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Take Two by MajinSakuko

Format: Novella
Chapters: 5
Word Count: 21,599
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: 15+
Warnings: No Warnings

Genres: Romance, Humor
Characters: Draco, Harry, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Snape
Pairings: Others

First Published: 08/26/2004
Last Chapter: 11/04/2004
Last Updated: 11/04/2004

Summary:
Draco is innocently determined and lovesick and decides to take some action to conquer Harry who seems to want to stay oblivious, though he's fallen for Draco, too. Contains talking mirrors, nasty broom accidents and more.


Chapter 1: Mirror, Mirror
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Title: Take Two

Chapter: 1. Mirror, Mirror

Author: MajinSakuko

E-Mail: MajinSakuko@yahoo.de

Editor: Persephone Lupin

Beta-Reader: Persephone Lupin

Disclaimer: I own nothing, JKR everything else

Fandom: Harry Potter

Pairing/Main-Chara: HP/DM

Rating: PG-13

Genre/s: Romance (Slash), Humour

Warnings: Sappy, predictable sentimentality; OOC; WAFF

A/N: 'Mirror, Mirror' from Grimm's Snow White fairy-tale saying

A/N2: Set in Harry's third year; slightly AU; Voldemort's dead already

Summary: Draco is innocently determined and lovesick and decides to take some action to conquer Harry who seems to want to stay oblivious, though he's fallen for Draco, too. Contains talking mirrors, nasty broom accidents and more.

-

No natural light made its way to Hogwarts' dungeons, which were located deeply beneath the earth surface. Only a few flickering torches on the bare stone walls provided however scarcely light. The bathrooms were even poorer lit than the dorms or classrooms down there and it was not seldom the case that one Slytherin girl or another (or the more vain Slytherin boys) used toothpaste instead of shaving cream or hair conditioner instead of shower gel (resulting in quite fluffy hair on their arms and legs) due to the poor visibility.

The blonde boy currently occupying the bathroom, however, wasn't intent on taking a shower (and if he were, he'd know every hygiene article of his blindfolded, mind). He was standing silently, his Slytherin robes perfectly neat as always, looking straight ahead.

The air was cool and thick with apprehension. Pale brows furrowed as his vis-à-vis' lips turned into a superior smirk. The smugness in his eyes was mirrored clearly in Draco's grey ones, and the other way round. They seemed almost blue, if Draco hadn't know better, he'd say so; but he did know better.

Taking a step forward, his frown eased slightly; this was too easy. Who would have thought that he could finally get back at Harry Famous Potter for all the times that he'd embarrassed and outplayed him?

"You look charming, as always, dear," a husky, female voice whispered, flattering. "You've done something with your hair ... it looks even finer and silkier than usually-"

"I haven't slicked it back," Draco interrupted, a slight smirk tugging at his lips as bemusement lit up his eyes for a moment. But as this was neither the time nor the place for amusement, it died away quickly. "Show yourself."

At his command, the mirror's surface in front of him suddenly swirled in perfectly centric circles, as if the glass were made of water and Draco had just thrown a stone into it. The surface became slightly uneven, and the Slytherin's reflection vanished as 3D facial features emerged from the mirror. A long, slightly crooked nose, small glittering eyes and a thin-lipped grin greeted him, as the mirror's soul took form.

"Now, do tell me," Draco drawled. "What is the news, concerning my little project? Something interesting? Something embarrassing? Or even something scandalous?"

"A little bit of everything I would say, my dear ..."

"And ...?" prompted Draco. "Don't keep me waiting. You should know I'm easily offended ... and I'm not afraid of seven years of bad luck, if you know what I mean."

"Some things are worth a bit of stalling for the dramatic effect ... dear boy."

"Don't call me 'dear boy', you piece of glass," Draco snapped. "Go and tell me what you found out or I'll find a replacement for you. It's as easy as that."

The mirror sighed. There was no pleasing Draco Malfoy. "If you insist ..."

"Of course I do, you stupid mirror," Draco spat under his breath. Finding a decent (and obedient one to boot) mirror these days was a real Sisyphus task. They all had too much character on their own; it wasn't fun anymore.

"But I've got a better idea," the mirror went on. "I could ... show you ... but only if you want me to, of course!"

Sly little thing. Again, Draco was well aware of *why* he used the mirror in the first place. "Show me," the Slytherin growled with a smirk. "And if you ever pull something like that again, I am going to replace you with a Muggle mirror ... and don't presume I wouldn't do it; you should know by now to what extent I'm taking my revenge ..."

"Whatever you say, dear boy ..." And before Draco could snarl his response, the mirror's surface swirled again, contorting the face, before coming to a halt, now showing the Gryffindor 7th year boys' dormitories and no longer Draco's reflection. The Slytherin grinned at the scene unfolding before him; never would he have thought to get such a perfect close-up of the lion's den. Oh, the sheer endless possibilities, all the insider information he could get, all the secrets ... Draco was beyond ecstatic.

He sat down at the bathtub's edge (fleetingly thinking of a bowl of popcorn to put the finishing touch to the picture) and filed away all the information for possible future use like the sly little Slytherin he was. Soon, he was totally submerged into "Gryffindor Place" (as he silently dubbed it). Oh, if the mirror only could permanently safe what he taped, Draco would make a fortune selling copies. Not that he actually needed the money (unlike a certain redhead), but some possibilities remained that could have rather nasty outcomes for Draco ...

'Back to the movie,' Draco thought firmly and redirected his attention to Potter and Co.

Granger was sitting on what appeared to be Potter's desk; her robe was unbuttoned, showing her – for a girl – surely nicely shaped legs in a way too short to be called decent skirt. Draco grimaced at the sight. How could one possibly stand this sight without permanent eye damage? Weasley didn't seem to mind as much, judging by his nearly drooling expression. Merlin, get a grip! Weasley's shortcomings in the financial department weren't compensated by his overly refined manners – or lack thereof, more like.

Granger leant back, supporting her weight on her palms, and ... was that a suggestive stretching? Draco thought he was dreaming. He'd always known the Gryffindor Trio was weird, but that was just ... beyond his wildest imagination. Now, the riddle was solved why Granger was in the boys' dorm, all alone except for Potter and Weasley. Kinky. Who would have guessed?

Full of determined anticipation (he only did this for blackmail's sake, of course), Draco made himself more comfortable and resumed his spying activity. Only to be a bit ... disappointed. Potter seemed oblivious to Granger's antics, and even Draco had to admit that there was nothing subtle about them. The Golden Boy merely sat cross-legged on his bed, leaning against the headboard, chatting away with a quite obviously somewhat frustrated Granger and a quite obviously flustered Weasley, where the term 'obviously' *obviously* applied to everyone but Potter. It was nothing short of a shame. How could this blind and deaf boy be the future rescuer of the Wizarding World? A sick joke of fate was the most plausible answer.

"Yes, great material," Draco drawled sarcastically. "Potter's too daft to get it that someone's got the hots for him. Nothing new here ..." He still contemplated the meagre outcome (maybe Granger fancying Potter could serve for a few laughs) as said Granger left the dorm, frowning and most likely pondering what the next step was going to be in her plan to conquer the Boy-Who-Lived-To-Remain-Obviously-Oblivious.

"Why do you have to be so cold to her?" Weasley asked, and Draco frowned. There was more? Oh well, the more the merrier.

Potter sighed. "I'm not cold towards her, Ron, but I'm not hot for her either. In fact, all that I feel in Hermione's regard, as you know all too well, is brotherly, strictly platonic love. OK?" Potter stretched shortly, and then got off his bed, heading somewhere Draco couldn't see due to his restricted view. Draco gasped in shock as Potter stepped back in front of the mirror. He was actually trying to – no, it must be a dream! Draco pinched himself, then yelped shortly; he was awake – comb his hair. Judging by the state of the black rat nest, the Slytherin had doubted that Potter knew what a comb was anyway (Granger's frizzy mess only cemented his theory).

"Wonders never cease," Draco murmured, watching as Potter struggled with the comb, wincing every so often in sympathy as hair was pulled out roughly.

"I'm not – ugh! – standing in your – ah! – way, Ron," Potter panted. "You know, you can have her ..."

"Don't talk about her as if she's a piece of meat!" Weasley snapped. "Only because you don't have feelings, doesn't mean she doesn't either!"

"That's not how I meant it," Potter said, abandoning the impossible task of taming his hair and turning around to face his friend (thus granting Draco the sight of his impossible back of messy hair). "I just don't see her in a romantic sense, and I doubt that I ever will. You know that, Ron ..."

"That's still no reason to be so disrespectful! Even if she can't hear you, I can, and that's enough!"

"You know what, Ron?" Harry asked rhetorically, before answering himself. "You really should do something about that crush of yours. It's just not healthy. Hermione doesn't have a chance with me; she's just working herself into something, and the deeper she gets, the more she'll be hurt when she finally realizes there won't be an 'us'. But if you can divert her and convince her that you are serious, she'll come to terms with it sooner, and we all will be happy." Potter plopped back down onto his bed, bouncing slightly.

Weasley shot him a dark glare. "Oh, you are just so clever," he drawled in a startling sarcastic manner. "Tell me, why don't you follow your own advice then, huh? Your crush has lasted longer than I can even remember!" Now it was getting interesting. Potter had a crush on someone for longer than Weasley on Granger? Wow, whole new dimensions.

"Stop it, Ron," Potter said wearily, as if they'd had this discussion umpteen times already. "You know how it works."

"Yes," Weasley replied snidely. "You get to say what I have to do with my life, but every time I try to help you, you block me completely!"

"Ron," Potter practically begged. "That's not true. I truly appreciate your help, but you also know how it is with myself and luck; they just aren't compatible."

"Stop wallowing in self pity," Weasley said sharply. "Doesn't suit you too well."

"I'm not wallowing, I'm just stating a fact. But it's not a big deal. I've got a crush on someone – again – but this someone's not interested – again!"

"You do it – again! - wallowing ..."

Potter smacked Weasley with a pillow. "Stuff it! You have no idea how it is!"

"Oh?" came the deceivingly calm reply. "You think so? And what about Hermione? I know perfectly well how it is to feel rejected even before you make your first approaches! All she ever talks about is Harry this and Harry that ... It's like she doesn't see me at all, well, at least not as a man," Potter snorted and Draco grinned in silent agreement, "but just like her brother. Do you know how frustrating that is? When the one you love doesn't even seem to mind?"

"Yeah," Potter whispered, staring at the canopy of his four-poster. "But at least, Hermione doesn't hate you ..."

It was getting more interesting by the minute. Potter's ailing heart belonged to someone who hated him – quite a wide selection, then. Voldemort would be on the top of the list; but no, Harry was maybe weird but not that desperate. Snape maybe? Draco scowled. Harry didn't have a chance with the Potions master, for he was already taken by a certain professor of his. Also, Harry didn't seem to be the kind of boy to be interested in his own gender in any case.

"Why, Harry," Draco whispered. "If you'd only have chosen to be with me, you'd have saved all this pointless aching. And I wouldn't see myself forced to spent my Saturday evenings locked up in the Slytherin bathroom to spy on you ..."

"Alright. You win," Weasley sighed. "I wouldn't want to know how it is when Hermione hated me." He got off the bed, started undressing, and then went thankfully out of the mirror's range. "It's his own fault," he went on, slightly muffled, and Draco pricked up his ears. A he? "He'd be lucky if he could get you; even I can say that. With his whole 'I am mightier than thou' attitude, I wonder why you ever fell for him, but," he cut Potter off, who wanted to defend his choice, "I can accept it ... now."

"Thanks, Ron," Potter said, also changing into his pyjamas. Draco wasn't sure if he heard everything what was said then, he appreciated the sight far too much. Potter was small (Draco himself wasn't a giant either – thank Merlin), but deliciously built; his skin was a bit more tanned than Draco's own pale one; all in all, the boy before him was more than a living phenomenon.

Draco sighed and averted his gaze. He shouldn't quite gawp like the perverted voyeur he felt he was, especially since he knew that Harry ... Potter was in love with someone else; someone else who hated him and thus didn't deserve him.

The bathtub's edge suddenly felt very cold under Draco's fingers. Why was he doing this? Spying on Harry, using everything against him, when all it got him was a broken heart? Was he already this deep into masochism? Was Harry really worth it? Sure! So, Draco watched on.

"Even though I think he doesn't deserve you," Weasley said. "If you think he's going to make you happy, I'm going to keep my mouth shut. But if he calls me or Mione names again, I can't guarantee for his safety."

Potter smiled, and Draco's eyebrows shot together. Name-calling?

"I'll take care of that," said Potter smiling.

"Your word in Merlin's ear," Weasley mumbled, earning him another smack with the pillow.

"You'll see, Ron. If only we were together, I'd tame my feisty little dragon ... or I'd let myself be tamed ..."

Weasley made a gagging sound, and Draco's mouth dropped open. Harry called his crush 'dragon'?

"Sorry, it's just," Weasley said, throwing the pillow out of Potter's range. "Taming your dragon just sounds ... wrong!"

