SO! Unwrap your gift wonderful Katie, for I wrote this especially for you and clearly your birth is the reason for my first completed fanfiction...
Title: The Outing
Author: Ru av Natten
Rating: R (for language)
Categories: General, slash.
Summery: Lonely, irritated, and (most importantly) itching Draco finds himself victim to Harry Potter's regard.
Notes: The beginning quote was what suddenly inspired this to be written. This story is un-beta'd (*hint hint*) for there is a time limit when birthdays are involved--and I strung it out until it was too late.
"I am a lone lorn creetur...and everythink goes contrairy with me."
--Dickens, David Copperfield
Placing a hand over the lump under his clothing, Draco could feel its large mass throbbing intensely. He undid his garment, allowing himself to feel the cold night air, but that did nothing to calm the ache. It was pink and swollen unlike the rest of his flesh. From the top, a bit of bitter liquid would spurt out if he squeezed and rubbed it with enough passion. As it rose from the rest of his body, it was proud and dark and hot--and absolutely disgusting. Draco hated mosquito bites.
So he scratched.
And he scratched.
And when the itching finally subsided, the itching began again.
So he scratched again.
Draco noticed that mosquitoes were quite inclined to help themselves to his body. Though, that was not at all surprising, for he was himself. There was obviously a price to pay for inheriting vulnerable, milky, oh-so-soft skin. That fact did not alter the other fact that he hated these ugly marks and he hated the insects that left them behind.
Why would nature invent such beasts? They buzzed and poked and spread disease and, most importantly, irritated him. He swore that when he was named Minister of Magic or Ruler of the Universe (whichever came first) he would ban the existence of all mosquitoes and all things equally as creepy and crawly. In the meantime, he would consult Father on the matter. Surely he would be able to do something about it.
Draco scratched the red bump on his elbow, staring darkly at it.
Why couldn't they find a group of Gryffindors to chew on? Oh, that's right...because everyone loved Gryffindors--including fecking mosquitoes.
If Gryffindors don't want to be eaten alive by mosquitoes, the mosquitoes say okay, precious ones; we'll just go find that ruddy Malfoy boy.
Gryffindors always have what Gryffindors want because they're Gryffindors. That was the entire reason Draco was here, in the middle of god-knows-where, with a gaggle of sodding, hyperactive, fellow seventh-years. The Gryfindors had suggested going camping for their class trip and, while the Slytherins had suggested a cruise into the wizarding colony within the Bermuda Triangle, Dumbledore found camping to be a simply marvelous idea.
Draco was not going to miss out on his seventh-year trip simply because of favoritism. He was a Slytherin and Slytherins were not walked on or pushed about. No, sir.
So here they were. And here he was, still scratching himself into a red, swollen, infected sack of sorrow…for he had not any companions with whom to play.
The tents, to his thorough dismay, were set up according to gender rather than house. Therefore, with the girls' campsite across the lake, he was stuck for now without so much as Pansy to keep him from boredom. She though, might have forced him to sit while she braided his hair again. He shuddered. Those pink bows were horrendous. Almost as horrendous as--fuck everything! He had found another bug bite on the back of his neck!
He might have sent his two companions off into a nearby Muggle town to fetch him some ointment; however, Crabbe and Goyle had succeeded in proving their stupidity even before the seventh-years departed from Hogwarts.
"Why are you packing, Draco?" Goyle had said.
"The class trip is today, idiot."
"...There's a class trip?"
"Don’t tell me you didn't sign up for the camping trip."
"Were we supposed to?" Crabbe spat pastry crumbs down his front as he chimed in.
"Why would I have signed up if I didn't want to drag you two along?"
"I told you specifically to go sign your name on the list."
"You didn't say go find a dame then get pissed?"
Draco had yelled.
Draco had screamed.
But the fact remained--oh, what loathsome things facts were--that Draco had signed up for the camping trip and Crabbe and Goyle had not. And he itched. And he was stuck in a wood with without cronies, without cooing Pansy, and without--
The boy in reference jumped, spilling water, or something certainly similar, down his front.
"You've emptied your little pail out all over my priceless suede duffel bag!"
"Why would you bring a suede duffel bag on a camping tr--"
"Please. You clearly have no sense of anything."
"Clearly," Potter mumbled. Weasley soon made an inevitable appearance, taking the pail from Potter.
"Did you trip him, Malfoy?"
"Potter is capable of doing that on his own."
"Keep away from us," Weasley said, pointing a freckly finger at him as Potter attempted to jiggle the water off his shirt.
"You're the ones standing over my sleeping area. Run along." He shooed them with a wave of his hand.
Weasley shook his head and wandered in the direction of where Draco supposed the well (or fountain for all he knew) was located. Potter looked at Draco, water dripping off one of his bare arms. He wore a sleeveless shirt and Draco was pleased to see that he had apparent tan lines where his short sleeves normally ended. Ha.
