Title: Trade
Archiving: just ask.
Rating: NC-17.
Date: December 2, 2003.
Summary: Not all spells need to be cast, and not all bargains need to be made.
This fic came about as a result of repeated staring at Alice�s �Classroom� which she drew for the Armchair February Art Challenge. After 9 months I am finally happy with it. 
Heartfelt thanks to Plumeria, whose initial positive comments saved this story from extinction.
Thanks to Erin for betaing, and to Alice for the commentary and the inspiration.
Dedicated to Franzi, who hates H/D, but still puts up with me.

i�ve got no patience for this,
Your philosophies twist and mess my mind up,
i�ve known truth and its face,
it�s the cruellest embrace and you think you taste it

this what you want, this what you need
this what you want, beg for free

because you�re safe now, while hearts are cold
you just wait until dust turns to gold.

--The Tea Party

Barter: v. tr. To trade (goods or services) without the exchange of money.
Etymology: Middle English bartren, from Middle French barater, to deceive.

The night before Valentine's Day, the Gryffindors celebrated in the common room with punch and candy and card exchanges.  Parvati wore the pink robes that she had worn to the Ball two years before, when she had gone with Harry.  She looked beautiful, and even though Hermione frowned at her for being out of her school robes, the boys couldn�t stop staring at her, and her black hair and dusky eyes looked more stunning than ever before.  Harry, looking at her, wished that he could feel stirred.  He would have liked to feel a pang of desire to run his hand over the arch of her neck, or sweep her bangs back from her forehead with a gentle touch.  He felt no such thing. 

He knew it shouldn�t matter, because he had always hated Valentine's Day. 

But it mattered anyway.

In the Hufflepuff common room, Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott cut pink and white hearts out of construction paper and enchanted them to fly around the room like butterflies.

The Ravenclaws filled their common room bulletin board with a history of St. Valentine�s Day and its traditional use by Muggles and wizards alike as a day of love spells and potions.  One of the board�s panels was enchanted to recite a comprehensive history of famous wizards and witches associated with the holiday, such as Wardlick the Wayward, who conjured the world�s first all-night lust spell and famously sparked a whole lineage of endurance magic; the other panel listed suggestions of pertinent Valentines Day reading for all interested comers.  They had opened their collection to the public, and a steady stream of patrons came, eager for things like Lady Chatterley�s Lover and the Young Wizard�s Guide to Magical Relationships, for instance, or, less popularly, books like The Swishy End of the Wand.

In the Slytherin dungeons the activity was the greatest.  In an unused classroom they were concocting, selling, and trading potions and spells on the sly. 

Love potions, naturally. 

It had been all Draco Malfoy�s idea.  He had set Blaise Zabini to monitoring the orders from the other houses, and Pansy to handling the deliveries.  Malcolm Baddock he had charged with runs to the supply room armed with a magically produced copy of Snape�s storage room key, which of course Draco had procured, because Draco always knew how to get hold of things like that.  He had Crabbe do the mixing; Crabbe liked mixing things.  It was easy, and once Draco had measured and laid out all the ingredients for him in order that they should be added, there was very little room for error.

Draco watched him carefully anyway, fascinated by the potions swirling in front of them.  The magic of a thousand emotions glistened in each one, now iridescent, now bleak and muddy, now sharp and lustrous, and dazzling with colour.  There, carefully measured and spun fine by Crabbe�s thick but gentle hands, were all the hopes of a hundred students, all focused around one day of the year. 

And yet, Draco wondered, as he ground pestle against herbs and watched Crabbe patiently stirring every precious concoction: if he should make even the slightest error�whose heart would he have broken?

It was amazing what Hogwarts students would do for a shag these days. 

Here, one was trading his entire collection of Martin the Mad Muggle comics for a potion that would allow him to tell if his girlfriend was cheating on him by changing her kiss to bile if she was false. 

There, another had paid her monthly allowance from home�sent to her by a Muggle family who could barely afford the rent, a discovery Draco had relished�for a highly complicated love spell that would allow her to seduce anyone she wanted until such time as a single stick of pomegranate incense burned completely to ash. 

Still another student had not wanted a love spell, instead they�d just signed up for opium.  Draco, feeling benevolent after procuring the opium at very little expense (blackmail was really a most excellent weapon), had ground the opium with meadowsweet.  When smoked, the opium would cast a spell upon anyone within breathing range, sending them mad with lust.  He couldn�t help but be envious.  And smug.  If this was even the slightest taste of the power, the sense of control, that came with dark magic, then no wonder so many wizards considered it to be addictive. 

Beneath his robes, Draco wore malachite on a chain around his neck.  It gave him immunity to the opium spell in case he passed within range of it the next day, and immunity to all other enchantments which might possibly make him prey to some student�s ridiculous fantasy.  

Draco naturally had not shared the malachite with anyone else in his house.  It had been far too difficult to procure�he had started hunting weeks in advance for a sufficiently strong charm.  Besides, it amused him to wonder which of his Slytherin housemates would find themselves victim of the very potions they had helped to concoct.  He had no intention of being caught defenseless, but he certainly couldn�t babysit all of Slytherin.  There were better uses of his time than indulging a silly once-a-year game of hook-ups and love trysts. 

His sole interest was in the potions, in crafting them, making sure each student had just what they came for.  That was his truest passion, after Quidditch�and he cared nothing for Valentines Day.

The Slytherins did a lucrative trade that evening.  They trafficked potions all night, until Draco�s fingers began to burn from feeling the pestle rubbing against his knuckles all night, and Crabbe began to complain that his back was going to give out from standing up for so long.

They came to the last request shortly after midnight, right on schedule.  The others started cleaning up around Crabbe and Goyle, gathering potions to deliver in convoys to the other houses�all except for Zabini, who was staring at the final piece of parchment.

�What are you doing?� snapped Draco.  Earlier they had all agreed that for safety�s sake, only Draco would know who had requested what.  The business of dealing love potions on the black market was serious work, even at Hogwarts, where a healthy trade in illegal items flourished; the Slytherins had gone to great lengths to cover all their bases.  They had drawn up binding confidentiality contracts for every student, magically sealed so that anyone who broke the silence after signing would find themselves with a huge snake instantly draped albatross-like around their shoulders.  They had also decided that if they were found out, Snape would be less likely to give Draco a hard time about the identities of the potion recipients than anyone else. 

So far it had all gone according to plan, smooth as silk parchment, and now the night was almost over.  Zabini�s job was to take names and hand over the unopened pieces of parchment to Draco, and Draco knew he wouldn�t dare look for fear of what Draco might do to him�but now he was twiddling the last request thoughtfully between his thumb and index finger, as if he half-hoped that maybe he could divine its contents through touch.

�Tell me you didn�t look at that,� Draco said flatly. 

�I didn�t,� said Zabini as he handed it to him.  �But look who it�s from.�

Draco glanced down, and started.  �It�s from Potter,� he said blankly.

�Do you think it�s real?�

More slowly than he meant to, Draco slid open the envelope and pulled the parchment out of it just far enough so that he alone could see the payment Potter was offering.

Had Zabini not been standing watching him in scrutiny he might have done more than tighten his jaw and blink. 

Had he been alone he might have cried.

�It�s real,� he said curtly.  �When did he turn this in?�

�Earlier tonight.  I think he must have gotten somebody to bring it down here for him.  I didn�t see any Gryffindors around here.�

Draco slid the note out of its envelope.  Pansy chose that particular moment to Nox the lights, and all the light in the classroom vanished except for that emanating from the hallway through the open door.

�Hey,� said Crabbe grouchily.  �I still have to mix the last one.�

�No you don�t,� murmured Draco, who had shoved Zabini aside and was holding the parchment in the remaining shaft of light to read it.  �You�re done.  Just leave the supplies, I�ll take care of them.�

Zabini cocked his head.  �We�re not going to do it?�

Draco didn�t look up from the parchment.  �No, we are going to do it.�

�So what gives?� 

Draco slid the parchment back in the envelope and smirked.  �The rest of you can clear out.  I plan on doing this one all by myself.�

It was like having to wear a cast�trying not to think about it only made the desire to scratch beneath it worse.

The plotting and planning that had gone on before, that had been the fun part.  Seamus had gotten his younger brother Ian, who was in Hufflepuff, to take the Gryffindors� requests to the dungeons.  It had been a huge production: should they pretend to be from other houses?  Should they put all their requests together with a binding counter-contract to protect themselves from whatever Slytherin devilry could be used against them?  Should they use fake names? 

Ron had.  He had signed his request as Aberforth Gallsworthy, which Harry privately thought was ridiculous.  But then, all Ron wanted was your generic, �make someone fall in love with me� spell, and Harry privately thought that was so unoriginal that no one would ever pay two shits� worth of attention to it even if they were all caught.  Had Ron done it to be clever, Harry would have been impressed; but Ron hadn�t done it to be clever�he had done it because he was Ron, and that really was the most interesting  thing he could think to ask for.

Harry couldn�t really blame him, though.  He supposed if he�d asked for a different spell, a blander or a more conventional one, that he wouldn�t be half so nervous now as he was waiting for the potions to arrive back from Slytherin. 

He�d thought about using a nom de plume too�not because he feared getting caught, but because he didn�t want anybody to know what he had requested.  Ron had been pestering him to tell him for weeks, but he had been so close-lipped about it that Ron had gotten the hint unusually early and stopped asking. 

Still, it nagged at Harry.  The whole idea of entrusting the Slytherins, of all people, to make contraband for the rest of the school was risky enough in itself; but even though Harry trusted them with the making of the potions, he didn't trust them to keep their contracts a secret.  They had created a binding agreement to keep every transaction confidential.  But at least one person, the potion-maker, would have to know what Harry's spell request was�and Slytherins were, well, Slytherin.  Harry wasn't putting it past them to devise some sort of loophole to get out of the contract, or for whoever made the potion for him to blackmail him later.

No�he really didn't have a good feeling about any of it.

None of the other Gryffindor boys seemed to be bothered by the plan.  They didn't put it past the Slytherins to try something dirty, but none of them cared as long as they got their potions.  He didn't make an issue of it because, really, it was just a stupid potion.  It didn�t really matter all that much�and besides, he didn't want anyone to ask him questions about what he�d requested. 

So he sat quietly in the corner of the dorm room, curled up in the overstuffed chair that Seamus and Dean liked to fight over.  Tonight they were both excited and pent up.  Tonight it seemed everybody was excited except Harry.  Harry shrank into the chair and made himself as obscure as possible, and waited.