"There's nothing wrong with it," Potter grinned. "If I had a chance with him, Draco would be mine and I'd never let him go again."

Weasley shook his head, and Draco ... hadn't heard anything after the mentioning of his name, as he'd fallen backwards into the tub, banging his head on the tap. Wincing slightly, he pulled himself out again and turned off the water (which had miraculously started running as the back of his now throbbing head had met the water regulator).

Did Potter ... Harry just say Draco? As in Draco Malfoy? As in his own name? The Slytherin snorted shakily. There weren't *that* many Dracos around, where there? But did that mean Harry ... thought he hated him? All right, there may have been angry (but still passionate) words, a few hexes and attempts to get Harry and his loyal sidekicks deliberately into troubles ... But that didn't mean Draco *hated* Harry, au contraire. Draco had never had a worthier (and sexier) enemy than Harry in his whole (17 year long) life. If he'd known he was the one holding the Boy-Who-Lived's affection, Draco would have taken advantage immediately. Oh yes. His advantage, Harry's advantage; there wouldn't have been any difference.

But now ... Draco frowned. Was it too late to put all differences behind them when he knew that deep down they both wanted the very same? Draco refused to believe that. He had the Merlin-sent (or rather, Mirror-sent) proof that Harry – he still couldn't grasp the whole idea – loved him. And he knew he loved Harry. Every other problem that might occur should be solvable in the Slytherin's eyes. Draco closed said eyes briefly as a sudden surge of powerful emotion rushed through him. No, he definitely wouldn't replace his mirror with a Muggle one. He'd frame it in gold – no, no need to exaggerate; silver would be sufficient. Or maybe gold and silver intertwined ...

Draco squealed in anticipation. It didn't matter as long as Harry was going to be his ... and he Harry's.

Chapter 2: Daring Challenges
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A/N3: The usage of the international valid measure systems is deliberate

2. Daring Challenges

Draco Malfoy, clad in his tight-fitted Quidditch robes, leisurely crossed the front lawn of Hogwarts Castle. His broom was swung over his shoulder, bobbing slightly with each step he took, and its handle glistered with the gentle raindrops that were falling consistently from above. The sky was stuffed with thick, grey, unfriendly clouds, and it was entirely too chilly for a Saturday afternoon in the middle of June.

Draco grinned in silent anticipation (his embarrassing giggle-attacks were finally over) as he neared the Quidditch pitch, a tiny red spot already visible in the distance. Like a glow-worm it buzzed through the air, glowing brightly, but its obvious flying skill rather compared to a majestic eagle than an insect.

"Thank Merlin for Hogsmeade weekends," Draco breathed. "And thank Merlin – sorry! – for Harry's bloody relatives who wouldn't sign his pass ..." It suited his purposes perfectly, and as soon as he'd accomplished what he wanted, he'd give the Dursleys a piece of his (rightly feared) mind. He would lash out and make them regret everything they ever did to his Harry. His grin mutated to a possessive smile. His Harry. That sounded nice.

And then, he schooled his features into a neutral mask. It wouldn't be ideal if Harry saw him wearing such a smile. He might get some ideas; bad ideas at that. Or worse: he might get the right idea and decide he didn't want Draco anymore. Draco didn't want that to happen, so he decided to follow his plan through exactly the way he'd intended it, not providing Harry with even the tiniest chance of escape. He mercilessly squished the urge to laugh sinisterly; "Muahahahah!" must not be the first sounds Harry should hear Draco uttering.

"Stage one is on," he murmured and set foot on the pitch. He walked the twenty metres till he was approximately in the middle of the field and mounted his broom. Gracefully as always, he took off and soared up into the sky, damp locks of fine blonde hair clinging to the sides of his face. He supposed he resembled a drowned rat, but it was all for the greater good, so he endured it silently. After making a quick mental note to use water-repellent hair gel in the future, Draco flew a few loops to get Harry's attention – attention-seeking love-fool that he was.

Soon enough, Harry's carefree flying staggered and the red-clad boy descended towards Draco. His expression was grim, his lips pressed into a tight line, but his eyes were questioning.

"Malfoy?" he growled, sending shivers throughout Draco's body.

"Potter?" came the mockingly drawled response.

"What do you want, Malfoy?"

"I don't want anything," the Slytherin sneered, the lie rolling smoothly from his tongue. "It would rather appear that you want something from me, as you were the one coming to me and starting this sort of conversation."

"I have better things to do than discussing anything with you."

"I wonder what that may be, as you sought me out after I only got here."

Harry fought an inner battle of self control. Judging by his facial expressions, he was losing fast. "Why can't you just leave me in bloody peace for once? It's not as if you did it all the time, so why don't you try something new and let me be?"

"The entire world doesn't revolve solely around you, Potter," Draco retorted with a slight sneer. 'Though, mine surely does.' The blond flew a lazy circle around the Gryffindor, Harry's eyes following him suspiciously. "I'm only here to practice flying a bit ... as are you as I can see, huh?"

"Why can't you practice another time? I don't see why I have to share the pitch with you!" the Gryffindor snarled, and Draco was momentarily taken aback by the ferocity.

"Oh, come off it again, Potter," the Slytherin snorted. "The pitch is large enough for the two of us. It's not as if we have to play *with* each other."

"I'd rather not see you at all, thank you very much."

"You can always fly blindfolded if you can't stand my sight, Potter, which I cannot imagine. Really, it almost seems as if ... But no, you may take that half over there," Draco allowed graciously and pointed a hand towards the other side of the playing field, "and I'll train here." He smirked and hovered in front of his boyfriend-to-be.

Harry gritted his teeth in an effort to tame his swift tongue. He practically died to ask what Draco meant; eventually, his tongue won the fight against his restricting teeth. "It seems like what?"

"Oh." Draco smiled benevolently. "Nothing important ..." his voice trailed off. He knew he had put enough innuendo into his last sentences that the Boy-Who-Let-Himself-Be-Baited-So-Easily had to believe Draco considered himself irresistible. He was so easily manipulated, the boy didn't even seem to notice.

"What did you mean, Malfoy? I already know I won't like what you were implying, but I want to know anyway." – 'So I can decide on which curse to use on you,' was the unsaid end of the sentence, but Draco got the message clearly, anyway.

"Well, I just thought you were, you know, afraid of a bit competition. That's all."

"Afraid of competition?" Harry spluttered indignantly. "What competition?"

"You mean to tell me that I'm no match for you, then?" Draco asked with raised eyebrows. "A bit over-confident, aren't you? You've got to be careful with that attitude. It might backfire one day ..." Or this day, rather.

"Is this a challenge?"

"A challenge?" Draco repeated mock-surprised. "Why, however did you guess? I thought Gryffindors were so daft they wouldn't even recognise a challenge if it bit them in the butt. On the other hand, you lot probably find everything from lacing your shoes to flushing the toilet challenging. So maybe, you would have even accepted a non-existent challenge."

Harry gritted his teeth. "The only thing you're good with are words, but when it comes to Quidditch, you can't hold a candle to me!"

"I'm deadly wounded," Draco said, clutching a hand to his heart. "Do you accept, or are you too chicken to prove yourself?" His heart had to flutter only for the briefest moment, and as Harry narrowed his eyes, Draco knew he'd won.

"You're on, Malfoy. We'll see who's going to lose some feathers!" snarled Harry and shot down to the ground, where he landed with a wet thud. Expectantly, he looked up to where Draco was still hovering in mid-air, impatiently beckoning the Slytherin down.

Draco frowned and followed, silently hoping that it wouldn't always be that way. Even though he wore robes on a regular basis, that didn't mean he never wore the pants. He did, quite occasionally in fact; underpants, for example.

"So, Malfoy," Harry growled, as the Slytherin touched down to earth, dismounting his broom. "Let's make the rules clear, so we can see by how much I won." He smirked, and Draco melted inside. Harry smirked far too seldom, and when it was directed towards him, Draco couldn't help the quivering joy that threatened to let his heart burst. Hard feelings aside.

"Whatever are we going to play? What do you suggest, Potter? Tag?" He chuckled. "Or would you prefer something more ... challenging?"

"What did you have in mind, Malfoy?" Harry asked warily. "D'you know what's funny? I can't shake the feeling that you planned this; whatever this is. But I hope – for your sake – that I won't regret it." Maybe he wasn't that daft, after all.

"You won't regret anything, Potter. Except maybe your big mouth from earlier." Draco grinned with one corner of his mouth. He pulled out his wand and pointed it towards Hogwarts, ignoring Harry's hand that had already shot towards his own wand. "Accio Quidditch training box." He put the wand back and turned to Harry who appeared a bit confused.

"Let's make this a bit more interesting than a simple game of flying and doing foolish stunts, shall we?" Draco suggested.

"In a simple game of flying you wouldn't have won, then?"

Draco chuckled. "I didn't say that. But why don't we leave the *simple* competition for the real games and have something more interesting now?"

"Alright, Malfoy. I will win, anyway. No matter what kind of dirty tricks you have in mind."

"Dirty tricks?" Draco repeated crossly. "I don't play dirty, I play for winning. There's a difference, Potter. One you might need to know about sometime."

"Whatever, Malfoy. Just tell me what's in this 'Quidditch training box' of yours so we can get started."

"And suddenly, you're very hurried. Afraid, Potter?"

"As I told you last year, Malfoy, you wish."

'You've no idea what I wish for,' Draco thought with a grim smile. 'But hopefully, you'll know soon enough.'

A swishing sound announced the arrival of the box Draco had summoned. It was a handsome, seventy to forty to forty centimetres wooden box, the cover sporting an engraved dragon. There was no padlock on it, so Harry would have to think it was locked with the help of magic. Not a far shot considering the owner.

Draco snatched the box from mid-air, not giving Harry the chance for further inspection. He shot a quick glance from under his lashes towards the Gryffindor and grinned. Excellent, Harry was all his. Draco couldn't wait to let that sentence become literal.

Using his thumb for the owner identification, Draco pressed against the wooden dragon's snout. The cover opened, revealing a row of Quidditch balls. One black, heavy Bludger, one red Quaffle and even a tiny Golden Snitch were confined in the box.

"That's your great suggestion, Malfoy? Quidditch? We're only two, in case you haven't noticed, we can't fill all the positions."

Draco rolled his eyes mutely and put the box down to the ground. "No, dumb brain. We're going to see who will catch the Snitch first, but with the added difficulty of one free roaming Bludger."

"But we don't have any Beaters. We'd have to both play Seekers *and* Beaters!" Harry exclaimed as if that hadn't been clear as day, anyway.

"That's the idea behind it," Draco said dryly. "The fact that you could work it out that quickly leaves me speechless."

"I still hear you talking, though," Harry muttered.

"I should have guessed you cannot grasp the meaning, Potter. Anyways, petty insults aside, we should get going now before it starts raining in earnest."

"Oh, let the rain come, I don't have anything against it. But being the generous Gryffindor I am, I won't take advantage of *your* obvious weakness, Malfoy."

"Whatever, Potter." Draco shook his head at Harry's almost childish antics. "Shall we, or do you have something else to say?"

"Let's just get this over with, please."

"Please? Great Harry Potter is begging me? However could I resist?" Draco snorted. "What is the prize going to be? We have to play for something, don't you agree? To make it more real, you know?"

"A prize?"

"That's what I said. Do you need to repeat everything to help your pitiful mind work around the words or do you just train for your new career as an echo in the Alps?" Old habits died hard indeed, but seeing the spark of unconcealed anger flash in Harry's eyes was worth the regret that overcame Draco after each baiting. Much good that it did him.

"My, I didn't know you were so concerned with my career plans," Harry drawled. "I'll keep you updated if you want."

"No need, Potter, I believe the papers will do that, in any case." Draco instantly regretted his thoughtless words. How should he manage to get what he wanted – and what he wanted was obviously Harry to be his – when he couldn't even keep the insults at least somewhat at bay? And bringing up Harry's Golden Boy status and the linked obligations was not that bright, either. Draco knew that Harry didn't want the awareness of the people around him, and he really should have known better.

Harry's eyes hardened. "What kind of prize?" he asked coldly, redirecting their dialogue efficiently. "Does the winner get an award or does the loser have to pay something? I won't do anything embarrassing like walking around the Great Hall naked, I tell you."

"Walking around the Great Hall naked? I never thought of that!" Draco crowed, but the sparkle in his eyes let Harry know that he was only joking – however inappropriately. "Where is your confidence now, Potter? I thought you'd be winning, anyway?"

"Just in case."

"Right," Draco grinned. "Well, let's say the loser has to do something the winner tells him to. All right? Nothing too awkward, so don't be afraid about having to strip when you don't feel like it. The winner may chose what he wants."

"Alright," Harry agreed warily. Clearly, neither the 'nothing too awkward' nor the 'don't having to strip when he didn't feel like it' did reassure him much. However, due to his Gryffindor status, he couldn't back out anymore for fear of losing his face. And his face was the last thing he was clinging to in this little game that was getting out of his control (where it never was in the first place) too fast for his liking.

