Draco's dreaming words. They crawl over his skin, serif legs tickling him, catching on the fine hairs on his forearms and his thighs. They twist in his sheets, tangle in his hair, crawl inside the whorl of his ear and scream.
He wants to throw them at Potter. Lacerate him with their hard consonants and errant silent letters. Hold him down and force them into his mouth by the fistful.
They're only up to D, and Draco's willing to hear Potter's alternative.
A spelling bee is not a spelling bee when it's a vicious and aggravating trial on his patience concocted by that idiot Dumbledore - it has to be; he's partnered Draco with Potter, hasn't he? Draco desperately wants for Potter not to be right in his interpretation of the Headmaster's rules, which he's willing to admit is a reasonable indication that the git is.
I think he wants us to respect and esteem each other. Become the definition of the word.
Draco wonders if it might not be worth it. He could throw the dictionary at Potter; rip out a gripful of pages and wedge them in his mouth; storm out of this old Potions classroom he's inveigled the use of out of Snape; go back to the commonroom where Pansy will be bitching about Hermione Granger and Blaise will be telling stories about what sort of fucked-up things Lavender Brown let him do that day, and taking suggestions for what he should try tomorrow. Draco's willing to spell 'esteem' in as many different languages as Dumbledore wants to ask for, but doesn't know if he's willing to set aside hating Potter just yet.
But he wants the extra NEWT Dumbledore promised the winners. For other reasons, he needs to win.
There's more, too. Wouldn't it be something, just for once, to be the one with Potter when he does it again - gets it so blindingly right?
He's tried it before. It starts, again, with an offered hand. And this time, Harry takes it.
It starts with a handshake. It starts with a bottle of firewhiskey to wash away habits that have become ingrained in the six years between the first and second attempt. It starts with compliments, which Draco thinks just shows what a non-Slytherin Harry really is. Draco doesn't even compliment his friends. They don't compliment him. Silence, with its absence of insults, comes with respect endowed in the Slytherin commonroom. And they have their little ways. Blaise only offers the peppermint creams to people who've been particularly brilliant recently. Pansy touches where she can't speak softly.
It's so stupid. Harry, despite all his casual disregard for school regulations, is entirely sincere about this business, and Draco wants to point out to him that if they've rumbled the system then they don't actually have to do it. But Harry would be scathing about that, and Draco doesn't want this to turn into a slippery slope built from his capitulations.
So Draco drinks firewhiskey and can't think of a compliment. You're what a hero should be shaped like. My father would prefer you as his son. The liquor in his blood doesn't help. Harry's compliments - to his Potions skills; his Potions skills, for Merlin's sake - course beside it like another form of intoxicant, and Draco's a little panicked at how stupidly thrilled it's made him. He knows nothing he says can make Harry feel like that; not Harry, who gets compliments all the time, who shrugs them off like water every day of his life.
Sit down, shut up, close your eyes; please. There's still irritation on Harry's face, creasing up between his closed eyes. It could be mistaken for concentration, and Draco's speaking before he really thinks about it, babbling something about Harry on his broom. It's a fact, he's a good flyer, everyone must tell him this, everyone knows. But Harry thanks him, and Draco feels some strange satisfaction that he drowns in another slug of firewhiskey. This ridiculous Spelling Bee. The things he does.
That's how it starts. It continues with dinner together (and wine; lots of wine) by enforced invitation; once again, proof of Harry's lack of Slytherin, since demands and counter-offers are always how arrangements are negotiated in Draco's experience. Draco is somewhat - and in no way that he would ever admit to, no matter what the inducement - looking forward to more compliments. He has jotted a few ideas down during the day, in shorthand scrawling down his arm beneath his robes, because he's not going to get caught short again. But Harry's a lightweight on decent red, just about ready to slide off the couch. Draco's annoyance that his diligent preparation is being wasted is being distracted by the sinuous splay of Harry's limbs when he's boneless as a jellyfish.
Harry noxes the candles. He's going to pass out and probably snore on the couch and Draco will have wasted a whole evening and two bottles of Bordeaux for no good reason (though admittedly it's somewhat more edifying than the usual commonroom entertainment). He demands; Harry just lets it fall, that Draco has nice hair.
But he supposes, in the grand scheme of things, in a completely different way, really, when you get right down to it, Harry does too. Have nice hair. Tufting up in the deeper shadows of the old Potions classroom in a faintly ridiculous way that makes Draco think of the muzzy warmth of Harry's face before the lights went out.
He takes a breath in the almost-quiet dark (almost because yes, Harry after two-thirds of a bottle of red does indeed snore, just a little) and realises that this is how it's going to be. He's going to be civil to Harry. He's going to grow to esteem and respect him. He's going to start to like him.
