The Spirit Room
by Gypsy Silverleaf


Rating: R

Summary: After going back to the Dursleys at the end of his fourth year and the Triwizard Tournament, Harry is abused by his uncle. He quickly falls into despondancy and despair. When he believes nothing can possibly get worse, three dark figures appear on the doorstep of 4 Privet Drive.

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J. K. Rowling. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. It's just fan fiction!

Author's Note: Thanks a thousand times over to Naadi Moonfeather and Caroline for the beta. This chapter is dedicated to Robyn, for her art, and to Karen, for her words. I love you guys!
< >This fanfiction is posted at Schnoogle and FanFiction.net. Please feel free to leave your comments at either site, or write me an E-mail (gypsy @ HarryPotterRealm.com).

Warnings: This story includes ADULT CONTENT, including language, implied rape/abuse, and slash. Please return to the main page if you do not wish to view such material or are underage. There are sufficient warnings about this story and if you don't want to read very dark, emotional material which includes male/male relationships, please leave.


Chapter Seven: Not Alone

< >That night, the three men who began this story stood just beyond the doorway to the room concealing Harry Potter from the outside world. They were speaking in low voices so the boy reading at the desk inside would not hear their words.

< >"He refuses to wear the amulet," said the third man, quietly.

< >"Why?" demanded the second.

< >"Well, it is a bit ugly. The groundskeeper sent the pendent," the first man explained when the other two looked at him sharply. "What else do you expect? A diamond?"

< >"He won't touch it because he thinks it might be cursed," the third, light-haired man said. "That's rather obvious - and I suppose he has good reason to think so." He smiled thoughtfully. "At any rate, Mr. Potter must feel the magic coming off of it. Draco said he could when he held it. We also took it for several hours then gave it back to him. Highly suspicious, don't you think?"

< >"The amulet could have seriously impaired our operation. We must be watchful of Potter. No more packages. No letters. The morning's event was a serious error on our parts that might have destroyed everything. I will not, in good faith, risk that again. Our lives are at stake."

< >"What are you doing with the owl?"

< >"What do you think?" the third man snarled at the second.

< >"Where is the pendant now?" the first man asked, pulling his hood down.

< >"Draco put it in the night table drawer."

< >"So it's close enough to still do its job?" said the second man.

< >"It has no particular job, you ignorant fool," the first and darkest man sneered. "It merely helps the situation. Whether he wears it or not is completely irrelevant. It's a ridiculous trinket anyway. I don't know why you bothered charming it in the first place."

< >"You bastard. I worked my arse off -"

< >"We promised we would not argue," snapped the third man, indicating to his companions to lower their voices. Inside the chamber, Harry had put his book down and taken up a quill to write on a piece of parchment. "Even though it does not mean much now, we also agreed that the pendant may be of use one day soon, did we not?"

< >Both men looked away from the light-haired one and he smiled. "That's what I thought. Did you watch the lessons?" he continued after a minute or two of silence, rather cheekily. The others glared at him. He knew they had.

< >"Emotionally," said the first man, slowly regaining his composure, "he has pulled himself so far away from magic that he was shocked to find out he could still do it. I am still not entirely sure why he has done such a thing - we don't know exactly what that brute of a Muggle did to Potter, save for what we got out of the woman. Potter has weakened himself both physically and, as I said, emotionally. Each spell and incantation drained him today rather dramatically, but at least we know he is capable."

< >"I'm shocked he can still do magic, to be quite honest."

< >"As am I, but he, much as I am loathe to admit it, is a powerful wizard. Albus Dumbledore certainly thinks so and my master knows it. Even if he wanted to, he could never fully lose his magical abilities. His body won't let him. He exudes magic."

< >"He is becoming stronger and weaker at the same time," murmured the third man.

< >"Exactly. Through practice, the magic in him is strengthening. Though continual exposure, the magic around him is weakening his resolve. Whatever happened in that house broke him down almost entirely."

< >"And we are repairing only one part of him?"

< >"I suppose that depends on your perspective," the first man told the third with a small smile.

< >"What are we doing about his back?" asked the other man quietly.

