Borrowed Magic



Harry begged for death as the last of his magic was ripped from him, leaving behind the ravages of mortal muscle and bone. He let loose a keening cry, both from the pain and the panic that they wouldn't make it in time.

He couldn't go through this alone. His fingers scrabbled over sheets and rails, seeking purchase. He had to get up, to find them. But then familiar magic brushed over him like prickled barbs. He felt Severus and Draco clutch at him and pull him close.

A brilliant flash of golden light surrounded them; the incomprehensible pain from before dissipated like dense fog in sunlight. Warmth settled into his bones as Draco and Severus murmured desperate things he couldn't understand. It didn't matter what they said; all that mattered was that they were together. He wouldn't go through this alone.

He smiled.

"Do you ever think about magic? Where it comes from?"

"No."



Nine Months Prior, Before Everything Changed

"…I'm sorry, but we've been unable to find a cure."

Harry stared at the dingy corner of the Healer's office—he'd not got the name of this one. He was a referral from Healer Robinson or Robertson or something, who'd been a referral from Dr. Ching or Chang or Chong, and on and on the chain of Healers went. Harry was tired of Healers.

"…There may be some alternative treatments to help you manage the resulting magic contamination." There was a pause, a shuffle of paper. "The magical contamination issue has been adequately explained, hasn't it?"

Harry nodded, still staring at the corner. It was dingy and swallowed light. Harry couldn't take his eyes away.

"Good. It is a rather Dark curse, after all—or at least that's what we've been able to determine. Magic will become painful in due course. I'm referring you to Healer…."

Harry stopped listening.

The office, Harry supposed, was meant to be soothing. The magical wallpaper emulated waving grasses on a high desert plain. Draco would have liked it. Severus would have detested it. Harry laughed at the thought. He heard the Healer pause and pretended to listen, waiting for the familiar rhythm of Healer-speak to continue so that he could go back to staring.

The wallpaper panels waved at him in a cheery tandem. But in the light-swallowing corner, the pattern staggered and blinked at its curled-up edges before shorting out altogether.

"Mr. Potter?"

Harry glanced back at the Healer before returning his gaze to the corner. "Did you know your wallpaper's damaged? There, in the corner? You should probably get that fixed."

"I'm—what? Mr. Potter, did you hear—"

"I could try and fix it for you, you know." Harry took out his wand and aimed it at the corner. He saw the Healer leap across his desk with a gasp. He flinched as the Healer's hand clamped around his wrist.

"Mr. Potter, please! You know you're not supposed—have you not heard anything I've said?"

Harry focused his gaze on the Healer, enjoying the way the man quailed. "There's no cure. A Dark curse from the final battle is killing me. I'm going to die in less than a year. Painfully. Did I miss anything?"

The Healer's brows furrowed.

"Wait, oh yes. Shouldn't I count myself lucky? I have plenty of time to get my affairs in order, prepare my lovers for my untimely demise so that they can fawn and weep and treat me like spun glass."

Or better yet, leave me because they can't handle that I'm dying.

The Healer turned away, red-faced. He cleared his throat. "With the appropriate potions we might be able to prolong the—"

Harry snorted and waved his hand, dismissing the Healer's words. "For what? So that I can get a few more months, but be so debilitated by the potions and treatments that I won't even be able to take a piss by myself? Fuck that. And fuck you."

Harry rose and dusted off his robes—a nervous habit he'd got from Severus. "Please send the bill to the Post Owl Box and not my home. I don't want that referral. You lot have referred me to death, I think."

Harry swept out of the room, his lingering hopes curling at the edges and hanging forlornly in the corners of his mind, before blinking out altogether.

"You know it's true," Harry said. He stood opposite Severus with his arms crossed defensively.

"If you think for a second that I buy into Divination of any sort, you've got—"

"Severus. You heard it. You know it's true."

Severus crossed the room and pushed him against the wall, his hands digging into his shoulders. "I will not allow it," he hissed.

"The prophecy is clear. I have to sacrifice—"

"No! I won't allow it."

Harry leaned in and hazarded a kiss, surprised by the faint tremors in Severus's body.

"There must be another way."

"I can't cheat death. I can't suddenly become another person," Harry whispered.

Severus stepped back and looked at Harry curiously. "What did you say?"

"I—"

"Never mind. I know what you said." Severus pinched the bridge of his nose and muttered something under his breath.

"What are you—"

"Shush!" Severus looked at him, his gaze more focused than Harry ever remembered seeing. He took a deep breath and did something, Harry didn't know what, but he suddenly felt the sensation of silk scarves dragging across his skin. He shuddered in ecstasy. "What the fuck?" he groaned, not understanding what he'd felt or the triumphant gleam in Severus's eyes.

"It's time to start preparing for the final battle." Severus hesitated. "What is the status of your liaison with Mr. Malfoy?"

"You know exactly what the status is, Severus. Unless that wasn't you watching me fuck him. What strange bedfellows we make, yeah?"

"This is a war, Potter. Everything we do is strange. And necessary."

It was a very sore point, at least it was for Harry. "I could tell the Order—"

"Fool! You'll do no such thing. And for more reasons than having our masks eviscerated by the likes of a bumbling, babbling Longbottom. Do you really want them to know about what we do, hmm?"

"I'm not ashamed of you. Or Malfoy."

"No, I suppose you're not." Severus looked at him speculatively. "Perhaps I should join in next time when Mr. Malfoy comes calling."

"I think that could be arranged."

Harry smiled at the thought of being caught between two jealous lovers. How long had it been since he'd smiled? How many years had passed, how many people had died, how many memories had faded? How much sacrifice could one man endure before the world changed him?



Six Months Prior, Before Everything Changed

"Fuck you, Severus. I didn't do anything with your sodding Mandrake Roots."

Harry slumped against the door, his headache doubling at the sound of Draco's shrill voice. They were going to be the death of him. Harry blinked and giggled at his maudlin joke.

"They didn't just get up and walk off by themselves. They haven't even been planted yet. I need those roots, you idiot. You've obviously lost them!"

And there was Severus, right on cue, his handy insult flung like a poisoned dart. Time to sort them out. Harry sighed and screwed up his courage to enter the fray.

"Your Mandrake Roots are in the broom cupboard," Harry said as he wandered into Severus's study.

Severus and Draco turned, staring at him.

"Where've you been?" Draco asked.

"Out."

"You look pale. Why are you so pale?" Severus asked, rising to his feet.

Harry backed away, his headache increasing as Severus's magic brushed again him. It used to feel like silk. Now it felt like a branch of stinging nettles lightly dragging across his chest. He plastered a false smile on his face.

"Touch of the flu, I think," he ground out.

"When are you going to learn? These charity missions have to stop." Severus paused. "You've been gone nearly three weeks this time," he said in a low, uncertain voice as he rummaged through his potions cabinet.

"Gods, Potter." Draco sauntered over, concern buried deep in his sullen frown. He reached out, his fingers sweeping across Harry's forehead. Harry's stomach turned and he couldn't stop the sweat from beading across his brow.