The world is probably not going to end. It remains resolutely in existence as they are polite to each other in classes, at meals, in the corridors. No one even notices, though admittedly, everyone is distracted by possibly distorted (but probably not) theories on where Blaise and Lavender might have got to.
They go flying together, him and Harry, at Harry's polite Gryffindorish invitation. Draco has never really flown with someone. Blaise can fly, but finds it boring, and Theo would probably just hover in mid-air, reading. The Slytherin team is more in it for the win (and when Draco realised this, back in second year, two days after joining the team, he shut up about the rush). Though they start off at the pitch, they range far and wide, unrestricted by playing or practicing, over the lake and the woods and weaving between the towers of the castle. Not always together - Draco takes the Great Hall roof in a screaming dive while Harry's practising barrel rolls up near the Astronomy Tower - but their paths criss-cross, and when Draco looks for where Harry's got to sometimes he's looking back and once he's right behind Draco, pointing up to the snow-speckled mountains on the far side of the valley, and suggesting a race.
It reminds Draco a little of a couple of years ago, holidaying in Brighton with the Parkinsons, he and Pansy spending long days in the sea. She was a knockout in a bikini and swam like she was born to it, cutting through the water like a knife. Harry flies a little the same.
They reach the mountain more or less together, and Harry pulls a wide turn, but Draco ducks down dangerously close to the ground to sweep up a handful of lingering snow, which he slings at Harry, laughing as Harry has to duck. He lets out a battle cry and swoops down, and it's Draco's turn to duck, but he's already re-arming. They fly in dizzying circles over the mountainside, pelting each other with snow, until Harry tackles Draco completely off his broom, and it turns into wrestling, Harry laughing and Draco shouting and the air crisp and cold in their lungs.
Afterwards, they have to climb a conifer to get the brooms back. They sit up there, clutching the trunk from either side and watching the sun set down at the end of the valley. There's icy snowmelt uncomfortable down the back of Draco's robes, but Harry's hair is dripping all over his ears and neck. It's been more fun than Draco's had in ages. He thinks maybe he should say that, but Harry gets in first, so Draco just agrees.
They're having dinner every night in the old Potions classroom and if Draco were going to do something stupid like be honest, he's not providing the wine to get drunk any more, but to expand Harry's knowledge (and, maybe, impress him). He's proven a surprisingly apt pupil of oenology.
Draco's exhausted, the heavy lethargy of exertion weighing him down and sending the burgundy straight to his head. He sprawls on the couch, and Harry's hardly keeping to his corner, but it seems pointless to squabble over space and easier to just use Harry's arm as a pillow, especially as Harry isn't complaining.
He wakes up with Harry slumped against him, elbow almost uncomfortable against his thigh and hand around his ankle. There's a faint pain loitering between his eyebrows, and Draco rubs at it, remembering the night before, words he had never intended to say. His mother and his father and the violence of his own shortcomings that he'd frankly prefer to forget about.
Harry's own revelation, his aunt and uncle. Draco turns slightly, his leg dissolving into pins and needles in this position, and Harry stirs, grizzling. Draco thinks, my friend. Mine. He thinks he will actually kill them, like he's offered, if Harry asks, but of course Harry won't.
There's still a faint edge of panic, of being revealed, and he almost hopes that Harry's forgotten the evening before, washed away in burgundy. But Harry's hand tightens on Draco's ankle, and after he's sat up, rubbing his hair into an even worse mess, he suggests meeting on the pitch after last class. To help Draco beat Harry to the snitch. And then your bastard father can keep his hands to himself.
So they go down to the pitch, and it's less of a flying together this time and infinitely more of a working together. They fly, and drill, and Harry's six times a harsher taskmaster than Flint ever was, but he also teaches Draco how to do that hairpin turn. It doesn't quite work the same on Draco's broom as on Harry's, and the first time he tries it he falls off and goes sprawling on the grass, staring dizzy up at the stars coming out in the dusk. Harry's laughing at him, but it's alright, because somehow Draco's laughing too.
Draco wakes up in the middle of the night, after the first heavy slumber of the pinot grigio has worn off, with Harry's elbow in his side and his arm gone dead. They're jumbled up on the couch, and it takes Draco five minutes to sort them out into a more comfortable arrangement without waking Harry up, which seems important in the dark, dry hush of the old classroom. Harry snuffles as Draco settles against him, and Draco brushes the hair off his forehead, revealing his scar to the faint luminance in the room. It's just a scar. Harry's just a boy. Draco slides his arm around Harry's waist, because otherwise the nerves will end up squashed and screaming again. Harry's arms settle around him, his face tilting against the top of Draco's head, and Draco pretends he's already asleep. He doesn't remember, next morning, waking up with Harry wrapped around him more comfortably than the softest quilt, when pretense became reality.
