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Chapter 7: All Souls
Harry opened his eyes and saw nothing but white. He was in a warm place, lying on something soft, and he was suffused with a sense of well-being stronger than any Cheering Charm. He gave a deep, contented sigh --
Well, he intended to sigh, but when he tried to exhale, nothing happened.
He tried again. Nothing.
With difficulty, he raised a hand and laid it on his chest. It wasn't moving. He held his hand in front of his mouth and nose. Nope. He really wasn't breathing.
Somehow this struck him as amusing. He wasn't breathing! Maybe he was in a coma. Maybe he was hallucinating. Maybe -- a grin spread across his face -- maybe he was dead. Wouldn't that be funny? He tried to laugh, but of course it was impossible to laugh without breathing, and that was even funnier ...
"He's awake, Sofia," said Hermione's wry voice. "And the oxygenation spell is obviously kicking in."
Suddenly there was a blur of black on one side of him and a blur of brown on the other. He squinted, and Hermione's and Sofia's faces came into slightly misty focus. He thought he ought to have a lot of questions, but of course if he couldn't breathe he couldn't talk. And anyway, it seemed easier to lie here and grin at their pretty faces.
"Can you understand me, 'Arry?" Sofia said. Harry nodded, smiling. Her voice was so nice. "I am adding oxygen directly to your blood, which iss why you are feeling such euphoria," she said. "It will take another hour or so before the Breathe-E-Z potion repairss the smoke damage to your lungss. If you need to speak, 'Ermione can perform for you a charm."
Harry nodded at Hermione, who waved her wand at him, murmuring some guttural words that definitely didn't sound like Latin. "There. Say something, Harry."
"Thanks," he said, and he could hear his voice, but he couldn't feel the usual vibration in his throat. The crazy urge to giggle was wearing off, but he still had a warm sense of well-being that made this only a matter of curiosity. "How --"
"Mermagic," she said, beaming. "Charlie's been trading secrets with the merfolk, and this charm is one of the results. Rather than using your vocal cords to push sound waves through the air, you're producing sound directly in our ears by magical means."
"Your vocal cordss are swollen, so you will be quite hoarse when you get your physical voice back," Sofia warned. "And shortness of breath may persist for some dayss. You are lucky to be alife, 'Arry."
That reminded him of something. "Malfoy?"
Hermione nodded toward what he assumed was another bed. "He hasn't woken up yet," she said. "He was in even worse shape than you were. Harry ... did Draco make a mistake? Or ... were you two ... were you trying to hurt one another?"
"Er ... Just bit off more than we could chew, is all." All his problems seemed so minor now. He supposed that was the oxygen. "One spell triggered more spells ..." He yawned. "And there was a fire ..." His eyes wanted to fall shut. He struggled to open them again.
"You need rest, 'Arry," Sofia said. "May I perform for you a mild Consopium spell?"
He nodded his consent. Halfway through listening to her murmur the spell, he drifted back to sleep.
Next time he woke up, he was breathing again. Or he would have been, if he could have stopped coughing long enough.
He bolted upright in the hospital bed, hacking so hard his ribs ached. It seemed to go on forever as he struggled to catch a breath between wracking spasms.
A hand held a white handkerchief under his mouth, and he spat gray mucus into it, coughed again, spat some more, wiped his watering eyes. At last the coughing fit eased and Sofia returned with a clean handkerchief, which he used to blow his nose. He could hear his own wheezing breath.
"Thanks." His voice was so hoarse he could hardly get the word out. His head ached and his throat felt agonizingly sore. Obviously he was no longer giddy with oxygen. "Hurts."
"I cannot prevent the coughing," Sofia said. "It iss needed to remove the impuritiess in your lungss. But I can help with the pain in your throat."
"Headache too," he croaked. She took care of both with a flick of her wand, and he sighed with relief, then regretted it immediately when the sigh triggered another coughing fit.
Someone else was coughing, too. He squinted. Hermione was sitting in a chair, and on the other side was a bed with someone sitting up on it. Yellow hair -- obviously Malfoy, but he couldn't see him clearly enough to guess how well he was recovering.
