myself with filth, eh? How does that sound?"

"As you wish, My Lord," says Harry, completely without inflection.

"Of course," Voldemort agrees, and kisses Harry on the forehead, then on either temple, either cheek. He bites roughly at Harry's neck. It’s not painful—only uncomfortable. Harry knows the pain will come later. For now, the seduction, and Voldemort takes his time and does the job properly, though he never once kisses Harry on the mouth. Harry thinks he may be glad of this, but in the end, it hardly matters. A kiss is a kiss, especially when it comes from a john. Harry cares little about what they actually do to him, as long as they pay him for it. He thinks that the payoff for this week will be very high, indeed—either success or death, and even death would be a major coup for the Boy Who Lived Too Bloody Long.

So Harry enjoys the sex immensely, and notes when the Dark Lord's eyes go from green to red. Harry comes three times, while Voldemort only manages twice, but that seems almost beside the point. The point is where Voldemort's second climax comes from, for even as Voldemort is still thrusting into Harry's arse, he casts the first in a long string of Cruciatus curses for this night, and Harry screams. Every orifice locks as well, of course, and Voldemort fucks Harry's tortured body for some part of eternity before he comes, groaning over Harry's shrieks. He releases Harry again and pulls his slick cock from Harry's arse. Harry turns over and vomits onto the bed.

"Ah…a heartfelt reaction," says Voldemort and banishes the mess from both bed and boy with a careless gesture. "Incarcerous," says Voldemort and Harry is not only trussed, but stretched as well, to the four corners of the bed, halfway up the posts, so that he is completely exposed, top and bottom. The pain in his wrists and ankles is severe, but he knows that will only grow worse with time.

Voldemort begins with a series of Cruciatus curses, during which Harry manages to break both of his own wrists. After that, he is lowered to the bed, though his wrists are not mended, and Voldemort works slowly, and with great concentration, on Harry's skin. With a small, sharp knife, Voldemort traces words and patterns across Harry's chest, every once in a while sprinkling a fine, white powder into the wounds that makes them burn like fire.

Harry screams almost continuously until his voice is gone, then screams voicelessly. His bladder releases itself, but his bowels have already been (so conveniently) voided. His body attempts to vomit several more times, though there is nothing left to expel. He lies in a mess of his own urine and blood and has no idea who he is, nor where, nor why. He has completely severed himself from reality, from identity, from past and future.

After three hours of torture, Harry cannot even utilise language in his head. It is likely the only thing that saves him that night, for when Voldemort begins idly asking him questions about this and that, about his loyalties, about people he knows, he can no more tell the truth than lie. He can neither speak nor think at all, in fact, and so it is worthless, this interrogation, and Voldemort calls Lucius to his rooms to remove the rubbish, and have it tended to, so that it will be available tomorrow.

Lucius does as he is told.

Bad Faith by colibri
Chapter 7: Bad Faith

Harry is not released from Voldemort's care until nearly three o'clock Monday morning, at which time he is taken to the guest room he inhabits at Malfoy Manor. There a mediwizard named Osso is called in to treat him. Osso is a Death Eater sympathiser and adept in caring for the type of injuries Harry has sustained, (or, alternatively, which have been perpetrated on him).

Harry's broken wrists are the only injuries that have not mostly healed themselves by the time Osso gets to him. Harry's Lycanthropy has insured that everything else is in the final stages of healing already. Osso marvels over the detail of the remains of the cut-work Voldemort has done on Harry's skin. He finds it unfortunate when the cuts disappear without trace before his very eyes, as he thinks there must have been quite a lot of work put into the cutting. Still, he is fortunate to have witnessed as much of it as he has.

Osso is told by Lucius Malfoy that he should be prepared to attend the Dark Lord's wishes again the next day, and leaves with his purse a good deal heavier than it was when he arrived.

* * *

Harry awakens some time soon after three o’clock Monday afternoon and is attended by Ninny again, then taken to the pool where he is forced by a human trainer to awkwardly swim laps to and fro, then allowed to relax in the jacuzzi before being forced to swim laps again. He is taken to the sauna where he is left to heat for five minutes, then transferred back to the guest room, where another human servant—a blonde woman Harry has never seen before—massages him roughly, working his muscles until they are like putty, then rubbing a salve into his entire skin before working his muscles again.

He is allowed to rest for another hour before Ninny returns and bathes him. She allows him to prepare his own arse for later penetration, (as a courtesy, Harry supposes), then dresses him in the new black satin gown with the deepest V-neck of all of those that Draco had purchased. This one goes all the way to his navel, though there are four chains of emerald set in silver that hold the two sides of the V together. He wears an emerald-encrusted, silver choker as well, and finds it amusing that he should be so pampered one moment and tortured the next. Still, it is all but distraction, for he is uncertain he will be able to physically endure another torture session like the one night last.

Unfortunately, this evening goes much like the previous, though there is more conversation tonight. "Has Mr Potter been exercised?"

"Of course, My Lord. You have but to ask, and your whims shall be satisfied. It is our pleasure, Lord."

"Do not promise things you may be unable to deliver, my dear Lucius." But he does not allow Lucius to speak again. "Tonight, I shall ask you to treat Mr Potter’s wounds again. I am pleased with his presentation this evening—the healer has done well. Whom did you call upon?"

"Healer Osso, My Lord."

"You will double his payment."

"Of course, My Lord."

"You will attend me again Tuesday morning at breakfast."

"It shall be done, My Lord."

Harry is returned to Voldemort's chambers, and the Dark Lord drinks absinthe and watches while Harry pleasures himself with hand, then a dildo as large as a fist which is fastened to the floor, and upon which he must fuck himself until he comes. After that, Harry must pleasure the Dark Lord with his mouth and take the Dark Lord's seed upon his face. He is allowed to wipe his face on a hand towel before he is forced to bring himself to erection again while Voldemort finishes his drink. And then Voldemort sinks his overlarge organ into Harry's bowels and casts Cruciatus again, riding Harry for minutes before he comes and finally dissolves the curse. Harry's voice does not last long enough to mingle with Voldemort's moans.

Harry is, once again, tied to the bed, only this time, Voldemort is quite intoxicated, and finds it amusing to insert things into Harry's orifices. He slides a metal rod into Harry's urethra and leaves it there. He inserts a spiked dildo into Harry's arse and watches blood soak the sheets. He brandishes a scalpel with glee, and slits Harry's nostrils, just a little bit. He has to lay a pillow under Harry's head to keep Harry from coughing as blood trickles down the back of his throat.

The trails of blood down Harry's mouth remind Voldemort of the joys of cutting, though, and so he resumes the Sisyphusian task of carving red trails into Harry's pale skin, though today his imagination is sparked by the absinthe. The resultant designs are more eerie, and sometimes involve carving into the air, giving Harry a short respite, though Voldemort does not really know this. He is perhaps hyper-lucid, and does not realise that his eyes have gone red again, and that the forked tongue he normally works to hide is protruding slightly from his mouth. When he speaks, it is in Parseltongue, but there is no one to hear. Harry is insensate with pain.

Voldemort falls asleep with his hand on Harry's blood-covered abdomen and wakes he does not know how much later, when the cuts have all healed. Harry awakens when Voldemort pulls the rod from Harry's penis and the spiked dildo from his arse. The removal destroys the new skin that has healed around it. Harry passes out again from the agony, and does not wake when Lucius casts Mobilicorpus to remove him from Voldemort's rooms.

* * *

Harry awakens in terror, with the incongruous feeling that he is not in pain. He has healed completely, of course, as none of his latest wounds were inflicted with silver. But his mind still recalls the pain, and his body is wheezing with fear.

"You must bathe, Harry Potter," says Ninny, who is attempting to calm him, patting him gingerly on his shoulders, on the top of his head, then giving up as it seems only to make the situation worse. Harry has already pulled himself into the tiniest foetal ball possible in the corner of his bed, and he attempts now to disappear into himself, as he has done in times past.

It is only now, after nearly nine months away, he realises his grand miscalculation. In the past, he has withstood torture and come through without irreparable damage. So he'd thought he could do it this time as well. But he is missing one extremely important tool. He needs a horse to ride through this. He needs his heroin.

"Master Lucius! Ninny is so sorry! Mr Harry Potter will not listen, he does not do what Ninny says!"

"Go, you are dismissed," says Lucius's cultured voice, and Harry could not be more terrified now, unless it had been Voldemort himself in the room. "Ah, Mr Potter. I see you've finally come to comprehend your position here."

Harry is attempting to curb his wheezing, and to moderate his terrified weeping, but he is having little luck, as Lucius's presence is a stressor he is currently incapable of dealing with. Lucius's very voice makes his skin crawl in an attempt to escape it.

"Unfortunately, I've neither the time nor the inclination to deal with your hysterics at the moment. Lord Voldemort is expecting me back shortly, but he is also expecting you to be exercised again today. So you will get up out of this bed now, and you will allow the staff to exercise you, and you will be present at supper, composed and lovely as usual. Heed me, Mr Potter, or I assure you, your stay will take a turn for the worse."

Harry is slowly regaining his control, and when Lucius stops speaking, Harry manages to force out a hitching, "Yes…Master…Lucius," in a voice that would have embarrassed him if he'd had any pride left at all.

"Excellent," says Lucius and leaves Harry to drag himself out of the bed and into the en-suite. By the time he re-emerges, Ninny has returned, and she leads him back to the pool, where the same man who trained him the day before is present again. He forces Harry to swim his awkward laps to and fro, though Harry finds he is capable of quite a lot more today than he had been only yesterday. And without soreness. His Lycanthropy seems to allow him to build muscle much more rapidly, as it heals the body after the stress on his muscles. No wonder there is such a mythology of werewolves as hulking wolf-men with the strength of several humans. It may have more to do with the human form than the very natural-looking wolf form.

He is given the same spa treatment as yesterday, then returned to his rooms, where he drinks his Wolfsbane Potion, then naps again, mainly because he is exhausted, but also because he cannot bear to be awake as he simply waits for his next torture session with Voldemort. He dreams of Draco in wolf form, growling at Voldemort in warning, then being caught in a beam of red light—a Cruciatus curse—and howling in terrified agony. "Take me!" Harry is screaming, weeping. "Please, take me!" and Voldemort is laughing, saying only, "I am, you foolish boy. I am!" When Ninny comes to dress him, he must bathe again, he is so sticky with sweat.

* * *

"Am I to believe I have cracked the boy's shell, then?" asks Voldemort, obviously very intrigued (and pleased as well).

"He was screaming and drooling like a lunatic when I found him this afternoon, My Lord," says Lucius matter-of-factly, before spearing a bite of roast quail. The little birds make Harry queasy—one can almost see them frolicking about, oblivious to their eventual fate, then screaming as they're roasted alive on a spit. They are far too obviously animals for Harry's sanity. Whole, tiny animals on wizards' plates. Harry sees himself trussed and mounted on a skewer, rotating over an open flame, unable to scream past the apple in his mouth. "I made certain that he was exercised, however, and dressed appropriately for your audience this evening."

"And to think I faulted your loyalty for a time," says Voldemort dryly. "You—my most loyal sycophant," making a joke at Lucius's expense. But Voldemort can do that sort of thing. Lucius makes not a sound. "Well, Mr Potter. I shall see for myself this evening, shan't I?"

Harry spends the remainder of supper too ill with nerves to eat, and trembling like a leaf, despite his forced breathing and attempts at meditation. If someone were to come to him now and give him a choice between keeping his magic, or losing it, but gaining an unlimited supply of heroin; he would pick the latter. Without thought. He has never wanted it more than he does right now. "Yes, Lord," Harry whispers because he cannot breathe properly. He knows he is pale, because his lips are cold.

That night, in Voldemort's rooms, he is blindfolded and tied naked to a post Voldemort has conjured in the centre of the floor. He can smell the absinthe Voldemort is drinking, and heaves dryly every time he feels Voldemort move toward him, though the man does nothing.

Until he does something…until he shatters the glass on the post behind Harry's back, then drags a sharp point across Harry's face, and Harry feels blood dripping to his chest. Voldemort removes the blindfold then, but Harry is no less terrified. Harry's tears are tears of despair, and they sting in the cut as it heals.

"Why do you weep, little Harry?" asks Voldemort, his mouth so close to Harry's lips, his breath laced with wormwood. He is far from lucid tonight, and it only adds to Harry's terror. This is the Dark Lord at his most unpredictable.

Voldemort traces cuts across Harry's face as he hums to himself and mumbles nonsense syllables, then words. "Dreary Harry, hairless or hirsute," he says, tracing cuts from the centre of Harry's forehead and down, over his nose, down the cupid's bow of his lips, splitting both, and down his chin. "Hitched to a stake, sticky with blood." A great slash across Harry's chest, then another, and another. "Soaked and shining, shimmering, streaming, searing fire, flaring flames fa," Harry is screaming as Voldemort digs his implement into Harry's stomach just enough to cause a gush of blood, still sing-songing his nonsense words. "Fa-fa-fa-flesh, yes. Yessss…Flesh crisping. Oh Harry Potterpottyputtypudding lovely-lovey, I shall crunch your crackling flesh in my t-t-tiny, tinny, tinnytinnyteeth." And Voldemort bites into Harry's shoulder hard, harder, until he breaks skin. Harry disappears, and only the screams remain.

* * *

When Lucius comes the next day, it is because Harry has requested him, and because Harry refuses to leave the bed until he has seen the Master of the Manor.

"I have no idea who you think you are, Potty," says Lucius as soon as he enters, but he frowns and looks surprised at Harry's appearance before continuing as if he'd never faltered. "But you do not order the Master of the Manor."

"Please, Master Malfoy," Harry whispers. He trembles and shakes, he is hollow-cheeked and sallow-skinned from getting nearly no nourishment the past days, (he has vomited up most of what he has eaten, after all). He is crawling on the floor and his eyes are large and red-rimmed, the hollows beneath deep and dark. He has not slept at all, this night, and little the night before. "Please help me," and his voice is small.

He has nearly reached Lucius's hem when the man takes a step back in undisguised horror and lip-curling disgust. "I've no idea why you think I would help you, Mr Potter."

"Please, Master Malfoy," Harry tries again, and his desperation is complete. He reaches for Lucius's leg and manages to grab it. He wants, he needs. He weeps into Lucius's robe. "Please—I shan't survive another night with him, Master. I cannot. I will do anything for you. Anything. Only…help me."

