Playing House



Difficult as it was to move the bed without his wand, Harry still manhandled it across the floor every night, away from the yawning space where the back wall to the bedroom should have been.

In the first few months of his stay, he'd not bothered. Then one night, he'd awoken from a nightmare to find himself gasping, dripping with sweat, and scant inches from the abyss. After that, the bed made the journey across the room every night. He always drew the curtain – habit, he supposed – not that it protected his privacy in the slightest. Then he huddled on the far side of the mattress, covered in the scraps of fabric that passed for blankets, one eye on the missing wall and the vast, open space beyond.

His precautions were useless. The nightmares still sent him walking.

After nearly falling a second time, Harry gathered the bedding and hunkered down on a stairwell. His sleep was interrupted a second time that night when the house began to shake.

Snape shouted and cursed and shook the house – upturning furniture and bric-a-brac – until Harry crawled out of the stairwell, still wrapped in blankets, and showed himself to his keeper.

Snape's growl of annoyance echoed through the bedroom. "Potter! You imbecile!"

Hardly fair, Harry thought. It'd been a rather intelligent solution. "I don't want to fall," he said.

Snape's face loomed, filling the space where the wall should be. Despite himself, Harry stepped back.

"You will not fall, Potter, as I've told you time and time again. The space is warded. If you step off, you'll bounce right back."

So he'd said, though Harry wondered. Wondered if Snape was waiting for Harry to test that theory, and – perhaps – put them all out of their misery.

Snape tilted his head and stuck his face farther into Harry's bedroom. This time, Harry resisted the urge to retreat, even though the sight of Snape's nose – every craggy pore and wiry black hair magnified – turned his stomach.

"Stay out of the stairwells. I can't see you in there."

Harry gave a noncommittal nod.

"You will not fall," Snape repeated. "How else can I possibly reassure you?"

"Put a wall up?" Harry asked. Before he could hate himself for voicing the words as a question, or ask about the strange midnight visit, Snape had gone, stirring up a small windstorm in his wake.



Depression danced around the edge of boredom. He slept more and spoke less.

"You're acting lazy," Snape said one morning. He had to lean down to see Harry, who was hunched over the kitchen table, listlessly nibbling on a piece of toast.

"I'm bored," Harry replied.

Snape's mouth twisted. His face disappeared and a maelstrom of black fabric swirled in front of Harry's eyes. He clutched the Prophet to his chest as a burst of displaced air tried to snatch it from his hands.

"Just leave me alone," he added when the air around him had calmed.

Snape returned a few minutes later, depositing a large trunk on the floor in front of Harry. "Here, then. I've shrunk some old texts of mine, as well as some of those silly adventures you favour."

Harry slipped from his chair and dropped to his knees, doing his best to concentrate on the books. He didn't care to dwell on the smudges of filth he'd seen lodged under Snape's fingernails when they had intruded into his kitchen.

He examined the reading material for a long while without touching any of it. "Thank you," he said eventually, eyes on the floor.

The false gratitude came easier every day.

Snape didn't answer, but he hovered while Harry examined his gifts. After a few minutes of uncomfortable silence, Harry settled onto the floor of the kitchen, removed the topmost book from the pile, and without regard to subject matter, began to read.

A breath of air across his face and a sudden brightening of the room alerted him when Snape stood and turned to leave. Harry had just breathed a relieved sigh when his world lurched, throwing him and the rest of the items in the kitchen towards the open wall. He screamed as he slid across the floor, watching in horror as a kitchen chair tumbled over the edge, followed by the trunk of books Snape had just delivered.

He scrabbled at the wood planks to no avail. His feet, then legs, dropped over the edge, and he let loose another yell, this one a strangled, "Snape!" The last of the floorboards scraped across his stomach and then he was falling, open air all around him.



He woke to a horrid smell, so thick it choked him. He rolled to his side and gagged once, then again as the memory of his fall from the kitchen came back to him. "I'm dead," he said, not yet willing to open his eyes.

"I'm afraid not," Snape replied. Harry cracked an eye, at first not recognizing what he was seeing. "Bloody hell," he shouted when his whereabouts registered.

He struggled to sit up, despite his aches and pains – the idea of his cheek pressed against Snape's palm inflaming his already upset stomach.

"You stink." He licked his lips, grimacing when he imagined the taste of Snape's skin on his tongue. "Put me down."

"Very well."

Crossing the room on Snape's palm was like riding a magic carpet made of shit. Harry pinched his nose and breathed through his mouth.

"What the fuck is all over your hands?" he asked, voice high and nasal.

"Crushed eye of newt. I was brewing this morning before I visited you."

Harry gulped back his nausea. His memory of the incident was hazy. Except for the last part, where his hands had slipped from the edge and the house had rushed away.

"I thought you said the walls were warded."

"They are normally warded. I removed the wards to give you the trunk of books and failed to reactivate them."

Snape eased his open palm into the library, and Harry scrambled off as quickly as he could. "What happened?" he asked as he turned. "It felt like an earthquake."