"Glasses?" he wheezed to Sofia, who handed them to him. The lenses were hazed from the smoke. He rubbed them with a corner of the sheet.
In one corner were five beds with the curtains closed. Charlotte would be in one, and Ursa and Rose .... Harry hated to think who might be in the fourth and fifth ones. How many mines had they set off?
"Potter?" Malfoy sounded a hundred years old.
" 'm here." He absolutely was not going to be the first one to apologize. After a moment he added, "You OK?"
"By a very loose ... definition of the word," Malfoy said, interrupted with a coughing fit. "I was happier when I thought I was a ghost."
"Did we burn down Gryffindor Tower?"
"Oliver and Penelope put out the fire," Hermione said, "and Minerva warded the whole tower. The Gryffindors are in Hufflepuff Courtyard now."
Harry buried his face in his hands. "Hermione, what are we going to do? We put out one spell and it triggered a dozen others and set the room on fire. We were nearly killed, and I can't think of anything else we could have done ..."
"Lovely," Malfoy croaked. "My life depends on Gryffindors thinking. Look," he went on as Harry turned to glare at him, "we've been going about this all wrong. Going about in pairs, putting out the silly things one by one, carrying candles -- it's as if we're so busy casting warming spells that we can't find the time to stop and shut the window."
"What would a Slytherin do, then?" Harry sneered. "Find someone and torture them until the spells go away?"
"Look for the source! Those mines are getting power from somewhere, did you ever think of that? Magic doesn't maintain itself."
Hermione's mouth dropped open. "I can't believe I didn't think of that!" she said.
"Well, I did," Malfoy said. "I figured it out last night while Potter was regaling me with some lovely American music. They're drawing their power from us."
"From whom?" McGonagall was the one who asked the question, but it was obvious that everyone in the staff common room was waiting for the answer.
"From all of us. Just like Crucio, just like the Dark Mark, they're drawing power from the very people they're attacking. It's ingenious."
Malfoy sounded admiring. Harry rubbed his temples, where the headache had come back, and tried not to roll his eyes.
"So when Harry sang the chant, or when you cast the Accinctum, it weakened them?" Remus asked.
"Only a bit," Malfoy said. "I'm guessing they pull a little magic from everyone on the grounds. The important thing about the chant and the Accinctum wasn't that it weakened the spells, but that it prevented the spells from weakening us."
"I had noticed," Penelope said, "that undoing the spells seemed to take a lot out of me. And that in general I'm more tired than I should be." Several of the others nodded. Looking from face to face, Harry saw the hollow eyes, the dark circles.
"So what we have to do," Malfoy said, "is stop trying to tackle the spells themselves, and focus our attention on figuring out a way to pull the plug."
"Pull the what?" McGonagall frowned.
"Do you think they'll just disappear if we shut down their power source?" Ron asked.
"No," Malfoy said. "The inventors will have thought of that and set up a backup source. They're Slytherins, after all." He was smirking. "But think about this. In order to cast the curses we learned at school, we need to identify a target. Most of the time we need to be able to see the target. Now, these mines --"
He began counting off facts on his long fingers. "They draw power from all the witches and wizards nearby, without naming them or directly targeting them -- how? They place curses on targets which might be close or far -- how? Some of their targets are selected by proximity, some by name, and some by title -- how?" He sat back, looking extraordinarily pleased with himself. "That's what we need to figure out."
There was an excited murmur around the room. "Now," Malfoy went on, raising his smoke-roughened voice a little. "We're going to need to continue using the candles to find spells and place appropriate wards on them. In the meantime, though ... My father left behind an extensive library, and he had a particular interest in calligromancy. I'll have the appropriate books brought here, and we might find something in his diary as well -- Oh, all right," he said, noticing the eager look on Penelope's face, "I'll have the whole library brought in, how about that? Only you'll have to keep the students out of it, Penelope, because my father's books have a tendency to ... take on a life of their own."
It shouldn't have surprised Harry that he dreamed about Tom Riddle's diary that night, about Ginny Weasley's pale and crumpled body, her screams echoing off stone walls.
He sat up in bed, shivering. "Don't be stupid," he said out loud. "Ginny's fine. Her band was on the cover of Witch Weekly a month ago." But his hands continued to shake.
