Chapter Rating: PG
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Chapter Summary: Wherein Draco comes to his senses, Millicent is better at distracting than Daphne, Moody is not impressed, and Draco contemplates a refresher course in Muggle duelling.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Chapter 7 - Two Steps Back
Potter stared at Draco, uncomprehending, and panic spiked new and sharp in Draco's spine. The spell hadn't worked. Potter would kill him now, or at least disfigure him in a permanent fashion.
Potter continued to look confused as he moved his hand down to his crotch and adjusted the front of his trousers, almost an afterthought. His brow continued to furrow in puzzlement, and he took his slightly misted glasses off to wipe them.
"What was I talking about?" he asked.
Draco tried to contain his sigh of relief. "You dragged me out here to show me something," he said, crossing his arms. "What was it?"
Potter put his glasses back on and looked down at his feet. "I... I've forgotten." He was, Draco noted once again, a terrible liar.
Rolling his eyes, Draco moved away from the greenhouse wall and started up the pathway back to the castle. "Really, Potter, you're not very funny. I was about to fall asleep when you dragged me out here and--"
"Why'd you come?"
Draco stopped, turned around. Potter was giving him one of those unsettlingly penetrating stares. But this time, Draco would not be caught off guard. That had been Potter's plan all along, hadn't it? To catch Draco unawares and make him admit to remembering that night and what they'd done together. Well, no such luck this time, Potter.
"I don't know," he said, keeping his face blank. "I suppose I was curious. I suppose," -- he made a deliberate, calculated pause -- "I can't help but feel sorry for you. Prowling the castle all alone..."
"I don't need your sympathy, Malfoy," said Potter through his teeth.
Draco shrugged. "You asked. I answered. Now can we please go back to bed?"
Potter stalked past him without a word, leaving Draco to find his own way back to Gryffindor Tower. South Tower. Whatever. He sneaked through the courtyard doors and past the first-floor classrooms, keeping close to the walls. In the entrance hall, Peeves was hanging upside down near the dungeon entrance, staring at it expectantly. Draco shrank back against the wall, freezing. Peeves paid him no heed, though, and Draco tiptoed past as quickly as he could. As he rushed up the marble staircase, he heard an indignant cat's yowl, followed by Peeves's cackling. Probably baiting Mrs Norris again. Draco sped up his pace. Where Mrs Norris was, Filch couldn't be far behind, and Draco really didn't fancy explaining himself to the nasty old Squib.
Potter was waiting for him near the Fat Lady's portrait. He stood leaning on the wall, his face in shadow. The Fat Lady kept peeking at him through one closed eye. Draco pretended not to notice Potter and opened his mouth to speak the password, but Potter caught his wrist and pulled him in.
"You remember it, don't you?" asked Potter. His tone was at once demanding and pleading. "That night."
Draco gave him a blank stare. "What? Potter, I've had just about enough of your histrionics for one night. If you'll excuse me, I--"
"Tell me why you've been avoiding me." If voices had shapes, Potter's would have looked like a razorblade.
Draco sighed, trying not to make it overly theatrical. "Potter. I've been avoiding everybody. Not that you'd notice, of course. Things have changed."
"You haven't been avoiding your Slytherin friends."
"Come now, Potter, there's no such thing as Slytherin any more. And even if there were, you still wouldn't know how things worked in our house. Nor would anyone expect you to, of course. Now, if you're quite through with interrogating me for Merlin knows what purpose, I'd like to go and get some sleep."
Draco yanked his arm out of Potter's grasp, barked the password and climbed through the portrait hole. He thought he heard Potter and the Fat Lady having a conversation behind him, but he didn't want to push his luck. He'd got away with it. He'd Obliviated Potter and got away with it.
Thinking about the memory charm made Draco think about Potter's hot breath on his skin, Potter's hands on him, Potter's mouth so close, his lips so wet. Flushing, Draco sprinted up the staircase to the dormitory and dove into his bed, clothes and all, before Potter could come up behind him and ruin everything.
If only there were a way to use a memory charm to erase that night from Potter's mind. Unfortunately, retroactive memory charms were so complicated that even professional Obliviators rarely attempted them. Nine times out of ten, they failed, and even when they were successful, the memory eventually came back. No, Draco wouldn't be able to fix this by Obliviating Potter. He couldn't use a memory charm on himself, though, and so his only available avenue was changing his own memories of being with Potter -- two of them, now -- to dreams that he'd never remember again.
