“Goyle – hold still,” Draco growled, gripping Greg’s head so he wouldn’t slip off. The short bristles of Greg’s hair prickled Draco’s palms. Greg stopped shifting and grasped Draco’s knees firmly.
Draco relaxed slowly and looked at his companions. Vince and Marcus Flint were dressed in Dementors’ robes, like him, hidden under the Slytherin bleachers on the Quidditch pitch. Perched on Greg’s shoulders, the cold, February wind nipped at Draco’s ears beneath the black robe’s hood. Beyond the bleachers, the thirteen-year-old could hear the cheers of the students as Ravenclaw scored against Gryffindor. Soon, Ravenclaw would be the winner, thanks to Draco and his Housemates.
Draco peered through a crack up at the sky, waiting for the right moment. The prank had been Greg’s idea, although inadvertently. He, Vince, and Draco had been doing homework together at a table in the Slytherin common room. They had been talking about the latest Quidditch match, at which Slytherin had narrowly beaten Ravenclaw.
“We’re getting worse,” Vince had grunted. “And Hufflepuff’s seeker is better than Chang.”
“You let me worry about Diggory,” Draco had said. “Concentrate on knocking the chasers off their brooms, unlike last game.”
“Too bad Potter can’t faint at every match,” Greg had commented, scratching his ear with his quill and getting ink all over his cheek and neck. “Slytherin would win the cup for certain, then.”
Draco and Vince had looked at Greg and then at each other. Later that night, they had cornered the captain, Marcus Flint, and told him the idea. Now, a week later, they stood under the bleachers in Dementors’ robes, waiting to put the plan into action.
Overhead, the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw seekers spotted the snitch and streaked after it. That was the cue. “Let’s go,” Draco said.
With Vince in the lead – or was it Marcus? – the three “Dementors” emerged from their hiding spot.
Draco had warned the Twins, Neville, and the other two at the “Protect Potter” meeting on Thursday that if something happened at the Quidditch match, it was more than likely caused by him. In face of vociferous protests, he’d said, “Simply because I’m assisting you lot, does not mean I’m nice.”
Draco and his friends lined up at the edge of the field and raised their hooded faces towards the sky. Draco could see the moment they were noticed. He chortled gleefully in his mind as Cho Chang pointed and Harry Potter looked down.
Greg shifted and Draco gripped his hair tighter, head lowering. “Hold still, you oaf. If I fall, you’ll—”
Draco’s head whipped up at Vince’s yell and froze. An enormous, silver-white beast with a rack of sharp horns charged straight at them. Draco’s face drained of colour, huge eyes staring at the monstrous animal, as terror overwhelmed him. Petrified, with a rushing sound in his ears, he couldn’t move, he couldn’t scream. He couldn’t even breathe.
Greg, however, shouted as Vince rammed into them in his flight from the animal. Greg stumbled backwards, with Draco on his shoulders, and they crashed into Flint. Greg lost his balance completely, and the four of them landed in a robe-tangled heap on the ground.
Eye-contact broken, Draco was able to move again. Terror fuelled his scream and struggle to get away. The robes hampered him, the hood blinding his vision. He could hear the roars of the crowd, cheering his inevitable death. Sweat broke out on his uncontrollably shaking body. He managed to free a hand and yanked the hood from his head, messing his hair.
The gigantic beast was gone. Draco’s head jerked around as he searched for the animal. He saw nothing but the Quidditch stadium, students rushing onto the field, and Professor McGonagall swooping upon them like a banshee.
“How dare you!” McGonagall shouted furiously. “I am appalled and ashamed Hogwarts students would do such a thing! You’re lucky Mr. Potter’s Patronus could not physically harm you!”
Relief flooded Draco, followed by embarrassment at the knowledge the beast had been incorporeal. Then, came anger. Potter had successfully done such a powerful spell and, by the cheering swarm of red and gold on the field, had also caught the snitch. The prank had failed spectacularly.
“An unworthy trick!” McGonagall carried on, as Draco struggled to extricate himself from the robe. “A low and cowardly attempt to sabotage the Gryffindor seeker! Detention for all of you, and fifty points from Slytherin! I shall be speaking to Professor Dumbledore about this, make no mistake! Ah, here he comes now!”Draco fumbled with the hooks on the robe, kneeling above Goyle’s head on the ground. He could see Weasley doubled over in laughter standing beside Harry a short distance away. Humiliation flooded Draco, churning like acid inside him at the smirk on Harry’s face. He hated Potter. The need for retribution burned in him.
Things used to be so much simpler when he wanted Potter dead.
