Author: Annie (_pinkchocolate)
Warnings: Non-DH compliant, but still contains some DH spoilers
Disclaimer: I just take JK Rowling's world and make it slashy.
Summary: Draco is determined to live the last nine months of his life with no regrets. But when a series of unfortunate events exposes a list of his innermost wishes, ambitions, and desires to Harry Potter’s eyes, he might find that facing his imminent death is not so easy after all.
Word Count: ~5,700
Notes: Thanks to Vana for betaing ♥ For those of you who are new to this fic, please note that I've been making minor grammar edits to the earlier chapters, so the headers of all the chapters I haven't yet edited (chapter 6 to chapter 19) are inaccurate.
19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 P
Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.
- Max Frisch
The evening of February the 18th found Harry in the library with a very determined Hermione, a very exasperated Ron, and approximately half of the Hogwarts library’s collection of texts spread out on and around their study table. It was an unpleasant situation to be in, to say the least.
Earlier that day, Hermione had cornered Harry and Ron in the common room and insisted that they begin preparing for N.E.W.T.s immediately. Though both Harry and Ron begged to differ, they had allowed themselves to be dragged up to the library anyway, fearing they’d receive one of Hermione’s now-famous lectures on the importance of N.E.W.T.s if they didn’t comply.
Two hours into their study session, however, Harry was beginning to think that maybe he had made a mistake in dismissing the lecture so quickly. Even being scolded for his lack of academic interest was preferable to listening to Hermione prattle on about how Ron’s inadequate use of verb modifiers in his last Charms essay proved that wizarding parents would do well to enlist their children in Muggle grammar schools before sending them off to Hogwarts. Harry wasn’t quite sure how the subject even related to N.E.W.T.s.
Harry glanced sideways at Ron. The two of them were back on speaking terms, and had made an unspoken pact to not bring up their fight over the holidays or anything else related to Malfoy. Secretly, Harry knew that Ron had not forgiven him for what he had done, but he was also aware that there was nothing he could do to change Ron’s mind. He was glad, in any case, that Ron was making an effort to put the recent past behind them, and he was showing his gratitude by mirroring Ron’s efforts to patch up their friendship with equal determination.
Still, a shadow only Harry could see darkened the otherwise happy situation. The fact of the matter was that he’d failed to stay faithful to the terms under which Ron had unofficially agreed to put aside his hostility. He had not done as promised and ended his acquaintance with Draco.
Draco. It all came down to him. Unable to resist, Harry glanced over Hermione’s shoulder. Draco was sitting in the far corner, his back to Harry. He had come into the library an hour or so ago and headed straight for the table Harry had found him at their first night back. Needless to say, Harry’s focus, which had been tremulous at most to begin with, had died a quick and painless death upon Draco’s arrival. The fact that Draco didn’t know Harry was there only made it easier for Harry to neglect his studying in favour of watching the other boy.
“Wonder what the git’s doing here,” Ron muttered out of the corner of his mouth. Harry blinked and tore his gaze away from Draco, embarrassed that he’d been caught staring.
“He’s, er, probably up to no good.”
Ron’s approving nod was almost worth the lie.
Hermione paused in the middle of her speech. “Who’s up to no good?”
“Malfoy.” Ron jerked his chin at Draco’s hunched figure. “Five Sickles says he’s trying to find a way to escape. He must be getting desperate now that he’s only got a few months until...”
Ron made a slashing motion across his throat, and Harry suddenly felt nauseous.
“Ron, that’s awful,” Hermione berated. “Don’t say something like that so casually.”
“He deserves it!”
“That’s not the point. Someone we’ve known for seven years is going to receive the Dementor’s Kiss. We might not like who he is or what he’s become, but we did grow up with him, and to think he’ll be gone... just like that. It certainly puts into perspective how much damage the war left behind, doesn’t it?” Hermione’s voice quavered, and Ron, looking abashed, placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
Unable to bring himself to join the conversation, Harry grabbed the nearest textbook, opened it, and stared unseeingly down at the words on the page. A flurry of thoughts whirled around in his head, disrupting the stupor he’d slipped into while Hermione had been talking. He had been so caught up in Draco’s list that he’d forgotten its purpose, the very reason why it was created. Ron was right, wasn’t he? Draco only had a few months – less than four, in fact – before he returned to the Dementors, this time for good.
