Friday, March 9, 2007

Harry Potter and the Prince of Nightmares

Chapter Six: Searching for Milk

Lucius had barely settled into his chair in his study when Narcissa burst through the door. Her underskirt was twisted around her hips and her bare chest had begun sagging from age and bounced rather unattractively as she ran into the room. Although she had put concealer on it, Lucius could still see the faint bite mark on her shoulder. The concealer just made him angry.

"Lucius!" She yelled as soon as she set foot inside his study, running a rather dry hand through her matted blond hair. "What is the meaning of this?"

Lucius blatantly ignored her finger pointing to her left arm, with flapping meat but otherwise unblemished. "I was unaware that I said anything to you."

"You know perfectly well what I'm talking about!" Narcissa stamped her foot for emphasis. At Lucius's continued silence, she said, "The Dark Mark!"

"What Dark Mark?"

"Exactly, where is the Dark Mark?" She breathed loudly. Lucius wasn't sure if that was supposed to make him more compassionate toward her frustration, but he felt that it made him rather disgusted with her. If she was to be a horse, she could at least choose those who mount her, instead of accepting everybody.

Narcissa forged on despite Lucius's apparent nonchalance. "It's good that Nott didn't see anything, but he's going to ask questions."

Calmly, Lucius asked, "So, it's Nott than?"

Narcissa gasped sharply and blanched. She took a step backwards. "N-no, it's not," she stuttered. "Nott... no... time... this..." Her sentences became unintelligible garbles.

"Too late." Lucius shook his head in mock regret as he stood up from his seat. With easy steps, he stepped around his desk to stand in front of Narcissa. "Too late," he repeated softly, as if in mourning, but his eyes held a new spark like just polished silver.

As Lucius walked past Narcissa, she pulled desperately on Lucius's white robe. "No, Lucius..." In desperation, she kneeled behind his departing back. "Please, Lucius..."

Lucius shook his head again. "Too late, sweet Cissy." He stopped walking toward the door, though, much to Narcissa's relief. "I've told you, as soon as I know who it is... You're going to have to find a new toy."

"It's not a game," Narcissa shouted after Lucius, and got up haphazardly to detain him, who had started his even walk toward the door again. "It's not a game! It's love. Just because you can't love doesn't mean the rest of us can't. Just because you're not human doesn't mean the rest of us aren't." She never gave up her grasp on Lucius robe, but he only shrugged it so it lay like a rug in his study.

Lucius easily ignored Narcissa's pleas, and made his way to the door of his study.

"Lord," Narcissa started gasping, her eyes wild from panic. "Oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord."

Then, to Narcissa's relief, Lucius stopped and turned toward her. He remarked rather dryly. "I doubt even Voldemort can do much for his followers from afar. Or that he would."

"Not the Dark Lord," Narcissa snapped, gaining courage that she had found something to distract Lucius. "Even I know his rules don't work like that. I'm praying to the Almighty One in heaven."

"You?" Lucius made as if peering down on Narcissa and laughed uproariously, a hard, grating sound in the dim confines of his somber study. "You, who would commit genocide to preserve your pride?"

Narcissa's blue eyes blazed indignantly, but her clothes—or lack thereof—rather ruined the effect. "It's for the good of the world."

"Besides," Lucius continued in a strangely satisfied tone, ignoring Narcissa's interruption. "God is dead. We killed Him."

Here, Lucius paused dramatically, almost as if expecting Narcissa to somehow respond, but she could only totter between belief and disbelief. While powerful and ambitious, Lucius had never showed signs of madness. Rather the opposite, actually. But if God was no more... for Narcissa, who had grown up in a Catholic family like all purebloods, the thought was incomprehensible. God was almighty, all-knowing and eternal.

Lucius smiled beatifically. "I am a Malfoy. Mal foi. Where do you think the name came from?"

Narcissa was still struggling with the fact that Lucius didn't believe in God. At least, not a God who still watched over all of his creation on Earth.

