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Convergence, Part Three
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Over the next couple of weeks as the weather cooled, Potter became more morose than he’d been, needier too. He snuck into Draco’s bed so many times that Draco ended up casting an Engorgio on it so he didn’t wake up smothered, and the jokes about Potter being a child were endless enough that even Granger couldn’t help but get annoyed.

One morning, Draco awoke to Potter staring at him, which was, unfortunately, a new habit. Draco hunkered further into the blankets to avoid the cold and gave Potter a Look.

“You have no social skills,” Draco pointed out. “Stop staring at me, you freak.”

It was a testament to how screwed up Draco had gotten, because the insult came out more fond than anything else, and judging by the slight upturn of Potter’s mouth, it wasn’t lost on him. But instead of responding in kind, Potter just sighed and grabbed Draco’s wrist, as though he was using it to anchor himself.

“Do you know anything about Godric’s Hollow?” Potter asked quietly.

It took a moment for the shock to die down, though it left behind a bed of snakes in Draco’s stomach, roiling unpleasantly. “I know that if you’re thinking of going there, you’re more suicidal than I thought,” Draco replied steadily.

“I have to--” Potter started, but Draco cut him off.

“You always say you have to and then we all end up running for our lives,” Draco said harshly. “Give me one good reason!”

“I thought you didn’t want to be involved,” Potter continued. “Telling you would be getting you involved. I’ve hit a dead end, and I think Godric’s Hollow might have an answer.”

“You’re right--I don’t want to be involved!” Draco spat. “You go to Godric’s Hollow, and you’re as good as dead. The Dark Lord will have planted spies there, just like he did back in London. It’s about the most obvious place to go.”

“You better be careful, Draco, or I’ll begin to think you care about what happens to me,” Potter said.

“I don’t care,” Draco said hotly. “I don’t want to be left alone, is all. Being with you is an amnesty I can’t afford to give up.”

Potter just shrugged with one shoulder, looking anything but apologetic. “I’m going,” he said. “Today, with Hermione. I wanted you to come too, though. I’ve never been...”

“Inviting me on your suicide mission,” Draco said bitterly. “That’s perfect.”

“Come if you want. Or stay behind. It doesn’t matter,” Potter said, in a tone that implied the exact opposite. He cemented the situation by sliding out of bed a couple of seconds later, and the unfamiliar guilty feeling was what led Draco to be out in the snow in a godforsaken village known for nothing more than tragedy, trailing behind Granger and Potter disguised as a Muggle.

Oh, how the Malfoy line had fallen.

The first stop on their depressing little tour is, of course, the graveyard, stock full of snowed-in graves. He followed behind Potter a little closer than Granger, because it looked as though he needed it, brushing snow off of the gravestones as he went, trying to find the exact marker they were looking for. They dallied for a bit at the graves of Dumbledore’s relatives, something that interested Potter and Granger but left Draco with a sour taste in his mouth.

“Harry, come look at this,” Granger said after a measure.

“Did you find them?” Potter asked, his voice sounding oddly hoarse.

“Not exactly,” Granger breathed, pointing a mittened finger at a very decrepit grave marker. “It’s the symbol from the book.” She gestured to it, a triangular mark with a circle in the middle.

“I know what that is,” Draco blurted, and Potter and Granger simultaneously turned around to stare at him. “I mean, I think I do. It looks very familiar.”

“You do?” Granger pressed. “What is it?”

“I don’t know now, but I know I’ve seen it before. It’ll come to me.”

“Of course,” Granger sighed. “A break in what we’re looking for, and you can’t remember.”

“I’m not part of your merry team here, Granger,” Draco snapped. “I didn’t sign up for any treasure hunt or riddle game. I’m here for protection.”

“I know, I know,” Granger said. “It would’ve been nice to know, finally. I’ve been searching forever.”

“If you’re done, I’m going to keep looking,” Potter said edgily. He started off deeper into the field, and after a second, Draco trailed along right behind: better that than being stuck with Granger. The night got eerily silent around them, devoid of the sounds of far-off villagers, and then Draco brushed some snow away and saw a very familiar name.

“It’s here,” he said, surprised to note that his voice wasn’t as strong as he’d have expected it to be. Potter’s shoulders stiffened, but he turned around, coming to look at what Draco uncovered. Draco read the engraving a couple of times without comprehending it, Potter pressing himself to Draco’s side.

“Isn’t that some sort of Death Eater idea?” Potter asked, almost panicked. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death?”

“Please,” Draco murmured. “As though Death Eaters were so dramatic.”

“I don’t think it means that, Harry,” Granger said softly to the right of him. “It’s living beyond death. Life after.” Potter didn’t respond to that, just stared, tracing his parents’ name over and over with his finger. After a minute, Draco realized that Potter was crying, his face twisted, and instead of coming up with a quip or a cheap remark, Draco huddled closer to Potter and let Potter take his hand.

**

It was a depressing walk back into town, nothing besides paranoia as Granger kept looking over her shoulder. Potter had gotten it into his head that they had to visit Bathilda Bagshot, whoever that was, so instead of going away from the danger presented by following the road into the thickest part of the village, they headed in, winding down the road. Granger peered around so much, it was like a nervous tic.

“Let’s hurry up and get this done so we can get under the blasted cloak,” Draco said. He was beginning to get terribly nervous, seeing things in the shadows.

“Look,” Potter said, much too loud. He grabbed Draco’s arm and pulled him along the ice, Granger trailing very closely behind. It was pretty apparent as to what he was heading towards; the house was in ruins, overgrown with weeds and derelict in a way that spelled trauma. Part of it was blown out into rubble: obviously the sight where the Dark Lord accidentally almost killed himself over a baby.

“Harry, do you really think going inside is a good idea?” Granger whispered as Potter grasped the gate as if to pull it open, but she quieted as soon as a sign popped out of the ground, prompted by Potter’s touch. As far as memorials go, it was quite damaged: scrawled over with graffiti written in Everlasting Ink. Granger was indignant at what she thought was disrespect, but Potter thought it was brilliant.

“Only you would be amazed by scribblings,” Draco murmured under his breath, but he was immediately shushed by the flap of Granger’s hand.

The woman walking slowly down the way was stumped with age, dragging her feet through the snow in a sad sort of way, but Draco’s heart still caught in his throat at the sight of her. “Let’s go now,” he hissed, pulling at Potter’s sleeve, but it did him no good--Potter just stepped forward out of Draco’s grip. She stopped a few yards from them, gazing sightlessly up at the house, and the tingle of magic in the air made it clear that this was no ordinary Muggle.