Draco released the Snitch which took off into the sky immediately, zooming out of sight. He snatched the Bludger and put a Banishing Charm onto the box, sending it flying from the pitch. Grabbing two small wooden sticks out of his pocket, he tossed one to Harry, who caught it instinctively.

"A bat," Draco said by way of an explanation and charmed both sticks to their natural shape and size.

"Great, I nearly feared we'd have to fight off the Bludger with our bare hands," Harry muttered sarcastically, gripping the bat in his right hand. They'd have to catch the Snitch literally left-handed as they were both stronger with their right one and had to use that hand to bat the heavy Bludger away. "We're playing as long as it takes for me to catch the Snitch, then?"

"However reluctantly I destroy your fantastic dreams, but *I* am going to catch it, Potter. So, don't work yourself into a frenzy and just try to avoid the Bludger."

"One sec!" Harry said hurriedly, as Draco mounted his broom again. "How do I know you didn't hex one of the balls for your advantage? They're yours, so I wouldn't know, and that's not fair."

Draco scowled his displeasure. "Not fair, not fair. Can't you take my word for what it's worth?"

Harry hesitated for a moment, then said quietly, "No."

Draco, although having expected the answer, sighed dejectedly. "All right," he muttered and summoned the Snitch back to the ground.

Harry tried to determine if there was something wrong with the balls, and after he was satisfied, he nodded to Draco to set them free again. "Just to make sure."

"Sure."

"Alright. So, d'you want to start now? Rules as always in Quidditch?"

"Yes," the Slytherin said and took off. Harry followed quickly, and then Draco let the Bludger on the loose.

The game was on.


Chapter 3: Hold your Tongue
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A/N4: There is an early hint who is going to win the game, well, for everyone who saw 'Olympia of the Animals'.

3. Hold your Tongue

Draco Malfoy leisurely circled the pitch; one eye on the Bludger soaring straight towards him, the other on his opponent, Harry Potter. One might think he was going cross-eyed, but practise was the keyword here.

The rain had gotten lighter; the water drops that were drizzling down were so fine as if pressed through a strainer. However, this didn't do Draco any good, as the now nearly fourteen years old boy felt the water tracing over his neck into his Quidditch robes, drenching his clothes beneath. Water-repellent robes or at least body milk was added to the water-repellent hair gel. Thinking a bit more in advance would be a fabulous idea; Draco was a Slytherin after all, wasn't he? Cunning little snakes with nothing but their own advantage in mind; that should ring quite a few bells.

The sharp swishing sound brought Draco back to his problem at hand: A quite dangerous looking Bludger that was almost in his face. His own advantage shouldn't quite contain a free face rearranging. Whatever others might say, Draco always found himself quite adorable with the sweet, even a bit girly, features and the fine, silky, blonde hair, if he did think so himself.

Rearing back his right hand, Draco smashed the bat down onto the Bludger with all the strength he could muster. It didn't prove to be quite enough, though. As the vibrations ran through the bat, over his arm and into his core, Draco gasped in pain. He'd never imagined it to be quite that strenuous to fight off a ball with a stick. He should have trained with it earlier before suggesting the game to Harry. Maybe the fact that the ball was made of solid iron and that the bat, which wasn't an official Quidditch bat, didn't absorb the hit quite efficiently made all the difference. Twenty-five centimetres diameter iron meant a dead weight of ... five kilos. Five kilos? That couldn't be. It had felt as if the ball weighed ten times as much. Nearly as much as the petit Slytherin's weight.

Said petit Slytherin coughed delicately. Then, he struck out at the Bludger again – holding the bat safely with both hands this time and pressing his knees to the broom's sides – and sent the ball careening downwards. Draco's bones quaked and again he couldn't quite stifle his pained gasp. Why did it always look so simple when the Beaters fought off the Bludgers? That could just not be true. Were they all so strong or was it him that was too weak?

"Eep!" the distressed Slytherin shrieked as the Bludger once again soared towards him. Narrowly avoiding a direct hit by doing a Sloth Grip Roll by accident, Draco breathed a short lived sigh of relief. He now hung upside down off the broom, hands and feet gripping tightly onto it, feeling the blood rushing to his head and making him dizzy. It was a whole new point of view – literally – as Draco cast a quick glance at Harry, who searched the pitch below him for the Snitch. Obviously, he wasn't having any success so far. Under any other circumstance, the Slytherin would have gladly taken the opportunity to watch his Love in his element, but due to the tiny fact that this really nasty Bludger was apparently after his neck, Draco didn't really have the nerve to relax and do so.

If he only could throw the ball a bit farther, it would leave him in peace, at least for a while. Then, it would take after Harry, but the Boy-Who-Had-Always-Been-Stronger-Than-He-Appeared could surely manage. Draco hadn't chosen Harry for his good looks alone, naturally, though the boy was quite a looker. Being able to defend himself as well as Draco (the blonde boy blushed prettily) was a major plus point for Harry, too.

Draco tucked the bat safely under his chin and quickly climbed back onto his slightly bucking broom. He didn't have much time to stabilize, as the Bludger already swished back. Draco sighed as the Bludger flew quite a distance away when he hit it squarely in the middle. However, Draco was still the nearest player, and so the ball would fly straight back to him.

After making sure that there was still no Snitch in sight, Draco's mind wandered back to the boy beneath him, and he giggled at the suggestion of the oh so innocently starting thought. Innocent was exactly what he was. Draco, the Innocent Slytherin. It had a nice ring to it, but it didn't fit his hard earned image too well. Oh well. Harry would have to be the innocent one, then; at least for their environment.

Draco frowned thoughtfully. That would suit him fine today, as he still hadn't decided what he was going to demand as his prize. Harry's exclamation that he wouldn't run around naked in the Great Hall had ricocheted Draco's mind into overdrive, tantalizing scenes and forbidden possibilities swirling around in his head. His mind knew that he would never dare voicing any of these thoughts as a request for his prize (Draco, the Innocent Slytherin, was far too shy and inexperienced in these matters of heart to be so straightforward), but who said those dreams of his would never come true? Nothing against a spurring incentive.

Draco closed his eyes, sighing dreamily, and imagined himself asking for at least something; a chaste kiss, perhaps? That wouldn't be much, true, but a beginning. A sweet beginning, hopefully.

Then, he frowned. Draco had planned out his part fairly thoroughly, but he hadn't the slightest idea how Harry might react. It was true that Draco knew Harry loved him, but how would the Gryffindor respond when he realised that he'd walked right into the trap? Would he take it lightly and just enjoy being finally together with his crush, or would his temper flare like it had done so often already? At least, Draco need not worry whether the recorded scene he'd watched one week earlier had been authentic. The mirror's fear for her survival ensured that.

Draco's silent mulling was abruptly interrupted as the Bludger suddenly materialized seemingly out of thin air, before him. If Draco had known more about Muggles, he would have thought the Bludger resembled a cannon ball and he'd play the role of the to be conquered ship. Hopefully, he wouldn't sink and drown.

Even if Draco's skills at being a Beater weren't exceptional, he was one of the best Seekers, and his reflexes were nearly as fast as the ones of a tiger beetle. He ripped the handle of his Nimbus 2001 sharply to the left and shot a few metres downwards, tightening his grip on his bat and readying himself for another hit. Unluckily, though, the Bludger had other plans and changed directions a tad too fast even for Draco, and then the iron ball smashed right into the tail of his broom. The force of impact nearly knocked the Slytherin off his broom, and only his death grip on the handle prevented a real accident. The lower part of his body, however, didn't have the same grasp. Draco let out a strangled shriek (and wondered fleetingly how it came that he went through nightmare after nightmare and Harry didn't even seem to notice) and crashed back down onto the broom, straddling the stick.

For one moment, the world appeared to freeze in place, no motion registered to Draco's mind, no sound could be heard, as the colours swam before the Slytherin's eyes, and then it came crashing down. The bat fell from his limp fingers, as pain lanced through his groin, sharp needles piercing him in what Draco was convinced had to be comparable to Crucio.

"Ah," he gasped, and his voice sounded only a bit too high. "Now I'm never going to have children of my own ..." Deliberately ignoring the fact that he was gay and that male pregnancies weren't that common, anyway. Maybe his godfather could help him with that.

"Thank Elliot Smethwyck," he breathed, then. He (well, his Cushioning Charm rather) was the only reason why he didn't have to seriously fear for his potency. That could have ended nastily. Draco rearranged himself slowly on his broom, wincing as the pain spiked again in his most sensitive area. That had been rather embarrassing, and painful to boot.

"Uh-oh," Draco murmured, as he realised that he hadn't his bat anymore and that the Bludger would soar back towards him again soon. That could end nastily, as well, and Harry's words sprang back to his mind. 'Fighting off the Bludger with his bare hands'. No, that was definitely not a good prospect, especially as his whole body was still throbbing from the last time he'd hit the ball with his bat.

"Great," Draco grumbled. "Where's my hero when I need him?" A quick glance downward, and even from the distance, Draco could see that the Gryffindor's expression was more determined than ever. Oh, wasn't that rich? Draco, very soon to be Draco Malfoy-Potter, being assaulted on end, fearing for his very life, and where was Harry Potter, conqueror of Voldemort and rescuer of tiny kittens? He didn't seem too intent on saving Draco's life, as focused on the Snitch as he was. The blond growled and wished he hadn't lost his hold on the bat. Then he could have thrown it after Harry and hopefully created a bump or two on his head. Although Draco didn't want to risk permanent brain damage, he would really like to teach the Gryffindor a lesson or two in decent behaviour towards his boyfriend.

Draco reached for his wand and pointed it at his fallen bat. Knowing that Harry had most likely not seen the Snitch yet and just wanted to demonstrate his sophisticated Wronski Feint move, Draco muttered, "Accio-"

Then, a flicker of gold caught his gaze, and Draco's eyes snapped open in surprise. How was it possible? Every other time, the Snitch was more than merely elusive.

And Harry was heading in exactly the right direction. Draco's eyes bulged even more and had now more or less the size of saucers. If Harry caught the Snitch first, then Draco's ingenious plan would go up in smoke. He'd spent seven precious days of his life working it out and under no circumstances would he give Harry the chance to spoil his fun. Freshly determined, Draco gripped the handle of his Nimbus and leant forward, urging it on to fly as fast as possible. The broom gave a sudden lurch and the boy squeaked in fright at the bucking. The Bludger that had crashed into the tail obviously had influenced its flying ability quite a bit. Risking a quick glance backwards, Draco blanched considerably. Twigs peaked out at the end in nothing that resembled a strictly scientific order, and the broom didn't look like the flying tool anymore Draco always prided himself in owning, but resembled more a thoroughly used sweeping broom.

Draco's fingers clamped around the wood spasmodically, and like in any other good clichéd near-death experience, pictures of his previous life flashed before his inner eye. There were far too few really happy ones he realised with regret, deciding that if he survived this devious ride, he would do anything to change just that. However, Draco shouldn't really fear for his very life, maybe for his lunch, but definitely not his life. Riding on his jerking broom with a maniac Bludger hot on his tail, soaring towards Harry, who had quite a start to the Snitch, Draco couldn't think of anything he'd rather do at the moment.

Harry's gaze was fixed solely onto the Golden Snitch that tried to escape the hunting boy, swishing from side to side, but due to Harry's experience with Quidditch, the tiny ball most likely didn't stand a chance. The Snitch flew in Draco's approximate direction, so all the Slytherin had to do, was to head directly towards Harry, and if he was fast enough, they'd meet halfway. The Nimbus gave another unpredicted lurch, and Draco gritted his teeth. At this rate, he was never going to make it. He had to be faster-

There was a splashing sound, and Draco blinked in surprise. Then, he blinked again and loosened his grip from the handle to touch his face with one hand, the other still in place to guide the racing broom. He was covered in mud, the soaked earth tracing his cheeks in thick lines. Not in the slightest mood for a mud mask, Draco wiped his face on his sleeve roughly. He didn't have any time for this; it was all he could do to not scream in annoyance. Was the whole universe conspiring against him? There had to be someone who put all the obstacles in his way to prevent him from getting his Harry. Tears of frustration pricked up in his eyes, but Draco bravely swallowed them down, refusing to let the evidence of his weakness spill over. He would only go that far in humiliating himself for Harry, and crying drew that line. Draco rubbed his dry but suspiciously sparkling eyes with his right hand, banging his wand, which was still in his hand, against his forehead. He snorted, as he realised why the mud had landed on his face. As he'd tried to summon his fallen bat, he'd only uttered an "Accio," so he'd summoned the bit of mud that had lain beside the box, as his wand hand had wavered shortly, when he had seen the Snitch.

Draco sniffled but didn't want to give in. He lay completely flat against his still occasionally bucking broom, urging it on to move faster. Miraculously, Harry hadn't caught the Snitch yet. However, the Gryffindor would change that soon, from the looks of it. If the Boy-Who-Lived did want something, nothing could defy him; for long, that was.