< >"She," said the first man, nodding down the hall toward the antechamber, "is providing something. A salve of some kind. Muggle, but it should work. Potter should be grateful."

< >"I am having Draco come back for a short while tomorrow."

< >"I am ecstatic," the dark man sneered at the third. "I'm sure Potter will be, too."

< >"The look in Harry's eyes," muttered the second man, not paying attention to his companions' conversation. "He hates and fears himself."

< >"Well, isn't that what the Dark Lord intends?" asked the first.

< >The three men nodded at each other and stood there for a long time, not talking, just watching the boy who was scribbling on a piece of parchment almost frantically. One by one, they wandered down the corridor and disappeared. A woman replaced them a while later and conjured a chair outside the door. She remained there for several hours.

* * *

< >Draco came the next day. Harry was sitting in the middle of the bed, surrounded by books, quills, and paperwork. When he realized Draco was standing in front of him, he stuffed several pieces of parchment under the coverlet. The other boy raised an eyebrow, but thankfully didn't ask any questions.

< >"Clear away your work," Draco said, "and take off your robe. No more injections. Not today." He helped Harry push his things to the right side of the bed and indicated for Harry to stand.

< >"What's going on?" Harry asked as he shrugged off his robe. Draco took it and tossed it onto the pile of books.

< >"Lay down."

< >Harry tried to see past the emotionless grey eyes before him. They appeared clouded and tired - almost like Harry felt. Without a word, Malfoy took Harry's glasses off and set them on the nightstand. Harry climbed back onto the bed and settled himself on his stomach. Malfoy sat beside him. Harry buried his face into his arms as the Slytherin put a hand on his shoulder and drew out his wand from one of the invisible pockets of his robes. Harry stiffened.

< >"Don't move, Harry" Draco growled, instantly on edge. "I need to check your back." The hand on Harry's shoulder seemed a bit shaky, but Harry obeyed. Malfoy's voice softened a bit when he did this. "This should be the last time."

< >The question "Last time for what?" died on Harry's lips as he felt the tip of the Slytherin's wand through the thin material of his shirt and shuddered. A sharp crackle of magic moved down his spine and he felt the cool air of the chamber on his back. Draco had cut the back of his shirt in half.

< >Draco removed his hand from Harry's shoulder and set the wand on the nightstand. Harry heard him take a deep breath then begin to fiddle with something. Turning his head, Harry saw a jar of - Muggle? - salve in his hand.

< >"What are you doing?"

< >"What does it look like I'm doing, Potter?" Draco snarled. Harry gave a start and his eyes widened, startled by Malfoy's coarse tone. "Don't act as if you don't know. It should be quite obvious. I'm putting this shite on your back so you won't scar. Can't have the pretty boy of the wizarding world scarred more than he already is, now can we?"

< >Harry turned his face away and tensed his body, expecting Malfoy to be cruel. To his relief, a finger covered in salve brushed his skin tentatively, as if asking for permission to touch him, and Harry relaxed with a small sigh. Slowly, Malfoy began to work the liniment into his back, rubbing it into his shoulder blades and daubing the remaining scratches with care. Both boys were silent through the five-minute ordeal, which seemed to last a lifetime.

< >Slytherin was helping Gryffindor, and Gryffindor was accepting Slytherin. What made it worse - to Harry, at least - was recalling that this wasn't just about house lines anymore, either: it was the matter of Dark holding Light in captivity, night wrapping itself around the sun so tightly its brightness and vitality could not, and never would again, shine through.

< >But what does it matter? Harry thought, trying not to moan under Draco's attentions. My light faded a long time ago.

< >Draco stood up abruptly and went to the lavatory. Harry stayed where he was. His back seemed free of ache now and though he was still experiencing a slight nausea (which had been present since the beginning of his capture, come to think of it) he felt infinitely better - physically, anyway. Draco returned and looked down at him, frowning.

< >"Are you all right?"

< >"Yes," Harry said quietly. "Thank you."