Snape cleared his throat. "My hip bumped the edge of the table as I turned. The wards, then my clumsiness…it was an unfortunate series of events."

"That's putting it mildly."

"I did manage to catch you before you hit the floor."

It was so absurd, so utterly ridiculous, that Harry started to laugh. "Well, thank God for that!" he yelled, cackling even harder at Snape's worried expression.

"I believe you should rest." Snape moved away, and Harry barely resisted the urge to ask about the state of the wards. Instead, he dragged himself to the nearest stairwell, climbed halfway to the next level, and curled up to sleep on the steps.



A week later, Snape's face appeared at the open wall of his bedroom.

"I've brought you something," he said, sounding uncharacteristically hoarse. "Someone," he amended.

Harry marked his page before looking up. "Someone?"

Snape's eyes darted down and to the left. "Yes." He seemed reluctant to say more.

From downstairs, Harry heard a thump, then a muffled curse. Snape frowned and bent at the waist, speaking into one of the lower rooms. "Calm down," he said. "It's for your own good."

Harry threw his book to the side and ducked into the nearest stairwell. Three steps down, he stopped and sagged against the wall. Snape's voice, muffled now, droned on and on, and though Harry strained his ears, he didn't hear anyone reply. As sick with dread as with anticipation, he crept down the rest of the stairs and leant around the doorway.

Draco was in his library.

He had his back to Harry, but that didn't matter. There was no mistaking the hair, the stance, or the aristocratic tone of his voice.

"I will not," he was saying, "stay in here. Find some other solution."

"There is no other solution. You'll be safe here."

Draco snorted, but Harry heard the desperation in his tone. Saw it in his posture, and felt it in the air. And that, at least, he understood.

"Safe?" Draco turned to Snape. "You've taken one too many curses." He stomped forward, right to the edge of where the room ended, his toes to Snape's nose. Harry held his breath, feeling inexplicably curious and excited by Draco's bluster. "You want me to hide here? In your house? Where the Dark Lord visits quite regularly? You call this safe?"

Severus's voice rose to match Draco's and Harry winced. "You are too small to draw any magical attention. I've protected you with the Fidelius Charm. He'll never sense you."

"He'll see me," Draco yelled. His voice dropped to a whisper. "He always sees me."

Snape's voice softened. "He will not. I promise." His tone turned soothing. "How many times have you been to my home?"

"Countless."

Snape nodded. "And have you ever given the item in which you are standing a second look?"

"Your mother's dollhouse?" Draco sneered. "Only to share a laugh with my father over your affinity for sentimentalities."

Snape stared back, his expression unreadable. "I imagine my affinities were the subject of many such discussions."

Draco muttered something under his breath.

"You'll be safe here," Snape said. "Until we can mend some of your fences."

"I want my wand."

"It will do you no good. Shrunken wands lose their power. You know that."

Harry chewed his lip. Snape had told him the same thing, but he'd only half believed him.

Draco sighed. "Yes, I know. I don't know what good this is going to do, though. He wants me dead and nothing will change his mind. Not even you."

"Then you can stay here forever." Snape smiled, filling Harry's vision with crooked, yellow teeth. "With Potter."

He disappeared with his usual speed. Light flooded the room.

"Potter?" Draco repeated, with a touch of confused disbelief. Then, as if sensing Harry behind him, he pivoted to peer into the darkened stairway. Harry stepped out of the shadows, setting his face in a glare and pouring as much hate as he could into his expression.

They locked eyes, neither speaking. Finally, Draco shook his head. "Fucking hell."

Harry sighed. "The feeling's mutual."



Draco paced. His eyes wandered to the gaping opening more than once as he circled the room, running his hands over furniture and knick-knacks. Catching Harry's eye, he jerked his chin towards the missing wall. "That's eerie."

Harry nodded.

Draco rolled his eyes and stalked to the edge. Harry found himself taking a step forward, reaching out, the words "don't" and "stop" on the tip of his tongue. He swallowed them back at the last moment, embarrassed that the thing at the root of his nightmares didn't frighten Draco at all.

"Fucking amazing," Draco said quietly, as he leant over the edge and peered down. He swung back to Harry. "How far to the floor do you think?"

Harry shrugged. He crossed his arms over his chest, the gesture becoming more of a self-hug than the sign of nonchalance he'd wanted. "Don't know exactly. The table's pretty high, as I remember. Maybe four feet from here. Higher from the floors above."

Draco tossed a blank look over his shoulder. "Higher from the floors above? You think so?"

"Fuck you."

"So let's see. Four feet to the floor and we're three inches tall. Wait. Strike that. I'm three inches tall." He gave Harry a measured look. "We'll call you two and a half."

Harry didn't bother to refute it. "Why are you here?"

"Why are you here?"

Harry circled the room, hands still tucked into his armpits. "I don't think I should tell you that."

