Title: The Properties of Voyeurism
Rating: PG-13 for language and references to sex.
Notes: This is the sort-of sequel to The Properties of Being Lost, and it’s not necessary but advisable to have read that one first.
Thanks: To Orphne, for a wonderful beta job on very short notice, and to marksykins, whose song request for Miggy’s Mp3 challenge inspired the whole thing.
This fic is dedicated to shaggirl and lunacy, who pep-talked me through its predecessor, and who have given me countless emails of delight through the past several months, as well as endless blackmail material. Cheers, ladies, and remember—semantics are our natural enemy. <3
Harry has most of Trelawney’s themes down cold now. Untimely passing at the hands of a lifelong enemy, check. Cruel demise due to dark forces beyond control, check. Summoned prematurely home by voices from the beyond, yep. Beware of a cloaked monster, got that. Harbingers of doom, fates worse than death, dark omens, hands of destiny, lots of boring snake imagery, check.
It’s Tuesday. “Oh, most interesting,” Trelawney says, lacing her fingertips together the way she does when she wants the class to pay special attention to this one, no, really. “You will see great change… windfall of silver… yes! It looks as if you’re to come into some sort of inheritance, my dear.” She pauses to push her glasses up farther on her sharp nose. “Tell me,” she says conversationally, “do you expect any of your family members to die in the near future?”
Dumbledore doesn’t give Harry advice anymore; there are no private conferences in the Headmaster’s Office, no lingering pats on the shoulder, no conspiratorial winks. Instead, the professor just sends him long, solemn looks of concern from time to time, as if he’s looking at Harry and asking himself where he went wrong. Harry has a few ideas, but guesses Dumbledore won’t be inviting him up to chat about them any time soon. He probably thinks Harry will tear up the entire office again. He is probably right.
When Malfoy starts staring at him it’s at first annoying, then amusing, then frustrating, and then annoying again. Malfoy, when he decides to do a thing, won’t just stop doing it, because he’s Malfoy, and he’s too much of an arsehole to quit. Harry wonders again and again if Malfoy even realizes how stupid he looks trying to get at Harry the way he does. He’s like a grass snake in a roomful of basilisks, Harry thinks, and he thinks Harry’s going to pay him more attention than his dad or Voldemort or the Death Eaters or Fudge? It would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetic, and if Harry didn’t always wind up trying to beat Malfoy up or hexing him or stuffing him into containers.
It’s all just encouragement to Malfoy, Harry knows that, because Draco’s the type of person who’ll take a kick from you and bend over for more, because at least that means you’re noticing him. Harry feels ridiculous for noticing, because he refuses to take Malfoy seriously. He refuses to see Malfoy and his stupid posturing as a threat. Maybe if the day ever comes when the idiot can ever get his wand out of his pocket without getting hexed three times over, Harry will reconsider.
Not that he even wants to consider Malfoy. What he wants is for Malfoy to leave him alone, which Malfoy seems determined never to do. It actually comes as a strange sort of relief to Harry to realize that Draco may be gay: so it’s some sort of a strange crush, then, he supposes. This makes sense to him; he almost likes Malfoy better for it, in fact—it’s a much better reason to stalk him and try to make his life miserable than ‘I’m a whiny prat and you’re not so I reckon I’d better hate you, then.’
Malfoy’s still insufferable; but for some reason, looking at him and thinking, ‘you’re like me’ makes it easier for Harry to put up with him. Or maybe it’s just a sign of how fucked up he’s gotten.
Either way, when Malfoy hurls a baseball at his head, the first thing Harry does is laugh.
Harry’s first impression of Zacharias Smith was that he was a lot like Draco Malfoy. He’s glad he’s never told Zach this because not too long after they have gotten together (in the sense that they keep meeting up after Quidditch and doing stuff) Zach tells him he hates Draco Malfoy.
“Everybody tells me I look like him,” he says bitterly. “I do not look like him! He’s a total ponce.”
He says this and then looks embarrassed, which is a good choice considering that he had his hands down Harry’s pants not five minutes before. Harry doesn’t think he’s letting it show, but he wonders if his face is as red as Zach’s.
“I mean,” Zach says, “He’s nothing like me. We’re both blond, and we both like Quidditch, but that’s it!”
“Well,” offers Harry, “You’re both prats.”
The fake punch Zach throws at him reminds Harry of Malfoy, as does the way Zach’s lip curls as he keeps talking, though he’s not going to say this.
“Ever since I was old enough to go to Hogwarts,” Zach continues. “‘I thought you were one of the Malfoys! Are you related?’ As if there’s only one family of blond wizards in all of England.”