< >Draco nodded and began cleaning up. He handed Harry his glasses and closed the salve jar, jamming it into a pocket. He used his wand to repair Harry's shirt. Harry watched him as he did it - his eyes were narrowed in concentration and he pronounced Reparo very carefully. It didn't seem as if it was difficult for Malfoy; more that the spell in and of itself was uncomfortable to do and unpredictable, as if he questioned his power. Harry didn't know what to make of this.

< >Malfoy was about to walk away when Harry asked, "Why did you have to take more blood?"

< >The Slytherin paled. "What did you say?" he asked, almost disbelieving. He stared at Harry and clenched his fists so his classmate, who was blinking owlishly at him from behind those bloody glasses, would not see his trembling hands. "More?"

< >Harry hesitated and Malfoy snapped, "Get on with it, Potter!"

< >"I - I heard . . . several nights ago . . . someone said, 'I've collected enough blood to last a lifetime.' They were talking about me, weren't they? But . . . then you took more blood the other day-" He cried out in surprise when Draco seized him and wrenched him almost completely off the bed.

< >"What else did you hear, Harry?" Draco demanded, shaking him violently as Harry struggled to pull away. "What did you hear? Tell me!"

< >Harry threw his weight back and jerked himself out of Malfoy's grasp. He fell back onto the bed. Both boys were breathing hard. "I - I don't -"

< >"Am I not being clear?" Draco nearly shouted, his usually white face now very pink. "Did you hear anything else? Anything at all?"

< >"No!" Harry cried. "Nothing! What are you -"

< >Malfoy closed his eyes and took a deep breath. His eyes were considerably calmer when he opened them again. He shook his head, muttered something indecipherable to himself, and collapsed into the armchair. Neither boy said anything for a while - Malfoy too relieved to speak and Harry far too confused to have anything to say.

< >"The house elf," Malfoy ultimately said.

< >"What?"

< >"The house elf," Malfoy repeated. "She knocked over half of our blood supply. We needed to collect more."

< >"Oh," said Harry. He hesitated. "Why do you need it?"

< >Draco simply looked at him.

< >"You won't answer that?" Harry asked, knowing the answer. Draco shook his head. "Why did you have to tie me down?"

< > "Would you have given it to us, Harry?"

< >"No," Harry said, "but would you have asked?"

< >Draco's eyes flashed dangerously. "Do you have any more questions I'm not willing to answer?" he drawled finally, the normal Malfoy haughtiness returning to his voice. Harry nodded. "Well, go on then - I can stay a while."

< >"What am I doing here?" Harry asked quietly. "Why do you keep me here? Where am I . . . exactly? Why am I still alive? What is the point?"

< >Draco frowned and Harry knew he wasn't going to get any sort of response. All right then, the Gryffindor thought. He squared his shoulders and asked firmly, "Why won't you answer my questions?"

< >Malfoy raised an eyebrow and smirked. "There are things," he replied, folding his hands primly in his lap, "that you don't need to know just yet. My advice is to not worry yourself so much."

< >"I suppose that's all you will say?" said Harry.

< >"On that subject - yes, but I have quite a few other things to say to you," Draco answered promptly. "First of all, you never hide things from me." He pointed to the bed. "Hand over the parchment."

< >Harry's shoulders sagged and he pulled his work from under the coverlet. Draco took it and scanned it. He gave it back to Harry a minute or two later. "You spelled 'depressing' wrong." Harry flushed, surprised and embarrassed that Draco had no other comments and had actually corrected him. "Second of all," Draco continued, "I know about Sirius Black."

< >Harry swallowed hard before saying, "What? The prisoner who escaped Azkaban third year? What does he have to do with any of this?"

< >Malfoy grinned fiendishly. "It's cute you want to defend him, Harry, but I know Sirius Black is your godfather and I know you've spent time with the man."

< >"How?"

< >"A little rat told me," Draco said darkly. "Your family also knows much more than they care to reveal. We had to coax them into telling us all that they know - at least, your cousin and your uncle. Your aunt was much more willing to speak."

< >Colour flew into Harry's cheeks. "Y-you went back to see them?" he stammered.

< >The young Malfoy grinned. "Yes."

