Authors: furiosity & incapricious
Fandom: Harry Potter & Bleach
Genre: Crossover | Drama
Rating: Light R
Pairing: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy
Disclaimer: JKR and Kubo own. We only play. You do not sue.
Length: 3000 words (this part)
Summary: In which some things are better than sex, secrets build into a tottering pile, nutrition and sleep are not the only needs of a growing boy, dragons do exist, and Draco performs a series of experiments.
Note: Will of the Heart is a track on the Bleach anime OST.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
10 x Will of the Heart
Draco floated in blankness, his mind as still as a midnight pond. His body flowed through the sword forms, unthinking, mechanical; he was unaware of its movement. He felt nothing but the pale white haze of his mindscape. Thoughts circled his bubble of calm like ravenous sharks, but they could not come through.
When they had first started studying advanced meditation techniques, Draco had scoffed at the idea that he could clear his mind of thought so fully that he could be aware of thoughts and actions but be utterly unaffected by them. He knew better, now. It was the perfect escape. Better than the books he'd turned to as a child, better than the exhilaration of flight, better than--
Better than sex?
The blankness vanished, and Draco was once again in the disused training field tucked into the furthest corner of the Academy grounds. The sun's rays bore down on him like so many pinpricks, the scent of decaying tufts of ryegrass dotted around him rushed into his nostrils, the chatter of wagtails from the forest beyond the boundary filled his ears, completely shattering his inner silence. His sweaty grip on the sword hilt faltered, and he once again assumed the beginning stance, ready to do it over again.
He shouldn't have got involved with Hajime. For the few weekly moments of stolen pleasure, the price was too high. The fear of being found out and punished -- fraternising with students from other years was strictly forbidden -- had made him unable to keep his concentration in lessons, forcing him to spend all these out-of-class hours practicing the meditation techniques . The punishment was not merely detention but expulsion, and the possibility frightened Draco to the point of near-paralysis. Expulsion from the Academy meant no second chances.
Not to mention Potter was onto him. Draco clutched the sword hilt tighter as he swung the blade down and to the side, laying waste to an overgrown clump of grass. He had come straight here after Potter accosted him outside Building 42, to clear his head and decide what he was going to do. More and more often, he thought about simply telling Potter what he was up to -- surely it wouldn't be a big deal to him.
Oh, but it will, an oddly squeaky voice whispered in Draco's head. It's one thing to have a gay acquaintance; it's another to share a room with him. It'll turn awkward. Every time you look at him, he'll think you're checking him out.
Draco brought the sword up sharply and stood still, staring at the point of the blade. A yellow-green dragonfly hovered above the grass where his sword-point had been a moment ago. He had been hearing that voice for a while now, and it didn't sound like anyone he'd ever known. It was as though he'd picked up a passenger inner voice in Soul Society, as though it was unacceptable to have inner voices that spoke to you in English and sounded like people you knew. Draco didn't speculate on the appropriateness of having inner voices in the first place; surely everybody had them.
The most annoying thing of all was that unlike most inner voices, this one was rarely wrong. If Draco told Potter that his nightly walks involved taking detours into the old administrative building and being fucked over various abandoned pieces of furniture, Potter would maybe understand. Then he would start giving Draco strange looks -- just like Zabini had. The strange looks would turn into standoffishness, then into taunts delivered when you least expected them -- and which you had to endure, because you were the one with the secret you didn't want known.
Plus, Potter's fears wouldn't be entirely unfounded. Draco had been exasperated with Zabini's behaviour because he had honestly had no interest in Zabini; he might as well have been a woman for all Draco cared. Potter was different. It was really Potter's fault that Draco and Hajime met, that Draco had agreed to one tryst, then sought out another.
"I don't understand why they got so upset." Potter opined. He stood naked next to the changing room bench, swiping a towel over his chest.
Draco, who had borne witness to Potter's gleeful exhibitionism for about ten minutes now, fumbled doggedly with his loincloth. These things were very difficult to put on if you had a massive hard-on. Putting it on one-handed while holding a towel to cover yourself made the task pretty much impossible.
Potter was looking at him, clearly expecting a reply. Draco did his best to find his voice. "You climbed into the bath covered in sweat after practice," he muttered.
That had really been the start, hadn't it? Draco had never looked at Potter in that light before -- maybe it had been the glasses, or maybe Draco just instinctively dismissed the idea of sleeping with Gryffindors, who knew? It had caught him by surprise, seeing Potter naked and, well, liking what he saw. Too bad he couldn't un-see it. He wasn't going to make any moves on Potter; he wasn't stupid. But it had been Potter who'd reminded Draco that a young man had needs aside from nutrition and sleep, and that everything was just fine with the equipment down below, thank you very much.
A year later, he had met Konishi Hajime.
"You're the former ryoka people talk about, aren't you?"