Glancing away, he planned to forget Potter existed. He looked down at a fresh mosquito bite, which was growing in size, and picked at it. Mother would have scolded him for that, but Mother wasn't the one being mauled. Draco’s nose scrunched as the bite began to bleed.
Hadn't he left? "What do you want, Potter?"
"Are you sick?"
Draco eyed him with a frown. "What are you getting at?"
"You have lumps."
"They're called bug bites. I guess you wouldn;t know that because your skin is probably too gritty and sour for the bugs to enjoy."
Potter shrugged his shoulders, pulling the damp, gray shirt from where it stuck to his stomach; it flopped back and stuck to his torso. He brushed a dirty looking hand through his dirty looking hair, leaving a dirty looking trail of dust there and, seemingly being content to displeasure Draco, plopped onto his arse next to Draco's Squishy Cushion.
"Don't touch my Squishy Cushion."
"I'm not touching your dumb pillow."
"What do you want?"
"Are you--er--feeling well?"
"Don't act nice with me."
"I'm not acting, Malfoy." Potter scooted closer, leaning over the duffel bag near Draco's Cushion, squinting at him. He'd never noticed what an unnerving shade of green Potter's eyes were. They were like bugs. They were like big, horrifyingly green bugs! He had to put a stop to this.
"What, may I ask, are you doing?"
"There's something on your ear."
"Wha--" Buzz buzz. "Fucking mosquitoes!"
Draco leapt up and over Potter, shaking his head and slapping his face, surely making a fool of himself, in attempt to rid his body of the invader. They were everywhere, crawling up and down his arms, in his hair, humming about his ears, rummaging in his silken underpants, sucking away every drop of his purest pure blood! They were in on Dumbledore's plan--they had to be--for no one in their right mind would harass a Malfoy without good reason. Dumbledore did this. Dumbledore and those Gryffindors and Crabbe and Goyle--and Potter--did this to him! Everyone was trying to kill him!
"Malfoy! Stop it!" Smack. "Malfoy!" Smack.
"Get them off me!"
Potter was above him. He glanced up and noted that Potter's hands felt as dirty as they looked while they held his hands above his head. What the hell was Potter doing touching him?
"Potter, get off."
"Are you okay?"
He fumbled about, clambering off Draco, nearly kicking his groin in the process, and looked down at Draco.
Potter seemed...well Potter seemed like a boy. Hair noticeably more unkempt than usual, and the dirt streak residing still, an occasional a bit of stem or filth would fall out when he moved his head. Slowly, Potter's hand reached up and curled into a ball, wiping at his eyes and he sniffled; Draco wondered if Potter had allergies. Potter had hairy legs. --Too hairy, in fact, for his liking. If Draco had a razor with him--happily enough, he did not have much leg hair; unhappily enough, he also did not have much facial hair--he would have donated it to the poor sod.
Draco glowered, still on the ground. "Famous Harry Potter's too good to give me a hand up?"
"Er...." Potter pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, which looked to be rather sweaty, and thrust his hand downward at him.
Draco brought himself to his feet, ignoring the hand still hanging in the air. Turning to march away, he listened to Potter say, "I think I have some cream for those lumps back at my tent."
Cream. Cream for his...lumps. Lump cream.
Those were the most beautiful words he had heard throughout the whole miserable day. Cream of Lumps --The very phrase made him shiver. The offer was entirely tempting--but no. He was Draco Malfoy.
"Don't stick your nose into my business, dolt," he said, and left Potter with a lovely expression of indignation. It was satisfying, really. But he still itched, damn it.
"...Stir with a thick-tipped rod at medium speed while simultaneously adding the powdered--really this reference is ages old, Draco. My updated version states that a shredded Gintleaf would be more appropriate than.... Are you even listening to me, boy?"
"Yes, sir...a...sliced Weed of--"
"We already went over that--"
"Do you think this is infected?" Draco said, sticking his palm under Professor Snape's nose.
"For crying out loud! Do I look like a physician?"
Draco did not exactly know what Professor Snape looked like, but, no, he did not particularly look like a physician. He did not think any sort of physician wore flannel pajamas and green slippers.
"They're warm," Snape had said. "And I don't appreciate you commenting on my sleeping attire when I very well could have left you in a tent with the Gryffindor brats."
And he very well could have.
Draco had spent half the evening persuading Snape, their reluctant chaperone, to allow him to stay in his tent so to spare him from having to bunk up with some less likable persons. The rules--the rules being that bitch, Dumbledore--required each student to stay with at least one other student (of the same sex) during the night and as Draco was the only Slytherin boy of his year to attend, no others here were good enough for his presence. Snape had been miffed to give up his personal space to "a whiney little rodent", therefore, he had decided to keep Draco from worthlessness and had since been reciting potion-making processes.
"You'll never master complex potions, Malfoy, if you don't at least know the standard forms of these herbs. I suggest you listen."