Draco smiled grimly, before his smile turned into a frown, as he contemplated how he still could manage to turn the tables to his favour. He knew it wouldn't be exactly cheating. Harry, on the other hand, would in all likelihood not be inclined to let Draco get away with his planned next move. It wouldn't be exactly fair, either. However, Draco certainly didn't care that much for that. Didn't everyone say, everything that was fair about him, was his hair, anyways? So, why don't prove them right, once and for all? Harry could complain all he wanted, after he had done his deed.

Nodding to himself (if he was anything, it was determined), Draco pointed his wand at his broom and muttered, "Adessa!"

A spout of energy surged out of the tip of his wand towards his broom, bright white light enveloping it, as the Slytherin felt how the wood became warmer by the second, the energy within increasing steadily. Draco's eyes widened slightly as he realised his mistake, but the Nimbus 2001 already gave a huge lurch towards the Snitch. The pale boy thanked all the deities that would listen to him that he hadn't lost the hold on his wand like he had on his bat, as his broom, still being noticeably damaged due to the Bludger incident, raced unsteadily towards its destination, shaking Draco about quite thoroughly. Blonde hair, wet from both rain and nervous sweat, clung to his forehead, partially falling in his eyes, and Draco wondered if the Cushioning Charm would wear off in the next moments, just to spite him and thus adding to the catastrophes he'd had to endure already. He must have been really bad in his last life, there wasn't any other explanation for his recent streak of bad luck.

Draco pressed his wand to the wood, as he gripped the broom handle tightly, his knuckles whitening. He didn't dare to remove one hand from the broom to tuck his wand away, he might never know the end of the story at the rate he was racing. The Snitch was near, so very near, he could almost touch it if he were really elastic. Potter was near as well, his eyes shooting daggers at him, glowing disconcertingly in the misty air. His face was set in a tight frown, as he lay flat against his Nimbus 2000 to achieve the smallest air resistance. The dark-haired boy was also very fast, Draco would admit as much, but his broom was inferior to the Slytherin's Nimbus 2001. Taking into account that Draco's broom was slightly damaged and now hexed to fly faster, it should be balanced out, so that both brooms were equally fast now. Draco was afraid to breathe, as Harry drew closer still, the Snitch mere centimetres ahead of him, but his hand barely not reaching it, no matter how much he stretched his fingers.

Harry was near enough for Draco being able to count the sweat drops on his brow, and the Slytherin gulped. Didn't the Golden Boy realise they'd crash any second, if he were not to alter his course? While part of Draco felt flattered (well, Harry did want to be near him, after all), the other, more logical part of what was left of his lovesick mind, told the Slytherin to jerk the handle and thus prevent another nasty accident. The two parts of his mind aside, there was still his pride, and that told him, he wasn't a coward; never would he be the one to tuck his tail between his legs first. He had a reputation to live up to, however damaged it may be from the incident in the Forbidden Forest in their first year that had left him screaming and fleeing like a frightened Hufflepuff, or the fact that he couldn't even stand his man when a girl decided to beat him up. Now, that was an improvement of his mood. Perhaps he should consider a career as a Muggle clown. Anyways, the point was, he'd never pull back first, except maybe-

The Snitch stopped dead in its track, freezing in its place for one sole fleeting heartbeat, and then it shot straight upwards into the sky. Draco reacted immediately, jerking the handle back forcefully and tailing the fleeing ball. Wrapping his legs around the broom, the boy couldn't help gliding down a few centimetres, but thankfully the bushy tail put a stop to his slide. His knees bumped against Harry's, who'd reacted on time as well – not that Draco would have expected anything else from him – and was now flying upwards, facing the Slytherin while doing so. The Gryffindor gritted his teeth and hissed something, but Draco couldn't decipher it, as the wind roared too loudly in his ears. His robes flapped wildly in the wind, tangling his legs, but Draco didn't even notice. Harry's right hand pressed his bat to the handle to keep control of his broom, as his left one reached out for the Golden Snitch, which buzzed exactly in between him and Draco, ever so near but never quite near enough to be caught. Draco crooked his elbow around the broom for more leverage, cramping his left hand around the handle, and then he stretched as far as he could, reaching for the Snitch with his right hand. Harry snarled something that sounded suspiciously like "Cheater," and Draco realised with a start that the wand was even now in his fingers. He still could reach the Snitch. However, he didn't have the time to tuck his wand away safely; Harry's own fingers were dangerously close to their goal. Draco considered his options in a split second. Then, he let go of his wand, feeling it sail slowly down to the ground, and reached for the ball. He nearly sensed the delicate wings flutter against his glove, as he finally felt resistance in the air. Yet, as his fingers tried to clamp down onto the Golden Snitch, they threaded themselves in another set of small digits. Draco gasped out loud, and he vaguely registered Harry's echoing intake of breath, as he found the Snitch trapped between their intertwined fingers. It caught the Slytherin totally off-guard, and Draco nearly stopped his broom mid-air, were it not for Harry.

"Malfoy," the Gryffindor shouted into his face. "Are you completely off the rocker? We're flying vertically! You know what that means? When you stop so abruptly, you're going to be hauled towards Mother Earth faster than you can say 'dumb brain', you dumb brain!"

"Thanks so much for the hint!" yelled Draco back, twisting his broom handle around and forcing a disgruntled Harry to do the same.

"Malfoy, damnit!" Harry cried, his hand gripping the Slytherin's now harder than before. His entire right arm was slung around his broom to hold him in an awkward position, lying flat against the hard wood, left arm held at an odd angle and linked with Draco's right hand, that trapped the Snitch. "Are you trying to kill me? Because you're doing a pretty good job so far!" His breath came in quick gasps and his cheeks were tinted pink; whether from the exercise or from his nearness, Draco could only guess (and hope).

"And would you please-" he growled, yanking his arm, "-let go of me!"

"You wish, Potter!" retorted Draco with a tuck of his own. The Slytherin was far more comfortable in his position, floating slightly above Harry. "You let go of the Snitch! I won!"

"What are you dreaming about at night?"

Harry managed to get into a more comfortable position, sitting up and pulling Draco along with his broom towards him. The blond struggled to get up as well, holding his balance, but never letting go of the golden winged ball.

"I won fair and square, Potter," Draco snarled, covering up for his blush. Why did Harry have to ask what he dreamt about at night, anyway? "Surely your ancient Gryffindor honour codex forbids you to claim victory when you are only second?"

"Fair and square?" repeated Harry incredulously. "I saw you, Malfoy! You used a charm to enhance the speed of your broom! That wasn't exactly fair, was it?"

"We agreed on Quidditch rules, remember? And enhancing one's own broom is not against them. I am not allowed to hex you or your broom, but it never states anything about hexing myself or my broom." Draco smirked in his smug fashion. "This is such a tiny difference about playing dirty and playing to win, Potter. And it wasn't even against the rules."

"But it was unfair!"

"Life's not fair!" the Slytherin snapped, his temper finally gotten the better of him. "Live with it. And now do give me the Snitch!" He tried to loosen Harry's fingers, but the dark-haired boy refused to give in. "Let go! I won and I demand that you give me the Snitch!"

"You didn't win, Malfoy! I touched the Snitch first, so I'm the winner!"

"Nonsense! Let go, will you?!" Draco and Harry both pulled and ripped at each other's hand, but neither was willing to back down; they had both fought too hard for this success. And neither was really keen on finding out what the other had in store for them, should he really win and demand his prize. Draco, however, was a tick more determined and sly than Harry, and he put all his eggs in one basket. Pulling strongly on Harry's hand, the Slytherin closed the distance between them and pressed his mouth to the Gryffindor's, catching the other boy, as intended, by surprise. It happened and ended so fast, Draco hadn't really the chance to enjoy the softness of Harry's lips, when he had felt a slight pressure from the other momentarily. It was over entirely too soon, as Harry jerked away, letting go of Draco's hand in the process, and thus letting go of the Snitch, as well. Draco's smile of triumph was only half due to the fact that he now held the tiny ball trapped in his palm. He longed to touch his finger to his lip, to close his eyes and revel in the memory of his first kiss, but most of all, he longed to do it again.

"Okay, that was dirty," Harry growled, wiping his mouth on his sleeve, making Draco frown.

'Oops,' the blond thought, then, and wiped the mud from his mouth. Yes, Harry was right, that couldn't have tasted too nice. Yuck, actually. Not the best first impression in a long row of bad first impressions.

"I win, you see?" Draco grinned.

"Yeah, I see," said Harry lowly. "You're the same cheating bastard as ever!"

"I. Did. Not. Cheat!"

"Then, how come-"

"-you didn't win?" Draco finished Harry's sentence. "You're so conceited. You know what? I don't care what you think, at all. I will prove you, though, that I won!" With a sneer worthy of Snape, the young Slytherin held out his hand with the Snitch, palm up. Pressing a hidden button on its side, Draco threw the ball a few metres into the air, where it started to buzz around again immediately. "The Snitch will now fly straight to the one who won the last game."

He crossed his arms over his chest in a haughty manner and wished he'd at least still his wand. He felt uncomfortable, unprotected even, as he neither had his wand nor his bat at his disposal, and now even the Snitch was out of his hand. Well, at least that would be reversed soon enough again, when the ball flew back to him, confirming he was the winner of the game. Draco tried to imagine how Harry's eyes would widen when he demanded a kiss – and a second one at that – as his prize. He grinned. He actually beat Harry Potter to the Snitch. The realisation left him beaming with pride. Now, at least, he knew he was worthy of his Love in every way that mattered.

Alas, it weren't Harry's eyes that widened, when the Snitch spiralled down to the winner of the last game. Draco gasped in disbelief, as Harry held out the tiny ball triumphantly. "Like I said, I touched it first!"

Something inside the Slytherin broke and he couldn't even appreciate Harry's smile. The victory was his, as always. And Draco lost, as always. The Snitch couldn't lie.

"That's ... that's not fair," Draco found himself murmuring, referring to his plan. How come, everything he tried went wrong?

"Life's not fair," shot Harry his own words back at him. "Live with it."

Draco's throat constricted, as he silently cursed the fact that not even this small but meaningful victory was meant to be his. He shouldn't have let his hopes get so high, in any case, it would teach him a valuable lesson.

Draco set his features into a grim mask and descended as quickly and gracefully as his bucking broom allowed. He heard Harry, no, Potter calling after him, but he paid the Gryffindor no mind. He needed his wand back, otherwise he would go crazy. Draco landed beside the now motionless Bludger. He shivered, realising how close it had gotten to them before they ... before Potter had caught the Snitch and thus ended the game, deactivating the Bludger, as well. Draco tried to ignore his own confusing thoughts, tried to pay no heed to Potter, as the dark-haired boy landed beside him, and he picked up his wand and summoned the trainings box to himself. It must have been a sign of sorts. He wasn't supposed to get together with his Harry, and while he piteously doubted that he would ever get over his first and only Love, he could imagine Harry forgetting about him well enough. He was the Boy-Who-Lived-More-Than-Once, after all, he could as well be the Boy-Who-Loved-More-Than-Once. There was no one who could resist his concentrated charm ... Draco mewled in self pity.

"Now, Malfoy," said Harry. "No need to cry over such a tiny match."

Draco fixed the other boy through narrowed eyes. "I'm not crying," he spat, and fought to not belie his words at any second. "I just have something in my eye and it burns!"

"Sure," Harry said softly, obviously not buying his lie, but not keen on teasing the Slytherin about it, either. "So ..."

"So?" snapped Draco sharply. His nerves were strained and he was having a hard time trying to control his temper.

"I believe, I won, then."

"Surprise, surprise," mumbled Draco bitterly.

"Don't be so pricky about it, Malfoy. I simply was better this time."

"Last time, this time, next time! Where's the bloody difference?" Draco yelled, throwing his hands out to illustrate his point. "It's always the same with you, Potter. I wanted to win this game, just this once! But would you let me? No!"

"Would you have been happy if I'd let you win on purpose?" asked Harry quietly, his eyes still round in a mixture of astonishment at Draco's outburst and compassion for the distraught blond.

Draco growled low in his throat, embarrassed by his own emotional eruption, and snatched the box, which had finally arrived, out of the air. "That's not the point!" he said, throwing the box to the ground, not caring if he damaged it.

"What's the point, then? And why did you want to win precisely this time, anyway?"

Draco pressed his mouth into a thin line to keep his bottom lip from trembling. Why did Potter have to torture him in such a manner? Wasn't it enough already that he had made a fool out of himself more often than he cared to count that day? Did the Gryffindor actually have to add salt to the already throbbing wound? "What do you want?" growled Draco slowly, eyes fixed on a spot somewhere above Harry's left shoulder.

"An answer would be nice."

"You demand an answer as your prize for winning the game?" Draco's eyes fixed onto Harry's, surprise radiating off him in thick waves. Harry's brows were slightly raised, causing the blond to frown suspiciously. Was the Golden Boy playing with him? Whatever for? Draco was getting sick and tired of the whole ordeal, and he just wanted it to be over already. He let out a slow breath and crossed his arms over his chest in a protective gesture, as if he thought Harry would rip out his heart at any second now.