< >A wave of heat that felt like ice swept down Harry's body and he trembled. "What did you do to them? What have you done to Sirius?"

< >Draco busied himself by twiddling his fingers.

< >"Please - just answer me - Sirius -"

< >"Has not been captured by the Dark Lord or anyone else," Draco interrupted sharply. "Yet."

< >Harry was torn between hopelessness and relief. He covered his face with his hands and tried to control his breathing. After a moment or two, he heard Draco sigh heavily and he dropped his hands to look up.

< >"As much as I understand your concern for your godfather, Potter, I cannot fathom why you are worried about your uncle and that overblown whale of a cousin, or what we do to them. Do you feel some sort of attachment for them?"

< >The Boy Who Lived looked away. "I don't know."

< >Malfoy snorted derisively. "You should be happy that you're rid of them."

< >Harry ran a hand over the black coverlet, lightly tracing the seams with his fingertips. He didn't answer and there was a long, uncomfortable silence.

< >"I've decided you're also going to learn some French this year, next to your other studies. I'm bored," Draco explained when Harry, startled, stared at him, "and that good for nothing school of ours hardly teaches anything. Magic, magic, and then history of magic. No maths, no language, no science besides Potions. How do they expect us to learn anything, honestly? C'est beaucoup de merde. Tout le monde en Angleterre devrait savoir le français."

< >"Are you French?" Harry asked slowly.

< >"I have Norwegian and French heritage, actually," Draco replied, jumping to his feet. "Being a member of a classical family, moreover, I have culture. I am fluent in four languages, including French." He glowered at Harry. "Get off that bed. Didn't we bring you a bloody desk so you would have a solid place to work? I should have left this hellhole ten minutes ago, but I'm going to start you on a lesson or two so you don't waste the rest of the day."

~

< >Harry fell asleep several hours later. Draco had gone and someone had brought him dinner. Even though he was very hungry - he never actually had lunch that day - he only picked at his plate and pushed the food around with his fork. He'd been absorbed in his jumbled thoughts and, pushing away the dinner and his work, had finally just gone to sleep.

< >He was dreaming again - like he often had at 4 Privet Drive - and he knew it, but couldn't escape. The room, perhaps a dungeon, was dark and there was a cold, metal pole in the middle of it. Harry knew it was cold because he was naked and his arms were around it, chained at the wrists. As he squinted into the darkness, he was aware someone else was there, advancing on him. The Gryffindor - brave, courageous, fearless - began to shake and the abject silence of the chamber overpowered him.

< >"Afraid of magic, are you?" a familiar voice hissed.

< >The black haired boy gasped when Uncle Vernon, with his pudgy face and his beady eyes and his cruel hands, suddenly appeared before his eyes and Harry popped awake, sitting halfway up in bed.

< >He sat up only halfway because something - no, someone - was sitting on his chest. His heart skipped a beat in surprise, then he blinked, letting his eyes focus, and fell back onto the mattress. What he first noticed about the house-elf, blinking beneath long dark lashes, were her (at least, he thought she was female) enormous violet eyes that shone so brightly it appeared she was always on the verge of tears. She wore a clean, lavender tunic, had large ears, and her nose was long and pencil-thin, like Dobby's.

< >"I is sorry to wake Harry Potter," she said in a hushed whisper, "but he is having bad dreams."

< >Harry turned his head and squinted at the clock. It was past three in the morning. "I always have them." He went to rub his eyes, but the house elf - strangely and boldly - pushed his hands away from his face. He stared at her.

< >"Harry Potter must not wake himself! Harry Potter should rest!"

< >"And yet you just woke me up."

< >The elf looked especially guilty. "You was moaning, Harry Potter," she said, "for many minutes! Almost shouting. I has to wake Harry Potter."

< >"What do you mean?"

< >The house elf jumped off the bed and began pacing, her hands behind her back. "Different questions, different answers, Harry Potter!" she cried.

< >"Where am I?" Harry asked the elf after watching her for a while. It was a question that had been bothering him for a while and he had known instinctively that Malfoy would not have responded. "Am I still in Mrs. Figg's house? I can't be . . . can I? Maybe in Malfoy Manor? Somewhere else?"

