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Spellbound: November

Amalthia
Spellbound: 5 November
Rated: Nc-17 Non-consensual sex, Angst.
Archive: Please ask first.
Email: amalthia@slashcity.com
Feedback: Love it.
Spoilers: Up to 5th book.
Disclaimers: None of this universe belongs to me.
Author Note: I wanted to dedicate this chapter to Slytherlynx. Her advice and beta reading skills were invaluable.

 

Spellbound: November

Draco slid out of bed quietly, grabbed his school robe off the hanger, and left the room. The common room was empty and filled with shadows, the cracking of the logs in the fireplace the only noise in the calm room. The Fat Lady yawned as she closed behind him. Using his previous years of experience at sneaking around Hogwarts without the benefit of an invisibility cloak, Draco made his way down to the dungeons. He had to speak with Professor Snape.

A closed door greeted him when he reached Professor Snape's private room. Draco rapped at the door gently, hoping the small noise would be enough to catch the professor's attention. He waited, and waited some more, then knocked again a little louder. This time the door swung open to reveal Snape's naked chest and loose pants hanging low on his hips. Mouth suddenly dry, Draco realized that maybe he picked the wrong time to talk with Professor Snape: the man's angry glare thankfully could not literally cut someone in two.

"I, um ..." Draco began, not sure what to say in the face of Professor Snape's angry scowl.

"Are the times we normally meet too early for you?" Professor Snape asked, and opened the door the rest of the way, motioning him to enter. Draco crossed the threshold and walked until he stood in the center of the room. Not sure where to sit, the armchairs had clothes strewn over them. He turned to face Professor Snape when he heard the heavy thud of the wooden door shut.

Blushing brightly, Draco stammered, "I...I couldn't sleep."

Grim-faced, Snape responded, "So you decided to ruin my sleep, too?"

"No." Face redder than before, Draco added, "Of course not, I thought you'd still be awake. This was a mistake. I'm sorry."

Draco headed back towards the door. He never should have come down to talk with Professor Snape. A slightly hairy arm barred the exit. "Where do you think you are going? I'm awake now."

Standing close to the other man, Draco smelled the faint traces of alcohol on Professor Snape's breathe. "You're drunk!" Draco exclaimed. Shocked for a moment, he laughed at Snape's sour frown, completely amazed that his potions professor would drink.

Snape pulled him back into the middle of the room and said in a stiff voice, "I've had a long evening and I did not know a student would violate the rules again to visit me after everyone should be in bed."

Grinning broadly, Draco shook his head. "There's no reason to explain to me, sir. It's your room, after all."

Snape's eyes narrowed, but his frown smoothed itself out into a slight smile. "You're incorrigible." He pointed towards the fireplace and the chairs. "You can sit on the armchair. Whatever you came down here to say, you had better make it quick. I've had a long day and want to sleep."

Draco stopped smiling, walked over to the same chair he used last time, and waited patiently while Snape cleared the clothes off. He sat down and gathered his thoughts before speaking. "Professor, I just wanted to thank you again for helping me tonight, and to ask if you had any more sleeping potions I could borrow?"

"Draco, I would have helped any student in your predicament. Now, have you tried other ways of sleeping first? I do not normally hand out sleeping potions so readily. It's not good for wizards or witches to use sleeping potions too often."

Snape stood abruptly and grabbed a silver flask. He poured the contents into a cup and handed it to him.

Draco shook his head, "I don't know to turn my brain off, sir." He brought the cup to his lips and drained it in one gulp. He coughed as it burned going down.

"Draco, that's a Muggle whiskey. You were supposed to drink it more slowly."

Gasping, eyes watering, Draco handed the glass back. "Thanks," he coughed, "for the warning."

Smirking, Snape filled the glass again and handed it back to Draco. "Just take it more slowly this time."

Staring down into the murky liquid, Draco nodded his head and carefully lifted the glass to his lips and sipped it, not eager for another coughing fit. It went down more smoothly and he relaxed slightly.

Snape continued to drink out of his own cup while staring into the fire. "Is it any better?"

"Hmm...Yes. Thank you." Draco politely took another sip.

By the time he finished his second glass, his head spun slightly and he felt relaxed and comfortable sitting on the armchair, listening to the quiet crackle of logs in the fireplace. Snape's even breathing comforted him.

With the alcohol giving him a small measure of courage, Draco mumbled softly what had been on his mind all evening. "The only spell I could remember tonight was Stupefy. Tonight, when it mattered most, that was the only spell I could remember. I can't get over it." Draco ran his hand through his hair, gripping it with frustration.

"So this is why you wanted a sleeping potion?"

"Yes," he answered simply.

"May I remind you that you were outnumbered? You should not lose sleep worrying about what you didn't do, but rather figure out how to prevent this from happening again. I know you are good with disarming spells; I've seen your marks. Under stressful circumstances, however, it is not uncommon to forget what you have learned." Snape sounded very scholarly, although his words slurred occasionally.

"But ... how do I stop this from happening again?" Draco asked hopefully.

"Practice and keeping a cool head," Snape said. Before Draco could protest, he added. "I'll see if I can find a room you can use to practice defensive and offensive spells."

Draco took another sip; it went down easier this time. He handed the empty cup back to Snape and leaned back in his chair. Next to the fire, and with the slow burn of the alcohol coating his stomach, the exhaustion he felt earlier came back. He blinked his eyes sleepily and yawned.

"Come, Draco, you need to get back to your room before you pass out," he heard Snape's voice say with a hint of humor.

Grumbling, Draco allowed Snape to help him back to his feet and followed Snape back to the Gryffindor Tower.

******

Draco blinked his eyes blearily when Ron pulled his bed drapes wide open, letting the full morning sunshine blaze onto his face. "It can't be morning yet," he complained, sitting up.

"Come on, or you are going to miss breakfast. It's already eight." Ron said, rushing back to his trunk to grab something.

"Isn't it Sunday?" Draco asked. He wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep.

"Yeah, but there's another Quidditch game this afternoon and we can go down to Hogsmeade today as well."

"That's okay; I'd rather get some more sleep. Wake me up later." Draco fell back against his pillow and pulled the covers up over his head, hoping Ron would not test their newfound friendship this morning.

"Draco, I know you came in really late last night but come on! You'll get another chance to play Seeker -- Harry already said he's going to try and finish catching up on his work, and he doesn't want to do anything today."

Draco pushed back the covers all thought of going back to sleep erased from his mind. There was no way he could sleep now. He did want another chance to play Seeker.

Afterwards, Draco spent the rest of the day in a drowsy state, and by supper, he almost nodded off in the Great Hall. His mind woke up just enough to notice Professor Snape absence from the head table. He also noticed Ginny's subdued demeanor, but figured she would recover her nerves by tomorrow.

Readying for bed that night, Draco's mind continued to return to his brief encounter with Professor Snape last night. Their quiet talk and Snape offering him real alcohol confused him. He shifted on his bed, amazed and partly disturbed at how quickly the memory of Snape wearing only his bathrobe turned him on. In the right light, Professor Snape could be...handsome. Blushing, Draco rolled over and buried his face in his pillow, thankful everyone had already gone to sleep. After months of doubting he would ever feel sexual attraction again, Draco took his deranged interest for Professor Snape as a good sign.

Monday came early after a night of disturbing dreams. Ron dreamt of Harry Potter covered in blood and screaming for help as a dark figure stood over him about to cast the Killing Curse. Ron unable to run fast enough to help screamed in protest. Although Draco knew Potter wasn't truly his friend, he could not help but feel scared and useless in the dream, as if he actually wanted to save Potter.

When he awoke, he lay on his side and kept his eyes closed, a moment longer, to shake off the tremors of the dream. After a minute or two, he sat up and looked over at Ron still sleeping. Draco debated waking him up from the nightmare, however, before he could decide, Ron's eyes snapped open. Ron flinched, as if just realizing he was awake and safe in his own bed. He panted for air and whispered, "Good God," before rolling over onto his back, covering his eyes with one arm.

When Ron lifted his arm and looked over at his bed, he caught Draco staring. Draco blushed with embarrassment, but before he could ask if Ron was okay, Potter walked into the room toweling his hair dry, barely half-dressed. "Ron, you need to get up or you'll miss breakfast," he said with a wide yawn, dropping his wet towel on the end of his bed.

Still breathing slightly faster than normal, Ron sat up, climbed off the bed, grabbed his bathroom kit and left the room. Draco took longer to leave his bed, his legs still shaky from the force of the fear in Ron's dream. He tried to repress his relief watching Potter dress for the day. He hated Potter, so why did he feel relief the other boy was not in some horrible danger screaming for help he could not give.

At breakfast, Ron did not talk as much as he normally did: he picked at his food and listlessly answered Potter and Hermione's questions. Draco felt torn between watching his new friend and Snape eating at the head table.

By lunchtime, Ron acted more himself and less like a zombie. The bruised look in his eyes had disappeared, and he smiled when the topic of Quidditch came up again. The nightmare destabilized Ron's morning more than Draco thought it should have, but then again, Ron rarely had bad dreams. In the weeks, Draco shared Ron's dreams; this was the first nightmare the other boy had. Before, the worst Ron could lay claim to had his mother yelling at him to take care of Ginny.

The next few classes passed slowly as the day dragged on towards the end. Happy he only had one more class to attend, Magical Creatures; Draco let his mind wander to his encounter with Professor Snape on Saturday night. Therefore, it came as quite a shock when he rounded the last corner going outside with Sandra, and ran into both Dumbledore and Professor Snape. Draco bounced off Professor Snape's lean form and careened into the wall, scraping his palm in an attempt to catch his balance. Sandra faired better, she squeaked but stopped just in time before hitting Dumbledore.

Draco froze even as he felt a blush creep up his neck; he prayed neither Dumbledore nor Snape read minds. His fantasies about Snape warped into his encounter on Saturday night, the low pooling of arousal in his stomach when Snape offered him a drink, the soft firelight, it all seemed designed to seduce a person. Was it against the rules for the staff to give their students drinks?

"Hello Headmaster," Sandra said warmly. Completely ignoring Professor Snape, she grabbed Draco's shoulder and pushed him past the two men. "Come on, Draco, pick your feet up. I'm going to be late for class again." She gave him no time to turn and see Professor Snape's reaction. He hurried to stay with his escort.