“We should be under the cloak,” Draco said, mostly to himself. “Why the bloody hell aren’t we under that damn cloak?” The woman moved her head, staring right at him before moving onto Potter, beckoning with one cramped hand. When there was no answer, she made the gesture again, an air of importance in it, and Potter cleared his throat to speak.

“Are you Bathilda Bagshot?” he asked. The only answer he got was a slight head nod and another twitch of her hand. When Potter stepped forward again, she turned slowly and hobbled towards another house on the road, this one still intact but showing wear.

“Why are we following this bat?” demanded Malfoy in a strangled whisper. “You are entirely insane.”

“She has something to tell me,” Potter said back, equally lowly, but there was something about his tone that suggested he didn’t entirely believe what he was saying. Slowly, inexorably, they drew closer to the door until they were inside, and then further still they went, trailing into a musty drawing room. It smelled of neglect and mold, enough for Draco to want to get out as quickly as possible, but Potter was entranced, touching the curios on the dresser with light fingertips.

“This is beyond a bad idea,” Draco said. “Can we go before someone loses a limb.”

“It’s okay,” Potter reassured. “Look at her--she looks like she barely weighs eight stone soaking wet. Even you could overpower her.”

“Hardy har har,” replied Draco sarcastically. “I’m serious, Potter.”

Behind them, Bathilda made some sort of noise that drew Potter’s attention, and with a final, “It’s okay, honestly,” he was following her out of the room, motioning for Draco and Hermione to stay put.

“Do all of you Gryffindors have no sense of self preservation?” Draco asked.

“Harry knows what he’s doing,” said Granger in a shaky voice.

“I’ll believe it if we get out of here alive,” Draco muttered.

Suspicions as high as they were, it wasn’t much of a surprise when something clattered above, thumping hard enough to make the ceiling rain dust, but it made Draco’s stomach knot terribly in fear all the same. Granger was closest to the stairs, and she immediately proved Draco’s point, whipping around the corner to find the source of the noise, calling Potter’s name. The worst of it was, however, that Draco couldn’t stand to stay in the drawing room alone. Without even thinking, he was tearing after Granger, taking the steps at two at a time.

The first thing Draco was aware of was Granger bawling, “Confringo” at the top of her lungs. The blasting hex ricocheted everywhere, inciting enough confusion to make Draco unsure of what was happening. The furniture was upturned, Potter was on the floor, and... there was a giant snake in the middle of the room.

“He’s coming!” Potter yelled, twisted in on himself in pain as he pushed himself away from the snake with small thrusts of his legs. The snake was between him and Granger, creating a roadblock that Draco acted upon without thought. The hex bounced easily enough off of the snake’s skin, but it was enough of a distraction to cause it to undulate and slither its body around to face Draco, rearing menacingly. Something inside his head made him look away before he could catch a glance of its face, and Granger had grabbed a hold of Potter.

“Draco, come on!” she screamed, just as the snake snapped forward, intent on making Draco its next meal.

“Voldemort is coming,” Potter said again, his voice inarguably weaker.

With an agility he didn’t know he possessed, Draco rolled (or perhaps fell) just enough so that the snake’s strike missed him, catapulting the animal into the wall behind him. It gave Draco enough time to get across the room to Granger and Potter, but his mind was still running, turning over all of the curses he read about, anything that would get rid of the snake for good. He sensed something about it, something hugely dangerous, and the urge to kill it once and for all was overwhelming.

Before Granger’s grasping hand could take hold, Draco was wheeling around, once again facing the snake as it prepped for another attack. This time, Draco hurled a curse at it, one he’d only read about in forbidden books, the kind that even his mother would hide from him in the Manor. He had no reason to believe it would work, only intent, and that was what fueled the incantation.

His aim was dead on, and fire spurted from his wand tip with enough force to propel him backwards right onto Granger’s hand. He had just a moment, a flash of watching the fire take the form of a phoenix, ripping through the snake’s innards like it was paper before Granger was Apparating the three of them out of the room.

**

Potter was unconscious the minute they reached their destination, some in-the-middle-of-nowhere field. Granger gave Draco the task of summoning Kreacher and setting up the tent as she dealt with Potter’s savaged arm. For once, Draco didn’t complain, pulling her bag from her proffered hand and going about his business, sneaking looks at Potter’s pallid face every thirty seconds or so.

Kreacher was sent for food and water, and once the tent was up, Granger used a Hover charm to get Potter into a bed. He was in a bad form, sweating, the bandage already pink with blood, moaning about something. Granger kept murmuring to him, but it did no good; Potter remained dead to the world.

“I’ll take first watch,” Draco choked out. To be honest, Draco hadn’t ever been asked to be a lookout in the months they’d been on the lam, but another second inside that tent was liable to make him sick. He swept outside, taking several deep breaths in succession as the cool crispness of the air calmed him down a little. It was freezing but he used a spell to clear an area to sit and then conjured up a small fire to float in front of him.

Try as he might, however, Draco couldn’t get his heart to stop racing. His hands were shaking from something other than the cold, and now that the adrenaline rush was leaving him, he felt as though someone had dropped a rock on his head. Whenever he blinked, he saw Potter behind his eyelids, lying on the floor with a bloody great snake readying itself for another bite, screaming about the Dark Lord.

He was so involved in his thoughts that he didn’t hear when Granger swept out of the tent, nearly falling over when she put a hand on his shoulder. “He’s okay, I think,” she said tremulously. “For now.”

“I told you bloody idiots it was a bad idea,” responded Draco tonelessly.

“Yes, well,” she hedged. “We thought it was our only option.”

“And now he might die,” Draco said. “What’s the chance that that snake wasn’t venomous?”

“Don’t say that,” snapped Granger. “He’s fine.”

“Keep deluding yourself, Granger. You’re quite good at it.”

The silence was pointed, drawing out as Granger played with a stick in the snow for a couple of minutes, drawing runes that made no sense together. When she talked again, it was all in a great rush, as though she’d been holding it in. “Fiendfyre is dark magic. Why did you use it?”

“I wasn’t aware,” replied Draco sarcastically.

“You’ve could’ve killed us.”