Harry scrambled for the grim acceptance with which he used to regard the thought of the impending Dementor’s Kiss, but instead found panic and anxiety, furled into a tight ball in the pit of his stomach.
He deserves it, Harry reminded himself. He’s proud of what he did for Voldemort... He doesn’t care that he tortured those Muggles...
But Harry could no longer accept this justification. Time and careful observation had shown him that the real Draco Malfoy was not the stony-faced boy who had sat up straight under the hateful gazes of a full courtroom and coldly acknowledged his crimes, but someone else, someone far more vulnerable and susceptible to the flaws of human nature. Draco was no Voldemort, no Bellatrix; yet the Wizengamot had sentenced him to a fate reserved only for traitors and monsters without batting an eyelash. Harry knew the agony of the Dementor’s Kiss better than anyone else, and as far as he was concerned, no one deserved to suffer it.
It’s your saving-people thing again, chirped a voice in Harry’s head that sounded astonishingly like Hermione’s. You’ve really got to learn to control it.
Harry gripped the edges of his book. Control. That was right; he had no control over the matter. Like McGonagall had said, he’d already done all he could for Draco. He could only sway the Wizengamot so far before he met opposition. Besides, even if he could convince the Wizengamot to change Draco’s sentence again, it wouldn’t be fair to Draco, not when he had made it clear that he would rather die than live a miserable, meaningless life.
“You all right, mate?” Ron asked, bringing Harry out of his thoughts.
“Yeah, sorry,” Harry said, looking up at Ron and smiling. “Just trying to read these footnotes – I’ve no idea what compelled these people to print them so small...”
Ron chuckled. “Yeah, another hour of this and I’ll have to look into buying a pair of glasses, too.” He rubbed his eyes and stretched languidly. “You know, I think I’ll ditch the glasses and go give my eyes a rest right now. Be back in a few.”
He pecked Hermione on the lips and dashed out of the study area. The moment he disappeared, Hermione rolled her eyes at Harry.
“Why do I get the feeling he’s only trying to avoid studying?”
Harry grinned. “He’ll be back, don’t worry.”
Hermione put down her book and placed a hand on Harry’s arm. “Speaking of avoiding, you’ve been sneaking looks at Malfoy ever since he came in.”
Harry blushed. Hermione really did know everything. “I’m not avoiding him.”
“Then why haven’t you gone over and said hello?”
“I haven’t spoken to him in ages.”
The look Hermione pinned him with was anything but convinced. “Harry, honestly, you’ve got to stop this. You can’t let Ron dictate your relationships with other people. Malfoy – he needs a friend right now, and he had that in you for a few months before Ron came along.”
“I’m not – how did you know?”
“Most of the school knew. You two were always together, don’t you remember? And you wouldn’t have sacrificed your holidays for him if you didn’t care about him.”
“Shh, keep your voice down. People are studying.” Hermione rested her chin on her hand and regarded Harry thoughtfully. “Even if you don’t care, there’s something between you two. I’m not saying Malfoy doesn’t deserve to die for everything he did, but I do think he deserves some kindness. Right now, you’re the only one who’s not too scared to show him that.”
Not too scared. If only Hermione knew just how off the mark she was.
Ashamed, Harry turned his attention to the open book in front of him. The page he had opened to earlier was entitled “Old Magic: Magic of a Most Powerful Sort”.
His interest piqued, Harry flipped through the chapter and found the section on life debts. It was headed by a photo of a knight being stabbed through the chest while he stood protectively in front of an evil-looking mage. Harry grimaced and read on.
Life debts, like blood magic, are among the most ancient and mysterious subsets of wandless magic. Since the dawn of time, witches and wizards have kept records of the seemingly miraculous effects of a life debt (or wizard’s debt, a term many have adopted in recent years). Despite the abundance of evidence supporting this baffling phenomenon, however, very few advancements have been made in the field of modern magical theory study to determine how and why life debts are borne, leading most experts to dismiss their existence. What follows is a brief description of those facts widely held to be true, as approved by expert Professor Montague Wicknus:
Harry impatiently skimmed the next three pages, all of which contained information Remus had already given him. At last, he found what he was looking for.