Smith isn’t exactly the world’s most stand-out name, Harry thinks. He isn’t going to say that either, because he has a suspicion it wouldn’t go over too well—which is another thing that reminds him of Malfoy.
Zach sits down so he is next to Harry on the bench, and puts his hands between Harry’s knees, which is just fine with Harry. He asks something of Harry, and has to repeat it, because all Harry can think of is Zach’s hand. “Why do you hate him, anyway?”
“Oh.” Harry leans back and has to think about it, which is hard because Zach is distracting him on a number of levels. “Because he’s a total arse.”
“Really?” Zach looks thoughtful. “I always thought he was an arse to you because you hated him.”
This is one of the moments Harry remembers that he finds Zacharias annoying in his own uniquely Zacharias way that has nothing to do with Malfoy.
“Maybe,” he shrugs.
“He threw that ball right at your head,” says Zach.
“Yeah,” says Harry, remembering.
Dumbledore is allowing Harry to study Occlumency independently. The course so far involves Harry lying to Dumbledore every two weeks about what kind of progress he is making. Since Occlumency is not an actual course at Hogwarts, Dumbledore is officially allowing him to take it as part of his Auror training. Harry wonders what would happen if he told anyone he isn’t even sure he wants to be an Auror. Actually, he knows what would happen. Hermione’s eyes would go wide and she’d say, “But, Harry, you’d be perfect for it!”—as if obviously he really loved being an Auror and just hadn’t realized it yet. Ron would snort and ask him what he even bothered putting up with Snape and Potions for, then. Harry doesn’t know the answer to this so he hasn’t told Ron.
Dumbledore would nod gravely and say, “Ah,” as if Harry had snuffed out all his twinkle. McGonagall would frown and lecture him on the benefits of planning ahead, and remind him it hadn’t been exactly easy putting him on the Auror Track with Snape just waiting for the first opportunity to fail him. “You’ve come too far,” she’d say, “to let a little thing like uncertainty stand in your way.”
The twins would laugh and offer him a partnership in the joke shop. Arthur Weasley would laugh and offer him a position in the M.O.M.A. office. Hagrid would slap him on the shoulder and say, “Anything you want’s good enough for you, Harry!” Sirius would—
Sirius would have congratulated him and taken him out for a butterbeer.
A couple of people are in all the same Auror track classes he is—Neville, Ernie Macmillan, Parvati’s sister Padma, and Draco Malfoy. At first Harry wonders if Malfoy somehow got a copy of his schedule and signed up for everything Harry was taking just so he could make Harry’s life that much more miserable. But then he figures Malfoy must have a better reason for wanting to put up with Hagrid and his menagerie. He can’t resist saying to him on their first day back, “Watch out for the Cornish Pixies, Malfoy, they prey on weaker animals.”
Malfoy starts as Harry speaks to him, then scowls, “You’d best watch out for yourself, Potter, if you know what’s good for you.” He looks more like his mother all of the time, Harry thinks, with that unmistakable expression of sour grapes. He rolls his eyes and walks away, thinking it’s nice to know at least some things don’t change.
The only thing redeeming about Potions with Snape is the look on Snape’s face whenever Harry proves he knows what he’s doing. All his other 6th-year classes are easy, except for History of Magic, which he keeps falling asleep in, and which he only does well in because he gets Hermione’s notes. Kingsley Shacklebolt is the DADA professor this year, and he’s pretty good, except Harry keeps wondering what will have happened to him before the year is out to get him sacked or killed or worse.
Kingsley’s okay, except he talks to Harry like they are old friends, as if he is Harry’s cool professor who wants to be a pal instead of a teacher. It’s not like he knows anything about Harry, though—not from a few hours spent at Grimmauld Place. Harry thinks he liked Kingsley better as an Auror. Nobody else does, though—all of the Advanced DADA students think he’s cool, and Harry snaps at Ron when Ron says he thinks Kingsley is even better than Lupin.
“Professor Lupin was the best teacher we’ve ever had,” says Harry.
Ron looks surprised, and then shrugs. “Just an opinion, mate.”
Harry wants to argue with him—Remus was one of his parents’ best friends, Sirius’ best friend and more, that makes him the best teacher, best person alive as far as Harry’s concerned. Ron should get that, it’s totally obvious, but he’s probably just impressed that Kingsley does wandless magic for all of them. Harry reckons Remus could have done heaps of wandless magic for them, too, he just didn’t feel like showing off.
He pulls away the next time Kingsley gives him a pat on the shoulder. “Anything wrong, Harry?” he asks. Harry doesn’t answer. Kingsley doesn’t know anything.
“Why does everybody think he’s so great?” scowls Harry.
“Cause he is,” Zacharias replies. He sounds bored, and Harry wants to punch him. “He’s the best DADA professor we’ve ever had, he should have been hired years ago.”