Draco nodded and sat up, curling one leg under himself and un-socking his free foot.
Really, his big toe was much more interesting than Potions. It was much bigger than any normal big toe at the moment because it had a--well...he did not want to call it a mosquito bite, for that title was unquestionably the curse itself! Potter was right; it was a lump. A lump from which, in these circumstances, some sort of clear-ish goop seeped. Perhaps he should have gone to find the Mudblood to find whether she knew of any antidote.
No, perhaps not.
He heard Snape droning ("...Can be used with or without poppy seeds...."), tapping his foot on something near the entrance to the tent. Why Dumbledore forbade use of magic, unless during emergency, Draco did not know. Even if he did know it would still annoy him and this tent would still be only large enough to fit in just a couple people. This was unimaginably uncomfortable.
He looked down and noticed a new lump on his foot, just below his middle toe.
Pick, pick, pick.
"...Whether the mixture can be solidified...."
Scratch, scratch, scratch.
Pick, pick, pick, gouge.
"Malfoy! That's revolting!"
"Sorry," Draco mumbled.
He laid himself neatly onto the flat, hard earth, which he could feel through the thin lining of the tent. Shifting in his sleeping pouch, or whatever it was called, Draco's jumper became dreadfully twisted around his torso, squeezing and chafing against his already vermin-irritated skin. This wasn't comfy at all. He removed himself and sighed.
"Are you sure you don't have a remedy for this?" He thrust his foot under Snape's nose. Snape made a disgusted noise in his throat; Draco wondered if that was what a moose sounded like.
"I'm quite sure--for the thousandth time--that I haven't any potion of any sort for your silly itch. Bear it."
"But it itches, Professor."
"It's ruining my skin!"
"You've told me."
"Then it is apparent that the bloody thing has something in common with you! Now quit complaining, you nasal-voiced pest!"
Pick, pick, pick.
...Now what on Earth had crawled into his fat, stinking--
"What is it?"
Draco’s stick was pulled roughly from the fire.
"What'd you do that for?" he snarled.
"You don't know a thing about roasting marshmallows, Malfoy," Potter said, handing it back. "You're supposed to pull it out of the fire before it falls off the stick."
"Well you’re sitting too close to me--"
"I remember you voluntarily choosing to sit here--"
"Potter, just go somewhere else."
"You came out here on your own, Malfoy," Seamus Finnigan reminded him. "Don't ruin it for the rest of us."
Finnigan grinned a stupid grin. Draco glared.
Sure, it was misery sitting outdoors--the bug infested outdoors--with Potter and the other boys. He'd managed to squeeze himself into the snug circle of boys, who sat about a cackling, red fire; predictably, the gap into which his body would most realistically fit was next to Potter (and that repulsive sandy-haired half-blood).
So here he was.
And he they were, cooking little, flaccid sugar-morsels on wooden sticks. What a hoot it was! Much more of a hoot, anyway, than being with Snape, and his flannel, and his slippers, and his fucking Potions book.
"Your elbow is practically lodged between my rib bones!" He flailed and kicked his legs at Potter.
"It's the only space I have, so stop fidgeting."
Draco gave him a most frightening stare to which Potter replied by tossing a new marshmallow at his face. Ignoring the chuckles of his bothersome peers surrounding, Draco displayed his superiority by catching the sugary puff before it touched the ground. How's that for Seeker, Potty? Of course, his satisfaction did not last long, for Potter's arm continued to brush against another lump on his side (in a manner that Draco did not believe was accidental); he did not want to lift his jumper to scratch it because he feared the giant swarm of mosquitoes, who stalked him, would fly up it.
He sat on his log amidst the murmurs of a few Hufflepuffs and the smell of Potter's burning marshmallow. As he watched it cook, he was reminded of the time, as a child, he'd set his white gerbil aflame. Heh.
Draco said, "it's hot out here." And he itched.
"So jump into the lake."
Weasley would be the type suggest something as grotesque as going into that foul water.
"First of all, Weasel, just because your family can't afford a proper lavatory doesn't mean the rest of us like to bathe outdoors."
Weasley stsrted to grol something about fists and blonds before Potter interrupted.
"So what's the 'second of all'?" Potter smelled his black marshmallow.
Draco raised an eyebrow.
"You said 'first of all...'. I'm assuming there’s another reason why you won't swim in the lake."
"You should keep to your own affairs."
"I'll ignore that hypocrisy for now."
Draco chose to scratch himself rather than to listen to Potter.
"It's just...we're all going for a nude swim later--"
Potter was much less interesting than the spouting, throbbing lump on his wrist.
"--Because the Weasley twins say that its tradition for the seventh-year boys to go for a midnight dip in the lake at Hogwarts--"
If he kept scratching so much, he would end up having scars. He hoped no mosquitoes bit his face.
"--But since we're already here, we figured we'd go have some fun."