Lucius wasn't a Catholic. By God, he was going to tell her next that he didn't really believe in the pureblood ideal.

Suddenly, Lucius grabbed Narcissa's arm forcefully. "You’re my mate, Cissy. You can believe in a dead God all you want, but you will follow me first. Even when I no longer follow Voldemort."

Narcissa could only think of one intelligible reply. "But, why?"

"Because Draco has taken Harry Potter as his mate." Before Narcissa could offer any objections for an immutable fact, Lucius tightened his hold painfully on her arm. "And if you even entertain the idea of telling Voldemort this," he whispered menacingly. "I'll bite off your tongue and let the sweet taste of copper fill our kiss."

With her eyes closed, Narcissa could see clearly what Lucius meant. The bond between their spirits let Lucius fill her mind with his thoughts. At times like this, she reveled in it. With her mouth open, Narcissa barely controlled her breathing so that it was quiet and even. If Lucius ever knew that she enjoyed these punishments, he would stop them.

Lucius was very good with his punishments. Narcissa had yet to find another to be his equal. Nott, though, had a lot of potential.

Lucius's pale hand traveled up Narcissa's arm, leaving a bruise where he had grabbed her. His hand tickled her neck like feathers and caressed her face. "Then maybe I'll bite off your toes, one by one." His breath was a soft zephyr, a warm wind whispering into her ear. "I'll leave the big toes, I think, because it's quite difficult to walk properly without them. Then, I'll bite parts off of you where it won't show—your thighs, your back, your breast."

Here, he fondled her chest gently for emphasis. "And when I run out of places—that might take some time—I'll heal you... to start all over again. You know how much I love to see you scream." Lucius paused thoughtfully. "I don't think I'll heal your tongue, though. I don't much like to hear you jabber."

He turned and left the study, then, but he still needed to attend the High Councilor meeting before retiring for the night. As he swung on his white and gold cloak and apparated out of the Malfoy Manor, Narcissa found that she was slowly coming out of the all-consuming cloud of silver he had left in her mind.

She started gasping and trembling where she stood, her knees wobbling under her skirt and her teeth chattering. Lucius had said nothing more about Theodore, but she hoped...

Theodore was still waiting for her, Narcissa realized belatedly. He would be impatient by now. He would give her the release that Lucius withheld so miserly. Youth had never been gifted with patience, she thought in one of her rare moments of reflection. But that was what she so loved about them.

Truly, she loved Theodore.

Harry woke up with a gasp. The room was so dark that for a moment he thought he was still stuck in his nightmare. Cautiously, he put on his glasses and turned on the light—careful not to use any spells, because even Hermione had warned him against exhausting his magic.

His ragged breathing slowed to a more even rhythm as his eyes adjusted so he could see the familiar Hogwarts dorm. Harry refused to think of his nightmare, and instead got up to get a drink of water.

And all he could see was Sirius in the Department of Mysteries. Harry turned around the empty room and Sirius was falling behind the Veil. And falling. And falling.

Harry stood rooted as he watched Sirius falling. Sirius wasn't falling slowly, but somehow, he never quite fell, and Harry just watched Sirius fall endlessly behind the Veil without doing anything.

No, Harry wasn't going to think about his nightmare. It was already in the past. It wasn't—it wasn't!—his fault and there was nothing he could do about it now.

But in the dream, people had suddenly appeared, crowding the Department of Mysteries. They were silent, almost zombie like. Harry saw Ron and Hermione and Ginny. Neville and Luna followed. He recognized faces from DA and faces from Gryffindor. He saw Hagrid and Mrs. Figg. But it was so crowded that he couldn't see them all.

Then, one by one, the people turned their big eyes at him. He met Ron's brown eyes first, and then Ron dropped down and became a pile of clothes white bones. Then Hermione. Then Ginny. Then Luna. Then Neville. Until everybody became piles of clothes and white bones.

Then the piles started smoking and the next thing Harry knew, there was not a trace of them anymore.

