Title: Portrait

Archiving: just ask.

Rating: PG

Date: April-May 2003.

Summary: A grouping of assorted drabbles.

Notes: For the Armchair chatters, who inspire me.

I. Promise.

When it ended, when Harry finally left Draco, what hurt him most of all was that Draco had not kept his promise. It was a stupid thing to dwell on, but once, when they were in bed and Draco was taking him (from behind as usual, because for some reason Draco liked it better that way, and Harry tried to pretend it wasn't because Draco didn't want to see his eyes when he came), Harry had gasped, "Don't stop, don't—"

and Draco had pushed into him even harder, his hips gaining a rhythm that made the mattress beneath them bounce like Harry imagined schooners rolled over a choppy sea on a sunny day—and gripped him hard by the shoulders, placed his lips on one, and said, "I won't."

Harry had pressed, "promise?" and butted his crown against the headboard because it was just that good, and Draco had gasped out a breathless 'yes.'

That was all that bothered Harry, really. Just that Draco had not kept his promise.

II. Petal.

The strain on them during the day was always the worst part. Malfoy frequently complained, "There's never anywhere to go," and they often wound up habituating the same places in between dusty corridors and up against stone walls in forgotten nooks. They fared best at night but they both wanted to be out in the open—neither of them preferred the indoors.

Once and once only they went walking one day, together, around the lake. It was nearing dusk, and by some inexplicable unspoken agreement they met under a willow. They each tried to tell themselves that they had gone out to get fresh air, and not because of a need to breathe the fresh air together, but once they were there, it was easy to walk, not touching or walking side by side, because that would raise too many eyebrows; but even Gryffindors and Slytherins could share a few moments in peace without making the air crackle with suspicion.

Potter was pulling at his robes, which were staticky and kept clinging uncomfortably to his pants, so he lagged behind more often than not. And then Malfoy stopped, knelt down beside the bank, and picked something up—a flower. It was a beautiful grey lily growing by the waterside. "Why did you pick it?" Potter asked, but Malfoy did not answer him. Instead he ran his fingertips over the petals and the stem, and twirled it between his thumb and index finger.

They kept walking in silence until they reached the side of the lake nearest the pitch, where the Slytherins were congregating for their evening Quidditch practice. Malfoy shrugged because he did not need to say he should go meet them, and turned away. Without looking over his shoulder, he carelessly held out the flower to Potter, as if he intended to drop it if Potter didn't take it right away. But his fingers touched Potter's, and when they jerked at the unexpected contact the flower fell to the ground, leaving only their fingertips trembling from the shock of it.

They stayed inside after that.

III. Pillow.

Harry shifted on the pillow. It was one of the hard kind that they got standard-issue from the school and it was impossible to sleep on. He had his foot propped up on the headboard near Draco's shoulder. Draco had nodded off while sitting up, one hand still curling around Harry's inner thigh, which he had been stroking while they talked. It was a warm night, and the heavy breathing all around them from the other beds created a light, uneven canopy of sound. Harry tilted his head up, until it just started to hurt and he knew he wouldn't be able to leave it there for long without a nasty crick the next morning. Draco's hair was falling into his eyes, right over his cheek down to his upper lip. Draco kept wrinkling his nose as he slept, and Harry knew the stray locks must have been tickling him. He sat up slowly, thinking he would just push them out of the way, but Draco's eyes snapped open at the first movement. He blinked muzzily.

"Sorry," murmured Harry. "Didn't mean to wake you."

"How long was I asleep?"

"Just a few seconds," Harry lied.

"Ow," said Draco, reaching beneath him and pulling his wand out from under him, at a ridiculous angle. He yawned. So did Harry. "Come up this way," Draco said, patting the empty space beside him, below the arc of Harry's legs against the headboard. "It's cooler nearer the door."

Harry knew this was a lie and that curling up next to Draco was bound to be warmer, not cooler. He did it anyway, plopping the lumpy pillow down at the other end of the bed.

Draco stretched and glanced at the wand in his hand. "Plumatus anser," he said casually, yawning again as he flicked the wand at Harry's head. Dropping it on the floor he rolled over against Harry and closed his eyes.

Harry, relaxing into the goose down, smiled in the dark.

IV. Premises.

One night about ten weeks later Harry went out on the balcony and saw a sliver of moonlight against the trees, and he did not have to wait until his eyes adjusted to know what the sliver was.

Draco stepped forward and looked up at him, his hands in his pockets with the thumbs hooked over the top. He didn't say a word. Harry looked down at him and remembered the fighting, how it had gone on for days at the end, how Draco had flatly refused to listen to anything he said, how he had come close several times to shoving Draco against the wall and banging his head against the tiles in order to make him listen.