Malfoy was already planning his next move at the breakfast table. "I expect there's a great deal of ugliness in Dumbledore's office," he said. "That's probably the place we should look if we want to find mines that can teach us something."
McGonagall was still using the office she'd used as deputy headmistress, so Harry hadn't seen Dumbledore's office since he was a student. It was probably all still there, the astrolabe and the paintings and Fawkes' empty perch ... he didn't think he could bear to see it just yet. It made his chest feel tight just to think about it.
"Nobody ever goes in there," he said, "so it's not as though there's any urgency in getting to it." Hermione frowned at him; hoping against hope that he wouldn't have to explain why he didn't want to look at Dumbledore's office without Dumbledore in it, he added hastily, "You can do research on your own time, but when we have to be working together, I want it to be on things that pose a danger to students."
Malfoy and Hermione exchanged a glance in that irritating way they had.
"All right," Malfoy said. "Then what about the east corridor and staircase?"
"Amateurs did this one," Malfoy said, pointing to the mine on the banister. "See how sloppy the handwriting is?"
"They have handwriting?" Well, of course they did -- magical writing was still writing. Malfoy gave him a pitying look and didn't bother to answer.
They were still warding two mines for every one they undid, and even after using the Accinctum spell, it was still some of the most exhausting work Harry had ever done. By the time they'd reached the top of the stairs, his head was pounding.
Malfoy, of course, was fresh as a daisy. He surely had more on his conscience than Harry did -- assuming he had a conscience -- but somehow he seemed to be getting a good night's sleep every night while Harry lay awake and shivered.
"What are you waiting for, Potter?" Malfoy smirked, holding open a door. "I thought you were quite at home in girls' toilets."
The room wasn't dirty, but Harry wrinkled his nose at the unpleasant stale-water smell. Simple mines laced the faucet handles and hung about the mirrors at face level, and he and Malfoy put them out one by one.
Malfoy in the mirror looked subtly different, like his own brother or his own ghost. Harry studied the swing of his hair, the silver hoops in his earlobes, until Malfoy caught him looking and winked at him. Harry turned away, blushing and furious. "Don't flatter yourself."
"Malfoys never flatter ourselves," he said. "We have fawning sycophants to do that for us."
Lung damage in the first stall, something that looked like Japanese in the second. "Oh, but I'm forgetting," Malfoy went on, "after your little American romance, you know all about the ways of the aristocracy." He placed a ward bubble with a flourish. "Was it a thrill for him to play around outside his class, do you think? Or was it one of those tragedies where the prince falls in love with the commoner?"
Harry snorted at the idea of Sunday putting on airs like a prince. If anything, he'd been a little too careless about his responsibilities to the Eastern Band. Not that they'd quarreled about it. It was nearly impossible to quarrel with Sunday about anything.
"Your insults used to be much more on target, Malfoy," he said. "Losing your touch?" There was a mine in the third stall with several unreadable If clauses; Harry threw a ward over it and moved on to the fourth.
"There," he said. "There's something back against the inside of the door," and Malfoy crowded into the stall behind him.
It looked like an ordinary pain spell, but strangely spread out, so that it was impossible to see the whole thing at once. He backed up further into the stall.
"Hey, watch --"
But Malfoy's warning came too late, and Harry blundered right into the second mine.
They both braced themselves for fire or explosions or pain. Nothing happened. "I suppose eventually we'll find out what that one did -- oh. Oh, cold hells."
"What?" Malfoy was hammering away at what looked like empty air. "What are you doing?"
He'd dropped to his knees on the tile floor and was pushing at the space under the walls. "Oh, Mordred's mother-in-law. It's put up some sort of barrier."
Harry reached for the door, jumping a little in spite of himself when his hand touched a wall his eyes couldn't see. The mine that had been on the inside of the door had disappeared.
Malfoy was clambering onto the toilet, one foot on either side of the seat. "It goes as far up as I can reach. You're taller; you try." He stepped down awkwardly in one corner, and Harry climbed up.
Standing on his toes, he could reach within a couple of inches of the ceiling. "I can't feel any gap."
It was awfully close quarters, and Malfoy's face at the level of his belly made him nervous. He climbed off the seat quickly.