They were finished with the singing frogs as of Friday, and today Hagrid introduced Thestrals, some type of invisible flying horse. Since Draco had never seen someone die, he could only guess at the Thestral's appearance. Potter and Neville were the only ones in the class who could see them. Slightly disturbed at the sight of an invisible creature munching on a dead cow, Draco stayed behind Ron and Potter for most of the class, and tried to pay attention.

At the end of class, Hagrid escorted them out of the Forbidden Forest and back to the school grounds. Ron and Potter talked to each other in voices too low for him to overhear. All of a sudden, Draco felt like a complete outsider, just an unwelcome guest for the duration of the school year. Which -- he realized just as suddenly -- was unreasonable. Ron was his friend now; however, he doubted Ron would understand his strange attraction to Professor Snape.

Depressed, Draco dragged himself through a few homework assignments and then dinner, his interest sparking only when Hermione offered to take him to Professor Snape for their nightly meeting.

Draco opened the door to Professor Snape's workroom, and took a deep breath before stepping inside. Professor Snape stood behind his worktable, stirring a steaming cauldron and muttering incantations.

"Thanks, Hermione," Draco said, turning towards Hermione long enough to catch her startled expression before he closed the door behind him. He entered the room, confidence hanging by a bare thread that frayed with each step towards the workbench, where Professor Snape still hadn't acknowledged his presence.

Nervous and shaking inside, Draco stood silently by the workbench and waited for Professor Snape to speak to him instead of the cauldron. After a few minutes of waiting, he bit his bottom lip and pulled up the stool he normally used. Patience not one of his stronger virtues, Draco found himself tapping the desk with his fingers, not sure, if he felt more angry or hurt by Snape's rudeness.

"Professor?" Draco asked, vaguely shocked at how small his voice sounded in the large workroom.

Professor Snape didn't even answer; instead, he picked up a sprig of lavender, tossed it in the cauldron, and waved his wand over it. Yellow smoke rose thickly, and Professor Snape smiled grimly before turning to him. Draco picked his elbows off the table.

"You look like you have a lot on your mind today," Snape said.

"It's about Saturday night..." Draco trailed off, not sure what to say. Nothing had happened except a professor giving him alcohol. So why did he feel so strange? At Snape's expectant look, Draco hastily continued, "I just wanted to apologize for bothering you so late that night."

Snape nodded his head, "No need to apologize. You caught me at an awkward moment. I should have sent you back to your room right away and not shared my drink with you. However, it did seem to help you relax and speak about what was on your mind. I trust you slept well?"

"I did."

Snape opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out several vials of a green potion. "This is the modified version of the blue sleeping potion I gave you the other night. Try to make sure you are lying down before you take it, as I don't know how fast it will take effect. Don't use them all at once because I won't give you any more until the next full moon." He handed five vials to Draco.

Handling them carefully, Draco put them in his pockets. "Thanks," he said. Professor Snape really did care about him. The thought warmed his heart.

Snape nodded his head in acknowledgment. "It's really nothing. Now let's get this mess cleaned up."

Feeling the beginnings of extreme hero worship, Draco helped clean and talked about his day, feeling more like himself as he insulted Potter and Hagrid's horrible teaching in Care of Magical Creatures. Snape never cared when he was cruel to Potter; in fact, he seemed to relish Draco's insults, so he tried to be creative.

For some reason pointing out other people's flaws made him feel slightly better about himself, although Draco tried not to dwell on this thought. Snape was a great listener, Draco discovered, as he talked about his day. For the first time, someone actually seemed interested in what he had to say. He was used to girls pretending interest in his opinions due to his family name, but Snape's interest was different. Better.

When Ron arrived a few minutes early, Draco reluctantly grabbed his book bag and left with Ron. He tried to catch Snape's eye before he left, but the older man was packing his own paperwork away to leave the workroom. Disappointed, Draco followed Ron up the stairs and tried to concentrate on Ron's attempted conversation.

The rest of the evening passed in a blur for Draco. He could not concentrate on the simplest of tasks; he reread the same pages ten times without realizing it; he zoned out during one of Hermione's lectures on freeing house elves from slavery, which was normally an amusing topic for him. Finally, Draco took a very long shower to avoid conversation with anyone. If Ron was puzzled by his behavior tonight, he didn't mention it. Ron seemed rather distracted himself doing his homework.

It was Monday night and everyone was ready for bed around eleven, but Draco lay in bed long past the time all the lights were turned off, daydreaming about Professor Snape. He didn't know why he felt so strongly for his teacher, and he didn't know what do about it. He tossed and turned, knowing he needed to sleep but unable to relax: for the first time in months, he had an erection from thinking about sex. Frustrated and ashamed, Draco inched his hand downwards, glad everyone else closed their curtains on their beds so that they could sleep without the nightlight disturbing them. His fingers wrapped around his erection tentatively. It used to feel natural to do this, but this summer he had not been allowed to touch himself without permission, and the few times he was punished for doing so were so awful, the mere memory of it made his heart beat faster with fear.

However, Draco was not going to let Voldemort rule his life. He gently pulled at himself and tried to enjoy the sensations. He closed his eyes and slowly stroked with his hand the way he loved best. Cassandra with her smiling eyes and beautiful blonde hair appeared in his head, and his heart skipped a beat, imagining what it would be like to kiss her and touch her.

Then his fantasy changed shape as his hand picked up speed. Professor Snape took Cassandra's place, tall, dark, and brooding. Black eyes focused intensely on Draco's flushed face. Draco wanted to moan at the thought of Snape holding him down and using him -- he wanted Snape to fill him. Blushing at his daring thoughts, Draco reached his peak and came. His body jerked and he stifled his moan.

Relaxing back against his pillow, panting softly, Draco stared up at the ceiling, confused as to what he really wanted. He grabbed his wand and performed a simple cleaning spell. Rolling over on his side, Draco punched his pillow a few time and closed his eyes.

*************

The next day at breakfast, Draco was eating a roll when Harry and Ron suddenly stopped speaking. Draco looked up from the magazine Ron had let him borrow and met Cassandra's blue eyes. He blushed, remembering his fantasy last night. "Hi, Draco," she said, also blushing rather prettily. "Do you want to go flying with me later this afternoon?"

Draco was shocked and delighted all at the same time. He smiled, unable to stop himself. "I'd love to go with you..." he said and offered her a seat next to him so they could plan where to meet. Then she wanted to know what he was reading; breakfast went by too quickly, so they promised to meet again at lunch.

Potions class today was simple; Draco's meetings with Snape had helped him improve his concentration, and as a result, he was one of the few in class who got his potion right. However, Snape paid him no special attention. Partly relieved, a small seed of disappointment and worry lingered. Did Snape know Draco was attracted him? Did Snape see him as anything other than a student to teach? However, he remembered Cassandra promising to eat with him at lunch and he pushed aside his worries over Professor Snape.

The rest of the morning passed in a daze of anticipation for Draco. He could not wait to meet Cassandra for lunch, when he saw her it felt like his heart skipped a beat. He could not believe that such a pretty girl would be interested in him. At lunch, she sat next to him again and he watched her eat, barely able to concentrate on lifting his fork to his mouth. Her blonde hair was a shade or two darker than his own and it gleamed in the light of the Great Hall.

He brought his fork up to his mouth a few times before he realized the food had fallen off, or that he didn't even have food on it. He blushed and avoided Ron's smirking gaze, and tried to concentrate on Cassandra's words instead of the way she looked.

"So what do you think?" she asked, coming to a stop.

Draco looked at Ron for clarification but Ron and Seamus were deep in discussion. Hermione was no help, her nose was still stuck in a book, and Harry was stabbing his potatoes with a fork as if they were going to slip away if he didn't stab them hard enough, "about what?"

"Weren't you listening to a word I was saying?"

"Um, yes, but my food ... fork ..." Draco could not stop staring into her eyes, narrowed with disbelief.

Cassandra pouted and flipped her hair back over her shoulder, gracefully. "Boys. I was asking if you watch Muggle movies and if you like them?"

"Muggle movies?" Draco smiled in spite of his confusion.

"I guess that answers the question," she said with a hint of humor. "I'll have to take you to one someday: you'll love it. I know my family is pureblood, but my uncle is an odd sort, fascinated with Muggles and all. When I was younger, he'd take me out to see Muggle-made movies, and drive around in their cars. Did you have anything similar when you were growing up?

Thinking back through his years, Draco could not once remembering his dad saying one good thing about Muggles and their strange inventions. "No, my family really disapproves of curiosity about Muggles and I don't know much about them," he admitted, wondering what a movie was.

"Draco, Cassandra, it's time to go." Hermione stuffed her book into her bag, chewing on a piece of bread at the same time.

Shocked at how quickly time went by, Draco quickly put his own books away, and grabbed a roll himself. His plate was barely touched, and his stomach growled with hunger.

"Oh, I have to go back to my table and grab my books!" Cassandra said. "I'll see you later this afternoon!" she yelled, walking away very quickly to her table and the small group of friends who were waiting for her.

"Hey Draco, I grabbed an extra roll for you," Ron said, coming up alongside him and Hermione.

The roll, now flattened like a pancake smelled great, Draco thought, before accepting it from Ron. "Thanks." Edible, too ... he stuffed the rest in his mouth and chewed on the way to their next class, grateful that Ron noticed he hadn't really eaten lunch.

The afternoon classes passed in daze of anticipation for Draco. He felt so much nervous energy that he could not stop tapping his feet against the stone floors. He practically dragged Sandra with him to all his classes.

When he got to his room with Ron, he felt like a nervous wreck. He dropped his bag of books on his desk and quickly changed into flying robes and clothes he would not mind getting sweaty.

Ron was also changing into clothes more suitable for flying than class, but unlike Draco, he didn't have a girl waiting for him and was taking his time, which meant Draco had to wait another five minutes for Ron. "Come on, Ron, I don't want to be late," Draco said, crossing his arms over his chest and standing by the door, hoping Ron would get the hint to hurry the hell up.

"I'm coming, I'm coming. She'll wait for you if you are a bit late, you know." Ron said, as he finished tying his shoelaces.

"I do not want to be late. It makes a bad impression."

"Since when did you become an expert on girls?"

"You're hopeless!" Draco said, opening the door and leaving the room. "It does not take a genius to figure out a girl will be upset if you are late. Didn't your mom ever tell you anything?" Exasperated, Draco marched out to the Quidittch field, ignoring Ron's martyred expression.