Draco crossed his own arms, mirroring Harry's gesture, and rocked back on his heels. Harry's eyes widened and he gasped. "Careful," he snapped, annoyed when Draco ignored him.

"Snape told me the walls are warded."

Under his arms, Harry's fingers stroked along his still-bruised ribs. "Just be careful."

Draco pinned him with a hard stare, then advanced three steps into the room, away from the missing wall. "Seriously, Potter. Tell me what you're doing here. If you do, I'll tell you what's happening on my side of the fight. If nothing else, we'll both come away smarter for the exchange."

Harry cocked his head. "Don't you trust Snape?"

"I don't trust anybody."

"Imagine that. We do have something in common." Harry turned his back and started up the stairs that led to his bedroom. "Don't do me any favors."

He was nearly to the top when he heard Draco's voice behind him. "Don't you want to know what's become of the Order's survivors?"

Harry froze in his tracks. He heard a dark chuckle.

"Or did you think them all dead?"

Harry pivoted slowly. "What the bloody hell are you talking about?"

"That's why you're here, isn't it?" Draco lifted a foot onto the first riser and rested a hand on his knee – his posture overly casual. Harry wondered who he thought he was fooling.

He shook his head. "No."

"Yes, it is. The Dark Lord never could get his hands on you, but he did a fair job of thinning your ranks, didn't he? There hasn't been a peep of resistance in weeks." Draco paused. "In fact, the word is…you're dead."

"The word is wrong, as you can see."

Draco's mouth turned up into a sneer. "Oh, I can see. But your precious Order has no idea."

Harry couldn't say otherwise, though Snape had assured him it wasn't true. Of course, with Harry under the Fidelius and Snape as his Secret-Keeper there was no way to be sure.

"I don't believe you," Harry said. "Now get the fuck off my stairs. I don't want you anywhere near me."



For once, Harry was impatient for the morning visit.

"Checking to make sure we didn't kill each other last night?" he asked when Snape's face appeared in the kitchen.

"Did you? I don't see a trace of him anywhere."

Harry shrugged.

"Potter—"

"Does the Order know I'm here?" Harry cut in, wanting his answers before Draco stumbled upon them, making Snape even more evasive than he was wont to be.

Snape pressed his lips together. "What did Draco say to you?"

He shot up from the table and faced Snape, hands fisted at his sides. "Answer me!"

"This may come as a bit of a shock, Potter, but I don't find you very scary at the moment."

"What of the Order?" Harry pressed.

"What, indeed," Snape mumbled to himself.

"Snape," Harry warned. "It's a simple question—"

"With a simple answer! They have no idea of your whereabouts, you idiot! You're under the Fidelius. Nobody knows you're here. Except myself."

"And now Draco," Harry said.

Snape seemed to deflate. He dropped his eyes and ran a finger along his forehead. "And now Draco," he repeated.

"Why is he here?"

Snape offered Harry the Daily Prophet, balanced on the tip of his finger. "You'll have to ask him. But do keep in mind – while you bicker and insult each other – that you are, in fact, hiding from the same thing."



Harry called the room "Snape's greenhouse." Apropos, though if it hadn't been packed to its glass roof with tropical foliage and magicked to be humid as a rain forest, he would have simply called it "the attic."

It was unnatural. No shock that Draco found it charming.

Harry had barely walked through the door before the questions began.

"Does Snape bring our food?"

"No. The house restocks itself," Harry said. A spiny plant with purple flowers caught his eye. Absently, he fingered a damp variegated leaf.

Draco sniffed. "Cleans itself too, I imagine."

"Everyday."

"You cook, I hope."

Harry crushed the small leaf in his fist. "How does it feel to be a coward, Draco?"

Draco looked all around – paying special attention to the open wall – then turned and frowned at Harry. "You tell me."



Harry braced his feet against the floor and heaved. The bed slid sideways a few inches, then stopped.

He would have killed for his wand.

"What are you doing?"

He turned to find Draco in the doorway, looking on.

"Bugger off." He shoved the bed again. It crept closer to the window, and he stopped to catch his breath. After a short break, he planted his feet and pushed again, aware at the last moment that Draco was pushing beside him. The bed scraped forward several feet.

One more joint push and the mattress hit the window seat. Harry collapsed onto the tangled blankets with a sigh. Draco lowered himself a bit more timidly. "Do you go through this shit every night?"

"Yeah." Propriety demanded some sort of explanation. Draco had helped. "The daily Put-It-Right spell always moves it back there." He gestured towards the other side of the room, where the open darkness waited.

Draco cocked his head. "And that's bad, because…?"

"I've been thinking."

"That you're evasive? I agree."

Harry picked at the blanket. "I don't think we're safe here." He waited, but Draco didn't answer. Harry raised his eyes to find him staring the other way. "Did you hear me?"

"Yes."

"What if something happens?"

Draco's face twisted in disbelief. "Like what?"

Harry changed tactics. "I need to know what's happening. Out there."

"I thought I told you."

"I don't believe a word you said," Harry said bluntly.