"Alohomora. Adaperio." Malfoy was pointing his wand at the open doorway and working his way through an extensive collection of unlocking spells. Harry contributed a few of his own, but none of them made the slightest difference.
"Hells," Malfoy said at last. "Nothing to do but wait till someone comes looking for us. If we're not at dinner, 'Mione will figure it out and come rescue us." They were so close together that Harry could feel the air currents stirred by Malfoy's gestures.
"Great." Harry banged the back of his head gently against the stall wall he was leaning on. "No offense, Malfoy, but of all the people to be trapped in a toilet with, you are at the absolute bottom of the list."
"Hm." Malfoy was smirking. "I can't say I've ever given any thought to making a list of people with whom I'd like to be trapped in a toilet."
He was standing awfully close, and something about the word "whom" made Harry's lip curl. "Oh, I'm sure it's never once crossed your mind."
"But it does give me a chance to satisfy my curiosity about why your Cherokee prince gave you your walking papers," Malfoy went on.
"Right. I'm really going to discuss my love life with you."
Malfoy ignored that. "Did you snore?" he asked in a tone of great concern and compassion. "Eat crisps in bed? Not likely he was ashamed to be seen with you -- you're passable enough to look at, in an ill-groomed sort of way, and grooming's not a big concern with Americans." He was lounging against the far cubicle wall, looking much too pleased with himself. "And people who like you seem to be able to tolerate your Gryffindor uncouthness without too much difficulty. Perhaps he just felt that a regional shaman's consort should be someone with a bit more intelligence. Couldn't blame him there."
Harry gritted his teeth. "What makes you think he broke it off?"
Only when Malfoy's mouth thinned into a predatory grin did he realize his mistake. "Two lies on one topic, Potter? The Sorting Hat will want to reconsider." He pushed his hair back with one ringed hand. "Going abroad must be frightfully difficult for Gryffindors, though. Can't have meaningless sex -- heavens forfend -- but settling down overseas would be such a terrible betrayal of your loyalty to the auld sod ..."
Harry clenched his fists. "Will you shut up about things you know nothing about?"
"What, meaningless sex? Betrayal? Lying?" Malfoy looked amused, and he was much too close.
"Back off." He gave Malfoy a push in the middle of his chest.
Malfoy took half a step back and stopped; Harry pressed forward and then realized that that was all the space there was. Malfoy had his back to the cubicle wall.
Malfoy with his back to the wall. It had such a nice ring to it. Malfoy with his sneer and his rapidly moving eyelashes, Malfoy with his spoiled rich-boy attitude and his utter, infuriating ease --
Harry pressed forward and felt Malfoy's chest against his, felt it rise as he inhaled suddenly. Not so sure of yourself here, are you, he thought. Another fractional movement brought his knee up against the wall with Malfoy's thighs on either side of it.
Malfoy was breathing rather fast, but he met Harry's eyes with a little smirk, just as if Harry couldn't have made him puke his guts out with one little upward thrust of his knee. Malfoy didn't even seem to have noticed that they were fighting.
"Hm," Malfoy said, and got one hand up between them. And Harry registered that he was hard about half a second before he registered that he was grinding frantically at the heel of Malfoy's hand.
After that everything seemed to happen in flashes, like buildings seen from a runaway train. The cold of the cubicle wall against his forehead, Malfoy murmuring, "All right, let me, hang on," Hermione's voice in the corridor calling, "Harry? Draco?" -- and Harry, in a perfectly excruciating rush of heat and humiliation, coming in his pants.
That noise echoing off the tiled walls was his own panting breath.
He staggered backwards as far as he could, face hot with sex and frozen with horror.
"It doesn't show," Malfoy said, and after a moment Harry realized Malfoy was looking at the front of his robe.
"Jeans," he said stupidly, through a mouth that felt as though it belonged to somebody else.
"Draco?" Hermione called a little more urgently, and Harry heard her running footsteps.
"In here, 'Mione," Malfoy said, never taking his eyes off Harry.
Alone in his rooms at the end of the day, Harry flopped down on the couch and forced himself to face facts.