There was only Malfoy and Malfoy and Malfoy. Somehow, Draco, Lucius and Narcissa were all there. They laughed at him, with a great big silent mocking laugh that could only occur in dreams.

And Harry had wanted to turn away from them.

He did, only to see Sirius falling, falling, falling behind the Veil.

And the Malfoys were laughing, laughing, laughing.

With one hand, Harry grabbed the wooden doorframe to the Gryffindor dorm. His breathing was ragged again, but the solidity of the wood underneath his hand helped to ground him. His other hand tightened on his wand, even if he knew that he shouldn't perform any magic.

I won't relive the nightmare, Harry told himself. I won't. I won't. I won't. He repeated the litany to himself, not caring that he sounded like a petulant child.

In the dream, all the Malfoys became one Malfoy. Harry couldn't quite see his features, but he spoke with Draco's voice.

Harry didn't quite hear Draco, but he knew Draco said, "See, I can make them all live again."

And all the people were back again and they were all walking toward Harry, but he could still see Sirius falling behind the Veil.

But then, all the people were gone again. "But I can't," Malfoy said. "Even I can't undo death." And somehow, that was in Lucius voice.

And the entire world was gone, and Harry stood alone in the night sky, without the ground below him. Except Draco's voice still haunted him. "It's okay," Harry heard Draco say. "I can just make another world. Just for the two of us."

"Grow it back," Harry muttered. "Grow it back. Grow it back. Grow it back."

Suddenly, Harry was in the Department of Mysteries again, all by himself. And there was Sirius falling behind the Veil. Only, this time, Dumbledore was falling behind the Veil, too. They were falling and falling and falling and falling.

And the people appeared out of nowhere. They shuffled toward Harry. They would look at him and falling down dead. Then the smoke and the empty room and the Malfoys all over again.

Then, Harry was alone in the night sky. The world had disappeared again from under his feet. And he was muttering, "Grow it back. Grow it back. Grow it back. Grow it back."

And Draco's voice said, "It's okay. I can just make another world. Just for the two of us."

When Harry didn't stop his muttering, though, Draco added, "Of course, I could put the old world back the way it was. But are you sure you don't want their suffering to stop?"

But Harry didn't know what to think. And he didn't seem able to control what he was saying either. He could only keep on muttering "grow it back" until the whole world was the way it was, with Sirius falling behind the Veil. Falling. Falling. Falling.

And Dumbledore falling.

Falling. Falling. Falling.

And Draco falling.

Falling. Falling. Falling. They were all falling behind the Veil.

And the people walking toward Harry and dropping dead and disappearing. Two Malfoys appearing and the world disappearing. Harry stood all alone in the center of nothingness, with nothing, not even stars, for company. All he could think about was that Sirius and Dumbledore were dead, and Harry hadn't even tried to do anything to help them. He just let them fall...

All Harry seemed to be able to mutter was, "Grow it back. Grow it back. Grow it back. Grow it back."

But there was no Draco to answer him this time, because Draco had fallen behind the Veil, too. And Harry was fated to be the Boy-Who-Lived-in-Eternity-Alone when he woke up.

Harry pinched his arm to bring himself back to reality. He was going to get a glass of water to wash away his nightmare. Or maybe a glass of milk, if the Marauders' Map said that the halls were clear. It had always worked with the nightmares induced by Voldemort.

After checking his map and grabbing his cloak, Harry made his way silently down from the boys' dorm. The Fat Lady mumbled her protest when she opened the entrance, but went back to sleep almost immediately.

Harry looked down at the floor, trusting the Marauders' Map to have told him where everybody was. His invisibility cloak was only for emergency and he figured there was nobody to hide from anyways.

As he passed a secret passage, though, Harry bumped into somebody. He looked up, only to see the sharp-nosed, greasy-haired DADA professor.