"Haven't we taught you anything about self-preservation?"

"More than you could possibly know," Harry whispered to Draco's retreating back.

They plied him with potions, forced him into the shower and—at Harry's insistence—reluctantly put him to bed in the guest bedroom.

"There. Comfy? Need a lolly, your highness?" Draco asked, even as he continued to smooth the comforter with soft strokes.

"There's only one kind of lolly I'd like," Harry said, his eyes glittering as he set his plan in motion.

"Ugh. Gods, Potter, not while you're infectious."

"Not for me. For you."

Draco looked at him askance. "The flu's fried your brains."

"No—you and Severus." Harry licked his lips. "You could… you know."

"You know we don't do that without you. We're not—" Draco waved his arms, "—compatible. You're the proverbial glue, you pillock."

Harry turned away, not wanting to think about the last time they'd been in bed together. Needless to say, it had come as a shock that he couldn't get hard anymore. One of the Healers had mentioned that possible symptom. Only a very complex glamour and a bit of luck had saved him that night. He'd left the next day for an extended trip.

"I'm just feeling kinky. Put on a show for me."

"What?"

"A show. You and Severus. He's in the study. Bet you could lure him in."

Draco stared at him for a long while, as if trying to puzzle out whether Harry was telling the truth. Harry let out a slow exhale as Draco's smile curved upward with a saucy quirk. "You going to direct us?"

"Of course. I know what you want," Harry said in a low, breathy voice.

"I don't—"

"Course you do, Draco. You wank to it often enough—I've heard you. You think you merely tolerate him, but that's not it at all, is it?"

"You don't know what you're—"

"Prove it, then. Prove I'm wrong. Prove you don't want him."

Draco flushed and licked his lips. "Prat," he said, hurrying to find Severus.

Harry watched him go and sighed at the quickness of his step. They would work out. Severus and Draco would be fine without him.

"All right, we're here to perform, your highness. Where do you want us?" Draco asked, jarring Harry from his morose thoughts.

"This is ridiculous," Severus said.

"I don't think you've ever said fucking was ridiculous. In fact, you like fucking, don't you Severus?" Harry asked.

Severus's nostrils flared just the way Harry expected them to. Vulgarity from his mouth went straight to Severus's cock.

"He's not fucking me," Draco growled.

"What, you think I'm going to let you fuck me?"

"Enough! No one's fucking anyone—er, not in the traditional sense, at least. I have something different in mind. You'll like it. I swear," Harry said.

Severus didn't respond. He just hulked in the corner.

"Take off your clothes, Draco," Harry said.

Draco smirked and started a slow strip.

"Not for me, for Severus," Harry corrected gently.

Severus wore a brilliant mask of indifference. But Harry knew Severus. He knew the curve of his body as well as he knew the pieces of his heart. He saw the heat flare in Severus's eyes, the way he inhaled long and slow, the way his fingers clenched as if daring to reach out and take.

"On your knees, Draco. Head back, mouth open," Harry said.

Draco dropped to his knees with the grace of a Seeker.

"Close your eyes. Severus, when I give you the signal, you're going to undo your zip, pull out your great big hard cock and you're going to cross the room and slam it in as far as you can, grip him by the hair, and fuck his mouth."

"I will no—" Severus began, but his mouth fell open at the sight of Draco groaning and palming his hard cock.

"You fucking depraved wanker," Draco moaned. "You want him to fuck my mouth? To use me? Spurt his come all over my face?"

"Yes, I do. And so does Severus. Don't you, Severus?"

Severus responded by taking a step forward. He threw a heated glance Harry's way, one that said, "You'll pay for this."

Harry nodded and grinned.

"You're a nasty little beast who needs to be put in his place," Severus said to Draco, his voice full of lust.

"Yeah, yeah I do," Draco said, getting lost in the fantasy.

Harry waited to give the signal until Severus's hands were fisting the sides of his robes and his body was tipping forward. He waved his hand, watching as Severus scrambled to undo his zip as soundlessly as possible.

In two quick strides he'd crossed to Draco. He shoved his cock down Draco's throat and threaded his hands through his hair. He yanked hard, groaning as Draco yelped.

"Keep your eyes closed," Harry said, his breath ragged, his body desperate to prove its arousal.

"Fuck him, Severus. Fuck his mouth."

"What's he doing here?" Draco hissed, his eyes shooting jealous darts at Severus. "It was supposed to just be you and me, Potter."

"Change of plans," Harry said.

"Fuck this."

Draco grabbed his cloak and strode towards the decrepit Floo. He almost made it, but Harry grabbed him around the middle and pulled him flush against his chest.

"Stop, Malfoy. Stay. Remember last time? When he watched us? When I fucked you for hours?" Harry whispered, licking the shell of Draco's ear. "Remember how much you liked him watching?" Harry swivelled them around so that they were facing Severus. "Look at him. Really look at him. He's beautiful, isn't he? Imagine what his cock's like, that wicked tongue, those long fingers." Harry smiled when Draco groaned and let his head fall back to his shoulder. "I'll even go first. Don't you want to watch him fuck my mouth, hmm? Take me like that, leaving you to take what you want, too?"

Draco twisted around and slammed Harry into the wall. "I'm going to fuck you through the floor. You won't care what's in your mouth, the only thing you'll feel is me."

Harry smiled. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Severus smile, too.

"…that's it. That's it. Take it, you wicked little tart," Severus hissed.

Harry's eyes shot open, the memory dissipating in the wake of Severus's words. God they were beautiful together.

"Touch yourself, Draco. Make yourself come. Come all over Severus's trousers and shoes," Harry rasped, caught between what was happening and what he remembered.

Draco's hands flew to his cock and moved up and down in time with Severus's furious thrusts in his mouth.

"That's it. Fuck his mouth, Severus. Fuck him. Take him."

Draco groaned, making Severus shout as he arched his back and pushed in even further.

Harry watched them come.

Draco shuddered as Severus's magic washed over him. Harry wondered what it felt like to him. He'd never asked. There were lots of questions he'd never asked before.

Severus sighed and the steely wariness he always wore slipped off, leaving him more naked than before. Such intimacy. Such lovers.

Harry closed his eyes and smiled, telling himself that the bittersweet tears prickling at the corners of his eyes didn't sting with jealousy. This was for them. This was his sacrifice.



Four Months Prior, Before Everything Changed

Harry strolled through Diagon Alley, dodging excited children buzzing around sweet carts and sidestepping businessmen off to Gringotts. He smiled at a small boy talking excitedly to his friends in between licks of his Charmed lolly. A burst of cool autumn wind sailed through, carrying the scent of roasted apples and cinnamon. It was a beautiful day.

He patted his pocket, making sure he had his list. Severus needed dittany, Draco wanted a new atlas that had just come in, and Harry had to go over a few accounts at Gringotts. The sting of magic skated across his skin as a young girl chattered excitedly with her pet owl. It was like a tickle compared to the excruciating pain of Draco and Severus's magic. He watched her until she disappeared around a corner, oblivious to a world without magic.

