Chapter Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Chapter Summary: Wherein Draco thinks too much, Moody suspects too much, and Harry wants too much.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Chapter 24 - Nothing Left to Prove
Another week later, Draco was about ready to swing, in macaque fashion, off the hangings round his bed to get Potter to notice him. This, of course, was unthinkable, and so Draco sat in the common room, next to Millicent, and brooded. There was a book open in his lap, but he didn't even bother to pretend he was reading it. Potter sat just a few feet away from him, on the Gryffindor sofa, and yet it seemed that the distance was much larger. Worse, the unexplained rift between Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy was starting to make some people curious in a way that was acutely uncomfortable for Draco.
Truth be told, a lot of things had become acutely uncomfortable for Draco in the weeks following the confrontation at the Three Broomsticks. Things like being in the same room with Potter, suddenly unable to tell himself that those green eyes would be for Draco alone, later. Which was, of course, ridiculous, but Draco's mind seemed to have developed an alarming predilection to wander wherever it desired, without a care in the world for Draco's will. There was another thing that was failing lately; why, just the other day Draco had had a daydream -- a daydream! -- about sneaking up on Potter after Auror lessons and... well, and treating Potter the same way he'd used to treat Draco, earlier in the year.
If all that weren't enough to declare Draco officially insane, even his resolve about the potion was weakening. Just before he had discovered the book on Dreamcatchers, he had been thinking about using an unwitting Potter as a means to freeing Lucius Malfoy from Azkaban. Those thoughts had vanished from his mind when, buoyed by his discovery, he had set out to procure everything necessary to make a Dreamcatcher. Lately, though, he often caught himself wondering if it wouldn't be preferable to forgo the Dreamcatcher altogether, in favour of using Potter. Somehow, Draco was sure that if he told Potter that he had changed his mind about forgetting, everything would go back to normal.
But he did not want to change his mind about forgetting. He was miserable, true enough, but he only needed to endure the misery for four more months. By the end of the school year, the Dreamcatcher would be ready, and Draco would be ready to start his adult life without the unfortunate complication of being a sick little deviant. He glanced over at Potter -- it was a habitual gesture, by then -- and felt like his mind had stopped. Potter was looking back at him.
They stared at each other, and Draco had a curious sense of disengagement from reality -- he and Potter were surrounded by their classmates and a few assorted sixth-years, but the hum of conversation seemed to dull around the line of sight between them. The cold winter light illuminating the room appeared to dim ever so slightly around everything that wasn't Potter. Draco told himself to break eye contact, to look elsewhere, to pretend it was merely a passing glance. When that failed, he willed himself to say something cutting, as though he were looking at Potter only to mock him. His will, however, had chosen that moment to bugger off along the same path that his good sense had taken long ago.
Then Potter looked away, and the moment was gone. Things came back into focus and the voices around Draco returned to their regular pitch, leaving him to wonder if he'd imagined the whole thing. He would have been able to tell himself that, too, if it hadn't been for his pulse racing as though he'd just run ten miles.
"And so you can see that the morality of what the Aurors do is dubious at best when viewed through the eyes of a Dark wizard's family. There are no absolutes--"
The cuckoo clock announced an end to their hour, and Moody left his sentence unfinished. Draco got to his feet, intending to follow Millicent out the door, but a cough from Moody stopped him.
"A word, Malfoy."
Draco tried to mask his irritation as he faced him. "What is it, sir?"
"You haven't said a word today."
The truth was, Draco had been so lost in vague, half-formed plans for confronting Potter that he had not been listening through the entire lesson. Of course, he couldn't simply tell Moody that and expect him to bugger off, so he assumed his best quizzical expression and said, "I thought the idea of these lessons was for you to talk, and for us to listen. Sir."
Moody's magical eye made a few dizzying revolutions in its orbit. "Admirable self-restraint from a boy who has a Dark wizard for a father."
"I don't understand what my father has to do with anything," said Draco. He was instantly on guard: had Moody somehow managed to figure out what Draco's whole purpose was in attending these lessons? Surely not. Even Moody's fabled eye could not see inside minds.
Moody leant against his desk and fixed Draco with a penetrating stare. "Tonight's lesson was only on issues of morality in regards to the Aurors' profession. Issues such as the destruction of families, who almost invariably blame the Aurors instead of blaming their loved ones for being stupid enough to take up the Dark Arts."
Draco shrugged. "Or being stupid enough to get caught."
"Does it bother you that your father was captured by Aurors?"
"He wasn't captured by Aurors in the traditional sense. My father is in prison because of a moment of faulty judgement. I can hardly be held responsible--"
"He thought the Dark Lo-- Voldemort would win against Potter, and acted accordingly."