"This is ridiculous," says Lucius hastily, trying to shake Harry from his leg. And he manages, but he is discomfited. Severely so. He is shaken, and something about the boy's eyes tugs at his heart. "You are to be exercised today, Mr Potter. Meet with your trainer in one quarter of an hour."

"Please…" Harry whispers, and then Lucius is gone.

* * *

That evening, Lucius Malfoy begs his master for permission to observe the evening's sport. Voldemort, being one who loves the spotlight and very proud of his own prowess, allows it. And so Lucius Malfoy follows them to Voldemort's rooms and prepares the Master's absinthe when it is requested, as Voldemort fucks Harry's hole, not even bothering to try to make Harry pretend to enjoy this. Voldemort casts Cruciatus again to bring himself to climax, then waits until Harry's voice is gone before releasing him. "I find that I prefer him voiceless," Voldemort says with a smile, then takes the glass of cloudy green liquid from Lucius and holds it to his own lips. "Cheers," he says, and drinks.

Harry begins a keening whine in the back of his throat, though he cannot make much more than a whistling sound. He cannot understand this. Has he been such a hateful person in his life, that he deserves such suffering? Is he doing penance for some great, unforgivable sin? Was Sirius's death his fault after all? Does karma blame Harry for the deaths of his parents? For Neville's parents' incapacitation? For Voldemort's rise, and so, every single death that is on Voldemort's head? Surely this must be the case. He stands and prays fervently that Lucius Malfoy will save him from this, because there is irredeemable evil, like Voldemort, and then there is merely selfishly misguided, ruthlessly avaricious, and dangerously arrogant, like Lucius. I will give you anything you wish, Harry thinks desperately, only save me from this fate. This he chants as a mantra for the rest of the night, whilst Voldemort tears thin strips of flesh from his body and Lucius Malfoy watches in blank-faced horror as blood soaks the sheets.

* * *

Lucius is silent as he carries a listless Harry Potter back to the guest chambers. He does not summon Dr Osso, as the wounds are already largely healed. Besides, Dr Osso is a bit of a dime-store sadist himself. But Lucius does not wish to examine his reasons too closely. He sits with Harry Potter and does what he can to ease the boy's pain as the wounds heal themselves. A bit of numbing salve is about the best he can do, and some water to ease the boy's throat. He says nothing to attempt to comfort, and does not soften the arrogant set of his features. He does not think on much of anything except that Lord Voldemort has ordered Mr Potter seen to, and so Lucius is seeing to him.

Harry Potter has been mumbling something for hours, though he's had no voice at all, and it's been entirely too fast to understand, (and likely nonsense anyway). But now Lucius has the time to look more closely, and it is after several minutes of semi-effort that he realises, with a start, what the boy is whispering. …Anything you wish, the boy pleads. Save me…. Lucius's skin crawls together, forming goose pimples and running a chill down his spine. …Anything you wish…save me

* * *

Harry awakens to dim quiet and a gentle hand on his forehead. He knows it is Lucius there with him, for he recognises the man's scent easily now. It has become familiar, if not altogether comforting.

But at this moment Harry thinks he is all right. He does not know what good it will do, having Lucius as his, but it is surely better than having no one. He does not love Lucius, but when Lucius is with him, inside his influence, Lucius can be trusted. This means a lot to Harry. Harry doesn't even trust Draco, really.

"How are you feeling, then?" asks Lucius in a voice pitched low enough that the man cannot hear himself. The voice is soft and kind and caring—completely out of character—and so must be hidden from its owner.

Harry does not answer. He does not wish to speak—to disturb this quiet that saves Lucius from dissonance. He stretches himself carefully, until he finds there is no residual pain, then captures Lucius's elegant hand in his own and licks the palm from wrist to fingertips. He hears Lucius's heart stutter, then speed. He scents surprised desire from Lucius's skin. "What do you desire, Master Malfoy?" Harry whispers, and turns sultry eyes upon his jailer.

"I am to exercise you today," Lucius's mouth says, before he takes Harry's lips in a kiss.

* * *

The Dark Lord is absent for the entirety of the day, and Lucius has the time to exercise Harry thoroughly. Harry uses the proximity and the exchange of fluids to cement the bond between them. In this way, it will remain strong even once Harry can no longer strengthen it with periodic touch or eye contact. As the day wears on, he feels Lucius's will slowly end its struggle, accepting Harry as beloved child, as a lover in need, as master. Lucius's heart lightens as his allegiances simplify, and the stormy grey of his eyes brightens to the same silver of his son's.

Harry feels a pang of guilt, (and of regret), but in the end he cannot afford it. He has stolen Lucius Malfoy's soul, but if they survive this, perhaps Harry can give it back. It does not excuse the behaviour, but it may, perhaps, mitigate it.

In the evening, after Harry has taken his Wolfsbane Potion and has been thoroughly bathed and prepared by Lucius's own hand, a house elf comes to fetch Harry and to inform Master Malfoy that correspondence has arrived from both Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic which Voldemort has ordered that Lucius personally attend to. Lord Voldemort intercepts all correspondence that is delivered to Malfoy Manor.

So Harry is taken, once again, for the evening's torture session, and though the pain is no lighter, his heart is for knowledge that there will be comforting arms at the end of it. Comfort and loving attention. His screams are, perhaps, more musical that night, Harry thinks with amusement in that part of his mind that is sheltered from pain, but Lord Voldemort is pleased just the same. Perhaps it is because the Dark Lord foregoes his nightly absinthe, and so decides any change is due to his clear senses. He releases his seed over Harry's open wounds before sending him away, and Harry is removed still dry heaving the imaginary contents of his stomach.

Lucius murmurs apologies and comforting nonsense as he lowers Harry into a soothing bath laced with numbing and disinfectant potions, and Harry weeps because he can. He is stressed, and it is Thursday morning now. His last full day before the change. Tomorrow evening will come an entirely different set of tortures.

* * *

"No, you mustn't tell me anything of it…I am not good enough. He will see it in me."

"But I need your help…" Harry is despairing. He cannot bear the thought of another night in Voldemort's chambers. He is wrapped in Lucius's arms and weeping, though he tries not to. He had been attempting a seduction, actually—to try to persuade Lucius to save him, somehow. And then it had turned to Lucius assisting Harry in…other ways. Harry knows it is unwise to share any plans with Lucius, but…he has not yet received word from the Order. The Potion is not yet ready, or, at least, not yet here; and this is his final night before the change. He cannot even hope for a victory without that potion.

"I'll be of no aid to you dead, Harry," Lucius whispers and pulls back to look Harry in the eye. "You're so beautiful," he murmurs and searches Harry's eyes, the rest of his face…lingers at his lips. "I know you have spelled me, Harry Potter, and yet it makes no difference. My love for you is as real, now, as any other I have felt."

It makes Harry feel guilty all over again, and so he masks it with sarcasm. "You mean to say that you have felt love before?"

"I loved my son, once," Lucius says, "before I grew rancid with Voldemort's power. And I loved my wife as well, in my own way. Though she knew the role of a society lady, it was still wrong, to mislead her into a sham marriage as I did, but it could have been all right, if I'd not been quite so…"

"Evil?" Harry offers.

"Greedy, Harry Potter, and bitter—both faults my wife and I share."

"You are evil, though," Harry persists, studying Lucius's soft, elegant hands. The perfectly manicured nails, the smooth skin. The paleness on one side, yet deep pink of the other. Lucius's hands are warm. "You've done many evil things."

"It's true," Lucius admits. "I am a different man, because you've made me so."

"It's all induced. Fake," Harry says with a sigh. "I'm using the Imperius curse on you."

"Not quite," Lucius says, "but I'd rather this young, strong, warm, fake heart than my own shrivelled one. It is a strange thing, Harry Potter, to know that one is being led, and yet not feel misled. It is not Imperius, it is brainwashing."

Brainwashing, Harry thinks, and decides that yes, Lucius is right. It is brainwashing. He has not taken control of Lucius's mind—he has changed Lucius's mind. In his favour. "For what it's worth," Harry says, "I am aware of how evil it is to do what I've done, and I'm sorry. Under the circumstances, I decided that I was justified in violating your basic human rights to aid my cause over your own. I am more than willing to rise to the level of depravity shown by my enemies in defeating them."

"It's not evil," says Lucius. "It's simply ruthless."

"Now you're acting the besotted fool," says Harry. "Are you to exercise me today as well?"

"I need to make a trip to Hogwarts today," he says with regret. "The matter is not resolving itself. The staff are insisting that if I've nothing to hide, I will allow a team to search the Manor."

They are attempting to get the potion into the Manor, Harry thinks, but cannot say, no matter how convenient it might be. He does not sigh.

"I have, of course, reminded them that they need a warrant from the Ministry in order to perform such a search, and the Ministry are dragging their feet on that. Still, I've agreed to meet with Dumbledore on the issue today. Which means you'll be left alone again. But you're to exercise with Morgan in the pool, and I must say, I already see quite an improvement."

Harry finds it unlikely Lucius can have seen much of an improvement, but Harry can certainly feel it. "When will you return?" he says and, unfortunately, his voice is reflecting his fear rather than his pride in building some muscle tone.

"It shouldn't take more than a few hours. I will need to spend some time with Draco as well, though we did not part on the best of terms. It will never do to have him reporting back to Voldemort on every mistake I have made and am making currently. If he has me removed, there will be no one standing between you and the Dark Lord.

"As if having you there is helping me much," Harry mutters darkly.

Lucius looks hurt, but then he sighs. "You've the right of it, of course," he says and shakes his head tiredly. "You've the right of it, and it is a terrible thing, to watch him hurting you…. It shan't last a moment longer than it needs to, love," the last whispered almost inaudibly, even to Harry's ears.

* * *

And so Harry's last night as a human before the change is spent in torture and despair, Voldemort's depraved smile shining rapturously above him.

Death by colibri
Chapter 8: Death

"Oh wake up, Harry Potter! Please wake up!"

Harry whimpers into his pillow. Am I still whole? How do I still live? And tonight is the change. He is lost. "Go away," he sobs, not even disappointed that weeping is his first act of the morning. Or…whatever time of day it is.

"You is alive! Harry Potter. Headmaster Dumbledore is saying Dobby needs to give you a message!"

Dobby? Harry thinks, muzzily. He turns and squints into the darkness, since the curtains about his bed are still closed. He has no difficulty seeing, and it is Dobby. "Dobby!" Harry whispers, suddenly alarmed, sitting bolt upright, then hopping to his knees. Once again, there is no residual soreness at all. "What time is it?"

"It's two o’clock in the afternoon, Harry Potter!" Dobby whispers, his huge, lamp-like eyes shining green in the dimness.

"You've snuck into the manor."

"Dobby is the only one who knows how!"

"Of course," Harry knows. This is no surprise, really. It's just…he is afraid for Dobby now, in addition to everything else. "What news, then?"

"Potion is finished, only needs to be delivered."

"Delivered here?" Harry can't imagine they'd send Dobby in without the potion.

"Delivered to him," Dobby whispers, even more hushed.

"Good," Harry says, relieved. "How is Draco?"

"Draco is not so happy, Harry Potter. Draco is very, very angry with the Headmaster for leaving Harry Potter alone at the Manor."

It makes Harry's heart warm a bit, knowing that, and he smiles. "Good. I hope he'll be there to see me, if this works," Harry whispers, then pulls Dobby into a hug—a gesture the house elf obviously finds most disquieting. "So, er, when will it be delivered?"

"Next time he eats, Harry Potter! But he's not here now. Dobby thinks maybe supper is a good time."

"All right," Harry sighs, crestfallen. "That means I'll not have time before my change." He rubs his eyes then pulls his hair back from his face. Yes, he’ll definitely be cutting it. "Wish me luck, then, Dobby."

"Good luck, Harry Potter!"

"And good luck to you as well, or I'm doomed from the start."

Dobby pops out and Harry lies back down, drowsing off until Ninny comes to wake him again, and Harry gets up for his bath and exercise.

Lucius comes to watch Harry swim and be exercised by the trainer, though he says nothing—simply admiring from afar. He is dressed severely, especially for lounging in the pool hall—in black boots and slacks, a tight, black polo-neck shirt tucked in, and a black belt with a silver buckle. He wears no robe today. But by the time Harry gets out of the sauna, Lucius is gone. Harry suddenly remembers what is to happen today, and wonders whether Lucius is in mourning. Today is rape the wolf day, after all. Harry wonders, also, whether it will be a small or a large party.

* * *

He needs not wait long to find out, as there is nearly no time to bathe, prepare, and dress before it is time to attend supper. He wears the black gown again, this time with his own hematite choker—just in case. Since Draco isn't here, it's likely useless, but he has no idea what its range is, so it may just help. Green glitter dust is applied to all of his exposed skin, giving it an eerie tinge he rather likes. It matches the emerald of the chains joining the front of his dress, and Harry also wears a silver tiara studded with emeralds and white crystals in his hair, which is swept away from his face in another French braid.

When he is brought to the grand hall, he enters to a sight that nearly makes his legs buckle with terror. At the head sits Voldemort, with Lucius Malfoy at the foot. But between—oh horror of horrors—sit Bellatrix Lestrange, her husband and brother-in-law, and Peter Pettigrew. Harry falls to his knees, but does not think it looked graceful enough to disguise his horror. He bows down to place his forehead to the ground, and there, he waits.

"Ah…the main course has arrived," says Voldemort and smiles to his guests. "Get up, Potty, so we can see you. Bella, how long do you reckon we'll have to wait?"

"Moonrise is imminent, my Lord. Perhaps another five minutes?"

"She is correct, My Lord," Lucius agrees, putting away his pocket-watch. He seems as businesslike as ever. Harry buries any fear he has of Lucius giving himself away. Now is not the time. Besides, what should he care for Lucius, when all of the man's goodness was forced upon him? He could take Bellatrix herself, he thinks, with enough work. Or…perhaps not. He takes a deep breath, and waits to be ordered about.

"A bit scrawny now, isn't he?" asks the Lestrange Harry doesn't know as well—the brother, Rabastan. "Looks like he's had a go in Azkaban," and he can't seem to keep from laughing.