Snape asked mockingly, "And what, pray tell, do we have here?" He walked a circle around Harry, who stood immobilized. Somehow, Harry had forgotten in his panic that people moved, and that just because the corridor had been clear didn't mean it would remain that way forever.

"Why, is it Potter?" Snape's voice dripped with even more sarcasm than usual. "Is perfect Potter out in the halls after curfew? My, my, how many points will I have to deduct so you can learn your lesson?"

From past experience, Harry learned that these episodes passed quicker when he remained silent. Besides, Harry was too tired to think of something to say.

Snape continued, "Fifty points? A hundred?" The circle he paced around Harry seemed to get tighter and tighter. "I think I will take a hundred and fifty. Yes, a hundred and fifty points from Gryffindor and you're not a month into the school year yet. I doubt even Dumbledore will be able to make up for that."

Harry schooled his face to be stoic.

Snape snapped, "Well, what are you doing here? Why aren't you heading to your dorm yet?"

Quickly, Harry left toward the direction of the Gryffindor house, but as soon as he rounded the corner, he put on his invisibility cloak. He waited until Professor Snape walked past him before headed back for the kitchens. He had already lost the hundred-and-fifty points, Harry figured he might as well get that cup of warm milk he wanted.

Besides, Snape had managed to wake Harry up completely. That and the nightmare, Harry sincerely doubted that he was going to get any more sleep tonight.

Snape sighed, knowing full well that Potter very probably wasn't heading toward the Gryffindor dorm. But he was in one of his rare moments when he didn't actually care what Potter did or did not do. He was too tired from the latest Death-Eater meeting. If he didn't have an image to upkeep, he would have pretended that he didn't see the Potter boy at all.

Now that he had been his usual nasty self—Snape didn't really consider himself nasty, just candid, but by all other people's accounts, he was rather nasty—he should just be able to leave Potter alone. Potter would probably crash into Filch anyways. Snape personally thought that the squib was much nastier than Snape himself had ever been.

Of course, to be fair, Snape had to make allowances. The poor squib needed the magic of a cat to stay in Hogwarts. How miserable Filch's life must be... Snape would rather not know, actually. He had enough of his own problems.

One of them, for example, was too watch over the Potter boy, per Lucius's request. If it had been anybody else's request, Snape would just have ignored it. But Lucius was his childhood friend—if childhood friendship accounted for anything among purebloods. Furthermore, though, Lucius had spared Remus's life several times, simply by pretending not to know where Remus lived.

Lucius did know, though, because of the number of times that he had had to heal Snape. Psychological healing was one of the few things that could enable a Nightmare to see another's thoughts. Without Lucius's healing, Snape would probably be lying beside the Longbottoms now in St. Mungo's from the sheer number of crucios Voldemort dealt Snape regularly.

Snape shuddered a little at that thought. He'd rather not be compared with the Longbottoms in any way possible.

Snape set his jaws determinedly as he walked toward the dungeons, and cursed his strange attachment to Remus Lupin. Even if Remus Lupin had been the only one in Snape's year to have ever been remotely nice to Snape, Remus had hung out with Black and Potter. Still hung out with Potter.

At least he had some time before he had to go fetch Potter, Snape thought. The only place worth going to in that corridor was the kitchen, where Snape had just gotten some chocolate to reenergize himself. The stupid school didn't even have rum, and Snape certainly didn't feel like going to Hogsmeade in his condition.

À bientôt, Snape thought sourly at Potter.

When Harry tickled the pear, the door to the kitchen opened. Through the opening door, only to reveal a pale, blond head, the signature of a Malfoy, somehow already there. Harry suddenly felt panic overwhelm him. Hermione would've said that it was his right brain recognizing instinctively the object of fear from Harry's nightmare.

Silently, Harry turned to leave. There was no point in getting that cup of milk if he had to deal with Draco.

Harry hadn't taken two steps into the dim corridor when somehow Draco was in front of him, blocking his path. Draco grabbed Harry's wrist with a deceptively skinny hand and deceptively slender fingers. Harry fought not to pull away or wince, but he knew that tomorrow, he'd have to cover finger-shaped bruises somehow.