Nowhere is the importance of relativity and subjectivity more important than in the process of determining a dual life debt. This rare form of the one-sided life debt comes into existence when both individuals continue to feel a lingering sense of obligation to each other after a life debt is repaid. A popular but flawed analogy often used to explain the situation is that of a simple Potions classroom dilemma, in which each of two students competing to finish an assignment first holds an ingredient the other needs to complete his or her potion. Though both students are technically on equal footing, each believes the ingredient the other holds is more crucial because it is more relevant to his or her goal. However, whereas the simple act of exchanging ingredients would solve this hypothetical problem, a dual life debt can only be broken when both partners truly believe the significances of their actions balance out.
Many of history’s documented cases of dual life debts have involved the binding of partners to some degree. In theory, such a spiritual bond is the result of the two individuals locked in a dual life debt trading possession of their lives, though this particular explanation has been discredited by researchers as a romantic, oversimplified version of the truth. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that a dual life debt does bind its victims together and that this bond can manifest itself in many different forms, including:
- A strong desire to be close at all times
- The strengthening of magical abilities when partners are within proximity of one another
- Fleeting romantic and/or physical attraction
- Vivid dreams, premonitions, and/or thoughts about one’s partner
- The ability to detect one’s partner’s emotions during stressful situations
Though the section continued to the bottom of the page, Harry stopped there, having read enough. “That’s it!”
Hermione looked up from the reading she had returned to. “What is it?” She glanced at Harry’s book and frowned. “Harry, why are you reading A History of Magic? Shouldn’t you be studying for a class you’re actually taking?”
Harry waved Hermione’s question away. N.E.W.T.s didn’t matter so much to him; he knew he already had a guaranteed spot in the Auror department. Kingsley, however, had urged him to at least sit the required N.E.W.T.s before officially joining the department, so Harry had grudgingly signed up for them during his advising appointment with Lupin.
“I’m going to the bathroom,” Harry said, standing up. “Can you watch my things?”
Hermione had already buried her nose back in her textbook. “Mmm,” she said, which Harry took to mean “yes”.
Harry grabbed A History of Magic and hurried behind the nearest bookshelf. Once he was sure he was out of sight, he swung on his Invisibility Cloak and crept towards Draco.
Crumpled pieces of parchment, half-written essays, and messy piles of notes completely covered the tabletop, but Draco, to Harry’s surprise, was sleeping. He had his cheek propped up on his hand and was breathing deeply and evenly. In spite of himself, Harry smiled at the sight of Draco completely uninhibited.
“Malfoy,” he whispered into Draco’s ear.
Draco bolted upright and looked around wildly, giving Harry the impression that at least some part of him had been awake and alert. Not surprising, considering everything he’d been through.
“It’s me,” Harry said.
Draco’s shoulders tensed. “What are you doing, Potter?”
“I need to tell you something.”
“Can it wait until we’re not in public?”
“No, it’s urgent.”
Draco looked away, letting his hair obscure his eyes. “I can’t leave my things.” People take them and hide them, you know.
Harry’s fingers tightened around his Invisibility Cloak.
“Take them with you, then,” he said gruffly. “I’ll walk you to your dorm.”
Sighing, Draco cast a glance over his shoulder to make sure no one had noticed him talking to thin air, then went about gathering his work. He stuffed all of it in his book bag and stood up.
“This had better be worth it, Potter. And where are you?”
Harry hesitated for the space of a heartbeat, then grabbed Draco’s wrist. Symptoms, he firmly reminded himself, trying to ignore the warmth that spread from the point of contact.
Draco, for his part, looked unfazed by Harry’s touch as Harry led him through the study area and out of the library. Harry resisted the childish urge to pout. What had happened to “I’m in love with you”? Was it possible that Draco no longer felt the same way about him?
“What’s wrong?” Harry demanded, voicing his uncertainties once they were out in the corridor. There was no one around, so he tugged off his Invisibility Cloak and stuffed it back into his pocket.
Draco shook Harry’s hand off. “Shouldn’t I be the one asking you that? You’re the one who hauled me out here without so much as an explanation. And put your cloak back on; people will see.”
Feeling somewhat resentful, Harry swung his Invisibility Cloak back over his head as they approached the stairs. “You don’t love me anymore?” As absurd as the question was, he didn’t feel embarrassed asking.