"Maybe," said Harry lowly. "It depends."

"That's not how it works, Potter. Say what you want, so this ridiculous game is finally over. It's getting cold out here, and I want back inside."

Potter had a calculating gleam in his eyes, making Draco shudder inside. "If that's the case," said Harry, causing the Slytherin to frown. Was the Boy Hero actually whispering shyly? And was that a blush creeping up his neck? Before Draco had the time to wonder what it all was about, though, Harry went on, "Then, I want the same thing you would have asked for."

Draco gasped, blushing madly and spluttering incoherently, before he finally found his tongue again. "What?" he croaked, trying to keep his gaze locked with Harry's, even if he would have done nothing more gladly than mount his broom again and flee. The situation was totally out of his control, and he didn't like it one bit. On the other hand, however, if Harry wanted to accomplish the same thing as himself, Draco would grit his teeth and live through it.

"I-I, um, well," the Gryffindor stuttered, giving a tentative smile and taking a small step towards Draco, whose heart beat already in his throat. "Judging by your expression, I think I can guess what you wanted. And," he took a deep calming breath, "I'd like it, as well ..."

"D-do you, now?" Draco asked, shuffling his feet.

"Yeah, but only if it's going to be more than one kiss."

Draco gulped and nodded shakily. "One kiss is not enough. I really want-"

"Me too!" interrupted Harry relieved, cheeks burning. His mind reading ability was uncanny, to say the least. "Me too ... Draco."

"Okay ... Harry." The name rolled smoothly off the Slytherin's tongue, and it sounded as right as his own name coming from Harry's mouth. Draco cocked his head slightly, taking a hesitant step forward. He could practically feel Harry's body heat engulfing him, or maybe it was his own impeding nervous break down. He was actually going to kiss Harry Potter, Love of his Life. His knees threatened to buckle, and he wondered fleetingly if a Jelly-Leg Jinx felt similar.

Warm breath ghosted over his face, as Draco closed the gap between them. The first timid (and 100 % consensual this time) brush of lips erased every further logical thought from the Slytherin's mind. It was as soft as the first time, softer even, and sweet as ambrosia, as he didn't have to fear to be rejected (or the taste of mud). The blond felt a cautious touch at his waist, and he stepped deeper into Harry's embrace, circling the other boy's neck. There was a tingling rush of power surging through every part of Draco's body; it felt like some kind of magic. And it felt like heaven and coming home at the same time. Draco revelled in the protective hug, angling his head a little and pulling the slightly taller boy closer to him.

It could have lasted five seconds or five years for all Draco knew, but time wasn't important anymore, in either case.

"I believe I heard an angel singing," Draco said dreamily, euphoric bells still ringing in his ears.

"Only an angel?" teased Harry.

"It was divine, so maybe it was God himself."

"Did he have Alan Rickman's voice?"

"Who?"

"Never mind."

The blond sighed in content, as he nestled his face into Harry's neck, not willing to let go of his Love just now, when he finally got him. There was a small nagging voice in the back of his head, telling him that the students could return from Hogsmeade any moment now, but Draco didn't really care. Everything that mattered was Harry who sheltered him against the cold world outside.

"Draco?" murmured Harry, pressing his lips to the silky, blonde hair.

"Hmm?" came the lazy reply. Draco was in bliss; he'd really like to stay like this forever, with no cares for their environment.

"Since when did you ...?"

"Love you?" Draco chuckled at Harry's sharp intake of breath. He raised his head and smiled shyly at the Gryffindor. "I can't really remember. It's been quite a while, actually. And ..." Draco's heart sped up as he felt Harry's arms tighten around him in a possessive manner, letting him feel more secure and cherished than ever before in his life.

"I've loved you for a long time myself," Harry said softly, his eyes gleaming in proof to the statement. "Why did you, I mean, how did you know how I would react to the challenge and the prize you wanted? Did I let something on or was it only wishful thinking on your part?" he asked, then gasped at Draco's guilty expression. "You knew! That's why you wanted to win the game no matter what! But how?"

"You'll not like it." Draco lowered his head in embarrassment and tried to wriggle out of the embrace. Now that he was going to tell Harry the truth – however reluctantly – he should bring a bit of distance between them as a matter of safety precautions. One never knew. Better safe than sorry.

"Hey," Harry murmured, not letting Draco go. "I'm not going to get mad. Look where it got me, so it can't have been bad, can it? Come on, you know, you can tell me ..."

Draco bit his lip uncertainly at Harry's prodding, then sighed in surrender. "I spied on you. Through a magical mirror in the Slytherin bathroom." Draco kept his face hidden in Harry's neck and waited for his answer. Great. Now he had to think the Slytherin was not only the son of the Death Eater Lucius Malfoy, his single tormentor of the last months, but a maniac stalker to boot.

Harry, however, only laughed, squeezing the blond in his arms and kissing his head repeatedly. "You're crazy."

Draco heard the affection in his words and smiled. "So are you."

"Well, then we match perfectly, huh?"

And Draco couldn't agree more.

A/N5: A Bludger is made of iron(!) and has a diameter of 10 inch. With these statements, one can calculate everything quite quickly: 10 inch = 25.4 cm. Volume = 8.58 cubic cm. Specific gravity = 66.93 g/cubic dm. Mass = 574.24 g. 'Weight' = 5.63 kg.

There is no charm mentioned to keep the Bludger from killing one player during a game, only that the bat is enhanced. If the ball hits you full force, you may say bye-bye.

A/N6: 'Adessa' is from the Latin word 'adesse' which means 'to help'. It serves as opposite to 'Impedimenta' which is from 'impedimentum' meaning 'to hinder'.

A/N7: Alan Rickman was the Voice of God in 'Dogma'. For matters of simplicity, I chose God to be a He.





Chapter 4: Not quite an Epilogue
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4. Not quite an Epilogue

Draco Malfoy couldn't believe that his life would get any better. He was finally together with his Love; their relationship for was the most part secretive, but still the best thing that ever happened to either of them. Ron, with whom he was actually on first name basis now, had finally gotten together with Hermione after a long time and many ugly fights. Hermione still cried over the fact that she drove Harry into gayness, and she saw Ron only as a short time solution. The redhead, however, did know something the little know-it-all didn't: A relationship with a pureblood wizard or witch was something for life, and Ron didn't have any intentions to ever let her go again. Harry was oblivious to the fact as well, but seeing that the boy made love declarations on end and even spoke of the time after their 2nd anniversary, convinced Draco know that Harry would be his forever; even without their little bond.

Recently, Draco was chopping daisy roots for his Shrinking Solution. He really couldn't believe life would get any better for him. He was soon to be proofed wrong.

Pansy Parkinson, also known as Pushy Pugface, sat as always beside him in Potions and was nagging non-stop about how the new Wondrous Wart Wrecker (TM) wasn't worth its money, "-but after only ten minutes they just pop back and I-"

Draco's eyes glazed over, trying to block out the cruel mental picture of where exactly those warts were located. Harry didn't have any warts – well, he didn't have any in the places Draco had seen so far.

"-and I will make sure to sue them-" Pansy's voice droned on like an annoying insect that just begged to be squashed. What would Draco give for a bit more action? Harry was on the other side of the dungeons. Therefore, love letters were out of the question. But there had to be something-

Something soft and jelly splashed onto his table, right beside his chopping board. Pansy didn't seem to notice due to her rant about her cosmetic problems. Draco's lips quirked as he recognised what exactly had been thrown his way, and realised who had thrown it. Ever since he and Harry had become a couple, they had their own little hobby to get each other deliberately into detentions together. That way they could spend more time together without raising suspicions. It had worked fine so far.

"Professor, Potter cast an eye at me!" Draco exclaimed, grinning inwardly at the phrasing. The Slytherin side of the dungeons snickered openly, and Harry shot a practised death glare his way.

"Ten points from Gryffindor," Snape said lazily, not looking up from his papers.

Draco smirked (Pansy complained some more about her orange skin). "It was a very squishy eye, sir," the blond went on. Ten points off were not enough; he needed Harry to get into detention. Afterwards, he'd do something foolish and earn one for himself. His godfather might favour him, but more than a bit of chuckling and mocking, and you saw yourself in detention faster than you could say, "He started it!"

"I think Potter hexed it to spy on me," Draco said mock-alarmed. "It has this strange look in the ... eye."

"That's ridiculous, Malfoy!" yelled Harry across the room. "If I wanted to spy on you, I'd use a magical mirror!"

Draco choked.

"Well, Potter," the silky voice of the Potions master was heard. "If your purpose wasn't to merely annoy Mr. Malfoy, the only other reason springing to my mind is that you wanted to ruin his potion deliberately by throwing ingredients. Unfortunately for you, your aiming accuracy is not as sophisticated as your dreadful sense of eyewear fashion. Detention tonight at seven o'clock sharp."

Draco sighed in compassion at Harry's exaggerated tortured groan.

"Stupid Potter," Pansy sniffed. "Serves him right. He should know by now not to mess with us Slytherins." She tittered in her horrible voice, as if she'd made the best joke of her life.

Draco gritted his teeth and counted till ten, both to repress his anger and to make sure to add the next ingredient at the exact time to their potion. The concoction simmered peacefully, emitting little puffs of smoke. Draco grabbed the eye, wincing inwardly at the disgusting feeling, and then he threw it back at Harry.

"Hey, Potter!" he called, effectively drawing Snape's attention. "Catch!"

"Accio," Snape uttered, pointing his wand at the eyeball before it could hit Harry. The organ changed directions and soared straight at the Potions master, who sent the eye then back into the storage room; no need to waste perfectly good potions ingredients.

"Mr. Malfoy," he growled, sending Draco a stern glare. "As you seem so intent on joining Mr. Potter in his detention, I shall proof my gracious streak once again and grant your wish. Seven o'clock in front of my office."

"Yes, sir." The blond tried to sound humble and apologetic, yet inside he felt like celebrating. He would spend the whole evening with Harry, and if he had any luck, his godfather would even have them do their work unsupervised.

"Hmm," sniffed Pansy disdainfully and shot Draco what she surely believed a compassionate glance. "After Voldie's timely demise, Professor Snape isn't quite the same anymore, is he? Back then, he would have ignored your little prank – which was only payback, anyway – but now ... I am so sorry that you have to endure Potter now for a whole evening."

Draco bit his tongue to keep himself from saying that he was also sorry he had to endure her for longer than he cared to know. "I appreciate your concern," he only said, and he even meant it. Pansy might be a dull bint most of the time, and she might curse Harry at every opportunity, but when it had really mattered, she had had enough confidence in him to trust him with her life – and she lived.

The rest of the lesson was pretty uneventful. Draco's potion was flawless as always; no surprise there, considering the fact that the blond got private tutoring from his godfather during the summer breaks. Neville's cauldron had acquired a few dents as his potion miraculously shot nut-sized sparks in various directions. Snape had taken a total of seventy points off Gryffindor (sixty of poor Longbottom), but had refrained from giving any more detentions. Surely, he had drawn the connection that if he put Longbottom in detention with him, he'd have to suffer from his presence even more than he was already forced to.


"What to wear? What to wear!" the vain, distressed Slytherin murmured, pulling his hair in an attempt to bring his raging mind back into order. "Silver is too clichéd, green looks better on Harry, blue is so not my colour ..."

The discarded robes lay in a heap on the tiles, as Draco stood in his underwear in the chilly bathroom, wringing his hands in despair. Dressing for the day was difficult enough, but for these still too rare occasions when he met (almost) alone with his boyfriend, Draco was as vain as one could get. He wanted to look his best for Harry, even if that meant to provoke the scorn of all the Slytherin boys, who were currently waiting outside of the bathroom. Thanks to the Silencing Charm the blond had cast earlier, he didn't have to endure all those threats and curses anymore. After Voldemort's and his followers' downfall, which had landed Lucius Malfoy Kissed in Azkaban, the remaining Slytherins weren't impressed any longer when the famous words fell from Draco's mouth; "Wait till my father hears of this!"

He should be grateful he knew, but he couldn't help dreading the end of term, when he would be heading home for school break. Draco shuddered at the thought of his mother and what she might say or do when she got wind of the fact that her son was gay and in a relationship with the boy who had ruined her and Lucius' life. Disinheriting would be his luckiest fate.

Draco sighed. One problem after the other. No need to rack his pretty brains. He was way too young for his first worry-wrinkles.

After much ado, the Slytherin decided that school robes would have to do. He didn't want to get his godfather suspicious, after all, but now the blond saw himself confronted with the next problem: Which school robe? A spectator might say that the robes were identical, but to Draco's schooled eyes, they were not. One was dark black, hugging his smooth body and pooling softly around his ankles. The other robe was deep black, embracing him and pooling gently around his ankles. These facts made all the difference, as Draco held out a robe in front of him, critically studying his reflection.