He finished his business at Gringotts and made a detour through Quality Quidditch Supplies. The newest racing broom gleamed in the window, vibrating with the recently-patented Featherweight Flying Charm. This broom could turn on a knut and get him across the pitch in ten seconds. He stared at it with the wistfulness of a man who knew he had no business flying that fast anymore, but who—in an instant—could relive every moment of his glory days, sure that he could handle a first-class racing broom now. It was with great reluctance that he turned away.

He'd gone outside and into the grey London alley before realizing he'd forgot Draco's atlas. With a muttered curse, he turned and headed back to the Leaky. But as he took a few steps, it blinked and flickered before disappearing. All he could see was an abandoned storefront.

Panic clutched at his throat, remembering that Muggles only saw an abandoned storefront. He ran forwards, dittany forgotten as it landed with a heavy thump on the craggy pavement. He banged the windows, tried to prise open the door. Screamed. Shouted. Kicked the wall. No. It couldn't be. It was there, he knew it was there!

But it wasn't there.

It was gone. The Wizarding World blinked and flickered before shorting out in front of him. He was… a Muggle—ordinary, sleeping through life, anaesthetised by the mundane. The edges of his world curled at the seams, his life hung forlornly. Forgotten.

He wailed in agony as magical chains surged out of the ground and coiled around him, searing him with boiling-hot magic, as they stripped away his flesh and said that he didn't deserve his magic, magic that he'd stolen. A fiery whip of metal barbs came straight for him. He screamed—

Harry woke panting from his nightmare.

He looked over at Draco and Severus, their faces soft and slack with sleep. They curled towards each other, their hands touching, oblivious to his suffering. His fingers stretched towards them for a moment before he dropped his hand.

There was a time when he'd been in the middle. He watched them for a long time from the far corner of the bed.

"This isn't going to work."

"Because you're not working hard enough!"

"You wanker!"

"Stop it! Both of you!" Harry said, bone-tired and cold. "We almost had it that time. I just don't understand why it keeps breaking at the end."

Draco gathered his robes around him, his movements odd and fidgety. "I'm sure it's his fault," he said, jerking his head in Severus's direction.

"What's got into you?" Harry asked, tired of Draco's weird behaviour.

"Nothing," he said, pulling his robes around him even tighter. "This was clearly an insane idea."

"The theory is sound!" Snape hissed.

"And we're supposed to know that how? You won't even tell us what we're doing!" Draco yelled. "You keep talking about feelings and sharing. It makes me wonder if you aren't a girl underneath those hideous robes."

"For the love of God, will the two of you—" Harry stopped. "Are you ill? Is that what the problem is? God, Draco, why didn't you say anything?"

"Stop fussing," Draco said, batting at Harry's hands and trying to twist away.

"Stop being such a baby. Let me just see—oh… I see," Harry said when his hand came to rest on Draco's very erect cock.

Draco shoved him away. "I told you to leave me alone!"

"What? What is it?" Severus asked. He swooped over, the scent of embarrassment drawing him close.

"Erm, nothing," Harry said, trying to figure out why Draco was so flustered over a hard-on.

"I've got a stiffy, is that what you want to hear?" Draco asked, whirling around, staring Severus down.

Severus inhaled sharply. Harry saw that odd gleam of triumph in his eyes again.

"What?" Harry asked.

"It's—our magic is butting up against each other. It's only natural that we'd have such… physical affinities given what we've done in the past together," Severus said.

"He sucked you off and I fucked you. I hardly call that affinities," Draco sneered.

"That's the problem, then. Yes, why didn't I see it before?" Severus asked himself, pacing and completely serious. He stopped abruptly. "We need to consummate this relationship further."

"You've gone mad," Draco said, backing away.

"Just—think about it, Draco. The spell goes wrong because you're overwhelmed with the desire produced by the magic. We need to correct that. The only way to do it is for all three of us to—"

"Have sex?" Harry asked, amused and flustered with excitement. Suddenly he didn't much care about the Dark Lord. This was like something straight out of a schoolboy fantasy—they had to have sex to save the world! He couldn't stop the giddy laughter.

Severus moved to him, pushed him against the wall. "This is no laughing matter. Shall I prove how serious I can be?"

Before Harry could make an exceedingly sarcastic remark, Severus was ravishing his mouth and pawing at his robes. Harry hazarded a glance at Draco, whose mouth was open, framing flushed cheeks and wide eyes spectacularly.

When the kiss ended, Severus held out his hand and beckoned Draco over. "We're in this together. It only works with the three of us."

Draco stumbled forward.



Two Months Prior, Before Everything Changed

"Packing again?"

Harry paused, but didn't stop.

"Where to this time? Those Romanian dragon reserves?"

"Uh, no. The squib home—the one in Croatia."

Draco sauntered into the room. Even his footsteps on the rug sounded moody. "Weren't you just there a few weeks ago?"

"Yeah, but they've had a problem with the roof and the plumbing. They need me to come sort it out with the local contractors."

"No they don't. You just insist."

Harry sighed. He wasn't going to win this one and there was nothing he could say, really. He figured, "I have to leave because the touch of your magic is making me throw up every morning and I can't cast that Glamour anymore—the one that makes you think I'm hard—and nothing you do makes me hard," wouldn't come across the way he intended.

"Why do you have to use a local contractor anyway? It'd be easier and faster to just fix it with a renovation spell. The children could watch—it would be like a fireworks display for them."

Harry whipped around. "Are you really that callous? Do you have any idea what it might be like for them? To see magic, knowing that they can't work it themselves? Do you have any idea how devastating that would be?"

Draco drew back, his eyes wide. "They don't know a damn thing about how magic feels, but as you spout so often, they shouldn't shy away from it, either. It shouldn't be made into some unattainable prize so that they grow up bitter and disappointed, you said. Some people are just different, you said. You spout that bloody crap so much, I know it by fucking heart."

Harry's mouth dropped open, replaying the words in his mind. That's exactly what he'd said, what their organisational literature said. How could he have got it so wrong?

Draco took a step closer. Harry retreated a step, his head suddenly throbbing as Draco's magic closed in.

"I'm sorry," Harry said, his head bowed in contrition. "I've been a little stressed lately and these headaches just won't go away."

Without a word, Draco walked to him and started massaging his temples and the nape of his neck.

Harry whimpered from the pain of Draco so close. He almost cried at the jarring contrast between the warm protection of Draco's hands, and the stinging scrape of his magic.

"Shh," Draco said. "This helps, remember? Just like the Healers showed us. Why didn't you say anything?"

"Couldn't."

"Here, sit down. Gods, it's tight back here. How long has this been going on?"

"I—Can't remember."

"Months, I bet. Only you think you help things by saying nothing at all."

"What's going on in here?"

Harry couldn't hold in the groan as Severus came striding in. Gods, couldn't they just turn it off a bit? Did they have to fling their magic around so much?

"He's got those headaches again. Probably had them for months, the damn git."