He had humiliated himself. And if Malfoy hadn't mentioned it to Hermione, it was only because he was waiting for the time when the story would create the maximum of embarrassment.
Unless Malfoy wasn't telling because he was trying to protect himself. After all, he hadn't exactly been uninvolved. It had been his sneering voice that had made Harry angry enough to get within touching distance. And it had been his hand --
His hand --
Harry snatched his own hand away from his trousers savagely. Christ. His brain was absolutely not a safe place to be tonight.
He grabbed his cloak and his Firebolt and all but ran to the nearest exit.
The night was cloudy, damp and chill. With all the windows sealed up, the castle was unnervingly dark from the outside, making Harry think of fortresses, prisons, dungeons. He made a turn around the castle, gathering speed as he went, and when that wasn't enough to outrun his thoughts, he began to climb.
Up and up, until he was level with the observatory at the top of the Astronomy tower. Up still higher, until the low clouds were a chill fog all around him. From up here, Hogwarts looked like a toy, like the fake castle at Disney World that looked so real until you got close enough to touch and realized that it was watertight fiberglass and not damp, mossy stones and splintering slates reinforced with waterproofing charms.
Up still further, until the fog closed around him and he couldn't see anything at all.
Back in his room, he tossed the photos on the floor and climbed in his unmade bed, too tired for tossing and turning. As he was on the edge of sleep, his hand closed over a small object tangled in the sheets, and without opening his eyes he recognized it as the pine-needle basket Sunday had sent.
He dreamed of Sunday's big skillful hands working on a basket. The weaving had patterns that looked like calligromancy sigils, but he couldn't see them clearly, however hard he tried.
"What's going in there?" he asked.
"You are," Sunday said agreeably. His deep, accented voice was soothing.
"I can't," Harry said. "I have work to do. People who need me, back home." The basket looked a little like a cradle. It was about the size of Harry's hand, but in his dream it seemed perfectly plausible that he could lie down in it and just rest. How he longed to rest.
"Just for a little bit," Sunday said.
When he opened the common room door next morning and found Malfoy there alone, he took a step backwards, quite prepared to hide in his rooms until the common room was no longer tainted by Malfoy's presence. But a sudden memory of Malfoy's voice sneering "when you fled the country" was enough to stiffen his spine and send him forward instead.
"Pleasant dreams, Potter?" Malfoy said blandly, and Harry felt his lips drawing back from his teeth.
"Right," he snarled. "Maybe a -- maybe being in a bathroom stall is a sweet dream for people like you --"
"Oh, please," Malfoy said wearily. "You are people like me, in case you hadn't noticed."
"I am nothing like you," Harry said through clenched teeth. "I despise you."
"You despise someone, that much is obvious," Malfoy said.
"You children," Hermione said, her voice full of disgust. Ron was right behind her. Harry hadn't even heard them come in. "Harry, this is really getting old. I don't understand how anybody can hold a grudge for twelve years, but you two are going to have to get over it and focus on what's really important."
Ron's eyes went from Harry to Malfoy and back again. If he hadn't already guessed it, he'd figure it out soon.
"And you -- oh, no." Hermione was looking closely at Malfoy. "Harry, please tell me you're not the one who split Draco's lip."
He looked at the floor like a guilty preschooler. Malfoy was refusing to look at her, too. The other teachers were returning to the common room, and really, a public scolding was about the only way this day could possibly get any worse.
"Well, you're going to come right over here and mend it for him," she said. "Honestly. If I could ground you two for a week and take away your allowance, I'd do it. Go on, now."
Harry touched his wand to the split place in Malfoy's upper lip, and Malfoy jerked his head back. Harry put a hand on his chin to hold him still, very carefully not looking up at his eyes. "Integro," he said.
With Rose Duncan unconscious, Aoife Murphy still recovering from her burns, and Macy Prewitt staggering around on newly regrown thigh bones after triggering a brittle-bone mine, the Gryffindor Quidditch team was struggling. On Halloween, when they were flattened by Ravenclaw in the first major match of the season, Wood left the pitch looking as though he had just come from a funeral.
He was still looking downcast at the feast, despite Penelope's increasingly desperate efforts to cheer him up, and Ron said to Harry, "C'mon, moral support time."
