by Draeconin

For story details and disclaimer, please see chapter one.

Chapter Three

When Draco emerged from the bath, drying his hair, he was wearing a lush, maroon, ankle-length velvet bathrobe with cream-coloured silk borders, and bearing a large, embroidered 'D' monogrammed on the left breast, also in cream.

When Harry left to take Draco's place in the shower, the blond was brushing his hair. After adjusting the water, Harry stepped into the shower, then washed his hair and scrubbed himself all over twice, paying special attention to the crevices, just to be sure he'd been as thorough as possible. He dried himself off, and then wrapped a dry towel around himself before returning to his bedroom, where he found Malfoy had changed into a deep green silk dressing gown with quilted collar and hems in a darker shade, and decorated with gold embroidery. He was kneeling on one knee, with the other bent, his bare leg sticking out of the front of the dressing gown, poised to brace himself, to help him get up. The Slytherin was drawing symbols on the floor.

It was an innocuous thing to get turned on by, but the sight of Draco's hairless, bare leg... Harry shook himself to break the spell of the sight of that leg, turned, then closed and locked the door - and wondered briefly where Draco had kept the robes, before he remembered the shrinking spell. With it, those two robes wouldn't have taken up as much room as a handkerchief.

Draco looked up at the sound of the bedroom door closing, and was lost in wonder. Of course it could have been lust, just as well. Harry was covered only at the waist, wrapped in a too-small towel. It left so much of him uncovered. And it was all - perfect. Every muscle was lightly defined on the Gryffindor's arms and chest, a light six-pack defined his stomach, and the rest was just as delicious. Draco found himself salivating, wanting his mouth on the brunet's neck, as well as other parts. When the raven-haired lad turned to lock the door, the tightly-wrapped towel showed off Harry's powerful, rounded arse, and Draco had to swallow and look away to keep himself from drooling, or doing something else equally pathetic. The muscles in that arse would be driving Harry's erection into his arse, soon.

Draco was almost glad that circumstances had driven him here. 'Almost', being the operative word. Potter's unexpected physical charms notwithstanding, he was still an obnoxious goody-goody, and Draco was here out of necessity. But Harry was a powerful, obnoxious goody-goody that he could not only trust, but who could protect him should it be needed; and he knew it would be. That thought brought him back to his purpose, and he returned to copying the needed symbols onto the floor.

Harry had turned around, and for a couple of seconds had seen Malfoy staring at him with a rather strange look on his face. But it passed, and the blond returned to painting symbols on the bedroom floor. Harry knew that look. He'd felt it on his own face a few times; mostly when he'd been looking at the blond Slytherin too long. He knew what it meant for him, but... Draco? Feeling 'that way' towards him? No, he must be mistaken.

"Are you ready, Po- Harry?" Draco asked snidely. He hadn't meant for it to come out that way, but he was shaken. Potter wasn't supposed to be so... delectable. He had just grabbed an attitude from his imaginary bag of acting tricks to try to cover his true emotions. He ruefully wished that he had chosen better.

Harry was startled out of his reverie, then sighed. He was not looking forward to a lifetime of that attitude, no matter how nice looking a package it came in. "I suppose," he replied.

"Then take this. It's the potion you'll need to draw the designs on me."

Harry looked at the thick, dark goo in the ceramic pot. It looked... slimy; but the smell was rather medicinal, rather than the nasty odour he'd expect something that looked like this to have. "What do I draw them on with?" he asked.

"Your finger," the blond replied.

"I have to touch it?" Harry asked, slightly disgusted with the thought.

Draco favoured him with a slight sneer. "Yes, Potter, you have to touch it. It helps with the bond. I have to have it on several places on my body," he reminded the god - Gryffindor - exasperatedly. "And be careful to leave enough to act as a lubricant for when you - you know. I've already prepared myself, otherwise. Now, if you are quite through with your bout of squeamishness, can we get on with this? I'd rather not have to think about it any longer."