"Hot date?" a familiar husky voice drawled, making Draco groan inwardly. Why, oh why was it so difficult to get some peace? He only had forty more minutes to decide what to wear and he hadn't even started looking for shoes and matching socks, for Merlin's sake!

"Hot detention, more like," Draco growled to the (gold and silver framed) mirror. "Now, if you'd be able to kindly-"

"Why don't you wear the black robe with the silver stitching?"

"-continue pestering me?" Draco let out an exasperated sigh. "Show yourself already. It's kind of eerie to have a conversation with my own reflection."

The mirror's surface swirled again, facial features beginning to protrude, as the mirror took its third dimension.

"Now, dear boy," she said softly, ignoring Draco's life threats at the name, "I wasn't 'pestering' you, as you put it so unlovely. I am well aware when I'm not wanted, rest assured."

"Not that again," Draco groaned wearily. "All your talk about leaving, never to return is all nothing but empty rubbish. Admit it, you enjoy being the sneaky mirror and taking forbidden glances, don't you?"

"Humph," was the vacuous response. "You will know what I was worth when I'm not here anymore, dear boy."

"Yes, as I will miss you calling me that," Draco growled.

"My new Mistress-"

"You actually mean it this time?" The boy sounded hopeful.

"-is by far sneakier than you," the mirror went on mercilessly. "You've lost your touch, did you know, dear? You've gone soft, but Christine ... Oh, she is a true Slytherin ..." her voice trailed off dreamily.

"I'm as true a Slytherin as anyone else in this house!" snarled the blond, affronted. "I was sly enough to get what I wanted in just one week!"

"Yes," the mirror smirked. "After you had the confirmation that your sappy feelings were requited."

"Oh, that's enough! Go on and leave me! See if I care!"

"I take my leave gladly, my dear."

"Sod off already," Draco grumbled. Everyone was leaving him! Was it something he'd said or done? Oh well. Let them all abandon him, as long as Harry was with him, the world was all right.

"Live well," the mirror sighed dramatically. "And if you ever happen to need something again; I'm with Christine, the prettiest witch- well, there's still her stepdaughter, who's living with- but that's a whole new story." The thin lips curved into a tight smile. And then, with a splash, she was gone, leaving Draco to his still unsolved dilemma.

"Maybe I'm going to take the black robes with the silver stitching," he mused aloud.


Draco arrived at Snape's office to a surprising sight: Harry was already there. The Slytherin smiled and mouthed the obligatory "I love you," before standing beside his boyfriend, shoulders barely touching. Harry nudged him and mouthed the words "Love you more" back, making Draco's insides squirm with joy and warmth. Before the Slytherin had the chance to mutter "I love you even more," however, the door to Snape's office swung open and a quite ruffled DADA professor stumbled out.

"Well, see you later, Sev," Lupin said softly, the smile obvious in his voice, even though the werewolf's back was to them. "Love you."

"Yes, yes, I know," Snape said hastily, shooing Lupin out. "I don't want-" His grin froze as he caught sight of Draco and Harry standing silently in the hallway, for once perfectly on time.

"-us to catch you?" Draco drawled with an angelic smile. "Too late."

Harry had to bite the inside of his mouth to keep from smiling. "Seven o'clock sharp. We are on time," he said innocently, though Draco knew he wasn't that innocent. Draco snickered at the embarrassed look of Lupin, while the professor blushed to the roots of his dishevelled hair, trying to smooth out his robes.

"Twenty points from whichever house this tid-bit of information leaks out," Snape said coolly, turning around with a flourish and stalking stiffly back inside his office. Lupin gave Harry a nervous smile and then practically fled like he wanted to do the moment he realised they weren't alone anymore.

"Snape and Remus?" whispered Harry more shocked than surprised.

"Severus and Lupin?" exclaimed Draco equally soft, but more shocked about the fact that the two had been so careless. "What does he see in him?"

"Who?"

"Well?" they heard Snape's impatient voice snap. "What are you waiting for? An engraved invitation? Do come in already and for Merlin's sake, close the door!"

Not wanting to get on his godfather's bad side (he was one of the very few who could actually differentiate between the good and the bad side), Draco quickly marched into the office. The room was warmer than most of the dungeons. From the doorway leading to the classroom, Draco could see faint flickering, indicating that there was at least one fire burning. Not that the Potions master would start a fire in the hearth for the students, he took the word 'detention' quite to its limit.

When Draco caught sight of the Potions master, however, his resolve to be good went up in smoke. Snape's collar was pulled up so high, it seemed unnatural, or ... as if he had something to conceal. Pity that his godfather was so awful at Glamour Charms.

"Do you have a cold, Professor?" the blond asked, snickering quietly, one brow raised suggestively. Harry tried unsuccessfully to mask his laughter with a cough, while Snape's eyes narrowed even more.

"I am perfectly healthy," the Potions master growled lowly, fighting (and losing quickly) not to flush in an ugly brick colour. "So, no, I'm not going to die on you during detention!" His eyes shot daggers at his daring godson, who was clearly unaffected, because he recognised the glares and words for what they were: Empty threats from a wolf, no, a dog that barked but did not bite.

"Don't get too cocky with me, Mr. Malfoy. Even I have my limits." Dark eyes penetrated his grey ones, but where other students like Neville Longbottom might have quivered and wet their pants, Draco merely sighed in fake surrender.

"On with the fun part, then?" the blond asked, putting his bag aside.

"What do you want us to do, sir?" Harry wanted to know more meekly, trying not to turn too green at the thought of his last detention with Snape where they had to gut hundreds of toads. It had taken the Gryffindor (who, unlike Draco, had not thought of putting on impenetrable gloves) days to get rid of the colouring and the stench from the toad intestines, and even now the boy wisely refrained from licking his fingers after meals.

"Before Mr. Potter here has the chance to contaminate my office floor, I will save you from the agony of the unbeknownst. Due to the unlucky fact that my storage room is fully stocked," (Draco thought that must have something to do with the fact that there were indeed that many detentions, ensuring that the prepared potions ingredients were never lacking,) "you will both get away easily this time. You will put the vials with ready potions into alphabetic order, but don't think you could get off so easily ever again. I'm expecting a new deliverance of horned slugs for next Tuesday." He shot a knowing glance at the newly greening Gryffindor. "Well? Why are you still standing? Get to work already! And don't 'conveniently' forget one shelf!" He waved them away and then turned back to the door leading to the potions classroom. Draco could see two cauldrons on the teacher's desk, various scrolls of parchment lying scattered around. The blond couldn't help admiring his godfather's skills and grace for a few moments; the cauldron was as much Severus' element as the broom was Harry's.

"Draco?"

"Hmm?" The Slytherin turned around to Harry, grinning at how the dark-haired boy seemed as if he couldn't cope, holding three vials, sporting a puzzled look. Then, Draco groaned, as he saw how tiny and illegible Snape's claw was. Even as a pseudo-family member, Draco hadn't quite figured out the art of Snape's writing. They would need some kind of reading spell to even understand what the labels said. Taking into account the fairly stretched shelves with dozens and dozens of potion vials, tonight's detention would probably take even longer than their gutting session. Oh joy.

"I hope you are not considering using any kind of magic with your task," the silky voice of the Potions professor could be heard. "For every Hieroglyph Spell the wards register, the caster costs his House ten points. Now, you may continue with your 'fun'."

"Sadistic bastard," Harry grumbled, and Draco couldn't help but agree, family ties aside. What kind of godfather would pull the wool over his own godson's eyes?

Their work was strenuous and took loads of time, but neither dared anything but a few touches and whispered words. They were too aware of the burning glares Snape was sending their way through the doorway, as if the professor was afraid they would either start a fight at any second, or try to steal some of his potions for whatever dark purposes he suspected they could have. Harry was still easily intimidated by Snape's mere presence, and Draco caught his boyfriend repeatedly with trembling fingers.

"Harry," the blond whispered to the boy who used his spectacles like a magnifying glass to decipher the scrawling on one vial, absentmindedly murmuring to himself. "Please, be careful with the vials and try to just ignore Se- Snape. He's in the other room and can't do anything." Draco grabbed a vial himself and studied it closely in front of his eyes. He hoped Harry hadn't heard his little slip; he hadn't told his boyfriend yet that the most feared Potions master was indeed his godfather. Somehow, he dreaded this little confession more than the revelation his spying activity. What would Harry say? Severus Snape was, after all, not one of Harry's favourite persons, but Draco was quite fond of him. They'd have to work it out.

"I'm totally relaxed," Harry mumbled not very convincingly, but cast a quick smile, nonetheless. He put the vial, which had turned out to be a Dreamless Sleep Draught, on the first shelf and then grabbed another one. The words in front looked like 'Urixzijlnm,' but as this was not a known potion to Draco, the Slytherin merely shrugged. He had his own riddle to solve.

The glass jingled slightly as he put the not yet identified potion back on the desk. This would take ages, as the boy did not harbour any hopes that his godfather would let them go before they had finished.

Draco pulled at his tie to loosen it a bit. The office was stuffy and hot, unbelievable for a dungeon room, for the heat of Snape's fire wafted through the door, making him sweat.

"Hey," Draco whispered lowly, as to not alert the Potions master. "Next time you want a detention, don't start anything in potions class again. The gutting was bad enough, even cleaning the trophy room with Filch sounds like fun compared to this."

"What?" Harry asked startled and turned abruptly around to his boyfriend. "Damn!" The curse followed a clinging sound. Draco lifted a bemused brow, regarding his not so graceful Gryffindor. He should have known that something like that would happen sooner or later; at least Harry hadn't broken the vial. Draco chuckled at Harry's horrified expression. The stopper had fallen to the floor, when the dark-haired boy had banged his hand against a shelf. Little puffs of smoke soared up, as it was so warm in the room. Harry's eyes glazed over, the Urixzijlnm Potion (or whatever else it was) loosely in his hand.

"Harry?" Draco asked, waving his hand in front of the other's face. However, said Harry didn't react, he just continued to look vaguely dazed. Draco wondered what that potion was and ripped Harry's hand away from under his nose. "Are you okay?"

"Yes," Harry responded lazily, a far-away look in his eyes, making Draco question himself what exactly those potions Snape stored included.

"You're such a dumb brain, Harry!" Draco cursed, shaking his head. "After Voldemort's death, you are your own biggest enemy."

"I'm not dumb, I'm only a bit clumsy today. You did surprise me. I thought you didn't want to meet me anymore ..." his voice trailed off, and he blinked his eyes slowly.

Draco couldn't believe his ears. Why would Harry say, let alone think such a thing? He wanted to grab his boyfriend and shake some sense back into him, but the open vial left him a bit wary. The stopper must have rolled somewhere, because the Slytherin couldn't spot it anywhere. Magic was out of the question, and he would have to be more foolish than a Gryffindor to attempt stopping the fumes from escaping with his hands. Harry was the brave one of the two; he would have to hold the vial, as it was his fault that it was open, anyways.

"Where's the stopper?"

"It fell down," Harry said, but made no attempt to search for it.

"Argh!" Draco gritted his teeth. "Why don't you look for it then?"

"Because I'm standing here and doing nothing." Harry's voice was monotonous and slow, which was the only thing which kept Draco from pouncing his boyfriend to attempt and cause serious damage.

'It's not his fault he's scared out of his mind by Severus,' Draco repeated in his head. 'Everyone could have knocked the vial open and inhaled the fumes of unknown origin ... Don't forget, he's your boyfriend. You can't throttle him and blame it on temporary madness!'

"Prat," Draco only said.

"Love you, too," Harry murmured.

"I said you were a git! You're unbelievable! Only you could ... I won't even get into that!"

"There is actually a reason why this is called a detention," the silky voice of the Potions master growled from far too near to be comforting. "And it should not include that much chattering."

Draco gasped softly, hoping his godfather hadn't heard Harry's words of affection. Otherwise, there would be hell to pay.

"You both are to do your work and hopefully – though, I seriously doubt it – learn your lesson. This is neither the time nor the place for your petty fights. I would have expected better of you, Mr. Malfoy." Draco cringed at the disapproving glare. "Not that I'm surprised with you, Potter." Harry didn't even blink, causing Snape to frown and Draco to grin. "Why, pray tell, do you think ..." his voice petered out as his frown mutated into a vicious snarl upon seeing the open bottle in Harry's hand.

"I think, because my brain cells enable me to do so," was the Boy-Who-Lived's soft reply. "Most of the time, at any rate."

Snape's eyes snapped to Harry's face, then flickered shortly to the vial's labelling, before he grinned evilly. No surprise that Snape was actually able to read his own scrawling, but what was in the vial? "How ironic that you should unstopper the Veritaserum, isn't it, Potter?" Snape whispered in glee.

Draco succeeded in stifling his gasp. He didn't know what surprised him more; that Snape could write 'Veritaserum' in a way that it looked like 'Urixzijlnm,' or that Harry really had the misfortune to just come across the truth serum. It should at least proof interesting, in a twisted, Slytherin kind of way. Draco was torn between wanting to protect Harry's dignity and asking his boyfriend a few questions himself. Opportunities existed to be explored, after all, and who was he to defy that law?