“No--your ill-timed Blasting Hex could’ve killed us,” Draco countered. “Don’t think I didn’t see what you did to Potter’s wand. In any case, you were behind me and I was shooting the fire at the snake. It wasn’t done without thought.”

“Where did you learn how to do it?” she asked shrilly. “Were you practicing in secret?”

“Granger, you’re an idiot sometimes,” Draco sighed. “Some dark magic is easy to do if you have the will. I think even Crabbe could’ve pulled it off if he was mad enough. I wanted the snake dead. It was the first thing I could think of. I stole one of my father’s books when I was a child and had nightmares about Fiendfyre for weeks. That kind of thing sticks with you.”

Granger looked at him, stared as though she was sussing out any dishonesty. Draco just met her gaze head-on, letting his intent fall through, and by the slight softening of her face, it seemed as though she believed him. “There’s no way you didn’t kill that snake,” she said after a pause. “I think it was Nagini--You-Know-Who’s snake. We needed it dead.”

“So what are you complaining for?” Draco asked bitterly.

“I’ve never seen you so angry,” she admitted. “And to use a spell like that...it frightened me.”

“Well, I’m not going to turn it on your bushy head,” Draco said. “Yet. And if you’re staying out here, I’m going back inside. I’m exhausted.”

She just waved her hand a little, motioning him away, and he stiffly got up to enter the tent. He must’ve been sitting out longer than he realized. Kreacher was nowhere to be seen once he got inside, but Potter was lying still as a corpse, making Draco’s breath stick painfully in his chest. He didn’t want to, but some sort of external force pulled him close until he was resting his arm on the slow rising on Potter’s chest.

He stayed like that until his legs cramped, and even then he only grabbed a stool to sit down on. He needed the reassurance that Potter was still alive, and no matter how hard he scolded himself, told himself to get into the other bed, the one he and Potter shared, he didn’t move. Eventually, Granger came in, stopping for a millisecond when she saw him, but she didn’t say anything either, choosing to sit at the table and pick at some food.

Together, they spent the night in some kind of trance, watching Potter, and when the dawn had broken, weak, watery light visible through the front flap of the tent, Potter began to stir. Granger leapt up at the first weary exhalation, advancing on the bed, but Draco did the opposite. His legs were impossibly stiff, but he still managed to get himself outside into the snow. He didn’t want to hear Potter’s questions about what happened, nor did he want to sit through the explanation Granger provided.

Now that it was fairly certain that Potter wasn’t going to expire, Draco felt himself get hugely angry. It roiled in his stomach, growing exponentially in strength until he could scream with it. Instead, he took his wand and started blasting branches.

“What are you doing?” Potter asked, somehow behind Draco without making a noise. He was favoring his right side and obviously not ready to be on his feet, and that just made Draco madder.

“Keeping myself alive through a series of good judgments and self-awareness,” Draco said. “You should try it sometimes.”

Potter’s sigh was so deep that Draco nearly wheeled around to punch him for it. “I didn’t know that You-Know-Who had set a trap.”

“How could you not?” Draco demanded hotly. “You only wander into the first place he ever tried to kill you. And then you followed a barmy, old woman into her bedroom alone. And you’re surprised you were nearly eaten by a great bloody snake?”

“It’s not that easy,” Potter answered defensively. “I can’t just hide away in the woods forever. I need to have some kind of plan. We were at a dead end--Godric’s Hollow made sense--”

“And what did you find there?” Draco interrupted. “An epiphany? Some great bleeding weapon to kill the Dark Lord with? No. You broke your wand and you almost died. Great savior you turned out to be.”

“I’m trying my best here,” Potter said tightly. “At least I’m looking for a way to fight instead of hiding behind someone else.”

“Keeping myself alive is not something you can mock me for,” Draco said. “I’ve given a lot to your damn cause, and I’m not even sure I believe in it.”

“Well maybe you should go then,” Potter snapped. “Find someone else to protect you. I’m getting bloody sick of your attitude.”

“Perhaps I shall. It’s not like you have the best track record of keeping people around right now, is it? I lasted longer than your pretty little ginger friends.”

“You’re an arsehole,” Potter said.

“Yes, well, you bring out the best in me,” Draco said flatly. “Now get back in the damn bed before you collapse and really die this time. I’m not going to Azkaban because some hyped-up Order member thinks I poisoned you.”

“It all comes back to you, doesn’t it, Malfoy?” Potter said under his breath. Draco was too angry to even come up with something to say as a last quip, and soon after he heard the slow gait of Potter returning to the tent.

**

Even though it was freezing, Draco spent the rest of the day skirting around outside, lighting a fire whenever it got too cold. It was boring, sure, but better than being inside. Granger tried to come out to talk to him once or twice, but Draco cut her off at the pass both times. He had no interest in hearing what she had to say, nor did he care what she told Potter. He gave himself some time after the lights dimmed to slip back inside the tent; for some reason, they were foregoing a guard tonight unless they thought Draco would do it. He was just petty enough not to, though, and as he took the empty, magically-enlarged bed he and Potter usually shared, he thought a little bit about how ironic it would be if they were slaughtered in their sleep.

Sometime later, something startled Draco awake, and it was only Potter’s hushed admonitions that stopped Draco from ramming his wand up Potter’s nose. “What are you doing here?” Draco demanded, sleep rough, as soon as Potter had muttered a Silencio.

“Can we talk without you being a major prat?” Potter asked.

“Oh Merlin, Potter, it’s the middle of the night,” Draco moaned. “Go away.”

“It’s easier to ambush you like this,” Potter said.

“You can talk,” Draco replied. “I’m going back to sleep.”

Potter was silent for a little while before continuing. “Hermione said you killed Nagini. You don’t know how much that helps.”

“I didn’t want to become snake food,” Draco muttered into his pillow. “Anyone would’ve done it. And what on earth is a Nagini?”

“And she said you were really worried,” Potter said, as though he was embarrassed by it. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know that was going to happen--the whole ambush bit.”

“What you don’t know could fill several thousand feet of parchment,” Draco yawned. “And I was just worried that you’d gone ahead and offed yourself before finishing your purpose of killing the Dark Lord.”

“Don’t do that,” Potter said. “Don’t act like you don’t care.”

“I don’t,” Draco said, though the words twisted something in his chest. “You and I--this is just something to pass the time.”