"Potter…." Draco sounded exasperated. "But you trust Snape?"

"Not completely."

Draco stood and began to pace. "You have a funny way of showing it."

The truth of that stung a bit. "Friends of mine convinced me to do this. I trust them."

Draco walked right to the edge of the room, toes even with the drop-off. "And now he's trapped you here."

"He's keeping me safe." Harry frowned at the hollow sound in his voice.

"Semantics."

"You're here," Harry accused.

Draco snorted. "It was dollhouse or death. Not much of a competition." Draco started towards the door.

Harry stood abruptly. "Do you ever feel it?"

Draco paused. "What?"

Harry opened his mouth, but the words wouldn't come. It was true then, what Draco had said. He was a coward. "At night," he managed to push past reluctant lips.

Draco waited for more, before losing a huff of frustration. "What, Potter?"

"We're not alone."



"I hate this place."

Harry glanced up from his book.

"It's so…" Draco's voice drifted off. Harry watched him run his hand across the far wall. "Look at this."

Harry swallowed his sigh and did as he was told, knowing by now that Draco had a point to make. "Yeah?"

Draco pointed to the wall. "These bookshelves are painted on. Painted. This library is filled with fake books."

"If you want something to read, there are stacks of books over there that Snape brought," Harry said.

"No, you don't understand." Draco turned, his expression so unguarded that Harry felt a stab of unease. "In the kitchen, the tap works and the sink drains." Draco dragged a hand through his hair. "But the rug is painted onto the floor."

"Do tell, Professor."

Draco ignored the sarcasm. "The wardrobe in my bedroom is crafted down to the last decorative detail. But do you know the drawers won't open?"

Harry had the same problem in his room. He shrugged.

"Everything's only…halfway," Draco said. "This is a halfway place."

Harry blinked. "I'm not halfway."

The answering silence made his head hurt.



A thump woke him, but it was a sense of wrongness that pulled him from his bed.

The house was made of soft woods and fabrics, but it didn't settle in the night like a real house would. It didn't creak and moan. It didn't thump.

He crept from his bed and made his way across the house to Draco's bedroom. The tattered blue quilt Draco preferred to curl up in was absent, though the bed was mussed. Tense, Harry turned in a slow circle, peering into the far corners of the room, even though his instincts told him he was alone.

The stairway in Draco's bedroom led up to Snape's makeshift greenhouse. Harry glanced up the dark steps. The only thing visible in the gloom was a stray palm frond leaning across the landing from the room above. The stairwell itself was pitch black.

Acting on instinct, Harry backtracked one room – to the bedroom that shared the loo with his. The staircase in this room, he knew, turned forty-five degrees before emerging into the bedroom above. He darted a look over his shoulder, but his inspection of the open wall turned up nothing. Which counted for little – if someone wanted to hide, the overlapping shadows made excellent camouflage.

He moved quietly on bare feet across the room to the bottom of the staircase. The darkness was thicker here. Heavier. So much so that Harry struggled for a full breath as he peered upward.

"Draco?" he whispered.

Above him, something moved in the dark. Something shuffled.

Adrenaline surged, fed by his galloping heart. His ears rang with anticipation. He ached to burn off some of his cowardice and guilt.

He felt like killing something.

"Draco?" he called again, louder.

Another shuffle. Then, "Harry?"

The urge to fight fled and relief replaced it. "Yeah," Harry said, running a shaking hand through his hair. "What are fuck are you doing up there?"

A match scratched across flint and flared. Harry got a flickering glimpse of Draco lighting a candle. "Come up. It's okay."

Harry took the stairs two at a time, happy to leave the wide-open room behind him. When he reached the small landing where the stairs turned, he found Draco propped against the wall, wrapped in his navy quilt.

"Have a seat," Draco said.

Harry dropped down next to him. He wrapped his arms around his knees and tried to pretend that the candle gave off some warmth. He didn't bother asking why they were sequestered in a stairwell in the middle of the night. He knew.

"These are the only steps with a landing – such as it is," Draco said, shifting his long legs around to give Harry more room in the small space.

"I know."

Draco nodded. "We're being watched. I'm sure of it."

"Me too."

"Do you ever…?" Draco sighed. "Never mind. Of course you do."

Harry began to shiver. "Do I ever, what?"

Draco swallowed twice before answering. "I can't get these thoughts out of my head. That as soon as I go to sleep, whatever it is that's out there…it's going to get me. Just reach in and take me. And it can, you know. Because it's so fucking big."

"And we're so small," Harry said.

Draco pushed his hair off his forehead, exacerbating his disheveled appearance. "I despise feeling helpless."

Harry set his jaw and stared at the candle. "I'm not helpless."

A warm hand settled on his arm, and Harry jumped.

"Sorry," Draco said.

Not for startling him, Harry knew.

He stared at Draco over the candle. Hermione had told him once that candlelight softened things, but she'd been wrong. Draco's features seemed sharper, more defined. More desperate.

"You're shaking."