"So, I wasn't quite the person you wanted to see," Draco observed evenly. As usual, his pale angular faced displayed no expression.

When Harry remained silent—how did Draco expect him to respond?—Draco continued, "Who was it you wanted to meet?"

Harry wasn't meeting anybody, unless Draco considered a cup of milk somebody. Still, he bristled at Draco's dictatorial tone. "None of your—"

"You're my mate," Draco reminded Harry fiercely. This time, Harry couldn't control his wince as Draco's fingers tightened—impossibly more—painfully around Harry's wrist.

Harry waited for a second, but the pain didn't lessen. Honestly, he was tired, he had just come back from the infirmary, he had had a very bad nightmare and all he wanted was a cup of milk. This was really not worth it.

Still, Draco didn't relent. Harry glared at Draco before answering, "No one."

Harry looked up at Draco, who had loosened his hold so that it was firm but no longer painful. Draco was a comfortable distance away again.

Harry thought Draco's pale face should have contrasted sharply with the dark corridors. But instead, it somehow blended seamlessly with the shadows, so that all Harry really could see were two rows of flickering candlelight lining the corridor and fading into the distance. The end of the corridor must exist somewhere, but Harry couldn’t see it.

"What did you want then?" Draco continued doggedly. As Draco leaned in to emphasize his question, Harry pulled away, only to have his other wrist captured by Draco's hand, too.

Harry hadn't thought about it before, but now that he did, Draco's hands were unexpectedly warm. It wasn't even a clammy sort of warm, but a fireplace warm completely at odds with Draco's cold demeanor.

For his part, Draco was trying to remain non-emotional. Malfoys were beautiful, rich, aristocratic, and didn't have a care in the world. Still, tomorrow would be Monday, and that meant classes. Perhaps Potter could get away without any spells in Potions, but he doubted that even Potter could go through DADA without casting at least one spell.

And that spell might just spell the death of them both.

After all, Potter didn't have any more magic in him, and magic begot magic. So, Potter couldn't generate more magic either. Potter might live without magic, but Draco couldn't. And truly, Draco didn't want to die yet. He still had a stack of candy from his mother to eat. He still had first years to terrify. He still had a people to rule.

When Potter had been in his dorm, Draco had been able to convince himself that Potter was asleep and really shouldn't be bothered. Besides, Draco didn't know the password to the Gryffindor house. But when he had felt Potter leave his dorm, all of his Nightmare instincts started acting up at once.

All Draco had wanted to do was to sleep with Harry Potter, whether the wonder boy wanted to or not. Of course, he knew that Potter hadn't come downstairs to sleep with Draco, and then all Draco could think about was whom Potter did want to sleep with.

It was true that the mate of a Nightmare can sleep with other people without endangering the bond, but the bond between Draco and Potter was not fully formed yet. Potter had not yet accepted the bond, and before then, Draco considered Potter exclusively his to chase.

And chase Potter he would. Draco had never yet lost in a game of tag, and he didn't plan to.

Harry vaguely found Draco's silver eyes in front of him. They suddenly seemed only inches away—hadn't Draco moved away sometime? Draco's eyes reflected the flickering candlelight strangely, so that they glinted with strange orange and red hues.

"Nothing," Harry answered, trying to sound firm and courageous. He wasn't scared. He wasn't. Draco in a dark corridor was nothing like his voice in a dark room. Nothing. Harry had a nightmare and now Draco was in front of him and that was it.

But then Draco leaned ominously closer, so that his silver and red and orange flickering eyes loomed in front of Harry. Harry didn't know what hell looked like—he didn't even know if he believed in it—but he thought it must look like Draco's eyes at that moment. Harry couldn't help the step he took backwards, taking him up against the closed door to the kitchen.