"So what time are you supposed to meet her?" Ron asked when they arrived and didn't see anyone.

"Five." Draco answered, also looking around the field.

Ron's face turned red all of a sudden.

"What?"

"Do you know what time it is?" Ron asked, scowling.

"Um, no, do you?"

"It's four thirty!"

"Looks like we'll have to wait, she might get here early, you know." Draco tried to sound optimistic in light of his friend's bad mood.

"Girls never arrive anywhere on time, let alone early!" Ron said.

"Hermione does, I bet," Draco countered with a smile.

"She doesn't count," Ron immediately fired back.

Laughing, Draco got on his broom and launched himself into the air. Ron got on his own broom, a rather outdated model, and followed. "Ron, Hermione is a girl, isn't she?"

"Yes!" Ron yelled they were further apart from each other, flying around the pitch.


"Then she counts!" Draco yelled back, and practiced another maneuver. He felt rusty, but he hoped that by the time Cassandra arrived, he'd look like a natural again. He wanted to make a good impression.

As they flew around the pitch, Draco gradually regained confidence in his abilities and enjoyed the exhilaration of flying again. He smiled, watching Ron trying to coax more speed out of his broom.

Draco lost track of time, flying circles around Ron's sluggish broom, and he didn't realize it was five until he saw a flash of blonde hair on the Quidditch field. He stopped teasing Ron and flew down towards Cassandra. She was dressed in her house robes and was breathless.

"S--sorry I'm late," she said, panting slightly, her fair face flushed from exertion. "I ran all the way down here ... I lost track of time doing homework."

"It's okay," Draco said, to reassure her, although he honestly had no idea what time it was himself. "Let's fly while we can -- the sun is starting to set."

She smiled and followed him up into the air on her broom. Ron was on the side of the field, zigzagging through the Quidditch goal posts.

At first, Draco didn't know what to say. This was technically his first date with Cassandra, and he'd never gone on a date with a girl he actually liked before. He could feel himself blush every time Cassandra looked his way and arched her brow.

"Race you to the end!" she called out and zoomed away, robes flapping behind her, heading straight for the goal posts.

Draco grinned and sped to catch up to catch up; however, Cassandra had a head start, a rather new model broom and she beat him by a few feet. "Over there!" he yelled, pointing towards the lake, and raced off.

Draco could sense Cassandra close behind him and he smiled, gripping his broom more tightly, to speed up. It wasn't really a contest: his broom was faster and newer. He beat her by a good ten feet. She laughed when she came to a stop next to him, both of them floating about sixty feet over the lake. "Wow, your broom is fast -- when did you get it?" she asked, flying closer to him so he wouldn't have to yell to answer.

"My father got it for me two years ago. I'll let you fly it if you like?" Draco offered, wanting to see her smile even more.

"Sure," Cassandra answered and headed towards the shore of the lake. They switched brooms and took turns racing back and forth; her broom handled differently from his own but he got the hang of it quickly. The stopped a few times and talked, but mostly about Quidditch.

The sun was sinking into the earth when they flew back to the Quidditch field Ron lay on the grass, arms crossed under his head, a piece of grass sticking out of his mouth. Draco landed softly next to him. "Hey Ron, thanks for waiting."

Cassandra landed a second later, "Why is he waiting?" she asked, puzzled.

Ron sat up; gaping at her, but Draco stepped on his foot before Ron could speak. "So we can walk back to Gryffindor Tower together, that's all." Draco answered, smoothly, switching his broom with hers. She smiled faintly.

"I had fun today," she said, blushing.

"Me too," Draco said, stepping closer to Cassandra. He was a few inches taller, and her hair smelled wonderful. He gently took her free hand and kissed the back of it. "See you at dinner tonight, right?"

"Y--Yes. Yes, of course," Cassandra stammered and pulled back her hand; her face turned a brighter shade of red. "I have to go get washed up." She smiled broadly before she turned and ran towards Hogwarts.

Draco turned to watch her go, feeling odd inside, but happy for the first time in ages.

"Hey, that was my foot," Ron said, standing up next to him.

"Sorry," Draco said, his mind already moving far ahead to possible future dates. Visiting Hogsmeade with her would be nice, or a stroll around the lake...

"Well, I didn't plan on watching the setting sun with you. Come on, we have to go get washed up ourselves," Ron said. He grabbed Draco's arm and marched him in the direction of Hogwarts, wondering to himself what he did to deserve this.

*******

"Draco. Hello ... Is anyone home?" Ron asked, waving a chicken leg in front of Draco's eyes.

Draco turned around to face four curious faces, "What?" he asked, unable to stop smiling.

Ron grinned. "I just wanted to see if you would remember to eat. You haven't taken your eyes off Cassandra since you sat down. Come on, you need to keep up your strength if you are going to continue a courtship."

Hermione laughed softly. "Ron has a point, Draco. You do need to eat. I think you forgot lunch all together."

Embarrassed, Draco picked up his knife and fork and started eating with an appetite. The only one not smiling at the table was Harry, who glared at him hatefully. Draco's smile wilted in confusion. Why did Potter hate him so much?

******

Draco's next date with Cassandra took place over the weekend. He met her in Hogsmeade at the Three Broomsticks; originally, he wanted to walk with her to Hogsmeade, but he didn't know how to explain away Hermione and Ron's presence. He entered The Three Broomsticks first, Ron and Hermione both agreed to wait three minutes before coming in themselves. Ron snickered at this, but Hermione quieted him. "He's going on a date -- he doesn't want Cassandra to think he'd rather spend time with us than with her."

Draco could have kissed Hermione. Instead, he thanked her and entered the building. Cassandra sat by the window, reading a book. She already had a drink in front of her, and Draco's hand reached into his pocket, feeling around for the spare coins Professor Snape had given him. He had enough to buy them both a drink.

The room was nearly empty; most of the students visited Honeydukes' Sweetshop or Zonko's Joke Shop before arriving at the Three Broomsticks. Draco wanted to meet Cassandra here first so they'd have a chance to talk in relative privacy.

"Hello," he said, standing next to the table.

Cassandra started but quickly put her book down, "Draco! Don't just stand there -- sit down."

He began to sit down.

"Not there, next to me." She patted the seat next to her, and Draco reversed direction. His arm brushed against hers when he reached for a menu.

He smiled and asked, "So...how are you this weekend?"

She stuffed her book in a bag she brought with her. "I'm fine, you know how it is. Studying and studying. I don't think I'll ever get Arithmancy -- I spent all last night studying. It just doesn't make any sense to me. How about you?"

"I'm fine," he answered automatically and blushed at her raised eyebrow. Obviously, she wanted him to say more. "I'm actually doing much better in my classes lately. I can help you with Arithmancy if you'd like. Hermione started a study group, and she's has everyone taking notes for different classes so it's not as hard to study any more."

Cassandra sighed heavily. "We also have study groups in our house, but to have Hermione Granger running it ... I just don't understand how she ended up in Gryffindor when she obviously belongs in Ravenclaw."

Draco ignored this comment; he had no idea how the Sorting Hat chose the house a student went into. Instead, he pressed on. "So would you like to meet in the library tomorrow and study together? I can bring some of Hermione's notes on Arithmancy."

The door to The Three Broomsticks opened and Hermione and Ron entered and found a seat not far from his. Their cheeks were red, and the wind tangled Hermione's hair Draco watched for a moment until Cassandra stole his attention away.

"Would you really?" she said, grabbing hold of his hand. "I can meet you whenever is good for you."

Her hand cupping his sent a thrill through Draco's body. "How about right after lunch?" he offered, without thinking to ask Hermione or Ron if they wanted to spend the early afternoon in the library.

"That's a great time -- afterwards we can go to the lake and walk around and maybe see the sunset."

Draco nodded, feeling struck dumb.

"That's a great idea," he said and raised his hand for Madam Rosmerta to come take his order.


"Would you like another butterbeer?" he asked. "I see you finished yours already."

"I'd love another one," Cassandra answered, smiling up at him.

Draco cleared his throat when Madam Rosmerta arrived. "I'll have two butterbeers, please." He gave her the money and she went away.

*****

"Would you look at her simper at him!" Ron whispered furiously to Hermione.

He was not very happy today. First Draco woke him up early. Then told him he HAD to take him to Hogsmeade right away, when all Ron wanted to do was sleep some more and play Exploding Snap with Harry. Hermione heard part of their argument in the common room, where Draco had finally tracked Ron down after he ran from the room without giving Draco an answer, and she convinced him to take Draco down to Hogsmeade, citing the number of times she'd helped him with homework. Convinced into going, Ron asked Hermione if she'd come with them so he'd have someone to talk to while Draco made calf eyes at Cassandra.

Draco started to say Ron was a stupid git when Hermione had stepped in and said she'd go. Running a few minutes late, they walked quickly down to Hogsmeade. Then to top it all off, Hermione made them wait a few more minutes outside in the chilly air, so Cassandra would think Draco arrived alone.

"Hermione, you owe me one," Ron said, when Draco entered the building.

"You are wrong -- you owe me one. I had planned to study today, and instead I'm in Hogsmeade again. I already finished all my errands on Halloween. Perk up, I'll pay for the butterbeers," she said, turning to face the wind so her hair wouldn't blow in her eyes as badly.

Feeling slightly guilty and happy at the thought of free butterbeers, Ron stood in front of Hermione to block the wind from her. She smiled and thanked him, looking at her watch again.

Finally, she said they could go in. Ron almost barreled past her into the warm room. He found a table not far from Draco and Cassandra and sat facing them. After all, it was his responsibility to make sure nothing bad happened to Draco.

Hermione turned in her seat to watch Draco and Cassandra talking together. "She is not simpering at him, Ron," she said, turning to look at the menu.

"I'm just going to have butterbeer," Ron muttered, slouching in his seat. How could Hermione not see that simpering?

"I will, too," she said, motioning to one of the waiters that she was ready to order.

"Ron, they are having a good time. You should be happy for Draco. He's had a hard time this year, and a girl has shown interest in him."

"I just don't trust her. Why would she like him? She's never shown interest before: why now?"

The waiter showed up and Hermione quickly placed their orders, and waited patiently until the waiter moved out of earshot. "Probably because Draco stopped being an insufferable git this year, that's why. Besides, Draco is handsome, everyone agrees on that. It's just most of us girls could not stand his personality."