“He only gave me passing marks on my term essay,” Harry scowls. “I did exactly what he wanted! And he wrote ‘you’re not trying’ on the top.”
“Well, maybe he wants to push you,” says Zach, standing up and stretching. “To do better, since he already knows you know what you’re doing.”
“I think he’s arrogant,” Harry says determinedly. “I did what I was supposed to do, that should be enough! It is for everybody else.”
“Maybe he just wants to make you into his star pupil so he can profit off the fame of having taught the famous Harry Potter.”
“Yeah, probably,” mutters Harry, only to look up and see Zach roll his eyes.
“Take yourself a bit more seriously,” he says.
Harry stands up and shoves Zach as hard as he can into the row of Quidditch lockers behind them. Zach’s shoulder blades hit first, and it’s noisy but not painful. “Fuck you,” Harry says. “You don’t know anything.”
“Nobody knows anything with you,” says Zach, straightening up and rubbing his neck. “This is stupid.” He tucks his shirt back into his waistband and heads for the door.
“You’re just like Malfoy,” Harry says, not because it’s true, but because he knows how much Zacharias will hate him for saying it.
“Yeah, well,” Zach responds, sounding unfazed, “No wonder you wanted to shag me.”
Hermione is by herself in the Common Room studying when Harry comes in. Her face darkens when she sees him. “What is it, Harry?” she asks, in the voice she uses when she is concerned but trying not to sound like it.
“Nothing,” Harry scowls.
“It’s just—well,” Hermione says earnestly, “you look like you could use a hug.”
Harry scowls harder and goes upstairs. He’s fine. He doesn’t need anything.
Harry won’t wank off very much, especially not while thinking about people he knows, and absolutely never in groups. This is a change from last year, and since everybody knows he likes boys, the other Gryffindor boys think he’s embarrassed to get caught wanking off to thoughts of boys they all know. That’s not the real reason. The real reason is so humiliating Harry doesn’t like to think of it—but then, it’s not everybody who has a megalomaniacal wizard popping into their mind any time, day or night, so Harry doesn’t really waste time feeling guilty for avoiding the subject.
It’s more complicated with Zach around, but he and Zach haven’t really done anything, anyway. Harry hasn’t thought much about what it would mean if they do.
Harry tries not to think too much, period.
“I foresee great tragedy,” says Trelawney, clucking at him. “I see a dire need for guidance—oh, yes, you poor child, great troubles will befall you unless you seek out proper instruction.” Harry glowers at her. She waggles an overly-jeweled finger at him. “As you ought to be more than aware by now, young man, you cannot Thwart the Fates. In your case, a stubborn mind, ah, yes, paired with resistance to authority and learning—” Beside him, Ron snorts, and Trelawney taps her fingernails together with an air of gloomy resignation. “Without the proper training, my dear,” she says, looking down her nose at Harry, “I cannot tell what perils will befall you.”
Harry sinks deeper in his chair and thinks of the hard, unsympathetic way Dumbledore looks at him when he quizzes Harry on his Occlumency training. He wonders if somewhere Voldemort is watching him and laughing.
“Mr. Malfoy, have you had any encounters with gypsies of late? I see a wandering devil in your future—do be careful, the wandering race are always an unpredictable sort.”
As Trelawney speaks she attempts to catch Malfoy by the elbow. Malfoy jerks away from her and scowls deeply. Harry laughs outright, and Malfoy’s eyes meet his.
Harry lets him look.
Harry is in History of Magic trying not to doze off (“forget the McCliverts and hang the MacBoons, I’d prefer quintapeds to this bloody old room”) when Zach passes him a note. It’s about getting back together, because apparently they were. The note reminds Harry of Cho, so he stuffs it into his pocket without reading the rest of it.
“Hey,” Zach says to Harry after class, “No big deal about the other day.”
“I kissed him once,” says Harry.
Zach’s eyes widen. “You kissed…”
Harry shrugs and walks away. It’s not exactly true, but Harry doesn’t really care.
Kingsley sighs and sits on the corner of his desk. “Harry,” he says—he’s too big for it, Harry thinks; his legs are too long and his chest alone seems to swallow half the room—“you’re not listening.”
“Yeah, I am,” Harry says, thoroughly annoyed. “I took notes in class, you want to see them?”
“Not to the lecture,” Kingsley says in that kindly, patronizing way that makes Harry want to see if he can make the desk explode where Shacklebolt sits. “To me, when I tell you that you could be doing more.”
“I’m doing enough,” Harry snaps. “I do everything I’m supposed to.”
“You aren’t meeting your full potential, Harry,” Kingsley continues in the same tone, “and that’s what concerns me. I’m well aware you could probably teach this class if you wanted to.”