"What, could be fun--" Draco grew tired of the itchy lump "--about swimming around in a filthy lake with a bunch of naked boys?"
Potter only smiled.
"You'd better not be insinuating what I think you're insinuating."
"What am I insinuating?"
"...I don't know...."
Potter smiled wider.
"Malfoy, come on. We'll go back to my tent and fetch it."
"No. I don't want your ointment."
"It doesn’t matter."
"Just make a decision already."
"Stop pressuring me!"
Potter shook his head, rubbing his hands together in the cold.
Why had Draco come out here? He could be warm as toast with Snape and his slippers in his sleeping pouch. On the other hand, Snape snored like a really big animal, but that was better than standing undressed on a dock with Harry Potter.
"Potter," he sighed loudly. "I'm weary and in pain...I'll just go to bed."
"You have mosquito bites, not a broken leg."
Draco glared with all his Malfoy might at Potter; Potter stood with his hands on his hips.
"The others," Potter pointed out, "are halfway across the lake. I'm going."
"Wait! You can't leave me here."
"The campsite is right up the trail."
"It's dark...and I don't like forests." Draco suddenly had a flashback to the horrifying incident in his first year at Hogwarts, which involved Potter and some float-y monster thing.
"You're scared of the dark?"
Potter smiled. Draco did not like that stupid smile.
"Well then, Malfoy, you’re either stuck here on the dock all night--" He fell onto his knees and tested the water. "--Or you're coming with me." And he slipped headfirst into the murk.
Nature was silent about Draco until a frog, or cricket, or something, made racket nearby. Potter's head bobbed in and out of the water, making the faintest of sounds; Draco could see it venturing farther from the dock. Wind rolled past, rustling throughout a group of dark bushes several yards to his right. A twig snapped in the distance; there must have been animals near the edges of the forest. From behind, he was sure he could here the buzz...the buzz of a thousand angry, famished bugs waiting on the bank to rip his skin--with a scrench! and weck!--from his delicate body.
"POTTER!" he shrieked and flew into the water.
"Po--" Draco went under and came up again. "Pot--" He kicked as fiercely as he could. The feel of the lake was outrageous. For once, the prickling of his skin was not itching, but iciness. It shot along his spine, nearly anchoring him underwater, playing along his muscles and nerves. Jerking his body, searching for a way out, Draco opened his eyes and saw nothing but black and felt nothing but the slimy lake-bottom plants wrapping up his ankle. He nearly inhaled water when a force grasped him by his hair and wrenched him to surface.
Draco coughed and groaned. That water had tasted like urine!
"Malfoy, can you hear me?"
"Yes." He had not the energy to insult Potter for shouting into his ear.
Holding Draco up, Potter's hands wound around his upper arms tightly while he kicked to keep the both of them above water. "Are you--" Potter almost seemed worried. "Are you okay?"
Draco nodded, coughing a bit more. It was pretty infuriating: Potter was the kind and courageous wizard even to his own enemy.
"Then let's go. We won't catch up the others if we don't hurry."
"Potter," he said before the other could pull away.
"What is it?" he whispered, which made Draco twist his face in confusion as Potter moved closer to him.
"I can't swim."
"What?" Potter's brow went upward.
"Don't ask me to repeat it."
"Were you expecting something? --A thank you?"
"No, no." Potter looked away and started to swim.
"Wait!" Draco grabbed his wrist and Potter spun around. He could hardly see him under the poor light of the moon, though he could make out, because of a lack of reflection, that Potter did not wear his glasses. "I said I can't swim."
Now wasn't this humiliating? Potter had wrapped his arms around Draco's chest and initiated a rather awkward backward swim. Keeping his head above water was difficult while Potter tugged him along. Yet, it was slow and steady. Their pace reminded him of the mini "choo-choos" father let him ride at a carnival once. They chug-a-lugged along; Potter was the train and Draco was the stowaway hobo.
He managed to maneuver himself upward so that his head might lean against Potter's shoulder. He could make out Potter's slight panting.
"You...don't...feel as light as you look."
"Flattered." Draco reclined further, letting Potter have more of his weight.
"Malfoy...you--" He gasped. "--You could help...me."
"Ah, the Boy Who Lived can't swim a little swim?" Draco dragged his hand from the cold, thin liquid and watched languidly as it drizzled from his fingers back into the water.
"You could," Potter spat, wheezing, pulling Draco closer. "You could kick, at least."
"Oh, I don’t think I'm up to it. Surely you, a big, strong hero, can manage."
"It would be easier to--others…already at...shore. Don't hear them swimming any longer."
"Speak up, Potter, you're mumbling."
He grunted nothing specific, clearly being out of convincing words.
"Wait," Draco said suddenly. "Why are we going across the entire lake? This was supposed to be a dip."
"First of all, I'm the only one...swimming here." Draco heard him take a deep breath. "Second, the others decided to--" Potter took another breath. "--Scare the girls."