"So you came all the way down here for nothing?" Draco's soft tenor whispered the question. Somehow, the step that Harry had taken didn't seem to matter. Somehow, Draco had followed. Harry's belated brain thought that Draco must have floated, for he certainly didn't do something as clumsy taking a step.

"Fine," Harry gave in. He really wasn't up to this. If he knew all the trouble getting a glass of milk would have gotten him in, he wouldn't have come down at all. "I wanted a glass of milk."

Harry was sure that if it were any other circumstance, his Gryffindor stubbornness would have made him continue to refuse to answer Draco's questions. However, Harry considered this one of those unusual circumstances. Harry—if he was truly honest to himself, and he tried to be—had to admit a tickle of fear climbing up his spine. It was only because of the nightmare, though, not because Draco was much stronger than Harry expected. Or that Draco seemed rather demonic. Or that Harry didn't know what he was supposed to be doing.

"You have a lot of work cut out in front of you trying to convince me that you left in the middle of the night after curfew just to get a glass of milk," Draco said evenly.

"Of course middle of the night is after curfew," Harry shot back.

"That is beside the point," Draco gritted through his teeth. "I'm asking you why you decided to break curfew. And don't give me the paltry excuse of wanting a glass of milk."

"I did—and still do—want a glass of milk," Harry replied stubbornly. Just because he was scared didn't mean that he couldn't be brave, too.

"Fine, let's say you want a glass of milk," Draco allowed magnanimously. "Why did you want a glass of milk?"

"Oh, so I can't have a glass of milk now?"

Draco glared at Potter. All his life, he had been the prince. He was the heir to the Malfoy line. He was the prince of the Slytherins. He was even Prince of Nightmares, even if he hadn't actually ascended to throne yet. With power or family or money, Draco had always been able to get his way... except with Potter.

"Yes, you can have a glass of milk, but I'm asking you why you want one now."

"I do because I do." Harry glared at Draco. "Now are you going to let me pass or not?"

Draco glared right back at Potter. At this point, Draco was sure that there was no threat to his impending bond with Potter, but it had become an issue of pride. Draco would ask a question, and Draco would get an answer. "Only if you tell me why you want milk."

Really, Harry wouldn't have thought that head-on stubbornness would be a trait of the most Slytherin of Slytherins, but he supposed that he learned something new each day. Besides, it was going from late night to early morning, and Harry did intend to sleep that night.

"Fine," Harry grounded. "I had a nightmare, alright? Are you happy now? Harry Potter had a nightmare and it scared him so much that he couldn't even sleep without going to get some milk."

Surprisingly, though, Draco didn't take the chance to say anything disparaging. Harry looked behind him reflexively as he felt the door behind him give way. Harry hadn't really counted on Draco keeping his word, since, well... Draco was a Malfoy, and Malfoys were Slytherins.

Harry looked back into Draco's silver eyes for signs of deception, but couldn't find any. There was a quiet moment in Harry's mind. It wasn't quite a revelation, though...

"Why?" Harry asked.

"I said I would, didn't I?" Malfoy shot back.

But Harry couldn't quite leave it at that. If anybody had a reason behind his every action, it would be Malfoy, and Harry was going to find out why Draco had let Harry pass without even insulting him.

"Why?" Harry repeated doggedly, staring at Draco, trying to read his face.

Of course, Draco kept his face impassive. It was one of the first things he had learned as a Malfoy. For some time, Harry had been scared of Draco. Draco had felt it through the bond. Instead of feeling accomplished and satisfied, as he always thought he would, though, Draco had felt a strange sense of loss.

For all of the five and a half years that Draco had known Harry, Harry had been there as Draco's equal. They fought duels. They chased the same snitch. They traded insults. And neither had ever cowed in front of the other. Now that Harry did, there had been something... wrong about it.

Draco wished he could make Harry just go get his milk like he had made Harry tell the truth. He didn't want to admit, even to himself, that he wanted Harry to be arguing with him instead of giving in. He had pushed Harry in hopes of getting Harry to fight back, but Harry had only given in, until Draco felt a strange need to convince Harry that he needn't be scared.