Harry sighed again, then dropped his towel. "Can't do it while you're wearing that robe, Mal- Draco," he hinted broadly.

Draco stood up, crossed to Harry's wardrobe, removed his robe and hung it up, then stood there a minute to let the beginnings of his erection go down, and to get over the shock of seeing all of Harry all at once. The boy was hot! When he turned back around he carefully refrained from looking down. The glimpse he'd had... While the brunet hadn't been erect, it had been well on the way; hanging full, with nicely heavy balls below at least six inches of smooth, thick, beautifully shaped... He swallowed. Even the small, neat patch of dark, curly hair at its base was perfect. He wanted a more thorough look, but knew he'd give himself away if he did. Even just remembering the sight was giving him problems with his control. Nobody else had ever effected him this badly!

Harry, in the meantime, was frantically trying to picture his Uncle Vernon in drag, in order to keep his reactions to a minimum. The sight of Draco's body from the back was... Words failed him. That pale, pert, round arse! He quickly added a nude Aunt Petunia in a centrefold pose to his mental picture of his uncle, and sighed in relief as his resulting disgust allowed him to regain control. It wouldn't do to let Malfoy know how much he was going to enjoy 'dominating' him.

Draco returned to the ritual area he'd laid out, and lay down in it, face up.

Harry turned off the picture he'd been playing in his mind, and joined him in the area. From here on it would be expected of him to be erect; he'd need to be, later. He cast a spell of protection over the room to avoid the notice of those with ill-wishing influences, and then set his wand aside. He knelt over the blond with the pot of ointment in his left hand, and dipping a finger into it, started drawing the first symbol on the blond's forehead, to bind Draco's mind from acting on thoughts of harming him, then performing the spell on the symbol that activated it. He then went on to the symbols needed over the heart, to bind the blond's loyalty to his service; the lungs, that he would live his life in Harry's service; the stomach, that he would always put the welfare of his binder over his own; the liver, that he would give his life to protect Harry if necessary; and finally, around Draco's genitals, that his descendants would never raise weapon against him or his house.

That was how the symbols were explained in the pages that Draco had brought. And if the ritual and the spells were being performed in the circumstances assumed by the writer, that of a warrior or lord binding an unwilling and physically restrained enemy, that is exactly how the ritual would have worked. Those were not the circumstances, here. Draco would have drastically altered the parameters of the ritual simply by being willing. That he had actually sought to submit himself to the bond altered the magic even further. Add the sexual attraction and tension each young man had for the other, and their thoughts and hidden feelings, and the results that could be expected from it were altered completely.

It had been several hours since the ritual had begun, due to the intricacy of some of the symbols, and the pauses for purifications, so Draco was very thankful to be able to change positions. He was both looking forward to, and dreading this next part. He got up on his hands and knees, legs wide apart, exposing himself to his rival. Harry knelt between Draco's legs and started drawing the final symbols on the Slytherin's back - the symbols that would forever unite them. When he'd finished, there was still about an ounce of the potion left. He positioned himself between Draco's legs, scooped some of the potion up on two fingers, and then started rubbing it into Draco's entrance. "Are you okay?" he asked the blond quietly.

"Yes." Draco's voice was strained. "Just - do it." He'd wanted to say 'just be gentle', but he couldn't bring himself to expose his feelings quite that much. This was the boy he'd wanted, though not then in a sexual way, since they met at Madam Malkin's; the boy who'd refused his offer of friendship. Harry'd had cause, he could now admit to himself, but once he'd started venting his hurt feelings on the Gryffindor, he'd found it hard to stop, even when he wanted to. By that time House rivalries and the urging of his House-mates, as well as his father's attitudes and later, his orders, had made any thoughts of making peace a hopeless dream. There was just too much to lose. He still wanted to fight those tender feelings. It gave too much power over him to the young man behind him who was, even now, preparing to enact the final phase of the ritual that would both protect him, and make him Potter's subject. He banished those thoughts and braced himself for his penetration. A still, small voice deep inside his mind wished that their first, and possibly last sex act together could have been a more loving one.