Potter’s face was an odd mixture of hurt and amusement. “I don’t believe you,” he said, and before Draco could voice an assurance, Potter was kissing him, just the way he knew drove Draco mad, with a hint of teeth and the press of his tongue. As quickly as he’d descended, he pulled away again, and Draco couldn’t help the small whimper that escaped his throat at the lack of contact.

“What was that?” Potter asked, a hint of humor. “I thought I heard someone make a girly noise.”

“Shut it, arsehole,” Draco muttered, but he wanted another kiss, and Malfoys get what they want. Potter surrendered easily, tangling his hand in Draco’s hair while using the other one to draw Draco closer. They spent a good while like that, kissing slow and easy, and Draco unwillingly felt his anger ebb and ease away, like a tide finally going back out. He felt safe like this, warm and protected, and the urge to hide himself away in this bed, tether Potter to him, was almost overwhelming.

Potter broke away after an indeterminable amount of time, staying close enough that they were breathing in each other’s air. “I’m sorry,” Potter murmured, the epitome of sincere.

“It won’t stop you from doing it again,” Draco said, equally soft.

“Would you still be here with me if I gave up so easily?” Potter countered, and Draco didn’t really have an answer for that. He honestly didn’t know where he’d be if Potter wasn’t so stubbornly set in his beliefs and ways of action. It was, honestly, a little bit frightening.

“You’d be dead if you gave up easily, so it’s a moot point,” Draco muttered. Potter’s hand had somehow wormed itself up under Draco’s jumper, surprisingly warm as it incited Draco to shiver against it, goosebumps drawing up on his arms.

“Such faith you have in me,” Potter said, mouthing the words against Draco’s neck as he placed a kiss at the base of Draco’s jaw, his stubble scraping over the sensitive flesh there. Draco’s breath left him in a drawn-out shudder, which Potter took as acquiescence because he kissed Draco full on the mouth again, slow, wet kisses that Draco arched into. By the time Potter broke away to rest his head on Draco’s shoulder, Draco’s lips were tender and his dick was hard in his trousers.

Potter was only in his sleep pants, but Draco was overheated, still in the clothes he’d been wearing outside. In a move that was perhaps ungraceful, Draco struggled to a sitting position and shucked his jumper and undershirt. Potter was looking up at him appreciatively, and that spurred Draco to move quickly, straddling Potter, kneeling on his haunches to align himself in the best way.

Potter raised an eyebrow, and Draco answered with a smirk, leaning down to press a chaste kiss to the jut of Potter’s collarbone before sucking a love bite there. It was an awkward angle, but the way Potter’s hands fluttered to Draco’s waist was enough of an encouragement...for Draco to stop altogether. It was an unsportsmanlike move, but he countered by leaning forward, aligning his erection with Potter’s and starting a slow, steady grind. The friction was marvelous, and it felt like forever since Draco had last felt something like this, even if it had been only a week since his last encounter with Potter.

In any case, Potter’s resultant moan was rewarding in its own way, and Draco had to harness his self control to keep himself from rutting down. He kept it up like that until he was close, until he could tell Potter was close too...and then Potter grabbed his wrist.

“Stop,” Potter panted. “Wait a second.”

It took a herculean effort for Draco to stop moving, and even then he couldn’t help but press the heel of his hand into the meat of his erection. “You did not just say that,” he groaned. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

“More,” Potter said, hardly an elaboration. “I want more than this.”

It wasn’t meant to be a pressured, statement, but Draco could feel the meaning behind it like a stab to the gut. He instantly knew that Potter wasn’t just talking about blowjobs, an art they’d familiarized themselves with over the past month or so. When he said more, he meant more, as in all-the-way, and Draco saw the hidden suggestion behind that too.

“You gonna apologize to me through full out sex?” Draco drawled. “You think that’s gonna work?”

“You’re to easy for it not to,” Potter said breathlessly.

“Now who’s underestimating whom?” Draco queried. It was almost like any other banter they’d had between them were it not for the fact that Draco’s erection was straining at the implication of sex. He suddenly wanted it so bad he could taste it, but at the same time, he wanted it on his terms. He didn’t need for Potter to make another sacrifice: he needed to be able to dictate how things went down.

“Are you saying you don’t want to?” Potter asked with a cocked eyebrow.

“Don’t twist my words,” Draco warned. “But we’re doing this my way. As in you’re not giving up your arse for me because you think it’ll mollify me. It’ll be the other way around, or not at all tonight.”

Potter’s look of astonishment would’ve been amusing had Draco not been so dead-set on his decision. He was nervous--there was no way he couldn’t be--but he wanted it at the same time.

“You’re full of surprises sometimes,” Potter said at long last, but it wasn’t a denial.

“I take that as a yes,” Draco said dryly. “So get on with it. I sincerely hope you know how this goes. Or else I’m leaving right now.”

Potter’s blush was oddly endearing, and as soon as Draco shifted his weight to allow Potter to get up, he saw the Potter, through some slight of hand, had hidden a small bottle of Sleekeasy’s more nefarious product. In the small glint of light, Draco could see how the figures on the bottle lewdly moved, and if anything, it made him more nervous, though he was loathe to show it. Without hesitation, he undid his trousers and shucked them off, unabashedly looking as Potter did the same. They’d been fully naked together, once or twice, but this was the first time it felt this electric, with the promise of what they were about to do in the air.

Draco let Potter push him into a lying position, though he felt stupid for doing so, like some virginal damsel waiting for a deflowering. Potter took his sweet time mapping Draco’s body with his fingers, an occasional press of his lips, nip of teeth, before he reached the juncture of Draco’s groin, at which point he relocated his Sleekeasy’s bottle. He fumbled it so much at first that Draco wanted to steal if from him, but he held off as Potter finally got the lid off, spilling a general amount of it over his hand.

There was absolutely no finesse when they got down to it, Potter hesitantly, awkwardly opening Draco up with first one finger, then one more when Draco became scared that he’d go for it without more preparation. It was an intrusion, a painful one once Potter started stretching him further, and Draco almost called the whole thing off a total of five separate times. If sex was like this, Draco surmised, he’d be perfectly content reverting back to mutual wank sessions and blowjobs.

But there was no way Draco was going to concede then, not after his grand declaration, so when Potter finally pulled away, a grimace on his face as he wiped his hand clean on the duvet, Draco just canted an eyebrow in challenge. It took a minute for Potter to steady himself, to actually push in, and that was torture, a slow, inexorable slide that made Draco involuntarily cry out in pain. Potter was considerate enough to stop moving, bracing himself on trembling arms, hovering above Draco; they stayed like that for several moments until Draco allowed himself to make a barely perceptible nod that Potter took as permission to keep going.