Harry knew the blank look Draco gave him was not genuine, but couldn’t discern any emotions behind the mask. “Weren’t you the one who discredited my feelings?”
“And I was right,” Harry said quickly. “Listen, while I was studying, I found something...”
They stopped on the third floor landing, and Harry held up A History of Magic so that it protruded out from underneath his cloak. Using the railing to balance the heavy textbook, Harry flipped open to the page he’d hastily bookmarked.
“Life debts?” Draco said, reading the title of the section over Harry’s shoulder. “What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Have you ever heard of a dual life debt?”
“Right, well, it’s really complicated, but apparently it’s possible for two people who’ve saved each other’s lives to think they still owe each other a life debt. I reckon that’s happening to us.”
There was silence, then Draco shrugged, drew back, and resumed walking down the stairs.
Frustrated, Harry jogged up to Draco. “Aren’t you bothered by this?”
“Should I be?”
“Yes. You didn’t even read the rest of the page. It says that dual life debts have side effects. Your feelings towards the other person start changing, you want to be with them all the time, you’re protective of them... and you have weird dreams and premonitions, which would explain why I knew that you’d been attacked. This dual life debt thing might be the reason why you fancy yourself in love with me.”
Draco missed a step and had to grab onto the railing to catch his balance. “I still don’t see the problem here. We just have to stop thinking the way we do.”
“People can’t decide their feelings like that,” Harry said, exasperated. “You feel the way you do for a reason. Unless you’ve got the power to go back in time and change that reason, you can’t do anything about how you feel right now. It’s...”
He trailed off as he caught sight of a large group of Gryffindors and Ravenclaws at the bottom of the staircase. A few of the students cast snide looks in Harry and Draco’s direction as they passed, and it took Harry a few puzzled seconds to remember they couldn’t see him.
“It’s a lost cause,” Harry finished once they had safely made it down to the dungeons. They walked down the deserted corridor, passing the unused Potions classroom on their way to the Slytherin common room.
“Then what was the point of telling me at all?” Draco asked, scowling straight ahead. He turned the corner abruptly and nearly bumped into Harry, who scooted out of the way.
“I... I just thought you should know.”
“Potter,” Draco said, halting in front of the blank stretch of wall that marked the entrance to the Slytherin common room, “if it hasn’t got any relevance to the eighteen things I’ve yet to accomplish, then I don’t want to hear it. Explanations mean nothing to me.”
“Why? Don’t you want to know the truth?” Harry demanded, remembering just in time to keep his voice down so that it didn’t echo down the corridor. He wished he could just take off his Invisibility Cloak; it was unnerving how Draco was staring straight through him.
“Truth is relative,” Draco muttered, passing a hand across the stone wall. Harry wanted to shake him. Wasn’t anything absolute?
Harry took a deep breath and forced himself to drop the subject. “How’re your housemates treating you?”
Draco’s hand closed around a sharp, protruding rock on the wall. “Better now that they’ve got over Nott.” The second half of Draco’s answer didn’t need to be voiced: But still not so much like a human being as scum on the soles of their trainers.
“That’s, er, good. Listen, I’ve got to go back before Hermione starts worrying, but do you want to meet –”
“Hang on, someone’s coming.”
Draco’s words registered immediately, and Harry darted behind the nearest suit of armour. A few seconds later, a tall, broad Slytherin boy appeared around the same bend Harry and Draco had taken minutes ago. A strange expression stole across his square-jawed face when he saw Draco.
“Malfoy,” he sneered, stopping in the same spot Harry had just vacated. He leaned one shoulder against the wall and crossed his arms across his chest. He was only an inch or two taller than Draco, but his width made him look twice as large. Something about his stance put Harry on his guard.
“What do you want, Hurst?” Draco’s tone was clipped and controlled, but Harry could tell by the way he leaned away from Hurst’s presence that something about the other boy made him uncomfortable.
“Only wanted to tell you how pretty you look today,” Hurst said, leering down at Draco. Harry’s grip on the shoulder of the suit of armour slipped, and the metal creaked loudly. Hurst whipped around to stare in Harry’s direction.
“What was that?”