< >The house elf was silent, but stopped next to the bed, looking as if she was about to cry, although that was probably just her peculiar eyes. She looked stricken and Harry sighed. "It's all right," he told her gently, dropping his head back onto the pillow. She pulled the bed sheets up to his chin and he smiled at her, sleep beginning to tug at his mind, luring him back to dreamland. "Nobody answers my questions anyway."

~

< >Harry was roused by the Robe a few hours later and stumbled blindly to the shower. He washed and dressed himself quickly. The man shoved a plate of food in his face when he emerged from the shower.

< >"Hurry," he snapped, pointing to the lounge and chairs in the front of the room. "I have a meeting in a few hours and I must not be late."

< >Lowering his eyes, Harry nodded and sat in one of the chairs. He couldn't swallow very much and the Robe became angry, going off on him about being far too thin and starving himself to death. Harry didn't listen, more concerned with his churning stomach. He excused himself eventually and stayed in the bathroom for a while as he threw up his breakfast.

< >The Robe was waiting beside the bed for Harry when he returned.

< >"The magic is making me sick," Harry observed, narrowing his eyes.

< >"I know," said the Robe, in an almost sympathetic voice. Harry blinked. "It should stop soon."

< >Nodding reluctantly, Harry took his wand when it was offered. "All right."

< >The Robe watched him for nearly a minute. Harry stared at the floor. It changed from stone to wood and he felt his stomach lurch as his heels lifted off the ground for a second, as if propelled by the change. "Let's see the spells from yesterday first. Then we will move onto more charms, a hex or two, and those curses I mentioned."

< >By the time the Robe left four hours later, carrying Harry's wand again, The Boy Who Lived was miserable. He flung himself onto the couch and buried his face in his arms. Magic seemed to be pumping through his veins and searing his heart. He felt like he was on fire, the eternal flames licking each nerve inside of him and threatening to rip him in half. Gritting his teeth and begging his body to comply, Harry waited for the feeling - strange and familiar and uncomfortable and gut-wrenching - to subside.

< >"You should eat something," a solemn female voice said.

< >Harry's head snapped up. A figure - wearing dark grey robes, and all but her mouth and chin shadowed by her hood - stood in the doorway. A bowl of steaming soup on a tray had been set on the coffee table in front of him. Also on the tray were two pieces of bread and a goblet of juice. "It will get worse if you don't."

< >"Thank you." Harry pushed himself into a sitting position and rubbed his eyes. Not surprisingly, when he lowered his hands she was already gone. He sighed and rolled up his shirtsleeves, rubbing his arms to get circulation and feeling back into them. The scratches were fading away and he felt his stomach clench, remembering the pain of his uncle's nails.

< >His throat felt raw as he forced himself to swallow the food, eating slowly in case his stomach decided to betray him again. He stretched himself out on the lounge to let his stomach settle after he'd finished. The room tilted a bit, but his vision cleared quickly. Harry stared at the door and watched the strange blue runes he had seen during the first few days, and had nearly forgotten about, sparkle in the dim light.

< >After a while, Harry was on his feet and pacing. A man, face almost completely shadowed, came in and sat down in one of the chairs. Harry kept pacing the room. The man withdrew a small book with a leather cover out of his robes and began to read. It went on like this for a while until the man spoke, never looking up from his book.

< >"Aren't you worried all that walking will make you sick again?" asked the man. "You're very pale."

< >"I don't care," said Harry, and kept pacing. The man said nothing else.

< >He stopped an hour or so later. The man told him, dispassionately, to do more schoolwork, because he had nothing better to do. They did not speak again - no questions were asked, about the work or otherwise, and nothing was said during a small dinner that the house elf brought. The man did not say good-bye later that evening when he abruptly got out of chair and headed for the door, but just before he walked out, he snarled, "The lights will turn off in one hour." Resignedly, Harry took a shower, changed, and got into bed, all the while trying not to scream.