"What did you think?"
"I hardly need to tell you that, Professor. Perhaps you might ask Potter."
Draco walked out of the room, straight-backed and on guard, feeling the weight of Moody's gaze on his shoulders even as he climbed the marble staircase. Somewhere above him, he heard the voices of his classmates, but he couldn't make out what they were saying. He was too busy straining his ears to make out Potter's voice. His mind kept returning to that moment in the common room, when Potter had looked at him instead of through him. It seemed a distant memory, though it had happened mere days ago. Potter hadn't looked at him again since then, but that had only strengthened Draco's resolve to make him look, make him notice.
If this had been happening to anyone but himself, Draco would have got a good laugh out of the irony of it all.
He was hurrying to catch up with the others when he spotted a shadowy figure moving down a corridor on his left, away from the amply lit stairwell. Draco knew that shadow, knew that walk, knew that hopeless mess of hair. Without really thinking about it, he set off down the corridor, following Potter as quietly as he could. Potter seemed to be headed towards the Astronomy Tower, and Draco wondered if he was meeting anyone.
Not if I can help it, he thought with a vicious, startling resolve.
Oh, ten thousand hells. Draco cursed his stupid inability to keep his mouth shut when lost in thought and stepped beneath a flickering torch. Potter's eyes widened for a fraction of a second, but he turned away immediately, resuming his pace. Draco wasn't exactly sure what happened next; all he knew was that he suddenly had Potter pinned against a darkened stretch of wall, and that Potter's proximity was doing terrible things to his wits.
Potter kept his eyes averted as he struggled to get free, but for once, Draco had turned out the stronger. His hands around Potter's wrists, his body pressed snugly against Potter's -- these things were incongruous, unfamiliar, wrong, but at the same time, Draco could smell Potter. That was familiar, and it felt anything but wrong. Draco leaned closer and bent his head so that his nose brushed against Potter's neck. His cock was swelling already; there was something about being in control that made him hotter than he already was for Potter alone.
"I told you to stay the fuck away," said Potter through his teeth, and then immediately gasped in surprise as Draco, desperate for something... anything... Potter, licked his neck, exposed by Potter's efforts of trying to get free. He did it again, squeezing Potter's wrists harder than he needed to, and again, over and over until Potter's neck was wet, and he realised he was bucking mindlessly against Potter, whose breathing had gone from ragged to laboured. He was meeting Draco thrust for thrust, his eyes closed, his expression pained. Like he didn't want to be here, didn't want to do this, but couldn't help himself. Like Draco.
Potter looked at him then, though Draco couldn't see his eyes in the darkness, just a vague sort of glint from his glasses. He waited for Potter to tell him to stop -- logically, this is what Draco would have done in his place. Instead, Potter's words, barely audible but commanding, were, "Kiss me." As Draco did just that, he felt an odd sense of loss -- he had relinquished control, and already his grip on Potter slackened. It was no longer necessary to restrain Potter, though; Draco didn't think wild Hippogriffs would drag him away now that he had his tongue in Draco's mouth and his hand down Draco's pants.
Potter closed his palm around the head of Draco's cock; Draco whimpered in a most undignified fashion and thrust against Potter's hand, catching Potter's bottom lip between his teeth and swiping across it with his tongue. For a time, there was nothing but the wet slide of their tongues and the rhythmic slap of Potter's hand on his cock. Draco's own right hand opened and closed almost convulsively, but he couldn't reach the front of Potter's robes like this, not without making Potter stop first. And Draco didn't want that, would not abide that.
Potter stopped, and Draco was so surprised that he came, messy and noisy and wet, all over Potter's robes, riding it out in the half-slackened grip of Potter's hand. He opened his eyes as he struggled to stay on his feet, and found Potter watching him. It's all I think about. Making you come. Like this. Who had said that? Potter or Draco? There was a heavy haze in his mind, in which relief mingled with sharp, whip-like fear. This was all them, the two of them -- fear and longing, doubt and need, earth and sky, Malfoy and Potter.
Draco's fingers felt heavy and alien, but he pulled Potter's robes up and fell to his knees, almost forgetting to feel ashamed for what he wanted to do now, what he had dreamt about. It almost didn't feel wrong as he drew Potter's cock into his mouth, the taste of it driving out all thought. Somewhere above him, Potter made a lot of noise, far too much noise -- someone was going to walk up and see -- but Draco found he did not care. He focussed on his movements, on the feel of Potter's warm, slick cock in his mouth. It didn't all fit, and Draco was forced to pull back a few times to keep from gagging, but he sucked, and then pulled back to look at it, straining almost visibly, dark and wet.