"He's too pale and scrawny to be handsome," Ron said, uncomfortably aware that he was lying to a very astute girl.

"Well, you are scrawny, too. I'm sure you'll grow out of it." Their butterbeers arrived, saving Ron the trouble of asking if Hermione if she'd just insulted him or not.

******

Draco and Cassandra finished their butterbeers and, surprisingly, Draco still had three Sickles left. It was just enough to buy some candy. Cassandra had just finished telling him about a "movie" she saw where a shark ate a bunch of Muggles. Since they didn't have any charms against sharks, the movie was quite frightening to Muggles.

"Do you want to stop by Honeydukes?" Draco asked. He glanced over and saw Ron and Hermione finishing their own butterbeers. More Hogwarts students were entering the Three Broomsticks, anyway.

"I'd love to," Cassandra said, grabbing her bag. Draco moved out of the booth and she climbed out after him.

Draco tried to be subtle. When he came close to Ron's table, he stopped and said, "Ron. I didn't know you were going to be here. Hello, Hermione. Cassandra and I were going to stop by Honeyduke's and head on up to Hogwarts. If you wanted to play Exploding Snap later ..." Draco hoped Ron would understand what he was trying to pull off.

"Ow, that was my foot, Hermione." Ron muttered. "Sure, I'll see you later," he said, rubbing his foot.

Draco's face was burning when he finally pulled Cassandra out after him into the streets of Hogsmeade. "Come on, let's go," he said, trying to smile.

Cassandra glanced at him, puzzled, and smiled faintly in return.

******

"Hermione, what was that for?" Ron asked, rubbing his foot again. "I was going to agree. I'm not completely thick, you know."

"I just wanted to be sure," she answered.

They were both standing in an alley watching Honeyduke's Sweetshop where Cassandra and Draco had disappeared five minutes earlier. It was less windy in the alley so they stood waiting, planning to follow Draco and Cassandra back to Hogwarts.

"I hope they hurry up. I know it doesn't take that long to buy candy." Ron complained loudly, feeling sorrier for himself by the minute.

Just then, the door opened and Draco and Cassandra left the shop. Draco held Cassandra's hand, and she held a schoolbag and another bright bag that said Honeyduke's Sweetshop in boldly-printed letters. She was laughing at something Draco had said.

"Here, hold my hand," Hermione whispered to Ron, grabbing his hand and dragging him out of the alley to follow Draco and Cassandra.

Cassandra turned around once and spotted them but Ron quickly forced himself to laugh and look at Hermione, who pretended to giggle up at him, so it would look like they just happened to be walking in the same direction on the way back to Hogwarts.

***********

Later that evening while getting ready for bed, Draco sat on the edge of the bed and watched while Ron tried to perform a healing spell on his bruised foot. "She really got you there, didn't she?" Draco tried not to laugh at Ron, who sat at his desk with his injured foot crossed over his other knee.

"It's not funny. Her shoes have lead in them or something." Ron tapped his wand against his foot again, muttering the spell. Nothing happened. "Ah hell, it's not working." He threw his wand on his desk. Seamus and Dean smirked and went back to playing their game of Exploding Snap on Seamus's bed.

"Hey, tomorrow I plan on studying with Cassandra in the library at one. Can you take me there? I think the librarian should be enough protection, I'll make sure to stay in the front section." Draco hated asking Ron to take him places. Before, he didn't really care how restrictive his life had become, but now it grated on him.

Ron glared at him. "Nice of you to ask after you'd already made plans." He sighed heavily. "I'll take you but this is the last time. Next time ask me first if it's okay, because I do have better things to do than escort you all over the place and follow you around when you're with Cassandra."

"Fine, then tomorrow around sunset I wanted to take Cassandra walking around the lake."

"Fine. I'll follow you but this is the last time."

Draco swallowed what he was about to say, amazed that Ron gave in without more of a fight. "Thanks."

"Who am I to keep you from the woman you love?" Ron grinned and opened one of his books about Quidditch.

Blushing, Draco grabbed his bathroom supplies and left the room, trying to ignore Seamus and Dean's loud laughter.

********

The next day, Draco skipped breakfast. Instead, he stayed at his desk and tried to write a poem for Cassandra. Ron came in, munching on a piece of toast he carried with him out of the hall.

"What are you working on?" Ron asked with his mouth full.

Draco folded the sheet of paper in half and covered it with a book before answering. "Nothing important."

Ron nodded his head, grabbed his wizard chess set and left the room.

Relieved that Ron had left, Draco opened his poem again. He had no clue how to express his feelings for Cassandra. He knew he was in love with her hair, her smile, her cute laugh, but nothing he wrote seemed to say it well.

He worked on the poem for a few hours, wanting to give it to Cassandra at lunch. Finally, by eleven, he finished. It was short and didn't say much, but he hoped she'd like it.

With one hour left, Draco gathered his Arithmancy papers and book. Then he took a quick shower and donned fresh clothes. He spent a good ten minutes in front of the mirror brushing his hair. He admitted to himself that he was looking better now that he'd started eating.

Lunch came and Draco folded the poem into his pocket, grabbed his bag, and left the room. Ron was downstairs playing Exploding Snap with some third-year Gryffindors. They looked up at him when he arrived but he didn't stop their game since it was almost over, anyway.

Butterflies floated in Draco's stomach and his hand kept going to his pocket to make sure the poem was still there. When he entered the hall, his eyes immediately sought Cassandra. She was at her table sitting with her group of friends; she looked up, saw him, and waved. He waved back and smiled before going to the Gryffindor table. Potter and Hermione were already there, eating and quizzing each other on history. Although the more Draco heard, the more he realized Hermione helped Potter more than he helped her.

Draco met Cassandra at the entrance of the Great Hall. He felt conscious of Ron following him about ten feet behind. However, he smiled gamely and asked Cassandra how her day was going so far. She started talking and didn't stop until they reached the library, where Ron and he parted ways for the agreed-upon next three hours.

Cassandra really needed help with Arithmancy, so Draco patiently went over the homework assignment with her. He was one year ahead and already knew exactly how to do her homework, but he tried to let her figure it out for the most part.

She didn't do any small talk while working on the assignment, and Draco forced away his disappointment. They would have plenty of time to talk when they walked around the lake.

They finished her homework in Arithmancy about the same time Ron said he'd come by the library. When Ron entered, Draco suggested they leave now to go walk by the lake. Cassandra quickly put her books away, rolled up her parchment, and stuffed it in her bag. "I'm ready to go," she whispered, shouldering the heavy-looking bag.

"Here, I'll take that from you," Draco offered. She gave him the bag with a dazzling smile, which he couldn't help but return.

They didn't speak much in the corridor. Draco was conscious of all the eyes on him and felt uncomfortable. The few Slytherins they passed snickered and pointed at him. Draco kept his head up and tried to ignore Cassandra's puzzled expression.

"Why do the Slytherins hate you so much?" she asked once they were outside. It was windy and cold and Draco could smell snow on the air. They were expecting a snowfall any day now.

"I lost a lot of points for the house my first day back to school. Then I got switched over to Gryffindor," Draco answered, uncomfortable with lying to Cassandra.

"Oh. Well, that's okay. I've heard some strange rumors, but none of them could possibly be true," Cassandra said, picking her way down a path. She didn't see his frozen expression.

Draco followed grimly, trying to figure out what to say. He finally settled on, "My house hates me, who knows what they'd come up with." His stomach rumbled from anxiety. But she looked back and smiled at him.

"You don't want to know, honestly. Besides everyone knows Harry Potter destroyed You-Know-Who."

Draco said nothing to disillusion her.

They made it to the shore of the lake, and he found the path that rounded the lake. Parts of it weren't even a path, just a small game trail through woods. As they continued their way down the trail, Draco calmed down and was able to talk with Cassandra. Mostly he let her do the talking; she loved to talk about herself and her family.

Near the end of their walk, Draco gathered his remaining courage and gave Cassandra the poem he wrote for her.

Cassandra opened the paper and read the poem to herself.

She looked up at him and down at the poem again. "That was lovely. Did you write it yourself?"

Draco blushed. "Yes, I could try better next time if you like."

She shook her head, "It's all right. I like this one." She folded the piece of paper and stuck it in her bag that was now on his back.

Draco smiled broadly and watched Cassandra's flowing blonde hair as she started walking down the trail again. He didn't remember ever feeling this happy.

*******

Severus Snape sighed wearily as he put away his potion ingredients. It was only two weeks since Draco first started dating the Ravenclaw girl, and Severus was concerned. First, Draco showed up late for their meetings, then Draco requested less time with him, and when Draco pleaded for some money to buy drinks at the Three Broomsticks, Severus didn't want to say no. Today, Draco didn't show up at all.

Severus had to admit for the first time in months; Draco talked with students at his table and appeared to make friends. In class, he looked more alert; his grades, however, showed a different story. His homework for potions now resembled his previous efforts, done hastily or not at all. Severus would be more concerned if he didn't also notice students greeting Draco in the corridor, and every time he saw Draco, he was with the girl.

She was not a bad student and she was friendly with everyone. He could not blame Draco for desiring Miss Lochrin; however, the relationship bothered him. Draco was investing everything into staying with this girl and if things went bad, he didn't know if he could help Draco pick up the pieces.

Severus tried not to worry about it as he left his workroom and headed for his private chambers. At least now, he wouldn't have to worry about any more midnight visits from Draco. He still remembered the last one: he didn't know what possessed him to allow Draco to stay as long as he did, much less offer him a drink. He came too close to doing something he'd regret, and he was grateful when he finally got Draco back to the Gryffindor Tower that night.

As he prepared himself for bed, he tried not to worry about Draco Malfoy. If the boy needed help, he knew where to find it.

**********

It was snowing lightly outside while Draco waited for Cassandra to meet him near the entrance of the garden maze. It was early afternoon, and both agreed it was too nice to stay cooped up inside studying, so they had gone to their rooms to get their heavier cloaks. Draco knew he had a Potions and Transfiguration essay due on the morrow, but he didn't want to give up time with Cassandra to work.

He shivered and crossed his arms and rubbed his mittens together, wishing he had someone to talk to while waiting. Ron had refused to come with him when Draco asked if he could take him outside, and he could not find Hermione. With no one to take him, Draco left Gryffindor Tower angry. Everyone was inside the library, Great Hall, or their dorms studying, so he only saw a few students on his way outside.