~

< >He found himself walking through a forest of silver-white birch trees. It was night, the trees' branches were heavy with dark green leaves, and seeds from the birches littered the ground like a strange fairy dust. The natural slashes in the bark, dark like old but not forgotten wounds, seemed strange in a world of such unnatural beauty. The path was narrow but hard packed, as if many people walked on it each day, although no one was around.

< >As he walked, the leaves steadily changed colour. The rich green turned grey, glowing silver in the darkness of the night. The silver leaves then became gold and shone like thousands, millions perhaps, of tiny little suns hanging from the limbs of the universe. Harry stopped and looked around, enchanted by his surroundings.

< >There was a rustle of leaves and Harry gave a start, squinting down the path. A figure stepped onto the trail several metres away - Draco. He took one look at Harry, turned, and ran. Harry hesitated only a second before sprinting after him.

< >"Draco!" he shouted. He batted away the gold leaves that seemed to become thicker and hang lower, almost like the heavy curtains of his four-poster bed at Hogwarts, as he ran until he felt as if he was swimming in sunlight.

< >All of a sudden, he pushed through the gold and fell out into what felt like hell. He was in the middle of a desolate wasteland compared to the lush forest he'd been walking through only seconds before. The birches were still silver-white and black, but these were barren and endless. Not one leaf littered the ground and it was so dark, save for the light of the stars very high above, that Harry could barely see the tops of the trees when he looked up. He spun around and his breath caught in his chest. The gold, silver, and green-leafed birches were gone, not to mention the path.

< >He was lost in a forest of nothingness.

< >There were footsteps behind him and Harry turned. Draco Malfoy came through the trees and stopped beside one, perhaps a metre in front of him. Harry gasped - Malfoy's eyes were demon red and glowed like hot embers in a dying fire.

< >"Harry."

< >"D-Draco."

< >"Is there a reason you're following me?"

< >Harry blinked. "You - you ran."

< >"I did. It doesn't mean you have to follow."

< >Harry stood there for a while, silent. He was angry and terrified. "Who are you?" he demanded.

< >"What do you want from me, Potter?" Draco asked sharply.

< >"What do you want from me, Malfoy?" Harry countered.

< >Draco's lips drew back into a feral smile. "Interesting question." He moved behind the tree and Harry moved to keep him in view. Draco's red eyes sparkled as he looked out from the other side of the birch. "You know what I want. I want everything." He stopped circling the tree and put his arms lazily around the trunk, resting his cheek against the bark. "Everyone wants something from you, don't they?"

< >"You want everything."

< >"That's right," said Draco. He actually giggled - his laugh both maniacal and innocent. "And I'll get it."

< >"How can you be so sure?" Harry asked uneasily.

< >"Because you'll tell me." Draco stepped away from the tree, leaving one hand on the trunk. He gave Harry a long look then began to swing himself around like a playful child, eyes gleaming like coals in the gloom. "You'll tell me everything."

< >Harry caught Draco suddenly by the collar of his robes as he swung back around the trunk and threw him against the birch. "Why would I do that?" Harry hissed.

< >"Well," said Draco, the smile never leaving his face, "I complete you, Harry. Isn't it obvious? I am the Dark to your Light." He smiled and reached up to touch Harry's unruly black hair and laughed softly. "I am the light to your dark. I know your secrets and I know your lies."

< >"You couldn't possibly," Harry replied angrily.

< >"Oh? Of course I can," was the soft reply. Cool fingers ghosted across his jaw. "I know you're scared, hopeless even . . . and you can't lie to me, Harry. Stop trying. Bare your soul to me." Draco's fingertips touched Harry's throat, his collarbone, his shoulder. Harry shivered. "You know there's nothing else to do." He leaned closer to the dark-haired boy. "And you'll find the outside forces of your world are stopping you from making your escape."

< >"I . . ." Harry suddenly couldn't find the energy to push Draco away. "I don't understand."

< >"There's no need to understand. But what is clear is right in front of your face. More obvious than words could possibly explain."

< >Harry was horrified to realize how close he was to Malfoy and that he'd found himself lost in the Slytherin's fire-lit eyes. He gasped as Draco's hand wrapped tightly around his bicep. "Stop," he breathed.

< >"Why? Come on, Harry. You'll like it."