It took several minutes for the ache to slide into something different, Potter moving above him, Draco anchoring himself by gripping each of Potter’s forearms, but it became something more almost without warning. Something was sparking deep inside Draco, something that felt real and bizarre, something that had his dick perking up after the shock of penetration.

When Draco began to pull at his cock, coaxing himself towards orgasm, it was without thought. Being with Potter, having Potter inside of him, was some sort of drug, yanking his brain away to deal only with the baser senses. Potter felt good now, and it was better when Draco was actively participating in his own pleasure, two counterpoints of sensation building in his groin until he was panting with it, little huffs and groans that eddied around them like water, Potter answering every exhalation.

Draco’s orgasm came as a surprise, rushing out of him, making his head fuzzy and his arms weak, and Potter didn’t last long after that; jerked in a self-satisfied way as he came, stayed still as the afterglow faded. When he pulled out--yeah, that hurt again--but Draco was too complacent to say anything, to make a quip or find some comment to make Potter feel like shite. Instead, in a very un-Draco move, he moved over, pillowed himself into Potter’s side without saying anything, and fell asleep like that, content and sore.

**

The following couple of weeks passed in some sort of intermittent haze; so vastly different from what Draco had become accustomed to on their little journey through the English countryside that it was hard to acclimate to at first. Granger and Potter were less inclined to sit in their little huddles, discussing things that Draco had no interest in. Instead, Granger burrowed her head in one of the plethora of books she had clunking around in that endless bag of hers, and Potter would head out with Draco to talk, or to play-duel in the yard they were occupying, or to just sit--it depended on the mood.

Things had irreparably changed between them, and that was unsettling enough. Draco found it harder to bring up excuses to treat Potter with disdain and derision, Potter kept looking at him sidelong in a way that made Draco’s stomach twist pleasantly, and the number of awkward silences between them had doubled. It was the aftermath of full-on sex that no one had warned Draco about.

In any case, it turned out that even with his wand broken in three pieces, Potter was still a better dueler than Draco. Draco might manage to land spells, but Potter was the champion of well-placed disarming spells. When his wand was twisted away from him for the umpteenth time following a good ten minutes of evading and shooting spells, Draco had to concede an embarrassing defeat.

Potter didn’t lord it over him, never did when he won. There might be a minute of joking about it, but it was easy in a way it hadn’t really been before, and Draco couldn’t even dredge up the anger to dislike him for the way he so effortlessly bested Draco in this. It seemed natural--this was Potter’s strength, and Draco was fine with having his own. The one real annoyance about his dismal winning streak, however, was Potter’s reluctance to hand Draco’s wand back over.

“It feels better to use yours,” he said one day, twirling Draco’s wand between his fingers. “Hermione’s is okay, I guess, but yours is more comfortable. It feels more like mine.”

“Seeing as I’m not the one who broke yours, I’m afraid you have no leverage to stealing my wand,” Draco commented. “Give it back.”

“Cor, I wish we had another wand,” Potter said, grudgingly handing Draco’s over.

“I had Nott’s once,” Draco commented. “Won it off him that night at Hogwarts. Dunno what happened to it though.”

“That’s helpful,” Potter commented. “Another duel?”

“If we must,” Draco acquiesced.

But things were not to stay boring for long--that was never the pattern with Potter. One night, Potter was on watch and Draco was accompanying him because he had nothing better to do besides sleep, and he wasn’t tired. Things had devolved into a companionable silence, and if Draco was unmoving, curled into Potter’s side with Potter’s arm around his shoulders, it was only because it was bitterly cold and magical fire couldn’t completely dispel the chill.

The silvery doe appeared out of nowhere, lighting the snow in an ethereal sort of light, startling Potter enough that he jerked Draco away from him before scrambling to his feet. His wand was warily out, so Draco followed in suit, but nobody said anything. The doe-- the Patronus-- casually wandered away, and without a second’s hesitation, Potter took to following it.

“Are--you--insane?” Draco hissed, pulling on the back of Potter’s jacket. “You are not following a random Patronus into the woods. Didn’t your last brush with death teach you anything?”

“Whoever cast that could’ve killed us already if he’s that close,” Potter responded in a whisper. “I think it’s a friend. The Order communicates with Patronuses, you know.”

“And everyone knows that about the Order,” Draco retorted.

“I’m going,” Potter said stubbornly. “Stay here if you want.” He stole off then, big, long strides through the snow. Draco had a split second of indecision, but going inside to wake Granger would cost him enough time to lose Potter in the tree line, and two wizards were better than one. He had to run to catch up, ignoring the small curve of Potter’s smirk, but Draco kept a tight hold on his wand in any case, casting it about at any hint of noise.

The doe took them on a long walk, stopping finally by the edge of a wide stream before flickering out of existence. Draco braced himself for a surprise attack, but nothing came; no noise besides the rush of the water that hadn’t frozen. He cast a Lumos to match Potter and the light caught on something, a sword shimmering on a rock smack in the middle of the stream, which was rushing by them. Besides him, Potter gasped, bringing himself to the edge of the stream before stopping.

“Is that important?” Draco asked, already knowing the answer.

“I need that,” Potter said, in an almost-awestruck voice. “I need that more than you know.”

“Well summon it then,” Draco said, raising his wand, but Potter grabbed hold of his wrist, forcing his arm down.

“It’s the sword of Gryffindor,” he explained. “You can’t just summon it. You have to get it through courageous means. That’s why someone put it in the middle of the water. I need to swim to get it.”

“Swim?” Draco said incredulously. “In that? You’re going to drown.”

But Potter was already stripping off his clothing, right down to his skivvies in a matter of moments. Draco’s skin pebbled in cold in sympathy. “I’ll be okay,” Potter reassured, and then he waded in. Judging from Potter’s swearing, the water was freezing, but he kept pushing towards it, sinking to his neck in an alarming amount of time as the current pulled him further and further away.

He reached the stone without any kind of trouble that Draco could see, but that’s where the danger started. Potter had only just grabbed the hilt when he jerked, his hand going to his neck, knocking the sword clean into the water. Later, Draco wouldn’t know why he didn’t stop to think, but he knew that Potter, thrashing in the way a fish on land might, was going to sink just like the sword if someone didn’t intervene.