"I'm shivering," Harry corrected. "It's fucking cold."

Draco's unbelievably warm fingers curled into Harry's bicep. "Come here, then."

"What, with you?"

Draco didn't let go and he didn't look offended. "Going to go back to your room and get a blanket of you own?" Or are you going to stay? he left unsaid.

"Shove over." Harry scooted around until he sat pressed against Draco. Together, they spread the quilt.

Later, after Draco's head had fallen heavily onto his shoulder and the candle had burned down to nothing – a tiny wick in a sea of wax – Harry reached for and found Draco's hand under the blanket.



Harry snorted when Draco stumbled into the kitchen the next morning. "Rough night?" he asked, scraping a spoon through a pan of scrambled eggs.

Draco scowled. "I slept on the floor."

"Actually, you slept on me."

Draco smacked him across the back of the head and Harry's hand slipped, scattering half-cooked egg. "And if you ever tell a soul, I'll make you regret it."

Harry stole a bite from the pan before moving it off the hob. "An empty threat if I ever heard one. And by the way," he turned to Draco, "don't ever hit me again. I won't let it go next time."

"Then keep your useless observations to yourself."

Draco pushed past to steal a plate from the cabinet. Harry shoved back and Draco barely kept his feet under him. "What the fuck, Potter?"

"Did I mention you drool, as well?"

Draco dropped his plate on the counter. "Are you trying to get hurt?"

"And you cuddle. Been missing your teddy bear lately?"

Draco's hand shot forward like a rocket, connecting with his stomach, and all Harry could think as he doubled over was…finally.

He gave a vicious kick to Draco's legs, toppling him, and jumped on top, throwing blow after blow, not knowing or caring where they landed, just reveling in the release of frustration.

"You bastard," Draco spat, delivering a hard punch to Harry's cheek. Harry faltered and Draco rolled them, landing on top, dripping blood and sweat and spit. "I hate you." He slammed his fist into Harry's face again, giving a hoarse cry of triumph when Harry crumpled under him. "This is your fault," he said. He grasped two handfuls of Harry's t-shirt and shook him. "Your fault that I'm here."

Harry groaned and coughed. "Don't you take responsibility for any-fucking-thing in your life?"

Draco dropped him and sat back on his heels. Harry grunted when his head hit the floor. He wiped a trail of blood from his mouth and stared up at Draco. "That felt good."

"Potter – you are insane."

Harry's eyes drifted. To the painted-on rug. To the absent wall and the world beyond. "Getting there," he said.

Draco's eyes followed his. "I refuse to…bond with you over this."

Harry worked his jaw back and forth with a wince. "I'm not the one who asked for the cuddle last night."

"But you were the one holding my hand like a fucking girl this morning."

"You liked it," Harry said under his breath.

Draco made a sound of disgust. He rocked back on his heels and started to stand, but Harry grabbed him back.

They struggled like that for a few seconds, Draco pushing and Harry pulling, until Draco lost his leverage and tumbled forward. He landed atop Harry, hands on either side of his head. A drop of blood from his cut cheek dripped onto Harry's neck. They stared at each other for a long moment.

Harry knew the exact moment Draco clued in.

"I'm not going to be your boyfriend," Draco said.

"Fine." Harry spread his legs and Draco's spilled between them.

Draco grunted and pressed down. "I still hate you."

Harry wriggled underneath him. "Fine."

Draco lifted himself up, ignoring Harry's moan of complaint. "Turn over."

"What? No."

"Turn the fuck over." Draco clamped his hand under Harry's shoulder and twisted, flipping him onto his stomach.

Harry bucked up with a growl, but Draco sprawled out on top, pinning him neatly. He pressed his hips forward. "Is this what you had in mind?"

"No."

"Too bad."

"You bastard," Harry seethed.

Draco hitched his knees underneath him, thrust, and Harry swallowed his next invective.

"You may have something here, Potter," Draco panted, driving forward again. "Fucking…Gryffindor…genius."

Harry's answer was to lift his arse off the floor and rub it against the bulge in Draco's trousers. Another thrust, and Harry whimpered into the dirty painted floor when Draco stayed close to grind and rub.

A burst of air, blessedly cool, rushed over his face. Harry whimpered again, on fire with sensation, before the source of the breeze registered. His eyes snapped open to a black curtain of fabric. "Draco!" he gasped.

Draco's hips ploughed forward, straining. He panted with exertion, face damp and hot between Harry's shoulder blades.

"Draco!"

The black curtain swung, swirled, and disappeared. Snape's face – huge and menacing – filled the kitchen. "Snape," Harry wheezed as Draco forced the last bit of air from his lungs with a brutal thrust.

Draco froze. Looked up through his sweaty fringe. "Bloody fuck!" he yelled, leaping away from Harry.

Snape didn't speak, nor did he apologise, which was hardly surprising. He did stick a finger into the room, shrunken Daily Prophet balanced on the tip. When Draco remained frozen in place, Harry hauled himself up.