"I didn't want you to worry," Harry said, his eyes stinging with tears from the pain.

Harry let out a hiss of relief as Severus left for a few moments.

"See? Doesn't that feel better?" Draco asked.

Harry bit his lip and nodded.

Ah, gods! The pain was back. But before he could scream, a potion was thrust under his nose. Oh, yes! The good one. The one that took away the pain and made him sleep forever and ever. He took a large sniff and let himself fall.

"Do you ever think about magic?"

"What?" Harry asked, wishing Draco would shut up. The final battle would start soon and he was feeling jittery. Where the fuck was Snape? This would only work if all three of them were there.

"Magic. Do you ever think about it? Where it comes from?"

"No. Watch to the left, will you? It's too quiet. Where the fuck is Snape?"



Three Weeks Prior, Before Everything Changed

"Are you sure you don't mind?"

"Christ, Draco. I told you I don't mind. How hard is it to pick up your fancy robes, anyway?" Harry's eyes narrowed playfully. "You didn't have platinum and diamonds embedded in them, or something, did you?"

Harry was having a good day and he was damn well going to enjoy it.

"Shut it, you prat. They're tasteful dove grey wool and silk blend robes." Draco sniffed. "There's only a touch of platinum, but that's in the clasps."

"I knew it!" Harry crowed. It was almost like he'd never fallen down that day a year ago, gasping as a simple Charm undid him, almost like he'd never found out he was dying. "I'll be back in a jiff. Maybe we can all go round to that fancy pub down the corner, yeah?"

Draco's nose wrinkled. "The Muggle one?"

Harry faltered for a second. "Yeah, that one. Severus likes it. Says the glasses are far cleaner than at The Leaky."

"There's merit to that, I suppose." Draco shot him a speculative glance. "I'll talk to him. We, um, I'll probably help him out with an experiment or two. While you're out," he said, not looking at Harry and twisting the edges of his shirt cuffs.

Draco was lying.

Harry's throat closed, but then he remembered that he'd been pushing for this. He plastered a smile on his face and laughed lightly. "Is that Slytherin code for fucking each other senseless all afternoon while I have to go over boring charity accounts?"

Draco's face coloured for a brief second. Only a Malfoy could will away a blush. He sniffed again, this time far more disdainfully. "How common. Do you think I would lie about something like that?"

"Yeah. I do. Cause you are."

"How do you—?"

"Take some pictures for me, yeah? Or better yet, practice a lot so that you can recreate it for me when I get home."

Draco's eyes searched him, the expression in them unfathomable. That irritated Harry more than anything else—he could never read them.

"Why are you okay with this? If I were standing in your shoes, I'd have me pinned to the wall, sucking on my neck until it was all bruised and marked. I'd be seething with jealousy, but you don't seem to care at all."

Harry reached out as if to touch Draco, but the deliberate brush of his magic against his was warning enough to let his hand fall. "I don't need to be jealous. I'm not you and I'm not Severus. So have fun."

Draco snorted. "Not like we're going to be having any fun with you, is it?"

Harry's heart sank. "I told you, I've been feeling under the weather, and—"

"Right. Under the weather. Whatever, Potter. Just… just come back."

"Of course, I—why would you think that I wouldn't?"

Draco pulled at his shirt sleeves. "You'll kill him, you know. If you—"

"Stop. We're—we're not having this conversation. Dove gray robes, check. Boring financials, check. Severus's owl post orders. Check."

"Harry coming back?"

Harry's heart broke for a moment. "Check. See you soon."

Draco nodded and swept away, leaving Harry standing in the middle of the room. It hurt to realise he'd been so clever. Not only had he brought them together, he'd galvanised them against him. And why wouldn't they be angry? Harry was fading away. Just not like they thought.

He was determined not to be maudlin. It was a beautiful day and likely the last he'd be able to bear in the presence of so much magic.



Harry strolled through Diagon Alley, dodging excited children buzzing around sweet carts and sidestepping businessmen off to Gringotts. He smiled at a small boy talking excitedly to his friends in between licks of his Charmed lolly. A burst of cool autumn wind sailed through, carrying the scent of roasted apples and cinnamon. It was a beautiful day.

He finished his business and made a detour through Quality Quidditch Supplies, admiring the newest racing broom with the wistfulness of a man who knew he had no business flying that fast anymore. Given the state of things. When was the last time he'd flown? He couldn't remember. He had a sudden, burning desire to dig out his old Firebolt and do a Wronski Feint right in the middle of their back garden. He knew he wouldn't. He left before the pain of so much adolescent magic assaulting him could knock him flat on his arse. He closed the door to the shop, leaving behind a boy's dreams.

Madam Malkin tsked and tutted over how thin he was and how frayed the cuffs of his robe were. It was only the promise of an exclusive fitting that got him out with Draco's robes wrapped in a precise square of parcel paper and string.

He'd gone outside and into the grey London alley before realising he'd forgotten Severus's owl post.

A strange sense of déjá vu overtook him, curling around his throat and squeezing hard.

He turned back slowly and breathed a sigh of relief. The Leaky was still there, in all its dilapidated glory. He took a few steps, but stopped abruptly when the Leaky wavered like a desert mirage. No! The hair at the back of his neck stood up. No, this wasn't happening. It couldn't be happening. Only Muggles saw an abandoned storefront.

He ran forward, Draco's robe forgotten as it landed with a heavy thump on the craggy pavement. He banged the windows, tried to prise open the door. Screamed. Shouted. Kicked the wall. No. It couldn't be. It was there, he knew it was there!

He pressed his palms to his eyes, murmuring over and over, "This is just a dream. Just a dream. I'm dreaming again."

But when he opened his eyes, all he saw was a rotten door and a long-forgotten storefront. He—he couldn't breathe.

No! It was the nightmare! That damn nightmare! Wake up, Harry! Wake up!

Pain ripped through him as his magic tore from the very core of him and flung out like razor-sharp discs, shredding him. He screamed and screamed and screamed.



Two Weeks Prior, Before Everything Changed

For the first time in a long while, Harry woke without feeling the scrape and sizzle of magic burring across his skin. He felt warm and comfortable, which was enough to cause great alarm.

He gasped and sat straight up, blinking. Severus was slumped in a chair next to him and Draco stood by the window. They both wore strange jumpers and trousers that looked more like pyjama bottoms than anything else. Their heads were covered with odd scarves and they wore thick gloves. He looked down and realised he wore the same things. Where was he?

"Draco?" he rasped.

Draco turned, his face ghastly pale and his eyes swollen and red-rimmed. Incandescent joy flittered across his face for a moment. "Harry?" he called. But before Harry could answer, Draco's face shuttered. "You miserable son of a bitch!" he screamed before running from the room, slamming the door.

Harry fell back into the bed, his mind whirring, trying desperately to remember what had happened.

"Don't mind him, he hasn't slept in four days," Severus said with the deep rumble of exhaustion. "But then again, it's quite hard to sleep when you learn for the first time that your unconscious lover is dying."