Had Harry known what was going on in the young blond man's mind while he was lubricating him, and then his own straining manhood, he would have been very happy, indeed. For the past two years, what had fuelled his anger towards the younger Malfoy was frustration and disappointment that such a sexy and otherwise attractive young man could be so mean-spirited. Now one of his fantasies was coming true, at least in part. He was going to have sex with the blond god of his wet dreams. He sighed, wishing the situation weren't so business-like. Well, at least he could fantasise that it was more romantic while they were 'doing it'.

Harry positioned himself. "Are you ready, Draco?" he asked softly.

The Slytherin nodded, and whispered, "Yes."

'I wish his heart was in it,' he thought.

'I wish he really wanted me,' Harry thought, as he slowly pushed in. At Draco's gasp, he stopped, panicked that he may have injured the young man under him.

"Are you all right?" he asked, concern evident in his voice.

'As if he really cares,' Draco thought bitterly. "Just - give me a minute to adjust, Potter," he said, his voice rough with the conflicting feelings he was having.

"Let me know when you're ready."

Draco tensed, imagining for a moment that he heard derision in the tone, then relaxed as he realised his error. It was only softly-spoken direction. A few seconds later, he whispered, "Okay," and felt the Gryffindor's manhood start once again to slowly invade him. He lowered his head as a tear slipped down his cheek. He was losing his virginity to the young man he'd dreamt of giving it to so often, and it meant nothing more to the Gryffindor than saving another person from the Dark Lord - or so he thought. Pain gripped him yet again as muscles unused to this activity protested the invasion of his body.

Harry paused once again as the blond under him tensed. Draco's surrender to him was bitter-sweet. He could wish that they were face-to-face, those clean-cut, pale legs wrapped around his waist, pulling him in, rather than this position of the conqueror taking his prize. He couldn't help himself; he leaned over and placed a kiss in the crook between the blond young man's neck and shoulder.

Draco stiffened as he felt the lips on him. "H-Harry?" he stammered, before he could stop himself.

"Yes?" Harry was, inwardly, nervously awaiting the blond's disdain, but he tried to sound calm and collected. After all, he was in the driver's seat, as it were. He gave a brief grimace at his own bad pun, inadvertent as it had been.

He had control again, but the kiss had given the blond hope that perhaps there was more than rutting to bond, in this. Perhaps his virginity wasn't being thrown away just for protection. But he couldn't show his hope and desires. Not yet. There would be time. "Get on with it, Harry," he directed. But the voice was soft, the tone mellow.

Harry pushed forward again, and slowly his hardness disappeared into the other boy. Finally, he was firmly seated, completely encased in the Slytherin's warmth. He paused again for a few moments to allow Draco's body a little time to get used to him, then slowly withdrew until only a couple of inches were still encased, then forward again; out, then in, over and over again, the speed slowly increasing as sensation built. When he was close to explosion, he stopped, not yet wanting it to end.

He pulled Draco up, still joined, until the blond was sitting on his lap. He grasped the Slytherin's manhood with one hand, steadying the blond with the other, and slowly, gently, pumped it while he nuzzled and nibbled at the graceful, pale neck.

The last thing the young Malfoy had been expecting was a show of affection, but this was certainly that. But as welcome as it was, they needed to finish the ritual, so he adjusted his legs until he could move, and started moving up and down on Harry's hardness. He was close to completion, and he sensed the Gryffindor was, as well.

"The... spell - ah! - Harry! Say... the spell," the blond urged.

Harry had all but forgotten, carried away on the wings of passion. "Cruinnleum bi le Harry Potter!" he cried out. ('Bound and belonging to Harry Potter.') He had barely cast the spell before he came, pumping his seed deep in the blond's body as he clasped one hand on the Slytherin's shoulder, pressing down, holding him still, and thrusting himself as far up and in as he could. He was barely aware of the pumping hardness in his hand as both young men cried out the other's name.