Shortly after midnight, Dennis Creevey was dispatched to the common room, and a few moments later arrived with Ian, carrying a huge box full of charms and vials.  The other boys crowded around him, so Harry did too.

In the end it didn't really matter what Harry did, though, because as it turned out there were potions and charms and amulets for everyone but Harry. 

With every package that didn't have his name on it, Harry kept surreptitiously scooting farther to the back of the group as they huddled, hoping no one would notice. 

Dean did, and pointed it out. 

"Hey, Harry, didn't you get one?"

"Oh," said Ian.  "I forgot.  Yours isn't done yet, Harry.�

Everyone looked at him.  Great, thought Harry.

�When I went down to get them one of them told me it was taking a little longer to make, but they should probably have it to him in the morning."

Ron was instantly beside Harry, elbowing him in the ribs.  "They're trying to sabotage it, Harry, they must be!"

Harry frowned.  "Who's in charge of making the potions?"

"Malfoy.  Who else?�

�Oh,� said Harry.

�You see?� said Ron savagely, with a certain amount of satisfaction.

 Everyone else watched him, looking as if they expected him to do something about it�perhaps grab a sword, swoop down upon the dungeons, and rescue them all from certain sabotage by Slytherin. 

 �I guess I should just��  Harry stuffed his hands in his pockets. 

�Go pummel that slimy git,� finished Ron.  �They made us sign contracts and now they can�t even live up to their end of the bargain!  Malfoy�s probably put poison in it!  He could have poisoned all of us!�  He looked down at his own potion in newfound horror.

�He can�t,� volunteered Ian.  �The contracts state that anybody who sabotages the potions break out in boils.�

Harry pictured Malfoy breaking out in boils the way he�d done that day on the train home from Hogwarts, and shuddered.  �I should just go make sure everything�s okay,� he said.

�Harry!� insisted Ron, whose voice had gone several notches higher in his excitement.  �You can�t go down there alone, what if it�s a trap?  What if it�s a Death Eater ambush?!�

�Malfoy hasn�t been anywhere near us all year.  He knows better than to mess with us,� said Harry with what he hoped sounded like reflection and not the exasperated, pent-up nervousness he felt.  He wasn�t at all sure, himself, that Malfoy hadn�t messed with the potion.  �And with his father out of the way he�s terrified of the Death Eaters.�

�Maybe he offered you to them in exchange for his own safety,� replied Ron shrilly.  �I don�t think you should go down there alone!�  He swallowed, then continued nervously, �Hermione would kill me if I let you!�

�I�ll just be a few minutes,� said Harry, fighting the urge to roll his eyes.  �If I�m gone for too long you can come look for me.  I�ll leave you the cloak.�

�Okay,� said Ron, gulping. 

�If you�re not back in half an hour then we�ll send out a rescue squad,� said Seamus.

�That won�t be necessary,� said Harry, suddenly embarrassed.  �It�s just Malfoy.�

�Say, Harry,� asked Colin Creevey out of the blue, just as Harry reached the door.  �What sort of potion did you ask for?�

�Oh,� said Harry.  �Well, you know.�  

The rest of the Slytherins had finished cleaning up and gone back to the dormitory.  Pansy had offered to stay in the empty classroom with him while he finished, but Draco wanted to be alone; besides, anyone who knew Pansy knew that she really only wanted to know about the spell�why he was so eager to work on it alone, and who it was being made for.  But he�d had the contract drawn up to include absolute secrecy, and since love potions, especially the darker ones, were not cheap, Draco was determined that the students would get what they were paying for, confidentiality included. 

He supposed that, yes, even Potter deserved that much.

Even if Zabini had seen Potter�s request, Draco knew that he would not really have understood it. 

Draco had understood immediately, of course, but then, he understood Potter.

Potter, in contrast to the spell he had asked for, was hardly what you�d call complex.  It was easy to know what Potter wanted. And because he knew what Potter wanted, the spell he had asked for came as no surprise to Draco, though he suspected it would be a big deal to anyone else that Potter, Harry Potter of all people, wanted a love potion like this. 

Draco had asked the others to leave because he knew they all were dying to know what kind of potion Potter had asked for, and what he had offered for it; and Draco didn�t feel like explaining it to them.  He was the potion-maker; it was between him and Potter. 

Not that they would be that impressed by it anyway.  Maybe that was another reason he�d sent them from the classroom�he didn�t want them to laugh.

It wasn�t even a dark spell, not really.  It was a self-empowerment spell: technically it was still a love spell, but was far from what you�d call coercive.

Draco was used to controlling magic, and to having control over the magic he did for other people.  They might use the spells and potions he made to exert control over somebody else for a few moments or days or even months; but he ultimately controlled them all.  Without the power behind his magic, no one who came to him would ever have anything they wanted. 

But this spell was different; this kind of magic took what was inside a person and unearthed it�but it wasn�t a spell that would be used to control anyone else.  The magic it worked would be on Potter and Potter alone�would come from within Potter.  As the spell-caster, all Draco had to do was say the words.

By all rights, Draco should have been bored with a spell like this one.  It relied solely on the skill, rather than the will, of the potion-maker.  Technically, there was nothing about it that Potter couldn�t have achieved on his own, if he had ever thought to try it.  It might even have been considered pure, white magic. 

Leave it to the noble Harry Potter, Draco thought, as he eliminated the light from the room and went to work, to come up with the only possible kind of love spell that didn�t even require dark magic.

He didn�t really know why he had decided to go through with it.  Being a catalyst for Harry Potter�s emotional processes was the last thing Draco wanted. 

And yet� it was still one of the most difficult spells he had ever seen.  There wasn�t a potion he'd come across that he hadn�t learned to make, but spells were harder for him.  Like many spells, this one required the spell-caster to adjust the spell according to the personality of the person for whom it would be used�to use all of their senses to feel whether they were putting the right kind of energy into the spell.  If the essence, if the power of the person for whom the spell were being cast was ignored, the spell-caster could inadvertently harm them.  All spells, especially the more advanced ones, were about proper utilization of energy.  This one required total immersion inside the person who had requested it�total immersion in the essence of Harry Potter.

This one excited him.

Naturally, it pissed him off, too. 

Of course it would be Potter who would deliver the most challenging spell of the night.  Of course it would be Potter who would provide the most exciting spell of the bunch, without even meaning to.  Potter never meant to.  Potter never meant to do anything where he was concerned. 

He was always the one being treated as if he were in Potter�s way, as if he were the slug under Potter�s boot and the only thing Potter wanted was just to get around him any way he could. 

A flash of Potter�s face just before his fist had slammed into Draco�s stomach the previous year flitted into his mind, and with it the sickening, sinking feeling of a moment gone horribly wrong, never to be completely blotted out of his memory, destined to linger along with countless other regrets and failures. 

But with that glimmer of anger in Potter�s eyes had come a strange, sick kind of satisfaction: Now, Draco had thought just before Harry had swung the first punch.  Now he can�t treat me like I�m something to be ignored.

Draco glanced again at the contract where Potter had made his promised trade.  Apparently he had been wrong then.  Potter had ignored him ever since�he had certainly ignored him when he made this trade.  Potter had done it deliberately, knowing that whoever approved the contract would never turn down an opportunity like the one Potter was offering his housemates�not knowing that it would be Draco, not knowing how much this particular form of payment would hurt Draco personally�and probably not caring even if he had thought about the possibility that it might be Draco who saw it.

It did hurt.  It hurt a fucking lot, but he wasn�t going to dwell on it, because it wasn�t Potter�s fault, honestly�it wasn�t Potter�s fault that he wasn�t Potter�s equal in Quidditch�and god, that was something he never wanted to think about ever again.

He forced his thoughts away from that subject.

Potter must have wanted this spell very badly, to have offered what he had.  And no matter how much Draco tried to tell himself it was because he owed it to his housemates to perform the spell, the truth was that the fact Potter had asked for it was enough to make Draco want to do it.  It wasn�t even something he could hold over Potter�s head�not when the benefit to them all was so huge to the group, and so humiliating to him personally. 

But Draco wasn�t thinking about that. 

He rolled his shoulders and re-focused on what he was doing.  It was time to work.  Potter was going to get exactly what he asked for.  It would be the best love spell anyone had ever created�and he would get it straight from the hands of Draco himself. 

Draco would have that satisfaction, at least.

His eyes were gradually adjusting to the dark, and the auras of the crystals on the table in front of him were emerging from the dim, clear and vivid and colorful. 

The choosing of stones was intense sort of work, and he grew lost in the darkness and the silence while the auras took shape.  To aid the process, some of the students had sent personal belongings along with their spell requests.  Potter had sent a bookmark.  A plain bookmark with a picture of a snowy owl on the front that looked a good deal like his own.  It had a red and gold tassel, and was as stupid as it could be.  It had an aura about it too, but it wasn�t red or gold.   It was a pale whitish-turquoise�an aura of confidence, and something else�something that Draco could only describe as extremely powerful potential, not yet fully realized. 

It fit Potter.  It fit the spell, too.  Draco smirked and picked up the bookmark.  Before the night was over, perhaps Potter would be realizing his full potential in other areas.

If he closed his eyes and concentrated, the bookmark smelled of Potter�smelled of something essential which he couldn�t identify, but recognized.  It was airy and light, like Quidditch, not at all the earthy musky scent he would have imagined.  It meant that the stone Draco used for the spell would need to be light, too, and bright.  A slightly bitter, very strong after-odor hung in the air, strongly reminiscent of barley, an agent that helped to remove pain. 

He knew what to use that for, at least.

He ran his fingertips over the surface of the bookmark, smooth and flat, up to the tassel, which was soft and spidery between his fingers.  The edges were worn, and the tassel was beginning to fray.  He suddenly had a strong hunch that this was Potter�s only bookmark�he carried it around stubbornly and took care not to lose it� yes, that was it�because, Potter thought, why waste a perfectly good bookmark?  He could see it if he closed his eyes, just as he could see a faint but strengthening image of Potter saying those words, sweeping his hair out of his forehead as he spoke.

Draco was starting to wonder if he would need garnet for this spell, though it would be very powerful.  Potter could handle the power.  The garnet would reflect his strength and channel it�it would be up to Potter to master. 