"Come in," he said shortly, and went inside and closed the balcony door. He knew Draco would expect the door to be unlocked.

Luckily enough it had been unlocked for the last ten weeks.

V. Present.

Dean was listening to Christmas music even though it was still a sweltering sticky Halloween. The sounds of the Andrew Sisters and Bing Crosby had been floating out into the common room all weekend. It was corny and stupid and sweet, and even though it was just the end of October Harry couldn't stop thinking about the look on Draco's face when he received the bright green Weasley sweater Ron's mum had already made him.

"Don't you know it's impolite to stare?" Draco said lazily, his voice muffled and sticky against the crisp autumn air. Harry just grinned and kissed him to the strains of "Melekelikimaka" and hoped Draco wasn't allergic to knit.

VI. Prow.

Draco wasn't really sure but he always thought sex would be a little like sailing, with the heave and toss and the queasy feeling that you might topple overboard at any moment. When he finally fucked Harry he discovered that it really *was* like sailing, but not the ways he expected. It was lurching and pulling and throwing your weight around and the choppy unevenness of each thrust. It was the sweat and the heat, and the release as you came, like surf launching over the keel to cool you, just enough but never enough. And then, one day, months later, Harry's touch was gentle. Suddenly his kisses were lingering, suddenly the thrust changed into the light sweet glide of body into body, like strong sails in an effervescent wind, and in the stillness after the squall, Draco became irrevocably terrified that he would never topple overboard again.

VII. Parody.*

"You're such a baby, Potter."

"I'm not a baby! I'm sixteen!"

"Right, that explains the authority figures lurking everywhere just ready to hold your hand and walk you through life."

"Dumbledore is older and wiser!"

"That's just an excuse for him to tell you what to do."

"... Well it's not like you can offer up any better alternatives."


"...Or are you going to be the one telling me what to do now?"

Dry laugh.

"Because you're so much older and wiser."

"Well, I will be eighteen in a few months."

"So what are you saying Malfoy? You're going to look after me instead of Dumbledore?"

Softly. "...Yes, Potter. I think I will."


"I said"—gentle kiss—"I'll take care of you."

VIII. Punch.

Hermione watched the pair. They couldn't help it. Across the ballroom their eyes kept flitting back to one another, skirting, darting over each other's forms, pretending each magnetized glance was unintentional. That it was the shapes of dancing silhouettes against the walls they couldn't keep their eyes off of, and not one another. She sighed. Any minute now, she thought; any minute now one of them would have to move—to refill punch or make a suave move towards the great veranda for a breath of fresh air. Any minute now one of them would cut across the room in an erratic detour that would only end them by one another's sides.

She could feel the tension, it made her shoulders ache from the need for resolution, before the night ended and everything returned to the same pattern of hostile gazes and denial thrown like cutting insults across one another's paths. She wiped her forehead and took a drink. Behind her she could sense Ron's approach well before he came up to her and refilled his own drink. "Some evening, isn't it?" he asked, taking a deep gulp.

Hermione glanced at the two figures sitting stiffly on opposite sides of the room, avoiding the dance, waiting for the storm to break.

"Some enchanted evening," she answered, smiling to herself.

IX. Painting.

Draco Malfoy did not like Muggle art, but if he had, he would have liked Cezanne. Cezanne, he had read in some faded book, had once come up to an art student, gripped him by the shoulders, and said excitedly, "Listen to me. Everything in life is either a circle or a square!" as if this were the world's most vital truth and he must impart it or die in the attempt.

Draco did not mean to think of that when he studied the long planes of Harry Potter's hands across from him during potions class. "Apples and oranges," Pansy told him later, her tone ringing of disapproval. "You and Potter. It's just simple facts."

Draco kept watching Potter. He was a study of dark browns and reds, he radiated energy even when still. Sometimes it was so vibrant, the explosion of color and light around and within Potter as Draco watched him, that he wanted to weep. He had to capture it somehow, he had to get an imprint. And something told him that he would never be able to, that he, like Cezanne, would draw a thousand sketches and ruin a thousand canvases trying to draw the same still life of apples and oranges together and never capture the essence he thought. It was like thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird, only it was Potter, and it was thirteen million.

When he finally got up close enough he saw the round cheeks and the ovular glasses, the sharp angles of jawline and nose and chin, and he muttered, "Apples and oranges" under his breath before he kissed Potter's throat.

"What?" Potter murmured breathlessly, pushing into him.

Draco didn't think a circle could ever fit inside a square. But he was willing to ruin the canvas of Potter's body in the attempt.


* with apologies to Oscar Hammerstein and Arthur Laurents.

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