About halfway through a conversation on training schedules and physical fitness regimens and the possibility of waiving the first-year rule for Tally Jones, Malfoy sat down next to Ron and said, "Wood, I could provide Chinook 357s for all four teams, if you like."
"You what?" Wood said. He looked rather as though he'd been hit in the head with a Bludger.
"Are there even twenty-eight 357s in existence yet?" Penelope said.
"Thirty, if we want to outfit the officials," Malfoy said. "Weasley probably has a contact with the manufacturer." Ron nodded. "Though it might cost extra."
Wood was staring into space. "Chinook 357s," he said dreamily.
"You think he's going to favor Slytherin now, don't you," Harry said.
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "I think," he said, "that there's not much point in Quidditch if every match is determined by which team has the fastest brooms." He smiled rather wickedly. "Besides, it would be an amusing way to spend some of Father's money."
Harry frowned at Malfoy. "Excuse me," he said. "Did that just come from the mouth of the person whose father bought him a spot on the Quidditch team?"
"Yes, well," Malfoy said, still smiling. "My father always used to say, 'My boy, there are things that money can't buy,' but you'd be surprised how old I was before I saw any evidence of that."
Next morning there was a deep chill in the air. Harry bundled his winter cloak closer as he walked along the verge of the Forbidden Forest.
In Florida he would have had an armful of big, gaudy hibiscus blossoms in five minutes, but here most of the greenery had already died off. He found flexible grapevines, though, and a bit of ivy. Leaving his wand in his belt, he bent them into two awkward, messy wreaths using his hands.
There were dozens of new memorials scattered about the school, of course. A frieze in the library showed Bill Weasley at the head of his army of goblins -- Bill tended to wink at Harry as he went by. Outside the greenhouse, merry-bells and song-lilies serenaded passersby in honor of Professor Sprout, and half the books in the library seemed to bear the frowning face of Madam Pince.
But out at the edge of the grounds were the two shrines to the less eminent dead: the reflecting pool and the Muggles Memorial.
The reflecting pool was small and perfectly round and always still, even on the windiest day. Harry knelt nervously in the damp grass beside it. Hermione had said you never knew who you would see. He leaned forward.
At first he saw only his own reflection. Then, after a few moments, a silvery disturbance passed over the surface, and he was looking into the clear eyes of Cedric Diggory.
Harry flinched back from the edge of the pool, heart pounding. He took a deep breath and leaned forward again.
Cedric looked back patiently. Harry frowned, wondering why the pool was showing him Cedric as a child. Then he realized that he was seeing the boy exactly as he'd last seen him alive -- only Harry had got older, and Cedric hadn't.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't know. I didn't know enough." The wreath crackled in his clenching fist.
"Look," Cedric said urgently. And his face shifted and became the face of Colin Creevey, camera in hand.
"I wanted to be there," Colin said. "I wouldn't have been anywhere else."
"No," Harry said. No, it was wrong. There shouldn't have been a there for him to be at. Harry was supposed to have got rid of Voldemort himself. It was supposed to have been a nice clean single combat like in all the fairy tales. Not a messy, bloody, confusing war that spread out until it involved everybody Harry had ever known ...
"You're not looking," the voice said, and it wasn't Colin any more, but Mad-Eye Moody, gaunt and fierce as though everything had been starved out of him except his single-minded determination to root out the Death Eaters.
And shifted again: Nicolas Flamel, the picture he'd seen next to the death notice in the Prophet, smiling genially and waving. "It wasn't, in the end, that difficult a choice, my lad," he said. "Another opportunity to make my life mean something."
If this went on, one of the faces would surely be Sirius. Or Dumbledore. Or even his father ...
Harry flung the wreath into the water. When the ripples stilled, he was looking at his own reflection. He knelt there for a few moments, until his hands stopped shaking, before standing up.
A few steps from the reflecting pool stood the Muggles Memorial, a bronze statue of a family in Muggle clothing. The man was carrying a cell phone, the woman was wearing miniature radio headphones, and the child was dangling a yo-yo. Harry placed the other wreath at their feet.