He reached for it and set it aside, then picked up a pestle and began to grind a vial of grains of paradise into a small tray of crushed quartz.  He ground them into a fine powdery mix, then poured them back into the vial.  Quartz was a conduit for channeling energy; grains of passion were for opening and enhancing it. 

Draco held up the vial.  As his fingers closed around it, the mixture of herb and crystal formed an aura of bright, rare green�a green so intense he could recognize it even in his sleep, a green he had only recall seeing one other place.

It was practically like having the actual Harry Potter there himself, sans glasses and sans annoyance.

He smiled to himself.  He was bloody good at this sort of thing. 

Just then, the door opened with an unearthly grating noise, and a piercing shaft of lamplight from the hallway flooded the classroom. 

The auras of the crystals dissipated and the light from the rocks shrank to nothing.  The only bright color remaining anywhere on the table was in the vial in front of him, and it suddenly shone so vividly Draco had to shield his eyes.

�Potter,� he grumbled without turning around.  �Come in, and shut the bloody door already.�

Harry stood in the doorway for a moment, glaring at Malfoy�s back, mildly confused at the way he remained standing facing the opposite wall.  He was expecting more to follow, but Malfoy didn�t say anything else, and finally Harry said curtly, �Malfoy, don�t even think of putting anything dangerous into that potion.�

�It�s not a potion, it�s a spell.�  Malfoy still didn�t look up, but put down the vial of green dust in his hand and began picking up various stones, rolling them around in his palm, balancing them.  �How did you know how to find me?�

�Simple, I asked the others.� 

�You went to my common room?�

Harry shrugged in response, then felt dumb because Malfoy couldn�t see him.  But it didn�t matter because Malfoy immediately went on as if he had.

�And how,� he sneered�Harry couldn�t see the sneer but he could hear it��did you get into the Slytherin common room?�

�You�re the prefect, right?  You�re going to have to stop making your passwords so obvious.�

�You�re just bluffing.�

Harry took his hands out of his pockets and came forward into the room, where he could see the gemstones Malfoy held in his hand a little better.  For somebody who was planning on sabotaging a spell, Malfoy certainly made it look legitimate.  �Please, Draco,� he said with his best impression of Malfoy�s own contemptuous drawl��Serpensortia?  A second-year could have guessed that.� 

Malfoy looked up then, eyes fixed on Harry with a look of intense scrutiny that Harry hadn�t seen before.  His face was drawn shut�it wasn�t haughty or smirking, just intent, serious. 

�Then I suppose I was making a subtle-yet-effective analogy about your learning level, wasn�t I, Potter?�

Harry thought of a number of stupid, second-year replies and discarded them all before looking down and picking up one of the stones on the table for lack of something better to do.

Instantly Malfoy pulled the stone out of his grasp and set it back down.  �Don�t do that,� he said sharply.  �It fudges up the aura.  You should know that, or�no, you wouldn�t, would you?  No Auric studies for you�you just take whatever Weasley�s taking like the star pupil you are.�

Harry jerked his hands away from the stones irritably and pulled back from the table.  He chose to ignore the taunt, although he couldn�t help thinking it was just like Malfoy to be so obsessed with him he knew his class schedule.  �How did you know it was me, anyway?� he said, keeping his voice flat. 

�Of course it was you.  The other Slytherins are asleep�who else would it be this time of night?�  Before Harry could retort Malfoy gave Harry a perfunctory, uninterested glance, and turned back again to the table.  �You need to shut the door and keep the lights off if you want this spell to turn out the right way,� he said dismissively.

�How do I know,� Harry said slowly, determined to keep his temper, �that I can even trust you to��

�If you�re going to be boring, I�ll have to ask you to leave.�

Harry opened his mouth and then shut it again, suddenly aware that Malfoy was not, in fact, actually throwing him out.

�I�m not leaving.�  He crossed his arms.  �I�m not letting you touch any spell of mine without seeing everything you do.  Besides, I�m paying for it, so I get to watch.�

Malfoy looked up at him again, eyes shaded.  �I never said you couldn�t.  Shut the door and I�ll explain what I�m doing.�

Harry gaped at him.

�Hurry up, you idiot.�

Startled and wary, Harry crossed the room and shut the door.

When he turned, all the light in the room had been instantly diminished, and what little remained was magnified.  Most of it emanated from the table in the middle of the room.   Malfoy stood leaning over the stones and herbs, and from each stone tiny pinpricks of light formed and shot up like columns, spreading out to illuminate his face and hands and hair.  He looked like a spectral figure, an archangel of the dungeons. 

Harry rolled his eyes at the thought as he crossed back to the table.  He stood expectantly, watching, but Malfoy was gazing with a steady stare at the crystals on the table.  For a moment Harry thought he�d forgotten he was there at all.  He cleared his throat impatiently, then, when that failed to get Malfoy to look at him, crossed his arms and said irritably, �So?  Are you going to tell me what you�re doing, or is this some kind of incredibly boring round of charades?�

Malfoy�s brow furrowed in concentration, and when he spoke Harry couldn�t help being mildly disappointed that he wasn�t going to retort in turn.  �You know,� he said in the same preoccupied, intent voice, �it may turn out to be a good thing you�re here.�

�How�s that?�

�I think I might be able to see better how to do the spell if I have you here instead of�� Malfoy held up the bookmark, smirking, the tassel dangling flimsily��this.�

�If you have me here?� snapped Harry, peering into his face through the dim light.  �How many ways are there to do a spell?�

�Plenty, if you don�t know what spell you�re doing.�

Harry stared blankly at Malfoy.  �You don�t know what spell you�re doing?  How can you not know what spell you�re doing?  I told you what I wanted, didn�t I?�

�Listen, Potter, have you ever even heard of a spell that would create the ability to fall in love?�

Harry felt his cheeks start to burn and bit his lip automatically, stuffing his hands in his pockets and feeling inexplicably defensive. 

Malfoy laid the stone that was in his hand on the table and looked at him for the first time. 

�Well? Have you?  No.  Nobody ever wants a spell so they can fall in love.  Usually they want spells to make other people fall in love with them, or at the very worst to make themselves stop loving somebody.  Spells to get rid of their pain, maybe, or spells to coerce somebody else into feeling something they don�t.  Most people don�t need any help to fall in love on their own.  What you�re asking for�there just isn�t anything like it.�

�That�s ridiculous,� Harry snapped.  �It can�t be that complicated.  You have all these spells to make somebody else fall in love with you.  Why can�t you just reverse the process?�

Malfoy shook his head, a slow smile forming on his face as he studied Harry.  It was a strange thing, that smile�not mocking or taunting, but just� curious.

Harry took a step backwards impulsively.  He had expected Malfoy to be mocking, had expected Malfoy to threaten to tell everyone what an embarrassing spell the Great Harry Potter had asked for.  He hadn�t expected a Malfoy who seemed inexplicably fascinated with the whole idea. 

Malfoy leaned a hand on the table and crossed his long legs.  �It�s not that it�s all that complicated, you�re right.  It�s just that it involves different procedures.  For one thing, it�s not dark magic.� 

Harry raised his eyebrows.  �Was it supposed to be?�

�Think, Potter.  Most love magic is about coercion.  About forcing the mind to simulate emotion.  That�s dark magic.  But this is different.  This is an empowerment spell�it�s pure magic.  Dark magic closes off the will.  This kind of magic opens it up.�

�I don�t� I don�t think I understand.�  Harry braced for the scathing criticism to come, feeling a lot like he was back in Snape�s classroom, only Malfoy was substitute teaching.

Instead, Malfoy cocked his head and shrugged.  �It�s hard to explain. Most people don�t get it at first.  It�s like sensory enhancement, where you would do a spell to increase your sense of touch or your sense of smell.  Follow?�  Harry nodded.  �Only this isn�t about enhancing the senses�it�s about enhancing� enhancing the spirit, really.�

Harry frowned.  �So what are you saying?�

Malfoy�s countenance flickered in impatience.  �I�m saying you need a kicker to get you going again, Potter.  And I can do a combination of any of a dozen spells that will increase your awareness, open your feelings, unleash hidden desires and whatnot�but without having you here in front of me, it would be shooting in the dark.�

Harry studied Malfoy�s face.  He had never seen him so serious before, not to mention so calm.  It struck Harry that when he wasn�t screaming at Harry and his friends in rage, the boy was altogether self-possessed. 

This must be what he�s like when he�s not around me, thought Harry, in surprise.  Like a scientist.

He stepped forward.  �Alright.  So you do a combination of spells.  Nothing fancy.  How are you supposed to know when you�re finished?�

Malfoy smirked.  �I won�t.  I was just going to estimate it but now that you�re here, you can help.�

�How am I supposed to help?�

�Well, the first-year�s answer, Potter, would be to tell me when you feel like it�s working.�

�Oh, right,� Harry scoffed.  �How will I know that?  I�m not going to just fall in love with someone on the spot��

�You�ll feel it.  A lightness inside of you, a gradual opening up.�

�And if I don�t?�

Malfoy scowled.  �Look, Potter, I�m not going to poison you.  I may hate you, but I�m not going to risk getting half the school expelled for this, which could easily happen if anything goes wrong.�

�That�s rich, Malfoy,� Harry couldn�t help responding, his voice dropping.  �I would�ve thought you�d expel more than half the school if you could make sure they were all Muggles.�

Malfoy�s gray eyes flashed, but he made no answer.  Instead he turned his back and started flipping through a spell book with one hand, the other one rolling a small gemstone around in his palm. 

Harry was annoyed by Malfoy�s refusal to trade insults.  It was unnerving.   In fact this whole scene was unnerving�the lack of light, the flickering auras, and the pale, delicate white hue of Malfoy�s slim fingertips in the dark. 

He found a little of his anger subsiding, and he watched Malfoy work in silence.  The stone in Malfoy�s hand was radiating a faint orange light.  His fingers paused over a page as he found the spell he was looking for.  He murmured something under his breath, and the light from the crystal grew stronger.  

�Is this the most complicated spell you�ve done tonight?� Harry asked, shifting on his feet.

�It�s not that complicated.  Not nearly as complicated to make, at least�not like the one we had to do for a Ravenclaw.  Seventh-year.  Wanted each of the guys who had dumped her in the past to be horribly dumped in turn by their girlfriends tomorrow, in public.�

The crystal was now almost solid with light.  Harry raised his eyebrows, impressed as much with the spell-work as much as with the anecdote.  �How would you even go about doing something like that?�

Malfoy shrugged, murmured something else, and set the crystal down in the center of the table.  Its light dimmed instantly, though the orange glow still remained.  Malfoy picked up the next crystal from the bunch and began to repeat the process.  The crystal began to glow with a faint light, but even Harry could see it had nowhere near the same strength as the aura of the one immediately before it. 