< >Harry tried to jerk away. "Stop!"

< >Draco glowered at him, his eyes flashing with rage. Harry thought he was looking into hell and realized he was when Draco spoke. "You can't say stop, Harry. You don't want to . . ." He pulled Harry against him and crushed their lips together, but the angry embrace lasted barely a moment before Harry pushed the demon boy away and shouted, "Get away from me!"

~

< >"Get away from me!" Harry's eyes snapped open and he struggled to the other side of the bed - away from Malfoy, who was leaning over him, hand outstretched, with a guarded expression on his face. Harry finally freed himself of the blankets, rolled off the bed, and dashed to the lavatory. He turned on the tap and splashed cold water on his face, then closed his eyes for a while, trying to regulate his breathing.

< >"What the hell is wrong with you, Potter?" Harry asked, opening his eyes and staring at himself in the mirror.

< >"That's what I'd like to know," Draco said.

< >Harry turned. The blond was leaning against the door jam, arms folded across his chest. "Bog off, Malfoy."

< >Draco raised an eyebrow. "You might think that The Boy Who Lived would have some manners. I think he needs to be taught a lesson," he said, but didn't move from where he was, giving the Gryffindor reason to believe that Malfoy, for some reason, wasn't up to fighting at the moment.

< >Harry turned back to the sink and splashed his face with water again. "What are you doing here?"

< >Malfoy hesitated and Harry looked at him suspiciously. "I was about to wake you up."

< >"Isn't it a bit early for you?" said Harry, his voice cold.

< >"It's half of seven," Draco replied, shrugging. He rolled his eyes. "What is wrong with you, Harry? You seem to be having some disturbing nightmares."

< >"It's none of your business."

< >"Oh, isn't it?" Draco sneered back. "Don't even try that shite with me. Everything you do, think, and feel is my business."

< >"Don't I get any privacy?" Harry asked, more to himself than the blond boy. "Can't anyone leave me alone?"

< >"I think you've been alone far too long, Harry." There was silence between them for a while until Draco uncrossed his arms and said, "Right. I'm famished, so let's eat before either of us starves to death. You're emaciated as it is."

< >Nodding numbly, Harry rubbed his cheeks then followed the Slytherin out of the bath. As he joined Draco for breakfast - sitting on the opposite side of the lounge - he begged, although he knew it was futile to even try, begged his mind to stop making him dream.

< >There was an ancient, Muggle chessboard set up on the coffee table next to two breakfast trays. A lumpy, drawstring bag was in the middle of it. Draco sat down on the floor with a grace Harry thought no one else could match and crossed his legs, his back to the door. Harry sat down across from him. Their breakfast of toast, bacon, fruit, and milk was eaten in silence. Draco picked up the trays when they were done and went to the doorway. The elf stuck her head through, smiled sadly at Harry, and took the trays.

< >"Interesting house elf, isn't she?" Draco asked, sitting back down. He opened the bag on the chessboard, carefully pouring the old, glass pieces onto the table. "Overly kind, she is. It may get her in trouble one of these days."

< >Harry told himself he shouldn't have been surprised that Malfoy knew about the night before. "She's very kind . . . and clean. Not like Dobby was, under your care."

< >Draco snorted and began arranging the pieces. Harry helped him silently. "Dobby was a walking, talking, breathing wastebasket. Not worth the effort of keeping clean, honestly." He nodded his approval as they finished and grinned at Harry. "What colour do you want to be? Black or white?"

< >"White," Harry said firmly.

< >"You're not predictable," Draco replied with another roll of his eyes.

< >"Do you know everything, Draco?" Harry asked coldly, moving his pawn.

< >"Much more than you, that's for certain," said Draco. Pieces moved across the chessboard a few times before he continued. "I know most everything of what goes on in here. I watch you, the others watch you, the house elf watches you. You're never alone." He smirked when Harry didn't reply.

< >"Why are we playing chess?" Harry asked, finally speaking.

< >"For fun," Draco replied neutrally, considering his rook with more fascination than was necessary.

