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by Resonant

Chapter 12: Magic Fatigue

Animaserum restored Malfoy's energy, at least enough that he could sit up and walk, but upon testing he proved to have no magic at all, not even enough for a Lumos.

"We could try a transfusion," Hermione said doubtfully when she arrived after her Level 7 Charms class. But when they attempted it, they discovered that any magic that went into Malfoy immediately went into the mines.

"Could we create a transfusion that prevents any of the magic from going to any other source without your consent?"

Malfoy sighed. " 'Mione, I gave consent."

"Why are they taking all your magic?" Hermione said.

"And why are they still so weak?" Harry added. When they'd lit a candle, they'd found that the mines in the hospital wing were so faint they could barely see them behind their glowing wards.

"There were lots of followers, of course, but there were never more than about a hundred who actually wore the Mark, even at the height of the Dark Lord's power," Malfoy said.

"So you were part of the Death Eater elite," Harry said.

Malfoy raised his eyebrows. "Naturally," he said. "Now, there are about twenty in Azkaban, prevented from practicing magic somehow or other --"

"An Emagium," Hermione put in, "same as we used for you in the Wizard Protection Program."

He nodded. "And most of the rest are dead. I may very well be the last Death Eater at liberty. Which means I'm not pulling my weight as far as murder, mayhem, and Muggle-torture."

Hermione smiled. "Mother might argue with that. That stuffed hen you sent her for Easter never stops clucking and laying chocolate eggs all over the house."

"Not quite up to the old ways," Malfoy said, "but standards are always slipping."

"Well, why don't we do an Emagium on you now?" Harry said. "They can't draw from your magic if you haven't got any."

"They'll have another backup power source," Malfoy said. "Slytherins, remember?" This time he sounded less admiring than simply weary.

"You lot might as well go back to your rooms," Malfoy said irritably as Harry, Ron, and Hermione followed him up the stairs. "I can live without magic very well. I've done it before."

"Not at Hogwarts," Hermione said. "It's sure to be more difficult here. Hello, Tiffany," she said at Malfoy's door.

"G'morning, 'Mione," the dragon portrait said. Her voice was rough, but Harry supposed breathing fire would account for that. "Draco's away just now. Shall I give him a message?"

"I'm here," Malfoy said, stepping out from behind Hermione.

"Or shall I let you in to wait?" Tiffany said, never looking at him.

"Yes, let us all in, Tiffany," Malfoy said. The door stayed shut.

"She can't see you," Harry said.

"Thank you for that stunning revelation of the obvious," Malfoy said.

"Oh, dear." Hermione was tugging on her hair. "I was afraid of this. Perhaps we could use the mine technology? Come up with a sign that would open the door when you touched it?"

Ron looked up from where he was squatting by the door, examining the handle. "I think the easiest thing," he said, "would be to install a lock."

"What are you still hanging about for, Potter?"

Harry ignored him and finished putting an Autolaborum charm on the teapot, milk pitcher, sugar bowl, and biscuit tin, then added a self-cleaning charm to the cups. It was a good thing he'd spent so many summers at the Burrow, he thought as he moved through Malfoy's rooms; he probably knew more self-renewing housekeeping charms than any bachelor in Britain.

When he emerged from Malfoy's bath, which was luckily fitted with Muggle-style fixtures, he found Malfoy leaning against one of his bedposts, arms crossed over his chest.

Malfoy would certainly have chosen different clothes if he'd known he'd have to get out of them without magic, Harry thought with a smile, taking in the knee-high boots, the tight knee-length breeches, the dozens of tiny buttons on the swallowtail robe.

Someone who hadn't known Malfoy since he was eleven would probably have thought he was completely relaxed.

"I don't recall inviting you in here, Potter."

"I know," Harry said. "Nobody's ever managed to teach me any manners." And he wrapped his arms around Malfoy's shoulders.