The water was so cold, it was a shock to his system, but Draco pushed forward as Potter had done mere minutes before, his heart beating so frantically that Draco thought he’d choke on it. He let the current take him, scissor-kicking his way towards Potter just as Potter ducked below the surface again.

It was a miracle Draco was even able to find Potter, with the swirling darkness of the water pounding all around him, and then even more surprising still that he was able to keep hold. Potter wasn’t much of a help as Draco hauled him to the opposite shore, still using one free hand to clutch at his neck, and once they were safely on dry land again, Draco took it upon himself to grab at the necklace currently choking Potter blue, yanking hard enough that the clasp broke and left the weight of it coiled in Draco’s hand. He could instantly feel the evil of it, radiating in a way that made him desperate to be rid of it.

“The sword,” Potter croaked, once he had enough air to go on. “Did you get the sword?”

“No, I bloody did not,” Draco said, unable to let the locket fall from his hand. “I was a bit preoccupied with saving your stupid hide. Didn’t those Muggles ever teach you to swim?”

Potter struggled upwards, moving towards the river again as if he hadn’t nearly died in it. “Draco--the sword--I need to get it.”

“Two steps ahead of you, mate,” someone said from behind them, nearly causing Draco to have a heart attack in fright; so consumed by Potter’s rescue, he hadn’t heard anyone approach.

“Ron?” Potter gasped, and sure enough, Weasley was there, wet and garnishing a large, silver sword, looking, as always, worse for the wear.

“Or not,” Draco snapped, shoving his wand forward, pointed at Weasley’s face, taking grim satisfaction at how quickly it drained of color.

“Harry--it’s me. I saw the Patronus, and I thought it was yours, so I followed it. Saw you go into the river and nearly drown--did you have to wear the bloody necklace in?”

“How did you know where we were?” Draco demanded. “How do I know that you aren’t the impostor that set out the Patronus in the first place?”

“My Patronus is a dog,” Weasley said desperately. “And Harry, we’ve been friends since the train first year. You shared your sweets with me when my mum packed corned beef and Hermione came in looking for Neville’s frog, and then this joker barged in with Crabbe and Goyle and Scabbers bit--”

“It’s him, Draco,” Harry said, putting a placating hand on Draco’s arm.

“How did he find us then?” Draco asked, still suspicious.

“The Put-Outer Dumbledore gave me,” Weasley supplied immediately. “Harry, as soon as I left, I knew it was a mistake--that locket, it affected me differently than you two. It was stronger. Anyway, I was playing with the Put-Outer one night, and I could hear you and Hermione, and a little ball of light came out of the tip. And I knew that if I stepped into it and Apparated, I’d find you. But I kept coming across empty fields--I think your protection wards are working. I was beginning to lose hope, but then that Patronus, and then I saw you and Malfoy--”

“Good thing you were here,” Potter said grimly. “We might’ve lost the sword if you weren’t.”

“That’s it?” Draco said incredulously. “You’re going to forgive him after that.”

“Can I have the locket back, Draco?” Potter asked. “It’s what we needed the sword for--to destroy it.”

“Don’t give me the details,” Draco said crossly. “I don’t want to know. If you’re sure Ginger here isn’t going to murder you or that you aren’t going to go for another late-night swim, I’m going to head back to the tent, shall I?”

“That’s good,” Potter said distractedly. “I don’t know what the locket will do once we try to kill it.”

Draco didn’t like how Potter said that--how does one kill a locket, but he turned and followed their footprints back to the tent anyways. For a couple of seconds, he felt like someone’s eyes were on him, but there was no one when he turned in a circle, and he was too bloody cold to linger.

He had just barely managed to change into a dry set of clothes when Potter and Weasley traipsed back in, looking grim but satisfied, and loud enough to rouse Granger, who’d fallen asleep in a chair. The resultant dramatics of revealing to her that Weasley was back was better than anything Draco could remember hearing on a wireless melodrama, and to his happiness, Granger was a lot less anxious to forgive Weasley, which led to her striding out of the tent and Weasley following her, spouting apologies.

Without looking at Potter, Draco slipped behind the makeshift curtain that gave his bed some privacy and huddled into the blankets. He was wholly confused with the way the night had gone, with how he’d jumped into a freezing river after Potter without a second thought to his own wellbeing. Coming so soon after their debacle in Godric’s Hollow, Draco was almost convinced he’d been spirited into a parallel universe in which his own psyche operated in different ways than what had been normal.

Draco didn’t know he’d been expecting Potter to slip in next to him until the curtain parted and the bed depressed beneath him. For once, Draco had nothing to say, nothing he could articulate, and Potter seemed to be in the same type of mood, because he’d barely settled before he was kissing Draco, soft and penitent like he was apologizing for nearly drowning an hour prior.

It was heady, overwhelming in a way that turned Draco’s thoughts to static, devolving until Potter was on top, guiding Draco’s dick up inside of him, making these little mewling noises that Draco couldn’t help but mimic. It was so hard to even think coherently, not then, not after everything, and even after his orgasm, Draco couldn’t stop running his hands over Potter, curling next to him.

It had officially become impossible to keep denying that Draco was invested in this as much as he could be without throwing his towel in and joining the fight outright. That, in a way, was the most terrifying thing he could think of and kept him up much later than Potter.

**

“You said you’d seen it before,” Granger persisted, after Draco again talking about the rune that had been on the gravestone in Godric’s Hollow. “If you don’t remember, we’re going to have to go to Xenophilius Lovegood, and I’m not so sure that’s the best idea, considering his...quirkiness.”

“For Merlin’s sake,” Draco griped. “I’m trying, Granger, but you’re not giving me a lot to go on.” And he was--honestly. There was something gallingly familiar about the symbol, but it’s meaning kept slipping through his head like smoke.

“Here,” Granger said, shoving a book under his nose. “Dumbledore wrote it all over. Does this help?”

Draco was about to scoff, shove her book of fairytales back towards her, when the title of the story caught his eye. She’d shown him the pages of this particular novel before, but never turned to this certain story, and it came back to him with a rush at just that little clue. “Of course,” he murmured, and out of the corner of his eye, he saw Potter’s back straighten, as though he was paying the utmost attention. “It’s the symbol of the Deathly Hallows.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Granger asked.