�It�s just about power,� said Malfoy, discarding the second stone.  �Control of it, who has it, what�s done with it.  You give her the power to control the wills of her successors, and for a day they�re all hers to do with as she pleases.�  His face lit in an unmistakably wicked grin that caused Harry to shiver and avert his eyes.  �She doesn�t realize that later those girls will probably wake up and think they�ve made horrible mistakes and come rushing back to their boyfriends.  We don�t guarantee permanence.  We just give them what they pay for.�

�How much would�what would you have to put up for a spell like that?� said Harry, watching the light of the stones, until he felt Malfoy�s eyes resting on him.  He looked up, faintly embarrassed.  Malfoy had turned to regard him.  He sat on the table, his legs coiling like serpents around the leg.

�Your mortal soul, Harry,� he said in a low, dark voice that went eerily well with the whole snake theme.  �What else?�

Harry blinked and then found himself chuckling warily, and wondering at the same time how he had come to be joking around with Draco Malfoy in a dungeon. 

Malfoy hopped off the table and turned back to his work.  He picked up another stone from the table, and proceeded to do the same process of weighing and examining it, but he continued to watch Harry out of his peripheral vision.  �Of course, what you offered� not far off, was it, Potter?�

Harry stiffened.  �You saw the contract.�

�Of course I saw it,� said Malfoy.  He kept working. 

Feeling on edge and a bit ashamed of himself, Harry said uneasily, �You aren�t going to ask me why?�

Malfoy�s silence perturbed him even more.  �Or do you not even care why, so long as you get to beat me at something?�

Malfoy straightened at that, but he did not turn around.  �I don�t consider it a victory if you throw the game, Potter.�

�Not even when you know how much Slytherin wants it?�

�Well, we both know it�s not about what the team wants, is it?�  He turned and met Harry�s gaze coldly, and Harry suppressed another shiver.

�Is it, Potter?� Malfoy said again softly.

Harry looked into his eyes and saw something veiled there�something that could have been contempt, or pity, or maybe just plain curiosity or tiredness.  It didn�t matter anyway, he told himself.  Malfoy was still Malfoy.

�I just want something different,� he said, his voice chalky with uncertainty.  �If we lose this game to you it�ll make the next one that much more of a challenge.�

�Well, then.  If that�s what you want, Potter,� said Malfoy mockingly.  �God forbid you should be bored because you�re winning all the time.�

�Look, do you want to fucking win the next game or not?� Harry snapped.  �Because I can still take the contract back and kick your ass all over the pitch, and I can still humiliate you, Malfoy, and I can even still do it whether you make the potion or not, because when we�re up in the air it�s just the two of us�just like it is right now.�

Draco went rigid, the hollows of his throat concaving suddenly, as if he were holding back whatever it was he was thinking and feeling by only the barest miracle of self-restraint.

Harry felt a surge of power run through him.  He shouldn�t be getting off on someone else�s humiliation, not even when it was Malfoy�s.  But he had cornered Malfoy, and he knew it, and Malfoy knew it, and the weakness showed in Malfoy�s eyes.  He stared Malfoy down, waiting.

He expected a snarl, or a sneer, or something other than what finally came.  At length, Malfoy expelled a silent breath and said quietly, almost defeatedly, �I�m just here to give you what you pay for.  According to the contract.�

Before Harry could answer, or recover from his surprise, Malfoy abruptly turned around and, in one swift movement, grabbed Harry�s wrist and slapped the stone he had been holding into the center of Harry�s palm.

Harry closed his hand around it involuntarily, then let out a yelp and dropped it.

�What�s the matter, did it burn you?� asked Malfoy tonelessly, as the stone rolled around on the table. 

�It was freezing.�

�Yes,� said Malfoy, his voice lighting with interest.  Harry glanced up at him sharply�the expression on his face had turned keen, almost impish.  Harry half-expected him to jump up and down like a tall Rumplestiltskin. 

�That�s why you have to help me do this, Potter,� Malfoy continued.  He still sounded wary, and the cornered look in his eyes was still there, but the tension of the moments before was already nearly forgotten.  �That was lapis.  Normally it�s blue, but did you see the aura?�

�I think� I think when you put it in my hands it turned brown?�

�Yes, right.  I did an illumination spell on it so that the aura reflects the purest relationship of the stone to whatever it touches.  Lapis is a stone used to enhance feelings of peace and overall happiness.  Sometimes it�s used to build confidence.�

He paused suddenly and scrutinized Harry so closely it made him uncomfortable.  �I really don�t know much about auras at all,� he mused.  �But yours is the muddiest one I�ve ever seen.  You probably don�t even really need that stupid cloak of yours because in the dark your aura�s so white you�d be taken for a ghost.  But when your aura interacted with the stone�s, the relationship between them caused the aura to turn brown.  Feelings of insecurity and uncertainty��

�I�m not insecure!� said Harry, coloring.

�Just calling it like I see it, Potter.  Feelings of insecurity and uncertainty clouded your aura, and turned it brown.  Because you�re very��he blinked as if the next words were hard to force out��very powerful, your emotions influence the things around them.  When you touched the lapis, the force of your uncertainty overpowered whatever confidence-building effects it would have had.  That�s why it immediately changed color.  That�s why it froze your skin.�

Harry swallowed.  �Wow.  You�� he paused; the words were bitter on his tongue before he spat them out.  �So I guess you must know what you�re doing.�

Malfoy gave a bitter little smile in answer, a sliver of light across an otherwise impassive face.  �Not really.  I would have used that stone if you hadn�t been here for a compatibility test, and the whole thing would have gone wrong.� 

He looked thoughtfully at the stone, his hair falling into his eyes.  When he looked back up at Harry his eyes were intense.  �So if you want this to go off right you�re going to have to help me.  Understand how things work now?� 

Harry nodded. 

�Good.  Take off your shirt.�


Malfoy pointed vaguely at the general vicinity of Harry�s chest.  �Your shirt, lose it.�

Harry was slightly confused, and not sure he wanted to know why being half-naked was important for a love enhancement spell.  All the same he turned his back to Malfoy and pulled his shirt over his head. 

Even though Malfoy was obviously preoccupied, Harry still couldn�t escape a swoop of embarrassment as he undressed.  He half-expected Malfoy to break out into taunts about the scrawniness of his body, or his notable lack of the muscles which not even constant Quidditch practice had really developed.  This entire night he had been expecting Malfoy to go into a barrage of the usual insults, mocking, taunting Harry for the spell he had asked for, for not knowing the difference between empowering and coercive magic, for any of the usual things.  And even though Malfoy was being unusually reticent, Harry had developed a knee-jerk expectation of imminent ridicule where Malfoy was concerned, and being asked to take off his shirt while he looked on didn�t lessen it any.

Instead, when he tossed his shirt on the floor and turned around, Malfoy had his back to him and was working magic between his hands, his hair lit with the silvery-blue glow of the gem in his palm.  It made him look even more ethereal than before, and, once again, caused Harry to shiver.

�Malfoy,� he said softly.  Malfoy looked over his shoulder and regarded him wordlessly.  He didn�t seem to expect Harry to say anything else, so Harry didn�t.  They looked at each other for a long moment, until Malfoy broke the gaze long enough to pick something from the table.

�Hold out your hand again,� Malfoy said in a low voice.  �This is garnet.  It�s a stone with very powerful properties�it has a very stubborn, hard kind of energy.�  His gaze flickered.  �A lot like you.�

Harry held out his palm.  Malfoy let his own hover over it for a moment, still holding the gemstone.  �Garnet isn�t the safest stone,� he said slowly.  �It harnesses a lot of energy�if used incorrectly it can be dangerous.  But, if you hold it and focus on it, it will show me where your aura is damaged.�

�How do you know my aura is damaged?� blurted Harry.

Malfoy rolled his eyes and gave him a look of exasperation that said clearly: of course you�re damaged, idiot.

Oddly enough, Harry found this almost reassuring�which pissed him right off.

Malfoy continued blandly, �It will show me where your aura is damaged and show me where to apply the next spell.�  He tilted his head.  �This part can be a little� intense.  Do you mind?�

Feeling irritable, drained, and vulnerable, Harry snapped, �Of course not, Malfoy.  Why are you even asking me?  Just do it already and stop wasting time.�

Malfoy smirked and shrugged.  �Standard disclaimer, Potter.�  He placed the stone in Harry�s hand and closed his own hand over it.  �Illuminate.�

From the moment Potter had walked in, the faint halo around him had been flickering, wavering rapidly between color and light.  It tended to move from pale, pale orange to varying degrees of turquoise, but most of the time it stayed hovering between them, a muddy grayish-white.  It was singularly distracting, especially since he could only see auras when he was concentrating steadily�but Draco was determined not to show it.  Potter, after all, probably couldn�t see them at all, and hence had no idea that he could basically wander the halls of Hogwarts at night as visible as a giant glowing disco ball to the right pair of eyes.  Draco had long suspected that Dumbledore could see and read auras expertly�how else did he always manage to see through schemes like cloaks and invisibility potions?

Draco had never studied any one person�s aura for as long as this�Auric Studies was progressing very slowly, despite the fact that he was catching on three times faster than the rest of the class.  He knew enough to know that Potter�s aura, though muddy, was very, very strong.  It had chakra points that were well-defined and full of light, and a few of them burned solid orange at their core.  He wasn�t exactly sure what that meant, but it boded well. 

Naturally, he wasn�t about to tell Potter that, but it felt good to be the one who could see it, all the same.  After all, he was pretty sure that he�d always been able to see things about Potter that most people couldn�t.  And that was just the way he liked it.

Draco knew now that Potter was nervous, and angry, and doing a good job of hiding it.  Potter was angry with himself, not Draco, though, Draco had seen that from the moment Draco mentioned the payment.  Potter was so transparent�even without his aura giving him away he was an open book.  He just didn�t do the bad boy Slytherin routine with finesse, as much as he tried. 

It didn�t lessen the indignity of knowing that the first time he would ever win against Harry Potter it would still be losing, that it would still be because Harry Potter wanted him to lose�but it was some small comfort to know that Harry Potter hated himself for what he was asking for, as much as Draco hated him for it.