"I could be warm and relaxed right now...."
"You seem comfortable enough to me."
Draco smirked. Taking the opportunity, he went fully limp, resting his hands in the wavy path they made; Potter did not object, excepting the screech of frustration he emitted.
His hands clenched Draco's ribcage stiffly by the time they reached the shore and he all but fainted atop him. Draco, being positively exhausted, was not a happy camper having his front smashed into the dirt.
Potter rolled onto his back next to him.
Were he not frustrated and sleepy, Draco might have smacked the mosquito from the inner part of his elbow. Briefly, he wondered what in the world the inner part of his elbow was called, but passed up that thought because soon he would not have an inner-elbow, for the pest seemed content to suck it to death at that very moment. He didn't really need an inner-elbow, anyway.
Hark! What noise?
Oh, lovely...the sounds of Potter, by the shore, cleaning off his genitals.
"What are you doing?"
"Isn't it obvious?"
"It's nauseating. Stop fondling yourself in front of me."
It was dark, but Draco was sure Potter had rolled his eyes. "While you were having your little catnap, I attempted--attempted, mind you--to climb a tree."
"What are you talking about?"
"I was trying to see how far ahead the others were; it didn't exactly work out."
"You're an absolute fool. How does that justify your washing your...self?"
"I--er--was caught on some bark." Potter gestured downward and suddenly Draco understood.
"You didn't have to be so specific."
"We're lost," Draco said, "and you're puttering about in the water--still."
"Nothing better to do."
"Go search for a trail."
"Why don't you? You've been on your arse doing nothing--"
"I don't understand why you won't bring us back to the dock."
"Because, Malfoy, it's too dark to see the dock. We'd be lost, in the middle of the lake."
"We've been here for years, Potter."
"I'm not getting in that nasty water with you."
"Then shut up."
"Don't touch me there!"
"Malfoy, I wouldn't be touching you if you didn't stand so close to me."
"But you're warm." Splash, splash.
"No splashing." Potter pinched his side and Draco stopped himself from squeaking just in time.
Draco dog-paddled as well as he could to a spot away from Potter, which was considerably more cool and frightening without someone with him. Not that he'd ever let Potter know that. Draco also did not wish to admit that Potter had been right that they could not possibly swim back to the dock. During the first swim, they had had the noises of the other boys to guide them. Now, all was silent but for his and Potter's bickering and splashing.
Lying on his back, he let the lake carry him; he swayed with the gentle tides the breeze created, looking up at gray clouds barely distinguishable among the dark of sky. He turned his head just enough to see Potter, who waded here and there aimlessly. A beam of moonlight reflected off the water and onto Potter's slick, wet lower half. He was pleased to see yet more unattractive tan lines, which were shaped as if Potter had been sunbathing in his briefs.
Astonishingly, when Draco kicked his legs, he was propelled.
"Potter," he called, several feet away, struggling to make the final few feet.
"You really need to tan your arse."
"Oh. Well at least I know you find it worth your inspection," he said in a smiley tone.
"Don't get any ideas. How could I not notice it's blinding glow?"
Potter shrugged his shoulders and started toward the shore. "Let's go. Swimming around isn't going to help us."
"Neither is getting lost in the forest."
"Better to be lost in a forest than to catch cold and rot in a lake."
"We’re going the wrong way."
"No, I'm sure the girls' site is this way."
"We can't go to the girls' site, Potter."
"Why not? It’s closer."
"I don't want to them to see us like this any more than you do; but what other choice do we have?"
"Are you dense? We could go back to our site."
"The lake is quite long, Malfoy. We’d have to walk all the way around it and that’d take hours."
"Then we’ll take hours."
"Are you alight?" There was that concerned voice again.
"I’m fine, Pot--don't you dare help me up!"
"Fine. Sit and bleed."
"I think one of my mosquito bites split open...."
"You know, Potter, I meant to trip on that root."
"Sure you did."
"Don’t smile at me."
"All right, all right. I think," Potter rubbed his head, "we should be going that way."
"Because that’s the way to go."
"But the lake starts to curve right there. We could just follow it back."
"There're piles of rocks in the way. Our feet would be cut up."
Draco sighed, scratching. "Just lead the way, Hero."
"Don’t touch me!"
Potter sighed, mumbled something, and met Draco's eyes again before starting to hike.
"Hey, why're you going so fast?"
"I'm just tired of being naked."
Leaping onto a stump, only to leap off again, he looked back to make sure Draco was nearby and sped off once more.
"I'm not quick on the ground," Draco called.
"Nor are you very quick in the air, are you?" He could make out the merry puffing of Potter's cheeks, which indicated his amusement.
"And your tongue is lagging as well."
"Just shut up."
"Now you’re the one telling me to shut up. I believe I recall--"
Potter's smile was becoming an annoyance. Not that it hadn’t already been one.
"You’ve lost us!"
"No, I haven't."