Draco shifted and looked at his watch, wondering what was taking Cassandra so long. She was the one who suggested a walk in the snow. The sun sank below the horizon slowly as Draco waited patiently. It wasn't until the sun was completely gone and more than an hour had passed before he admitted to himself that she was not coming. She had never missed one of their meetings before. Disappointed and wondering what happened to Cassandra, Draco walked back to his dorm. The snow melted on his head, dripping into the back of his cloak, and his feet felt like blocks of ice. He made it to his room without incident and quickly changed out of his wet clothing.

Ron sat back in his chair and said flatly, "You're just in time -- hurry up and change. I'm starving."

"You didn't have to wait for me," Draco said, picking out something dry to wear. Ron's command impelled him to hurry.

"Oh yes, I did. You never should have left without me, Draco. If anything had happened to you ... I don't want you to be hurt, and I don't want to get kicked out of Hogwarts because you're stupid over a girl."

Draco slammed his trunk closed. "Her name is Cassandra, and I asked if you could come with me and you refused."

"I have a ton of work to finish before tomorrow! I can't afford to fail. Unlike some students, my parents won't be able to support me when I finish school." Ron stood up and walked to his bed to put on his robe.

Draco continued dressing angrily. "My parents aren't going to support me when I'm done with school."

"Could have fooled me," Ron muttered, brushing his hair in front of the mirror.

"Look, let's just go eat. Dinner is about to start." Draco didn't want an argument. He already knew he had to finish his work, and he had no chance of completing it in time.

They walked down to dinner, both lost in their own thoughts.

*******

They heard the Great Hall long before they reached the open doors. Other stragglers joined them when they entered the brightly lit hall. Draco's eyes spotted Cassandra immediately, sitting in her usual place at the Ravenclaw table. Her blonde hair shone under all the candlelight. She looked at him once before turning her attention to the girl at her side.

Confused by this lack of attention, Draco followed Ron to their table. He sat down and grabbed food off the platters. Hermione quizzed Neville with her set of note cards, while they ate. Sadly, Neville missed more answers than he got right.

"What are you studying for?" Draco asked casually, not familiar with the terms they were using.

"Muggle studies," Neville said around a mouthful of bread.

Ah, the mystery solved. Draco turned his attention back to his own plate. Harry was likewise preoccupied. Ron and Seamus talked about the potions essay that was due tomorrow. Seamus was much closer to having his finished, while Ron still had more than half to do. A few times during dinner, Draco turned in his seat to watch Cassandra. Every time her eyes met his, she looked away first. Puzzled, Draco listlessly picked at the remains of his dinner.

"Draco, I can take you to Professor Snape's workroom tonight." Hermione offered, after setting down the note cards.

"Okay," he answered.

When they finished eating, Hermione gave Neville the note cards and walked out the room. Draco followed close behind. He cast one last look at Cassandra before he left the Great Hall, but she was laughing at something the girl beside her said.

******

Hermione left him at the door to Professor Snape's workroom. He entered and walked up to the large table and sat on his stool. Professor Snape didn't pay attention to him; he was cutting up herbs and casting some into a pot of boiling water.

"Well, I see you finally decided to show up. Let me guess, Cassandra didn't want to see you tonight?" Snape said dryly, turning to face him.

Draco frowned and kicked at the floor with his foot, scuffing the sole of his shoes. He didn't answer.

"That's fine; you have an essay to finish. Your work lately has been less than acceptable. You have the next two hours to work on your essay."

Draco opened his mouth to protest that he left his books up in his room, but Snape continued.

"I have extra parchment you can borrow -- I already know you haven't started your essay. If you need a book, I have extras in this room. Now get to work." Snape's tone brooked no argument.

Thoroughly chastised, Draco got off his stool and went to the supply cabinet to grab a parchment and a copy of the book he'd need to use for potion references. He took it all back to the desk and laid out everything he would need. With a soft sigh, he set Cassandra from his mind, dipped his quill into his inkbottle, and started writing.

 

******

The soft scratching of Draco's quill on the parchment distracted Severus as he read the instructions for a particularly complicated sleep potion he was trying to recreate. He had grown used to Draco's company, however, and was able to ignore the white-blond head bent staring intently at the text in his potions book. Draco had arrived looking distracted and worried, and Severus was glad he had something to give to Draco to keep the boy's mind occupied.

During the two hours, Severus found himself staring more at Draco than he did at his potion. So distracted he barely managed not to mangle the potion. When did he first notice Draco's beauty? It must have happened sometime during the last two weeks. Two weeks of plenty of rest, good food, and meeting a girl were better than a revitalizing potion. Draco's eyes were brighter, his cheeks fuller, and his back stood straighter. He didn't scurry or hide his face behind his hair as much as before, and it made all the difference.

Shifting uncomfortably, Severus cursed his body for reacting to an adolescent boy, a Malfoy no less. Though Draco had Lucius's white-blonde hair, he took after his mother with his delicate pointed chin, dark lashes surrounding his gray eyes, and his high cheekbones. Eyes now narrowed in concentration, as Draco wrote one line after another on his parchment.

Severus's cauldron bubbled as he stirred slowly until the liquid changed colors. Finished, he turned off the fire and let it simmer down. The sleeping potion needed a night to settle before he bottled it. Now, he had to wait another hour before someone came to take Draco away. His hands shook as he cleaned up his table.

*****

The next day, Draco sat in the library studying with Ron and Hermione when Cassandra stopped by their table and slipped him a note. She walked away quickly and left the library, her long hair swaying with each step. He watched until she was out of sight, his heart beating faster.

His palms were sweaty when he fumbled the note open and read it.

Meet me in the astronomy tower tonight 9pm.

Cassandra

Draco folded the note happily and slipped it into his pocket. It was Friday, and curfew did not start until ten. He looked up and found Ron staring at him. He grinned and said, "Ron."

"No."

"But I didn't even ..." Draco protested, smile fading.

Ron leaned closer and whispered, not wanting Madame Pince to kick them out of the library. "I know you are going to ask me to take you someplace to meet Cassandra and I'm not going to. I know your grades are awful. We have a test in Charms on Monday, and I waited too long to start studying. I can't afford to fail this exam and neither can you." Ron sat back up and turned towards the table again.

Draco's mouth dropped open. He tried to think of what to say to convince Ron that this was more important than a grade. However, he knew Ron's grades were below average, so he closed his mouth and slouched back on his chair. The clock on the wall read seven only two hours to go before he met Cassandra. He'd go on his own, he decided, before focusing on his book again.

The next two hours passed quickly. Draco tried to concentrate on the textbook but he found himself watching the hands on the clock tick towards nine more often than not. He gathered his books and stuffed them in his bag; Hermione looked briefly from her own studies and gave him a small smile before she returned to her book. Ron glared at him as he slung the bag over his shoulder and smoothed back his hair.

"I'm not going stand her up, Ron. Don't worry I'll be fine. I know how to be sneaky," Draco said.

Ron's frown only deepened. He took a deep breath and said low enough so only Draco could hear. "Just be careful. I've never been so tempted to give you an order as I am now. However, I made a promise. Just don't get caught, okay?" Ron said, imploring him with his eyes.

Feeling a bit guilty for worrying Ron, Draco patted Ron's shoulder and left before Ron's concerned eyes convinced him to stay. He felt like singing as he boldly walked down the hall to meet his girlfriend.

The Astronomy Tower took a few staircases, a few more corridors to walk down, and some backtracking before Draco reached the stairs leading up to the tower. He guessed he was lucky not to run into anyone unfriendly on the way, but he pushed the thought aside and went up the stairs.

The empty room greeted him with silence; he walked straight for the large window. The clear night sky shone with thousands of stars, the waning moon no longer eclipsed the star's light, yet it offered just enough light to see in the room.

Steady footsteps on the stairwell broke the silence. He stepped away from the window and into the shadows just before the door opened, just in case someone other than Cassandra came though the door.

A blonde head peeked into the room. "Draco, are you here?"

Cassandra's soft voice filled his heart and he stepped forward into the moonlight. "I got here just a few minutes ago."

She opened the door enough to slip inside before closing it silently. Draco stayed by the window and waited for her to join him. They didn't speak for a few minutes; he broke the silence first. "I waited for you yesterday in the gardens. What happened?" He tried not to sound accusing, but he really did want an answer.

"I got distracted," she said, with a weird catch in her voice.

"I waited over an hour," he pressed her.

Cassandra turned away from him to face the window. Her small hands gripped the sill and she leaned out towards the open sky. "I can't do this anymore, Draco. I have to stop seeing you. This is too much for me, my grades have dropped since we started seeing each other and my parents found out. They sent me a Howler..." She stopped speaking; he touched her shoulder and spun her around.

Tears glistened on her cheeks. "Why are you crying?" Draco demanded.

She swatted his hand from her shoulder and whispered, "I'm so sorry." Then she ran from the room, leaving the door open in her wake. Her rapid footsteps down the stairs rang heavily in his ears.

Draco slumped down against the wall, suddenly crushed and bewildered. Try as he might, he could not figure out what he did wrong. Things were going so perfectly. Draco put his head in his arms and cried for the first time since Cassandra joined his life.

*****

Severus was toweling his hair dry when he heard a slight rapping at his door. Scowling, he threw the wet towel over the back of his armchair and grabbed his thick robe off the end of his bed. He slipped it on and tied it closed before he opened the door.

He stepped aside and let Draco enter. The boy's eyes were red-rimmed and his face splotchy. "Professor, I'm sorry to bother you ..." Draco began, but he stopped, as a sob broke free from his mouth.

Closing the door and locking it, Severus took Draco into his arms, wondering what in the world had happened since dinner. He made shushing noises and gently led Draco over to the small couch by the fireplace. He sat down and Draco sat down next to him, crying into his shoulder.

"What happened?" Severus asked gently, patting Draco's shaking shoulders.

"Cassandra," Draco bit out, clutching his arms.

Severus winced and eased Draco's grip on his arms. "She broke up with you?"

Draco nodded and sniffed back his tears and clogged nose. Severus pulled free from Draco and went to his bathroom. He got a washcloth and wet it with cold water, then grabbed a clean handkerchief, and brought both back to Draco.

"Here, put this over your eyes," Severus said, handing him the washcloth. "And this is for your nose."

Draco blew his nose messily and wadded up the handkerchief before he placed the cold cloth over his eyes. He still sniffled a little.