He couldn�t help hoping that the garnet might shake Potter up�as much because it would be gratifying to watch Potter�s nerves fail, as because it would be helpful for reading his aura.

Draco expected an immediate reaction from the garnet, and he expected it to be strong. 

He was very shortly relieved that he had warned Potter in advance about the stone.

As he closed their hands and pressed the stone between their palms, the garnet exploded between his hand and Potter�s like a firecracker, full of heat and energy and magic.

Potter gasped and went rigid, his entire body going taut, the expanse of muscles in his shoulders and beneath his collarbone tensing all at once.  Draco registered this at the same moment he saw a line of light form over the arch of Potter�s torso and shoot up to the crown of his head, out over his arms, and down the length of his legs.  It was a vivid, spectral reddish-orange, and it was solid, a column of color so thick Draco was surprised he could see through it at all.

On the other side of it Potter�s eyes were wide.  He had gripped Draco�s hand very tightly when the spell hit, and the stone was giving off so much heat that now both their hands were beginning to sweat.  Draco leaned in closer, feeling compelled to yell through all the light even though the room was still silent.  He could only see what was happening to Potter, but Potter could feel every bit of it.  Currently he appeared to be in the middle of a major head rush.

�Potter,� he said loudly.  �I need to know what�s happening.�

�It feels like I�m flying,� said Potter loudly back, excitedly.  �Is this supposed to happen?�

�Basically.  I need you to concentrate.  Do you feel any heaviness anywhere?�

�No, it feels like I�m going to float away.  Malfoy, this is wicked.�

�It�s just magic, Potter, not an acid trip.  Now, I�m going to take my hand away.  Is that�� 

Potter squeezed his hand then, impulsively, Draco thought, like someone afraid of losing their balance.  He gave Potter a longsuffering look, and the pressure relaxed.  �Is that okay?� he asked more gently.  This time Potter nodded, and Draco stepped back.

The moment Draco moved away, the colors around Potter darkened and flashed, jets of red-orange flickering over his dark hair like cinders smoldering in ash.  A strange, intense heat sprung up in the space between them to take his place.  It was thick and musky, with a sweet, indescribable odor, as if someone had just blown out a heavily scented candle.  Draco felt that if he tried he could almost pass his hand through it. 

He resisted the urge to sweep his hand back toward Potter, who looked slightly disconcerted, his cheeks coloring.  �Everything just got heavier,� he said, sounding vaguely disappointed.  �A lot heavier.�

�Does it feel like you�re falling?�

�No.�  All at once Potter�s eyes snapped to Draco�s and held them through the dark light, and the heat crawled up Draco�s back and made him shiver.  �It feels like I�m grounded,� he said.  His voice seemed darker to Draco.  Calmer. 

Trying his best to ignore the tingling that had just begun somewhere around the region of his navel, Draco stepped towards him again.  When he lifted his hand the air between them rippled with heat, and Potter tensed as if he expected Draco to punch him.  Instead, carefully, more slowly than he needed to, Draco reached up and placed his fingertips a few inches from Potter�s forehead, hovering just over the scar.  Potter watched the movement warily till he nearly went cross-eyed.  His aura shimmered but did not change color or alter in any way.

�How about now?�  Draco asked, noting that Potter�s hand where it squeezed his had begun to sweat.

�It just feels heavy still.�

Draco moved his fingers, still hovering millimeters away from Potter�s skin, tracing the aura itself.  He moved in a steady line from Potter�s forehead, down to his sternum.  �Now?�

�That�I guess it feels a little heavier.� 

Draco raised his eyebrow.  �Just a little?�

�Yeah, Malfoy, a little,� Potter said impatiently.  �Look, I don�t know what you�re expecting, okay?�

In response, Draco reached down for the hand holding the garnet.  Closing his own palm over Potter�s he raised it level with Potter�s chest, clasping it against Potter�s heart. 

The moment the garnet and Potter�s skin came into contact with each other Potter sucked in a gasping breath and clenched Draco�s fist again as if he needed it to help him regain his balance. 

Draco held on but took a step back, and finally, he could see it:

Potter�s aura had a great gaping hole in it where his fourth chakra point should be�his heart.

�Malfoy,� hissed Potter, and Draco saw that he was wincing.  �Get it off.�

�It�s not me, Potter, it�s your��

�I don�t care!� said Potter, wrenching his hand from Draco�s grasp and flinging the gemstone across the room.

Instantly the orange-red simmering light between them vanished, and Potter�s aura became the previous cloudy grayish-white from before.  Potter stepped away, looking embarrassed, pale, and more than a little cross. 

Feeling a twinge of sympathy for him, Draco turned and retrieved the garnet from the corner. 

�You�re not helping the auric process,� he remarked as lightly as he could, watching Potter as he bent down.

Potter said nothing.

�Potter, I didn�t know you were going to need therapy just to do a little��

�Go to hell, Malfoy.�

Malfoy clenched his fist around the stone, fighting his temper.  �I warned you what it would be like, Potter,� he snapped.  �You said you wanted to do it.�

Potter glared at him and stalked over to meet him.  Draco averted his eyes and moved to set the garnet on the table, but Potter grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him roughly around, pushing him back against the table and trapping him. 

�Why are you doing this, Malfoy?� he spat.  �What�s the sick pleasure?�

You wanted this, Potter,� Draco returned, clenching the tabletop so his fists would have something to do other than give into the urge to decorate Harry�s chest with bruises.  �All I�m doing is giving you what you asked for.�

�I didn�t ask for that,� snapped Potter.  �You�it felt like you were�like I��

�Like you were what, Potter?� Draco seethed.

Potter glared at him and didn�t answer, though he looked like he was fighting for the right words.  His chest hitched, and he muttered, �What was that even for, anyway?�

Draco stared at Harry, whose eyes were darkened to pinpricks, like flame in a green bottle.  �I told you.  You have a hole in your aura,� he said simply after a moment, wondering at the frank tone of his voice.  �The garnet made it visible so I can repair it.�

�You�re not a mechanic,� said Potter sharply, but his voice had lost a lot of its hostility.

Draco held his gaze for a moment longer. 

�I know,� he said finally, with a wry smile.  �Aren�t you glad I didn�t try to do this with your pathetic little bookmark?�

Potter�s expression flickered with various emotions for a second, before he finally ducked his head and released his grip on Draco�s shoulder.  When he looked up the anger in his face was gone, but the wariness was still there, his eyes alert and fastened to Draco.  It made his features look sharper, darker, and for just a moment Draco felt as if he were the one under examination.

He blinked and exhaled.  �If it makes you feel any better, the rest of the spell should be easy.  Nothing like that.�

Potter looked at him evenly and did not reply.  Uneasily, Draco continued, �You do want to keep going, right?�

Potter, still watching him with that wary, attentive expression, answered after a moment, �Yeah.  If you�re�I mean, if there won�t be any more surprises.�

With a shock, Draco realized that Potter had just placed a modicum of trust in him.  Unsure what to do with it, he slid off of the table where he had been leaning, and turned away to read the next spell.  The words stayed unfocused on the page, and he could feel Potter�s eyes on him the whole time.

He realized all at once that he was probably flushing.  �Right,� he said curtly, slamming the book shut.  �I want you to say �Corpus mentem advertere� and concentrate totally on what it is you want to feel, what it is you want the spell to give you.  Then when you feel completely focused, look up at me, and don�t look away.  Got all that?�

�Got it,� Potter responded. 

Draco turned to look at him, and suddenly couldn�t look away again.

�Right,� he said again, for lack of anything better.

�Can I shut my eyes?�

�Potter, you can stand on your fucking head for all I care.�

�Ooh, Malfoy,� answered Potter cheekily. "Kinky.�

Draco nearly laughed, and the fact that he nearly laughed made him nervous, so instead of laughing he snapped impatiently, �Potter, you�re paying me to do this spell for you, not listen to you being an annoying git.�

�I�m just trying to help you, Malfoy,� said Harry cheerfully, evidently quite relaxed, and then, even though Draco hadn�t asked him too, he reached out and took his hand as he had before, squeezing it as if he needed it for balance. 

As Potter closed his eyes, his aura flashed a brilliant, vivid orange.  It stayed bright and solid around him for a moment, and then faded, but in that moment, Draco caught the image of him standing there emblazoned in light.

He looked magnificent, standing unconsciously shrouded in a blaze of sparks�as if his very essence was sheer power. 

Malfoy had never seen anything like quite Harry Potter in that moment.  He could feel magic churning around him, hissing on the air, and Harry stood in the middle of it, relaxed even as he gave off a protective aura�controlled and controlling all at once.

The faint tingling in his navel was back, spreading outward, and Draco suddenly remembered the malachite around his neck�the malachite that was supposed to protect him from the effects of the spells he was casting.  He quickly pulled it out from under his shirt collar where it had been pressed against his skin, thinking maybe it would work a little faster if he wore it on the outside.

The spell seemed to be working. 

He had to admit that it was� exciting.  The heat that enlivened the air�tickling his skin, making Harry grip his hand, his enemy holding onto him for balance�the atmosphere was intoxicating.  He wanted to watch as Potter probed through the spell for what he wanted, found the places that he most desired and latched on to them.  He could see a faint sheen of glistening sweat on the scarred forehead, could almost see the searching behind Potter�s closed eyes.  It was fascinating.  And beautiful. 

But it was not his magic.  It was Potter�s. 

It was not going to affect him. 

Corpus mentem advertere,� Harry repeated for good measure.  He wondered what he was saying�corpus, he knew, was the body�mentem, something about the head� oh, fuck it, he thought, and squeezed his eyes shut tight.  Focus on what you want, Malfoy had said�what did he want?

He thought of the tingle he used to get whenever he saw Cho, her long, black hair falling over her shoulders.  He thought of the way he used to feel something queasy and undefined in the pit of his stomach at the thought of her, or the sight of her walking through the door sometimes.  The way that feeling had been replaced by a single constant stab of ice in the same place after Cedric died, and then, the way feeling seemed to gradually disappear altogether after�after Sirius.

What did he want?

He concentrated, squeezing his eyes tightly.  It was as if he could sink into the depths of his own mind, into the magic all around him.  He could see tiny pinpricks of light flickering with increasing brightness through the dim.  First orange, then gold, then gold-orange-red, they shimmered and spun before him, cascading like shooting stars behind his eyes.  Each light corresponded to a twinge of feeling deep inside of him�now one around his heart, this one near his abdomen, another in his pulse points.  It was a sensation like energy surges inside of him, jolting and awaking, exciting him.