Harry squeezed his eyes shut as shame knifed his gut.

"Funny that, learning that your lover has less than—that he's—that he's dying, that your lover is in constant pain, that your lover didn't have the decency to tell you any of this." Severus's voice grew and grew until he stopped abruptly and stood, smoothing out the wrinkles in his odd trousers. "And here I thought it was me," he said, his voice a dangerous whisper. "That I'd done something to drive you away. Turns out it was you all along, wasn't it?" he spat. "When are you going to learn? What's it going to take? How dare you—how dare—"

Severus stopped. Harry heard the sound of a chair scraping across the floor. Heavy steps staggered away from the bed. There was a long sigh—a moment when the world stood still.

"I'm sorry," Harry whispered.

The stillness stretched, and stretched, and stretched until finally the door slammed again.

Harry was alone.

He cried, wishing he were already dead.



One Week Prior, Before Everything Changed

"Ah, Mr. Potter, you're awake again."

Harry rolled away from the sound with a groan. God, couldn't they just leave him alone?

"Mr. Potter?"

"Fuck off."

The voice chuckled. The sound was indulgent and patronising. Harry wished he had the strength to roll over and scratch the man's eyes out.

"Still have your spirit. That's a good sign. All hope's not lost."

"Speak for yourself. I'm tired. Go away."

"We have things to discuss."

"What? My funeral arrangements?"

"Nothing so grim. A cure. So to speak."

Harry almost rolled over at that. But he'd been fooled before. He'd bought into "cures" before.

"Not interested."

"Really? Mr. Snape and Mr. Malfoy seemed interested."

Harry did roll over then, fire alight in his eyes. "You leave them alone. They've got enough to deal with without you filling their heads with lies!"

"You don't know what you're talking about."

Harry turned his head away from the Healer. "I'm not interested in your quack cures, and I can't imagine Severus or Draco would be, either. I doubt they care at all."

The Healer sighed and moved closer. Harry burrowed under the covers, knowing he was being childish but not caring. He was dying. Propriety could fuck itself.

"You must be tired."

"That's what I've been saying. Now if you wouldn't mind I'd—"

"So many sacrifices you've made for the world."

"What?"

"You must be tired from all the sacrifices."

"What are you talking about? I did things that had to be done."

"Exactly. Magic is a glorious gift, is it not, Harry? Only those lucky enough to capture Magic's fancy are gifted."

Harry felt an odd prickle at his memory. "Shut it, go away. I'm tired, remember?"

"I can wait you out, or I can call that lovely young nurse in here and have her give you something that will make you a bit more pliant, but that's not the way I generally go about doing things. We will discuss this. We must. You haven't much time."

"Then let me die!"

The room was silent, utterly still for an eternity.

"Those gloves you're wearing. They're Spelled on—a special Charm that's safe for people in your condition."

"You mean dead people?" Harry sneered.

"It's a rare form of poisonous magic—like I said, Magic doesn't like to be fucked with."

Harry was startled by the vulgarity. "That's not what you said."

The Healer tipped his head. "Perhaps not, but what I meant nonetheless, and it had the added bonus of getting your attention off of your pathetic misery and onto more important things—like cures."

Harry stared down at his gloved hands, clenching them.

"The gloves—along with your pyjamas and head wrap—are specially treated to protect you from ambient magic. Magic in any form must be absolutely excruciating for you by this point. I'm amazed you kept it from your lovers for so long. They genuinely had no idea what was wrong with you. Seemed to think you'd been hit by a Muggle transport vehicle at first."

"You spoke to them? Severus and Draco?"

"Of course, dear boy. I had to, didn't I?"

Harry looked away, not wanting the Healer to see the shame etched across his face. He curled on his side and stared ahead, the fight having left him.

"Quite a pair, aren't they? Driving the staff mad with their accusations and pestering."

Harry snorted, a familiar sense of warmth rising up in him at the thought of Draco and Severus stalking the halls, berating young mediwitches.

"Why haven't—I've had no visitors."

The Healer looked quite sad for a moment. "You have, Harry," he said softly. "But your magic has been leaving you in large sheaves. It's overwhelming to go through. You've been sedated. And you're only permitted two visitors per day, no more than thirty minutes each. We can't take a risk with so much magic in the air."

Harry bit his lip.

"I'm going to have the mediwitch give you a special potion. It will block almost all ambient magic, but will make you feel a bit drowsy and weak. Now that you're up and about, we need to have a conversation with Severus and Draco."

Before Harry could agree or protest or do anything, the Healer was on his feet, calling for the mediwitch. She nodded, disappeared, and came straight back, a small vial of pink liquid in her hand.

"Hi, Harry. Nice to see you up and about," she said with smooth cheeriness.

Harry opened his mouth to respond and found the vial shoved in and tipped back. He choked at first, but swallowed. Almost instantly, he felt disconnected from his body, like everything had been wrapped in cotton wool. His eyes felt heavy.

"What are you going to do when this is all over? What's the one thing?" Draco asked.

"Hmmm?" Harry asked, looking up from the design he was making on the dusty floor. The air was tight with anticipation. The Horcruxes were destroyed, Voldemort's forces weakened. All they had to do now was wait for Severus to finish preparing the ritual. Then it was off to the killing fields.

"The one thing. You know, 'if I get out of this alive, I'm going to do X.' What is it?"

"Oh." Harry hadn't really given much thought to that. Despite what Severus had said, he was sure he'd die. "Go to the seaside, I expect," he said eventually.

"The seaside? What for? It's just a bunch of sand and water."

Harry shrugged. "Never seen it. Just pictures. I've always wondered what the sand felt like, the water. What it was like to sit there and just watch the tide rush in and out."

They sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes, Harry thinking about the sea and Draco staring at his hands.

"Candy floss," Draco murmured.

"What?"

"Brilliant pink candy floss. That's what I want."

Harry turned towards Draco, his expression incredulous. "Candy floss? That's what gets you through the day? Dreams of candy floss?" Harry couldn't stop the sniggering that followed. "Sorry, it's just… well, you could have that any time, Draco. And it's awfully Muggle."

"Yes and the sea is on the other side of the world," Draco snapped, drawing up his knees and hugging them.

"Sorry, I didn't mean—it just surprises me. I thought you'd want to bathe in liquid gold or something."

"Is that what you think of me?"

"No. I'm sorry. It's just—I wish Severus would finish whatever the hell he's doing. I'm ready to get this done with."

Draco snorted but didn't say anything for a long while. Harry went back to making designs out of dust and grime, while trying to keep the churning fear in his gut at bay.

"We were on our way to some event and had to walk through a part of Muggle London. I was… five, I think."

Harry looked up, mid-swirl. "What?"

"I wasn't allowed to touch anyone or anything. My parents were terrified of them—loud, brash, insane Muggles. Animals, father called them. It was… I dunno, a street fair, or something. Or maybe it's just the way they always are. Anyway, there was this boy about my age standing on the corner, smiling—a smile like I'd never seen before, eating this huge ball of pink candy floss. He… he looked so happy.