"That thing gives me the creeps," said a voice beside him. He turned and saw Malfoy looking up at the man's face. "Look at it. You move and the eyes don't follow you. It's unnerving." He shuddered theatrically.
"Didn't expect you to be observing All Souls, Malfoy." Somehow Harry couldn't quite muster the sneering tone of voice he wanted there.
"Oh, Malfoys are all for tradition," he said. "In its place." Only now did Harry notice that he was wearing Muggle clothes -- tan trousers and a heavy gray wool sweater over his shirt and Slytherin stripe tie.
Harry looked back at the statue. "Bridget Bishop was the first Muggle woman hanged for witchcraft in America," Harry said. "And Giles Corey was pressed to death." At Malfoy's raised eyebrow, he explained, "At the Coven, our Muggles Memorial was a statue of them. Purity Webster had it brought down from Salem. But the only place to put it was by the swimming pool, so it always looked rather out of place."
There was a long silence, and then Malfoy said, "The Death Eater camp was at Outer Lowering." After a moment he added, "Burning thatch has a very distinctive smell."
He stood there for a while, obviously working up his nerve, and then he tossed something at the base of the statue, nodded to Harry, and walked away.
Harry looked more closely at the object he had thrown. It was a mechanical pencil.
Malfoy was still in his sweater and trousers when Harry arrived in the Hufflepuff dormitory with a candle and a flask of oil.
He should have looked foolish in Muggle clothes, with his long hair and his jewelry, Harry thought as they worked their way through the dormitory -- but he didn't. He looked like an illustration from one of Dudley's fairy tale books, a young prince from some Nordic country putting in his time as ambassador until the time came for him to assume the throne. Harry could easily picture him wrapped in furs, riding in a sleigh drawn by white tigers ...
"Potter?" Malfoy waved a hand in front of his face.
He blinked. "Sorry."
"Lost in thought," Malfoy said. "Not thinking of assaulting me again, were you?"
Harry gritted his teeth. It was very strange that he could have a vivid mental picture of Malfoy spread out on a white fur throw wearing nothing but his silver jewelry, and another, equally vivid mental picture of himself breaking the bastard's nose.
"Because I could live without the split lips." Malfoy's voice was warm and unexpectedly close, and his breath stirred Harry's hair. "But when it comes to the other, my philosophy is, what's a little assault between friends?"
Harry's eyes flew open. "We're not --" he said, and then fell silent as Malfoy carefully took his glasses off his face.
"I'm told that even Gryffindors can come to enjoy meaningless sex if they try," Malfoy said softly, laying the glasses on the table. He wasn't smiling any more.
"Mm?" His face was very close, and his hands came up and hovered for a moment before touching Harry's cheeks.
Harry closed his eyes and lunged forward, catching Malfoy's mouth with his own, pushing his tongue past Malfoy's lips, hardly noticing when his hands came up to clutch handfuls of Malfoy's sweater.
Malfoy tolerated this clumsiness for a moment, and then his fingers shaped brackets on either side of Harry's mouth and he eased their faces apart until their lips barely met, a ticklish touch of skin to skin. His tongue slipped in to paint a warm stripe over Harry's lower lip, and Harry couldn't help gasping.
"You can stop mauling my jumper, Potter," Malfoy said against his mouth. "I've said yes."
"Uh -- OK," Harry said stupidly as Malfoy's lips delicately explored his jaw.
Once he'd disentangled his hands from Malfoy's sweater, he didn't quite know what to do with them. He smoothed them down Malfoy's back, and Malfoy hummed and moved closer, and Harry suddenly realized that he was standing in the Hufflepuff boys' dormitory wing with both arms around Draco Malfoy.
It didn't feel as odd as it should have.
Malfoy's fingertips left his face and traced a light line down the side of his neck, and he couldn't help lifting his chin to offer better access. Against his mouth, he felt Malfoy's lips curve, and then Malfoy's mouth was following his fingers down Harry's jaw to his neck, and Harry heard himself make a little noise.
Malfoy heard it, too, and heard permission in it, and Harry felt his tongue, warm and soft. His knees weakened and he staggered back a step to lean on something.
"Mm," Malfoy said, "your turn against the wall." Harry tightened his arms and brought Malfoy up against his body, and without giving himself time to think, he pulled Malfoy's shirt out of his trousers and pushed his hands underneath it.