< >Harry chuckled softly, shaking his head in disbelief. "All right, then." He realized Draco was staring at him, a look of mock surprise and real interest on his face. Irritated, Harry demanded, "What?"

< >"This is the first time I've heard you laugh since we brought you here."

< >Harry flushed, strangely embarrassed, and looked down at his lap. "There's nothing wrong with laughing," he mumbled.

< >"No, I suppose not," Draco replied thoughtfully. He indicated for Harry to make his next move. "Tell me about the assassination of the Minister of Magic which sparked an uproar in the Manchester wizarding community during the late nineteenth century."

< >"Are you serious?" Harry asked, thunderstruck.

< >"Yes," said Draco, taking one of Harry's pawns. "Didn't I tell you I would be quizzing you on your studies? Let's see if you're smart enough to concentrate on two completely different topics, and you'd better play a decent game of chess, Harry; I don't want to win too quickly."

< >Twenty minutes later, Draco triumphantly announced, "Checkmate" and got to his feet. Harry was left to put the chess pieces back into the bag and did so quietly, listening to Draco as he paced back and forth in front of the doorway. "That was quite good, Harry. I'm surprised, but pleased. That means you're not the total idiot I've always taken you for and you managed to actually take a lot of my pieces. This means now that we'll start you on some more rigorous studies. I think we shall start potions today. We will do three simple infusions and in two days we'll make some Pepper-up. Tomorrow, while I'm gone, you'll be reading - "

< >"So, this is what you do all summer, Mal - Draco?" Harry asked somewhat sarcastically from the table. He pulled the strings on the bag hard and almost broke the seams, but he didn't care. "Study? Practice potions?"

< >"I think, Potter," Draco snapped, whirling around to face The Boy Who Lived. "There's a difference. That's what you'll be learning now. To think, to act on what you know rather than what you assume, to be cautious, to be calculating."

< >"Why?"

< >"Because I said so and you need to be able to put up a good fight - it's so much more entertaining and better that way," Draco answered. He stalked over to Harry and pulled him roughly to his feet. "Let's get started. I'm not about to waste my whole day on you."

< >"Then why do you bother coming here?"

< >Draco smirked, but didn't answer.

< >Harry sighed and ran a hand through his hair impatiently, following the blond to the desk. "All right, don't answer," he said irritably.

< >"I don't plan on it," Malfoy replied crisply. He waved his wand, muttered a spell, and the smallest chair was transfigured into a potions lab table that both could comfortably stand at. Draco pointed at it and Harry helped him drag the table obediently into the open area between the desk and the armchair beside the bed.

< >"What are you going to make?"

< >"We are going to make the Sanitas solution, the one Madame Pomfrey used for your wounds in November. It's a very simple healing potion. We made it during second year sometime - I think in the first term."

< >Draco set up the cauldron on one side of the table and lit a fire under it. He pulled a small, rectangular box out of his pocket and tossed it to Harry. "Un-shrink this," he ordered, "then take out the aconite. Separate the leaves and the flowers. There is a knife underneath the stuff. Cut the roots in half length-wise - and be careful, Potter. We do not need the potion to blow up."

< >He dug more in his pockets and produced three similar boxes, a knife, and Harry's wand. Putting Harry's wand down on the table, he pulled out his own wand and un-shrunk his boxes. "After that, the petals need to be taken off and crushed with the pestle and mortar, which are in one of these containers. I assume you can recall how to make a paste? Discard the pistils, pollen, and the excess in the fireplace." He pointed the knife towards the fireplace that had not been lit since Harry's first days in his chamber. "We'll burn it in a while. Now, get to work."

< >Harry watched Draco open a box and pull out two stoppered flasks, one filled with porcupine quills, the other filled with leech juice. He began to cut the quills in half and a minute or two went by with Harry doing absolutely nothing, save for staring blankly at Draco's hands. Finally, he sighed and picked up his knife, and busied himself with the aconite.


For the Français impaired: Draco says, "C'est beaucoup de merde. Tout le monde en Angleterre devrait savoir le français." This translates to "It's a lot of shite. Everyone in English should know French."



Chapter Six | Webmistress Fiction | Chapter Eight





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