"Is inhaling Veritaserum as effective as swallowing the three drops, Professor?" Draco asked, amusement in his voice.

Snape sneered. "Why don't we ask Potter here?"

"Because I cannot answer the question."

Draco snorted. When could he ever answer one of the Potions master's questions?

"I should have guessed," Snape mused. "What would Potter know, anyways?"

"I know many things," Harry said softly and blinked.

"Such as?" Snape prompted doubtfully. "Hundred-one ways of how to disrupt classes in order to annoy your professors?"

"Hundred-thirty-two ways," Harry corrected calmly. "And not all are to annoy. Most of them are to get into detention."

Draco gasped, balling his hands into fists; he couldn't really stuff Harry's mouth now, could he? Snape would ask too many questions; he had asked too many questions already. What started as some harmless fun, degenerated too fast into something out of control.

"How long does it work?" the blond asked hurriedly, trying to give Harry time to come to again, but Snape wasn't really listening. He had a calculating, slightly puzzled look on his face, as if he didn't grasp what had just been said.

"You get yourself deliberately in detention?" the Slytherin Head of House asked incredulously. "Do I even want to know why?"

"We should really continue with our task," Draco interjected hurriedly. "Otherwise, we won't finish at all!"

"Yes, deliberately," Harry said, answering Snape's first question. "And no, I don't think you'd like to ... know." The boy blinked again a few times, a bit of the usual sparkle back in his eyes.

"Why?"

"Because you don't like me-"

"Can you tell me what's written on this, sir?" Draco said quickly, thrusting a random glass vial into Snape's face. The Potions master pushed his hand away and growled in warning.

"-but you seem to like Draco," continued Harry as if he hadn't been interrupted at all. He staggered shortly, oblivious to what his words had just caused, and reached for his forehead.

"Draco?" Snape asked in a dreadful whisper.

"That's his name," Harry answered, and Draco breathed a sigh of relief. Nothing was revealed, he could still go on normally with his life. Snape's features settled back into his usual unpleasant expression.

"Can we go back to work, then?" Draco inconspicuously kept a lookout for the stopper of the vial. Snape nodded shortly, looking vaguely disappointed and relieved at the same time, but then Harry opened his mouth, as if Draco had asked him the question.

"Yes, Love."

Both Draco and Snape froze for reasons of their own. Harry shook his head to clear it and rubbed his eyes.

"L-" Snape nearly choked on the word, a myriad of thoughts battling in his mind. "Wha-?" he then brought his questions to the point. He was shell-shocked, mouth agape. Draco would have laughed, if he hadn't felt like banging his head against the next wall. Just a few hours ago, the Slytherin hadn't believed life could get any better; now he knew it could always get worse in a matter of seconds.

Snape didn't appear capable of sight (Draco waved his hand frantically in front of his eyes) nor of hearing (he also shouted in his ears). The first word escaping the teacher's mouth after nearly five minutes was, "Why?" and then, "What did I do wrong?"

"No," Draco groaned.

"Please, say that it's not as I think it is," Snape begged, clearly itching to wring his hands in a nervous manner. "Anyone but Potter! Even Longbottom would have been better!"

"Oh, thanks," Draco drawled, sarcasm flowing from every pore of his being. "Now I'm relieved that Nev and I got your consent."

"You would have my consent within seconds! But ... Potter of all people?"

"I'm still present, you know?" Harry said softly. The boy braced himself against an empty shelf. "Why would we need, let alone want, your consent anyway, Professor?" he asked, sounding weary. "After your twenty questions – thanks, by the way, for your help, Draco," (the blond grinned sheepishly, embarrassed,) "I don't think there's much 'respect' left for you, sir."

"Harry ..."

"Well, it's true! It's not his business with whom you're with, so he should keep his big nose out of it!"

"Ten points from Gryffindor, Potter. Watch your choice of words." Snape didn't look like it really mattered whether or not Harry obeyed to that rule; the more points the Slytherin Head of House could deduct, the better. "What did Narcissa have to say about this, Draco? She must be even more elated than I am."

"Mother doesn't know!" said Draco quickly. "And she mustn't find out either, Severus!"

"What?" exclaimed Harry confused, but Draco didn't even seem to hear.

"You can't tell her! She's going to kill me! And maybe even Harry; she's quite capable when determined."

"I should think so," Snape said. "Narcissa can be fairly scary when she chooses so."

"Scary?" Draco snorted. "She's downright evil. She'd skin me alive if she knew I'm with the boy who ruined her and father's life."

Snape cringed. "You're with the boy ... That makes it so final, so ... irreversible ..."

"It is," Draco smirked. "Isn't it, Harry?"

"I'm not so sure anymore," Harry replied crossly. "Why are you calling Snape by his given name and why are you so familiar with him? It's creepy!"

"He doesn't know?" Snape asked, happy not to be the only one having to cope with mind-numbing revelations that day. "Why haven't you told him yet ... Draco? Why, are you ashamed of me?" he whispered, making the blond frown and the dark-haired boy scowl. Merlin only knew what kind of connections Harry drew from that sentence. Snape really couldn't have put more innuendo in it. Harry was only the most powerful magical being on earth, after all, why not imply a past – or better yet, present – relationship with his boyfriend? Snape had to be suicidal; after Voldemort's decease his life lacked the thrill, obviously.

"Oh, shut up, you," Draco said, throwing a glare in Snape's direction.

"Draco ..." growled Harry. "Don't say ... the two of you? That's just gross!"

"Come on!" the blond snapped, exasperated. "He's way too old for me; he could be my grandfather!"

"Excuse me?" Snape bristled visibly.

"My father?" Snape still glowered. "Okay," Draco conceded. "My older brother." He shot Harry a look and rolled his eyes, mouthing the words "Midlife Crisis," so Snape couldn't hear him.

"So, now that that's settled," the Potions master said briskly. "Back to your detentions."

"Nothing's settled! What's going on here?" demanded Harry. "If you aren't ... weren't," he shuddered at the mere thought, "then why ...?"

"You've got to be strong now, Harry," said Draco in compassion, putting a hand on the other boy's shoulder. "You may have faced and even won against Dark Lords and rescued helpless kittens from the fangs of evil, but this will put even you through the final test."

"Spare him the details," Snape muttered.

Harry flickered his gaze from one to the other and grimaced. "To use Professor Snape's words: Do I even want to know?"

"No, but now it's too late, anyway."

Harry closed his eyes and prepared himself for the inevitable.

"He's my godfather."

The sun hadn't crashed down and Ragnarök wasn't likely to strike any second. "That's it?" Harry frowned, glancing at Draco, then at Snape and back. "Your godfather? My godfather is an ex-convict of Azkaban, so what's the big deal with a Death Eater turned spy? Godfather," Harry snorted softly. "It's a bloody relief!"

"Enough," said Snape with a hint of his usual strictness. "Now that everybody knows everything, you'll be able to get back to your work, won't you?"

"Severus?" asked Draco hesitantly. "You won't tell anyone about, you know, us?" He moved his hand in Harry's general direction.

Snape looked as if he would never even consider such a thing. "Nothing is farther from my mind, rest assured. I'm still in denial."

Draco laughed softly. "You won't tell mother, will you?" he begged, rubbing his temples in distress. "I don't even know what I'm going to do about her. I mean, she's bound to find out sometime, though I hope it's rather later than sooner, but during school break ... I don't even want to think about that."

"Hey," said Harry softly, gently taking Draco's hand in his own, making Snape flinch. "We'll work something out. I really wished I had captured Pettigrew ... Sirius would take us both in; he's got plenty of room."

"I know," Draco responded. "And we need a legal guardian for at least three more years, too." He sighed, throwing a calculating glance at Snape, then sighed again for good measure.

"You know, I'd take you in any second-" Snape began uneasily.

"Thanks!" cried Draco, throwing himself at an embarrassed Potions master, while his boyfriend frowned in confusion and even a bit jealousy. "You're the best! I wouldn't know what to do if you weren’t willing to take me in! Mother won't be happy, but she's no match for you, is she?" Draco let finally go of the man, enabling him to breathe properly again. "And when you're already at it, you can also take in Harry, right? The Dursleys are a bunch of abusive jerks!"

"I don't think that's-" Harry tried to interject awkwardly, but Draco simply pushed his hand with the open Veritaserum vial back under his nose.

"Is it true, or not?"

"It's true," said Harry softly.

Draco nodded, took the vial and magically stoppered it. As he turned back to his godfather, the man's emotions barrelled for dominance on his face. "Harry's a poor little orphan," the blond tried to appeal to his compassion; a risky decision with someone like Snape. "You can't let him live with the mean Dursleys for three more years when you can do something about it!" Draco begged with big round eyes, clearly knowing what strings to pull to make Snape do his every bidding.

"Very well," Snape sighed in surrender. "I'll look what I can do for the both of you. Taking custody of you, Draco, won't be much of a problem when Narcissa is finally convicted for her Death Eater crimes. Potter ... Harry, though ..." Snape sighed again, favouring the dazed Gryffindor with a look, "I'm not so sure."

"Voldemort's dead," Draco exclaimed. "Harry doesn't need to stay with the Dursleys anymore because of the Blood Magic wards. He could live where he wants to. Hell, he killed the evil Dark Lord but still has to have someone look after him according to the Ministry. How warped is that?"

"Very much so. What do you suppose I should do about it?"

"I don't know. Take Harry and me in, become Minister of Magic and change the law ... Whatever happens first." Draco grinned. "You'll really take us in?"

"I said I would do what I can, but yes, if it's possible, I'll take you both." Snape grimaced. "Then I won't even have my Potter-free holidays anymore. I'm doomed."

"Yes, you are," said Draco lightly. "But thanks, anyway. I'm sure Harry will be delighted by the news. When he comes to again, that is." He shot a frowning glance at the Gryffindor.

Things were back in order now. And they were even better than in the beginning Draco realised. He wouldn't have to see his mother anymore; unfortunately his inheritance neither. However, there were things of more worth than the Malfoy fortune. Harry, for example. His love and his sanity, as well. And not to forget, the Potter fortune.

Draco thought he heard Snape mumble something about Remus not going to be so happy about the intrusion by the young couple.

"But on the other hand," the Potions master mused, "who was going on about starting a family and babies all the time and had me brewing one MPreg Potion after the other?" He shot a glare through the doorway at the fuming cauldrons. "Well, that's over for now. I'm not going to survive more than two brats."

A/N: 'Christine' from 'The 10th Kingdom'.



Chapter 5: Seriously Sick
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Answer to (and dedicated to) Persephone Lupin's little challenge: Sirius had to be paired with Filch. And Azkaban should be the more beckoning prospect than knowing Snape was with Remus and had taken custody of Harry.

5. Seriously Sick

Life could always go downhill in a matter of seconds. This wisdom was not only Draco Malfoy's; Sirius Black could say so, as well. One day, his life was the normal everyday routine and "Bang," out of the blue, he saw himself sentenced to a life penance in Azkaban for a crime he hadn't even committed. Formally, his life had consisted of flirting with everything that moved (and couldn't escape fast enough) and playing pranks on the greasy git. After the twelve years of forced solitude (alas, not leaving him the most sought after bachelor alive), Sirius had to experience the coldest bucket of ice water as a wake-up call ever. Today, he didn't even know what the meaning of 'flirting' was, anymore ("It's just like bicycling? Pah!"), and he was convinced that the greasy git had turned the tables and played an evil prank on him. Not only had he warped Remus', whom Sirius knew like himself, mind, but the slimy Potions master also dared to take custody of his own godson! Sirius was certain that after he had broken out of Azkaban, he had ended in some kind of alternate reality; how could there be any other explanation for the fact that Harry was in love with Draco Malfoy and Remus was together with Severus Snape of all people? It was just so wrong. Nobody should be allowed to fall for Snivellus!

Sirius banged his head repeatedly on the table. The sound echoed in the large kitchen of Black Manor, but no one was with him to witness it.

It was just so unfair. He was the good-looking chap, after all, well, had been ... but there were still traces left and with some imagination ...! Merlin, he was pathetic. Whining over the fact that he didn't get any but Snape did. How deep could one sink? Sirius couldn't possibly get any lower.

He threaded his fingers through his long hair, groaning. Life just sucked; from his point of view, at least. Poor Remy in the fangs of Evil Incarnate and his beloved, innocent godson seduced by the Spawn of the Devil? It was more than Sirius could bear.

Yes, he could indeed sink lower.

---

Padding away on silent paws, Sirius made his way through the Forbidden Forest in his Animagus form. The leaves on the ground were soft and wet, stifling potential sounds. Snuffles sniffed the air, not detecting any kind of hazardous animals, and scanned his environment for possible danger lurking around in the shadows. Deeming the forest relatively safe for once, the black dog trudged on, heading for Hogwarts. If he could, Sirius would have whistled the melody of Mission Impossible. Ah, what a thrill, all the adrenaline! He felt like the Muggle spy 007 on his way to save his loved ones from the heavily guarded castle of doom. Snuffles barked a laugh; he was a dog on a mission.