It's infectious, but only to the other Lestranges. "Well, perhaps…without the ageing," says Rodolphus, trying to become serious again.

Harry thinks the whole lot of them must be insane. Far more insane than he himself is. He can't fathom what they find so very amusing.

"Have you saved all the fun for our return, O Great and Magnificent Lord?" asks Bellatrix, and her manner is so earnest, so honestly adoring, that there can be no question of her loyalty. No wonder Voldemort favours her so. Well, that and her talent. And her sadism.

"I haven't, in fact," says Voldemort. "Who would have guessed the Lycanthropy would make him so very resilient? I knew it would aid in the healing, but no matter what damage I inflict, he is healed by morning."

The Lestranges all look very impressed and stare at Harry, though it is Rabastan who speaks. "Even broken bones?"


"My Lord?"

"Yes, Lucius?" a bit distracted.

"The boy's broken bones were actually healed by Dr Osso."

"Oh yes, quite right," says Voldemort, then has the Master of the Manor writhing on the floor under Cruciatus. It is only for a moment—until Lucius is hidden by the table—but even one second of Cruciatus is too much. "Never correct me, Lucius."

Harry thinks that's the kind of leadership that makes Voldemort destined for failure, but he certainly shan't complain.

Lucius takes several more minutes to get into his seat again, but the others have forgotten his presence already.

"Well, Peter—I assume your mission was…successful?"

"Yes, My Lord," says Wormtail quietly, as if in a constant state of terror. He stinks of it as well, actually. Harry's stomach rumbles loudly, and he is mortified.

Everyone stares at him in mute shock for several moments, before Bellatrix suddenly bursts into laughter again. "That is simply precious!" she cries.

"Haven't you fed our mangy little cur today, Lucius?"

"I do not know, my Lord. I was attending to your business. He was certainly ordered to be fed as well as exercised."

"He looks as if he's been exercised," says Voldemort, and actually looks a little bit impressed, for once. "Quite a lot of improvement, for only a few days."

"Indeed, my Lord," agrees Lucius.

"Well, perhaps, if the boy's first trick proves satisfactory, we shall feed him."

And that is Harry's cue, apparently, to perform his first 'trick'. His breath is stolen and his eyes go wide—he has long ago forgotten the pain of this transformation. But now, the twisting of his very bones is beginning, and he is powerless to control it. He falls to the floor in agony and nausea, the tiara landing on the floor by his hand and glittering mockingly. His bones break and reform, shortening and thickening here, thinning and lengthening there. The gown rips and tears to make way. He screams as loudly as he ever has during Voldemort's torture, and decides that yes, actually, this is as bad as Cruciatus.

The others in the room may as well be in another country entirely, for as much attention as Harry is able to pay to their cooing and admiring exclamations. It is only after the transformation is complete that he is able to hear what they are saying. "Most magnificent bit of torture I have ever seen," says Bellatrix, enraptured. "I should like one of these myself, Rodolphus. I cannot bear to be without! You must promise me, beloved!"

"Aren't they difficult to care for?" he asks, sceptically, as if Harry is some mere house pet.

"Extremely," says Malfoy. "For one, they are wild beasts during this phase. They lose their minds entirely and know neither discipline nor logic. They are not crups, able to be trained. They are feral—rabid, even—and cunning."

"This one seems harmless," says Pettigrew, and it gives Harry exactly the impetus he needs. Well that, and his hunger. He is exhausted, after all, and would be harmless even without the Wolfsbane at this stage. There is always a recovery period after the forced change. But it is short.

Harry does not give warning. He does not growl or snap, nor even stand. He simply lunges from his crouched position, after Wormtail’s neck, and for once, everything goes as it should. Everyone is shocked by the lunge, and by the time Lucius realises what has happened and has put Harry in a full body-bind, Pettigrew is dead.

Harry thinks this may be the very best day of his life, and with blood still painting his muzzle, and the taste of it still on his tongue, Harry bays with sheer delight and triumph, hardly caring that he can no longer move, and caring not at all for the fact that he will be tortured later. For tonight, Harry has avenged the deaths of his parents and Sirius. Not completely, of course, but it has begun. Peter Pettigrew was the one who made the murder possible. Peter Pettigrew was the one who put Sirius into Azkaban for twelve years, to grow bitter and just a bit insane. Peter Pettigrew was the one who got Sirius hunted by the authorities.

It takes some time before his triumph wears off enough for him to realise that he should be acting a bit more wolf-like, but it's easy to fall into those habits. They feel more natural, after all, than his human ones, when in this form. He is snapping and biting, trying to get at the ropes that bind him though the human inside him knows it is futile. That portion listens to the swirling conversation, and is simply baffled. Bellatrix and Rabastan are as pleased as tots in a toy-shop, while Malfoy seems a bit concerned where he sits with Pettigrew's rapidly cooling corpse, then looks up at the Dark Lord. "He's dead, my Lord."

"That does look to be the case," Voldemort agrees.

"I don't really think we should have one of those about the house," says Rodolphus. "It's a bit messy, if they're continually murdering the staff and the like."

"You haven't got a house," says Rabastan.

"The idea was, of course, once the Dark Lord has taken over England and we move into a house," says Rodolphus.

Bellatrix is too busy staring worshipfully at Harry to bother with the conversation. "What a lovely monster you are, yes!" she coos. Harry finds it far too strange to be as disgusted by it as he should be. Or by the fact that he's just murdered a human being. Now he can only think about how hungry he is, and he licks his muzzle and teeth clean of blood before resuming his struggles.

"Isn't there some way to control this beast?" asks Voldemort, and he seems to find Harry distasteful. "Otherwise, I think any sort of…sport would be a bit dangerous—or at least inefficient."

"Imperius may work, my Lord," offers Lucius. "Otherwise, there are various calming potions we might try."

There's no reason a calming draught wouldn't work, Harry agrees silently. The only reason he has to use the Wolfsbane, is that he's not trying to remain calm, he's trying to maintain his humanity. The latter is a far more difficult proposition.

"Calming potions," says Bellatrix with a curl of her nose and lip.

"You're not going to be the one…testing him," says Rabastan.

"Neither is Rodolphus," she says, and it is clear that she will brook no argument.

Rodolphus does not argue.

"Shall I attempt Imperius on it, My Lord?" asks Malfoy. "So that you need not divide your attentions whilst you are…otherwise occupied?"

"Always willing to sacrifice for your master," says Voldemort approvingly. "Yes, Lucius. It is a favourable idea."

“By your leave, Lord."

Voldemort inclines his head and waits, curious.

Lucius takes out his wand and casts Imperius, which Harry breaks almost immediately. It is extremely simple for him, now. He waits to perform whatever inane trick takes Lucius's fancy.

"Have him attempt to chase his own tail," says Rabastan.

Lucius says, "Chase your tail," and Harry thinks, Twonk—as if I can understand human speech. Harry does not at all change his behaviour.

"Does the werewolf still understand English?" asks Voldemort, as though he is quite certain the werewolf does not, and finds Malfoy's error most unimpressive.

"Oh…of course not, my Lord," Lucius concedes, looking embarrassed. "I'll make the same suggestion using my will, then," and Harry realises that Lucius knows that he's in here—inside the wolf—and is giving him cues to behaviour.

So Harry waits a few seconds, then attempts—with all of his might—to chase his tail. It is, of course, impossible, as he is currently bound and against the wall; but he makes his best effort.

"That appears to be working," says Rodolphus.

"Yes," Lucius agrees.

"Excellent. Everyone behind the table, then, except for Lucius…" and once they've all complied, "now Lucius, release the binds and test the hold."

Lucius makes a good show of being unpleasantly surprised, but reins it in quickly. He does not wish to seem impertinent, after all. He looks honestly nervous, and Harry is impressed. It takes him a moment to recall he's supposed to be attempting to chase his tail. He hopes the others have assumed Lucius has stopped the 'suggestion'. No one seems to have thought Harry's behaviour odd.

"Finite incantatem," Lucius intones quietly, and Harry is just thinking what a lovely voice Lucius has when he drops to the floor, landing on hind legs, then forepaws, and instinctively dropping his head threateningly. He does not growl or snarl, however, though he wants to.

"Why, exactly, would anyone wish to…engage in any type of…sport with this creature, other than torture?"

"My dear Bella," says Voldemort, his voice oily—slick. "It will be torture. Another method of torturing Harry Potter. And I wish to be able to say I have tortured Harry Potter in every way. I have led him on a leash in his human form—and I shall lead him on a leash in his werewolf form as well. I will be the wizard who has broken Harry Potter so thoroughly, even his werewolf will be meek."

"If you will it, My Lord, you shall achieve it," Bellatrix agrees, though she still does not seem to find the value in all of it. Perhaps it is simply disgust with the idea of touching an animal sexually. Harry is sympathetic (in a not very sympathetic way).

"Rabastan? Will you do the honours?" asks Voldemort, though there's no real question, of course. If the Dark Lord has a wish, it shall be as a command.

"Thank you, my Lord," says Rabastan, and begins to disrobe. He, like all of the others who have spent significant time in Azkaban, is all bone and sinew and tough, sallow skin. He was likely never handsome, but arrogant and distinctive, yes. Now he has that drawn look about the eyes and mouth, and that air of madness. It is only more profound once he stands unclad before Harry's calm and waiting form.

"My Lord, may I be excused?" asks Bellatrix, and Harry finds himself surprised at her discomfiture. Her reaction is so severe and not at all what he had been expecting.

"I believe you may enjoy this, Bellatrix," says Voldemort. "If you do not, I will allow you to leave."

"Yes, My Lord," she agrees and settles back down.

Harry can no longer see Rabastan, who has moved into position behind him.

"Well?" Rabastan asks impatiently. "Can I simply breach him and go?"

"How should I know?" Lucius snaps. "I am rather busy keeping him steady for you." Harry almost laughs, though it would not come out that way in this form.

"Perhaps you should clean it first," says Bellatrix.

"It's only Harry Potter," says Rabastan, as if he cannot understand Bellatrix's reluctance. He likely can't. Rabastan’s sigh sounds more than slightly put upon. "Fine," he says, and casts an Evanesco.

"And lubrication, I think," offers Lucius distractedly. "If you should like to actually force yourself inside."

Harry finds the discussion immensely distracting, which is exactly what he needs. He has a feeling that if he'd not understood all of this, he would have been terrified by now, not knowing why the wait, and not knowing what, exactly, is going to happen. He feels the tingling of the Lubricoleo charm and relaxes just a hair.

Harry rapidly forgets his relief, however, whining and attempting to escape when Rabastan begins to shove himself inside. The pain is profound, and nothing at all like what he’d expected. He is used to being fucked in his human form. This form has never experienced it—it is a new form, after all, as the wolf is new every cycle, built of whole cloth with every full-moon-lit night. This wolf has never been breached—not even by Draco. This body has no memory. It takes all of Harry's willpower to avoid attacking Rabastan—pulling away and attacking—but he hasn't enough will to keep from whining piteously, despite having felt much worse at Voldemort's hands.

"I'm afraid he's a more sympathetic creature as a wolf," Bellatrix whispers under her breath, likely to her husband. Harry can barely hear it over his own whining, but the others shouldn't be able to hear it at all.

"You seemed so certain you wanted one to torture before," Rodolphus whispers back.

"The transformation into wolf is spectacular," she agrees.

Rabastan is pumping evenly now, and Harry is able to tune out the pain. It is no worse than being fisted was in the beginning.

How are you, Harry? Comes Malfoy's voice suddenly, surprising Harry into a yelp. It all seems to fit, though.

Er…all right? Harry's not sure what to say. You've the necklace, then?

Yes. From Snape. He, for some reason, believed me when I told him what had happened. He lifted it from my son.

…I'm glad, Harry says, then falls silent, determined to remain stoic in the face of adversity. This is his last night. Tomorrow begin the festivities. He needs only make it through tonight, and the thought buoys him.

Until Voldemort casts Cruciatus and disrobes.

Until everything falls apart.

Harry is in entirely too much pain to understand what happens around him. He knows only that by the time he is released and regains enough presence of mind, Voldemort is casting the killing curse, and Lucius is, just barely, escaping it.

"You'll never escape me, Lucius!" Voldemort is hissing, enraged, and the Lestranges are only now realising that something has happened and that they should be attacking their comrade.

Lucius Apparates from the room and Bellatrix screams in frustration. "What has he done!?"

"He's lost his marbles," says Rodolphus, as if this much is obvious. "Why's he defending the wolf?"

"Because he's a bloody traitor!" Voldemort dresses himself with a flick of the wrist, then storms back over to Harry, who lies on the floor, still panting and shaking from Cruciatus. He attempts to make a good show of it, snapping weakly at the Dark Lord and attempting to snarl through the trembling. "Though it seems he may have snapped just now. Strange, isn't it? Perhaps, like Bella, he simply couldn't bear to see the wolf suffer, since I know for a certainty he hates the boy even more than I do.

"But no matter—he is a traitor now and must die. Find him and kill him!"

The others pop out, leaving Harry alone with Voldemort. It is the perfect opportunity. Excepting that Harry is useless in this form. He snaps a bit more at Voldemort, slowly regaining energy and allowing himself to use it in his attack. He may as well try.

And then he can feel Voldemort trying to assert his will—use Legilimency on Harry. Harry sends lies—wolf-lies and sense memory that would mean nothing to a human. And when Voldemort seems to be attempting Imperius, Harry calms himself and drops into a blank meditation. He takes the suggestion of sleep and settles into its semblance, grateful for it. Especially when he is levitated back to his guest quarters and left for the remainder of the night. It is the best night he's had in what feels like years.

* * *

In the morning, Harry must relive the agony of a change, as he transforms back into his human shape. He lies in his bed for half an hour, recovering, before bathing and dressing in his newest school formal robes—gaudy in their Gryffindor brilliance. They are deep red, mostly, but the under-robe is gold, hanging below the outer robe at his feet, down to cover his hands, and forming a high collar at his neck. They're not the best colours for his skin, but…this is symbolic, and so he wears them. And then he waits.

One hour, two hours, three—and still no word. And then—two o'clock in the afternoon, Harry is visited once again by Dobby, whose huge eyes look terrified. "It is done, Harry Potter," he whispers.

"And what went wrong?"