It only took a few seconds for Malfoy to unbend and lean into him, laying his head on Harry's shoulder. They stood like that for a long moment, and then Harry stroked Malfoy's hair, remembering the scent of it as he carried him down from Dumbledore's office, and Malfoy let out a shuddering sigh and turned up his face without opening his eyes.

Harry kissed him slowly, lipping at his mouth for a long time before pressing it open to taste him. Malfoy clung to him but made no effort to control the pace.

After a moment Harry pulled back a bit and hooked his finger behind the top button of the robe. "If we don't get rid of these mines soon, you're going to have to get a valet. What's the spell for these buttons?"

"Deboutonne," Malfoy told him.

"De -- what? That's not Latin."

"Romans didn't have buttons," Malfoy said. "Or, rather, they had buttons, but were some centuries too soon for the invention of the buttonhole. And it's expedio for the trouser laces, and depero for the boots, and degenualia for the stockings ... Ah. You've found your calling."

It seemed that deerskin breeches called for knee-length underdrawers made of some soft white fabric. There were buttons on the sides of the knees, but no fastening that Harry could see at the top. But Malfoy looked good in them, so he decided he'd wait until later to ask what spell he needed to get him out of them. "You'd better borrow some of my sweatpants until you get your magic back."

"It's not enough to unmage me. They have to deprive me of all taste and style as well," Malfoy grumbled, pushing Harry's robe off his shoulders. "At least I've got some useful Muggle experience," he added, starting on the shirt. "My mother would have been quite unable to undo a button with her hands, even to get at a nineteen-year-old gamekeeper."

"Not something I wanted in my head, Malfoy." Harry kicked off his shoes seconds before his trousers and pants hit the floor.

"Don't tell me you've got no taste for men who work with their hands."

Harry hooked an arm around Malfoy's middle and hauled him down onto the bed. "I've got no taste for your mother. No offense."

"Oh, none taken," Malfoy said politely, and licked his ear.

Harry rolled half on top of him, propping himself up on his elbows. He kissed him until he was quiet, and then he kissed him until he was noisy again.

"Oh," Malfoy said as Harry left his mouth behind and headed down his chest. "Ohh, yes. Oh, Lethe and Phlegethon, you're good at that -- ahh -- you can bite a little, I don't mind --"

Harry bit a lot, and while Malfoy didn't get any quieter, he did get less verbal.

"I like these," Harry said some time later. He was propped on his elbows again, lying between Malfoy's spread legs, stroking Malfoy's cock through the odd underdrawers -- left thumb, right thumb, left thumb, right thumb. "Nice and soft. What're they made of?"

"Mm -- mm. Muslin," Malfoy said. "Oh. Take. Take them off me."

"OK." Left thumb, right thumb. "Tell me how."

"De -- " Malfoy pulled in a gasp with voice in it. "Oh. De --" There was a wet spot on the drawers. Harry sniffed it, then opened his mouth over the spot and exhaled hotly through the fabric. Malfoy began to tremble. "Ah!" Harry tightened his mouth. "Oh, oh, I can't -- I'll remember the spell if you'll stop -- oh, oh fuck, stop, Harry, don't stop --"

Harry didn't.

There was a long, breathless silence, and then Malfoy said in a laughing voice, "Debracato to get them off, eluo to clean them up. Lavo to clean me up."

"I knew that one," Harry said, taking care of the pants quickly. "But I'm not sure I want to clean you up. I like you dirty." Malfoy wasn't really all that dirty, but he found a smear between navel and hipbone and licked it with showy thoroughness. Malfoy let out a long, happy sigh.

"Lethe and Phlegethon?" Harry said to his thigh.

"Two of the rivers in Hades." Malfoy turned on his side and ran a considering hand up Harry's arm. "So. You can --" He made an odd, ambiguous gesture at his own body. "If you want to. I don't mind." He was looking at his hand, which was now drawing circles around the point of Harry's shoulder.

" 'You can,' " Harry mimicked. "You don't have some fancy pureblood word for it?"