"I guess it's good that she waited until tonight to break up with you. You do realize it's past ten, don't you?" Severus said, while pouring himself a drink.

Draco sat up straighter on the couch and glared at him briefly before placing the rag over his eyes again. "I couldn't go back to the dorm like this."

Severus wanted to wring Miss Lochrin's neck. Why could she not have waited a few more months before breaking up with Draco? The boy's mental state was fragile, to say the least.

He got another glass and poured a little bit of his special alcohol in it. "Here, this won't dull the pain very long, but it may help."

Draco swirled the liquid around in the glass before bringing the glass to his lips and draining it in one go. "Can I have more?" he asked, holding out the glass.

Severus filled it again. Draco sipped the liquid this time until the glass was empty once more. Severus sat next to him and let Draco lean against him, dazed from the drink.

Severus relaxed back and stared at the fire, not sure how to help Draco. He almost didn't notice when Draco sat straight again and turned to face him, "Prof--Severus, will you have sex with me?" Draco let one hand rest on Severus's thigh.

Severus tensed and started to stand, anything to avoid this temptation at his side, however Draco quickly straddled his hips, placed both hands on Snape's shoulders, and kissed him. Severus kept his mouth closed for a brief moment before he succumbed to the kiss. Draco let go of his shoulder and cupped his groin. Severus groaned and brought his hand up and threaded his fingers through Draco's hair, pressing their mouths together to deepen the kiss.

Draco rubbed Severus's growing erection until it strained against his loose pants. His bathrobe slipped off his shoulders as Draco rained kisses down his neck and bare shoulders. "Draco, this isn't right," Severus, gasped, bucking into the hand that found a way to bare his erection, ashamed at how quickly he reacted to Draco's skilled kisses and hands.

"No one has to know," Draco said desperately, covering his mouth again.

And damn him, Severus wanted Draco too much to fight harder. However, he refused to fuck on a tiny couch. "Fine," he ground out. "But we are doing it my way." Severus grabbed Draco's wrists tightly and pulled them away from his heated skin.

"Stand up," he ordered and smiled grimly when Draco stood up on wobbly legs. The boy's eyes looked up at him with passion and confusion. Severus stood and removed his bathrobe completely.

He helped Draco undress; it didn't take long to remove the school robe, undo the buttons on Draco's shirt, or unbuckle the belt. With Draco finally stripped to his boxers, Severus stared, drinking in the lovely pale softness of Draco's shoulders, the firelight softened the edges of the scars that wrapped around on the side of Draco's hips. Since returning to school, Draco had filled out with a steady diet. A wet spot on Draco's white pants enticed Severus.

Unable to resist any longer, he pulled Draco into his tight embrace and ravaged his mouth. "Are you sure this is what you want?" he asked, in between frantic kisses.

Severus paused long enough to look at Draco.

Panting, eyes darkened with passion, Draco answered, "I am," and slipped off his pants until they lay in a puddle around his feet.

************

Blushing to the roots of his hair, Draco stood his ground, not quite believing his daring. Snape's face darkened with lust, and Draco shivered, almost scared at the hungry eyes devouring his body. Snape came at him quickly and pulled him into another passionate kiss. Draco drowned himself in the sensations anything to avoid thinking of the hurt in his heart.

Not paying attention, but moving where Snape led him, Draco was vaguely surprised when his knees hit the back of the bed. He let Snape lower him onto the bedspread. His arms released their hold on Snape's neck so he could touch the other man's chest. His fingers traveled with a mind of their own as they tweaked the hardened nipples in front of his eyes.

Snape groaned, swiftly lifting Draco's hips at the edge of the bed and draping Draco's legs over his shoulders. A hot mouth quickly covered Draco's erection, sucking and licking. It felt so good; Draco never wanted it to end. He groaned, jerked and moaned as he felt himself start to come into the warm heat of Snape's mouth. His toes curled in, and his head arched back, while his thighs clenched against Severus's ears.

The aftershocks fading, Draco relaxed into the bed, his erection softening. The intense burning had faded for a moment, long enough for Snape to pull off his pants and join him on the bed.

Murmured requests and a helping hand got Draco centered on the bed properly, his feet no longer hanging off the edge. Snape's warm body covered his, and Draco ran his fingers through the hair on Snape's chest, just as he had wanted to do the first time he saw his professor's naked chest. Slick with sweat, Draco rubbed himself up against Snape's hip, letting the older man ravish his neck with biting kisses that sent pleasure soaring down his nerve endings.

He ached inside, for more friction, for Snape's lips on his again. As if reading his mind, a gentle hand tilted his head back, and warm lips met his. A warm tongue tenderly licked his lips and coaxed him to open his mouth. Draco opened his pleasure-drugged eyes and met the ones above him as he parted his lips. The kiss deepened, and Snape's hands soothed down his body, pinching his nipples gently and flicking them with the tips of his fingers. Draco felt the warm weight of Snape's erection against his belly and it excited him; he trailed his hands over Snape's back and sides.

"Please, in me," Draco gasped against Snape's lips and parted his thighs wider, hoping the other man would understand. He looked up into Snape's eyes, trying to read him, but the fireplace didn't provide enough light this far into the bedroom. He reached with his hand, touched Snape's slightly weathered cheek, and initiated another deep kiss. Snape tightened his arms around him and groaned against his lips.

One hand loosened and trailed down Draco's side and reached between his legs, pumping his penis back into an erection before reaching further. A finger teased near his entrance, and Draco moaned again as slight pressure and the tip of Snape's finger entered him. His body felt like it was melting; this was so right, so good. Draco pushed back on the finger, wanting more. He almost complained when Snape pushed up off him and started licking his way back down Draco's body, pausing for a long time at Draco's nipples, licking them with hard flicks of his tongue, then swirling around the nipple before sucking it. Draco barely noticed Severus's whole finger stroking in and out of his body.

With what sounded like a sigh of regret, Severus continued his slow journey down Draco's stomach until he sucked Draco's erection into his mouth for a second time. Bucking up, Draco choked out a harsh moan. "Oh yes." He closed his eyes and allowed himself to feel, his body opened further when Snape used saliva and Draco's own pre-cum to slick another finger and slowly push it into Draco. After a moment, Draco felt the addition of a third. The tongue on the tip of his erection kept his blood pounding. He clenched the bedspread under his hands and twisted it to prevent his hands from grabbing at Snape's hair. "Oh please, oh please," he begged, twisting his body uncontrollably. His thighs tensed when Snape nudged something inside him that made his blood sing.

Sobbing, the ecstasy almost unbearable, Draco almost screamed with frustration when Snape's mouth released his erection and the fingers slowly withdrew. The bed dipped as Snape climbed off. It was too dark to see where Severus had gone but he came back quickly enough. "Shhh," his voice commanded as slippery fingers entered him again.

"Lubricant," Snape explained, his voice sounding strained.

Draco moaned lightheaded, aching, when the fingers left again but he didn't have time to complain before something thicker, and hotter pushed inside, filling him completely. Draco yelled something and his hands grabbed at the arms near his sides. It didn't quite hurt, but the fullness stunned Draco; he panted slightly and whimpered as Snape held still, giving Draco time to adjust to the penetration.

A warm hand brushed his cheek, wiping tears away that he hadn't known were there. Draco licked the palm of the hand over his mouth. Snape's erection rubbed up against something inside him with every entry and it felt oh so good; he squirmed trying to bring Snape into contact with that spot again. The hand over his mouth left to stroke his erection, and Draco pulled Snape's head down to kiss him with all the passion in his young heart. His entire body turned into one nerve ending directly connected to the spot Snape now hit with each thrust.

Draco's toes curled inwards again, and his legs drew up involuntarily. He could feel it starting to happen, another orgasm he actually wanted; his fingers grabbed at Snape's arms and back, not knowing what to do. He couldn't stop what was about to happen and he had to grab on. "Oh. Oh, fuck! Oh fuck!" Draco panted nearly ready to scream. His fingers ached where they held onto Snape.

Snape reared up and thrust harder, and Draco panted breathlessly as Snape thrust repeatedly.

Draco heard Snape muttering and bit his lip to stop his low whimpers of pleasure. Tears leaked out his eyes from the force of his emotions. The rhythm faltered for a second as Snape pulled Draco's hands off his arms and held them down on the bed and started thrusting again. Draco gasped and came, warm fluid splattering his belly as his muscles locked into one position. Snape managed to continue thrusting, hitting the right spot, eliciting another wave of pleasure through Draco's body.

Warm lips covered his mouth. "Oh fuck," Snape muttered against Draco's lips as his body sped up, thrusting without pause until he tensed and cried out. Warmth filled Draco's insides before Snape collapsed on top of him, panting near his ear and trembling from the force of his release. Snape licked the side of Draco's neck and nibbled his skin as he tried to come down from such an experience.

Draco eased his wrists free from Snape's lax grip and hugged the other man to him. The sweat dripped off them both but he didn't mind; he enjoyed the sensations Snape aroused in his body.

He kept his legs locked against Snape's hips and was surprised to feel himself hardening into another erection. He was even more surprised to feel the fullness in his ass return. Draco smiled and used his fingers to tease Snape's nipples. "Oh, Draco, you're going to be the death of me." Snape sighed and bit his neck harder, definitely leaving a mark, before his hips pulled back a little and thrust in again. Small movements, because he wasn't completely hard like before, but judging by the increasing tightness, Draco knew it would only be a few more thrusts before Snape was ready to go again.

"Can you hold my hands?" Draco asked quietly, pushing back against Snape's erection.

Snape pulled his body up and Draco felt in the dark a bit before he found Snape's slightly larger hands. The strong grip pushed them back against the bedspread and he continued to thrust slowly, the fluids from his last orgasm slicking Draco's passageway.

Draco's erection throbbed and rubbed against Snape's belly, the friction and slow pace maddening. Snape was certainly taking his time this go-round.

It took longer to build up this time, and Draco enjoyed every kiss, every endearment Snape muttered to him in the increasingly dark bedroom. Every slow thrust was like a warm wave washing through him. Draco whimpered softly, his body too languid to struggle against the pleasure. Snape guided his hands above his head and held his wrists together with one hand while his other hand caressed Draco's nipples and then added more lubricant to Snape's erection.

When Snape paused, Draco whimpered and started to complain.

"Shhh, I'd like to try another position. Trust me, you'll like it."