"Just admit it, Potter. You're not perfect."
"I've never claimed to be. You're the only one to make that assumption."
"Christ, Malfoy. Who knew you were this clumsy?"
"I'm not wearing shoes," Draco groaned. "The ground is grabbing my toes." Draco shambled onto his feet, brushing back his hair, and exhaled sharply. "Let's get on with this."
Draco looked at his hand that was now between Potter's rough, jag-nailed ones. Their fingers clashed horribly. Draco's thinner, whiter fingers bearing simple straight-cut nails seemed like, he supposed, bite-sized vanillas ice creams surrounded by brown, coarse worms. He nearly commented, but looking up, he saw that Potter eyed him strangely and had red in his cheeks.
"Well are you going to speak?" Draco demanded.
"Er...I forgot what I was going to say."
Draco wrenched his hand from Potter and marched away, huffing, and calling for Potter to hurry his tail up.
"Would you stop scratching? It's annoying."
"I can’t help it!"
"You might've taken the Lump Cream I offered you this afternoon."
"I don't want your ointment, Potter."
Draco sped his pace.
He heard Potter call after him that it wasn't ointment, it was cream.
Potter was an idiot.
"Are you sure you know where you’re taking me?"
"Trust me." Potter patted his shoulder.
He had successfully taken Draco across a lake and showed worry when Draco itched and tripped--but what was in this for Potter?
"Don't be a prat. Everyone knows not to trust someone who tells you to trust them."
"I haven't led you astray so far."
Draco shrugged in reply.
"And I wouldn’t deliberately harm you."
"I suppose not. Too noble for that, are we?"
"Maybe I've grown fond of you."
"Over a day?" asked Draco flatly.
"Oh, over seven years."
"So, Malfoy," Potter said in a conversational tone. They had been heading over stacks of fallen trees and through bushes for several minutes in silence. Draco hoped he didn't have a rash.
"Why were you so frightened about going to the girls' camp?"
"I am not frightened of a bunch of prissy-pants girls."
"Then why did you insist on going the long way back to civilization? After all, we could be to their campsite by now."
"None of your business."
"Don't want your girlfriend to see your...bits?"
"I don’t have a girlfriend and for you information--"
"Of course not."
Potter didn’t say anything more.
"Why do you ask about Pansy? You don’t...."
Potter snorted. "I don’t like Pansy."
"I suppose Granger keeps you satisfied enough then."
"Why would you say that?"
"It's hard to believe that you've been close friends with a girl for such a long time and've never wanted anything more from the relationship."
"The same could be said about you and Pansy."
Draco frowned. Potter had a point. "Yes, yes, but Pansy and I aren't a tightly knit as you and Granger. Surely, all those valiant adventures left some sort of special attachments between you?"
Potter sped his pace.
"No bonding by the fire, discussing feelings with blankets and hot cocoa?"
Potter's ears turned red.
"No sexual tension during those long hours alone in a romantic nook at the library?"
Potter tripped on a branch.
"Not one consoling chat after an embarrassing Potions class--"
"Malfoy, I don’t want her."
Draco's stomach abruptly turned over. Not because of what Potter had said, but because of the way Potter leered at him then. One swipe down Draco's body with those enormous, unusual eyes; then one swipe back from his toes to his face. That definitely was not expected. Suddenly feeling much more nude than before, Draco moved his hands to cover his…bits. "Y-you...you're a liar, Potter."
"I don’t understand, Malfoy."
Draco hadn’t realized that they had stopped walking and that Potter stared at him, his warms folded across his chest. He noted that Potter had three or four dark hairs there already. Bastard. Though, they might have been flecks of dirt.
"Of course you want that...that frizzy-haired Mudblood."
"You really shouldn’t talk about my friends that way."
Draco turned up his nose. "And why is that?"
"You’re alone," Potter said, taking a step toward Draco, "in the woods...with someone just a bit bigger than you are."
"I could take you on." Draco emphasized his sentence, poking him on his chest. Yes, they were definitely chest hairs. Bastard.
"I’m sure you could." Draco felt his face flush as Potter advanced on him; he pressed himself against the tree behind him. "But before anything, you’d back away...much like now."
Straightening himself to his full height, Draco lifted himself onto his toes a half inch, standing eye to eye to Potter. He was not going to allow Potter to be the victor. He would show Potter just how strong he was. He would show Potter who would back away, who would be the coward. He would simply clench his fists, furrow his eyebrow, and thin his lips. That was intimidating enough.
Lifting his hands, Potter took another step toward him, bringing the space between them to an inch.
Draco gasped and squeezed his eyes shut. This was it. This was his doom. Potter would squeeze him into jelly, smear him all over his underpants, and tell everyone he creamed himself to death. Gryffindors were such barbarians!
He felt the horrifying grip of Potter's hands on his upper arms, the forceful pulling of his own body to Potter's, the gruesome brush of his smoother chest against those four chest hairs, and the sickening smack of Potter’s dry lips on the corner of his mouth.