At breakfast, Draco was trying in vain to keep his eyes open as he poured milk into his tea.
"What did you do last night?" asked Thomas, who was looking annoyingly perky despite last night's Hogsmeade adventuring.
"Slept," said Draco, and stole a quick glance at Potter, who didn't seem to be paying attention. Ginny was saying something to him in a low voice, and Potter was nodding with an absent look in his eyes.
Thomas scratched the back of his head. "Thought I heard someone walking around at night."
"He sleepwalks, didn't you know?" Zabini cut in, waving his butter knife for emphasis.
Draco sniffed at his tea. "Don't make me tell them about that time you ate too many Every Flavour Beans and--"
"Malfoy, Bulstrode, Zabini, Thomas." Mad-Eye sounded even more unhinged when he was trying to act official.
Draco took his timetable from Moody's outstretched hand and scanned it quickly. He had double Defence Against the Dark Arts first thing that morning, then Arithmancy in the afternoon. Tuesdays had double Charms; Wednesdays, double Potions and then Ancient Runes. Double Transfiguration on Thursdays and double Herbology on Fridays. All in the morning, except for Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. Well, he'd have a lot of time to devote to studying, and if the rumours about N.E.W.Ts were true, he'd need every minute.
Draco frowned; on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the time slot for eight in the evening was greyed out and marked AFT. What the hell was AFT supposed to be?
"Professor Moody," he called, noting that his voice slipped easily back into the slightly plaintive, apologetic tone that worked so well on most teachers. Old habits died hard.
"What d'you need, Malfoy?" growled Moody.
Draco pointed to the AFT time slot. "I don't recognise this lesson."
"That's the preliminary Auror training programme. Auror Fast Track, AFT for short," said Moody. "Your mother told me to go ahead and sign you up."
There was an audible gasp from where Pansy was sitting, but Draco didn't bother looking. "Well," he said slowly, without looking at anyone. "I suppose that settles it, then."
He wasn't sure whether to feel shame or relief. It looked ridiculous that his mother was doing things like this, with Draco a grown man. It also spared him from being questioned by the Slytherins. The house had had a long tradition of respecting the Dark Arts, and Aurors were viewed as a permanent enemy of sorts, considering that the sole purpose of the Auror field was to stamp out all Dark Arts.
Family expectations, however, were more important in any Slytherin's ethos than anything else was. Disobeying one's elders meant disrespecting them, and that was simply unacceptable. Draco had a hunch that his mother remembered that much from her school days. He just wished he hadn't had to find out about his extended timetable in the middle of breakfast in the Great Hall. He frowned at the sheet of parchment, knowing that he was being watched, and shrugged.
"Merlin only knows what she wants me to do with Auror training, but there's nothing for it," he muttered, pretending to be talking to himself.
Moody grunted, but it was impossible to tell what he was trying to express. "Anyone else wanting to sign up for the Auror Fast Track, this is the time to do it," he said, addressing all of the seventh-years. He fished a torn piece of parchment out of his pocket. "Boot, Corner, Macmillan -- I've got you down already. Bulstrode, Potter, Turpin, Nott, Zabini -- you're all eligible." He folded the list of students and put it back in his pocket. His magical eye rolled back suddenly and he shouted, "I'd reconsider that, Kinney!"
Draco raised himself up off the bench a little to see: Emmett Kinney, a sixth-year Hufflepuff, was just in the middle of levitating a pyramid of butter dishes over Colin Creevey's head. At Moody's shout, the dishes wavered and began to float away from their neat formation, like confused cats. They landed back on the table, one by one, and Kinney hunched his shoulders and hid his eyes.
There was a cough, and then Millicent said, "What the hell, sign me up."
Moody's eyes -- the real one first, then the magical one -- turned to her. He fished the list out of his pocket and tapped his wand on it. Draco peeked at Millicent's timetable and saw the AFT labels materialise in their respective slots. At least he wouldn't be the only Slytherin there. Nott and Zabini, as expected, maintained a stony silence.
So did Potter, which was not entirely unexpected, considering the conversation he and Draco had had.