"Malfoy, I-- please, just. Please."
Draco looked up at Potter's face, anxious and wide-eyed, such a far cry from the cold indifference of the past month. Please yourself, Draco wanted to tell him, but instead he took Potter's cock back in his mouth. Because he wanted to. There was a warm gush of liquid, and Draco swallowed it, barely aware of what it was. It didn't matter. He was close to throwing up, anyway; his mind was clearing and the first thing he realised was that his mother would know about this as soon as she decided to take a look in her history book.
Potter helped him to his feet and they stood quietly for a time. Finally, Potter spoke. "I-- Malfoy. If you want to forget. I suppose. It's your life. I just-- I want you so much. You--" He broke off and frowned in a way that suggested sudden pain, a quick lowering of his brows and a barely-there wince.
Draco had spent the past month in hazy daydreams of Potter saying those very words. Only, in the daydreams, Potter had been much more coherent and better-spoken, overall. Now, Draco said nothing, because there was nothing to say.
Potter took out his wand and cleaned them both up, first Draco and then himself. "Will you tell me why?"
"Why what?" asked Draco. His presence of mind had returned, and he felt... empty. Getting what you wanted was not supposed to make you feel empty.
"Why do you want to forget? Why can't you--"
"My mother knows," interrupted Draco. "She knows." All he could think about was Narcissa, curled up in her favourite armchair with that damned book on her lap, horror marring her beautiful features. Draco felt ill. "She knows," he repeated.
Potter took off his glasses and began to wipe them with the sleeve of his robe. "She hasn't disowned you."
"Your father can't very well do anything from prison, so what do you care what he thinks? Your mother hasn't told him, has she?"
"My mother can't bear to -- she loves me," said Draco tonelessly. There was no room for evasion, no room for anything but truth. "Neither can she bear to know me for an abomination. I have to do this for her and me. As for my father, I will always care what he thinks, Potter. I didn't turn into a fucking Gryffindor just because I joined your side in the war."
"Yeah," said Potter, putting his glasses back on. "Slytherin to the bitter end. I can see that." His tone, vaguely accusatory though trying not to be, spoke volumes. The wall torch blazed to new life for a moment, then faded back to a miserable flicker.
"I never promised you anything," said Draco. He felt very tired.
Potter glanced at him. "No, you haven't. I never promised you anything, either."
He walked away, and Draco stared after him, wondering what that was supposed to mean.
At breakfast the next morning, Draco understood what Potter had meant. It was as though nothing had happened the night before. Potter did not look at him. Draco stared at the eggs on his plate and told himself it was for the best. Last night, he had been sure that Potter would accept that Draco needed to forget. That he would no longer consider it a deal-breaker. A thought of giving up the idea fluttered across Draco's mind once more. It bothered him that he was even considering it -- for what? Once he forgot, he could go back to suppressing those unnatural urges with ease, just like he had done since he had first realised he was rather more interested in the boys' "down-there" than the girls'. Once he forgot, there would be warmth in a woman's arms -- a small comfort, perhaps, but it would do. It would do. Once he forgot. But for now, he still remembered everything. Draco pushed his plate away. His appetite had disappeared.
Millicent caught up with him on the way to Potions. "What's with you?" she asked as she fell into step beside him.
"Nothing," said Draco. "Why?"
"You've been moping about ever since after Christmas, that's why," she said. "Even Theodore has noticed, and he can give you a run for your money in self-absorption."
Draco glanced back and saw Nott and Zabini following close behind, engaged in a conversation too animated to be genuinely so. He felt heat in his face. Zabini knew, but he wouldn't tell Nott. Would he? Too many people knew, and he could only trust one of them.
"Pansy thinks it's because of her," continued Millicent. "She thinks your mother upbraided you for breaking up with her, and now you don't know how to approach her to fix things."
Draco snorted. "I wish it were that simple." So Pansy was waiting for him to move, was she? Maybe he would. It would piss off Daphne, but he had told Daphne that his mother disapproved of her. Draco shook his head. It was hard enough pretending there was nothing going on with Potter; if he had to start pretending that something was going on with Pansy, he'd never have a moment's peace. NEWTs loomed too closely for him to lose any more focus.
"Well, at least we've established that this 'nothing' of yours is anything but simple," remarked Millicent as they approached the Potions classroom. There was a clattering noise somewhere deep in the dungeon; the Bloody Baron was probably hoping to scare some first-years out of their wits.