Draco, who had just rinsed soap out of his hair and was going to work on the rest, turned towards the voice. The man who'd spoken sat on a stool a few feet away from him. He was a fourth-year; Draco had seen him now and again going into Block D in the recreation hall. He was smiling -- a rare sight in these hallowed halls of post-mortem learning. Bathing. Whatever.
"I'm almost done," Draco replied, deciding that the smile must've been automatically polite, not friendly. "I'll be gone in a moment."
"I didn't say you should go," the man said. He had long black hair that hung heavy and wet past his shoulders. "I just wanted to talk."
From that day on, they talked sometimes when they were in the shower room or the bath together. Then Draco started noticing that Konishi always seemed to be in the bath house at the same time as Draco. In life, he had had plenty of time to become completely jaded on the subject of sex, and he knew after a while that Konishi was interested in more than Draco's tales of second- and then third-year woe.
Shortly after fourth year began, Draco had one day forgotten to bring his washcloth and was trying to reach the middle of his back as he sat on the stool in the shower room. He heard wet footsteps behind him.
"I'm just giving you a hand, so it's fine," Konishi said. That hand slid delicately down between Draco's shoulder blades, and he had to stifle a shiver. It wasn't a casual touch. He turned around to look at Konishi, who smiled at him. "Isn't this easier?"
Later, they sat in the bath, and Konishi's touches wandered all over Draco's thighs, careful and slow under the water. Draco stared down into his lap and blushed like a fucking schoolgirl. This was against the rules. Sex -- "fraternising", as the rule book called it -- was allowed between students in the same year, but it was strictly forbidden in all other cases, regardless of age. At any moment, someone might enter the bath, and Konishi would have to stop. But Draco didn't want him to.
"I like you," Konishi told him between breathless kisses, after, in the changing room, both of them half-clothed and panting. "I've liked you for a while now."
That had been four months ago. Since then, Konishi had become Hajime. He hadn't liked learning that everyone got to call Draco by his given name, even if they didn't know it. But he'd been glad Draco was on a surname basis with his roommate. "I don't worry as much that you might like him better than me," he'd said. Hajime was as authoritarian, demanding, and jealous during sex as he was gentle, unassuming, and forgiving at all other times.
Slowly, Draco had come to resent this duality -- he had feelings for Hajime, but no respect. And he wouldn't risk his future even for love, if there was such a thing, so why was he risking it for a few rounds of slap and tickle? It made no sense. He was miserable with fear that he'd be found out, and then there were Potter's suspicions.
Those were the worst, mostly because Draco did want Potter; it had been Potter who'd awakened this in him here in this world. Before Hajime, he would lie awake, listening to Potter's breathing and sleep-muttering, and he'd imagine those breaths in his ear, and Potter's lips on his skin, and soon enough he'd be reaching for himself, just to get rid of the needy ache that came with the fantasies, so he too could sleep. He didn't want to feel this way, but he was too used to getting what he wanted, and his mind refused to accept that he simply couldn't have Potter.
It had got worse last year, when their taijutsu -- unarmed combat -- lessons started. Draco didn't know what earthly good it would do him to know how to trip an opponent, throw him to the floor, or break every bone in his body. Well, Hollow masks were made of bone, but that was beside the point. He just resented the instructor's insistence that they always pair with different people for practice, because once that meant having Potter sit on top of him, leaning down close whilst holding Draco's arms above his head. That Potter had been practicing a move made not a whit of a difference to Draco's nether regions, and he'd been lucky that Potter hadn't felt anything.
In all, Draco preferred to keep a respectable distance from his opponent, and he often wondered if he'd made a mistake by refusing to enter the Demon Arts Corps stream back at the beginning. Those students trained separately from everyone else, and maybe they didn't have to have as much physical contact. Aside from the potential for embarrassment, Draco simply thought that Demon Arts were cleaner, more elegant -- more like magic. Potter had told him he liked close-quarters combat better than magic, but what could one expect from a man raised by Muggles?
In fifth year, they would begin studying hojōjutsu -- an array of ritualistic techniques for restraint, using cord or rope. It was rare for Shinigami to restrain Hollows instead of destroying them, but Ozu had explained that hojōjutsu helped bridge the gap between kenjutsu and Demon Arts. Whatever that was supposed to mean; all Draco could think was kinky rope bondage. Draco didn't know what he would do when that time came. Pray that he was never paired up with any of the people he found attractive, perhaps -- especially not with Potter.
The point was, he had enough anxiety to deal with; he didn't need an illicit relationship on top of everything else. Something had to change. He could wait until Hajime graduated at the end of this year. That would be easy. But Draco felt a sense of wrongness at that, an instinctual sort of knowing that it wouldn't be that simple. It was up to him to seize his fortune and guide it, not rely on happenstance. He had to stop seeing Hajime now.
"Finally, he grows a spine," the squeaky voice commented.