Lisa Turpin, a quick-eyed, slender Ravenclaw girl, said she wanted to sign up. Potter stared in the opposite direction, ignoring Moody's expectant stance. Draco couldn't quite appreciate the drama of it, because he was too torn between relief and disappointment.
A part of him -- the disappointed part -- had already constructed several scenarios in which he and Potter walked back from the Auror lessons together and got lost in a dark classroom, wands away and cocks out.
God, you're insane, Draco told himself. Certifiably fucking mental.
Ginny elbowed Potter in the ribs and hissed something unintelligible. Potter turned to look at Moody. His eyes cut to Draco for the briefest of moments, and Draco quickly bent close to Millicent, pretending to study her timetable.
"Yeah, okay," said Potter. "I'll do it."
Draco couldn't be sure, but he thought he heard Moody breathe a sigh of relief. He must have imagined it, though. Moody had never seemed like the type to place all his bets with Harry "Chosen One" Potter. It was one reason Draco had grown to grudgingly respect him.
That entire train of thought also made him remember that there was something he could do to keep Potter away. He needed to remind Potter just who Draco Malfoy really was, drunken one-offs notwithstanding.
It began on the way to Defence against the Dark Arts. Draco caught up to Potter, who was walking a few steps behind Longbottom. He looked oddly alone without Ginny on his arm.
Draco fell into step alongside him and summoned his most condescending tone. "You just couldn't resist making a spectacle of yourself, as usual."
"What are you talking about?" Potter's pace didn't falter, but Draco could hear that his voice was carefully guarded.
"I'm talking about that performance at breakfast, with Moody," said Draco impatiently. He put the back of his hand to his forehead dramatically. "Look at me, everyone! I'm Potter, having an existential crisis! And I'm going to make sure everyone knows about it!"
"What the hell's your problem?" Potter sounded bewildered.
"You," said Draco, and suddenly realised just how true that was. "Your attention-seeking is pathetic."
Potter stopped in the middle of the corridor and turned to face Draco, his eyes flashing. "My attention-seeking?"
"Yeah," said Draco, stopping as well. He put the back of his hand to his forehead again. "Hey everyone, I'm Potter. Let me sit here and look brooding while everyone waits with bated breath for my decision to join a stupid Auror training group!"
"If it's so stupid, why did you sign up for it?" Potter's expression turned stormy. "Oh, wait, I forgot. Mummy signed baby up because baby can't think for himself."
"Hey, at least I have a mother," said Draco easily, and smirked.
He'd expected Potter to look every part the wounded hero and walk away. He'd expected Potter to take out his wand and hex him. He'd expected everything except Potter grabbing him by the front of his robes and slamming him against the wall. Potter's shoulder dug painfully into Draco's, pinning him against the wall.
"What's your problem, Malfoy? Are you seriously that cross that I got you out of bed last night? Why are you being such a prick?"
"Because," whispered Draco, "I hate you."
He watched Potter's eyes widen and the corners of his mouth turn down. His heart lurched in a way it was definitely not supposed to where Harry Potter was concerned.
"Uh, Harry? Malfoy? What's going on?" Longbottom's round face loomed over Potter's shoulder. Draco refused to meet his eyes. There was something about the way Longbottom looked at you, something infinitely calming. Draco didn't want to be calm.
"Are they fighting? They're not, are they? Like Muggles?"
"It's Potter and Draco! They're fighting in the corridor!"
Potter stepped back, his green eyes never leaving Draco's, but it was too late. Moody's leg banged loudly on the stone floor.
Draco fully expected to be turned into a fuzzy rodent again, but Moody just looked at the two of them and growled, "Detention. All weekend. No leaving the castle all week, except for Herbology." And then, almost under his breath, "Thought you boys'd know better." He sounded old suddenly, old and tired, his voice like the whirring in the back of a worn-out grandfather clock.
The week dragged by like it was trying to win the Slowest Time Period in History award. Draco's professors all seemed under the impression that N.E.W.T examinations were happening the next day, or at least that's how it felt when Draco sat down to review his homework assignments every afternoon. It amazed him how easily he'd slipped back into a regular school routine, complaining about homework and gossiping about the teachers. As though the war hadn't happened, as though nothing had really changed.
Well, no. One thing had changed. Before this year, Draco would never have thought twice about having hurled an insult in Potter's direction.