"The he who is not named, Harry Potter, he guessed it! He tasted something wrong and is angry. He did drink, but now he comes here, Harry Potter!" and then Dobby disappears.

"Well, shit," says Harry Potter, and then, is deep in it.

Bursts of Greatness are Good, But There Is Something to be Said for Consistency by colibri
Chapter 9: Bursts of Greatness are Good, But There Is Something to be Said for Consistency

Voldemort arrives only seconds later, dressed in his customary black robes of silk satin, his green eyes bled to red. "I think I shall use a scalpel of silver today," he hisses.

Harry will not think of silver. He will distract Voldemort before any silver enters the picture. He lets his own eyes bleed to black—sclera and all—before turning to face Voldemort. It looks far more dramatic, after all.

It even gives Voldemort a moment of pause. "Working with dark magic, then, Potty? Not really a surprise, given what I've found in this morning's orange juice."

"And what have you found, oh Great Lord?" Harry drawls, doing his very best Draco impression.

"Treachery of incredible proportions," says Voldemort.

"So you don't actually know," Harry guesses, and examines his perfectly manicured nails. "Where's my wand, Voldemort?"

"You dare to speak my name?"

"Of course," says Harry. "But Voldemort's not exactly your name, right? Rather like my name isn't 'The Boy Who Lived,' no matter how many people decide to call me it. I'll call you Tom, if you like, but you won't get a Mister Riddle out of me."

Harry gets no warning before Voldemort brandishes his wand, but at least that much warning he does get, before the strike. He manages to drop and roll before the first curse hits, then shields himself quickly, but not hastily. It is a good, strong shield, and invisible. It will buy him an extra few seconds. He sends a wordless Incendio, but Voldemort feels the magic rushing at him, and shields as well. Harry has no idea whether his opponent could feel which spell Harry sent, or only that a spell was sent.

Voldemort cackles, though, and Harry's skin crawls. "So…you think that parlour tricks will best me, ickle Potty? Shall I be intimidated because a child has learned to cast Incendio without a wand?? I mastered that in my first year at Hogwarts," the last hissed, with no attempt to hide the impediment his forked tongue is to his speech.

Harry finds it somewhat shocking that Voldemort hasn't even considered that Harry did his last spell without even a gesture. And that Voldemort assumes that Harry is merely doing parlour tricks. He can't imagine, really, how deeply seated the sorcerer's prejudices are. He'd assumed that after his first wandless spell, the jig would be up, and he would have to fight for his life. Not so, it seems.

Voldemort casts a Cruciatus curse that Harry deftly deflects with a well-aimed Reflecto, though it doesn't hit the caster. He follows it up with a rapid-fire barrage of Stupefies before condensing a glider and moving quickly round his opponent, who has no trouble with the Stupefies, but seems a bit taken aback at Harry's sudden ability to fly. Harry is forced to manoeuvre out of the way of the first Avada, and things suddenly turn very serious indeed. His power has now been fathomed, and he can no longer coast. He uses the very effective combination he has perfected in his duelling practise, mixing aerem-object charms until he has turned the floor to ice, using buffeting wind to upset Voldemort's balance, then beginning to cast fireballs. He's not overly fond of fireballs, since they tend to—

"Bloody hell," Harry mutters as the bed-curtains are set ablaze. He casts a Bubblehead Charm so he won't need to worry about breathing, glides away from another Avada before he is hit with an Incendio as well, though it bounces off of his shield. "Accio!" he summons and a pillow flies to his hand. A moment's thought and he holds a large bowie knife—the only type he could envision on such short notice. He meditates himself to calm, then—though he is flying about on condensed air, holding a shield, and sending fireballs at his enemy—and once he is as cold as ice, he casts his first Avada against a human. It is weak without his wand, but it is there—unmistakable, arcing green through the smoke.

Voldemort laughs, then taunts, "I think that might nearly have singed my robe, had it hit me!" He reciprocates, but much more effectively, and the air fills with streamers of green that Harry must use every last shred of concentration to avoid. There is nothing left for creativity. So he falls back on the basics, casting the most powerful Rarefacio he has ever done, bounding it within the room. Harry is nearly drained, but it takes only a few moments before Voldemort is wheezing for breath, and the green barrage ceases. Harry's Bubblehead Charm comes in very handy indeed, as the suffocating fires die around them.

But it is too good to last. A grand gesture with his wand, and Voldemort has hurled Harry across the room, where Harry bangs into the wall so forcefully, he can no longer see straight, much less maintain his Bubblehead Charm nor, more importantly, his Rarefacio Aerem. The knife drops from Harry's tingling hand. And then, "Promo Veneficium!" Voldemort cries.

"Fuck," Harry murmurs through the haze of his dizziness. He must pull himself together. He can't believe he's been stupid enough to believe that Voldemort didn't know that charm. Voldemort is one of the greatest wizards in history. Harry takes a deep, steadying breath, then begins to hurl objects from the room at his opponent, setting fire to them as they fly, when he can. He uses hand gestures because it hardly matters anymore (now that there is no more stealth), and because it adds power.

But Voldemort is shielding, and it seems to take little power for him to continue to do so. Or rather, little enough. Voldemort is tiring—that much is obvious from his silence—but so is Harry. And then, in what seems a fit of frustration, Voldemort hurls an entire armchair at Harry.

Harry nearly dodges, but then has an idea. A scream and a rapidly erected cushioning shield, and Harry allows the armchair to land on top of him. All right, Harry, he thinks desperately, just get this right and you can rest. A localised Apparate, and Harry is behind Voldemort. A great pull from the power around him, and, "Stupefy! Incarcerous!" The spells hit squarely and hard. Harry catches Voldemort's rigid, bound body to his chest. "Accio!" Stars gather before his eyes, but the knife thumps solidly into his hand. And this is it: he draws the knife quickly across Voldemort's neck, from ear to ear. The blood gushes over his hand and black fills Harry's vision. Unreality seeps into his lungs. He wants to laugh. "You never did learn what that prophecy said, did you?" Harry whispers as he hears and feels Voldemort's heart slow. "Now you'll never know…."

"…Mur…derer…" Voldemort gurgles with his final breath, muted triumph colouring the words. Harry feels Voldemort's power flicker, then die…feels a part of his mind empty. He lets the body drop to the floor with a thump, then passes out beside it. About them, smoke curls unnoticed from the charred remains of the room.

(end part V)
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Wolf - Part VI: Saviour of the Wizarding World

There Are Always Victims, and Sometimes We Care by colibri
Disclaimer: The world of Harry Potter, its characters and settings are the copyrighted works of J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., her publishing companies and affiliates. No profit was made from the writing of this story nor was any malice intended in any way, shape or form to the author or the actors/actresses who so brilliantly have brought them to life. My versions of Rowling's characters would never be sanctioned, but I love them all the same.

Thank you, Erin, my wonderful Beta!! Thanks, also, to Flick for your help.

This is the final piece in a six-part series and will make no sense at all without reading the preceding five parts.

In addition to the above warnings, the following apply: mild drugs use, references to significant drugs use and ambiguous consent, melodrama, and extreme sluttiness.

Part VI – Saviour of the Wizarding World
Chapter 1: There Are Always Victims, and Sometimes We Care

He's uncertain how he got here—doesn't remember, really. Nor does he know where here is. There's only one thing of any import now, and that's the pain. It is great and multifaceted, including the stench of burnt flesh and tenderness of new skin, as well as ripping exhaustion and a drilling agony in his skull. But then there is the scent of Draco Malfoy close enough to kiss. "I'm in the hospital wing, aren't I," Harry rasps and remembers everything. After that, it takes very little deductive reasoning to figure that he has not been here very long at all. He heals much too quickly for that.

"Yes," says Draco and moves to sit on the bed next to Harry's legs. Harry had forgotten how handsome Draco is.

"Where's Lucius?"

Draco scowls. "How the bloody fuck should I know?" He looks into Harry's face for a moment, then winces and looks away again. "And why do you care?"

"He helped me," Harry says.

"Your eyes are black, Harry."

Harry bleeds them back to green again. "Better?"

Draco sighs. "I thought it was permanent."

"Tactics," Harry says. "How long have I been here?"

"About an hour," Draco says, then scoots himself a bit further up the bed, closer to Harry's face. "Your skin is healing at a remarkable rate." Suddenly all business.

"Lycanthropy. Don't fight the Dark Lord without it."

"Er…right," Draco agrees, but not without irony.

"I killed him, did you see?"

"Yes, Harry. No need to gloat."

"No need?" Harry's eyebrows shoot up but it hurts, so he relaxes his facial muscles again. "I should think I've earned the right to gloat."

"I'd say that simply means the potion Snape and I concocted was a smashing success." The potion that bound Voldemort inside his corporeal form. And it had been a smashing success. Of course, it had been Harry's idea...mostly. "Well, I suppose if I can show off my Latin, you can gloat about having offed the Dark Lord. But I won't pretend to actually care, no matter how much I love you."

Both of them realise what he has said at the same time, and both look away in embarrassment. Both, also, seem to decide almost immediately to pretend the words had never been uttered.

"Er…" Harry says. "It's remarkable, I think…the way Voldemort didn't once use silver against me."

Draco jumps at the segue. "Really," he sounds fascinated. "None of us are accustomed to thinking about silver in that way. When I look at the changes in you, it's hardly the wolf I think about," Draco admits.

A courtesy knock sounds upon the door, and they both start guiltily, then look relieved. Remus Lupin enters a moment later. "Harry, you're awake," he says with relief, then gives a courteous nod and adds, "Mr Malfoy."

"Mr Lupin," Draco returns, his possessiveness a scent Harry has missed.

"Hi, Remus. How was your change?"

"Same as always," Remus says and goes to Harry's side, opposite Draco. He also sits down on the bed, though he dares to take one of Harry's scorched hands in his own. He has a better idea of how quickly Harry heals. It barely hurts. "I'm exhausted," and he looks it.

"I've decided you fight your change too hard," Harry offers. "It never takes as much out of me as it does of you, and that's even when I've been tortured. You're perpetually run down."

"I'm not as strong as you, Harry. My magic is weaker and my Lycanthropy is weaker. I don't heal as quickly as you do, and I believe that even my affinity for the shape is lower. I fight my form even during the change. For you, however, it is…natural."

"Because of my Animagus form…." Remus must have found out. It does make sense that Remus would. But there were so many secrets before this little adventure, Harry can't even keep track of which secrets have been told to whom.

"Yes," Remus agrees.

"Where are the others?" Harry asks.

"Cleaning up the Manor," says Draco. "There were apparently a few Lestranges hanging about, and there was some sort of fire."

"Did they not find your father?"

"Not that I know of."

"He Apparated out once they realised he was helping me."

Draco snorts. "Helping Harry Potter. And however did they deduce that?"

"Not sure," Harry admits. "I think he attacked Voldemort when Voldemort cast Cruciatus on me while Rodolphus was fucking me last night."

"What?" exclaims Lupin. "But last night was the transformation,” he says, obviously confused.

"A new brand of torture," Harry explains. "It was indeed unpleasant, but not as bad as the regular torture sessions and frankly, Lucius's expeditious departure distracted Voldemort enough that he grew tired of torturing me and simply put me to bed."

"Why did Father help you?" Draco asks, obviously baffled, now that he's actually started to believe it.

"Because I brainwashed him into loving me," Harry says matter-of-factly. "When he came here to visit, he got Snape to give him your necklace. Hey!" Harry shifts easily into wolf form and is delighted to find the pain of transformation does not carry over into his Animagus change. That much, at least, remains unchanged. Lucius! Can you hear me? He calls, but there is no answer. He tries again a few more times, but then switches back to human. "He’s not answering. I don't even know if he's still wearing it."

"Don't concern yourself, Harry," says Draco, trying to pretend that he doesn't care. "I can't believe he was here with me and we were both pretending to be on the Dark Lord's side. It's beyond irony."

Harry is not sure what to say, but there is another knock on the door anyway. This time, Ron, Hermione, and Dumbledore all enter, though Dumbledore only beams and twinkles, while Hermione rushes to Harry's side, in front of Draco, to give Harry a kiss on either cheek. "Oh Harry!" she exclaims. "You're all right!"

"Of course, or I believe you would have known already." Harry is confused, though. "Was the Young Order fighting at the Manor?"

Ron nods. "Most of the staff needed to stay here to protect the students who remained, just in case. So it was mostly the Young Order along with several aurors."

"Mr Potter, Mr Malfoy, Remus," says Dumbledore in greeting.

"Headmaster," says Remus, standing respectfully.

Draco doesn't bother. "Professor," he and Harry offer in tandem.

"I allowed Mr Weasley and Miss Granger to visit for a moment, but I'm afraid I need to speak with Mr Potter and Mr Malfoy in private, now.”

Hermione gives Harry a final embrace, murmuring a quiet, "We're so glad for you, Harry, and to have you back," before moving off to give Ron space. He takes Harry's hand briefly, gently, and says, "You'll have to tell us how you did it, eh?" before he and Hermione exit the room. Lupin leans down to give Harry a kiss on either cheek but says nothing before he, too, departs. And then they are alone with the Headmaster.

"I'm afraid I have unfortunate news," says Dumbledore, his face suddenly grave, his eyes no longer twinkling. He looks tired and old, which he is. It is discomfiting nonetheless, and Harry already knows what this bad news would have to be. There is too little he cares about left, and besides, he has a feeling. "Mr Malfoy, I'm afraid your father did not survive today's confrontations. It appears that he was killed in a duel with Rodolphus Lestrange—a duel which neither of them survived."

Draco goes rigid, but otherwise, shows no sign of having heard…until he speaks. "Is his body intact?" Draco asks, and Harry just cannot imagine what Draco is thinking.

"It is," Dumbledore confirms. "He was hit with the Killing Curse. Rodolphus Lestrange seems to have died from injuries sustained through immolation."

Draco nods. "Good. Has my mother been found?"

"Two aurors have been dispatched to return her to the manor in Wiltshire," Dumbledore assures.

"I'll need to leave immediately," says Draco and stands. Easter Hols don't end until Monday and today is only Saturday. Harry feels like he's been out of classes for at least a year.

"May I go?" Harry asks, more to Draco than the headmaster.

"No," says Draco and nods politely at Dumbledore before exiting the hospital wing.