Draco stood on the porch, leaning a shoulder against the post supporting the overhang of the roof. One foot was casually crossed over the other at the ankle as he kept watch. He unbuttoned the collar of his white shirt, but his shirttails remained neatly tucked in and his shirtsleeves cuffed properly. Simply because Draco was wandering the woods did not mean he should lose his sense of decorum.
The night was pleasantly warm, the stars clearly visible in the sky. Draco had escaped outside as soon as he’d eaten dinner, made by Harry from the deceased hunter’s food stores, and after Pansy had better healed his injuries. The camaraderie and laugher had gotten on his nerves. Pansy had chosen to insinuate herself into the conversation and Draco was left alone.
Eventually, Ron and Neville came outside, Ron assisting an exhausted-looking Neville around the shack to shower. Ron eyed Draco suspiciously as he passed. Pansy and Hermione went together to shower next, chatting like childhood friends, after Ron and Neville came back. The girls were giggling, still, when they returned.
Pansy looked chuffed when she finally joined Draco on the porch. Her hair had been dried by a charm and was perfectly groomed. She wore the same hunter green robes as before, but a fresh scent wafted gently from them, indicating they, too, had been cleaned.
“I think Little Miss Prissy Pants has a crush on Longbottom.” Pansy righted the porch chair. “Too bad for her. Scourgify.” She tucked away her wand and sat primly on the newly cleaned seat. “She had years to hook up with him, but didn’t. Now that he’s interested in someone else, she’s jealous and wants him for herself.”
“Are you going to catfight?” Draco questioned lazily, shifting so he could see her and still keep watch. He hadn’t seen any evidence of the supposed crush, but Pansy got this way with blokes she liked. “Over Longbottom?”
Pansy glared. “Neville Longbottom is a laudable, pureblood wizard, as you very well know.”
Draco hummed noncommittally.
“You just think anyone but yourself is unworthy.”
Draco smiled. “True.”
“Too bad I’d never date you, even if I had bits you liked,” Pansy said. “You’re prettier than me and that would never do.”
“I am prettier, aren’t I?” he preened. “No one can resist me.”
Pansy made a derisive sound. “I can name many, including a certain Gryffindor.”Draco more pouted than scowled in her direction. “Don’t remind me.”
“Perhaps you should give up on him. Find someone else and seduce him. Salazar knows, you need a shag.”
“What?” Pansy looked him over. “You’re a few days away from being eighteen and you’re wound tighter than McGonagall’s hair bun. A good buggering would do wonders.”
Draco did scowl this time. “My personal life is no longer up for discussion.”
Pansy laughed. “What personal life? You haven’t been on a single date since we went to the Yule Ball together in Fourth Year, and we went as friends.”
“I happen to have distinguished tastes,” Draco said. “Unlike someone I know.”
Pansy laughed even more. “Draco, darling, you are so full of it.”
Draco sniffed dramatically and took to ignoring his oldest friend as she laughed herself silly at his expense.
Pansy calmed eventually, and when Draco glanced over at her, she grinned unrepentantly. Her cheeks were flushed rosy and her eyes shining brightly with true amusement. A single hair had escaped its artful do and curled over her forehead. She was quite attractive, in her own way. He could see why Neville would want her.
Draco shifted against the post and hissed when a sharp wood splinter scraped him. He stopped leaning, craned his arm behind him, and touched his lower back. His shirt wasn’t ripped, thankfully, though it felt like his skin didn’t fare up.
Grumbling silently, Draco started off the porch. “I’m going to get cleaned up. Keep watch, eh?”
“Take your time.” Pansy’s grin became devilish. “Have a toss and relax a bit.”
“Very amusing,” Draco drawled. Her chuckles followed him around the corner of the shack, as he headed off to shower.
The outdoor shower was a three-sided cubicle butted up against the rear of the shack, magically waterproofed to prevent wood rot. A ledge spanned the length of one of the shoulder-high walls, a few capped bottles and scrub brushes of various sizes scattered along it. A rusty pipe ran from a pump upwards and curved over the cubicle wall into a showerhead. A flick of Draco’s wand started the pump and ensured the water would be warm.
He set his wand on the ledge and stripped. He draped his clothes over the end of the wall, his boots lined neatly on the ground outside the cubicle. The night air was warm and his bare skin seemed to glow in the full moonlight. He was unashamed of his body, his lean musculature sculpted from years of Quidditch. It was a good thing, because the shower stall had no door or curtain.
