Chapter Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Chapter Summary: Wherein Seamus is inappropriately suggestive, Neville's mind is elsewhere, Draco misunderstands Harry's intentions, there is a Talk that leaves no one comfortable, and, of course, someone they should've expected walks in from stage left.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Chapter 22 - The Better Part of Valour
"What is that?" asked Thomas.
"Don't tell me you're going to make potions here," said Finnigan. He lay on his bed with his feet propped up against one of the posts.
"I have to," lied Draco. "It's an extra-credit assignment for Slughorn. Needs nightly attention."
"I've got something that needs nightly attention, too," said Finnigan with a sly glance at Potter. "I don't, however, whip it out in the dormitory."
Potter snorted, and looked straight at Draco. Draco resisted raising his eyes heavenward -- if Potter kept on being this obvious about things, they'd be front-page news within a week. "It's perfectly odourless," he assured Finnigan, ignoring Potter's eyes on him. A part of his mind, however, wandered back to the train, and to the way Potter had teased him...
Draco chased the memory away. "Odourless," he said again. "Perfectly." It wasn't, actually, but he knew a spell that would continuously eliminate any smells issuing from the cauldron.
Thomas gave him a strange look. "Heard you the first time, mate." He shrugged. "Whatever. You're the one in NEWT potions; I think you can manage not to make it explode."
"How long is it going to take?" asked Longbottom. It was probably only Draco's imagination, but he did not look pleased at the mention of exploding cauldrons.
"Three months," said Draco. Finnigan whistled.
Potter frowned. "You aren't making Polyjuice, are you?"
"Really, Potter. One would think you cheated on your Potions OWL, that's how little you appear to know. Polyjuice isn't the only potion in the world that takes a long time to brew," he said in a superior, cutting tone.
"Ouch," remarked Thomas. "You're not going to stand for that, are you, Harry?"
"I'm sure I'll find a way to settle the score," said Potter, his eyes still on Draco, who had to fight not to react.
Stop it, Potter, I want-- ohgod-- Potter-- someone's coming--"
"That's okay, as long as it's not you. I'm not done with you yet."
"Potter," whined Draco. Potter sat back and studied Draco's cock, red and wet and straining, almost visibly, to be touched again.
Potter looked up at him. "D'you think we could switch to first names?"
He can't mean that. He doesn't mean that. "What do you mean?"
"The way you always call me 'Potter' makes me feel like I've been a bad dog."
Draco grinned uncertainly. "Well, you have been a bad dog."
"You must be really desperate. Look at you, you're flirting."
" I am not flirting, I-- oh, do that again."
Draco was going to find the person who had taught Potter those underhanded tactics and strangle them. He had suspicions about a certain red-haired girl in sixth year. Since her reconciliation with Potter, Ginny seemed to have appointed herself his chief of staff and, like Millicent, walked around glaring at anyone who dared look at Potter cross-eyed.
Unlike Millicent, Ginny did not know about Draco. Or did she? Draco realised he was frowning at Potter, who was responding with a quizzical look.
Finnigan broke into the staring competition. "Malfoy, are you teaching Harry how to have a conversation with your eyebrows?"
"I want a lesson too," said Longbottom, his face utterly guileless. "Millicent can go for hours without saying a word--"
"See, I thought she'd be a screamer," said Thomas with a roguish grin in Finnigan's direction.
"Who, Millicent?" continued Longbottom blithely. "I've never heard her shout, actually--"
"Well then you must be doing something wrong," said Finnigan.
"Shut up, both of you," snapped Draco. "He," -- he jerked his head in Longbottom's direction -- "may have no clue, but you will not talk about her that way."
"Neville, I think you've got competition," said Finnigan.
"A knight in shining armour," agreed Thomas.
Draco narrowed his eyes. "So, Potter, does Ginny Weasley really take it up the arse or is that just a rumour?" Thomas's catlike grin slid off his face instantly.
"I wouldn't know," said Potter, studying Draco. "I don't swing that way."
"You did before," said Finnigan, and sat up, swinging his legs down. "What happened? I always mean to ask you."
Draco focussed his eyes on Longbottom, who sat on the floor looking bewildered. The prior conversation had gone entirely over his head, and Draco envied him slightly. Longbottom clearly had no use for double entendres: he said just what he meant, nothing more or less. Before this year, Draco would have thought all Gryffindors were like that.
"I dunno," Potter was saying in the meantime. "I suppose I just woke up one day and realised I was gay."
"Ri-i-i-ight," said Finnigan with a snort. "It's okay, you don't have to tell us who it was."
"Does he go to Hogwarts?" asked Thomas, elbowing Finnigan in the ribs.
Potter rolled his eyes. "It happened during the war," he said. "You work it out."