Harry sighs. "He blames me." Harry puts a cool hand to his warmer forehead and covers his eyes. "I knew he would blame me, and I didn't even want Lucius dead."

"You understand better than most, Harry—what it is like to lose someone you love. Blame does not always fall where it should."

Harry knows, but he also knows that he blamed Snape for an awfully long time for Sirius's death. Harry doesn't want Draco to take that long. "I think I should like to leave the hospital wing, now," Harry decides, though he is feeling a lethargy coming on. A listlessness. It is better he leaves now, before he can no longer muster the energy to do so.

"I should think Madam Pomfrey would like to examine you before allowing you to go," Dumbledore cautions, the twinkle back.

Harry blinks, still serious. He does not feel like smiling, nor seeing others even remotely happy. "Lucius loved me," he says.

"I know, Harry…" and Dumbledore scrutinises him for nearly a full minute before speaking again. "Did you love him as well, Harry?"

"I cared for him." It is the closest Harry can get to an answer. "I am…very sad…" Harry adds after some thought, "and disappointed…by his death." Truer words could not be spoken. "Lucius was mine—he was not Rodolphus Lestrange's to kill," and that is, in the end, the final truth of it.

"It is a difficult thing—to find a balance, Harry. For a wizard as powerful as you, it will be even more difficult."

"A balance," Harry says, and thinks about it. A balance in the way he deals with others, he supposes. In the way that he treats people. In the way he uses his magic. He'd overstepped the bounds of propriety when he took Lucius Malfoy in desperation. But he'd weighed the balance between Lucius's will and his own life, and chose the latter. He does not regret it, even now that Lucius is dead. "Do you have difficulty maintaining that balance?" Harry asks the headmaster.

"All the time." Dumbledore looks sad, but hopeful. There is a little smile playing about his lips. "I've found dealing with you and the situation with Voldemort impossible to balance. I failed in so very many ways. In the end, I decided to stop manipulating and allow you to do what you would—your luck has always been extraordinary. In the end, your manoeuvring brought our side to victory, not mine. I needed only support your machinations, and curb my natural tendency to…meddle."

Harry doesn’t really want to think about it much more right now. He's thought about it quite a lot already. "Did anyone happen to find my wand?" he asks, not really hopeful.

Dumbledore's eyes light up. "Ah, yes," he says and reaches into a pocket of his robe. He pulls out a parchment. "This was found on Lucius's person by one of the aurors,” he explains as he hands it to Harry. "Warded, so that only you would be able to open it," he adds unnecessarily.

Harry accepts the roll and pulls the scroll open, then pushes with his magic, to allow the scroll to lie flat. He takes the wand that was rolled in the paper, then begins to read.

Dearest Harry,

If you are reading this missive, then the unfortunate outcome I have been preparing for these last days has come to pass, and I have been killed through one circumstance or another. It is a shame, at least in my eyes, that I have never been able to share a carefree time with you—to whisk you away to decadence or innocent delights, in this lovely country or in others. I have never even had you in my own rooms. It only makes the hatred I feel for He Who Must Not Be Named boil even hotter in my veins. I hope that my death was in your aid, and in aid of the battle against him.

There is no way I can express to you the love I feel, but I am contented because I know that you understand it already—it was you who made it, after all. I wish to remind you that I know this, and that it pleases me. It feels no less real to me because it was fabricated, and I cannot but be pleased to have felt it, and to have felt it for you. I could not have wished for a better wizard to love. It is because of this love, and the realisation of your virtue (which was really only a setting aside of my own prejudices and hatred as created by Him), that I have made the preparations that I have made for my death. They are not many, but I felt them absolutely necessary. One was purely vanity, the other, more practical.

For the first, I had a new portrait of myself commissioned, and sat for it earlier today. It should be completed by the time you read this letter. It was purely for vanity's sake, but I wished for the Lucius Malfoy remembered by posterity to be the Lucius Malfoy who knows the love and joy, the compassion and sadness you have taught me—not the bitter, evil sadist who wished only to destroy you, and who destroyed his own wife and child as he followed his Dark dreams and Lord.

For the second, I have had my Probate solicitor amend my will—to add you.

"What??!" Harry exclaims and looks up at the Headmaster, who is still standing there, waiting for him, Harry supposes.

However, the Headmaster does not, it seems, know what is going on. "Surprising news, then?" he asks.

"I think Draco will have a fit," Harry mutters, then goes back to reading.

For the second, I have had my Probate solicitor amend my will—to add you. Though I do not approve of my son's choices regarding whom he wishes to follow, I accept responsibility for teaching him the values that have led him to this place. I can only hope that you will succeed in ridding the world of the Dark Lord as I am certain you are fated to do, no matter how bleak the current situation. I can only hope that Draco will learn the power of Light, and the danger of the path he has chosen. In the end, he remains my only son and heir, and I love him dearly; I will provide for him as well as I can, and in the only way I know how to do, and it shall be generous.

For my wife, I have only sympathy and sadness. She was once a complete woman, with beauty and intelligence, a free will and a clear mind. She was strong and ambitious, and every bit as ruthless as I. Still, our roles were such that it was she who was trod over, and she who retreated until she was but a shadow of the woman I married but did not love enough. I will provide for her to continue the life she is accustomed to leading, for she can no longer provide for herself, and because I do care for her, still.

The rest, I leave to you.

I can hardly bear to set aside this quill, Harry, because I miss you, and wish I were able to speak to you. But I must go, now, and continue the loathsome chores set me by my chosen master. As you read this, know that I loved you, and shall love you forever. Know that you have brought me happiness and a bit of redemption before my death.

Lucius Malfoy

Harry sighs and rolls the letter up again. He pushes the guilt to the back of his mind. He shrinks the parchment with a thought, then transfigures it to steel and shapes it into a ring. He then holds it to his ear and murmurs, "Transadigo Cutis." I will keep this forever, as a reminder of you, he thinks, then looks to Dumbledore and says, "Thank you."

Dumbledore nods. "You are looking much better, Harry. The burns are nearly healed. Shall I have Madam Pomfrey examine you?"

Harry nods and says, "Yes, please."

* * *

He is back in his rooms not thirty minutes later and finds, much to his shock, Draco sitting on their bed, hands hiding his face.

"Draco?" Harry asks from where he stands against the closed door of his room.

"I want so much to hate you, Harry Potter," Draco whispers, and his voice sounds broken, though if he has been weeping, he does so no more.

"It's my fault, for making him love me," Harry says, to prove that he understands. "He died because he couldn't bear to see me suffer without a champion. He died because I could not be honest with him. He died because I brainwashed him."

"You turned him into a Gryffindor!" Draco yells, and it's absurd, but on one level, it's nearly true. "You turned him into a bloody image of you: noble and selfless and full of love! Willing to sacrifice himself for a boy he had always hated before. It's…it's…."

"Evil?" Harry offers.

"It certainly seems Dark!" Draco agrees.

"I know," Harry says. "He knew as well."

"It hardly matters. He was already in love with you by then!"

Harry nods.

"Did you get an earring? Since I left? Or is that something that happened to you at the Manor?" Draco is rarely distracted in this way—he is so distraught, he is barely functioning properly. It hurts Harry in a way he never would have expected, to see Draco like this.

"It's your father's final letter to me," he explains, quietly. "I'll keep it with me forever," and he shrugs. Not much else can be said about it. "I understand that you hate me, Draco."

"No, you don't." Draco stands and begins to pace back and forth before the bed, in front of Harry. "Because I don't hate you. I only wish I did. I want to hate you. I want to avenge my father's death, but everyone is dead already, except for you!"

"Are they?"

Draco sighs and sits again. "Yeah." He deflates, then changes the subject a little. "I must attend the reading of the will."

Harry nods.

"As must you," Draco says. Harry hadn't known that Draco knew that, but Draco holds up a sheet of parchment he has just pulled from his pocket. "My mother, myself, and you."

"I expected more," Harry admits.

"My father was never a particularly generous man," says Draco without any sort of judgment, really. "I still can't fathom that he added you."

"I would like to see his new portrait," Harry says.

"New portrait?" Draco does not know.

"In the letter," Harry says and pulls lightly on his new earring, "he said he commissioned a new portrait of himself."

Draco snorts, but the briefest flicker of confused loss shows in his eyes and mouth before it disappears again. "We’ll go Monday," he says, "but for now, I must attend my mother."

Harry nods his understanding but shows neither sadness nor loneliness. He watches Draco leave his rooms, then remembers a promise he had made to himself. He makes his way to the en-suite, uses a gentle Scourgify on his hair, then brushes it all back. He braids it tightly and binds it top and bottom with black cords. A quick thought later the braid comes off intact, long and thick and heavy. Harry's head feels pounds lighter, and his neck stretches in freedom. He banishes the braid to his trunk, then searches through Draco's belongings in the medicine chest until he has found the Sleekeasy's Hair Potion. His hair now falls about his face, so he wills the ends even, then uses some of the potion to slick his hair back.

He calls for Dobby to do him the favour of bringing supper to his rooms, then eats in ringing silence. It is almost a relief to change into his wolf form and fall into timeless waiting. He immerses himself in the comforting scent of Draco in his sheets, then drops into slumber.

Celebrity by colibri
Chapter 2: Celebrity

Harry awakens on Sunday wishing he were someone else, despite everything. He is healthy, Voldemort is dead, and…well, there's not much else he could realistically have wished for. He regains his human form, then showers and dresses in his rattiest jeans and a black t-shirt. Then, it is off to brunch, where he will seek out company, for once.

There is quite a crowd this morning, as the students have mostly returned from break—likely to get a running start on the testing season, also known as Summer Term. It's become almost comforting for Harry, how the Great Hall will occasionally go silent upon his entrance. This morning, he's not entirely certain what the root cause of the silence is, though he initially suspects it's his hair.

"Oi, Harry!" Ron whispers harshly, and though Harry would have no difficulty hearing it had it been whispered softly, he would guess that in this case, most of the Gryffindors and some of the Hufflepuffs had heard it as well.

Harry is all right with that. "Oi, Ron!" Harry shoots back, roughly mimicking Ron's dialect. He plops himself down at the table across from the lovebirds, (who are not drooling on each other this morning, so that is worth something, at least. Not that they are normally drooling on each other). "All right?"

"What th' bloody hell happened, mate!?"

"Er…I thought it was time for a change?" Ron could use a trim himself, frankly.

"Well, billions of wizards have thought it was time for that kind of change now, haven't they? But that's not usually enough, is it?"

"I suppose most would take a bit more care about it than I did," Harry admits, "but it's rather my speciality, isn't it? I mean, the Dursleys have always hated me for it, and I was doing it then without even knowing how—though in reverse, I suppose. I mean, making it re-grow instead of cutting it off."

Ron blinks once, then again, and is then distracted by Hermione's most uncharacteristic snort. "Priceless," she says with a wide smile.

"What?" asks Ron, already prepared to grow indignant.

"Harry's talking about his hair," she says.

Ron looks instantly confused.

"And Ron was, of course, referring to your final duel with Voldemort," Hermione adds, though that is now unnecessary. Harry is…well, embarrassed enough to go scarlet.

"Yes, right," Harry agrees, then reaches for a ladleful of oatmeal porridge.

"You, er, cut off your hair?"

"Oh, you noticed?" asks Harry, tongue-in-cheek, though he manages not to laugh.

"Well it's still long, isn't it?" Back to defensiveness. Ron is so predictable that way. "And slicked back that way, it's hard to tell how long it is."

"Of course, Ron," Harry agrees. "I wasn't complaining, you know. Perhaps I prefer it if you don't notice how I'm looking at any particular time. You know, it can be difficult, constantly primping for the masses."

"I would guess that primping for one Draco Malfoy is far more difficult," says Hermione before taking a long, appreciative sip of her tea—Earl Grey, milk, sugar. The bergamot is unmistakable. "He must not be here."

"Correct again. You’ve always had more than your fair share of deductive reasoning skills, my dearest 'Mione."

"Oh just shut it!" Ron hisses in exasperation. "Could you please tell me what happened, Harry? With the duel?"

"Oh," says Harry, who had already forgotten the original question. "We duelled; I won, obviously." He's still not entirely certain he's allowed to say more than this. But…to 'Mione and Ron? He'd tell them everything now, if they were alone. But they are not, and from the scents, everyone else is extremely interested in what Harry has to say. "He's dead now," he adds, as if that is what Ron has been waiting to hear. "Perhaps you two should keep me company this evening, since Draco's still away," he hints.

"Of course, Harry!" says Hermione before Ron has a chance to say anything stupid. "We can come with after we eat, right, Ron?"

Ron just nods, sulking. He's chewing on a bite of sausage but his heart isn't in it. Harry thinks Ron's heart may soon be drowning in it, with all the crap Ron eats. Of course, Ron does exercise a good bit more than Harry does. Harry finishes his own meal, then waits for the others, so that they can go to his rooms and he can tell the story in privacy.

* * *

"You've been doing complex, wandless magic? All this time?" Ron asks, still stuck at that section of Harry's story.

"But…how do you aim properly, without a wand?" Hermione asks, obviously very intrigued.

"One needn't aim so much as will a certain effect to take place at a certain location. The magic you are manipulating needn't even come entirely from you. Only the catalysing magic—the magic that sets the action or reaction in motion."

"Wandless, wordless magic?" says Ron.

"But…how do you keep from doing magic all the time? If it's simply a matter of wishing for something to happen?"

"It's not simply a matter of anything, really," Harry clarifies. "I must maintain a much higher level of control over myself and my thoughts than I ever had to when I was using a wand."

"How long have you been…not using your wand?" asks Ron.

"Almost since the beginning of fall term."

"And that's how you beat Voldemort?" asks Ron.

"Well, yes, because they had taken my wand as soon as I arrived at the manor, and so stealthily, I hadn't even known it was missing. Luckily, I've been going through most of the year without my wand, so it wasn't a handicap.

"We also know that they were expecting Lycanthropy to be as debilitating for me as it's proven to be for Lupin. But it seems that I find the form quite natural. So natural, in fact, that I can take the form at will," and so he transforms into lupine form all in one go, then transforms gradually back over the course of half a minute. He is still surprised at the fact that it doesn't hurt when he does it deliberately in this way. "We've been cultivating the idea that I've been remedial since returning, but I've actually been training ahead quite severely. Duelling practise with Snape and Flitwick, Charms and Transfigurations tutoring, and loads of practise on my own as well."