"Thank you," he muttered, swiping the newspaper quickly.

Snape nodded and left.

Harry stood there long after he was gone, too mortified to speak. When he finally turned around, the kitchen was empty.



As tired as he was, he woke instantly, alert, heart pounding. A dark shape moved across his bed, sliding against the blankets, before draping itself over his body. Draco put his lips against Harry's ear. "He's here. Watching us."

Harry turned his head towards the grey gloom beyond the missing wall. Nothing moved. He couldn't feel the tell-tale movement of air that usually signaled Snape's presence. "I don't see anything."

Draco shivered against him. "I don't either. But I…"

Harry turned his face into Draco's neck and breathed warm air over his cool skin. "Come here. Underneath."

"Now who wants a cuddle?"

Harry smiled, knowing Draco felt it. "It'll be good." To prove it, he extracted sleep-warm arms from beneath the bedclothes and wound them round Draco's neck. "Come on."

Draco shuddered. "I don't—" his grip on Harry's shoulders tightened. "I don't—"

"Me either," Harry said. He set his lips against Draco's ear. "This doesn't mean anything. I promise."

"I don't care about you," Draco said. He began to pull at the covers. "You mean nothing."

"Perfect," Harry said as Draco slipped between the sheets and pressed against him.

"Fucking perfect," Draco whispered.

Cold air slipped under the blankets as they shifted position. It raised goose bumps on Harry's skin – first on his arms, then chest, then legs – but Draco followed with his mouth and chased them away. He bit hard, sucked harder, and never soothed the pain with a kiss.

Harry was glad of it.

Draco's first taste of Harry's cock made them both moan. The heat built until Harry threw the blankets off and snatched a handful of Draco's hair. He yanked him up with a growl. "Turn around."

Draco hesitated, confused. Harry reached down, grabbed Draco's legs, and pulled them towards his face. "Let me."

Draco shuffled around awkwardly, placing his knees on either side of Harry's head.

"God," Harry said, before diving forward to suck Draco's cock into his mouth. His reward was a strangled moan around his own flesh.

Draco never did find his rhythm again. Harry couldn't have cared less. It was enough to feel Draco trembling and panting against his stomach, coming apart above him while Harry brought him to orgasm with slow, efficient sucks.

Afterward, Draco rolled away, nearly falling off the bed. He ended up sprawled half on, half off the lumpy mattress. One arm came to rest over his eyes, and for several minutes he didn't move at all.

Harry waited as long as he could. Then he ran his tongue around the inside of his mouth, bringing the sense memories back full force, closed his eyes, and reached for his cock. He managed a half dozen pulls before Draco's hand curled around his.

"Sorry," he said, voice low.

"S'ok," Harry mumbled. He extracted his hand from underneath Draco's. In the dark, he felt Draco shift closer and then his mouth was against Harry's ear.

"Couldn't breathe," he whispered. He tightened his fist, stroked faster, and Harry gasped. "Couldn't even think." He turned his face into Harry's neck and sighed.

Harry tensed and dug his heels into the bed. And when Draco mouthed the words, "thank you," against his throat, he came.

He didn't remember about Snape until the next morning.



"What's that?" Draco asked, pointing. He was shirtless, still damp from the shower, jeans pulled just over his hips.

Harry glanced at him before going back to his cereal and book. "Box from Snape."

"More books?"

Harry shrugged and spooned cereal into his mouth, but he didn't take his eyes off Draco.

"Stop staring at me," Draco said as he worked the box open.

"Put some clothes on."

Draco shook his head and pried the box flaps open. "Hey! Sheets! Real sheets." He laughed and tossed a tightly folded square at Harry. "No more stray scraps of fabric for bedding."

Harry fingered the cotton. The high thread count didn't escape his notice. "I'm surprised we didn't score satin." He tossed the folded bedding back at Draco.

"I'm going to pretend I have no idea what you're talking about."

Harry bit back his response, but his agitation came through loud and clear. Draco shuffled through the other items, then sat back on his heels, running a finger over his lips. He closed the box and slipped into the chair next to Harry. "Shall we give it back?"

Harry pushed his bowl away and bumped Draco's knee with his own. "What good would that do?"



Draco didn't bother to leave after helping him move the bed. He produced the fitted sheet with a bright smile, and Harry laughed. "It'll be nice," he agreed, anticipating the cool, smooth cotton and the blessedly normal way they folded and tucked.

When he fucked Draco that night, his carefulness extended to protecting their new bedding, but no further.

It was amazing to feel alive again.

Afterward, he used a flannel to wipe the sweat and semen away as Draco lay limp next to him. "Well done, Potter," he muttered. "But pull the blankets up, would you?" He twisted around to kiss Harry on the temple. "He's seen enough."



Draco rushed into the kitchen just as Harry was examining the contents of their newest box from Snape. "Tea or coffee?" Harry asked, without looking up.

"Not right now."