“Then why not just leave me alone?” Harry stuffs his hands into his pockets to keep them from shaking.
“Because,” and here Kingsley smiles as if he’s really getting a kick out of this part, “I’m your teacher, and I care about your performance, and it’s my job to—”
“So just give me some sort of extra credit work or something to do and I’ll do it,” Harry interrupts angrily. “This is bullocks.”
“You don’t care about me,” Harry continues, “And I don’t have to do more than anybody else. I don’t even have to be an Auror if I don’t want to.”
“I think your parents would want—”
“My parents?” Harry laughs. The sound is a dry, bitter croak coming from his throat, which is inexplicably tight. “Yeah, well, Sirius said my dad would want me to worry about him less, and now he’s dead so excuse me for—” He stops; he can’t seem to finish whatever it was he was going to say; his eyes are stinging and he can’t keep his lower lip steady.
Kingsley straightens up on the desk and puts his hands in his lap. “Remus tells me your father was always a bit of an arse,” he says conversationally.
Harry stares at him and seriously contemplates causing injury to a teacher for the first time in his school career. He hates Kingsley Shacklebolt. He hates—
“Until he met Lily, your mother,” Kingsley continues blithely. “Remus says that before, James had always been a good guy, but just a little too involved with himself. But then he got to know her.”
“Yeah, and?” says Harry, suddenly no longer upset. “What happened?”
“According to Remus, everything changed for James. She broadened up his whole outlook—the way he saw himself, the way he saw the world. She taught him how to really see his life, and not just live it.”
Harry blinks, and swallows. “So? What’s that got to do with me?”
“The point I’m trying to make, Harry, is just this—” Kingsley leans back and gazes at Harry appraisingly. “I know you’re going through a lot, all kinds of things I don’t know about and may not want to know about.
“But the things that happen aren’t always things that happen to you—and sometimes you just have to take it on faith that other people around you can see your life a lot more objectively than you can from where you’re standing.”
Harry shifts on his heels and tries to understand.
“Right now, there are a lot of your friends who’d like to help you see your life, and all of the good things in it,” says Kingsley. “You may not believe that, but they’re out there. And I’m one of them.” He laces his hands behind his bald head. “I want you to put a little more effort into your DADA studies because you’re good, and you could be better,” he says. “I want you to see what your life could be—who you could be. I want to help you try.” He smiles. “Are you with me?”
Harry shifts some more, awkwardly. He doesn’t understand, or at least he doesn’t think he does, but he nods anyway, and says yes, and he’ll try.
“Good,” says Kingsley. “Now get out.” He grins, and Harry almost grins too.
“Professor,” he says on his way out the door, “Do you know how to—” he cuts himself off. “Never mind.” It’s not like they’re suddenly best friends or anything.
Kingsley says, “Okay,” still in that same light tone, and hops off the desk.
“Why did Remus tell you all that stuff,” Harry asks as an afterthought, “about my parents?”
“Oh.” Kingsley smiles again, a little more broadly. “Well, I don’t think he’d mind me telling you: we’re dating.”
Harry stops and turns and stares. “Oh,” he says. He’s not sure why he suddenly feels so cold.
Kingsley’s expression fades into a worried look of concern. “Is that okay with you, Harry? I know Remus is practically family, and—”
“He’s not family,” Harry says. His voice is sharp and unfamiliar.
“Try telling that to him,” Kingsley answers. He comes to Harry and starts to place a hand on his shoulder, but Harry dodges away. Kingsley lets him. “He should have told you himself,” he says gently. “But there hasn’t been a lot of time or opportunity, you know that. And he, well, he probably thought you’d like me—that it wouldn’t be an issue.”
“I do like you.” Harry looks at the floor. “I. Just.”
“Hey,” says Kingsley, “it’s okay.”
No, it isn’t, Harry thinks, but it’s just a little better—and that’s okay, at least for the moment.
He still misses Remus.
Harry learns that Lucius Malfoy has escaped from Azkaban before Draco Malfoy does. He hears it from Snape because he is in Dumbledore’s office lying about how well his Occlumency independent study is going. When Snape enters, Harry half-expects the sudden cold to put the fire out, but it keeps blazing merrily away in Dumbledore’s hearth while Harry and Snape glare daggers at one another and Dumbledore gently explains that Harry can hear whatever it is Snape has to report.
Snape throws Harry one final murderous glance and then addresses Dumbledore as if they are the only two people present in the room.
“Lucius Malfoy escaped from Azkaban about half an hour ago,” he says briskly. “He had access to the timetable of the changing of the guard. He was able to overpower one of the newer guard members and obtain a wand before apparating.”
“Do you know his current location or presumed destination?”