As they did so, a powerful wave of magic was let loose, pushing past even the powerful wards Harry had erected, and informing all who had the power to sense it, and were apt to take notice, that a powerful bonding had occurred. Only the most powerful among those would have noted a hint of the magical signatures of those bound, in that surge. But the bond was not as master and servant or thrall, as the ritual had been designed to accomplish, but as something else - something more - something far more intimate. Only time would tell what that might be. The original intention of the ritual still gave the scarred Gryffindor the more powerful position in their relationship, however it turned out.

They slumped, their still-joined bodies kept upright only by the fact that they were still joined, allowing them to naturally brace each other. Harry let go of Draco's deflating member and wrapped both arms around the blond boy, resting his head on his shoulder. Draco let his head fall back to rest on Harry's opposite shoulder, having neither the strength nor the desire to move right then.

About a minute later a strong, but somehow hesitant knock sounded on Harry's bedroom door, and a voice called out, "Mister Malfoy! What the hell was that?! Are you all right?"

Harry's head had snapped up at the first sound. Now his eyes widened as he recognised that voice. "Snape?"

Draco gave a small smirk. "How do you think I found this bloody place, Harry?"

That did it. Harry softened immediately, and they separated with barely a sound. Draco made a small moue of disappointment.

"Mister Malfoy! Are you all right?" came the voice again.

"I'm okay, too," Harry muttered murderously.

Draco chuckled, still in Harry's arms, then raised his voice. "We're just fine, Professor!"

"Then get yourselves dressed and get out here! We're going to have to leave immediately!"

Draco frowned. "I can't leave Harry, now! You know that!" he called back.

"Don't be more dense than you need be, Malfoy! I meant all of us! Is that troublemaker rubbing off on you already?"

"No, he got off in me, and he's rubbing on me," Draco muttered, snuggling back into Harry a bit, but there was no trace of resentment in his voice; only a hint of humour and irony.

Harry snorted, trying to hold back his laughter as he tightened his hold on the boy in his lap. "We need to clean up, Professor," he called out.

"You can do that at Hogwarts! I meant it when I said we need to leave now!"

Harry noticed Draco frowning. "I take it this wasn't a part of the original plan?" he asked.

"No, it wasn't," Draco replied worriedly. "I was supposed to stay here, with you. But Snape isn't an alarmist, so I think we need to take notice, and get moving," the blond responded, leaning forward and breaking Harry's now loose grip on him in preparation for getting to his feet. Once on his feet, he turned and held his hand out to his new 'master', though that idea had yet to sink in.

Harry looked at Draco's hand, then looked up and grinned at him, taking it. "It took a while, but I guess I'm finally ready to take your hand," he quipped, as he got to his feet.

Draco looked puzzled for a moment, then a dark shadow crossed his face as he recalled again the ignominious day that Harry had refused his hand. Then the humour of the situation hit him, and he gave the brunet a wry grin. "Yes, I suppose it has taken a while for you to come to your senses, hasn't it?" He winked at the dark-haired young man before him to show he didn't mean it unkindly, then turned to his clothing and robes to get dressed.

Harry tilted his head in wonder at this unusual show of humour, and began getting dressed, himself. Draco finished before him, took out his wand, and aiming it at Harry's trunk, incanted "Pack!" When activity ceased, he put the few things he'd brought with him in as well, then turned and asked "Is there anything else you need to take? We may be gone for some time."

Harry looked at him, gobsmacked. "Is this the bond in action?" he asked.

Draco looked at him calmly. "Probably," he responded, although he hadn't the slightest idea. He was just being efficient. Post-coital bliss may have been playing a ròle, as well. "Is there anything else you need?"

"Just Hedwig and my Firebolt," Harry answered. "Oh, and a few things under the loose floorboard under my bed."

"Then if you can grab those, I'll take care of your trunk," the Slytherin said. He then turned to the door and undid the spells Harry had put on it. "Well, at least there are advantages to this as well," he muttered. "It seems that in order to serve you better, I now share some of your knowledge. I certainly didn't know how to unlock the spells you cast, before."