Draco glanced over at her, suddenly overcome by the temptation to tell her everything -- from the book in his mother's possession to the desperation of waiting for the potion, from the turmoil caused by Potter's indifference to the nagging fear that the potion would fail. He chased the urge away. He would not become the stereotypical poofter, of which there was one in every story, who sat around painting his toenails and confiding his woes to his stereotypical female friend. "It's nothing," he said, more firmly, and entered the classroom.
February arrived with a cold snap so severe that even the seventh-years' Friday excursions to Hogsmeade came to a halt. It was too cold to be outside for more than a few minutes, and though the upper-year students knew spells that would take care of that, they were not allowed to use them; the spells had to be cast in a place of warmth to work, and no magic was allowed outside classrooms. Filch patrolled the exits with religious fervour, Mrs Norris never far behind. Pomfrey and Flitwick constructed a long, see-through tube leading from the courtyard entrance to the greenhouses. It diverged into three smaller tubes, one for each greenhouse, and that was all anyone saw of outside for the duration of the cold snap. Millicent grumbled about inability to practice for the upcoming fourth versus seventh year game. Longbottom provided an accompaniment in the way of moaning about some rare plant in greenhouse two that needed open air once every week to grow properly. Draco kept checking his potion with obsessive regularity, but it refused to go from slate grey to a dull mauve -- the colour change he needed before he could add the Costa Rican sand.
Cooped up together in the common rooms, the students were beginning to grow restless and irritated -- this was particularly true for South Tower residents. Colin Creevey and Emmett Kinney got into a fistfight over proper positioning of Gobstones on a Japanese-type board, and Ginny Weasley called Pansy a cow for putting her books on the Gryffindor sofa. Even Luna Lovegood's vague, expressionless gaze seemed to flash with barely suppressed irritation whenever she glided into the common room. Luckily, the seventh-years didn't have as many chances to grow antsy around one another; the professors had decided that the cold snap was a great excuse for assigning even more homework to the NEWT-level students, and most of them spent all their time whimpering over mile-long essays or with their noses buried in several books at once.
Granger would have been so proud, thought Draco idly as he glanced at Potter, who laboured over copying a diagram from a textbook.
Potter raised his head, and Draco thought for a moment that he'd spoken aloud, but no one else was looking at him. He remembered the last time they'd looked at each other in the common room, and what had followed a few days later. Fire erupted next to his skin at the thought of it, and he decided to go and check on his potion. Lately, he did that every time he thought of Potter -- it did nothing to quell the uncomfortable desires, but it reminded him there was an end in sight. Two more weeks, and the last ingredient would go into the cauldron. By the end of March, the potion would be ready, and by the end of June, Draco would be free.
He peered carefully at the glossy-smooth surface of the potion, hoping to see a tiny bubble or two. The potion needed to boil when the Costa Rican sand was added, but increasing the temperature would ruin everything. Draco exhaled, directing his breath away from the cauldron. There were no bubbles yet.
Behind him, the door creaked. Draco spun around, expecting -- hoping -- it was Potter, but it was only Longbottom, looking dejected. "It died," he said with a fatalistic shrug.
"What died?" asked Draco, not really caring, but wanting to mask his disappointment and irritation. He was here with his potion, his only source of hope, and yet he was disappointed that Potter hadn't followed him. Sometimes he longed for the first days of the year, the days before he had made the singularly bad decision of accompanying Potter on his midnight walk through the grounds.
"The Egyptian Snapdragon," said Longbottom. Draco jumped. He'd forgotten all about him.
"Ah," he said. The rare plant that had had Longbottom in such a tizzy since the cold snap had begun. "My condolences."
Longbottom gave him a surprised look, but said nothing. The door burst open, and both boys turned to it.
"There you are, Neville, I think I found out why we couldn't--" Potter broke off and glanced at Draco. "What are you doing here?"
"I live here," said Draco, putting as much incredulity into his voice as he could muster. Honestly.
"I thought you went to the library," muttered Potter, addressing the tops of his shoes.
"Malfoy and I were just talking about Egyptian Snapdragons," Longbottom added helpfully. "Mine and Millicent's died."
"My mother had one in her garden when I was small," said Draco, nodding. He had no idea if his mother had even heard of an Egyptian Snapdragon, but there was no one here to give him the lie. Besides, the look on Potter's face was priceless. "It also died."
"They're finicky plants, aren't they, and it's so difficult to find proper potting soil," said Longbottom with some excitement.
Potter looked him in the eye. "Can you talk about it later? I've got to tell you this."
"All right," said Longbottom with a frown, and followed Potter out of the dormitory. Just before the door closed, Draco heard him say, "I thought you told Malfoy about the Eyelets."