“The sound of your sanity trying to escape its confines,” Draco said, drawing Hurst’s attention back to him. “Sod off, Hurst. I’m not interested.”
“If I were you, I’d watch who I turn down,” Hurst said, his tone suddenly dangerous. “Wouldn’t want to die a traitor and a virgin, now, would you? Though I reckon Daphne’s probably right about Potter taking care of the last bit...”
“Potter and I aren’t shagging, you moron. Now back the fuck away from me and go find a poof your age to assault.”
Hurst let out a short bark of laughter, but didn’t press the matter. He said the password to the Slytherin common room and slipped through the entrance that appeared. When the wall slid back into place, Harry stepped forward, only semi-aware that his fists were clenched so tightly his nails were digging into his palms.
“Who the hell is he?”
Draco folded his arms across his chest defiantly. “A sixth year, not that it’s any of your business. He’s been stalking me for years.”
“Have you done anything with him?”
“No, I bloody well haven’t, Potter. I’m not that desperate.”
The murderous look on Draco’s face quieted Harry’s seething jealousy. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you were,” he muttered. He tugged at his Invisibility Cloak, wishing for the umpteenth time that he could just take it off. “So when do you want to meet?”
“Don’t care. Basilisk.”
The opening appeared once again. Draco stepped inside, then stopped and looked over his shoulder. “You still there, Potter?”
Draco sighed. “Hurry up and get going already.”
But Harry waited until the closing entrance cut off his view of Draco’s retreating back before slipping off his Invisibility Cloak and making his way back to the library.
Once inside his room, Draco slumped against the door and banged the back of his head against it for good measure. God, he felt like fool. To find out that he hadn’t been acting under his own will for – what, four months? Potter was probably going back to have a good laugh with Granger over Draco’s idiocy right now. No doubt it was well merited. The mere idea of Draco being in love with Potter was laughable, and yet he’d been the last one to see that. So much for plans to trick Potter into falling in love with him. What was he going to do now? His insides burned with humiliation at the thought of facing Potter again, of seeing the mocking derision in those green eyes. But at the same time, he needed Potter’s help.
Draco rubbed his temples so hard that he saw stars. He couldn’t remember feeling this helpless since his near-futile efforts to mend the broken Vanishing Cabinet the previous year. He felt tears prick at the insides of his eyelids and blinked them away angrily. No, what was he thinking? He would not cry over Harry Potter, no matter how unbearable the circumstances.
He had no choice: there was nothing he could do but shelve his pride and deal with it.
You know this doesn’t have to change anything, right?
Having said that, you still haven’t told when you want to meet. Is this Saturday all right with you?
- D. Malfoy
“Are you sure there’s no way to get rid of this dual life debt thing?” Draco asked as he strode into the unused Potions classroom that Saturday.
He was feeling much better about the unpleasant news Potter had delivered him the previous week. After ten days of tedious deliberation, he had decided that, on the bright side, he could now blame anything stupid he did on the curse (for he regarded any form of magic that bound him to Potter as such). The effects of the dual life debt were certainly a nuisance, but knowing that they were responsible for all of his Potter-related impulses was a considerable relief. At least his sanity was one less thing Draco would have to worry about losing.
“I’ll ask Hermione to look into it.” Draco nearly leapt out of his skin; he hadn’t noticed Potter hovering next to the entrance.
“Are you trying to kill me?” Draco demanded, his cheeks flushing from the scare Potter’s unexpected response had given him. “Why are you skulking in the doorway?”
“I’m not skulking,” Potter protested, stepping into the light. His eyes were red-rimmed, and his skin was pastier-looking than usual.
“What happened to you?” Draco asked, hoping his concern wasn’t apparent. Curse, he reminded himself.
“What did she do now?”
“Nothing. That’s the problem. She’s... well, never mind, it’s not important.”
Draco clenched his teeth. He was beginning to get an idea of how frustrated Snape must have felt when he wouldn’t disclose the details of what he was doing in his attempts to kill Dumbledore. “You said you’d ask the Mudblood to figure out a solution?”
“Hermione doesn’t need to do this if you’re going to be an ungrateful prick.”
“Don’t be absurd. She’ll agree to do it for you, not me. If I turn Weasley into a toad and banish him to the Mediterranean, she’ll only work harder to find a way to set things right between us.” Draco paused. “That isn’t too bad of an idea, actually.”