“He intends to rejoin Voldemort, but I don’t know the precise location of their meeting.”
“If we knew the time and place, we might be able to apprehend Lucius before the others arrive. It would be a very great risk to do battle with Voldemort at this stage if we were to be too late in our attempt, but even worse would be letting Malfoy rejoin the ranks of the Death Eaters at such a moment.”
“Voldemort sees the situation somewhat differently, Headmaster,” says Snape, darkly even for him, “as he intends to kill Lucius upon his return.”
Dumbledore displays only a flicker of surprise, and then he nods in understanding. “Of course,” he says. “Punishing the follower who is clumsy enough to be caught.”
Harry stares at them both. Dumbledore rubs his temple. “In that case,” he says slowly, “Perhaps it is best to take no action.”
Snape is silent for a long moment. In the candlelight of the Headmaster’s office, his face is pale, and Harry notes the presence of hard lines like layers of dripping wax across his sallow face.
“I am concerned for the boy,” he says at length.
“As am I, Severus,” Dumbledore replies. “But this is for the best. Draco’s only chance for a normal, happy life is to be rid of his father’s influence once and for all.”
Harry sits straight up in his chair, and stares harder. He gets it now. “What, so you’re just going to let him lose his father?” he says. They both look at him with surprise, as if they had forgotten he was there. “You think Voldemort killing his father will just fix everything and Malfoy will join you? His father’s been gone for months, and Malfoy hasn’t changed—you think standing by and letting his father get killed will do the trick? You think he’ll be grateful to you if he ever finds out?”
Dumbledore folds his hands together. “That is a valid concern, Harry; however, if we send in members of the Order, we’ve no guarantee of success, and there is a high risk of losing some of them in the attempt. If we do nothing, we may be able to turn the situation to our advantage with regards to Draco. The lesson learned from his father’s actions and their consequences—”
“IT’S NOT YOUR LESSON TO TEACH HIM!” Harry explodes. “You can’t make people learn lessons when you want, just like you can’t make me learn Occlumency because you want me to, and you can’t make Malfoy glad Voldemort killed his dad because it was a good moral lesson, and if you don’t go in and try to save him you might as well have killed him yourself, and now since you’ve told me, that makes me a murderer too, and I DIDN’T ASK FOR THAT!”
To his left, Snape laughs harshly. “And of course it’s ultimately about you, Potter, as always. So predictable, so terribly like your father. You think you can be the hero, do you?—You want to defend Draco, stick up for him now, when you and your friends have done nothing but alienate him and ostracize him for the past six years?”
“You’re out of your mind,” Harry snaps.
“It doesn’t work that way, Potter,” Snape snarls. “He doesn’t want your pity now when all you’ve ever shown him is contempt.”
“I thought we were talking about me and Malfoy,” Harry replies coldly, “Not you and my dad.”
“Harry, Severus, please.” Dumbledore raises his hands, and instantly the room somehow feels calmer, more settled. “We’ve little time,” he says, “if we’re to take action on this matter.”
“Indeed,” says Snape, his voice brittle, “especially when there’s no telling whether or not Potter has been successfully blocking any Legilimency attempts at reading his thoughts.”
Harry pales. He’s right, Snape is right. Voldemort could have heard every word. All the trouble he has taken not to let Voldemort see who he bloody wanks off to, and now this—he could have betrayed Snape, betrayed the entire Order, just from not paying enough attention, just from being in the room.
Snape folds his arms, and Dumbledore tilts his head. “If this is true, then Harry, I’ll have to ask you to leave.”
Harry nods and moves to the door. He refuses to look at Snape. “Then you’ll—you won’t just let it happen?” he asks.
Dumbledore grants him a brief, tired smile. “I assure you, something will be done,” he says, and then he is waving the door shut, and Harry is out in the hallway.
Harry’s breathing is shaky, and his heart is pounding. What will happen to Lucius Malfoy? Why does he even care so much? Why worry what happens to scum like Malfoy and his stupid son? Why would it be so bad if Malfoy got what he deserved and Draco finally had to grow up?
He walks along the hallway, scuffing his shoes on the cobblestone because there is nothing to kick. He is angry—angry at Dumbledore for being wrong, angry at Snape for being right, angry at Lucius Malfoy for escaping, angry at Draco for being so pathetic that Harry has to care about him one way or the other, angry at himself for being weak enough to care in the first place. He thinks about what Kingsley said, about his life and the people in it, and he wonders what it is exactly that he’s supposed to be seeing about his life right now that he isn’t. Half his friends think he’s crazy and the other half just want to use him for something, and he’d practically be better off fucking Malfoy than anyone he actually cares about, and maybe he will, fuck Malfoy, that is, because at least then he won’t be fucking anybody that Voldemort could hurt, because at least if Voldemort takes Malfoy’s father he’ll already have taken all there is to take.