Snape pulled out of him and urged him to turn over on his stomach. Desperate for the pleasure to continue, Draco quickly got on his hands and knees and spread his legs wide, welcoming Snape's quick thrust. He sobbed as it rubbed against the sensitive spot inside him. "Here, lower your upper body -- it'll feel even better."

Draco did as suggested and almost screamed when Snape thrust again: this position was deeper and the pleasure almost overwhelming. Snape could thrust faster and harder in this position. Draco clutched the pillow near his head, pulling it towards him; he bit the side and whimpered. It was happening again. He buried his face against the bedspread and let the sobs come -- this was happening so quickly! He tried to wiggle away, scared of the heights his body was reaching, but strong hands held his hips still as Snape rammed into his body, forcing him into higher plateaus of pleasure.

"Oh!" Draco cried into the bedspread. A warm hand had wrapped around his erection and stroked it once before letting go to hold onto Draco's hips again.

Draco began to scream with each hit inside. He couldn't interrupt the rhythm by shifting his position. Snape held his hips so tightly and Draco could not ruin the angle. "Come for me, Draco," Snape demanded harshly and started thrusting harder.

Dimly, Draco wondered if it was possible to come without any stimulation to his erection. The next thrust wiped all thoughts out of his mind; his toes already curling again, and his fingers ached from holding the pillow. He screamed, his mouth missing the pillow, his erection bouncing against his thighs with each hard thrust. Snape was really pounding into him now; Draco's outstretched hands butted against the headboard and Draco pushed against it, forcing his body into just the position Snape wanted, taking a full pounding with no give. That extra something sent Draco over the edge screaming, his dick jerking in midair, come spraying the bedspread before he passed out, lax hands letting go of everything.

****

Severus groaned when Draco's body clenched like a vise around his erection. Unable to hold back anymore, he came clutching Draco's limp arms. His panting sounded abnormally loud now that Draco's voice had fallen silent. He stayed sheathed in Draco while his body throbbed from the power of his release. Severus pulled his spent erection free from his unconscious lover. He un-bent Draco's knees and lowered Draco flat to the bed, turning him over on his back; the room was almost completely dark now, the fire having burned itself to embers.

Knowing he would probably, never have another chance to touch Draco again, Severus was determined to make this a night the young man would never forget. He bent over, took Draco's soft penis into his mouth, and cleaned it with his tongue. It hardened after a few minutes of his careful ministration.

He licked and sucked; he knew when Draco woke up by the slight tensing in Draco's thighs and the yielding sigh. Severus could almost imagine Draco holding onto the pillow with both hands. He grabbed the tube of lubricant and coated two of his fingers with the slippery substance before gently inserting them into Draco's rear and gently massaging the young man's prostate. "Severus," Draco whimpered as his body thrust down against the fingers in his body.

Severus sucked the head of penis in his mouth and gave it a few hard licks before he released it and licked his way down the shaft. He debated on adding a third finger, not sure how sore Draco would be tomorrow from their previous activities. The clenching around his fingers as he massaged at Draco's prostate gland convinced him that Draco might want more. He slowly inserted a third finger and was rewarded with another long sigh, and an "oh yes, oh yes," from Draco's mouth.

He used his free hand to stroke Draco's erection, while his mouth licked at the underside of Draco's balls. Draco held his legs up to give him more room. This time, Severus felt like teasing Draco, so he tapped against the gland and slowly licked Draco's erection as if it were a lollipop. In no time, he had Draco squirming and begging for more. It made Severus wish he were younger ... Younger ... Severus began to suck Draco's cock again while trying to think of where he kept his small stock of aphrodisiacs. When he remembered, he slowly pulled his mouth away from Draco's erection and removed his fingers.

"No, don't stop," Draco complained, squirming on the bed. His hand went to his erection to finish what Severus started, but Severus stopped the hand from reaching its destination.

"Be patient. I'll be right back, I won't leave you."

Severus knew his room well enough to find his private stock of potions in near dark. He turned on a low light that he kept in the cabinet and quickly found the potion he wanted. He carried it back to the bed with him and took a small sip before offering the bottle to Draco. "Here. Only take a small sip."

Draco shakily grabbed the bottle and tipped it to his mouth, swallowing haphazardly. Severus quickly took the bottle out of Draco's hands and replaced the cap. He could already feel the effects: the warm flush through his body, his erection already filling in. Draco whimpered with renewed warmth to his body, hotter than he was before.

Severus added more lubrication to his new erection and lifted Draco's thighs before quickly thrusting inside. "Oh yes! Yes!" Draco sobbed and lifted his hips up to meet Severus's thrusts.

He came suddenly, but his erection remained, almost painful. Severus quickly pulled out, turned Draco around on his hands and knees, and thrust in again, pulling a groan of pleasure from Draco. Severus reached his hand around and softly caressed Draco's erection. Draco burned with heat, and his body pushed back to meet Snape's thrusts.

Severus held still and watched as Draco continued to push back on his erection, fucking himself. "Please, I can't do it as quickly." Draco sobbed with need and lowered his head to the bedspread; his hands reached up and grabbed the spindles of Severus's headboard.

"Oh yes," Severus said as Draco shifted into the same position as the last time. He repositioned Draco's hips, intending to fuck Draco until he passed out from pleasure. He started with slow, even thrusts, occasionally adding more lubrication, which was also a potion that healed while enhancing pleasure to every part it touched. He poured more on his erection when he pulled out; he wanted to make sure it coated everything inside. He covered his hands with the lubrication potion and reached around to stroke Draco's erection.

His slippery hands held Draco's hips and he started his slow thrusts again. "Draco, hold on tightly to the bars over your head. I don't want your body to move," he ordered, harshly restraining himself until Draco was in the right position.

"Okay, okay," Draco answered back, greedy for more pleasure.

This time, when Severus thrust harder, Draco didn't hold back his screams, groans, moans, and pleading for more. Severus pulled out almost all the way and thrust back inside to the hilt, enjoying all of Draco's noises. "OH!" Draco cried out as his body clenched, coming for the fourth time that night.

Severus quickly pulled out and turned Draco over on his back. He put the boy's legs over his shoulder and thrust in. The angle incredibly tight for him, and Draco's muscles continued to pulse from his last orgasm. Draco screamed, and all his muscles clenched again: the potion allowed for multiple orgasms. The prostate manipulation wasn't as powerful from this angle for Draco, but the tightness and heat almost made Snape lose control as he pounded into his young partner. He reached for Draco's erection and found it leaking again; he stroked until he got closer to his own orgasm and had to concentrate on holding himself up on two hands.

He loved how Draco, now relaxed from the intense orgasm, ran his fingers through Severus's chest hair, teased his nipples, licked his arms, and sucked at whatever skin his mouth could reach. Pleasure pulsed through Severus's veins and he lost complete and utter control, thrusting as hard and fast as possible, just mindful enough to ease Draco's legs off his shoulders before he collapsed over the boy as he started to climax.

Panting from exertion, Severus lay over Draco, hunching his shoulders so he could nibble on Draco's ear while he tried to recover. He felt the throbbing erection against his stomach and realized that he might have made a mistake offering the potion to Draco. He really was too old for multiple orgasms in one night.

However, Severus's potion returned his erection with very little rest time in between and he groaned, his returning erection sensitive to every squirm, wiggle, and thrust Draco made lying under him. It almost hurt.

"Please! Please don't stop!" Draco begged, flexed his hips, and tried to use Snape's erection to get himself off.

Severus pulled out carefully and lay on his back. Draco didn't need instructions: he immediately climbed on top of Severus and seated himself fully. The embers lighting the room allowed him to see Draco's completely lost expression. Severus helped lift Draco up and down, Draco's especially strong thigh muscles helped Draco fucked himself on Severus until he had an orgasm. He thought that would be the end of it but Draco was still hard and starting to come out of his pleasure-induced state. "I'm still so hot," he whined, not able to stop himself from trying to find release.

"Here, wait a second." Severus ordered as he sat up with Draco still sheathed around his erection. He pulled out the potion lubricant and applied more to his penis; at the very least, neither of them should feel sore tomorrow.

He lifted Draco off him and lay on his side, pulling Draco's back towards him and lifting Draco's leg up in the air before he thrust inside. Draco was deliciously tight and already tense with pleasure; Severus settled a pillow under Draco's head so that he could relax while Severus brought them both to completion. He knew he hit the right spot when the boy sobbed and started moaning.

Blood pounded through his body making every little movement more intense; the earlier stimulus of Draco coming on top of him keyed him up for his approaching orgasm. Draco so tight and eager, he thrust harder and when Draco struggled to escape the pleasure, Severus grabbed his hands and twisted them behind Draco's back, bending Draco over even more for Severus's powerful ramming.

He enjoyed Draco's little stuttering sounds and yelps; he held both wrists in one hand and reached down to stroke Draco's erection in time with his thrusts, but couldn't do it for long because Draco began to struggle again and he had to use both hands to restrain Draco's body. "Come on, Draco, you can come," Severus panted, feeling his orgasm curling up in his body. He tried to keep control as he thrust harder and faster, but Draco's blond head was shaking and his screams only further aroused Severus's body.

He got a better grip on Draco's wrists, using one leg to hold Draco's bottom leg down, and his free arm to restrain Draco's top leg, so that Draco couldn't ruin the angle of his thrusts. Every new thrust elicited a scream from Draco, so he thrust harder and harder until he felt Draco's body violently clench, shudder, and jerk uncontrollably, held still only by Snape's tight grip. He rammed himself in harder until Draco's tightness milked another orgasm from him. He pushed in one last time and was amazed when he felt semen spurt out of him, coating Draco's insides again.

Severus let of Draco's hands and sagged over the shuddering teen. Once the thundering pulse in his head slowed down, he heard Draco crying. Severus gently withdrew from Draco and wiped himself off on a piece of the bedspread. He dragged Draco to his side, until Draco wrapped his arms around his neck. Warm tears spilled on his chest as Draco shook with soul-wrenching sobs. "Shhhh..." Severus said, trying to soothe Draco and at the same time castigating himself for giving into his desires.

Severus rubbed Draco's back gently and tried to figure out what to do if Draco continued to cry.

He didn't have to worry; Draco eventually sniffed back his tears and pulled away. He rolled over on his side, his back facing Severus.