Stepping onto the stone platform, Draco tugged the shower chain and a warm spray rained down on him from the showerhead. The end of the chain looped on a hook on the cubicle wall, keeping the water running. He dropped his chin, letting the warm water pour over him, soaking his hair and washing away the day’s dirt from his body. Scourgify was well and good for a cleansing charm, but bathing was the only way to truly feel clean.
He closed his eyes as exhaustion set in. He’d been awake for at least thirty-six hours already and the circles under his eyes must be awful. He needed to get some sleep before he looked truly hideous.
With a tired sigh, he opened his eyes and lifted his head. Bubbles on the cap indicated which bottle the others had used. Draco poured a small amount of the creamy white liquid in his palm and set the bottle on the ledge without recapping it.
He rubbed his palms together and began washing his hair. The soap had a woodsy scent, fresh and green. Draco rid all traces of spell-gel, rinsing it off with the sudsy lather. The white suds skated along the rock slab beneath his feet, running into the leafy ground outside of the shower cubicle.
The gentle splash of water as it rained from the showerhead onto the rock slab was a soothing sound. Draco poured another dab of liquid soap into his palm, put aside the bottle, and rubbed the woodsy scent into his skin. The soap shimmered iridescently on his pale body in the moonlight, as he slid his hands up and under his arms, over his shoulders and neck, down his chest and stomach, over his hips and genitals, and around to his back.
“Ow,” Draco said, more in surprise than pain. He slid a soapy finger carefully along his lower back, wincing slightly at the raised scrape from the porch’s post. He glanced at his shirt where it hung over the wall and frowned unhappily at the few dots of blood staining the previously cleaned, white material.
Draco rinsed off then twisted his upper body, trying to see the damage and whether or not he was still bleeding. He extended his left leg behind him, bare toes slipping on the rock slab. His arm was stretched around his back so he was able to nearly grab his right hip as he twisted. He craned his neck, and was just able to see the edge of the scrape—
“AH!” Draco whipped around, grabbed his wand from his ledge, and faced the surprise intruder. Harry stood outside the shower, wearing only his school trousers, shoes, and a baffled look. His upper half was bare, his skin a coppery colour in the full moonlight, clean of dirt, blood, and sweat by a spell before dinner. He was lean, with lightly defined chest and stomach. A dark trail of hair arrowed down from his navel beneath the waistband of his trousers, and his nipples were a pale chocolate that begged to be tasted.
Draco spun around, turning his back to Harry, and swallowed thickly. “Frigidus,” he mumbled with a gesture of his wand and stepped directly under the now-freezing shower spray.
“You scream like a girl,” Harry said, bemused.
“And you’re staring at me like one,” Draco responded bitingly, though his voice rasped embarrassingly.
“I didn’t know you were back here. Pansy didn’t say anything.”
Draco’s eyes narrowed. “That little wench.”
“Potter, do you mind?” Draco struggled not to shiver from the cold. “I’d like to finish my shower without your pervy eyes on me.” Plus, if he knew Harry was watching… Draco shivered for another reason entirely.
“It’s not like you have anything interesting to see, Malfoy.”
“The rest of Hogwarts would contradict your opinion,” Draco said. Though, with the cold water, parts of him currently resembled a shrivelfig.
“Not in Gryffindor. We use your centrefold picture for target practice,” Harry said. “Nasty scrape. Want me to heal it?”
The abrupt change of topic caused Draco to flounder and utter an elegant, “Huh?”
“I asked if you wanted help.”
“No, I don’t want your help,” Draco said. “Now, naff off.”
He yanked the shower chain off the hook, grabbed his trousers as the water shut off, and tried to put them on. His wet skin hindered him and instead of stopping to dry himself with a spell, both damp legs caught on the material of the trousers and he lost his balance. His wand clattered to the ground as he hopped once, twice, and over he went, smacking into the side wall with his right shoulder, nearly toppling forward and hitting his skull on the shower head.
Small, warm hands were suddenly on his bare back, steadying him. “Careful, there, Malfoy.” The laughing admonishment was a hot gust against his cool, wet skin between his shoulder blades. A shiver coursed down his spine, raising bumps on his arms and legs.
Draco gulped and looked down. He was becoming obviously enamoured of Harry’s close proximity. He could feel the heated blush of embarrassment splash traitorously across his pale skin.
He froze in place when he felt calloused fingertips brush down his back, catching on the fine hairs on his skin. Those torturous fingers ghosted over the scrape. His breath caught in his throat, his muscles jumping at the touch.
“Are you certain you don’t want me to heal this?” Harry asked blandly, as if he didn’t care one way or another but was being polite.
Draco couldn’t think. He couldn’t breathe. People didn’t touch him as intimately as Harry was doing. Only Pansy dared to lay a hand on him. It had been years since his parents had demonstrated affection towards him.