He hadn't spoken to Potter since their fight on Monday. Potter was in all of Draco's classes except Arithmancy, Ancient Runes -- and Transfiguration, only because there were so many people taking final N.E.W.T-level Transfiguration and Charms that the seventh-years had to be split up into two groups; one had lessons in the morning, the other in the afternoon. The Auror Fast Track lessons were not beginning until the week after Quidditch tryouts, and Draco managed to avoid Potter quite well throughout the week.
This, as it turned out, wasn't too difficult -- not with Potter avoiding him, too. Maybe Draco didn't even need to erase any memories. If he and Potter could go back to their opposite ends of the world, Draco could just write the whole thing off as a youthful indiscretion. In a few years, he wouldn't even remember it. Not the way he remembered it now, every detail stark in his mind, every sound, every sweat drop.
That Draco wasn't looking forward to whatever detention Moody had planned for him and Potter was quite possibly the understatement of the year. He rose extra early every morning and left for breakfast long before Potter even woke up. He made sure to surround himself with Slytherins as much as he could. On Wednesday at supper, Millicent gave Draco a quizzical look.
"What?" asked Draco, turning to stare moodily at his steak. It still looked quite dead.
"What's with you?" asked Millicent. "You've been in a right state lately, ever since--"
"Don't you start, too." Pansy and Daphne had driven Draco insane with their questions about Monday's incident with Potter. He was seriously considering giving up his plans for Daphne and going after that perky Ravenclaw, Lisa. At least they'd have Auror lessons together. Then Draco could get lost in a dark classroom with Lisa instead of Potter.
Oddly enough, the thought of fucking Lisa Turpin on top of a disused desk was not nearly as arousing as the thought of Potter backing him up against selfsame desk and--
"Stop it," Draco told himself.
"I heard you the first time," muttered Millicent, frowning.
"Wasn't talking to you," said Draco with a sigh, and stabbed his steak with his fork. "It's dead," he announced to Millicent, who shook her head with a look of disapproval.
"Shouldn't play with your food," she said. "Don't tell me it's the row you had with Potter--"
"Of course not," snapped Draco, glaring at her. "Why would you say that?"
Millicent held up her hands. "Oh, no reason. Don't even listen to me," she said, but Draco didn't like the sly notes creeping into her voice. He pushed his plate away and chanced a peek at Potter, who was engrossed in a conversation with Longbottom.
Then Potter's gaze darted towards Draco, surreptitious and hurried. Draco turned his head quickly towards Daphne. "Started on the Ancient Runes homework yet?"
Michael Corner, who was seated next to Daphne, looked up with avid interest. "I've heard Babbling say that she's going to teach us runespells this year."
Draco blinked at him, confused by the sudden interruption. A barbed remark was dancing on the tip of his tongue, but he restrained himself. He lived in the same place and ate at the same table as these non-Slytherins. The least he could do was try and be civil to them. Except for Potter. Never Potter.
"I'm here for my detention," muttered Draco on Saturday morning as he stood in the doorway to Moody's office. Potter already stood at the opposite side of Moody's massive desk, scowling.
"Of course you are," said Moody. "I'd be surprised if you didn't show up."
Draco made no response. Moody got up and looked at Potter, then back at Draco. His magical eye made a disgusting noise. "I have no idea what happened. Frankly, I don't care. But there will be no further fighting after this weekend."
"Is that it?" asked Draco, not really meaning to say it out loud. Fucking stupid habit.
"Don't interrupt," chided Moody, taking out his wand. "Accio!"
Before Draco could react, his wand flew out of his pocket and into Moody's waiting grasp. At least Potter's wand suffered the same fate. Moody waved his wand and a small door opened in one of the office walls. Draco couldn't see very much except for a narrow, barely lit corridor. "In there," said Moody.
The boys had no choice but to comply. They walked through the door and stopped, turning to Moody. But the professor was still standing in his office. "You've got six hours until supper," said Moody. "Use them well."
The door swung shut. Draco and Potter were alone in a barely-lit corridor that led Merlin knew where. What the fuck was their detention supposed to be? Get out of here alive? Find the golden dildo at the end of the rainbow? Whatever it was, it meant Draco was locked in here for the next six hours. With Potter.
Oh, for fuck's sake.