"Please tell me what we did wasn't wrong." Draco's muffled voice had so much pain and confusion that Severus wanted to hit someone -- or hit himself.

He sighed and sat up; Draco turned his head to look up at him. The white of his eyes were about all that Severus could see of Draco's face. Legs shaky from the intense sex, Severus got out of bed and turned on the lamp next to his bed. Draco winced and covered his red-rimmed eyes with one arm.

Laid out like this, Draco's abused body appeared thinner, ribs easy to count, his silvery blonde hair disarrayed. Severus trembled with shame over his actions. The drink left his system quickly.

Slowly, Draco peeled his arm away from his eyes and gazed at him with old eyes. This was not the boy Severus remembered entering Hogwarts four years ago. That boy's eyes never shone with vulnerability or neediness, only avarice and cruelty and amusement at causing other people trouble. How many rape and torture sessions did it take to change Draco this much? Compassion softened Severus's expression and he reached out to grab Draco's hand.

"Draco," Severus started and then stopped, realizing he had no clue how to answer Draco's question. He lay down next to Draco and wrapped an arm over the thin chest. Draco was calm now.

"Do you know why you started crying?" Severus asked softly, his mouth near Draco's ear.

Draco shifted around until he was lying on his side. Their faces were close to each other, but Draco kept his eyes averted and said, "I don't know."

"I don't believe you."

"Look, I said I don't know and I don't know. It just started." Draco's previously sad eyes now glared up at him.

"Did I hurt you?"

Blushing, Draco answered slowly, "No, you didn't hurt me."

"Want to take a shower?" Severus asked, realizing this conversation had reached a dead end.

Barely waiting for Draco to nod, Severus sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed to stand up. The alcohol in his system still affected his coordination, so he didn't bother to help Draco off the bed. He leaned against his bedpost and watched Draco, who moved with the care of someone who was sore or unsure of their balance.

"Where is your shower?" Draco stood naked in front of him, without a single blush.

"Come with me." Severus didn't bother dressing before he led Draco to his bathroom. He turned the faucets, adjusting the temperatures not to burn his skin. Draco stood in the doorway, a strange expression on his face.

"What's wrong?" Severus asked gently.

"Nothing," Draco answered quickly. He entered the room, stepping into the bathtub carefully and grabbing the handrail on the side of the tub. Severus stepped in after Draco, and gently maneuvered Draco under the spray of water, handing Draco a bar of soap.

"Can you get my back?" Severus asked. He turned his back to Draco and waited.

He felt the bar of soap on his skin a few moments later, softly rubbing in circles until his whole back felt covered in bubbles. "Here, I'm finished," Draco, said meekly, removing his hand. Severus turned around and admired Draco's wet, sleek body.

They switched places, and Severus took the soap. He quickly washed Draco's back, feeling Draco's muscles tense with each stroke of the bar on his skin. To his shock, Draco burst into tears and dropped to the floor of the bathtub, sobbing as if his heart were broken.

Severus stepped to the side and let the water hit Draco's back. He leaned against the wall and ground his hands against his eyes, since the other option of hitting his head against the shower stall wall out of the question. "Draco?" he asked tentatively, reaching out to touch Draco's shoulder.

"Don't touch me, how can you want to touch me?" Draco yelled, pushing his hand away. He glared up with bloodshot eyes, before confusion chased the anger away in a cloud of grief, and he bent his head down, crying.

Severus sat on the edge of the bathtub, glad that whoever designed this bathtub saw a need for wide ledges. He tried to think of a solution while listening to the soft crying and the spray of the water hitting the tiles. He stood up again and dragged Draco to his feet he finished washing Draco himself. He shook Draco whenever he tried sitting down again. Finally satisfied that they were both clean again, he stepped out of the bathtub and, gripping Draco's upper arm, firmly dragged Draco out after him. He used a towel and briskly dried them both, ignoring Draco, who had his eyes covered with both hands and whose shoulders shook even as Severus patted away the droplets of water sliding down Draco's naked back. Leaving the bathroom, Severus quickly found some dry towels and returned to the bathroom and quickly wrapped one around Draco's shoulders and started drying the silvery blond hair.

He used his own comb and gently pulled the tangles out of Draco's hair; by this time, Draco had quieted and stood passively while Severus took care of him. Severus brushed his own hair quickly and then led Draco back into the bedroom. He grabbed his wand and used a simple cleaning charm on the bed sheets. "Draco, please sit down." He didn't wait to see if Draco followed his request before he went to his fireplace and started the fire again.

When he turned around, Draco sat on the edge of the bed and stared at him, his eyes wet with unshed tears. An unhappy frown marred Draco's forehead.

Severus walked back over to Draco, not bothering to cover his nudity. Draco's eyes followed his body with interest, but once Draco's eyes reached his face, the interest wilted. "Relax; I'm not angry with you."

Draco snorted with disbelief. "Have you looked in a mirror recently?" His voice was hoarse.

"I don't particularly care for mirrors," Severus admitted reluctantly, coming to a stop in front of Draco, who quickly averted his eyes. "You find me attractive, don't you?" Severus asked bluntly.

Blushing, Draco responded almost too quietly for Severus to hear. "Yes."

"And you are ashamed of this?"

Draco flinched and looked up at him with so much guilt and torment in his eyes that Severus read the truth even before Draco had the courage to nod his head.

Severus tried not to let Draco's response hurt him; he masked the pain quickly and reached out his hand to touch Draco's shoulder, using his other hand to tilt Draco's face until they were looking eye-to-eye. "Draco, there is nothing wrong about feeling attraction to someone. If anyone told you there was, they were wrong."

Draco shook his head and stood up, forcing Severus to back up a step. "I know. I know. Inside my head I understand ... but I just can't feel it."

Draco's face turned white. "Professor, my father raped me this summer, multiple times." He laughed, almost hysterically. "I can't go back. I want to go back to the way things were. But ... but I can't. Cassandra -- she could have helped me. It's too late now. I'm ruined." Draco closed his eyes and clenched his hands into fists at his side, his eyes swimming with unshed tears.

Severus tried to make sense of Draco's jumbled explanation, but his mind kept flashing to Draco's laugh when he said his father raped him. He pulled Draco into his arms and kissed him, to shut him up. Draco's mouth parted under his and he whimpered, his hands coming up to wrap around Snape's neck, deepening the kiss.

Slowly and reluctantly, Severus pulled away from Draco's tight embrace. "Severus, did you ever have sex with my father," Draco asked, licking his kiss-swollen lips.

Snape stiffened, shocked at the question. "Why are you asking me that?"

"My father groaned your name into my ear, quite often."

Severus moved away from Draco and sat on the edge of his bed. Memories of his school days at Hogwarts rushed back, filling him with a cold dread. "He ... he ..." Severus fumbled at finding an explanation. "It was rape." He settled on plain and simple.

"I had no idea," Draco said, biting his lower lip.

"Well, I survived and I know you will, too," Severus said staunchly.

"Sir, you live in a dungeon. You have no wife, kids, or lover of any sort. This is not exactly the future I had in mind for myself."

Severus laughed bitterly and pulled Draco onto his lap to kiss his lips softly, enjoying the way Draco's arm wrapped around his neck to hold his balance. Draco buried his face against his neck, and Severus patted Draco's back when he felt tears staining his skin.

"You don't think I'm evil?" Draco's muffled question almost made him laugh.

"You're tempting and beautiful, but I hardly think you are evil. Certainly, when you first showed up at Hogwarts, you showed your not-so-fine qualities, but pettiness is hardly evil. Although I think you were on your way to turning out like your father."

Draco stiffened in his arms and pulled back angrily. "I'm nothing like that man. I would never rape or torture a person. I hate him. He told me he loved me, then he betrayed me, raped me, tortured me, and I'll never forgive him for that first lie, when he said he'd always love me. He just wanted to fuck me." Bitterly angry, Draco leaned his head against Severus's bony shoulder and tried to relax before he gave himself a headache.

Severus reached up and brushed Draco's wet cheek with his fingers. "I'm sorry."

Draco nodded his head not sure what to say anymore. He felt gutted and yet relieved by revealing his secret to Severus.

So drowsy he knew his voice was barely audible, he asked. "Do you think we can do this again?"

After a brief pause, Severus answered, "Yes, if that is what you want. Though you should know that I think it'll be better for you to find someone closer to your own age. I know things didn't work out with you and Cassandra, but there are other girls in the school or boys if you prefer." Severus didn't want to tell Draco to search for another boyfriend or girlfriend; however, his conscience would not let him rest if he didn't try everything to convince Draco that he needed someone not as damaged by life as himself.

Draco ran his fingers through Severus's damp hair, smoothing out the tangles. "I can't relate to anyone my own age, except possibly Potter, and we hate each other. But I won't close my heart against the possibility of meeting someone new, if that will make it better for you."

"It will. Come on, let's get dressed. I'm afraid we'll both be falling asleep for most of tomorrow."

Draco stood up and went to the side of the bed to search for his robe and shorts and shoes. Severus went to his wardrobe and grabbed a clean robe. "I don't suppose I need to tell you, but what we did tonight is enough to get me fired if anyone finds out. Teachers and students are not supposed to have sexual relationships, and what I allowed tonight is probably the most irresponsible thing I've ever done. Tomorrow if you wake up and hate me, I'll understand completely ..."

"Professor Sna...Severus! Please don't do this! I could never hate you. I know no one else would understand this and so I can't tell anyone. I just don't want to lose you. I'll be careful, but please don't talk like this." Draco's impassioned plea cracked a piece of the barrier around his heart. Draco's drawn, tired face, with eyes older than their years looked at him with fear and longing, and -- dare he imagine -- hope?

Severus reached out with his arm and pulled Draco towards him, hugging Draco's bony frame to his own. Draco buried his face against his chest; strong fingers clutched at the back of his robe. "I won't mention this again. I just don't want to lose you through carelessness," Severus said, astonished at his daring. Was he really willing to risk his job, reputation, and the respect of Dumbledore for one skinny boy with beautiful eyes and fey hair?

Remembering Draco's passion-flushed face and his bravery on Halloween night in Dumbledore's office, Severus had to admit that he had been falling for Draco since school started. "Come on, it's late and both of us will be falling asleep on our feet if we don't get to bed soon."

Draco pulled back and smiled one of the sweetest smiles he had ever seen on the boy. Severus gave Draco a chaste kiss on his mouth and escorted him back to Gryffindor Tower.