What did he want?  He wanted to feel those jolts of energy again when he looked at a pretty girl, instead of wondering glumly how long it would be before he was rescuing them from a chamber, or making fumbling apologies when they burst into tears in the middle of kissing him.  He wanted to get excited whenever his hand accidentally brushed a girl�s in class, or whenever he caught one of them staring at him through lowered eyelids across a room.  He wanted one decently good fantasy as he lay in his bed at night that didn�t feature an onslaught of guilt that he was trying to wank off�trying and failing, no less�when even now the dark lord could be killing somebody else, when even now Cedric�s mother could be lying awake weeping over her lost son. 

He wanted it to stop, all of it. 

And he wanted to feel something new, dammit.

Involuntarily Harry�s fists clenched at the conviction, and he instantly felt lighter, just as Malfoy had said he would.  Millions of purple lights exploded across his vision�and he heard Malfoy say, his voice taut with eagerness, �That�s it, Potter�don�t move.�  Harry froze in place, wondering if he could open his eyes.  �Yes, you can open them.  Good.� 

Malfoy�s voice was soft and intense, as if he were watching something mesmerizing.  Harry kept his eyes closed a moment longer, however, because he could feel Malfoy moving closer�he wondered if the magic was making him more sensitive to heat as well as to light.  It was strange and a little enervating, this sensation of feeling Malfoy�s presence near him�magnified somehow, to the point where even with his eyes shut he could tell that the other boy was leaning into him, studying him closely.  He could almost see the expression on his face�sharp, serious, and maybe even a little predatory.  Harry reflected that under the circumstances he ought to have felt more like a martyr in a den of lions.  But really he just felt incredibly intense and aware and alert, and�

Hmm.  The spell was hardly underway, and he was already starting to feel things, after all.

His eyes fluttered open.  Malfoy was looking at him, just the way he had expected�his eyes gleaming unexpectedly bright in the light.  It took a moment for Harry to get over the jolt he felt at meeting Malfoy�s eyes so directly�it was Draco Malfoy, and it was always a surprise to meet his eyes when they were not heavily lidded with anger or contempt.  They were wide open now, and because Malfoy had told him not to look away, he found himself gazing harder than he should.  The difference one expression made on a face�this particular face�was remarkable.  When his eyes were not hooded with disgust, they were clean and alive and very light, almost incandescent.  When his lips were not pulled back in a sneer, they were fine and smooth, one thin indivisible pink stripe across the smooth canvas of his cheeks and jaw and chin. 

Easy to look at, Harry thought, and his blood surged in agreement.

He felt the color rush up to his face, and blinked a few times from shock.  Thankfully, Malfoy turned away just in time to miss the look of revulsion that Harry was sure passed over his face. 

Suddenly he was very aware of the fact that he was shirtless, and in the wave of panic that overtook him while Malfoy�s back was turned, he wondered if he could find some excuse to put it back on. 

By the time Malfoy had turned back Harry felt like an idiot.  His cheeks were beginning to burn.  He was going crazy.  There was nothing in the way Malfoy was looking at him but disinterest. 

�Sorry,� Malfoy was saying.  �I know I told you not to look away, but I forgot to grab the solution.  For this to really work, from this point on, we both have to stay focused on one another.  Got that?�

Easy again, Harry thought.  He flushed yet again, and this time he was sure Malfoy noticed.  Taking a deep breath, he looked Malfoy dead in the eye and nodded.

�Ready when you are,� he said, and tried to keep his stomach from tying itself into knots.

On some level, Draco realised that he was saying things but he wasn�t really aware what they were.   He was aware of Potter�s burning cheeks, his alert eyes, the pink flush that only faded out somewhere around his collarbone.  He was aware that the air around them had shifted, that it was thick and alive, and that his scientist�s instinct didn�t seem to be helping him analyze it.

It took him a few seconds of staring at Potter dumbly before he remembered that he was supposed to begin the last stage of the spell. 

Unfortunately, he also remembered that the last stage of the spell was rather involved and included a lot of touching. 

He hadn�t really thought about the touching till just then.  He had been focused on determining which elements would work best with the shimmering, damaged, unsteady aura around Gryffindor�s golden boy; but now, now he was thinking about the touching.

And now that he was thinking about the touching, he suddenly realized how awkward it would be for him to put his hands on that body, the body of that stupid, small, whiny boy.  There was no way he could touch Potter that way and expect Potter to keep working with him, as if they were just friends trying out weird experiments in their parents� basement.

They weren�t friends.  They were in a dungeon, not a basement, and the acrid smell of magic was all around them.  The heat was still intense.  And even more intense than the heat were Potter�s eyes, alert and round and fixed on him.  The aura around him was glowing a faint dusty orange, and it made Potter�s eyes look almost brown when he moved this way or that in the light. 

It was a strange, strange sight. 

Draco had been charting his course by certain unalienable truths for most of his life: that his father was powerful; that he, Draco Malfoy, was destined to do great things, as soon as he figured out what they were; that Harry Potter had eyes of vivid, Unforgivable green.

But now his eyes were darker and murkier, and something had changed, and Draco was about to have to touch Potter.

Potter chose that moment to clear his throat pointedly and raise his eyebrows, and Draco realized that for the last fifteen seconds or so he had been standing still, eyes fastened to Potter�s, thoughts totally unfocused.  He snapped alert and saw faint echoing surprise in Potter�s expression. 

�Potter, this part of the spell involves physical contact,� he said briskly.

Potter started and took a step backwards.  �What? �what kind of contact?�

�I have to��

�You didn�t say anything about having to touch me before!�

�You arse, Potter, why do you think I asked you to take your shirt off?� 

Potter blinked and looked sullen.  Draco smirked at him and held up a fine, light brown powder that felt like silt in his hands.  He was rather proud of the mix.   �This is a powder made from saffron, barley, and amber.  The saffron yields sexual energy, the amber helps you recall the memory of what it was like to feel�to feel good�and the barley�relieves pain.� 

Potter�s gaze flickered at the mention of pain.  Malfoy continued as briskly as he could, �So.  You know what it is you want the spell to do, right?�

He thought he saw the tiniest instant of hesitation before the nod, before Potter�s voice came firm, cutting through the thick muffled silence of the dungeon around them.  �You told me to think about it.  So I am.�

Draco nodded.  �Good.  Now.  In order to maximize the effectiveness of this mixture I have to��

�Malfoy, could you just get on with it?�  Potter�s voice cut him off, wry and harsh and a little hasty.  �You don�t have to explain every step to me, just do what you have to do and get it over with.�

�Potter, this isn�t just any kind of magic, it�s a ceremony.  Ceremonies require understanding and concentration.�

�Fine, whatever, I got it, but my back is cold.�  And in fact he shivered as he spoke, his eyes darting over Draco.

Draco took a silent breath and said silkily, �Why, Potter, you�re just in a hurry for me to rub my hands all over you, aren�t you?�

�Is that what you�re going to be doing?� 

Potter suddenly looked green, which had nothing to do with his aura.

Draco threw his head back and looked at Potter.  �Oh, so you�re curious, now?� he said archly.  �I thought you didn�t need to have the steps explained to you.�

Potter�s face hardened into defiance, and he glared at Draco.  Then he took two steps forward until he was right in front of him, which startled Draco a good deal, though he tried not to show it.

"I don�t,� Potter said evenly, his gaze fixed and level on Draco.  �So just do whatever it is you�re going to do already.�

Draco gave him a curt nod, took a silent breath, and lifted Potter�s hands.  Carefully, he emptied the bottle of amber, saffron, and barley into Potter�s left hand.  The fine powdery substance went everywhere and nearly made them both sneeze, but Draco noticed that though Potter made a face he did not look away from Draco.  Good, he thought.  He was paying attention

He brought their hands together, palms touching, and reached his fingers around Potter�s.  Potter�s grasp was on fire in a pleasurable, tingling way�it felt like magic, but it was actually probably only body heat.  The air around them seemed to sizzle at the contact, and Potter�s aura raced in a shiver from orange to blue to turquoise. 

Imprimo," Draco murmured.

Potter jolted all at once.  �What did you just do,� he said, his voice considerably� lower than Draco had ever heard it before.

�I sealed the elements of the powder into one embodied energy source.�

�I can�I can feel it,� said Potter, in a tone that made Draco wonder what else he was feeling.

He let go of Potter�s hand and looked into his eyes.  Dipping two of his fingers into the powder in Potter�s palm, he reached up and gently tilted Potter�s head back.  The dark hair fell away from his forehead, revealing clear smooth skin and a scar that stood out dully in the dim light.

With slow precision, Draco whispered, �Mentonvere,� and ran his fingertips over the line of Potter�s forehead, right down the center of his brow, just skirting his scar.  Potter shuddered at the contact�a deep, bone-satisfying shiver; his eyes fell shut for a moment and his aura flickered. 

�Keep looking at me, Potter,� Draco commanded softly, and Potter obeyed. His eyes were sparkling green again, and looking into them gave Draco an odd surge of relief as he leaned forward and dragged his fingers across Potter�s collarbone.

He could feel the weight of the magic between them lifting, could feel Potter�s shoulders getting lighter as his fingers moved over the flushed skin. 

Touching Potter, his fingertips tingled with magic.  They trailed millions of microscopic flickers of energy in their wake. 

Draco stared, running his index finger over the warm skin below Potter�s throat, tracing an aimless pattern over it until he felt Potter draw in his breath in an attempt to suppress a tiny shudder.

  Draco suddenly forgot what he was supposed to say next. 

"Efferre extuli elatum,� he managed after a moment�s pause.  Potter let out his breath.  His aura flashed white, then began to take on a steady new radiance of pale green. 


And powerful. 

Draco felt dizzy from the sparks at his fingertips, from the crackling in the air and the way Potter was watching him. 

He wanted to close his eyes and breathe in that shimmering green aura till he felt it sparkling in his lungs�but closing his eyes would mean being cut off from the source, and he wanted to stay connected to the source.

The fact that he normally hated the source didn�t seem so particularly relevant at the moment.

He brought his hand down over Potter�s sternum, reciting the words at intervals, letting the ashy, bluish-brown powder follow the trail of his fingertips as they carved out even patterns over Potter�s skin. 