Unfortunately for Draco, the spirit bond was no substitute for the mythical telepathy that even Nightmares didn't possess. Draco could only make Harry tell the truth because the noble Gryffindor already had a penchant for truth telling. He couldn't turn Harry from his persistent questioning.

Although, there was one other thing that Draco could try.

Harry found that somehow, instead of just looking at Draco's eyes, he was looking into Draco's eyes. The silver pools seemed to swirl, and although Harry tried to figure out what was going on, his mind seemed a little sluggish.

Draco leaned toward Harry so that Harry could smell the mint and chocolate on Draco's breath. Without giving away too much, Draco whispered fiercely, "You are my mate. And I am the only Nightmare you will ever have from now on."

When Draco reflected on it—which he refused to do at the moment—he would realize exactly how Gryffindor his vow sounded.

Harry wasn't doing it on purpose, but his vigilant practice of occlumency had paid off, and he could tell whenever somebody wasn't quite telling the truth. This time, Draco was telling the truth.

Harry really oughtn’t to feel safe with Malfoy, but somehow he did. Maybe it was Draco's unusual sincerity. Maybe it was that Harry knew Malfoy could actually do something about his nightmares. Maybe it was simply the soft silver pools he seemed to be swimming in.

Draco hid a satisfied smirk as his plan started succeeding.

Slowly, so that he wouldn't startle Harry and also so that he could pull Harry under his spell even more, Draco leaned in to plant a soft kiss on Harry's lips.

Harry closed his eyes as Draco's lips met his, but that layer of swirling silver didn't leave his mind. Much to his disappointment, Draco's lips left him just as quickly. But then, Harry felt feathered kisses sprinkling down the side of his neck.

Somehow, Draco's hands skimmed over Harry's bare skin under his shirt. He felt—through the layers of restrictive clothing—Draco's firm body lean against his, a comforting pressure trapping him against the kitchen door. When had the kitchen door closed again?

Harry wasn't quite sure what was going on, but whatever it was, it made him better than he had felt since... forever.

When Draco turned Harry around, Harry didn't protest. Harry just wanted to stay in the warm cocoon that was in. For a moment, he was almost shocked out of his pleasant mood by the cold air that suddenly blew past his back and behind.

Then, Draco's warmth covered his back again. Draco's hands played on Harry's—bare?—chest. Draco's mouth was doing something—not quite kissing, Harry was sure something so wonderful wouldn't be called something as trite as kissing—to Harry's neck, and Harry couldn't help but lean back into Draco.

Harry bit his lip so that he could control his breathing. Somewhere in the recess of his brains, he thought that Draco wouldn't like any displays of loss of control, but Harry did let the ball of his feet push into the stone floor.

Suddenly, Harry heard, "Potter, did I not tell you to go back to your dorm, what are you doing here?" Snape's slimy voice was like a splash of cold water, and lifted Harry out of the trance that Draco had put him in.

"P-Professor Snape," Harry stuttered, looking down. Unfortunately, his suspicions were confirmed. He was rather bare. Hastily, he pulled the cape from the floor and pulled it on around him.

Draco stood just to the side, as meticulously dressed as ever. Harry leveled him with a glare just for good measure.

Snape seemed to just realize Harry's state of undress, too. His brown eyes scanned the rest of the dark corridor, and landed on the pale blond. Snape didn't know how he could have missed Draco before... but he decided it must be one of those Nightmare things.

"Malfoy, too," Snape added, just because he could. He didn't like it when people surprised him. And while Draco Malfoy might be the Prince of Nightmares, he was still a student of Hogwarts, under Snape's house, no less. "I want both of you back to your dorms. Now."

Harry left quickly. As he was leaving, he saw Professor Snape give Draco a significant glance. Harry didn't bother to find out what was happening, though. He counted himself lucky that Snape didn't take away any more points.

And he didn't even get his cup of milk.