Sirius padded the last metres across the front lawn, up the stairs, and nudged the doors open. He knew he had to be careful; no one could say how many of the students knew of Sirius Black's Animagus form and would sell him out to the Ministry. Ten thousand Galleons reward (dead or alive) was quite a bit of cash; he was not the most sought after bachelor of the country, but ...

Sirius sighed and shook his hairy head, causing his flabby cheeks to flap around his muzzles. It was an enigma for him. How anyone could find Snape more desirable than him, he couldn't fathom it.

Snuffles headed for Harry's quarters at first. He had to talk some sense back into him. And if that didn't work, he'd have to talk (he coughed) some sense into Snape. Snuffles nodded to himself, ears flapping, drool dropping, fleas bouncing.

Silently, Snuffles trudged on, hoping to avoid Mrs. Norris. 'How can a cat have lamp-like eyes?' he thought fleetingly. 'An experiment gone wrong?' That would be awful, a pity, a shame. Filch adored Mrs. Norris, though, he wasn't embarrassed about her.

Snuffles stopped shortly to tilt his head and lick his privates. There was nothing to be embarrassed about.

As he arrived at the entrance to the Gryffindor Tower, Sirius literally barked out the password, startling the Fat Lady awake. She blinked sleepily, then gasped as she recognized the dog morphing into a man, who had already visited her once before. She knew now, of course, that the man wasn't a crazed murderer; all of Hogwarts' paintings knew.

"Sirius Black," she whispered breathlessly, fanning herself with both hands. "What brings you here at this late hour? Business or," (maybe Sirius only imagined her winking at him,) "pleasure?"

Well, at least he hadn't lost all of his touch when he still could turn on an ancient painting. God, he was a lost cause. Even Snape-

'No!' he thought firmly. 'I'm not getting into that again.'

"I need to speak with Harry," Sirius said, trying to use his old charm and ignoring the pathetic feeling he got from it. "Would you let me into the common room, dear lady?"

The Fat Lady giggled, making Sirius wince. "He's your godson, isn't he?"

"Yes, he is. May I see him now? It's urgent, and I don't think it's so smart to stay much longer here in the hallway, where everyone could easily spot me."

The Fat Lady smoothed out her pink dress, not at all in a hurry. "You know, you should have said so the first time you came here. Really, acting like a savage beast and ripping apart my whole frame," she said in a huff and gave a teasing smile. "There are other places where a savage beast would be more appropriate."

Sirius gulped and tried to grin. If the prospects were needy little paintings, he didn't want to be a lady-killer anymore. "Yes," he said slowly. "I'm sure there are some kind of zoos or cages were savage beasts could be put away. Anyways, Harry, my godson, remember? I need to see him. Would you let me in?"

"Oh," the painting pouted. "Why are you so hurried? Don't you want to chat away with me a bit longer?"

God, no! "I'd love to," Sirius lied through clenched teeth, "but it's important and maybe even a life depends on it!" Well, it was true. His life and peace of mind did depend on it.

"Oooh," said the Fat Lady with wide eyes. "I see. Poor Harry. What is it this time? Just two days ago, Violet and I were talking about how the lad's always in danger and-"

"He's a magnet for everything evil, yes. Trouble is just drawn to him like the proverbial moth to the light," Sirius interrupted. "And this time, it's even worse. I have to rescue him from himself! He could be in peril this very moment!" Not that he believed that. Harry might sometimes take action before consulting his brain first, but all in all, the boy knew what he could do and what not.

The Fat Lady gasped aloud. "But ... no! I didn't let anyone in who isn't supposed to be there! Impossible!" She folded her arms indignantly. "I'm a good guarding painting, you know."

"Oh, I believe you," Sirius assured her with a nod. "But the one who threatens Harry has ways and means to escape your notice. I fear, Harry himself might have smuggled him in."

"Merlin ..."

"Well, are you now going to let me in?" he asked urgently.

"I don't know," the Fat Lady said uncertainly. "I'm not supposed to let anyone in ..."

"But it's important!" Sirius cried, then stilled suddenly and slapped his forehead. Man, he was a nutcase. Here he was, debating with a painting to let him enter, when Harry mentioned the password in his last letter (where he also fleetingly revealed the relationships he and Remus had). "Sugar Mama!"

The Fat Lady blushed furiously, the colour clashing badly with her dress. "Why, so straightforward, dear?" She giggled and fanned herself again.

Sirius frowned, then gasped and grimaced. "The password! 'Sugar Mama'! I didn't mean- I mean- Just open the bloody door already!" he snapped, now that he didn't have to flirt anymore. God, he should have remembered the password earlier and saved himself some terrible nightmares. First his Harry and Malfoy, then Remus and Snape and now horny paintings making moves on him? Slowly, Azkaban was beginning to seem like some very nice place to stay.

The Fat Lady huffed at the rudeness, threatened to tell the headmaster, but swung open, anyways.

Sirius didn't want to waste any more seconds, and he hurriedly made his way to the third year boys' dormitory. He remembered the time when he himself had slept in the dorm with his friends. James (he sighed sadly), Peter (he balled his fists angrily) and Remus (he whimpered piteously). How everything had changed during the years of his absence; some things, however, never changed.

Sirius padded the stairs along to the door, trying to stay as silent as possible. He was on edge; his mission was in a critical stage. Before he opened the door, he took one last deep breath. He needed to be calm; shouting at Harry would be as efficient as it would have been with him, back in the days when he had had lovers ... Oh, the good old days.

He was pathetic. Was he getting depressive to boot?

Sirius shook off those unimportant thoughts and pushed open the door.

Thunderous snoring greeted him from various four-posters, shaking him nearly to his core with the jigsaw cacophony. Sirius was grateful he couldn't hear nearly as well as in his Animagus form; he'd go deaf within seconds! James and Peter hadn't been nearly as loud (well, they complained he was a snorer, but ...) for which he was deeply thankful, as well.

Sirius headed over to where he believed Harry's bed was (no sounds were coming from the closed curtains). He crept nearer, not wanting to scare Harry who had a very light sleep he knew. As Sirius drew the curtains open, however, he froze to the spot. Harry, it seemed, was not alone. Sirius fisted his hands again, unsure what he wanted to do. Throttle Malfoy, drag Harry away from the other boy, or pull out his hair in frustration? Too many options; too little time!

Harry lay spooned behind the blond (both thankfully clothed), embracing Malfoy gently, yet at the same time possessively. The dark-haired boy's lips conveyed a peaceful smile, causing Sirius to gulp.

What was that feeling in his chest, the flutter of his heart? He had never seen Harry so at peace with the world and himself; least of all, holding Draco Malfoy!

Sirius startled. Where did that thought come from? No! He hit his head with the palm of his hand and whispered furiously, "Out! Stop! That can't be happening! They are not ... cute!" Something was wrong, messing around with his head. He had to get out of here and quickly!

Sirius took a step back, then another, not able to rip his gaze form the serenely slumbering couple. Only as he hit the doorframe did Sirius turn around in a flash and flee the Gryffindor Tower, ignoring the Fat Lady's angry, whispered shouts.

Sirius fled and ran as fast as his feet would take him in the only direction that made sense to him in this very instant; Snape's dungeon chambers. Maybe he should have suspected something, but the uneasy feeling was squished by the overwhelming urge to give the greasy git a piece of his mind regarding the matter of letting Slytherins on the loose on poor, innocent Harry. He'd wish he had never been born (which he probably did anyway), after Sirius was finished with him.

He should have known better. The horror had the horrific ability to catch him off-guard, every single bloody time. Fate had still something up her sleeve for him.

When Sirius arrived at Snape's chambers (which had been the rooms of their former Potions master, whom the Marauders played pranks on occasionally, as well), the ex-con was boiling with anger at the greasy git, whom he deemed responsible for everything that had gone wrong lately. How dare he soil his pure friends and family, and even have the audacity to warp his mind into believing Harry and Malfoy made a sweet couple? Oh, wait! If Sirius were to kill Snape with an Avada Kedavra, he couldn't possibly get into deeper trouble than he already was, right? He was a criminal on the run, after all, murdering people was practically expected from an escaped killer!

But no, Albus wouldn't be all that thrilled and Remus ... Sirius refused categorically to even consider Remus' reaction to his loss.

Sirius drew his wand and tried to open the door. "Alohomora!" didn't work; who could have guessed? Sirius sniffed and cracked his knuckles in determination. He would break the security spells Snape had cast to keep unwanted intruders (like himself) out of his chambers. It took him the better half of an hour, though his anger hadn't fumed out in the least. If anything, his ire had grown due to the fact that he had wasted precious time he could have used talking to Snape. He already knew a few words as well as a couple of sentences.

Sirius pushed open the heavy door, not caring in the least if the bang woke up the greasy git. Please; as if the beauty sleep could actually help any! Not even the best surgeon would be able to do something.

However, even with these Major (his nose alone earned a capital M) handicaps, Snape was getting some, whereas: He. Did. Not! Sirius sniffled. Had he already mentioned he was pathe-

He stilled in mid-thought at a strange noise. Something sounding suspiciously like mewling or whimpering. Then, it suddenly stopped, leaving Sirius puzzled. The air was silent around him; nothing but his own breathing could be heard. He took a step forwards and stilled again as the sound was back, louder this time and somewhat clearer. Sirius perked up his ears, listening carefully, trying to identify it.

Then, his eyes grew almost impossibly wide, his hand flying up to cover his mouth. He wouldn't, no, he couldn't bring himself to try and understand what those words meant that were cried out in unmistakably impassioned moments; least of all what Remus (poor little innocent Remy!) screamed at the top of his lungs-

Sirius cut the thought abruptly, stumbling blindly out of the room he never wanted to think about let alone step into again. By Regina's nail polish, he would never be able to look into Remus' eyes again without thinking ... envisioning ... He was grateful it was merely a mental picture he had to carry around with himself ... for the rest of his life.

"For the rest," Sirius mumbled, "of my life ..." He couldn't help the sudden longing for a rope, preferably around his neck. It was pathetic, indeed, but life sucked, as everyone should know by now.

Thinking of ropes always led to thinking of Filch, as well. The man was rumoured to own more torture devices in his office than the Spanish Inquisition had had back then, and Sirius knew it was true. Also, Filch had quite a stack of liquor hidden somewhere in his office. Sirius sighed deeply. If he couldn't take his life with the help of one of Filch's devices, he could at least drown his consternation in something stronger than Hagrid's home-brews.

Sirius nodded and headed quickly for Filch's office, his mind already preparing itself for the awaited pleasure. Little did he know ... But on the other hand, who could have possibly guessed besides Trelawney? Right.

Sirius walked briskly but silently, once narrowly avoiding an encounter with Peeves the Poltergeist. He was haunted enough already as it was, he didn't need a ghost to rub his nose in it (Sirius had the uncanny suspicion that Peeves got most of his insider information from the gossiping paintings, and as chance had it, opposite of Snape's quarters was a frame containing a wolf in sheep's clothing playing a game of chess with his mirror image.) for all it was worth.

Outwardly, Filch's office hadn't really changed in the last ten years; the same old padlock was supposed to keep people (especially nosy, foolish Gryffindor students) out. Pity that the janitor was a Squib, after he'd broken Snape's wards, Sirius felt very confident with his pushed ego. A simple hair needle did the trick (he blew the irritating lock of hair back), and the tortured soul, AKA Sirius Black, pushed open the door and entered. His search for mind-numbing alcohol was cut short abruptly, as everything else that had happened on his mission today. He would probably begin to see a pattern, if it weren't for the fact that his mind was already numb without the alcohol. Did the revelations never stop? All he wanted was getting drunk and stay so for an indefinite amount of time. Was that too much to ask?

Sirius whimpered and then gasped sharply as the door fell shut. He whirled around, seizing the handle, and pulled and yanked frantically, to no avail. The door didn't budge one bit. He drew his wand and tried a few unlocking charms, but nothing worked. It seemed as if one couldn't perform magic in this room; that was new! He was trapped! In a room full of ...

Sirius gulped and turned around again, bracing himself for the sight he knew would greet him.

It was like an altar, a sacred room with candles burning, magical pictures winking at him ... There were pink hearts on the walls, blemishing the ancient wallpapers, the air smelled of oysters ("An aphrodisiac?") and mirrors commented on his looks. It was a worshiping ground. Dedicated to him. Sirius felt close to tears; lunatics surrounded him and there was no way of escape!

Sirius was already near a total nervous breakdown before he heard the click of the lock, sending the dread in his veins ricocheting into unknown heights. Filch was there, going to control his spidery net that had captured Sirius.

The Animagus gulped and tried to appear smaller. "I want back to my Mommy!" would have sounded terribly immature. However, the words that did escape his mouth at last, weren't that more sophisticated, either. "I want back to Azkaban!"

Horrors didn't find an early end, but Sirius didn't stop screaming for Merlin (who turned a blind eye) to help him. Suffice it to say, nobody came for his rescue.

-End-



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