It is late afternoon when Harry comes out of Dumbledore’s office. When he checks his map later before dinner, Snape is not on the grounds. Dumbledore must have sent Snape to warn Malfoy’s dad. Maybe Snape went of his own accord, or maybe Dumbledore is just letting him think it is his own accord. Maybe Dumbledore intended to save Malfoy the whole time. Or maybe the idea is for Harry to go save him.
Harry isn’t saving anybody this time.
On his way to dinner, he sees a gathering of boys outside on the lawn. Through the window they are long and lean, sweat glistening off their backs. In the center is Draco Malfoy, his pale hair catching the sun like water. He is about to throw a baseball, and for the moment, the eyes of everyone watching are on him. He laps it up, and, right before he throws, tilts his head toward the sky as if he is looking for something there. Harry thinks for a moment that Malfoy is looking at him, and he steps reflexively back from the window before realizing that Malfoy could never have seen him from that distance. He peers down as Malfoy throws the ball, aiming it perfectly right down the center of the plate.
By the time he has descended to the front steps the game is over, and the boys are trudging up the hill towards the castle. Malfoy lags behind, tossing the baseball with the smug expression Harry is glad he’s never had to see at Quidditch because it is the one he wears when he wins. Harry talks to Ron and Seamus and Dean and sees Malfoy watching them out of the corner of his eye. Malfoy’s so obvious—he wants Harry even when he’s trying not to act like it. He’s still smirking, and Harry wonders what his face will look like when he finds out what’s happened to his dad.
Harry thinks he has just come downstairs to go into dinner with the other Gryffindor boys, but instead he hangs back, shoves his hands in his pockets, and waits. Malfoy comes up the stairs alone, and stops.
They look at each other.
I need to tell you about your father, Harry thinks, but when he starts to speak he gets stuck on “I need—” and Malfoy smirks at him even more. Harry clenches one fist and uses the other one to grab Malfoy’s shirt front. Malfoy’s eyes go wide, and his nostrils flare like a startled thestral. His skin is still sweaty from playing outside, and his hair still shimmers even though there is no sun in here to catch.
“What do you want, Potter,” he hisses, but his voice is breathless and hopeful.
“Nothing,” says Harry. “I don’t feel sorry for you.”
“What?” says Malfoy, clearly confused, but Harry is impatient, and he shoves Malfoy against the wall and kisses him right there in the entrance hall. He hears people coming down the steps behind them, but he keeps on kissing Malfoy anyway. He has two days, at most, before everything goes to shite—and for just two days, it doesn’t matter who sees them. Malfoy’s hands are at his sides and his lips part slightly, but he doesn’t know what to do with them, so Harry keeps kissing him until Malfoy joins in. Just then someone gasps behind them; the baseball falls and hits the floor with a thud, and Malfoy opens his eyes and pushes Harry backwards.
Harry catches himself and turns around to see who has been watching. Luna, Padma, and a bunch of Ravenclaw girls Harry doesn’t know are all staring at them. Malfoy looks at all of them in disgust and then back at Harry before wiping his mouth as if Harry has contaminated it, then spitting at Harry’s feet. His face is a solid mass of pink. “You fucking poufter!” he screams. “You fucking bloody faggot!”
Harry looks at him and bursts into laughter.
It starts that night after dinner, and it’s really good considering that Malfoy is still royally pissed off, doesn’t have a clue, and is all but convinced Harry is only doing this as some part of a sadistic Gryffindor bet. Harry has never done this before, but it doesn’t take long to convince Draco when he stops trying to talk him into it and starts using his fingers and his tongue instead. From there on, Malfoy is easy, which is fine by Harry, who figures he doesn’t have a lot of time to waste.
The occasional creeping thought that maybe Voldemort is seeing him make short work out of one of his most staunch supporters makes Harry bold, and he fucks Malfoy every chance he gets. They begin on a Monday; by Wednesday Harry feels like an expert, and Draco has picked up a thing or two as well. By Tuesday morning (they spend the night fucking and fighting out on the Quidditch pitch) Draco’s throat is lined with bite marks and everybody who didn’t happen to be in the dining hall the evening before knows they’re fucking. Harry sort of enjoys it—not so much because he likes his love life being the subject of gossip as because it makes Malfoy furious and embarrassed, and he’s better when he’s edgy.