"Good," Harry said, stepping up beside him, "I'd rather this wasn't more of a burden on you than necessary ."

Draco cast a sardonic smile in the Gryffindor's direction. "Truly?" he asked.

"As strange as it feels to say it, Draco, I'm glad there's going to be peace between us. I hated it when we were always fighting."

Draco paused in the act of reaching for the door handle. "Why?" he asked, curious.

"Because I've wanted to be with you for a long time, now," was the soft reply.

Draco squeezed his eyes shut, trying to hold back the instant tears. There was no time for this, now. "We'll have to talk, later. I have things to share with you, as well. But right now we need to get out of here. I hope Professor Snape has a good excuse for this," he said, muttering the last sentence in frustration.

"Me too," Harry said, having just barely been able to hear it.

Draco opened the door.

"It's about time! Did you clean up the... No, I can see you haven't," Snape said, as he caught sight of the room. Taking out his wand, he cast, "Scourgify!" Then, turning to the two young men, he said, "Never leave a ritual area without removing all traces of it, unless you want everyone to know what you've been doing!"

Both Harry and Draco blushed, remembering a part of what they'd been doing.

Catching their expressions, Snape faltered, and then he blushed as well. "Yes. Well..." he stammered.

Seeing their potions master so discommoded, Harry couldn't help himself; he snickered. It was a bad move.

Face now flushing with anger, Snape snapped "Twenty points from Gryffindor for your cheek, boy!"

Harry's eyes narrowed as anger suffused him. "Never call me 'boy'!" he snapped back at the man. "That damned Muggle downstairs has made my life hell, and it's his favourite way of addressing me," he continued, explaining his reaction.

"We can discuss that later, Potter," Snape growled. "Right now, we have more urgent matters to attend to. Is your fireplace hooked up to the Floo network?"

Harry stared at him. "You don't know a thing about my life, do you?" he asked. "The reason that thing that reluctantly calls himself my uncle makes my life hell, is that he hates anything having to do with magic. So do you think he'd let the flue be hooked up?"

"You're wasting time, Potter. A simple 'no' would have sufficed," the potions master sneered.

"What's the rush, Professor?" Draco asked, interrupting the glaring contest the other two seemed to have decided to participate in.

The potions master remembered himself, and turned to his favourite student. "That blast of magic, at what I presume was the end of the bonding ritual," he explained. At the boys' mutual look of incomprehension, he sighed. "Voldemort would have felt it, and possibly your father," he said to Draco. "I'll have to 'piggy-back' the two of you." He eyed the luggage Draco was lugging. "That," he said, indicating the trunk, "will have to stay behind. I don't have the strength to apparate the two of you and that thing. Nothing irreplaceable in there, is there, Potter?"

"Can't you shrink it?" Draco asked of Snape. "I can do some smaller things, but I'd have to practice a lot more before I could take care of that mass."

The professor looked at the blond. "You have the..." He stopped as realization hit him. The young Malfoy would now be watching out for Potter's best interests, of course. "Later. Again, we're wasting time, and I don't want to get into a discussion of magical physics right now. Just do what needs to be done."

Harry answered the question that had been put to him earlier. "My father's invisibility cloak and a couple of other small things," he replied fairly politely.

Snape looked at him. "An invisibility cloak. That explains a lot. You can replace the broom. Turn the owl loose; it can find you at the school, later. Put everything irreplaceable in your pockets."

"The broom has sentimental value; it was a gift from someone I cared about, who is now dead," Harry replied, pain briefly sharing room in his eyes with his lingering anger with the potions master.

Snape closed his eyes, praying to his gods for patience. "Lose the robes, then; the less mass, the better," he directed.

Harry complied, Draco removing his robes as well, and with the blond's help, the Gryffindor was soon ready.

Snape threw all the discarded items into the fireplace, and destroyed them. "The less we leave for others to find, the better," he explained.