Draco started wiping the lid of his cauldron with painstaking care. He became so engrossed in this highly important activity that he didn't even notice Potter and Longbottom leave the room. When he looked up, Finnigan was lounging on the bed again, feet high on the bedpost.
"I think it was Ron," he confided to Thomas. "That's why he won't talk about it."
"Ron? But Ron was snogging Lavender and then he was snogging Hermione--"
"It was wartime," said Finnigan with a knowing air. "War changes things, my Da always says. You're cooped up with no one but other fellows, there's bound to be some... experimentation."
Thomas looked disgusted. "Experimentation? Why can't they just jerk off like everyone else?"
Finnigan raised himself up onto his elbows, a little. "It's better when someone else is touching it."
"Yeah, a girl! But a bloke? I dunno, Seamus--"
That was Draco's cue to go. "You could've at least waited for me to leave before you started trying to seduce poor Thomas," he called over his shoulder at Finnigan, whose face immediately turned bright pink.
Millicent thus avenged, Draco descended to the common room. He was not a betting man, but he would have staked the rest of the money in his Gringotts vault that Finnigan would be giving Thomas a demonstration within a week of this conversation. It was as though whatever he and Potter had were catching.
Or maybe Finnigan just feels safer about those strange alien feelings now that the hero of the wizarding world is publicly gay.
There had been a veritable sea of wizards and witches coming out over the past months, ever since Rita Skeeter's article, for which there still hadn't been a retraction as Potter had demanded.
And then Draco realised that he had not seen Zacharias Smith -- neither on the train nor at dinner, actually. He walked into the common room and found Millicent sitting on the Gryffindor sofa with Herbert in her lap. Lolita lazed nearby, whilst the ginger Crookshanks sat next to the fireplace, swishing his tail. Longbottom and Potter had their heads bent together over a far corner table, peering at a large piece of parchment -- that map of Potter's, no doubt.
"Where is Smith?" Draco asked, sitting down next to Millicent.
She rolled her eyes with a vexed expression. "He's finishing out the rest of his year at Durmstrang. Because Hogwarts is a hotbed of corruption and disease."
"No," said a voice next to Draco, a voice that sent a shiver down his spine. Potter sat down beside him, and Draco hoped he would at least have the presence of mind not to put his arm round the back of the sofa or anything like that. "Skeeter never published a retraction, see. I asked Smith what was keeping him and he said he wasn't going to do it."
"And then what?" prompted Millicent.
"And then I bottled up a certain memory and sent it along to Smith's esteemed parents."
"You just gave it away like that?" asked Longbottom, walking closer. He had a preoccupied look about him, with a hint of impatience. Why had Potter abandoned the conversation with Longbottom? Surely not so he could sit beside Draco.
"It's not a cherished memory," said Potter, his tone sardonic. Draco thought back to that girl Penelope -- no, Faustina -- and her letter to Alistair Liddell's parents.
"Why?" asked Millicent. "Why would you do that?"
"Because he didn't keep his end of the bargain," said Potter, shrugging. His eyes were cold.
Millicent shook her head, obviously disgusted. "Now I need another Chaser."
Draco laughed, despite himself. He'd been expecting her to scold Potter for outing Smith to his parents, but not this.
"I think Finnigan will do it, if you give him a chance," he told her, thinking of Finnigan's awkward advances towards Thomas. Had they been advances?
"Well, I'm off to Hogsmeade," said Potter, and rose swiftly.
"On a Saturday?" asked Millicent. Ginny chose that moment to appear from the girls' dormitory stairwell and give Potter a huge grin.
Does she know? Draco studied her, but she did not look at him.
"Yeah," said Potter," I'm meeting someone in half an hour. I'll be back before the night is over." With that, he was gone.
"Speaking of the night being over," said Draco, rising, "I've got another six inches to write for McGonagall's essay and I don't fancy spending all day tomorrow doing it. If anyone needs me, I'll be in the Restricted Section."
He could feel Millicent's shrewd eyes on him as he climbed through the portrait hole. With a mental shrug, Draco directed his steps towards the ground level and out of the castle. She knew about him and Potter, anyway; she was allowed to put two and two together. After all, he had told her on the train that he had finished McGonagall's essay days ago.
"I hate being in the same room with you," said Potter by way of greeting as Draco crept into the upstairs room at the inn.
"I could leave," suggested Draco, and put his hand on the door handle, but Potter stopped him. His hand was warm.
"I mean that I'm not even allowed to look at you, let alone touch you if other people are around."
Draco's heart beat very near his skin, and every pulse point felt alive. "I hope you aren't suggesting that we advertise--"
"Heaven forbid," said Potter with a caustic edge to his voice. "One of us has a reputation to protect."
Draco suddenly realised that agreeing to this... tryst had been one of his less than brilliant ideas. "That's not very funny, Potter."