"The classical allusions would be way over your head." Malfoy's fingers found a sensitive spot on Harry's neck. "Well? Are you interested, or shall I make other plans?"

Harry had to smile. "You say that as though you think it would be possible for me to say no."

"Well, who knows what arcane preferences you might have developed in America."

"Right. First I'll need you to put on this cowboy hat ..."

"Chaps is extry." Malfoy rolled suddenly to straddle him. His pale hair swung forward, and Harry tangled a hand in it and pulled him down for a kiss.

As soon as Harry let him go, Malfoy knelt up and positioned himself, murmuring -- and then he stopped. "No magic," he said. "You're going to have to do it."

He wasn't too much at a loss, though, to criticize Harry's choice of spells, pronunciation, and lack of patience. Harry was willing to overlook it just for the sight of him, the flush rising on his chest, the half-lidded eyes, the way he gasped as he sank slowly down on Harry's cock and then sighed as he came to rest.

"You're all right?"

"Hm. Let's see." Malfoy rocked minutely forward and backward.

Harry breathed, "Ohgod." Malfoy smiled and did it again.

"Ohgod. Like that. Yeah." Malfoy went on rocking. At first he watched Harry, but then his eyes fell shut and he tipped back his head, fists clenched on flexing thighs, panting.

Again, and again, going faster but never deeper, until Harry was half out of his mind -- and when Malfoy made that familiar whine, Harry couldn't stop his hips from jerking up. "Malfoy. God. Need more. Let me. On top."

They lost connection as they traded places, and when Harry slid back into him, Malfoy made a sound that was almost a wail. Long deep strokes, unbelievable heat, Malfoy under him slack-jawed with pleasure -- too much, too much -- and before he could even try to slow down he was coming.

"Ah --" Malfoy's cry was more than a little desperate, and Harry pulled free too fast and dove down to finish him with his mouth. "Yes --" Malfoy hissed, thrusting upward and panting. "Put -- something -- in me --" and Harry slid three fingers into that wet heat and Malfoy's back arched right off the bed as he came.

Harry pressed a soft kiss to Malfoy's hip, and then another, and then a whole string of them, closing his eyes and exploring the smooth skin with his lips, and Malfoy made a broken noise and pulled him up and kissed him hard.

"God." Harry let his head drop to the pillow, and Malfoy gave him such a self-satisfied smile that he added, "You do understand that when I say that I'm not actually addressing you, don't you?"

"You'll have to tell me all about your people's quaint little religion some time," Malfoy said. "It's omnilavo to clean us and the bed."

"I knew that." Harry did it, then pulled the covers up over both of them and hauled up the second pillow from where it had fallen on the floor.

Malfoy leaned up on an elbow and stared at him. "What are you doing?"

"You can't use the floo, you can't light the candles -- I've got to --" Harry yawned. "Got to stay here and look after you."

"I can operate a cigarette lighter. I can walk." Harry yawned again. Malfoy flopped down on the bed. "Oh, very well. I'll be as helpless as you need me to be." He tugged the coverlet toward his side of the bed. "Bloody Gryffindors."

"Goodnight, Malfoy."

"We're going to have to separate him from the League," Harry told Ron. "There's no telling what will happen if anything tries to make demands on his magic when he hasn't got any."

"And so kind of you to talk about me as if I'm still unconscious, Potter." When Harry began to protest, Malfoy waved his hand impatiently. "Yes, yes, you can't draw water from a dry well. But get someone else to do it. You've no sense of occasion."

Just then the door to the staff common room opened and Hermione and Penelope came in. " ... index the entire set of Diderot's Encyclopedia of Enchantments," Hermione was saying, beaming.

"Oh, good," Harry said. "Hermione, can you boot Malfoy out of the League? He won't let me do it because I lack elegance."

"Don't worry, Potter, you more than make up for it in petulance."

Hermione looked stricken. "Take you out of the League? Oh, but surely we don't have to go that far, Draco. Perhaps you could be an ... an honorary member or something?"