"That's as clear as mud," Harry muttered under his breath. To his surprise, Draco snickered.

They went out into the back yard to get clear of the house wards. With a look of grave distaste on his face, and the same tone in his voice, Snape said, "You'll have to hold on to me, and each other, quite closely." When they had complied, Harry holding tightly to his Firebolt as well, the potions master disapparated, taking them with him.

They appeared in a clearing quite near Hogsmeade. As the boys separated themselves from their professor, Draco stumbled. Harry steadied him, then noticed that the blond was almost dead on his feet. He recalled that Draco had seemed on the edge of exhaustion when he first opened his bedroom door to the Slytherin, and that had been several hours and a lot of 'activity' ago. He mounted his broomstick, then held his hand out to the blond, silently inviting him to get on behind him. "Come on, Draco. I'm not going to walk when I've a perfectly good broomstick." Then, speaking to his professor as Draco got on behind him, he said, "We've had a very tiring night, Professor; we'll meet you at the school, all right?" He didn't wait for an answer, and barely heard Snape's "My quarters," while he was instructing the other boy to hold on tightly, and took off. He did hear Draco's murmured "Thank you," however. He didn't answer, choosing instead to concentrate on his flying. He felt the weight of the blond's head descend gently on his back.

As they entered through Hogwart's huge double doors, they were surprised to find Dumbledore standing there, apparently awaiting them.

"Headmaster!" Harry exclaimed, expressing his surprise. "Do you live here summers as well?" he asked.

Dumbledore's eyes twinkled, as he replied, "No, Harry, I don't. I came here when I detected the magic engendered by your bonding ritual. I believe you and Mister Malfoy, here, have some explaining to do."

There seemed to be a million questions swirling through Harry's mind at this point, but only one stood out. "How did you know about the ritual, or that we'd come here, sir?"

"Where else would you go?" the old man replied, answering only part of the question.

Draco swayed on his feet. "Can we sit down somewhere, sir?" Harry requested. "I'm afraid that Draco's about at the end of his strength, right now."

"'M fine," Draco asserted tiredly.

"Of course you are," Harry replied acerbically, "that's why you're almost falling down."

"I am -" Draco started to argue.

"This way, gentlemen," Dumbledore interrupted, gesturing to a small door in a dark corner that Harry'd never noticed before.

Upon passing through the small door that the headmaster had opened for them, they found themselves in a small waiting room, apparently for visiting parents. Since Hogwarts was not yet in session, they had it to themselves.

"Professor Snape is going to be looking for us as soon as he arrives from Hogsmeade," Harry told the headmaster.

"The school will tell me when he arrives," the old man replied.

"The... What?" Harry asked, thoroughly befuddled by what he'd just heard.

"As the headmaster, I'm tied into the wards. I'll know when he arrives." Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling like mad, now. He loved his little jokes.

"Oh." If Harry hadn't had any doubts about the old man's sanity before, a seed had now been planted. Draco just chalked it up as another bit of proof towards what he'd always thought, anyway.

Albus gestured for them to take a seat on one of the sofas in the room. Harry chose one in fine leather, and sat. Draco sat close beside him, and the headmaster sat across from them on a matching settee. Waving his wand, the headmaster conjured a small table between them, laden with tea and sandwiches. Pouring himself a cup, he indicated that the boys should help themselves, as well.

Harry picked up a couple of sandwiches, handing one to Draco, who tried to refuse. Harry wasn't having any. "It's been hours, Draco. I know you're tired, but you need to eat." He took a bite of his own sandwich, and his eyes widened. "Honey-glazed ham - Black Forest, I think - and genuine Derby cheese, with coarse-ground brown mustard! That's good enough for even your aristocratic stomach; so eat!"

Draco reluctantly took the sandwich, and dutifully began eating. He had to admit, if only to himself, that it was good; and once food hit his stomach, his appetite revived. The Gryffindor smiled at the sight of him eating, and where once the action would have irritated the Slytherin to no end, now it made him feel oddly happy.