“The Deathly Hallows,” Draco repeated. “The wand, the cloak, and the ring.” He traced each respective item in the drawing and looked at her expectantly. “From the story. It’s also Grindelwald’s sign, you know. Apparently he tried very hard to find them.”

“That’s silly--this is a children’s story,” Granger said.

“I certainly don’t know,” Draco said haughtily, thinking back to when he was a boy and longed for the wand so he could make his mother forget about bedtime. “Plenty of wizards believe in it. Call it a treasure hunt, if you will.”

“The Deathly Hallows,” Potter said, coming up close behind Draco. “Why do they call them that?”

“Honestly, did you not ever read fairytales when you were young?” Draco asked. “They’re the three gifts from Death. If you unite them all, you’re supposed to be invincible.”

“Oh,” Potter said. “Sounds like something You-Know-Who would like.” Behind him, Weasley looked grim and pale.

“Sounds like,” Draco echoed, and the words festered in his stomach.

**

The day of Draco’s reckoning dawned like every other day that spring, cool, damp, and muddy. There was, of course, more of the same: Kreacher prepared the same meal, Draco had nothing to do, as always...and then Potter had to go and accidentally say the Dark Lord’s name, and everything fell around them.

It was chaos. The sudden cracks of Apparition had them all scattering, Kreacher gone in a second, but it they were easily gathered. Draco’s hair was coated in mud from where he’d been tackled by a Tripping spell, and the three Snatchers, or whatever they were called, were beaming widely.

“Lookit what we caught in our net, hmm?” one said. Another leveled a harsh kick at Weasley, who’d been fighting back.

“Y’better tell your boyfriend to stop struggling,” the third said, tall, coarse-haired, and indescribably unsettling. “Or else I might just have to try a bit of your flesh. It’s always good--young blood.”

“Eugh,” Granger said faintly, but she seemed to have enough smarts to stay quiet. Beside her, Potter’s face was swollen by some sort of hex, grotesque enough that Draco could scarcely recognize him.

“Whatter your names,” the first one barked, prodding at Potter with his wand. “And why are you so ugly, ugly?”

“Stung,” Potter mumbled through swollen lips.

“I can see that,” the second commented. “Your name!”

“Vernon Dudley,” Potter parrotted.

“Check the list,” the tall one said. “He on it? And what about you, ginger?”

“Stan Shunpike.”

“And your girlfriend?”

“Penelope Clearwater,” Granger said in a tight voice.

“And what about you?” the tall one asked again. His voice grated on Draco’s nerves, causing him to involuntarily clench his hands in his lap.

“Joshua Evantree,” Draco said with as much of a pompous tone as he could mutter. “And when my father finds out you ambushed me--he’s very close with the Dark Lord, you see.”

“So why’re you with these half-wits?” the second one asked. “Seems to me to be in a bad group, saying the Dark Lord’s name and all.”

“Half-bloods,” Draco said scathingly. “They forced me along. Seemed to think having me as a hostage would go well for them.”

“Easy enough to check,” tall-one said, smiling sickeningly. “What house are you.”

“I’m a Slytherin,” Draco said haughtily. “The rest of this lot are Ravenclaws. Only ones smart enough to take someone captive as leverage.”

“Fair enough,” the first one said. “Where be your common room, Slytherin?”

“The dungeons, of course. There’s a trick wall that wants a password, and it’s under the lake, so it’s never warm nor dry.”

“Impressive,” the second crowed. “Not many of you that we get know where the common room is, even though you all want to say you’re in Slytherin.”

“I aim to please,” Draco said through gritted teeth. Next to him, the tall one was playing with the sword he’d pillaged from the tent.

“Bind them up, and let’s go,” he said. “The Malfoys will know what to do with this lot.”

Draco’s stomach dropped to the tip of his toes as the four of them were forced to their feet. The Disapparition was disquieting, and coupled with the roiling of Draco’s stomach from nerves, it was a miracle he didn’t get sick once they reached their destination. The gates of his childhood home loomed, but for once, they weren’t comforting. The padlock curled itself into a face, demanding their purpose, and the tall one was happy to oblige.

“We got some usurpers here,” he said. “Think they might be in league with the Order, if you get my drift.” The gates swung open with an almighty squeal, and Draco was frog-marched inside, Potter next to him with a firm grip on the sleeve of Draco’s robes. It took altogether too short of a time to reach the front door, and it opened at once, revealing his mother’s gaunt, pale face.

“Who’s there?” she demanded.

“It’s Greyback!” the tall one said. “We’ve caught some rebels.” Between him and his two companions, Draco and the other three were shoved forward. It was a punch to Draco’s stomach when his mother registered him, her face going slack with shock.

“Bring them in,” she said, though she sounded far from assured.

The front hallway was quite a bit dingier than Draco remembered, the elegant carpet scuffed as his mother led them into the drawing room. Stepping into it was surreal--the last time he’d been here, he’d been his parents’ golden child. Now they were going to turn him over to the Dark Lord without so much as a how-do-you-do.

“Narcissa, what is it?” his father asked, but the tail-end of his question was cut off by Bellatrix’s gasp.

Draco,” she said. “Ohoho, Greyback, you did good.”

“Aunt Bella,” Draco said smoothly, schooling his face into a bored expression.

“So this must be Potter and his two sidekicks,” Bellatrix said, her eyes madly wide. She drew up her sleeve, poised to press the dark mark there, when Draco spoke again.

“Hardly,” he scoffed. “They left me alone in that Merlin-forsaken house in London after their kerfuffle in the Ministry. I found these three hiding on the hillside and figured they’d be better than being alone.”

This caused Bellatrix to pause, her finger hovering, so Draco continued, “I mean, you can call the Dark Lord if you wish, though I hardly think he’d been happy being summoned for me and three half-bloods who were too afraid to stay in Hogwarts.”

“You lie,” she breathed, but she let her hand fall all the same.

Lucius approached the four of them, looking closely at Potter’s maimed face. “Looks like a Stinging hex,” he said.

“Blame the three idiots over there,” Weasley said. “Throwing curses all over the place.”

“I did not ask for your input, boy!” Lucius snapped. He tilted Potter’s head up, moving it from side to side. “This could be the scar.”

“Or it couldn’t be,” Narcissa said. “We need to be sure, Lucius. He is displeased with us as is. And Draco...”

“Will get what he deserves for deserting us,” Lucius said harshly.

“What’s that?” Bellatrix demanded suddenly, gesturing towards the sword Greyback’s friend still held. “Where did you get that?”