Potter snorted. “Don’t even consider it.”
“Fine. Did you have any reason for scheduling this meeting other than wanting to dangle a vague promise to fix this life debt thing in my face?”
“I’m not dangling anything in your face. I told you, I’ll ask her.”
“Don’t argue with me, Potter. What do you want?”
Their gazes locked. Potter didn’t say anything. It felt to Draco like he was trying to answer with his eyes, and Draco wondered when it had become normal for them to communicate – or attempt to communicate – wordlessly.
“Eighteen,” Potter finally said.
Draco mentally ran through his list in his head, trying to remember what number eighteen was. “Pierce my ears?”
Comprehension slowly settled in. “You mean... no. No. You’re not doing it, Potter!”
Potter frowned. “Why not?”
“You actually think I trust you to only put holes through my ears and stay away from the rest of my body?” Draco said, backing away from Potter. He was clearly insane.
“You trusted me in a supposedly haunted building, but you don’t trust me now?” Potter asked, folding his arms. His calmness only increased Draco’s disapproval of his idea.
“That was different! It wasn’t my body we were dealing with! You... my ears... you could injure me! Your wand could slip – you don’t even know the spell –”
“I know. That’s why I’m not going to use magic.”
“Not – not going to use magic? Are you mad, Potter? I’m not letting you anywhere near my ears. Dying from wounds inflicted by your barbaric Muggle devices is last on my list of ways to go!”
“Can you shut up about dying?” Potter growled. “You’ll be fine, Malfoy. Muggles do it all the time, and they don’t suffer any lasting damage.”
“That’s like saying it’s socially acceptable for me to tear your head off with my bare hands because giants do it,” Draco said shrilly. “Other – species – have ways of doing things that aren’t appropriate for our kind.”
“Muggles are just as human as we are.” Draco could tell that Potter was starting to lose patience. “Would you rather pierce your own ears? Because if that’s what you want, fine, go ahead, do it alone in front of a mirror.”
Potter reached for the door handle. “No, I want you to,” Draco blurted out.
Potter rolled his eyes, but he looked mollified. “You only had to say so.”
Draco glowered as he followed Potter to the middle of the empty classroom. They sat down on the stone floor beside the bubbling cauldron. Draco wiped his palms on his robes. His trepidation was growing at an alarming rate.
Potter seemed to sense this, because he stopped rummaging around in his pockets. “Look, if you really don’t want to –”
“I don’t know the spell either, and I can’t exactly go into Hogsmeade and get it done. Just bloody do it before I change my mind, Potter.”
The crease in Potter’s forehead smoothed out. He dug deeper into the inside pocket of his robes and extracted a cloth-wrapped object the size of a toothpick.
“This is a needle,” he explained, unfolding the cloth and holding up a thin, silver object. Its sharp tip glinted in the air.
Draco gulped. “That – that’s going to go through my ear?”
“Yeah. Usually Muggles use a piercing gun, but I couldn’t get hold of one...”
“The needle is fine,” Draco said quickly. His father had told him about guns before. They were instruments Muggles used to shoot each other. “Our methods of killing are much more humane,” he had said. Draco was inclined to agree.
“Good. Don’t worry, it should be quick and easy.”
Draco could not think of any process that sounded less quick and easy, but he bit his tongue. He wouldn’t give Potter the satisfaction of backing out. Besides, now that they were several steps into the process, Draco wanted to see it through to the end.
Draco tried to breathe evenly as he watched Potter levitate the needle to the flames under the cauldron. Potter gave the needle a few seconds to heat, then withdrew it with a light flick of his wand and let it cool in the air. Meanwhile, he searched his pockets again with his free hand. When he took out a small bottle filled with a clear liquid, Draco’s patience cracked.
“What are you doing?”
“Sterilising the needle.” Potter plucked the needle from mid-air and balanced it on his knee. Then he unscrewed the cap of the bottle and dowsed the cloth he’d kept the needle wrapped in with the contents of the bottle. The strong smell of alcohol filled Draco’s nostrils. “If I don’t, you might get an infection.”
“Infection?” Draco repeated, horrified. “Potter, I swear, if you –”
“Relax, Malfoy. I asked Hermione to make sure. Her parents are dentists; they’re into that hygiene stuff. They were the ones who sent over all this stuff, actually.”