Potter had smooth, soft skin, dips and hollows in strange places, and bruises and scrapes in even odder ones.  Draco found himself looking forward to each unexpected cut, each moment of roughness, which, in a way, he thought, was what Potter had always done to him. 

Potter, whose eyes were still on his.

Draco realized his mouth was dry, swallowed, and kept on moving his hands over Potter�s skin.  Potter drew in a slow, unsteady breath, and Draco did his best to ignore it and continue his ritual.

So intense was his concentration and Potter�s own as they watched each other, that it took him several minutes to realize he had completely stopped speaking the words of the spell; that he was now running his hand over the map of Harry Potter�s pectoral muscles with no other purpose other than to feel how they rippled, how they tremored slightly under each of his fingertips.

His first impulse was to break away.

His second was to move closer.

He leaned in and felt Potter stiffen�but his breathing was coming fast too, and in the haze that had settled over him Draco thought he could see tiny sparks in the air where Potter�s breath trailed.  Draco was almost too close to Harry now to see his aura, and could instead see only the soft luster of his skin under Draco�s own hands, an even starker white against the lines he had drawn on Potter�s body.  It should have looked strange and grotesque, he knew�but Potter was neither of these things.  He was powerful, and strong, and his veins were coursing beneath his skin, pumping magic and blood through him.  Draco could not tell how he knew this but he knew it as surely as he knew Potter was looking at him and seeing the wizard and not the bratty enemy he had grown up with.

We grew up together, he thought, the phrase echoing oddly in his mind.  And Potter was watching him with a very grown-up expression.

Malfoy was looking at him with an expression Harry wasn�t sure he wanted to describe.  In his head it was just an average look, and Malfoy only had so many stock-villain expressions anyway before he became very boring; but elsewhere in Harry�s body the response was very, very different, and disturbing.  He had been trying to ignore these other reactions for several minutes, but his mind had been so focused on looking at Malfoy as instructed that ignoring the odd combination of magic and lust that ran through him whenever Malfoy touched him was next to impossible.  It�s just magic, he repeated, only the magic.  This was what he had wanted, what he was paying for�and he was paying a whole damn lot, at that.

So.  Malfoy was just giving him his money�s worth.  The spell was working.  Malfoy�s lips parted, and Harry�s ears rang.  His head was full of magic, clouding his brain, fuzzing the world around him.  Malfoy leaned into him and rested his other hand, his non-wand hand, on Harry�s shoulder.  The touch was warm and comfortable.  Harry suddenly wondered about other touches.

�Potter, did you hear me?�

Mentally Harry shook himself.  �Uh� sorry?�

�Can you feel it?  Is the spell working?�

For a moment only, Harry�s eyes flickered shut, and Malfoy became a shadowy blur on the edges of his vision.  When he opened them again Malfoy had tilted his head slightly to the left, studying him with his pale hair hanging loosely to one side and his hand tightening a little on Harry�s shoulder. 

Harry drew in his breath so sharply it made him even dizzier.

�Definitely,� he said, in a tone he�d never heard himself use before.

Malfoy seemed to be pondering this, but instead of responding he took his wand-hand and slid it slowly over Harry�s skin, to his chest.  He could have lifted it, Harry thought stupidly, but he didn�t, and then Malfoy�s palm was resting over his heart, and he shuddered.  He expected to feel some sort of responsive magic from the contact but he felt only the same odd, satisfying heat from Malfoy�s touch.  Malfoy�s gaze was steady and unnerving�he should have felt invaded instead of excited by it, but eyes that silver, that translucent with light and swirling darkness at once, could only hold magic. 

�Good,� he said softly.  �I need you to tell me what is you want to feel.�

Harry felt his eyes widen, and he swallowed.  �What I feel.�  His voice sounded dry.

Malfoy pursed his lips.  �What you want to feel.�  He dropped his voice.  �You know�that feeling you hung onto a few minutes ago.  That moment of being in total control, in perfect possession of yourself.  What were you thinking about?�

�That I wanted to feel something new,� said Harry quietly, feeling that synthesis of energy surging inside of him, jolting his eyes even wider, forcing them to fasten onto Malfoy�s own for support.  His heart quickened a little under Malfoy�s faint touch.  �Something I�d never felt before�something that�� he broke off, searching for words.  �People talk about falling in love, but until it hits you, and you�re actually in love, you don�t know what�s happening.  I mean, you could have a crush on someone for months and then wake up and find it totally gone��

�Is that what happened to you, Potter?�

��Or you could wake up another morning and suddenly be in love with somebody you�d been seeing every day for the last six years.�

�This isn�t a spell that lets you choose who you fall in love with, Harry.�

�I don�t want to choose who I fall in love with,� Harry replied.  �That wouldn�t be any fun.�

�And it�s not a spell that guarantees requited love either.�

�They don�t have to feel anything back,� replied Harry.

�Just as long as it�s new?�

�Just as long as it�s new.�

Malfoy leaned forward, pressed his hand firmly against the center of Harry�s chest, and softly spoke the words of a spell in Latin.  Harry kept watching him, transfixed, as he felt his spirit lighten and lift.  Earlier the sensation he had felt when Malfoy pressed the garnet to his chest had been a crushing, utter sense of pain, loss, and defeat.  It had reminded him far too much of the Dementors, and somehow the knowledge that whatever was happening was something internal had made it almost harder to bear.  Now, however, a sensation he could only think of as cleansing was sweeping over him, rooting out the dark places inside him and turning them inside out, emptying his mind of pain and regret, growing stronger and purer with every word Malfoy uttered.

He could feel power and confidence radiating off of Malfoy�s warm fingertips, just barely tracing his skin.  A deep shudder of pleasure ran through him, and at the same time he felt some sort of iceberg inside him break apart and give way to an altogether different feeling of�of possibility, of hope and change and awareness.  He couldn�t help it: he leaned in closer, wanting more of the sensation and, despite every inclination he�d ever had in his life, more of the low voice, more of the warm touch.

In his recitation, Malfoy paused; only for a moment, but it was enough for the room to shift entirely under Harry�s gaze�enough for some things to sharpen and others to blur. 

Malfoy's gaze flickered as Harry looked at him, and now the little space between them was a space that Harry could feel.  The magic of the room was stifling Harry already, but this�this made it hard for him to breathe, hard for him to look, and harder to look away.

Malfoy was standing very close to him and Harry almost thought he could see a faint violet light around him.  He had never been able to see auras, but he suddenly had a hunch that if he looked long enough he�d be able to see Malfoy�s aura and chakra and laugh lines and pulse points and everything.

He looked. 

The long arch of Malfoy's neck was misted over with a faint sheen of sweat.  Against the darkness he could have been a smudge of moonlight.  Harry's insides twisted.  It struck him that he should be probably not standing quite so close to Malfoy or else Malfoy might think he wanted� things.  But then Malfoy, who was an inch or two taller than Harry, tilted his head, and a wisp of his hair brushed Harry�s forehead, robbing him of thought.

The last remnants of the powder he'd been cupping spilled between his uncurling fingers as they reached across the space to touch Malfoy, but he barely noticed.

His hand made contact with Malfoy�s forearm, just above the cuff of his robes and the bend of his elbow.  He slid his fingers around it.  It was slim and bony and smooth, and touching it Harry felt like he�d just invaded some exotic new territory.

�Potter,� said Malfoy, in a strange new voice.

Harry felt all the hairs on his neck spring to attention.

�Yeah,� he responded.  His voice felt syrupy and slow to his own ears, but it didn�t matter, because he was sliding his fingers over Malfoy�s forearm, and thinking how easy it would be to reach up beneath Malfoy�s shirt and push it open�thinking Malfoy should know better than to wear fitted shirts that you could just unbutton just like that, that you could just slide your fingers inside and get a taste of�

Malfoy let out a deep long breath and shifted closer in one sudden movement, and suddenly they were torso to torso, hip to hip, and Malfoy was pressing into him from top to bottom.

Fuck, he thought vaguely.

�How�s this for new?�  Malfoy asked.  His voice had gone darker and thicker, and Harry shuddered all over and pressed his thighs against Malfoy�s.  Their hips met and thrust together automatically.  Harry�s breath escaped him in a gasp, and Malfoy put his hand on Harry�s waist as if he were about to lose his balance.

Harry wanted to make some kind of reply, but the best reply seemed to be in pressing his hips back against Draco�s as hard as he could.  The blood coursed in his veins; he felt powerful and aroused, and�this was one hell of a spell.

�You�re hard,� Malfoy said, shifting his hips so he could meet Harry�s slow thrusts with more force.  His voice was low and coarse.

�So are you,� Harry answered, growing bold enough to slip his hand between them and slide his fingers over the fabric between him and Malfoy�s straining erection.

�Fuck,� hissed Malfoy.  He shifted still closer, causing Harry to gasp again himself, and ground against Harry�s cock as hard as he could through his trousers.  �Get your trousers off,� he muttered, and then started undoing them himself.  

�I don�t remember you mentioning this being part of the spell,� Harry answered.  His fingers were shaking as he undid Malfoy�s own trousers, slid the zipper down with too much carefulness, and yanked them down. 

�It isn�t,� said Malfoy.  A look of recklessness lit up his whole face, and he tugged Harry�s pants down and wrapped his hand around what he found there.

Several incoherent moments later Harry came to his senses enough to reciprocate.  Malfoy�s knees buckled, and he fell forward leaning into Harry. 

It shouldn�t have been so easy to put his mouth on Malfoy�s.

The moment Potter kissed him, Draco entered a strange new dimension of hyperawareness.  Potter�s kiss contained the remnants of their unfinished spell, of the magic that still lingered inside him, coursing through him, surging around him.  Heat flooded Draco, and his cock hardened in Potter�s fingers.  Potter�s lips had a sweaty, metallic tang, and tingled just as his skin had under Draco�s fingertips. 

Draco was suddenly conscious of everything about Potter�the ways he moved; the little noises and gasps of arousal he made as Draco touched him; the way his hair swept into his forehead, the way he jerked off his glasses and threw them to god knew where, like they�d been broken a hundred times before and he just didn�t give a fuck. 

Potter shifted his hips and angled Draco towards the table.  Draco stifled a moan and pressed against Potter, feeling the next thrust in every nerve ending, from his navel to his toes.  Potter's fingers were stroking his cock until he was sure his knees would buckle, but when Potter finally stopped it was only to push him back towards the countertop, and Draco shakily conceded. 