Potter looked him straight in the eye. "I suppose not." He turned away and walked to the window. The village outside looked like something out of a snow-globe, though it had stopped snowing a while ago. "I spent Christmas at the Weasleys'," he said, his back still turned. "I talked to Mr Weasley about--"
Draco gripped the door handle tighter. "Oh, no, Potter. No. It isn't like that. We are not going to sit here and share our experiences over Christmas. We aren't friends."
"What are we, then?" asked Potter, turning around. His eyes were flat.
"Nothing," said Draco.
"Really?" Three strides, and Potter was in front of him. He forced Draco's hand away from the door and pressed it against his crotch. Draco had not seen the bulge in his trousers before, but he could see it now. Feel it. His mouth went dry. "Like that?" insisted Potter. "Nothing?"
"Nothing," affirmed Draco, letting his fingers slide down lower, cupping Potter through his trousers. Potter let go of his hand and took him by the shoulders. Roughly, he pulled Draco towards himself, and Draco went to him, his neck arching on pure instinct as Potter bent his head to the side of it, the way Draco liked, firm tongue and then teeth, just a little.
"Is this nothing, too?" Potter asked against his neck, and flicked his tongue against Draco's skin. Potter's cock was firm in his palm, and Draco thought, too many clothes, and moved to unfasten Potter's stupid belt, but found it missing. "You always have such trouble with it," murmured Potter. "Thought I would spare you."
The words cut into Draco, particularly the word "always". He held his arms out, pushing Potter away and keeping him there. "There's nothing 'always' about it," he said, struggling to steady his breathing. "I told you I'm not... we're not..."
Potter rolled his eyes, sighing with exasperation. "Can we just once have sex without you needing to reassure yourself that it's completely meaningless? I get it, Malfoy. You don't have to worry about me proposing marriage or suggesting we move in together after Hogwarts."
"People like you can't marry," said Draco, seizing upon the opportunity to change the subject. He was not going to discuss his mental state with Potter. "It flies in the face of what marriage is about."
"I don't give a fuck what you think marriage is about," said Potter. "My point is, I'm not proposing. So would you just relax?" Without waiting for a response, he moved Draco's arms out of the way as if they hadn't even been there. Taking Draco's face in both hands, Potter kissed him, slow and long, and then somehow their clothes were gone, and Draco lay stretched out beneath Potter on the tiny bed's lumpy mattress.
Something was off about the way Potter moved, something... different. He's been with someone else, thought Draco. It explained the teasing on the train and this odd confidence that hadn't been there before. Before the holidays, Potter had been eager as a puppy. Now, he seemed to know exactly what he wanted and how.
"You could've told me you didn't like this," said Potter, and lifted his head from Draco's lap. Draco's cock lay pink and limp against his stomach, unable to compete with the sick, churning feeling in his gut at the thought of Potter with somebody else. He had been enjoying himself, but he couldn't very well tell Potter that, not without admitting that he was jealous.
And now he didn't know what to do. Potter seemed hesitant to touch him again, unwilling to meet his eyes. Draco was torn between wanting to run and wanting to make an impression that would make Potter forget the other one, whoever he was. If Draco left, Potter might decide he wasn't worth the effort and aggravation. If he left now, Potter might not seek him out again. With helpless fury at himself, Draco realised that he wouldn't like that. Not until his Dreamcatcher was ready, not until he was ready to forget. He looked at Potter's mouth, lips wet and dark, imagined it on his cock and felt a renewed surge of heat, dark and twisting. He rose to a sitting position and pulled Potter up, hissing as his hardening cock made contact with Potter's heated skin. He wanted to do something that would make Potter forget the earlier embarrassing moment.
"Want to fuck you," whispered Potter against his mouth, and thrust hard against Draco's stomach for emphasis.
Draco shut his eyes. Not that. Anything but that. He opened his mouth to say just that, but Potter spoke first. "But we won't do anything you don't want to do."
"If it were up to me, I wouldn't do any of this," said Draco before he could stop himself.
Potter pulled back, his eyes ablaze. "So it's all me, is it? You're just a victim, are you?"
Draco looked at his flushed face, his darkened green eyes, the saliva on his lower lip. No. I just can't help myself.
Belatedly, he realised it had been a whisper, not a thought. Potter's look softened and he took Draco's lower lip between his teeth, pressing his body closer to Draco's, sliding down to let their cocks brush against each other. Draco gasped at the contact, and then sank into a slow, achy haze as Potter kissed him, urgent and demanding, pulling them both around so they lay on their sides, sliding his free hand to rest possessively on Draco's arse.
Draco wanted to tell him to stop touching him there, but he liked it, liked Potter's palm closing over his arse cheek. It set off a new rush of feeling in his chest, fright and pleasure in equal amounts. They were both sweating as they rutted against each other; Draco would never come like this but he didn't want it to stop. Potter came up for air, only to say, more firmly this time, "want to fuck you."