"All the revision," says Ron, as if finally understanding something that's been bothering him all term. Of course, that's more than likely exactly what's happening.

"Was last year part of the plan, then?" Hermione asks with a perplexed scowl. "To throw them off?"

Harry is surprised that she'd even ask it. He'd certainly not considered that. "Not on my part," he says, but shrugs. In the end, what does he know about what plans Dumbledore has had. "It seems unlikely, though. It was a bit risky, to allow me to play with my health so."

"Yeah, you looked like a horror show when they brought you here," Ron says. "You've not gained much weight but you look loads better."

"Righ', thanks," Harry says and rolls his eyes.

"What about the Senior Malfoy and the Lestranges?" Ron asks. "I mean, why would Lestrange and Malfoy kill each other like that?"

"Malfoy was helping me," says Harry, reluctant to speak further on the subject. "He was trying to protect me. He didn't know that I could protect myself. I couldn't tell him anything, because Voldemort could have seen it in his mind."

"But why was he—"

"Well!" Hermione interrupts. "I think it's time for us to be going," she says and stands gracefully, then straightens her skirt. Ron looks up at her for several seconds before gaining his own feet. "Classes begin tomorrow, after all, and NEWTs are still looming. Aren't they, Ron?"

"I think I must have asked an improper question," says Ron, "because Hermione has cut the conversation short." He looks at Harry with a genuine apology, though for what, Harry has no idea. Ron offers Harry a hand up, then pulls him into a comrade's embrace, with two hard pats on the back that rattle Harry's insides, before stepping back again and releasing Harry's shoulders. "So, what will you do now?"

"Transform, then sleep, then wake up in the morning and regain my human form before going off to breakfast. Not so very different from every other cycle."

"But you can't do any magic once you're in your lupine form, right?" asks Hermione, though she already knows the answer to that.

"Correct," Harry agrees. "And I can't transform out of lupine form once the moon is out. It's a bit more restrictive than a normal Animagus transformation, but it's not all bad, and I maintain my understanding of reality even in wolf form, thanks to the Wolfsbane potion. So…" he shrugs.

"I'd like to see the transformation again," Hermione says shyly.

Harry obliges, then decides to remain that way. He rubs himself between and against their legs, to show his affection. And then he moves by them to leap onto his made bed, and do his thrice-round check before settling exactly in the centre. It is his bed, after all. Besides, Draco is not here. He allows their petted affection and farewells, then watches them leave and dozes off soon after.

* * *

Harry had been ignoring stares all morning, eating breakfast with about as much enthusiasm as he normally musters. Now he sits in shocked silence, (though, he berates himself, he should not be shocked). Dumbledore has been standing at the Head Table surrounded by staff, as usual, and speaking to the school. "Good morning to all and welcome to the Summer term. I am very pleased to announce that since Voldemort was killed this Friday past, Death Eater activity has dropped dramatically. All of wizarding Britain is safer as a result of his destruction.

"Although a group effort, with the talents of many ministry officials and members of the Hogwarts staff merging to bring about the conditions necessary for the global plan; this was primarily the mission of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, who worked diligently to maintain the illusions necessary to manipulate the Dark Lord into a position of weakness, and thusly, dispatch him.

"For his courage and integrity, Draco Malfoy is awarded one hundred points for Slytherin House," Dumbledore says, and there is a collective gasp round the room, not the least of which is coming from Draco's own table. Dumbledore has never been particularly fair to the Slytherins. Of course, the Slytherins have never been known for their integrity.

"For each of the members of the Young Order who went to Malfoy Manor after the battle to assist with…taking out the rubbish, twenty-five points will be awarded to their Houses." That means seventy-five for Gryffindor, fifty for Ravenclaw, and twenty-five for Hufflepuff.

"And finally, for gaining the courage and resolve to overcome what seemed like insurmountable trammels, for finding strength where others might find weakness, and for most impressive magical growth, as evidenced by his successful duel against Voldemort; Harry Potter is awarded one hundred fifty points for Gryffindor."

Gryffindor erupts into cheers and ecstatic applause. This latest two hundred twenty-five point addition allows them to overtake Slytherin for the lead. Slytherin is not far behind, though. They now shoot venomous looks across the hall at their greatest rivals.

"We are," Dumbledore continues, "most exceedingly proud of all of you, and hope that you will all have a productive summer term." He sits, and conversations bubble forth. Harry's table is no exception—well, except for the fact that Harry is sitting there.

"Potter!" calls Finnegan, eyes shining and cheeks slightly pink from excitement. His brogue is nearly impenetrable. "How'd you do it, then?"

Harry scowls and pretends to care about his breakfast. "Not sure it's really breakfast table conversation."

"Oh go on!" cries Ron. "It's perfectly fine—we've all had worse conversations than that one would be, mate."

Harry doesn't feel like speaking about it. He says, "Perhaps you should tell it, then, Ron. Please," and he waits expectantly for Ron to tell it.

Ron looks about to argue, but then seems to change his mind at the last moment. He gives Harry a look, as if to say, 'Fine, then!' "Harry killed Voldemort with a knife after duelling wandlessly with him for, like, hours."

"Oh Christ," Harry mutters.

"Wandlessly?" asks some first year with fear and awe in her eyes.

"It can't have been more than half an hour," says Harry tiredly. And it's really a shame because there was a time he would have sacrificed quite a lot for this type of attention. He is the star just now—the centre of everything—but he really only wishes to speak with Draco—to be certain Draco is all right after the visit with his mother.

"Can you show us wandless magic?" asks little Dennis Creevey, who is at least not as tiny as the first years. Nearly, though.

"The Headmaster does it all the time," Harry mutters, but then lifts his hand slightly and Accios a roll of bread from the opposite end of the table before banishing it silently to Ron's plate.

"Parlour tricks," says a most familiar voice over Harry's shoulder, and he is both relieved and nervous. Draco places his hands on Harry's shoulders and massages them slightly, discreetly. "Why not show them something a bit more interesting? A pocket shield, perhaps?”

With Draco here and acting so like himself, Harry is hard-pressed not to swoon. So he takes a deep, calming breath and falls into his meditation space. He levitates a napkin from the table, then surrounds it with what Draco has so gracefully named a 'pocket shield', which is simply a small, spherical shield. He casts Incendio and watches as in a flash, the napkin is immolated, consuming all of the air in the shield. He releases the shield with a pop, then dissipates its charred contents. He can feel people crowding behind Draco, and see them crowding behind Ron and Hermione. Everyone is here staring, even some of the professors, like Hagrid.

Harry feels so guilty for having to keep things from Hagrid, of all people. And only because Hagrid would tell others—not because Hagrid is evil, or disloyal. Harry looks up at the faces about him—scores of Hogwarts pupils united by a common curiosity, of which he is the centre again. And he thinks of how they are all so alike, despite their small differences, and despite their separation into Houses—that separation that keeps them all from being a single school. That separation which seems to breed some rather unhealthy distrust. He thinks, Why the fuck not? and so decides very clearly what he wishes to do, takes a deep breath, then exhales, flexing his power precisely.

The questioning grunts and sighs come first, then the gradually crescendoing exclamations and conversations. All Harry cares about, however, is that Draco has sat down at Harry's right, and is now kissing him quite thoroughly. He has no idea how long it goes on, before Draco pulls away for just long enough to murmur, "So considerate of you, to choose my colour."

"It was purely selfish," Harry admits. Draco has always looked spectacular in silver since it doesn't adulterate the colour of his eyes. It doesn't look terrible on any of the other students either, though, and that is more of a surprise. Silver robes, trousers or skirts, and ties. White shirts. Silver hats, though no one is wearing them just now. Harry wouldn't have picked silver, since it's a Slytherin colour, but Draco was right—he'd thought about it, and picked Draco's favourite. He would worry he's going soft, but he's always been soft.

"I suppose I can forgive that," Draco says, but it's mostly for something to say before he caresses Harry's upper lip with both of his own, then Harry's lower lip, before just tasting—

"All right, that's enough. You've all got lessons now, I suspect," says Snape in his perpetual annoyance. Harry still gets a thrill when he listens to that voice, the smooth sexuality of it, and thinks, I've had that. He's still a bloke, after all. "Mr Potter—Mr Malfoy—"

Harry pulls away reluctantly, then shoots a venomous look at Snape. "You know I can best you, Professor."

"I've bested you dozens of times, Mr Potter," says Snape haughtily.

"Not in months," Harry counters with betrayed surprise that Snape would forget such a detail. "Shall we duel now?" and perhaps he's feeling a bit overly confident, or perhaps it's merely rushing adrenaline, but he pulls together an air glider and rises to stand upon it. He rapidly ascends until he is hovering, crouched for best manoeuvrability, at Snape's shoulder level.

"Mr Potter," Snape growls.

Harry levitates Snape into the air as well, then follows him, until they are high enough that they can have a private conversation. "Professor Snape," Harry says.

"Is this behaviour truly necessary?'

"Of course, not," Harry admits, "but it is nice to be a child for a while, having just murdered the Dark Lord and all. It's a bit anticlimactic isn't it? Going back to lessons with Binns."

"You'll be fortunate if you even earn a NEWT in History."

"It's a fair cop," Harry agrees.


"One might think," Harry says to Snape, "that she would have realised by now that I don't care about Gryffindor House points. Especially since it's her own house she's taking points from."

Snape sighs. "As much as I would enjoy seeing your house lose again, I must insist that we descend now, as I've lessons to teach, and you've lessons to attend."

Harry lowers Snape carefully, but simply dissipates his glider so that he falls past, catching himself in a cushion easily—a manoeuvre he perfected by jumping off the castle's turrets. In this way, he manages to arrive presently, while Snape is still making his descent. "I'm not entirely certain which part of the display was frightful," Harry says. "Professor Snape certainly wasn't frightened." Professor Snape lands presently with nary a bump.

"I was frightened," comes a tiny voice—some first year Hufflepuff boy who immediately blushes beet red at having spoken aloud.

Harry finds it somehow endearing, though, and he feels a bit sad. "I didn't mean to frighten you," he says truthfully, then uses a silent Diffindo to lop off a small lock of his own hair, then transfigures it into a tiny little snitch, gold-coloured and everything. Its wings are drawn in though, and it cannot fly. He hands it to the boy as an apology, and says, "I'm very sorry."

The boy's eyes are big and round. "You made that out of your own hair," he says. "Am I going to be able to do that?"

"Of course," says Harry. "And before seventh year, I'd wager."

Most of the other pupils begin drifting off to their classes. Harry seeks out Hermione and Ron to walk with, but is distracted by Draco, who is leaning against the wall beside the Hall's entrance, apparently waiting for him. So Harry jogs to meet him there. "Draco," Harry says with a little smile.

Draco does not smile back. It confuses Harry though, of course, it shouldn't. Whenever he thinks things are finally simplifying, they become entangled again. "What have I done now?" he asks tiredly, prepared to be cut loose or yelled at or—whatever.

Draco shrugs. Says, "In love with the spotlight now, aren't you? The Famous Harry Potter."

"Wasn't it you who suggested I perform for them only minutes ago?"

"That was more than a parlour trick," Draco says with curled lip. At least Harry knows not to take it seriously, since it's obvious Draco is merely jealous, at this point. "You showed everyone your flying trick. No one knew about that."

"Except for you," says Harry.


"I really missed you while I was away," Harry offers, though he'd been, perhaps, a little bit infatuated with Lucius as well. He's still a bit infatuated with Snape, but that doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy Draco's company.

Draco stares at him in disbelief, and Harry realises that he'd not noticed when Draco's face had become so expressive—when Draco's face had stopped being just another closed door to his personality. "Away?" Draco asks.

"At the Manor," Harry clarifies, in case Draco doesn't know what he means.

"Harry, you were being held captive, by—well, if not my father, then certainly the Dark Lord. You were being tortured, and yet you still managed to carry out the plan—"

"I've already been awarded house points for my bloody bravery," Harry says with a bit of disgust. "I'd much rather get fucked than lectured, in case I get the choice."

"Didn't you get enough of that at the Manor?" Draco asks bitterly. He's still so lovely, even with the sour face, and the new silver robes are really very attractive on him.

"Oh, that's right. I'd forgotten that being tortured by Voldemort is the same as being fucked by you. Yes, I certainly had enough of that," Harry agrees, then attempts to leave. Only, he so rarely gets to actually execute a dramatic exit.

In this case, Draco catches him by the robe and whispers, "Wait…" only so softly Harry could easily pretend he hadn't heard it—if that were what he wished to do. He allows himself to be coaxed back into the circle of Draco's arms, and into a desperate kiss. And since they are alone, (and despite the fact that they are still in the Great Hall), and since Harry can feel Draco's hardness pressing against him, Harry feels the pang of forbidden desire. He wants Draco here, in the Great Hall, right now. He opens the button and zip on Draco's school trousers.

"What are you doing?" Draco asks, as if it isn't obvious. It's not important enough to stop him snogging, though.

"Mm, mm," says Harry, as his lips are otherwise occupied.

"We can't do this here," says Draco, who has never been the one to care overmuch about propriety in the corridors of Hogwarts before. Of course, they've never done more than snogged in the Great Hall before. Draco is not slowing his assault, though.

Harry does not possess the strength of will to stop this now. "Mm-hmm," he says, because his mouth is otherwise occupied. Draco's hands, at least, agree with Harry, because they have already opened the button and zip on Harry's trousers. And since Harry is so thin, he simply wiggles a bit and they fall down. He wears no pants because he is a very naughty boy and he has been hoping. He kicks the trousers off his still-shod feet, and is gratified when Draco lifts him by the hips and angles him and doesn't even wait for Harry to use the Lubricoleo charm. Harry does manage it, though, just as he manages to get his feet over Draco's shoulders.

"We really shouldn't—oh yes—do this, Harry," Draco is nearly grunting. It sounds as lewd as it is.

Harry loves it. "Right," he says, but his voice is bouncing as he's knocked against the stone wall again and again by the force of Draco's thrusts. "Faster."