"Naturally, I wanted some—wanted anything that would make someone that happy. I whinged and begged until Father grabbed me by the collar, threw me up against a wall in an alley and struck me across the back with his cane, screaming that no son of his would become a blood-traitor."

Draco shook his head. "I thought about that, you know, thought about his casual cruelty, his insane sense of propriety and superiority, as he wet himself. I thought about that while his guts spilled out and the Dark Lord left him for the carrion."

"Draco—"

"I just… that boy looked like there was nothing in the world that could bother him. That everything worth having was in his hand. I wanted that candy floss. Still do, I guess."

Harry reached out and took Draco's hand in his. "Brighton has candy floss, I'm sure of it."

Draco bit his lip, his gaze flickering towards the door. "Did you know that Brighton has the best concentration of dittany on the coast?"

Harry's mouth curved into a bright smile.

"Harry?"

Harry opened his eyes and blinked. Draco stood next to his bed, Severus slightly to the left. For a moment, he expected them both to be in black cloaks, their faces gaunt from months of walking the knife's edge of duplicity. Instead, they were both swaddled in the odd clothing and head wraps he'd remembered seeing before.

"Hey," he said.

"How are—how are you feeling?" Draco asked, as if afraid to say anything.

Harry knew he looked like shit. He was unaccountably angry that Draco didn't say as much. It meant things were much worse than he thought. It was nearly time.

He shrugged and turned his head as much as the potion would allow. "Tired, I guess."

Severus snorted, but said nothing else. Harry could see the tremors in his fingers as he clenched and unclenched his fists.

"Perhaps we should all have a seat," the Healer interrupted. "Now then, let's get to the heart of it, shall we? Harry's dying. In fact, I wager that given the current conditions, he'll be dead in a week or so."

The room went deathly quiet until Severus sprang from his chair and charged forward. "You inconsiderate bastard!" he spat.

The Healer just smiled pleasantly at him, as if Severus had complimented him on his socks. "I did say given the current conditions, Mr. Snape. I never said there weren't options."

Severus seemed torn between screaming at the Healer and hearing what he had to say.

"Have any of you heard of a condition called Magicum Corruptur?"

"Dirty magic?" Severus scoffed. "That's an old magician's tale. There's no such thing as dirty magic. It's tales like that started the whole Mudblood issue to begin with."

"Corrupted magic, actually. And yes, I know all about the rise of the Mudblood term. But that unfortunate spot of history doesn't make the condition less real."

"Impossible."

"No, not true. What do you know of sacrificial magic?"

Harry rolled his eyes and sighed. Not this tired old subject again.

"It's powerful," Draco said with a shrug. "What about it?"

The Healer smiled. "Harry's chart says he's suffering from an unidentified Dark curse."

"Yes. We're aware of that," Severus said, clearly ready to throttle something.

"It's not a Dark curse, though. At least not in the traditional sense. You see, Harry's condition is the confluence of sacrificial magic—that favoured by Magic herself—and perverted magic, courtesy of Voldemort. Voldemort corrupted his magic by making Horcruxes, of course, and then—forgive me, Harry, but it's true—Harry stole a bit of Voldemort's magic that fateful night. Unintended, yes, but Magic is not so interested in the fine points. She does not like it when greedy wizards try to keep what is, ultimately, hers."

"If any of this were true, he would have been long dead," Severus said.

"You forget his mother's sacrifice. She, ostensibly, gave him her magic. She sealed him with her sacrifice. That, of course, only bought Harry a brief respite. He was fated to battle Voldemort and I believe there was a prophecy, one that was interpreted to mean that he had to sacrifice himself in order to kill Voldemort."

"How do you know that?" Severus barked.

The Healer ignored him. "But you didn't die, did you? Magic didn't like that, I daresay. When you lived through the final battle instead of dying, Magic sought to remedy the imbalance. Your magic turned against you, called home, so to speak. It's completely poisoned, now. And it's leaving you every moment, killing you in the process."

"Where's the part where you tell us how you fix this?" Draco asked, his voice as tight as the fist curled around the arm of his chair.

"I was nearly there, Mr. Malfoy. Nearly there." The Healer paused, as if savouring the moment. "Are you familiar with the Rite of Magicus Mutuus?"

Draco's hand clenched as he gasped.

"More Dark curses, more Dark rituals, more grim pronouncements," Severus began, rising from his seat, his voice rising concomitantly. "Do you expect us to believe this rubbish? Get out!"

"But Mr. Snape, it's the only option."

"Dark sex magic rituals while his life hangs in the balance? That is his only option?" Severus asked, his face distorted by his grotesque moue.

"Severus?" Harry asked, not having any idea what everyone was talking about.

Severus turned. "Don't listen to this charlatan, Harry. He's—"

"What's he talking about?" Harry interrupted. "What's the Rite of Magicus Mu–mutuus?"

"It's a Dark sex magic ritual," Draco said. "It steals a person's magic under the guise of simply borrowing it."

The Healer's eyes sparkled. "Exactly right, Mr. Malfoy. It's a permanent taking—not much of a gift at all when taken as part of the curse."

"And you're conveniently forgetting that both people die within a year. It's a stopgap, nothing more," Draco said, crossing his arms against his chest, leaning forward in challenge.

"Magic is not keen on an ordinary wizard mucking about with her generosity, that's true," the Healer responded, "but when magic is given freely—not perverted or forcibly taken like with Voldemort—you create sacrificial magic. There's no need for Dark sex rites, mere parodies of intimacy."

"But Harry's losing his magic. How would this work?"

"Ah, well there's the twist. This is meant to be a life-saving effort—not a stopgap boost to power. As the last of Harry's corrupted magic leaves him, we suffuse his magical core with your magic. And, assuming it goes right, he lives. All of you live. To very ripe old ages, I suspect."

"What about our magic?" Harry asked, his question once again lost was as Draco barked, "I don't see how we get around the sex part."

"I suspect Mr. Snape might know something about that."

"Severus?" Draco asked. "What's he talking about?"

"Our magic—the three of us—it's… complimentary. We—you and I, that is—have very similar magic. Harry's complements ours, we can easily share it."

"The final battle," Draco said.

"Yes. That's why we had to work together and defeat the Dark Lord."

"Which is also likely why Harry didn't die," the Healer interjected. "You were already sharing your magic, weren't you? You pulled quite a fast one. I daresay Magic wasn't pleased." The Healer tsked with an amused glint in his eye. "Naughty, naughty Severus. Chastising me for Dark rites when you were already using them."

Harry's head hurt. "You keep talking about Magic like it's a person or something. But it's not. It's like—it's like being double-jointed or something. An anomaly."

"Oh my dear boy, it is far more than that. Magic is… well it has spirit, heart, it is animus magici. And she's come to take back what's hers. What she thinks is hers, in any event. But we can stop that. We can… appease her, for lack of better term. Shared magic. There is no greater gift, no greater sacrifice."