"When it comes to ceremonial magic, simplicity is key," Malfoy said. "But you can put together a Squibs' Auxiliary for me later on, if you'd like."

He started to stand up, but Harry, Hermione, and Penelope all pushed him back down. "I'm not an invalid," he grumbled.

"Yes, you are," Hermione said. "Here, I'll kneel here. Now, let me think ... All right." She shook out her wand. "Draco Falco Leonis Malfoy de Douce-Douleur, do you withdraw your consent to provide magic for the purpose of powering search charms?"

"Yes," Malfoy said.

Hermione bit her lip and touched his forehead with her wand. "I hereby remove you from the League of Protection."

"There, now, that's over with," Malfoy said. "Now, what was all that blathering about the library?"

"Oh, it's so exciting, Draco," Hermione said, worry forgotten in the joy of research. "Penelope has figured out a way to use search charms to create an index of the entire library. It's going to take some time, of course, but she and Sarah McDuff have already indexed common searches from Aardwolf to Amanita."

"It works very much like the Find command on a computer, which is what made me think of it," Penelope said. "The trickiest part so far has been to delimit it to the books in the library. It tends to want to index every book, scroll, and private document on the grounds."

"You need to put a mark on the books," Malfoy said. "A signature. Then you could use the mark as a noun for 'Books in Hogwarts library' and not have to worry that your charm will index those love poems that Talos writes to Marlow when he ought to be doing his Arithmancy."

"Hermione," Penelope said, "you know how a Muggle computer can do a Find and then a Change? Could you do the same thing with calligromancy?"

Hermione and Malfoy stared at her with identical expressions of open-mouthed awe for a moment, and then they both began talking to each other so quickly that it was impossible to distinguish words.

Penelope glanced at Harry. "I'm going to take that as a yes."

Owls filled the air next day as they contacted all the absent League members for consent to power a Search-and-Change charm. No one expected objections, and there weren't any, but two schools, a university, and the Ministry all sent back messages that said, essentially, "Take good notes."

"If you publish this, 'Mione, it could be good enough to get you another Magis Doctor," Malfoy said.

Malfoy was better at calligromancy than the rest of them, so in the end the easiest thing seemed to be for him to guide Hermione's wand hand through the unfamiliar motions: Find pain mine, change to pain mine with erase attachment.

They tried it first in the library, where they could watch the warded mine wink out. After a brief pause to figure out how to make the charm keep going until it had found them all and another to construct the charm in such a way that it would leave alone any charm with an If clause -- and a slightly longer pause to satisfy Hermione's curiosity by bringing the charm back to make a mark on a chalkboard for each spell it found -- they sent it out to cover all of the grounds, using the boundary they'd marked earlier.

Harry and Malfoy trounced Hermione and Penelope four times at Stealth, and then the sending came back. They prowled the halls looking for any of the pain mines they'd marked, but the ward bubbles stood empty. The pain mines were all gone.

There were four hundred and sixty marks on the chalkboard.

There were more than a hundred recurring mines in their notes, and each one required a little more power to remove than the last, because the power from the wearers of the Mark was being spread over fewer mines. When Hermione noticed this, she began making sure that the most difficult mines went first, before they got too strong.

Even so, the power drain on the League increased. At first, with so many contributing, no one felt the effects. But after mines were erased by the thousand, they began to notice general exhaustion and symptoms of magic fatigue, and Hermione began limiting the number of charms they could cast in a day -- a dozen, then six, then two, then one.

And at last, one hot day at the end of May, they found they had removed every mine in their notes.

"So the next step," Hermione said, "is to examine the grounds and see if there are any left."

They searched the entire staff common room and didn't find a single mine.

Hermione beamed. "Now it will be nothing but the unusual ones, the ones we haven't encountered yet."

"That," Malfoy said, "may be a mixed blessing."

On to Chapter 13

Back to Chapter 11

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April 25, 2003