Only this time, it wasn't inside Draco's head. He looked around hesitantly, searching for its source, but he was still alone in the practice field. He couldn't hear anything but the squabbling of birds.
"Over here, numb-nuts." A dragonfly -- the one he'd seen minutes earlier -- hung in the air before him. "What's the matter, never seen a talking dragonfly before?"
Draco blinked at it. He had either fallen asleep mid-swing or this was some sort of new and unexplored meditation technique, where he only thought he was aware of his surroundings.
The dragonfly landed on his wrist. "Why are you such an idiot?" it squeaked. The hilt and guard of Draco's asauchi began to glow. The black handle-wrap turned a deep emerald green, and the guard transformed from a rectangle into a rhombus shape bearing a dragonfly-wing-shaped hole in each corner. Draco's jaw dropped. "You're--"
"Vagrant Darter," the dragonfly said testily. "That's my name. Don't wear it out, or I'll make you buy me a new one."
Draco just stood there, performing a passable impression of a stranded fish. He stared at his sword -- it was a zanpakutō now, an extension of his soul. And its spirit was a fucking dragonfly.
"We were all out of dragons," Vagrant Darter told him, cackling. "So you'll just have to be happy with a dragonfly, asshole."
Draco flushed. He had wished for his sword's spirit to take the form of a dragon ever since he'd learned that this was possible. But a dragonfly instead of a dragon? That seemed almost deliberately cruel on the part of... whoever decided these things.
Vagrant Darter flitted about Draco's head in circles, making him dizzy. "Love to stay and chat," he said, "But I got things to see and people to do. Want to call me, tell me to disappear." With a final cackle, he vanished, a spark of bright green merging with the sword in Draco's hand.
Draco sat down heavily onto the grass. Ozu had always been vague on the subject of the first meeting of a Shinigami and his zanpakutō -- "you'll know when it's time," he kept repeating. And now Draco's time had come and gone, and the only thing he knew was what he'd learned in class: the first time he used the release command his zanpakutō taught him, it would work. After that, the success rate would drop to twenty-five per cent, and it would take a year or more of intense training before he could achieve shikai -- the initial release -- on demand. And he still didn't know what his shikai was like.
Draco rose to his feet and sheathed the sword, then drew it again. "Disappear, Vagrant Darter," he said, feeling completely ridiculous.
An instant of calm flickered deep at his centre, and he sensed a dull thrum in his palm. His zanpakutō bent at the top and then near the bottom, creating a zigzag, lightning-bolt shape with a satisfying snick. Then it vanished, along with Draco's arm -- but Draco could still feel the sword in his grip, and his arm was still very much attached to his body. He looked at his other arm, but couldn't see it, either. His feet were gone, as was the rest of him. He was here, but he wasn't. He had become invisible.
Invisibility? Vagrant Darter's power is perfect invisibility?
Try using your weapon, dummy, the zanpakutō squeaked -- in his mind, this time.
Draco obeyed, bringing the sword up over his shoulder with both hands, and he could see it again -- it and his arms, too. He completed the swing, and disappeared again.
All right; attacking makes me appear again. What about movement?
Draco took a step, then another, staring at the empty space where his arms and sword should have been. Nothing. Six steps. Ten. After twenty steps, he was winded; his spirit power was faltering, and he knew that if he tried moving again, he'd lose shikai. So there were limits.
He swung at an invisible enemy, saw the blade arc through air as he reappeared, and suddenly he could move again. Another twenty steps, back to the place he'd started from, and he waved the sword without any killing intent, like a stick. This time, the weight didn't lift. So he couldn't just use this to move around undetected whenever he pleased -- killing intent would send out a flare of spirit power, alerting any Shinigami in the area to his presence.
For the next twenty minutes, Draco tried everything in his arsenal: all the sword forms, flash-step, Demon Arts incantations that didn't need both hands to cast. All the sword forms behaved the same way: in the presence of killing intent, they made him reappear. Without it, they just made him extra tired. Flash-step didn't work at all, and neither did the Demon Arts.
He could move without the predictability of flash-step, and he could confuse his opponents plenty, but this was still very much a coward's initial release. Right now, it was best for putting a safe distance between Draco and an enemy: it made no difference that the shikai state only recharged with killing intent; if Draco tried this technique against a Hollow, it would sense his presence before seeing him. Then Draco would reappear, all right, but in pieces.
He couldn't even show it off; he'd be laughed at for having a zanpakutō that did nothing but let him run away. Privately, Draco thought that running away was the best course of action, but that wouldn't wash with Ozu; after all, you couldn't destroy a Hollow by running away from it. It would take a lot of training before he could figure out how to make this shit suitable for combat.
He had wanted a fierce elemental-type dragon and ended up with a cantankerous Demon Arts-type dragonfly. Typical.
I don't like you, either, Vagrant Darter informed him.
"Fuck my life," Draco muttered, sheathing the mouthy zanpakutō and starting back towards the centre of campus.
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