Malfoy keeps asking him what the hell he thinks he’s doing, but since it’s always right before they fuck, Harry thinks the question is moot. He hasn’t had a lot of time to think about it anyway, because Malfoy knows his father has escaped now—it’s been all over the Prophet, all over Hogwarts—and all he wants to do is shag. It’s all Harry wants to do as well, because no one’s heard from Snape, and Ron and Hermione think he’s nuts, and Zach Smith keeps looking at Draco like he wants to hit him, and Kingsley and Dumbledore are constantly sending Harry worried glances across the Great Hall. He fucks Draco until neither of them can move, and Draco grins his stupidly smug grin at Harry, and talks about how he knew his father would escape all along, and about what he’ll do to celebrate when his father sends for him, and how he won’t miss Harry, will look forward to killing him, more like. Harry just tells Draco to shut up, and kisses him like it’s almost Thursday, until Draco stops talking and pulls Harry down to him. And then it is almost Thursday, and then it’s Thursday morning, and there are bruises and traces of Draco all over him. He is exhausted.
This is the day Harry expects everything to end, so when he wakes up next to Draco in Draco’s dormitory he’s surprised for a moment that it hasn’t. He lets Draco sleep for a little, watching the way the sheets rise and fall on top of Draco’s chest as if the body beneath them was huge instead of scrawny. Draco hardly makes a sound except when Harry’s touching him—he might not be breathing at all, except for then. It won’t last much longer, though, because Harry is an arsehole who’s been fucking Malfoy just because he knows he can, because he knows it won’t hurt anything except Malfoy. He wonders whether Malfoy will ever speak to him again after today, and then wonders if he really even cares whether Malfoy ever speaks to him again after today.
He doesn’t know, so he gets up and leaves.
The Slytherin Common Room is empty, and the silence is the kind of cool, thick silence that tells Harry that it’s early, very early in the morning. Harry’s clothes stick to his skin, and he hurries back to his own dorm room to take a shower before anybody else wakes up. Instead, when he arrives, Hermione and Ron are huddling together with McGonagall. They are already dressed, and they don’t even glance up to give Harry the worried looks of concern they’ve been throwing him all week when he comes in straight from the dungeons. Harry is confused at first, until McGonagall turns to face him. Her hair is frazzled and uncombed, and she has been crying.
Harry stares at all three of them. “What happened? Did—did Snape find Malfoy’s dad?”
“Professor Snape is dead, Mr. Potter,” says McGonagall.
Harry’s shower that morning is long. He stares at the tiles on the wall through the steam, until he forgets where he is or what he’s doing, and only the feel of the water turning cold and prickling his skin causes him to remember.
Malfoy’s dad is not dead. Professor Snape is. From what the Aurors on the scene have been able to verify, Voldemort never intended to kill Lucius Malfoy at all, but rather to lay a trap for Professor Snape to test his loyalties; a trap that, thanks to Harry’s insistence, Snape walked right into.
Lucius Malfoy, they say, has murdered Severus Snape.
Harry does not want to feel this way. He hates Snape. Hated—he hated Snape. He doesn’t want to care that Snape is dead because of him. He doesn’t want to care, even though it means that one more person has died because of him—it’s only Snape, after all; only Snape—and now there will be no one to bully Harry and be an arsehole to him, or stay on his case all the time even though he hasn’t done anything wrong—
Wrong. Everything about Harry is wrong.
It’s Ron who pulls Harry out of the shower finally, minutes or hours later—“Come on, Harry,” he says. “You’ll miss breakfast.” Harry goes along with him, and somehow finds himself sitting at the Gryffindor table in between Hermione and Ron.
He hates Snape. Hated. He hated Snape. He’s not sorry he’s dead.
He looks up when Dumbledore starts speaking—not at Dumbledore, but across the hall at Draco: Draco, whose dad isn’t dead, whose dad killed Professor Snape, whose dad rejoined Voldemort after all, all because of Harry.
Malfoy hasn’t been using a glamour, and there are red stripes on his wrists and neck. Harry can see them sticking out all over his pale skin, can remember what it was like to inflict each of them on him the night before. Malfoy isn’t looking at Harry. He is watching Dumbledore, and he looks small and nervous and unhappy.
Harry looks at him, remembering the way he looked sleeping just a few hours earlier. His chest is rising and falling rapidly. Harry thinks about how he’ll never see Malfoy look that way, ever again. It wasn’t supposed to happen like this, he thinks. He was supposed to lose Malfoy. Malfoy wasn’t supposed to lose anything. Malfoy’s dad was supposed to be saved and be re-arrested so he wouldn’t get killed, and Snape was supposed to come back. He wonders how soon it will be now before Malfoy’s dad calls Malfoy to go join him; before Malfoy shows up with a different sort of mark on his arm. He wonders if Malfoy is lost, and if maybe Dumbledore was right and Malfoy’s dad should have died instead, so that Malfoy might have had a chance to join the Order. He wonders if Malfoy is lost, and realises that what he is really wondering is whether or not Draco is lost to him.