Draco had no idea what a dentist was, but if it was related to Granger, it couldn’t be very trustworthy. “Why didn’t you just ask her to teach you the spell?”
“Because it’s too risky. Do you want to end up like George Weasley?”
Draco shuddered. He had heard the rumours about the injury the Weasley twin had sustained during the war, but he hadn’t actually seen it. He could only imagine how hideous it must look, though.
“Do you know how to conjure ice?” Potter asked once he’d finished rubbing the needle with the alcohol-soaked cloth.
“Because – never mind.” Potter had apparently come up with an answer on his own, because he picked up his wand again and Transfigured the alcohol in the bottle into water with a muttered, “Aguamenti!” He then froze it with a simple Freezing Charm.
“Your magical aptitude astounds me, Potter.”
“Shut it, Malfoy.”
“You shouldn’t have even had to think about that one.”
Potter waved the needle threateningly. “This is going through your tongue if you don’t keep quiet.”
Draco eyed the needle warily. Potter took the opportunity Draco’s silence offered to press the ice-filled bottle against Draco’s earlobe. Draco winced at the sudden cold. When his earlobe felt suitably numb, he tried to shrug Potter’s hand away, but Potter resisted.
“I want to make sure. Can’t have you crying like a baby when it’s done.”
“I won’t cry,” Draco snapped, but he was grateful all the same.
After a few seconds, Potter removed the bottle, tossed it aside, and scooted forwards so that he was sitting as close to Draco as possible. He removed another object from his pocket: a slice of potato.
“What the hell, Potter?” Draco breathed, every muscle tensed. Potter was too close.
“Just a precaution.” Potter held the potato slice up to the back of Draco’s earlobe, steadying it with his thumb and index finger. Using his other hand, he centred the point of the needle.
“It’s going to hurt a little,” Potter murmured. His warm breath washed over the bare skin of Draco’s neck as he spoke, and Draco shivered. He shifted, trying to hide his body’s embarrassingly obvious reaction to Potter’s proximity with his robes.
Potter pressed the tip of needle against Draco’s flesh, and Draco braced himself, waiting for the pain. Desperate for a physical anchor, he reached out and groped around for something he could hold onto. Potter’s knee was the first solid object he found. He had no time to search for a better option, because at that moment, Potter thrust the needle forward in one swift motion, and Draco yelped at the sharp pain that pierced his earlobe.
“Fuck!” he swore, clutching Potter’s knee so tightly that his nails dug into the material of Potter’s jeans. The effects of the preliminary icing were lost as the flesh around the puncture mark throbbed and burned.
“‘Hurt a little’?” Draco panted, blinking back tears of pain. “You’re a bloody masochist if you think that only hurt a little, Potter.”
Potter pulled out the needle and dropped the blood-stained potato slice. He leaned forward and blew gently on Draco’s ear, sending shivers that had nothing to do with the pain down Draco’s spine.
“Are you all right?” Potter asked, his brow furrowed in concern. “Here – let me try to lessen the pain a little –”
Before Draco could protest, Potter cast a Pain Relieving Charm. Draco screwed his eyes shut and hastily bid farewell to his left ear, but to his surprise, Potter’s bit of magic actually worked. The pain faded to a tolerable level, and his blood pressure returned to normal.
“Is that better?”
Draco exhaled shakily. “I think I’m fine with one piercing.”
Potter laughed. “I agree with you for once.”
“Try to make a habit out of it,” Draco suggested. They looked at each other, and Potter burst out laughing again. Draco struggled to control the smile tugging at the corner of his lips, but it was useless; the harder he tried to suppress it, the more vigorously it fought back. Finally Draco allowed himself to laugh, though he stopped abruptly when Potter turned astonished eyes towards him.
Draco cleared his throat. He suddenly became aware that he was still gripping Potter’s knee and quickly released it. His hand hovered in the air for a moment before reaching up to touch his sensitive, newly pierced lobe.
“Like I said, barbaric,” he grumbled.
Potter merely grinned, stood, and offered Draco a hand getting to his feet.
A/N: The book title, “Old Magic: Magic of a Most Powerful Sort”, was stolen from the HPL.