Harry's stomach started to churn unpleasantly. "You make it sound like some virgin sacrifice to the god of the volcano or something."

The Healer laughed while Draco and Severus exchanged bewildered glances. "Not quite so barbaric, my dear boy, but… you are an extremely lucky young man."

Lucky. Yeah, he'd always been a lucky one, hadn't he? A loud buzzing rose up in Harry's ears, making his headache worse. "But what of our magic when it's done—this treatment, or rite, or whatever you're calling it?"

"There are… consequences, of course. You will likely be little more than a squib and more prone to infections—both magical and Muggle."

Harry felt like he'd been kicked in the gut. No! He wouldn't give up his magic. He wouldn't! "And Severus? Draco? What about them?" he asked, stifling the groan as the pain in his head doubled.

How was that even possible? How could there be even more pain? His skin stung like it was being sloughed off with a cheese grater.

"Their power would significantly diminish."

Harry couldn't abide that. He wouldn't. "We're not interested. Get out," he managed through clenched teeth.

"What? Are you mad? Of course we're interested," Draco said.

"No. We're not," Harry said, his head beginning to feel like it might fly off. He groaned as the pain spiked higher.

"Yes, we are," Draco said, seemingly oblivious to Harry's predicament.

"No!" Harry yelled, followed by a scream from the pain.

"Out! Out!" the Healer called. "Damn! Get the Suppressing Potion in here! A double dose."

Unfamiliar hands turned him on his back and forced open his mouth. He heard the door slam closed as potions were poured down his throat. Something pulled at one of his intravenous lines and dizzying relief flooded him almost instantly. Pain receded. Darkness swooped in.



Memories danced and floated through his consciousness.

That first meeting with Snape after Dumbledore… Draco's mussed hair in the mornings… laughing when Severus's experiment exploded because Draco sauntered through the lab naked… going over the incantation they had to say together to destroy Voldemort….

"Magic. Do you ever think about it? Where it comes from?"

"No."

…feeling Severus's hands caress his body, worshipping it… brilliant pink candy floss… Draco's fingers lacing through his… feeling their magic caress his skin… Draco kissing him that first time with awkward lips and a confident heart… sharing sleepy mornings tangled in soft sheets… roaring rows, obliterated crockery… flying, flying, flying….

"Magic. Do you ever think about it? Where it comes from?"

"No."

…their first time together, how they fought over him with tongues and teeth and cocks… Draco's smile… the one time Severus told a joke… being in between them… the final battle, holding bloody hands and shouting for all they were worth….

"Do you ever think about magic?"

"What?" Harry asked, wishing Draco would shut up. The final battle would start soon and he was feeling jittery. Where the fuck was Snape? This would only work if all three of them were there, and they still had that damn ritual to do.

"Magic. Do you ever think about it? Where it comes from?"

"No. Watch to the left, will you? It's too quiet. Where the fuck is Snape?"

"It's a graveyard. We're in a crypt. It's supposed to be quiet. You really don't think about magic?"

"No. Do you have your mask? Your robe? Are you ready? Are you sure you've got the sequence right?" Harry stopped when Draco shuffled over and drew him into a kiss.

"What are you doing? You can't be randy right now, can you? I mean, I know you go for the excitement, but—"

"My mother used to tell me a story when I was little," Draco interrupted, his soft voice steely and direct. "Magic, she said, is alive—amimus magici, she called it. A god-like being that moved and flowed through everything. She said that only the really, really special people in the world were gifted with magic, only they could feel it, see it, use it. That it was a precious thing that should be protected at all costs, because you only got to borrow it for awhile."

"We don't have time for this, we've got to—"

"I think about magic all of the time, now. Wondering whether I'm worthy to have it. Wondering whether I've tainted it or poisoned it with hate. That's why I left him. Did you know? Did you ever wonder why I turned tail on the Dark Lord?"

Harry stood uneasily. "I assumed it was because you realised what an insane bugger he is. Especially after what happened to Luci—erm, your father."

"I realised one day that he didn't respect magic. You can't and do what he'd done. He spat Pureblooded ideas but he didn't really believe any of them. He didn't safeguard the most important idea of all. Magic couldn't have liked that."

"Draco, that doesn't make any sense. Magic can't be—"

"You have to respect magic, you see. You have to revere it and never forget that you've been given a gift. You can't steal it or pervert it or hoard it. The only magic worth having is that which is freely given—given from Magic herself. And even then, she only lets you borrow it for a while."

"Why are you telling me this?"

"To remember. To remember what you're really fighting for. To remember me. Magic's everywhere, Harry."



Three Days Prior, Before Everything Changed

"We need to talk."

Harry groaned and tried to burrow under the blankets. Whatever potion they were giving him now made most movement impossible and made him sound like a slurry-spoken drunk. What was the point?

He could feel death standing as a silent sentinel, its cold, fetid breath skating across his skin. Waiting. Why couldn't everyone just leave him alone and let him get on with it? He was ready to go.

"I'm tired of talking. I'm not doing it. I'm not letting you do it—you or Draco."

"It's not your choice."

"The hell it's not."

"Why are you so opposed to this?"

"Are you mad? Why would you even consider this?"

Harry closed his eyes, ready to go back to sleep. Fingers dug into his shoulder and side, forcing him to turn over.

"Still as obstinate and selfish as ever, aren't you, Potter?" Severus spat, the fear in his eyes belying the sneer in his voice. "Have you even considered how we might feel in all this? That we might have a say?"

Harry was so tired. He let his anger rush out of him, the energy crackling like fire.

"What the fuck do you think I've been doing? All I think about is you and Draco and how you might feel. How you might feel when you can't cast Protego, or Apparate, or cast the high-level Stasis Charms. How every day—every spell you can no longer work—sows a cold resentment, because I stole your magic. Because you felt sorry for me.

Severus hauled him close, the sting of his magic almost too much for Harry to bear, even with the Suppression Potion. "You think so little of us? You think we'd give away our magic because we felt sorry for you? Who do you think you're dealing with?"

Severus shook him hard before letting him fall back to the bed. He walked to the window and stared out for a long while without saying anything.

"It's hard to imagine my world without magic," Severus said.

"That's my point exactly."

Severus whirled around. "Shut that mouth of yours or I'll shut it for you, no matter how much it hurts." He didn't wait for Harry's response before turning back to the window.

"As I was saying before your childish interruption, it is very difficult for me to imagine my world without magic. It's a part of me, something for which I'm very proud. We are marked… as those whom are special."

"What, as Magic's own?" Harry cracked, hoping to take the piss.

"In a meaning, yes," he murmured, surprising Harry.

Severus's fingers curled into tight fists. He pressed them into the wall, letting them slide down in a slow, jerky descent. "But magic never made me feel—"

Severus's fists stopped moving. They dug into the wall for a moment before releasing altogether. His arms dropped to his sides.

"You are more than magic," Severus whispered.

Such power in such softly spoken words.

"You're wrong. Magic is everything," Harry said, scarcely believing the depth of Severus's conviction.

"No. It's not."