Potter was right. Draco did back away. In fact, he fled at top Seeker speed down the path, hearing the laughter of a damnable boy behind him.
"So when can we get together again?" Potter mocked.
"Are you going to speak to me?"
Draco shook his head negatively.
"Are you going to look at me?"
Draco shot him a glare, twitching his lip.
"There’s the Malfoy I know and love!"
Draco sped his pace.
He suddenly felt very cold and tired, not to mention embarrassed. Draco had an urge to ask for Potter's body warmth as he had briefly given him in the lake, though Potter's kiss made him far too uncomfortable to mention such a thing. Now, daylight barely peeked between the cracks and slits of leaves around, not warming him much; he could clearly see each and every mosquito that flew among the other bugs, which he occasionally flicked from his path. Having nothing else to distract him, Draco merely scratched the pink lumps on his arms. It seemed that the light either made him much more sensitive to them, or it reminded him of them.
Draco did not know how long they had been walking; considering the blue-orange sky, it had been quite a while. Mostly, he ignored Potter or grunted at him for the journey. However, now he was curious to know where the hell Potter was leading. He hoping it wasn't into a ditch or a cave where Potter would try to touch him again.
"Malfoy, stop!" Potter whispered, reaching a hand toward Draco’s arm. Draco flinched away before he was touched. "Look!"
Shelter, food, and clothes--they were so close! Standing between the tents and the two boys were rows of tables, which seated most of Hogwarts' male seventh-years. Nearly blessing Potter aloud, he stared wide-eyed at him; a few more steps and Draco would have been modeling himself for everyone.
Potter grinned and moved his mouth to Draco's ear. "I hadn’t even noticed the sun had come up."
Cocking an eyebrow, Draco folded his arms, looking repeatedly from Potter to the rows of boys. "What's your point?"
"Well you were by my side. You light up any cold, dark night."
Draco snorted loudly, "That was the most ridiculous nonsense I've ever--"
"Shush! Not so loud, Malfoy!"
It was too late.
"What’s in the bushes?"
"Is it a monster?"
"Maybe Harry’s come back!"
Potter and Draco took one look into each other's eyes and dashed for the tents through murmurs, shocked faces, and whooping noises.
"Ugh! This is horrid!"
"You didn't have to follow me into my tent. And they're the only clothes I've got, so deal with it."
"Your socks have holes."
"Your underpants have stains."
"Your shirts are hippo-sized."
"Yeah, I know."
Draco sniffed in repugnance and wriggled his way into Potter’s dastardly excuses for ensembles, making sure to stay out of Potter's line of site until he finished. Really, didn’t his parents leave him with any money with which to buy any decent clothes? How did he afford to pay for school supplies and top racing brooms?
"You’re worse off than Weasley."
"Shut up and get dressed."
"What if I don't?"
Potter pulled the rest of his shirt onto his torso, turned around swiftly, and swept over to Draco, one hand reaching for him.
"Would you like another kiss?"
Hoots and whistles surrounding, he made his way with Potter toward the benches where breakfast was held.
"Way to go, Harry!"
"Did you finally stick it to him, mate?"
Stick it to him? What the hell was he, an envelope? And what the hell were they going on about? "I beg your pardon, you imbeciles! The day Potter sticks anything on or in me will be the last day he breathes!"
No one seemed to hear him. They were all busy thumping Potter's back and ruffling his unflattering mop of hair. He tried again.
"Excuse me, you--"
"How long did he last, Harry, old boy?" Thomas called.
"No, no, how long did you last, Harry?" Weasel guffawed.
Draco was flabbergasted! How dare they? Sure, Potter had not harmed him or snubbed him, but Draco would never give in if Potter made a pass at him--which he had not!
He had spent a miserable night in a lake, wandering through a scruffy wood, putting up with a Gryffindor and his chapped lips, itching--and bloody Harry Potter is awarded a shining, fucking, medal emblazoning I shagged Draco Malfoy. Why did they make such an assumption? If he had his wand--
But he didn't have his wand. So he sat and he eyed Potter, who continuously was patted and praised, as he scratched his lumps.
"Don't speak to me."
Potter courteously appeared guilty.
"All you did was grin, Potter. You didn't deny a thing. You sat, like a pissed up buffoon, grinning from ear to ear that stupid grin of yours, and you said nothing. You let them think that you and I--"
"Stop what? Stop telling the truth?"
"Stop complaining when there are things that I very well have a right to complain about?"
"No! Just--" Potter stood suddenly. "You’ve always been difficult."
"Perfect. Change the subject to me."
Draco noticed that Potter fingered something deep within his pocket, though he ignored it because it was likely some sappy love poem, or a piece of jewelry, or a Chocolate Cupid, or some other vomit-worthy item of fondness. He looked nervous, as though he were contemplating some life-altering decision. It was almost humiliating for him to watch Potter handle himself that way. That wasn't the posture of a hero, damn it; it was the posture of a teenaged boy. Though hadn't he always berated Potter for being too much a hero?