"Ah," Malfoy said. "Good." Harry's own shirt was already half untucked from his trousers; Malfoy hauled it loose. His fingers were cool in the small of Harry's back.
Malfoy was looking at him, head on one side, considering -- and then he ran his hand around Harry's waistband and tucked a finger behind the trouser button. Harry gasped, only partly because it tickled. When Malfoy moved no further, Harry opened his eyes and met an expectant gaze.
Damn. It would have been easier to do this with his eyes closed, and he felt a little angry with Malfoy for not allowing him that. But though Malfoy's expression was one of mild inquiry, his face was delicately flushed, and he was breathing fast. Harry nodded, and felt the brief press of a knuckle against his belly as Malfoy undid the button.
The trousers loosened as Malfoy drew down the zip, and Harry didn't think he could bear to have Malfoy looking at his face while he -- did this. He turned his head away, and Malfoy made a little amused noise.
"A kiss is the socially acceptable way of avoiding scrutiny during a hand job," he murmured, and while his right hand made its way under Harry's pants, his left came up to tilt Harry's face down until their lips met.
Sunday's hands had been as big and strong as the rest of him, and Alicia's and Zoe's had been soft and hesitant. Malfoy's were narrow and sure, and the rings were odd points of coolness against his cock until they picked up his body heat enough that he couldn't feel them at all. Malfoy handled him with neither haste nor hesitation. For once Harry was grateful for that damnable Malfoy certainty.
After a moment he took his hands out from under Malfoy's shirt and got one into that fall of web-fine hair. He wrapped the other around Malfoy's forearm. Malfoy pulled back from the kiss for a moment, then dove back in when he figured out that Harry wasn't trying to stop him, and Harry held on gently, enjoying the feel of the muscles flexing in his arm.
The pressure was building now, and Harry shook free of Malfoy's mouth to gasp for air. When he leaned his head back against the wall, he felt Malfoy's tongue on his throat, and then his teeth. Harry pushed up his hips again and again, gritting his teeth against the noises that wanted to come out.
Malfoy tightened his grip minutely and hissed, "Yes," right against his ear, and Harry let go, rocking frantically into his hand as he came.
For a moment all he could do was lean on the wall and haul in one breath and then another and then another. Malfoy was very still against him, face buried in his neck, and when Harry worked a hand up between them, the gasp he got back sounded like as much surprise as pleasure.
Malfoy's trousers were soft flannel. Underneath, his pants were made of something loose and soft that caught and clung to Harry's fingertips and conducted body heat so well that it was like touching bare skin -- or so he thought until he got underneath to actual skin, hot and smooth, like nothing else in the world.
Malfoy let out a little whine at the first touch of Harry's hand on his cock, and his hips moved fast, pushing in and out of the circle of Harry's fist. His eyes were tightly shut, his face flushed; it looked almost like pain. Harry licked his cheekbone and he shuddered, and before Harry had time to think of doing anything but follow the rhythm of Malfoy's hips, he was coming wetly into Harry's hand.
Somehow they had worked their way apart so that their only points of contact were Malfoy's forehead on Harry's shoulder and Harry's hand in Malfoy's trousers. Malfoy's arms were braced against the wall, and Harry's left hand hung uselessly at his side. Even with his hand still cupping Malfoy's cock, he couldn't quite bridge the gap enough to wrap his other arm around Malfoy's shoulders.
In the end he gave up on finding just the right gesture and Accio'd his glasses instead.
Malfoy was fishing for his wand in his shirtsleeve, and then he murmured a spell and got them both clean. He gave Harry a long look. "All right," he said. "I think we're done here." And he put his hand on the door.
"Just a minute." Harry put his fingertip on Malfoy's red mouth. Malfoy inhaled quickly.
It was almost disappointing to see Malfoy's lips lose their just-kissed flush, but there was nothing for it.
He did the same charm on himself. Malfoy was giving him a confused look. "I would have thought that'd be a spell you'd get a lot of use out of, Malfoy," Harry said. "You don't want everyone to take one look at you and know."
"Ah," Malfoy said.
On to Chapter 8
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