"We must have been good little playthings to warrant Columbian," Harry said as though Draco hadn't spoken. "What do you think we'll get if I fuck you in the shower?"

"Later." Draco grabbed his arm and pulled.

Off balance, Harry stumbled. "What—" He burst out laughing. "What's all over your face? Is that…is that dirt?"

"Very funny." Draco's hand slid to Harry's wrist. "Hurry."

Harry let himself be led. "It is dirt."

"Shut it."

They hurried up the kitchen stairs into the empty bedroom on the end, then through the archway into Draco's bedroom. Harry tried to detour to the bed, but Draco dragged him the other way.

"No coffee. No tea. No sex. I'm intrigued."

Draco didn't reply. Harry followed him up the stairs to Snape's miniature greenhouse. The cloying humidity hit him like a wall, but Draco didn't hesitate. With one more tug on Harry's wrist, he set off across the large room.

In the far corner, three large palms – trunks curled about each other as they reached for the ceiling – dominated the space. Fat terra-cotta pots cluttered the area around their bases, spilling more tropical foliage into the room.

Harry set his hands on his hips and tried not to choke on the damp air. "Well?"

With a sly smile, Draco set off. More puzzled than ever, Harry followed. Draco stepped behind the first of the large pots, then to the left behind another tier, then cut back once more to the right. When Harry stumbled up behind him, he pointed triumphantly.

Harry caught his breath. "Another stairway. But—" He strained forward. "It looks like it goes up the outside of the house."

"It does. I wonder why Snape hid it from us."

"Does it go to the roof?"

"Just below. Come on."

Draco started forward. Harry yanked him back by the collar. "Careful," he said. He didn't fight the compulsion to touch, using his thumb to smudge the dirt across Draco's cheek in a broad arc.

"I'm a big boy, Mum."

Harry bit the inside of his cheek and gestured at the doorway. "Then what are you waiting for?"

Draco winked and stepped through.



Once outside, Draco's playfulness vanished. "I know how you feel about heights. Want to wait for me?"

"No," Harry said.

The steps extended up from the greenhouse to another door, this one right below the roofline. The rickety wood staircase, barely wide enough for one of them to traverse, overhung the table edge by several inches. To Harry's eyes, their home floated in space with no support whatsoever. His stomach turned over.

"Fuck," he said in a barely-there voice.

"Yeah." Draco squeezed Harry's hand in his own. "Don't look down."

He started up. Harry followed, focused on his feet, watching his shoes make footprints on the dusty risers.

"We have a slight problem," Draco said. Harry looked up to see him gesturing at the door. "Locked."

Harry frowned. "Let me s—"

The world dropped out from underneath him. He sensed the wood give way. Heard Draco yell. Felt himself falling. Instinctively, he reached out, and his fingers found and clasped the railing even as burning pain exploded across his right forearm. His fingers tingled, went numb, and Harry watched in horror as they slipped from his handhold.

"No," he breathed.

Then Draco's arms were around him, pulling him to safety on the steps above. Harry scuttled back from the ragged hole and collapsed, his injured arm cradled by his side.

Draco's hands stayed locked around his chest. "Alright. Not the best idea I've ever had," he wheezed.

"Mmmm."

"You're bleeding. We better go back."

Harry nodded, too sick with pain to argue.

Draco stood. "You sure know how to spoil a party," he said.

"You are such a fucking bastard."

The sound of a door opening brought them up short. Two figures entered Snape's house, lighting lamps with their wands as they moved into the room. For several seconds, Harry's mind blanked with shock. But then Draco sucked in a breath and went rigid next to him, and he knew he hadn't fallen into some misplaced bad dream.

Voldemort.

And Snape.

Harry watched, horrified, as they pushed back their hoods and shed their cloaks. Voldemort leaned forward and spoke into Snape's ear. Harry missed the words, but the companionable chuckle Snape offered in return turned his legs to water.

"We're dead," Harry said.

Draco snuck an arm around his shoulders and pulled him close. "We're under Fidelius. He won't see us."

At that moment, Snape turned, gaze darting to the dollhouse. He tensed, eyes widening with surprise before they narrowed into angry slits.

Draco gulped. "Snape might kill us, though."

Harry didn't hear him. Voldemort filled his senses, flooding him with that strange brew of hate and fear that was second nature by now.

Voldemort offered Snape his cloak. "Well done, my friend."

"Thank you, my Lord." Snape bent his head.

"You've been pining for my attention all night. You wish to speak to me about Draco?"

Snape hid his surprise well. "It had crossed my mind."

Next to Harry, Draco stopped breathing.

"He is a traitor and a failure." Voldemort placed a hand on Snape's head. "I'm going to kill him."

Snape tensed.

Voldemort reached to trace the line of Snape's cheek with his finger. "You disapprove. I would have thou—" Voldemort's head snapped to the right.

"My Lord?"

A crimson tongue emerged from between Voldemort's sharp teeth. It tasted the air, then withdrew. He cocked his head. The tongue reappeared, flicking left and right. "Severus," he hissed. "Do you smell that?"