"Oh bloody fuck," Draco cries, but softly, and he is leaning in. Harry knows this won't last long, which is likely a good thing. Far safer, that way. But he hears no one, and he could cast an invisibility and a sound barrier if he wished. But he really, really doesn't wish to. He closes his eyes and smiles, as Draco speeds inside him. "We've an appointment with the solicitor today," Draco pants as he slows, trying to gain control over himself.

Harry is impressed, but not overly interested in any appointment with a solicitor they may have later. "Fabulous," he says. "Harder, faster, you know…" he prompts.

"Give us a mo', right?" Draco says and stops completely.

"So now you're Ron?"

Draco's eyes go wide. "Please don't ruin this for me, Harry."

Harry snickers. "Your prick is in my arse, and yet I feel nothing. That can' be righ'. Now, could you possibly find a way to remedy this situation, luv?"

It's enough to make Draco growl and thrust again—hard, and Harry grunts as he's knocked against the wall behind him hard enough to bruise, and not only on the bony ridge of his spine. "No one fucks like you," Harry murmurs blissfully.

"Of course not," Draco agrees, then loses control completely and comes in less than thirty seconds. Harry doesn't mind a bit. "Oh hell," says Draco, which means he must. "I knew I wouldn't make it."

"I think you made it," Harry disagrees and places his feet on the ground once he's lowered. "Evanesco."

"You didn't come."

Harry shrugs. "I can come any time.” He winks, then wiggles the fingers of his right hand. "Not that difficult, right?"

"We've missed half of Advanced Herbology," Draco says and pulls up his pants, and trousers.

Harry nods his agreement. "When is the appointment?"

"Two o'clock this afternoon. We've got a portkey there and back again, so we needn't leave early."

"That's a bit inconvenient isn't it? An hour into Potions?"

"It would have been a perfect time for us to fuck, though, wouldn't it? But you couldn't wait, could you?"

"You started it," Harry says defensively whilst retrieving his trousers and pulling them on again. "And you were the one being a bitch, I might add."

"Just let's not discuss it, shall we?"

"Ideal," Harry agrees. "Herbology revision?"



"All right," says Draco, and so they pass the remainder of their Advanced Herbology lesson in the library revising Advanced Herbology. Such good little children they are.

(chapter 2 continues….)

Celebrity (continued) by colibri
Chapter 2: Celebrity (continued)

The visit to the solicitor passes without major calamity, especially since Harry rather expects Narcissa Malfoy to cause a scene at his appearance, and so is neither surprised nor disappointed when she does so.

Harry and Draco take a portkey to Farrer & Co., which caters to both muggles and wizards. Their solicitor's name is Farley, and through him, Harry finds out that Lucius has done some very creative division of his assets. He has left the Manor and grounds to Draco in their entirety, except that he has left all items that were once part of the Black estate to Narcissa. The library and its contents, as well as all books, manuscripts, and wizarding items are left to Draco. Harry supposes this includes all of Lucius's Dark Arts items. All items acquired specifically for Narcissa's use are to be hers and are enumerated individually, while the balance belong to Draco.

And then come the monetary assets. It appears that Draco already has several trusts set up, and so is extremely wealthy. In addition, however, he receives one-fifth of Lucius's liquid and semi-liquid assets—bonds and the like. Harry and Narcissa each receive two-fifths—splitting the rest. From the numbers, Harry realises he'd had no clue how wealthy the Malfoys are. How wealthy he is, now. And he’d considered himself well-off before, what with his dual inheritances.

It seems very, very wrong, that Harry should be here, and Narcissa's hysterics begin to take on a far more reasonable aspect. The part where she complains at her husband's murderer benefiting from his death, while being technically untrue, is particularly painful for Harry. But in the end it matters little, for Farley's curt answer silences her. "It is none of my concern, Madam Malfoy," he says, "whether the conditions that cause the will to go into effect are legal. My concern is solely with the legality of the will itself, and its execution."

And so there are various documents for the three of them to sign in order for the heritage to transfer; and when it is all done, hours later, Harry is exhausted and depressed, as are Lucius's surviving wife and son.

Draco takes his mother to a posh hotel in muggle London called One Aldwych, and because she refuses to be in Harry's company, Draco insists that Harry take the single portkey back to Hogwarts. Harry refuses the portkey, claiming he could Apparate directly to Hogsmeade if he so desired, since he's done it before. Apparating from London to Scotland, however, is a major feat, and Draco insists that Harry promise not to Apparate.

It turns out, however, that Farrer & Co. are linked to the floo network, so Harry floos to the Three Broomsticks, surprised at the smoothness of the journey and wondering, for the first time, whether there are varying qualities of floo powder. There is so very much Harry still does not know.

It is just after five o'clock in the afternoon when Harry dusts himself off before the fireplace, and the pub is bustling with life. Witches and wizards of all shapes, sizes, and colours are celebrating, it seems, and the place smells like it's been bathed in butterbeer and firewhisky with just a hint of fruit. The clientele is already so pissed, it takes nearly a full minute before conversation completely dies, then another thirty seconds before Harry hears a slurred voice questioning, "Is that 'im, then?"

"Don’t think so….They said he’s got long, poncey hair, now," says another that Harry could not have heard, but for the Lycanthropy.

Harry debates leaving at once, but finds he is slightly intrigued as to what is going on.

"Mayhap it got singed in the Battle," another whispers in reply, and even through the whisper, Harry can hear the capital. "Fink it looks like 'im, me."

Harry debates ordering a butterbeer, but thinks that despite his often blatant attention-seeking antics, he does not really need this particular sort of attention. Only, it'd be rude, wouldn't it? Not to say 'hello' to Madam Rosmerta, now that he's here. Have a spot of Butterbeer, perhaps? He finds himself at the counter and on a barstool, though he normally takes a table.

"Well, if it isn't Mr Potter?" says Rosmerta, and she sounds less than disgusted with him, which is nice. Harry can't recall whether he's been here since all of the negative press surrounding his Lycanthropy (and his sex life) began making the rounds. "How does it feel, then? To finally be rid of him?"

And the way she says it, with no inflection at all—as if Voldemort had been just another bad bloke, and as if Harry hadn't committed bloody murder—sets off a claxon in Harry's chest, though he's not entirely certain why, nor what it should mean. "A bit like that," Harry says quietly, thoughtfully. He looks into her eyes and smiles sadly. "Anticlimactic."

She returns his sad smile, then sets a mug of butterbeer down before him. "A little token of my appreciation, for the Man Who Restored Our Hope."

Harry thinks he'd rather just be called the name his parents chose for him, but he thanks the proprietress, then sits drinking silently, breathing, listening to the conversations that have sprung up again throughout the establishment. They are mostly talking about him, now, of course. And Draco. And the wedding. Which he and Draco haven't spoken of since the re-engagement. They never had got Lucius's blessing. Lucius had been murdered still believing his son was evil. And lovingly accepting him despite that.

Draco had received a final letter from Lucius as well, and had read it with great control. He'd asked Harry to turn it into a silver pendant for him, and Harry had, right there in the solicitor's offices. It’s an easy charm, but Narcissa and the solicitor were startled. It took several minutes for Harry to figure out that it was because he'd been using exclusively wandless magic. It's too natural for him, now. He'd be taxed, going back to the wand, which actually requires more discipline in some ways. His own natural magic requires only mental discipline to control. Wand magic requires physical discipline as well. And great gobs of knowledge and specific practise.

Ultimately, the visit is uninteresting, and once he's finished his butterbeer, he thanks Rosmerta, moves silently through the main doors, then turns left onto the main thoroughfare, to make his way back to Hogwarts.

He nearly screams when he is beset by a large, blonde woman with curly hair and red-painted talons—er, nails. The nausea is enough to tell him who it is. He attempts to move round her.

"Mr Potter! Would you care to give a word to the press?"

"Good evening, Ms Skeeter," says Harry, and moves away again.

"Surely you've some comment!" she insists, her Quick-Quotes Quill in her hand and ready at a moment's notice. "How does it feel to finally fulfil your role as Saviour of the Wizarding World?"

Harry could so easily get away from this woman. The difficulty lies in that no matter what he says, she will write whatever she wishes. Perhaps even if he says nothing at all.

He could kill her. It is, sadly, tempting, he thinks, and tries not to wonder what that says about him. But threatening her, though satisfying, would likely lead to Harry himself being raised as the next Dark Lord to be slain. He stifles a sigh, then cultivates that look of earnestness he has perfected over the past year. He will simply have to use some…other forms of persuasion. The Dark Arts are so much more useful than the professors give them credit for. "Well…I suppose I could speak for a moment," Harry says with winning insecurity, he hopes. He doesn't wish his influence to be too noticeable. And he certainly doesn't want Ms Skeeter in love with him. Yech. "The professors will be expecting me back any moment—"

"It shan't take but a minute," she says, bullying, and she even smells conniving. Of course, Harry likely does, as well. "Do you mind?" she asks and takes out a parchment, then sets her Quill in motion.

"Not at all," Harry says amiably, because now, he is on the record, as it were.

"Is it true that you’ve just come from the reading of the late Mr Lucius Malfoy's will?"

Harry's Occlumency lessons save him again. He displays no reaction whatever, despite his bone-chilling shock. How in the seven hells has Rita Skeeter found out about the reading of Lucius's will?? He has no idea what to say, but he supposes her asking means that she already knows. "Yes, in fact," he answers sadly, hoping the pause was unnoticeable. He needs to regain his composure, if he is to do any subtle manipulation during this interview.

"Has Mr Malfoy included the famous Harry Potter in his will, then? Despite being quite outspoken regarding his negative feelings toward you?" she asks.

"Mr Malfoy gave his life for me, Madam Skeeter," Harry says solemnly, but with that same earnestness. "I can assure you that whatever feelings he may have harboured toward me in the past, they were feelings he managed to overcome in service of the Light. Mr Malfoy bequeathed to me the greatest gift he could have—that being his own life—and I will remain grateful to him for as long as I am able to feel."

"Are your wedding plans finalized as of yet, Mr Potter? Were they ever anything more than a ruse?"

"The request was certainly genuine," Harry says with confusion. As if he can't imagine a situation in which an engagement might be entered into under false pretences.

"It is said that Mr Draco Malfoy is already betrothed to another, a French girl called Mademoiselle Cécile Leoncourt. Is this true? And please explain how this is possible."

"I do not know if it is currently true," Harry says truthfully, "and I cannot speak for Draco, Madam Skeeter. I know only that Draco has asked for my hand, and I have consented to give it."

It is working now, his manipulation. He can feel the subtle change in their positions, scent the lessening of her hostility. Her cut-throat ambition leads her to a good story, but does not give her true interest in her subjects. Her slowly building softness for Harry does. "Haven’t you begun any of the planning for the wedding?" she asks, true curiosity shimmering on the surface of her voice, underpinning her words. "Surely it will be the most important day of your life!"

"There are so many important days in one's life, wouldn't you agree?" he waits for her concessionary nod before continuing. "Still, I am very excited," he says, though he's not really, not yet. He's more a bit leery, if he were to be completely honest, which he shan’t. "I think I may allow a very few, hand-selected members of the press to attend—present company included, of course—" she nearly swoons, "with Draco's approval."

"The event of a lifetime," she breathes.

"I'm certain the story you write as a result of today's interview will show why you are an ideal representative of the press to have at the wedding of a century."

"Absolutely," she agrees eagerly, then takes a quick look down at what her quill has written and does a double take. She mumbles a distracted "Blimey—" before performing some hushed spell-work. From what he can tell, it appears to Harry that she is correcting any misquotes the quill has made. "Ah…one more question, Mr Potter?"

"All right," Harry agrees.

"How has Madam Malfoy taken the news of your engagement?"

Harry is caught off guard again, but is hardly worried, now. Rita is his, if not so severely as Lucius was. "I think, perhaps, you should save that question for the next interview?" Harry suggests.

She catches the implication immediately, of course. "When might that be, Mr Potter?" with just a touch of the previous ambition showing through her newfound respectfulness. She is still looking to advance her own career first. She would simply prefer not to do it at Harry's expense, now.

"I will get back to you, Ms Skeeter. That I promise. If you'll leave me a calling card?"

"Of course," she agrees hastily and digs inside her bag, from which she pulls out a calling card with her moving image and contact information upon it. Harry immediately removes the image, though discreetly, dismantling the recording charms she has laid upon the card. Rather ingenious, actually—if someone had no idea how ambitious she is and unknowingly accepted the card, they’d be giving much more information than they'd bargained for.

"We will be in touch, Ms Skeeter," Harry says and offers his hand. She is still several centimetres taller than he. She takes his delicate, elegant hand in her large, mannish one, and swoons a little bit. Harry has to assure himself that he did not accidentally make her fall in love. He's positive of that. She never would have given him that calling card if he had. "Shall I walk you back to the Three Broomsticks, then?" because he doesn't wish to turn his back to her. He wants her safely in the floo.

"I have a room in town, here," she says by way of apology. "I could accompany you to Hogwarts—" hopeful.

"It might be best that you gain permission from the Headmaster before returning to Hogwarts property. Well, good night, then," he says and quickly condenses a glider beneath his own feet, then lifts off rapidly, never looking away from her for a moment. He waves once he is five or six meters above the ground and a good ten meters away, accelerating very quickly. He then places an invisibility charm over himself and stops to watch.

Her face is stuck on amazement for several moments before she shakes herself out of it and pulls into her beetle form. But Harry casts a tracking charm on her, followed by a befuddlement charm that will lead her to forget her destination whenever she sets off for Hogwarts. At least for the next few days. And he will know where she is the entire time, if he so desires. Unless she manages to neutralise the charm.

He sets off to the castle again, finishing the journey unmolested.

(end chapter 2)

Of Saint and Steed, and What it Means to be Alone by colibri
Chapter 3: Of Saint and Steed, and What it Means to be Alone

"St Mungo's?" Harry asks, and is surprised. Shocked, even. "But—"

"I don't wish to speak of it!" Draco nearly shrieks, and in his defence, it is the third time he's saying it, though not in answer to this particular question.

"You can either speak of it with me," Harry replies quietly, his voice dangerous, "or you can consider our engagement void. This is absolutely ridiculous."

"Ultimata, now," Draco sneers.