"Now, I believe you have something to tell me?" the headmaster inquired.

Harry told the old man a somewhat condensed and heavily edited version of what had happened. Of course, there came a place where he could not avoid mentioning, in the most delicate of terms, of course, very personal events, and both boys turned a bright shade of red during the recitation. By that time, both had finished eating. Somehow, Draco's head had ended up on Harry's shoulder, and Harry's arm had instinctively wrapped around the blond's waist.

Dumbledore sat through the whole story without interrupting, except to ask for a more detailed account of the ritual they'd performed and how they'd performed it (which is how Harry wound up having to talk about... that), though his eyes had started doing their 'twinkle thing' when Draco's head had dropped wearily onto Harry's shoulder.

"Just a moment, please," the headmaster said, then went to the door. "In here, Severus," he called. Returning to his seat, he said, "So you felt binding yourself to Harry was your best choice?" he asked Draco.

The blond only nodded slightly, eyes closed. Harry noticed. "Could we continue this tomorrow, Headmaster? It's been a long day."

"When did you get here, Albus, and why?" Snape stood just inside the small doorway.

"About an hour ago, now, and I think you know why," Dumbledore said calmly.

The potions master coloured slightly, but otherwise there was no change in his demeanour. "You know the reasoning?" he asked.

"I think we could have come up with another solution, but what's done is done. I hope no ill comes of it," Albus replied.

"Professors?" Harry broke in. "Where do we sleep?" He knew, from previous conversations with the headmaster, that the dorm rooms weren't kept made up during the summer.

"There's a small room not far from here," the old man informed him. "There's only one bed, but it's a large one; there hasn't been time to make other arrangements."

"I don't mind sharing, if Draco doesn't. I can sleep on a sofa here, otherwise," the brunet said, getting up and helping Draco to his feet.

"'Don't mind," Draco mumbled sleepily.

Harry looked at the blond tenderly, then caught himself, blushing and smiling sheepishly at the headmaster. He caught sight of the potions master sneering at him, and went rigid. "Something wrong, Professor?" he asked coldly.

"Severus! Mind your position," the headmaster said, interrupting, as the lank-haired Head of House drew breath, most likely to deliver another unwarranted insult.

The potions master subsided, contenting himself with a glare at the famous young Gryffindor.

"You're not helping yourself, Mister Potter," Dumbledore reprimanded.

"I am not my father, and I wish he'd remember that. The man he thinks wronged him is dead," Harry replied distantly, eyes focused on nothing. "How empty is revenge on the son, if the perpetrator cannot be hurt by it?"

'Where did that come from?' he asked himself. 'Never mind; don't care.'

Snape paled, the shot hitting home. As a former Slytherin, it was in his nature to seek revenge, but the young Gryffindor was right; a proper revenge must end by hurting the perpetrator, and the perpetrator in this case was beyond his ability to harm. He had been pursuing an empty cause for years, and had therefore been behaving foolishly. He hoped none of his pupils ever caught on to that; it would lessen him in their eyes, and they were difficult enough to control as it was. Draco. He'd have to have a talk with the boy before school again went in session. He felt a headache coming on.

Harry turned to the headmaster and sighed. "I'm sorry. I really am very tired," he hinted.

Dumbledore headed for the door. "This way."

Albus tried to pump the young men for more details en-route, but was, instead, firmly told it could wait until tomorrow.

When they reached the room, Draco walked slowly over to the bed and sank tiredly onto it, not paying attention as Dumbledore said his good-nights. The potions master had not accompanied them. When they were alone, he told Harry, "You were right. You should have said something like that years ago."

"What? Said what?" Harry asked, confused, since a lot of things had been said that night.

"What you told Snape."

"Oh." The silence grew. "You think it did any good?"

"If he's any kind of Slytherin at all, it did."


That was the last thing said that night. They slipped off to sleep, too exhausted to even undress and get in the bed.


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