Draco turned his back to him and did not speak.
Clearly Potter did not feel that this situation was worth more than stammering.
"If I could...well...."
So, Draco concluded, he simply would not listen to him any longer.
"Seeing that...I mean...."
Draco felt a twinge of irritation on his neck. Smacking his hand quickly downward onto the skin there, he brought it back to view and curled his upper lip. A smashed mosquito lay half-dead and twitching on his palm.
"Are you still talking?" sneered Draco, still not turning to face Potter.
Potter let out a huge yawn. Or was it a sigh? Either way, Draco found it maddening and told him to go away, in which case Potter did naught but shuffle his feet in the dirt.
Draco shoved his hands into his pockets. He discovered that lint was an extraordinary thing whilst in the middle of an uncomfortable situation. Teetering on his heel, he passed each chunk of fuzz between his thumb and index finger; then he stopped. These were Potter's pants, after all, and he did not know where they had been.
He settled on looking down at the lake at the bottom of the hill. The boys all gathered, pushing two-person rowboats into the water, which reminded him of those on which they rode the first day of Hogwarts. Draco wondered how long those schoolmates had known Potter liked boys, and how long they had known Potter liked him, and whether they really believed Potter had shagged him--or was it that they were out to give Draco a hard time?
Why hadn't he known?
Down on the banks was nearly every boy he had schooled with for seven years. How was it possible that he had been unaware of such a rumor? How could he have been the only one? Hogwarts, many a time said, was a magnificent rumor mill. Draco, though he would seldom be found admitting it, was a connoisseur in the art of gossip. So why was he in a shadow when the others were not? Perhaps they, too, were part of Dumbledore's great conspiracy to make him gloomy, and make him itch, and make him alone.
Or perhaps it had not been a rumor--it had been a secret.
Perhaps Potter trusted all those boys.
Perhaps they deserved Potter's trust.
Perhaps they had long ago given Potter reason to trust them.
Absently, he rubbed the puffy lump on his wrist. It sat directly atop two crisscrossing blue veins. Draco's veins had always stood out hideously on his skin. Pansy made fun of him for it when they were children. She, along with Crabbe and Goyle, had been the only three to ever take him seriously, he realized.
Were they, his two cronies and his nag, worth it? Or was Potter worth it?
For Potter, to whom Draco had given most of his attention all these years, had finally showed him what he had shown everyone else: heed.
Draco only scratched himself, however the itch seemed to become stronger.
"If you want to join me by the lake...there's one boat left."
Draco wrinkled his nose. The consideration never failed.
He heard Potter clink something onto the table.
A bit of air fluttered his baggy shirt as Potter whizzed past and made toward the bottom of the hill. He foolishly felt appreciative that air flutter just as he was appreciative Potter inviting him to "have a dip" with everyone else the night before. He appreciated Potter’s effort to drag him, no matter how gracelessly, across the lake and he appreciated Potter offering to let him stand closely to his body (no matter how short a time) for warmth in the lake water when they were lost, even though Draco suspected Potter had peed in it to keep it that warm. He also appreciated Potter leading them on the trail and Potter saving him from more humiliation by giving him a set of musty old rags to wear.
And yes, though, he did not want to admit any of it, he had appreciated that flutter of air then, because Potter's body found it worthwhile to acknowledge that his body was there, too, and able to feel a bit of a gust. The heed came into play once again. --The concern.
A sap! That was what he was thinking like. Potter had not meant it to be anything special, merely walking past; he had walked past--it was simple, just as they had been walking in the forest all night. Draco suddenly wondered whether the entire event had been a ploy, all along, to get him alone with Potter.
Draco wondered whether, assuming that the event of the night had not been intended, Potter would have done those things for anyone or because of his...thing, for Draco. --Probably the former. A short swim, a moment of warmth, a guide in the forest, and single kiss between them did not mean that he gave any sort of damn about Draco's well being. He did not give a damn of Draco’s worry, or struggle, or grief, or ease.
From the bottom of the hill, Potter stared up at him with an expectant expression. Even from afar, those stupid green eyes seemed like big, ugly bugs. Which reminded him--he itched. Potter’s bugs morphed into mosquitoes and those mosquitoes morphed into giant, Hagrid-sized mosquitoes that hovered above his head, licking their lips, rubbing their palms together, and readied themselves to swoop in for the kill.
Potter was a bastard, whose eyes strayed to Draco solely to make him itch.
Potter didn't care. Potter didn't notice.
So he turned around and plopped down at the bench, resting his arms on the table.
And he suddenly was panged with relief.
Glistening at him, on the dirty wooden table, was a small bottle labeled Itching Ointment.
"Cream of Lumps, indeed, Potter."