"No, only one," Harry counters, his entire person a large warning. "And I'm not joking. I'll give you a few minutes to think on it," Harry decides magnanimously. "Or—even better. Go to your rooms, Draco, and spend some time away from me. I've revision to complete. If you decide you want me to marry you, then you are making the decision that your family business becomes my family business." This is a particularly nasty thing for him to do tonight, as they've not had sex yet today, but Draco simply packs his things together unhurriedly, the line of neck and jaw proud and elegant as ever, then leaves without a word. Draco seems more uninterested than angry. Harry tells himself that is a good thing, though he doesn't really believe it.

* * *

Rumours abound by lunch the next day and by supper, everyone is shocked but certain that he and Draco have broken off the engagement and are back on the market, as it were. Harry spends a lot of time with Ron and Hermione, helping them revise, since it grows stale revising the same material once it is second-nature. This way, he gets a different perspective, as well as getting to show his friends a bit more of what he can do. He finds that even Hermione is benefiting from the arrangement—something he'd never thought possible those years ago when they'd first become friends. If he'd not been the Boy Who Lived, she would have been the celebrity of their school years. She is powerful and talented, and ultimately good. Harry thinks that he has lost any true goodness he once had, somewhere along the way.

When he returns to his rooms that evening, he stares at his eyes in the mirror for a very long time, looking for traces of black that had not been there before. A midnight rimming, perhaps, round the iris? A widening of the pupil? And after he has determined that no, there is no growing darkness in his eyes, he decides that he is simply too powerful, and can determine himself whether his eyes will turn black. There will be no outward physical signs of the evil that has taken root inside of him. Only his behaviour will tell, and his lack of qualms over manipulating Rita Skeeter the other day is a very strong indication of his evil.

* * *

"Mr Potter…" and the quirked eyebrow of doom. "On what shall I blame this…visit?"

"I was hoping for some…advice, I suppose, Professor."

"You do realise that my policy on not blending myself overmuch in students' personal lives has not changed, yes?"

Harry blinks before he realises what Snape is talking about. "Oh…yes, of course. This isn't about Draco."

Snape steps out of the way and Harry is allowed inside, where the cacophony of smells would be overwhelming if it weren't so very comforting in its familiarity. He still feels most at ease here. Out of any possible places in the world he could go, this is the place he would choose. But he cannot fault Snape for his morals. Indeed, that is why he is here. "Professor, I'm afraid that somewhere along the way, I've allowed the Darkness to dominate me."

Snape observes him thoughtfully for several long minutes, and Harry uses the time to meditate lightly, his eyes remaining open. He wonders whether he should be able to feel the evil inside of himself like some sort of burrowing beast, or whether it is too insidious. Has the evil become a part of him so completely that he cannot even imagine wishing to be any other way? Is it, perhaps, taking him over, like Harry's induced love took over Lucius Malfoy.

"Why do you say this, Mr Potter?" asks the professor.

"Because I utilize people as tools when I need to, and I have no compunction about it. I do not feel the least bit guilty about swaying Rita Skeeter Monday last, to avoid further bad press."

"You seem to feel guilty enough to mention it," Snape says.

"I feel guilty about not feeling guilty," Harry clarifies. "Or, perhaps I am simply fretting over my lack of compunction, when the magic I used was clearly Dark—just as the magic I used to alter Lucius Malfoy was Dark. I am very powerful now—even more powerful, I think, than when Voldemort was alive. I was using a lot of energy blocking him—perhaps even supplying him with additional magic. Now that drain is gone."

"You are also very well trained, Mr Potter," offers the Professor, somehow making the words sound insulting, despite there being no true way to turn it into an insult that actually applies to Harry.

"That only makes me even more dangerous. I can do anything I wish with magic, and most of it without wand or word. Most wizards could not stop me from bending them to my will, and as long as that is true, then I do not worry about retaliation."

"So you’ve walked about casting spells on various and sundry students because you can?"

"Not exactly—" Harry admits. "I've considered it, though. On several occasions."

"I've considered murdering my students every single day for the past twenty years, but I've not done it so far. I do not think that is enough to categorise me as evil."

Harry supposes Snape has a point. "You don't go about casting Imperius on various and sundry, however."

"Well, you did it to Lucius Malfoy, who was assisting the Dark Lord. That was in a time of war. Rita Skeeter has proven herself extremely dangerous in the past, and has directly harmed you whilst conspiring with Draco. I think it is still a time of war, and certain types of press may assist those surviving Death Eaters who haven't yet given up the dream."

"I think you're fishing, Professor."

"Stop using it, then," Snape suggests. "If you know that it is wrong, stop doing it. You have other ways of dealing with the consequences of bad press or annoyance or whatever results from not resorting to dark magic."

"So you don't think it's too late, then?"

"No, Mr Potter, I do not. Now, run along. I'm certain you've better things to do with your time than fret over your magic. I know I do."

Harry runs along, but he's not certain he feels better.

* * *

"You can' just strop about in here," Ron says with the great authority and confidence only a couple of firewhiskys can give a bloke like Ron in this situation. The situation being that Harry is lounging about in pyjama bottoms and nothing else, and Ron still hasn't got over his attraction. He has, however, been very happy (and sexually active) with Hermione for so long that he's not unduly concerned. Especially now that Hermione has made it known that it's been obvious to her for ages, and that it 'truly doesn't worry’ her.

"I'm not stropping about," Harry says crisply, because he is completely sober and wants to emphasise that fact. "And I can do anything I wish in here, because these are my rooms."

"Well that's the problem, mate!" Ron exclaims, as if his point has just been made for him. "You should be at the fest!"

The Hufflepuff party, though they've all agreed that Harry should not, under any circumstances, go to a Hufflepuff Bacchanal. "I think not," Harry says.

"He's there," says Ron with great, exaggerated disgust, and it sounds like he's referring to Voldemort, but in actuality, of course, he is referring to Draco Malfoy.

"He can be there if he wi—"

"Offering his stonking cock to anyone who'll pucker up, he is."

Harry hadn't needed to hear that. And really, it's not that at all that has him considering going to the party. He's not even considering it, really. Except that he is lonely, and everyone else is there. But…no…if Draco is there, Harry definitely shouldn't go. The idea was, after all, that they give each other some space. Or, well, something to that effect. That he give Draco some space. Right. "I don't care who blows his stonking cock," Harry lies, though he's uncertain what about it is a lie. Well it's certainly not the portion about how large—

"And a morose Colin Creevey is there, sitting in a corner, just as stroppy as you."

"What's Colin to do with this?"

"Nothing," Ron shrugs, "only when I asked him why he weren't festing, he said you should be there, pulling blokes, instead of the royal Malfoy—"

Harry sighs. Colin's still pining for him, of course.

"—and I thought," Ron continues, "wouldn't it be nice if Harry pulled a good bloke for once—"

"Oi, Draco is a good bloke!"

But Ron looks at him as if he's gone out of his tree. "Harry, you should see your fiancé and how he's carrying on."

Harry throws up his hands. "Fine! I'll go to the bloody Hufflepuff Whore-fest. Merlin knows I belong there." He goes to his trunk to find something suitable. He is working on deciding between a t-shirt or button down when Ron suddenly squeaks, startling Harry. "What?" he asks, turning with alarm.

But it's only Ron, standing there, his brows drawn together. "Harry!" he says, all exaggerated seriousness.

"Yes, I am," Harry agrees, almost certain, now, that there is nothing at all the matter.

"You're not a whore!" Ron says with wide eyes, still perfectly serious.

"I can't believe how pissed you are," says Harry and turns back to his clothing. "How can you stand?"

"'M not that pissed," says Ron. "Only had a few shots."

"A few, eh?" says Harry, not really paying attention. He pulls off his old tee and takes on the new button-down shirt he got in Muggle London weekend last. It's pink and sheer with vertical stripes of ribbon half a centimetre wide throughout.

"P'raps four," Ron continues.

Harry snorts. It's a good thing Ron's such a very large bloke, or he'd be laid out.

"But that was hours ago," which Harry translates as perhaps up to two hours ago. But likely much less. Ron is still very drunk.

"All right, you're not pissed, then," Harry says and pulls off his old jeans.

"Don't you ever wear pants?" Ron blurts.

"Occasionally." But not today. He pulls his tight, black jeans up on his way to the en-suite and buttons the fly. Levi's 501s. Cost him a pretty penny, they did. But he has the quid, now. He'd changed 300 galleons, but after a full day of shopping, his £1500 had dwindled to £540, which was still an ungodly amount of money. All of his clothing fits now, though.

He takes a look at himself in the glass, opens his shirt a bit more, exposing himself to the sternum, then runs a wet hand through his hair a few times. He proclaims himself ready and leaves the en-suite to find Ron dozing against a wall, yet not falling. Quite a feat. "Hello, Ronnikins," Harry says and gives the man a shake. "Arse over tit," Harry mutters, then resorts to drawing some of the alcohol directly out of Ron's blood with an Evanesco he has modified by will.

It does the trick.

"Oi," says Ron when Harry shakes him awake. "Already feeling a bit wrung out," he says, looking confused.

"Can't imagine why," Harry lies, "but I'm ready to go, now."

Ron gives him a once-over that ends up a bit more appreciative than Harry is certain he approves of. Only, it is tempting, that he could have Ron if he wished. "It appears you are," Ron agrees. They go.

Harry has never been to the Hufflepuff common room before. He's never even really known the way there. Ron knocks on the door and they wait until it opens. "Back for more then, Ron?" asks Ernie Macmillan, who looks to be at least two sheets to the wind, if not three. It is a few moments before he notices Harry, then does a double-take. "Potter?"

"Macmillan?" Harry says, mimicking the other's tone perfectly. "Am I not welcome?"

"Not wel—oh! No, of course you're welcome. I simply…you've never…before—"

"Thanks," Harry says.

"—and, well…Malfoy…" but he trails off without finishing.

"So I've heard. Smells like quite a party," he says and smells that horribly acrid, somehow musky, pot smoke that seeps into absolutely everything. He is glad no one really knows about his drugs history. He hates being stared at for things like that. Negative things.

"Where are my manners!" Ernie exclaims, then steps backward before turning.

They follow him down another short flight of stairs, and though the air isn't so full of smoke it's plainly visible, it is very present. Some music Harry recognises only from second-hand humming and perhaps shops in Diagon Alley is playing just loudly enough that it makes his stomach tingle. The beat is prominent and pleasant, which is all Harry cares about. "What do they do with the children?" Harry murmurs to Ron.

"Lock them in their dorms," says Ron with a smirk.

"Ah." Of course.

The staircase ends in a large common room—larger than the Gryffindor and Slytherin common rooms, certainly—that is filled with sound and smoke, heat and bodies. Bodies everywhere. And in the centre of the room, of course, sits the royal Malfoy on his throne. A bottle of Ogden's Finest is clasped negligently in one hand, a joint curls smoke from between two fingers of the other, and some bint has taken up residence between his legs, bobbing on his 'stonking cock'. Draco's head lolls languidly back in the chair and the translucent silver fringe of his lashes flutters against his elegant cheekbones. Still, he doesn't look to be particularly enjoying the blow, (or the blow). Perhaps he's merely nodded off.

Harry is extremely angry that his mouth waters (if only slightly) at the thought of being that bint. It's been a bit of hell for Harry, staying apart. He's never felt more alone, despite spending more time with Ron and 'Mione.

Only then the party notices his arrival and whispering swells. Draco's head lifts and his glassy eyes open to focus on Harry. He smiles an evil little smile and takes a long, long toke from his joint. He keeps the smoke in his lungs for a piece of forever, then says, "Harry Potter," grey-white curling from his mouth seductively, hiding his eyes for the barest of moments.

Harry is frozen. He is…angry, or? He doesn't know what he is. He doesn't know why. The smell is overpowering. And Harry is hating the languid pose of Draco's body, and that the bint sucking Draco's cock has turned out to be Pansy Bloody Parkinson, and even worse, that she is snickering at him. That she is looking back up at Draco, then taking a toke of his blow before lowering herself to his cock again. Harry's stomach cramps, and his mind whispers—I can make this stop. I can make all of this go away. He hates that he can't kill the lot of them right here.

But he knows other ways to make this stop. Oh yes. He is already halfway back to his rooms before he realises he has left, but then he condenses a glider and flies the remainder in under thirty seconds. He grabs a fistful of notes, counts to be certain there's at least a hundred quid in the bundle, then straightens it out, folds it up carefully, and stuffs it in his front pocket, making as little bulge as possible. He grabs a black jeans jacket, pulls it on, and is out the door.

Another glider gets him outside and off of Hogwarts grounds in a minute, and then he Apparates. He is shaking and breathing quickly. He is not thinking. And he does not even hear the sound of the bell when he rings it, nor does he recognise the man who answers, though he recognises the look.

"Now…what a lovely ducky comes a-calling. Please let me do something for you, luv."

The voice is familiar, trying for seduction but sounding a bit worn. And now that he looks more closely, Harry can see the remnants of features he recalls. "Stu?" he says, for he is nearly certain it is he.

"Ah, now that depends on who you are, luvly," says Stu with a smirk, and his teeth have seen better days. Stu has seen better days.

"Not chipping anymore, then," Harry says, and feels slightly sickened. Stu is skeletal now—thinner than Harry himself. And he looks sick. It helps that he wears long sleeves to cover himself, but there are sores at the corners of Stuart's mouth and he has no colour. His hair is dry as straw.

Stu frowns, then peers more closely. Approaches. "Harry Evans?" he says with great shock. "Is it you, then, Harry?" He seems fairly certain now.

Harry nods and feels torn between relief that he's not being asked in and sadness that he is relieved. He has, somewhere along the way, misplaced his desperate need for a fix, though it is still there, lingering in the back of his mind and making his arms itch.

"You look stunning," says Stu.

"Thanks," says Harry. "You look sick, Stu. Very, very sick."

"Times not as good as when you were here," says Stu with a little shrug.


"Pneumonia," says Stu. "Not long after you left."

"Are you alone now, then?"

"No. Four new biters, three lads and a lass. Youngest is seventeen, I reckon. Says she's twenty, don't believe her," he explains with a shrug.

"Doesn't explain why you're so sick, Stu. Four working?"

Stu nods, scratches absently at a track hidden beneath his shirt.

"You're an addict, Stuart."

Stuart doesn't want to meet Harry's eyes at first, but then does for a moment, in the sic