And here was Harry Potter, touching him freely and gently for the third time today. It was a surprise he was still standing upright, though his locked knees probably had something to do with that.
“I’ll take your silence as a yes, because you’d never voluntarily ask for help.” A hand settled on Draco’s left hip, the tip of a wand lightly touched his back, and another hot breath of air gusted across his skin. “Sano.”
Draco might have gibbered like a monkey if he was capable of making a sound. He stared sightlessly at the showerhead, the thin shower chain swinging in the moonlight like a slow pendulum with each of his unsteady exhales. His pulse ticked visibly in his neck and in his cock. His hands hung limply at his sides, his trousers forgotten around his calves and tangled under his feet. The dampness of the rock slab beneath him soaked through the material of his trousers and wet the soles of his feet. Tremors ran through his body with the tingling of magical healing.
“Any more?” Harry said. He put his hand on Draco’s shoulder, the point of his wand visible in Draco’s peripheral vision, and tugged him around. Draco’s feet and damp legs were still trapped by his trousers and he was knocked off-balance again. Harry reacted reflexively.
There was a moment where time seemed to stop entirely, when Harry’s left hand found something to hold onto. The night wildlife went silent around them as the world stood still. Draco stared into uncovered, wide green eyes, glasses frozen partway down Harry’s nose. Harry’s mouth hung open, lips shiny from licking.
A droplet of water, full and heavy, dripped from the showerhead above and splashed on Harry’s arched collarbone.
Draco’s hips jerked suddenly and he gasped sharply in unbelievably exquisite pleasure. Harry snatched his hand away, flushing pink from forehead to navel. Draco clamped his hands in front of his groin, trying futilely to hide his erection and not climax on the spot.
Mortification hit, a bright wash of red heating his pale skin from head to toe.
Harry snapped out of his shock, turned on his bare heel, and left. Fast footsteps broke the stillness of the woods and time resumed with horrified clarity. Draco burned with embarrassment and humiliation. His movements were jerky, as he pulled up and fastened his trousers. His erection strained against the zip and he gave himself a vicious twist. Gathering his other clothing and wand, he walked stiltedly around the shack and deposited the items on the porch with Pansy.
“I’ll be back,” he told her, and dropped to all fours with a pop before she could question him, the Animagus change completed in a moment. He fled from the shack into the woods.
His canine form protected him from the other animals and beasts in the woods, but not from his thoughts. How could his body betray him like it had? How could he have stood there and let Harry touch him? Why hadn’t he said ‘no’ to help? Why hadn’t he moved? How could he ever look Harry in the eye again?
Mordred, what if Harry told? There were no insults strong enough to counter Weasley if he had this information, or anyone else for that matter. Harry might have grabbed him on accident, but he was the one who had an unmistakable hard-on after being touched by another guy. And he knew Harry had seen him unaroused when he’d first startled Draco. He would be laughed at and mocked unrelentingly for the remainder of the school year and possibly beyond.
And once his father found out…
Draco tried to outrun his mortification. He wanted the earth to open up and swallow him, like it had Neville. He wanted to keep running and never turn back. His secret was tattered irreparably. How was he going to face anyone again? What—
Draco stopped running abruptly, paws skidding slightly on the muddy, leaf-strewn ground. He lifted his nose and sniffed the air. His ears pricked.
There were other humans in the woods.
Swiftly and silently, Draco followed the scent. He crept between the trees, hearing low conversation before he caught sight of the camp. Body low to the ground, he slinked closer and hid under the cover of a poison berry bush.
There were four of them, wizards dressed in black robes with hoods down, sitting in chairs around a campfire. A single plain brown tent stood between two tall trees nearby. The four were drinking from mugs and chatting amicably.
Draco stayed still, watched, and listened. He couldn’t figure out from conversation who they were or why they were there. Either way, it was worrisome. They weren’t camped too far from the shack.
“Pour me some more, Roderick,” one of them said, shaking his empty mug. He extended his arm over the fire, passing the mug to Roderick seated opposite him.The wood crackled and sparked, and the fire blazed slightly. The wizard’s robe sleeve caught alight and he yelped. He yanked his arm back and batted at the small flames. The other three laughed.
“It’s not funny,” he snapped, the flames extinguished. He shoved up his sleeve and raised his arm to check for damage. On his forearm, a black tattoo of a skull with a snake emerging from its mouth stood out clearly in the campfire light.
A growl built in the back of Draco’s coyote throat. Ron had been right, there were Death Eaters inside the book.