Draco's arse clenched involuntarily. "What if I want to fuck you?" he asked. The air was suffocating, stale, and it felt as though time stopped around them, that nothing existed outside of this bed and their naked bodies pressed against each other.
Potter leant closer. "Do you?" He traced Draco's lower lip with his tongue. "I'll let you if you let me."
"I told you, I'm not like that," protested Draco. He had a brief imaginary glimpse of himself with his cock buried balls-deep in Potter's arse, then another of Potter bending over him, leaving a bite mark on his shoulder, and a world of pain blurring Draco's vision. At thirteen, he had overheard some older boys talking about wanking whilst sticking a finger up the arse -- he had tried it and it had hurt so much that he'd sworn never to do that again. And yet the thought of Potter's cock in him made him shiver with more than just anticipation of horrible pain.
Potter's eyes held something like amusement. "If you're not like that," he said after a moment, "then you have no business wanting to fuck me."
Draco said nothing. This had not been the first time he'd thought about fucking Potter, and it unsettled and upset him that he seemed to find the idea of being fucked more pleasant than the other way around. "That's that then," he said to Potter. "No fucking."
"No fucking," agreed Potter, a little too quickly. Draco felt a now-familiar churning start in his belly. He wasn't the only one any more; he knew that certainly, now. Potter still wanted him, but didn't need him. I'm the only one at school who'll give him this, Draco realised with mounting horror. But he's just waiting until he can go back to whomever he had met over the holidays.
The thought filled Draco with bitterness, though he knew it would work out for the best. When school was over, Draco would not remember any of this and wouldn't let Potter within two feet of himself. Until then, he would make the most of this temporary affliction. He slid one of his hands between them and wrapped his fingers around the base of Potter's cock, warm and heavy and damp. Potter let out a low groan and found Draco's cock with his own hand, his grip firm and sure and already achingly familiar. They didn't talk, didn't kiss, just thrust up into each other's hands until Potter shuddered, pressing his forehead against Draco's shoulder, and Draco felt liquid splatter across his chest and stomach, wet and heavy. Potter's grip around him slackened a little, and Draco came after a split second of near-panic that he would lose momentum if Potter pulled away. He made no sound as he came, but he thought he heard Potter moan a second time.
They lay still for some time, and when Draco's wits returned to him, he realised he felt... empty, empty and alone. He didn't understand why. Potter seemed surprised to find Draco's cock in his hand as he began to roll away; he let it drop without a second glance. Before the holidays, he would have let go carefully, almost regretfully. Jealousy seethed bitter and harsh in Draco's stomach, and he felt even lonelier. As he watched Potter get dressed, he almost asked who he'd been with, but something stopped him every time. It was none of his business.
Draco cleaned up the mess on the bed, surprised at how mechanical the gesture was by now, then cleaned himself up and got dressed as well.
"Next Saturday, then?" asked Potter. They had agreed to meet here on Saturdays instead of Fridays, to avoid running into their classmates downstairs.
Draco looked at him and felt a chill. Potter seemed so unlike the boy who had dragged Draco into an empty compartment just hours earlier. He looked... indifferent, and Draco knew it had to do with what had just happened. This encounter had felt utterly devoid of meaning, and Draco wondered why this bothered him. He had wanted this to be meaningless.
"There really is no point, is there?" he heard himself say. Potter looked hurt for a fleeting moment, and Draco felt an absurd sense of relief.
"I didn't realise there was supposed to be a point," said Potter slowly.
"You didn't let me finish," Draco hastened to say. "I meant to say that there's no point in repeating what we've already agreed to."
"Right," said Potter. "Agreed." He looked thoughtful for a moment, then added, "But I just realised that there really is no point. We have sex and go our separate ways, then behave like near-strangers at school..."
"That's the whole point," said Draco. He could see where Potter's thought process was taking him, and he did not like it. "Getting off. It's a point in itself."
Potter shrugged. "Dunno. It feels odd."
"Oh, I get it," said Draco. "You would rather pounce on me from the shadows and to hell with the Eyelets all over the school."
In his own mental hell, Draco saw a very clear image of Potter's serious face forming into a mocking grin, heard him say, actually, I'd rather not pounce on you at all. The vividness of it made Draco go cold all over, then he felt hot from the embarrassment he knew he would feel if that were to happen.
But Potter didn't smile at all. "There are a lot of things I'd rather do," he said. "You should go," he added. "We did agree that I must wait until you get back to the castle before I leave, and it's getting late."
Draco left without a word, horrified that he had actually wanted to ask what they were, those other things Potter would rather do. It was dark in the corridor outside the room; the single wall-torch had long since burned out. When Rosmerta had owned the inn, she had used Everburning Torches. Why would she have taken them with her?
"Well, this is an interesting place to run into you," said Zabini's calm voice from the shadows.