“Found it in their tent,” the Snatcher defended. “It’s mine. I’m going to sell it for a pretty penny.”

“Someone gave it to me,” Granger said. “An old friend.”

“Lies!” Bellatrix shrieked. “How did you get that from my bank vault?”

“We haven’t been in the bank!” Granger replied, startled.

“Give it here!” screamed Bellatrix, slashing her wand at the man unfortunate enough to have hold of the sword. He dropped it with a yelp, and she grabbed it immediately, cradling it to her chest.

“Send the other two to the dungeons now,” Bellatrix commanded. “I need to think on what to do.”

“Don’t you dare give orders in my--” Narcissa started, but Bellatrix cut her off just as suddenly.

“You don’t understand the danger we’re in!” Bellatrix barked. “Do it!”

The two unfettered Snatchers took Potter and Weasley down to the basement with nary a word, leaving Draco undefended against three estranged family members, one of whom was bearing down on Granger with a dangerous gleam in her eye.

“Tell me, missy,” she said. “The truth now. Where did you get this sword?”

“Someone gave it to me,” Granger said levelly. “I already told you.”

“You little liar,” Bellatrix said.

“I’m not,” said Granger. “It’s not a lie.”

“Is it, Draco?” Bellatrix asked, turning to him. “Tell your Aunt Bellatrix now, and I might put a good word in for you.”

“How should I know where she got it?” Draco asked. “I didn’t keep a bloody on watch on her.”

Bellatrix was so angry, she eschewed Legilimancy for a more torrid approach. Granger went down like a sack of potatoes when she was pushed, splayed on the floor like a whore ready for the taking, and Bellatrix was on top of her in a second, her silver dagger between her fingers. She traced the delicate artery of Granger’s neck, almost lovingly, then shoved the point into the meat of Granger’s shoulder, making her cry out in pain.

“WHERE DID YOU FIND IT?” Bellatrix thundered. She twisted the knife roughly, making Granger’s scream turn into some sort of sob. Draco was sick to his stomach, but he made himself seem impartial; showing that he cared about Granger would only make things worse.

“I was unaware that the Dark Lord had told his servants to fight like Muggles,” Draco said flatly. “I’ve obviously been studying the wrong type of defense.” He could hardly believe the words coming out of his mouth, had no idea where the bravado had surfaced, but something had changed within him, imperceptible until now. It was like the Gryffindor had rubbed off on him, the recklessness, the need to protect his own, and the fact that Granger had now become someone that Draco wanted to defend showed just how far he’d come.

Unfortunately, Bellatrix wasn’t in the right mind to pay attention to him, though his mother shot him a look that showed her surprise. His father was watching Bellatrix torture Granger with her knife intently, but Draco knew he heard. The disgusted expression on his face suggested nothing but.

Granger was not offering anything up besides blood, her face twisted in agony as she bucked to get Bellatrix off of her. Bellatrix was being careful to not nick anything important, but she was growing tired of the game; anyone could see that. In one smooth movement, she reared up and drew her wand.

“TELL ME,” she commanded, and in the same breath, threw out the Cruciatus curse that had made her so infamous. Granger’s screams echoed off of the high ceilings, making Draco’s stomach roil, and he couldn’t help but step forward, though to what means he meant to stop it, he didn’t know. Bellatrix didn’t notice his involuntary movement, but his father sure did, striding across the room quicker than Draco thought possible and striking him across the face, hard enough that Draco saw spots as he fell to the ground.

“What’s wrong, Draco?” his father asked coldly. “You don’t like hearing your Mudblood girlfriend in pain?”

Draco wanted to say something, needed to find the words to inflict as much hurt as he could, but Granger was finally speaking, released from the curse. “It’s a copy, I swear. It’s not real.”

“Get the goblin then,” Bellatrix said, pointing at Narcissa. “He will know.”

His mother was fast to leave, shooting one last glance at Draco and Lucius before turning the corner. Draco thought he saw grief in her eyes, but she was gone before he could be certain. Bellatrix, even with her answer, had taken up the torture again, and Granger’s screams made it impossible to concentrate on anything else. His father’s attention had turned again, but Draco had a feeling that he wouldn’t have the reprieve for long.

Narcissa marched the goblin into the room, keeping a firm grip on its shoulder though it looked as though it pained her to do so--the thing was filthy, and there was something about its demeanor that made Draco’s skin crawl.

“Is this real?” Bellatrix asked it. “Is this the real sword of Gryffindor?”

The goblin spent its time examining the blade, the hilt, touching the inlaid rubies very carefully. “A fake,” it proclaimed, the opposite of what Draco was expecting to hear. “A very good replica, but fake all the same.”

“You sure?” Bellatrix asked. “Are you absolutely sure, goblin?”

“Yes,” it answered without inflection.

Bellatrix’s smile was worse than her anger, mad in the way it lit up her face, almost inhuman. “Then we have no need for the girl anymore.”

“I’ll take her,” Greyback said immediately. “They all taste the same to me...”

“NOOOOO!” someone yelled, and then chaos broke loose as Weasley broke into the room, followed by Potter, who was much more recognizable now--the hex was wearing off.

Draco was close enough to his father that he was able to kick out, knocking Lucius’s legs from under him. It was hardly graceful, but Draco managed to wrest Lucius’s wand through sheer will alone. The room was exploding around them, two Snatchers already unconscious on the ground, and Potter had a wand too, was dueling with Bellatrix, while trying to get to Granger and Weasley.

His mother stayed out of the fight, but was quick to give up her own wand when Lucius got back to his feet, and then Draco was fighting with him, shooting spell after spell, ducking as hexes whizzed past his head. He changed direction so he was being forced back towards Potter, on the defensive, and in doing so crashed into Potter, who was on his knees.

“WE’VE GOT TO GO!” Potter yelled, grabbing hold of Draco’s ankle. Draco wanted to ask how he planned on doing that when the Manor was warded against any escape attempt, and then he saw the little elf. He closed his eyes, waiting for the Disapparition, saw his aunt throw a knife, and then was hit by one of his father’s spells, wrenching him from Potter’s arm. Draco heard Potter’s desperate cry a second too late, and then he was alone in the middle of the room, his aunt and his father bearing down on him.

“Wrong choice, Draco,” his father said. The haze of whatever spell he’d been hit with washed over him, and Draco felt himself fade into unconsciousness.

**

Link Part Four

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