Snape hesitated. "I smell nothing out of the ordinary."

Voldemort spun and tasted the air again, tongue swiping against his lips. "Blood. There's blood in the air."

As though summoned, a fat drop of blood rolled to the edge of Harry's tattered sleeve, wavered, then fell with a plop onto the stair. Draco's grip turned vise-like. He gathered Harry against him, swaddling the bleeding cut against his stomach.

Too little, too late, Harry thought.

"Here. It's here." Voldemort glided towards the dollhouse, towards Draco and Harry, tongue darting, nostrils flaring. He stopped inches from the table. The dangling sleeve of his robe brushed the broken stairs.

"What are you hiding from me, Severus?" he hissed.

Snape's indifference shattered. "Nothing!"

"Liar," Voldemort said. He reached for the dollhouse.

"No!" Snape shouted. "They're mine." His wand appeared in his hand, but Harry could already see he was too slow. Too slow and too late. Voldemort's Avada Kedavra hit him before a single word passed his lips. He crumpled, black robe billowing around him.

Voldemort sighed and lowered his wand. "Traitors in front and behind."

He circled the dollhouse twice, red eyes cataloging, searching. When he tried to touch, the wards repelled him, and he retreated with a hiss, rubbing the tips of his fingers together.

Harry laid his head on Draco's shoulder and studied the motionless heap of black robes. He thought the angle of the body wrong. Inelegant. Unlike Snape, in many ways – yet appropriate. As for whether it was a death that suited him, Harry didn't care.

Voldemort must have agreed. Pensive and dissatisfied when his search turned up nothing, he Disapparated, leaving Snape's body behind.

"You were right," Draco said, speaking into Harry's neck. "We're dead."

"What do you mean?" Harry asked, eyes still on Snape's motionless body.

"Our Secret-Keeper is dead. They'll never find us."

Never was the word that caught his attention. "What if Snape told someone else?"

"That rather defeats the purpose of the Fidelius."

Harry shook his head. "Not necessarily. Time will tell."

Draco gave into a bitter laugh as he helped Harry down over the missing step and into the house. "Well…we've got plenty of that."



Draco led him to the kitchen and fashioned a makeshift bandage. His hands shook, but he refused Harry's offer to help.

"Just sit there and look pretty."

"I rather thought that was your job," Harry said, only half-kidding.

Draco knotted the gauze and sat back. "What now?"

"We wait."

"For what?" Draco rubbed his eyes viciously.

Harry wasn't sure, so he didn't answer. "What will you do when they come for me?"

Draco peeked at him from between his fingers. "Getting a bit ahead of yourself, aren't you?"

Harry pulled Draco's still-trembling hands from his face and held them in his lap. "He could have hid you somewhere else."

"What?"

"He could have hid yo—"

"I heard you, Harry. What the fuck does that mean?" He yanked his hands away.

Harry let him go. "Just that I've had my fill of helplessness."

"Congratulations," Draco muttered, wandering over to the sink. He opened the tap and splashed a handful of cold water over his face. "You know," he said, head dipped forward, water dripping from his hair, "I don't think anybody's coming at all."

As a rule, having the last word made Draco happy. So Harry stayed silent.



Nobody came on the first or second day.

"That's it, then," Draco said, perched naked on the window seat by Harry's bed. "If you had a new Secret-Keeper, he'd be falling all over himself to get to you." He gave Snape's body a cursory glance, then let the curtain fall closed. "We're going to die here."

Too sated to argue, Harry closed his eyes.

The third day passed much the same, except that the spells cleaning and replenishing the house ceased to work. Draco mumbled something about Snape's fading magical signature and buried himself under the blankets. They stayed in bed most of that day, touching and kissing and fucking.

On the fourth day, Remus came, just as the smell of Snape's corpse was becoming unbearable.

He looked relieved to see Harry and puzzled to see Draco. "I was on a mission when the letter from Snape came," he said. "It was magically keyed to be delivered to me in the event of his death." He smiled sadly. "Thank goodness for his foresight."

Draco snorted and left the room, retreating into the nearest stairwell.

Remus's smile slipped. "I expect Draco will be coming with us?"

Harry bit his lip. "Can you give me a few minutes? To collect some things?"

"A few. Then we'll get you back to normal."

It took more than a few to find Draco, who was sitting on the fourth set of steps that Harry checked. Harry settled beside him, just like the first night.

Draco threw him a sidelong look. "Are you going to ask me about my feelings?"

"No." Harry took a deep breath. "I'll do what I can to help you."

Draco's resigned expression turned puzzled. "Why?"

For more reasons than he could count. None of which he could adequately explain.

For saving him.

He reached for Draco's hand and entwined their fingers.

After a moment, Draco squeezed back. He glanced around the narrow stairwell. "This doesn't mean anything."

"I know."

"I'm not-"

"Neither am I."

"Well…good." Draco squeezed Harry's hand again. "Time to go, then."

Fin.



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