There are still so many things more interesting to talk about than Harry and Draco, and that evening the Slytherin commonroom is full of people congratulating Pansy and Greg on getting out of the Spelling Bee, and wanting to hear again from Pansy about hexing Granger (something they've all wanted to do at least once), though not so much excited to hear about Greg getting hexed by Weasley. As least, Draco notes as he passes through - once on his way up to his dorm to drop stuff off, once back through on his way out to the pitch to meet up with Harry again - the swelling has gone down. Greg spots him, the only one who does, and asks about a game of chess, but Draco tells him he doesn't have time at the moment.
They work harder tonight, because Draco still can't quite beat Harry to the snitch, and near enough is never fucking good enough, not with his father, not with himself. Harry calls a halt to the drills, and takes a deep breath before starting to list his own flaws: he can dive, but pulling up sharp makes him sick; the goggles limit his peripheral vision; his instinct is to go for the snitch with his right hand.
Weaknesses. Things Draco can exploit. Things Harry has been hiding for years now. All Draco can do is hover, keep his seat, and think that he's been given the newest brooms, the most elegant robes, the most expensive equipment, and he's never been given anything that meant quite as much as this. Gratitude feels so unfamiliar. Almost as strange as wanting to give, wanting to share, and Draco wonders if normal people - people with friends - feel this way all the time.
Thank you is entirely inadequate. When they clear the pitch for the Ravenclaw team practice, Draco tugs Harry into the shadowed lee of the stands, leans both their brooms against a strut, and curls a hand around the back of Harry's neck as he kisses him. It occurs to him that Harry might protest this, with his Gryffindor requirements for polite requests, but Draco hadn't thought of this as a taking, only as a giving. Harry doesn't protest, and after a tiny moment his hands come up, hanging onto Draco's robes near his waist. When the kiss deepens, mouths open and the touch of tongues, one hand comes up into Draco's hair and he tilts his head, against Harry's mouth, into his hand.
When they're not kissing, they're breathing the same shadowed air, and Harry mumbles something about this not being what Dumbledore had in mind. Draco's first thought is fuck Dumbledore, but instead he mentions that he can still esteem Harry on his knees, and the tightening of Harry's grip in his hair just adds to the swirl of molten heat in Draco's stomach.
But when they meet up in the old classroom again, showered and changed and faintly edged in nervousness (that crackles and disappears when Harry produces a bottle of wine - one he chose himself - and Draco says something about students and teachers and Harry quips back and they laugh; just that easy) it's not fast or hard and no one ends up on his knees. They sprawl over the couch again, side by side, and kiss until all Draco can taste is blood under skin, all he can taste is kissing and the flush that colours Harry's cheeks pink and makes his eyes bright and lost. They crumble towards dishevelled and half-undressed, Harry's hands against Draco's ribs and clutching at his collar as Draco shuffles down the couch, tugging Harry's trousers off and away.
Draco writes 'respect' along the side of Harry's cock with his tongue, and Harry gulps and kicks a cushion off the couch. Afterwards, his mouth salty and panting, Draco shows Harry his own weaknesses: Harry's palm against the pulse in his cock, thumb under crown, other hand pressing firm fingers into Draco's shoulder, his name on Harry's lips.
If you told Draco two weeks ago that he'd be here, holding Harry, holding him up, holding him down, naked and gasping with need satisfied and something softer, something leaking around the edges... If you told him this two weeks ago, he would have laughed at you.
Once he would have appreciated this, if it had happened at all, for the victory it connoted. Once it might have been a victory, and not a completion shared. He hardly likes to think about why he appreciates it now. He just does so, living each minute that ticks away in countdown to the day they've been working towards.
There are moments - not always with their skin stuck together: one when his fingers close on the Snitch and he turns to catch Harry's grin as a reflection of his own; one when they pass in a corridor and Harry yawns so Draco does too and shoves his shoulder on the way past; one for no good reason at all, nowhere, nothing special - moments when he's forgotten what this is for. When he remembers, always, he's hot and cold all over, anger and fear, that this is just a purpose. That this is just another plan to solve another problem.
The night before the Spelling Bee he sits in the dark dormitory, sleeping bodies all around him, and plays with the Snitch he's kept, letting it go, catching it again. He can spell Harry's name. He knows they're going to win. He isn't sure what comes next. Hasn't been able to think past the Spelling Bee.
He wonders what fucked-up things Blaise has been letting Lavender do to him. He wonders who Greg's been playing chess with, since he was so unconcerned when Draco apologised for not having time to play recently.
When is a spelling bee not a spelling bee? When it's something else. When it's a honey-baited trap. When it works. When it catches them.
Redefinition (the Elvis remix) by dee
A remix of Definition by pir8fancier.