"That's your opinion, not mine."

"I will not allow this—this thing to take you, not when I can stop it!"

"And what of me, yeah?" Harry yelled. "The squib cripple who's alive, but who can never even cast a bloody Lumos again? Who has to take twenty potions a day for the rest of his life. He can never go—never go flying again. Did you ever think about that, Severus? Did you ever think that I don't want a life without magic? Did you? Magic saved me. It made me special. I can't—I won't live without it. I—I—

Severus rushed to him, gathered him in his arms and held him close, rubbing his back. He didn't care that Severus's magic felt like razors cutting into his skin. He closed his eyes and let go of his most damning admission.

I'm afraid," he whispered.

Severus clutched him even closer. "So are we," he whispered. "So are we."

Harry stared at the dull, concrete floor, unblinking. He could still smell singed flesh, hear the blood-curdling screams. Incredulity and a grief he didn't understand overwhelmed him. He was alive. Voldemort was dead, and he was alive.

"Harry? We can leave. The Aurors… they say we can leave."

Harry's head jerked up. He stared at Draco. He shouldn't be staring at Draco. He should be dead.

"Harry?" Draco asked again.

Severus's face swam into view. "He's in shock, I think," he muttered to Draco, both of them shooting him concerned looks.

"Why don't you lie down?" Draco said, pushing his shoulders back.

Harry shook his head. "No. I'm—I'm all right. It's… is it over, then? The spell worked?"

"Yes, it did. The Dark Lord is gone."

"And I'm alive." Harry couldn't stop the mad giggles that spilled out.

"He's concussed," Draco said to Severus. "I told you St. Mungo's released him too quickly."

"He's perfectly fine—just in shock. And when did you get your Healer's licence, Malfoy?"

"Fuck you, Severus."

"Gods, could you just—I'm alive." Wonder dissipated into fear as Harry began to understand what that meant. "Oh, God. I'm alive," he said, slipping to his side, breathing hard.

"Potter!" Severus barked.

"What am I going to do?"

Severus hauled him up by his robes and kissed him hard. "You live, you idiot."

"But how? I—I don't have any plans."

"Sure you do," Draco said, fitting himself behind Harry so that he was sandwiched between them. "You promised me candy floss. And that git there wants a lifetime supply of dittany."

Harry smiled. "And watching the tide rush in."

"There's your plan, you speccy git," Draco said, nuzzling Harry's neck.

"And after that?" Harry asked, barely suppressing a groan at Draco's nipping kisses.

"We figure it out from there. Together."

"Together," Severus echoed.



One Day Prior, Before Everything Changed

"…and you're going to give us sex every night for at least four months. And make pecan tarts every weekend. And let us do all of those nasty things to you that make you blush. That's indefinite, I think."

Harry woke, groggy, wondering what was going on. "What—what are you doing?" He wasn't even sure who was talking. "Pecan tarts?"

"Oh. You're awake. The Healer didn't think—well never mind that."

"Draco? Is that you?"

"Course. Who else?"

Harry shook his head and tried to move. Pain was the response. "Fuck," he slurred.

"Shh… not much longer now. The Healer expects that it will be tomorrow when… you know."

"Oh." Harry said, struggling to keep his thoughts in order. "What were you doing?"

Draco's smile was full of malicious glee. Harry thought he'd never seen anything so beautiful.

"Drawing up your punishment list. You know, for not telling us you were—" Draco fumbled for the right word, "—sick, for making us think you'd lost interest, for trying to be Slytherin and push us together—though I ought to thank you for that, actually—for being noble." Draco sighed dramatically, as only he could. "Gods, Harry, noble is so passé."

Harry couldn't help himself. He laughed. It felt good to laugh—almost as much as it did to see Draco's face soften with happiness at the sound of it.

"Draco—"

Draco shushed him. He started to reach out, but dropped his hand just as Harry instinctively shied away. "I know" Draco said instead. "I know."

They stared at each other, savouring the quiet moment. Draco was the first to look away. He was loath to keep anything serious for too long. It was something that annoyed and delighted Harry in equal measure.

"Oh, and did I tell you? We're going to get a magical aide—someone to do our work for us, which when you think about it, we should have been doing all along. I've found a few to interview, though it all depends on the uniform."

"Uniform?"

"Yes. I was thinking a black leather thong might do the trick."

Helpless peals of laughter spilled from Harry's lips.

"I'm serious. No reason the help can't look good while they work. So you see, the uniform is critical."

"How about a pink tutu?" Harry asked, his eyes already slipping closed as another time-released dose of Suppression Potion and a strong pain killer took effect.

"Now that has merit. Takes a special sort of man to pull off a tutu."

"Hmm."

Gloved fingers—trembling oh so fine—dared to push back his fringe. "Get some sleep," Draco whispered.

There were so many things Harry wanted to say. So many fears to express, confessions and declarations to make, but none would come.

Draco would say nothing needed to be said.



The Day Everything Changed

It was not a particularly auspicious day. No natural disasters occurred, no Seers predicted life-changing events. Harry's horoscope was remarkably ordinary—"Now is the time to plan. Bring in your plants before the first frost."

There were no pre-emptive heartfelt goodbyes. No teary embraces. No promises of seeing each other in the afterlife if things went wrong.

There was Harry, barely conscious, alone, and hovering in the in-between.

There were Draco and Severus, waiting as each went over the incantation again and again and again, silently clutching the other's hand. Both hoping they'd get it right, not even thinking of the sacrifice.

There was the Healer, whose name no one had bothered to get, but who watched Harry through a complicated set of lenses, waiting for the last of his tainted magic to leave him and return home.

And there were Magic and Death and Sacrifice, each poised, each waiting, none knowing who would win. Fickle Fate had not seen clear to join them this time.



It started with a twitch of his arm—which shouldn't have been possible given the potions he was on.

A terrible groan escaped him. He felt like he couldn't breathe, like someone was squeezing him, crushing him. The Healer had mentioned that it might be uncomfortable in the end, regardless of the potions. Frankly, Harry had hoped he'd sleep through the whole damn thing, but it wasn't to be done.

And then the pain got serious.

How long did he bear it? How long did he writhe and scream and weep?

Harry begged for death as the last of his magic was ripped from him, leaving behind the ravages of mortal muscle and bone. He let loose a keening cry, both from the pain and the panic that they wouldn't make it in time.

He couldn't go through this alone. His fingers scrabbled over sheets and rails, seeking purchase. He had to get up, to find them. But then familiar magic brushed over him like prickled barbs. He felt Severus and Draco clutch at him and pull him close.

A brilliant flash of golden light surrounded them; the incomprehensible pain from before dissipated like dense fog in sunlight. Warmth settled into his bones as Draco and Severus murmured desperate things he couldn't understand. It didn't matter what they said; all that mattered was that they were together. He wouldn't go through this alone.

He smiled.

"Do you ever think about magic? Where it comes from? What it is?"

"Sometimes."

"What do you think it is, then?"

"Us. Everything. Everything we're willing to give."

~fin~



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