Dumbledore makes a speech, and the Slytherins are crying, and no one will look Malfoy in the face because everyone knows what happened, and everyone knows Draco’s father did it. “We must never forget that we are in the midst of a war,” Dumbledore intones, and Harry looks at Malfoy looking at Dumbledore as if he wants to start hitting him and never stop. Harry knows that look well—he has seen it in the mirror enough.
Harry is the last to leave breakfast—his feet won’t move fast enough, and he keeps bumping into things because he can’t look up. Dumbledore stops him and says softly, “You mustn’t blame yourself, Harry.” Harry moves away before he can try to pat him on the shoulder.
He trudges towards the entrance, and bumps into someone in green with a touch that doesn’t make him flinch. Harry looks up at Draco, who is looking back at him with his hand still on Harry’s arm.
“Did you know?” Draco says. His voice is like chalk.
Harry shakes his head. “I thought—” he tries to meet Draco’s eyes, but they are beady and watery, and he can’t just yet. “I thought Snape was going to save your dad.”
“From what, Potter?” snaps Draco, his voice suddenly sharp and biting over the somber whispers all around the room. “Save him from what?”
Harry straightens and starts to answer, but can’t. Save him from Voldemort, of course. From his lord and master, who was supposedly going to kill him. It’s all so stupid, suddenly—so ludicrous to think he ever fell for it. Of course it was a trap—of course Voldemort knew what would happen. Of course he let it happen. For a fleeting moment, Harry wonders if Dumbledore knew it too, if Dumbledore staged the entire scene in his office with Snape and Harry there at once because he knew exactly what Harry would say and do, because he knew Snape would volunteer, because he knew—everything.
Harry looks at Draco. “It doesn’t matter,” he says. “It only matters that it happened.”
“You were wrong,” Draco says, and it comes out mostly as a hiss. “You’ve always been wrong.”
“What about Snape?” says Harry. “Was he on the wrong side?”
“Snape’s dead,” says Draco shortly, his voice dropping several registers on the last word.
“Yeah,” says Harry. “He is.” He’s not going to say he’s sorry, he realizes suddenly. Because he’s not going to be sorry. He hears Kingsley’s voice in his head, saying, sometimes things happen, and sometimes things happen to you.
He puts his hand on Draco’s arm, a mirror of Draco’s own on his. “But your dad’s okay,” he says.
Draco’s eyes go wide, and he jerks away from Harry. “That’s not important,” he says, and then, “Fuck you.”
Harry takes in the angle of Draco’s chin, the way his face looks when nothing on it is smirking.
“You’re right,” he says. “It’s not. Not as important as this.”
“Is this bloke bothering you, Potter?” says a voice behind him. It’s Zach, but Harry doesn’t turn around.
Harry shakes his head. He wonders what Snape is thinking right now, wherever he is, and decides that he doesn’t really care, and that if he has his way, Snape will never stop turning over in his grave.
Harry thinks about Snape watching them, and wonders if he is, or if Voldemort is watching them, for that matter. Zach and Draco are trading insults, and Harry loses track of where they are. He thinks of what does and doesn’t matter, and decides that keeping Voldemort out of his head can’t possibly be harder than going back to the way things were two days before.
Zach utters the phrase “bloody Death Eater,” and it suddenly feels as though the entire population of Hogwarts has come streaming back in through the front doors. The mass of bodies crowding against each other seem to stop time while they collide and volley for position, and everyone, everyone, is looking at Draco Malfoy.
Draco looks at Harry. They stare at each other.
“He isn’t,” says Harry quietly.
“How would you know?” says Zach heatedly. “It could be a trick.”
Harry shrugs. “Then I guess we’ll see.”
He hopes Voldemort is watching.
Snape is buried on a Friday, the day for terrible portents and tidings of woe. There is a torrential rain and everyone freezes, which is, Harry thinks, just the way Snape would have wanted it.
At the cemetery, Kingsley pulls him aside. “Are you okay, Harry?”
“Can you teach me Occlumency?” Harry says. “I need someone to teach me.”
Kingsley blinks down at him and says yes, and rests his hand on Harry’s shoulder. Harry forgets to pull away.
Beside Snape’s grave, Draco Malfoy is standing with his head bent, his eyes lowered and his hair catching the sun. He is not crying, and he is not standing with the other Slytherins who are. Harry watches him, and wonders how he could ever have compared him to Zacharias Smith.
“Do you think he can see us?” says Draco, when Harry moves to stand beside him.
Harry doesn’t know, so he doesn’t answer. Instead, he slides his fingers over Malfoy's wrist, and waits for Trelawney's predictions of death by venom to come true.