In retrospect, Draco ought to have known that Potter would insist on topping.  In retrospect, also, Draco was filled with shame and mortification that he had been that into being on the bottom.  Not that he had ever thought much about it, but Malfoy was certain that his proper place was not on his back underneath another man, screaming in pleasure like a sodding girl.

Fucking Potter.

Draco knew logically that he should be the one taking charge, keeping things from getting out of hand.  But Potter was insistent, directing their actions and distracting him so well in the meantime that Draco was too busy moaning to stop him.  He thought about thinking twice as Potter pushed him back against the table.  He thought about knocking the gemstones and potions ingredients violently off the table so that the crash would awake Snape and force them to stop, instead of hastily scooting them out of the way when his fingers found them.  He thought about reversing their positions when his back slid onto the cold surface of the table and he felt Potter hoisting his hips to give him better leverage. 

But then Potter crawled over him, pressed against him, and muttered, "Was this what you got me down here for, Malfoy?" against his ear lobe, and a voice like that could make Draco almost believe that in fact it was.

He locked his legs tightly around Potter�s own and thrust up.  Potter moaned and reached down to run his thumb over the length of Draco's cock. 

Abruptly Draco decided that whatever Potter wanted to do to him was just fine.

Even though he should have been light and bony Potter�s weight was heavy, pressing into Draco�s heaving chest.  His fingernails dug into Draco�s sides, raking and scrabbling over the skin, trying to pull him up into harder contact.

Trying to establish any kind of rhythm was impossible with Potter; he wanted as much as he could get and wasn�t prepared to wait for Draco to thrust back against him.  When Draco snaked his hand back down to Potter�s erection, Potter let out a moan before he could stop himself, and then pulled Draco�s hand back up, pushing it firmly over his head and holding it pinned down to the tabletop. 

�What the fuck are you doing, Potter,� Malfoy gasped, his head falling back against the surface.  Potter ground his erection hard into Draco�s thigh, and Draco stifled a moan. 

�Shut the fuck up, Malfoy,� Potter growled, reaching for his other hand.  Draco tried to pull it away but Potter snatched it and closed his fingers around Draco's own with sudden forcefulness. 

Draco's fingers clenched involuntarily back against his, using the clutch to give him leverage to grind himself up into Potter�s hips�which was what Potter must have wanted, he realized. 

�This isn�t what I got you down here for,� he gasped, his eyes meeting Potter�s.  �This is why you came, isn�t it.�

�I said, shut the fuck up,� said Potter, and he kissed him.

When they broke apart Draco was panting and wondering if he would ever catch his breath again.

�Fuck you,� he gasped out, his hands struggling to free themselves from Potter�s clench. 

Potter only tightened his grip and let out a short, breathless laugh.  �Haven�t you been paying attention?� he said. 

Draco wrapped his legs around Potter�s waist and pulled him forward sharply.  Potter�s cock stiffened and twitched, and Potter pressed down into him until it was rock hard against Draco�s stomach.  His eyes were blazing.  Draco dragged his tongue over his lips and gazed back.  This time when Potter kissed him, Draco�s mouth was open.

Their groans and pants came faster now, spilling from mouth to mouth until Draco couldn't tell who was moaning what. Potter propelled himself up for better access to Draco's mouth, still holding Draco down.  Draco arched his body, craving full-on contact, finding a pattern of squeezing his legs around Potter�s waist and thrusting his cock against Potter�s, still using Potter�s tensile grip for leverage. 

Potter let out a low animal noise and began to rock against Draco, mouth panting against his own, not so much kissing as breathing against him, and not moving away as their cocks ground together and fought for friction.  Potter was relentless, and relentlessly hard, and in between the gasping and thrusting and muttering curses over and over into each other�s mouth, Draco was never sure afterwards who came first.

Potter let go of Malfoy�s hands and collapsed on top of him, trembling and shaking.  Draco was suddenly aware that Potter had gotten bluish-brown powder all over his chest.  So much for the spell, he thought, and chuckled.

Potter must have taken the tremor of his chest as a shudder�of revulsion or desire, maybe.  �Fuck,� he said slowly, rolling off of Draco and sitting up.

Draco watched him under half-lowered lids.  The silence of the room was thickening around them, and the air seemed acrid with the dissipating effects of the magic.  Draco couldn't say why but it unsettled him.  If this was what afterglow felt like, then, hot sex aside�Draco wasn't sure he liked it.

He stayed silent.  Potter was rigid.  He seemed to be trying not to look around him at the mess they had made.  Draco watched him for a moment longer, then calmly began to cast cleaning spells on himself and their surroundings. 

Potter sat stiffly for a moment longer, and finally said in a flat, overly calm voice, �Do you want to��

�Finish the spell,� Draco said, cutting him off and matching his flat tone.  �Yeah, sure, we can do that.�  He sat up and scooted off the table, attempting to ignore the fact that his legs seemed to be made of water.

Potter turned his head and looked at him in alarm.  �Are you crazy?  After what it�s already done you want to finish it?�

Draco gave a short, incredulous laugh.  �What are you talking about, Potter?  The spell�s not done.  It didn�t have anything to do with this.  It may have gotten you a little turned on but that�s all.�

Potter slid off the table and stood facing him.  His body gleamed with sweat and his cock hung long and perfect, still glistening with the come he had not yet bothered to spell away.  Draco raked his eyes over Potter and then tried his best to ignore him.

�But it�Malfoy, it did the same thing to you.  I mean�maybe you�maybe we did something wrong in the spell, that made it�made us�� 

Potter clenched his fists in frustration and fell silent.

First in confusion, then in sudden understanding, Draco regarded him.  �Oh, I see,� he said slowly, his eyes narrowing.  �It�s perfectly alright for us to shag as long as we�re both under a spell and neither of us is in control of what he�s doing.�

Potter looked up at him and bit his lip, but did not deny it.

Malfoy laughed dryly.

�Right.  Sorry to sober you up, Potter, but I�ve got news for you.  You�re no more under the influence than I am.  The spell�s only half-finished.�

A look of panic came into Potter�s eyes.  �You�re wrong, I can feel it�it�s working, I feel��

�What you feel is magic opening you up and making you more aware of what you already feel, Potter.  If you�ll notice, I never finished the incantation.  And we spilled the ingredients on the floor.� 

The look of panic turned to one of sheer horror.  �Figure it out, Potter?  It�s all you.  And I�ll fill you in on another little secret.�  Unceremoniously, Draco yanked the malachite necklace off his throat and flung it at Potter in rage.  �See that?  That�s malachite.  I�ve been wearing it all night, to protect me from the influence of the spells I�m casting.�   

Potter�s eyes widened, and he scrambled for the malachite where it had fallen.  He picked it up and stared at it dumbly for a moment, before setting it back on the table.

�You�you didn�t tell me you weren�t affected,� he said dazedly.  �It�s different if you�re in control.�  He looked back up at Draco, and his eyes were hard with the familiar gleam of disgust.

�You�re a bastard, Malfoy.  Forget the fucking potion.  Let�s just pretend none of this ever happened, and leave it at that.�

He turned and began foraging for his glasses and clothes, his cheeks burning red.

Draco stared at him, hearing his heart thumping ridiculously for a moment of tense suspended silence.  �You're still going to have to pay for the potion, you know,� he muttered finally.

�What?�  Potter snapped, turning towards him but not meeting his eyes.  �But you didn't even finish it!�

�Whose fault is that, Potter?�

�You're not seriously suggesting that it's my fault.�

�Oh, so that makes it mine?�

�You never told me you were wearing that!�

�What bloody difference does it make?�

�All the difference, Malfoy!�  Potter seethed.  �You were the one who wanted me to take my shirt off!  You're the one who wanted into my pants, the one who��  he grew flustered and bit his lip.  �I thought winning wasn�t a victory for you,� he said darkly. 

�Oh, fuck you, Potter!� Draco exploded, with all the bitterness he had ever, ever felt.

Potter let out a snarl of rage, grabbed the malachite necklace, and flung it back at Draco.  It hit him squarely in the shoulder blade.  Draco hissed and lunged blindly for Potter, who ducked out of the way and turned to face him with raised fists.

�I hate you, Malfoy,� he said in a low, deliberate voice, his eyes boring into Draco�s.  �I will always hate you, you and your sick Slytherin plots.  This night hasn't changed anything between us.  Forget the fucking potion.  Forget throwing the game.  I will beat you so soundly the next time we play you�ll think your father took his last bad mood out on you.�

Draco fought back the urge to hit Potter, and hit him, and hit him. 

Instead he stared, through anger and embarrassment and hurt and shame, until he regained the ability to speak.

�Find some other way to pay us,� he said at last. �No one knows what you offered to pay except the two of us.  Find some other method of payment and deliver it directly to me.�

Potter sucked in his breath.  Draco went on, grinding out the words.  �And since nothing�s changed, I trust you�ll keep in mind that sick Slytherin plots always include blackmail, and that if you refuse to pay for the potion the entire school will know that you couldn�t wait to jump Draco Malfoy�s bones.�

�You do that,� Potter hissed, �and I�ll go straight to Dumbledore and tell them about the illegal potions you�ve been dealing in on the side.  Your entire house will go down.�

�My house and everybody who ordered a potion from us, Potter�that includes you and your house as well.  And I�ll tell every person who�ll listen that you were willing to throw the game.  How long do you think you�ll stay team captain after that?  How long do you think you�ll stay on the team?�

Potter�s throat constricted in anger, and they glared at each other, the smell of sex and stagnant magic sifting the air between them.

After a long moment, Potter snapped, �Fine, Malfoy.  You'll get your payment.  This was just a transaction, after all.�

�It�s only fair, Potter, since the only way you�ll ever get sex this good again is to pay for it.�

Potter looked on the verge of hurtling himself at Draco, but instead he threw a venomous look at him, turned on his heel, and walked out of the room without another word.

It wasn't until Potter had gone that Draco realized that all the light in the room had come from Harry's aura.  

He stood there, alone in the dark.

Two weeks later, Slytherin lost to Gryffindor, 20 points to 160.  The game lasted a grand total of six minutes and thirty-eight seconds, the shortest Gryffindor-Slytherin match ever on record.

When Draco returned to his dorm room, lying on his bed was the Golden Snitch.

Attached was a note that read: Paid in full.

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