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East Bay Boys

Somnio Salvus
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Chapter 7

This time Harry was ready. He wasn't sure what he was ready for, but he paused before putting his illuminated wand into the tree with a sudden feeling that he might need it. He gripped it tighter as the chanting started, and spun round as the first of the Death Eaters emerged from the forest.

Disarming curses whizzed past him as he dodged and blocked them all. He managed to get three Death Eaters into a Full Body-bind before Voldemort's emaciated form floated ashore. He was working on a fourth by the time Voldemort began his 'You will suffer for my years of torture' speech, and barely heard a word.

It wasn't until Voldemort screeched 'Tacito,' that he began to think he might have to admit defeat. The deafness charm didn't prevent him from casting spells, but if he couldn't hear the incantations of the Death Eaters, he couldn't block them. His confidence began to waver, and a tickling charm hit him from behind.

Giggling helplessly, he tried to blast spells off in random directions, but it was impossible to enunciate correctly. His next curse was supposed to summon a torrent of giant, stinging hailstones, but all he managed to produce through his laughter was a shower of buttercups.

The frenzy of activity felt strangely unreal when accompanied by thick silence. Through his rising panic Harry began to wonder if it was real, or just a....

What happened next made him forget to wonder anything at all and he watched in amazement, still giggling fitfully.

A curse had whizzed over his head from behind and hit the Death Eater in front of him, who doubled up in pain as if he'd been punched in the stomach. Harry assumed that it had been meant for him, and that the caster had a very bad aim, but then it happened again. Another cloaked figure bent over with a groan, clutching his stomach, then another. Harry turned and gasped. Draco Malfoy was behind him, blasting off curses at a phenomenal rate. His wand was a blur, and his aim was immaculate. Death Eaters were dropping like flies all around them.

Malfoy paused for long enough to disable the spells on Harry, and noise rushed into his ears, making his head thump. Regaining control of his voice, he aimed his wand at Voldemort and shouted the first spell he could think of.

'Pesterus!'

A swarm of angry, chattering sprites poured from his wand and swarmed towards Voldemort like angry bees. Each time he tried to cast a spell or take a step forward they would bite, sting, poke him in the eye or otherwise distract him. Meanwhile Harry stood back to back with Malfoy, and together they made a sort of game out of picking off the remaining Death Eaters. Malfoy continued to use the Appendicitis curse, interspersed with the odd 'Explosius' hex for effect. Harry used a selection of 'Ambulatus' spells which forced the Death Eaters to walk calmly into the lake until all that was left of them was a cluster of bubbles at the surface.

Eventually only Voldemort was left, and he had managed to dispose of most of the sprites by swatting and stamping on them. He loomed furiously over the two boys.

Harry felt...well, nothing really. He realised with astonishment that he was not all that scared. He cast a glance at Malfoy, who was now standing by his side and glaring challengingly at Voldemort.

The Dark Lord hissed quietly when he spoke.

'So! The son of Lucius has turned traitor. What a disappointment, you showed such promise. I was certain you shared the beliefs and convictions of my followers.'

'I did!' snarled Malfoy. 'Then I found out just how you go about forcing your beliefs on other people, and I found out the truth about how you intend to keep Muggles away from the wizarding world. Not by improving security measures and changing travel and habitation laws, but by killing every Muggle you can get your hands on! I may have believed they were inferior but I don't think they all deserve to die!'

'Your father thinks so, and he has striven to ensure that you follow his lead. Am I to take it he has failed?'

'If you mean, have his attempts to make me into a trainee Death Eater come to nothing? then yes!' spat Malfoy.

'A great pity,' muttered Voldemort. 'Your father has performed valuable work for me. I was looking forward to seeing what the two of you could achieve together.'

'You will never have that pleasure. I know all about my father's valuable work. I can assure you, if I am a disappointment to you, that is nothing to what my father is to me.'

Harry listened to this exchange in amazement. If ever there were a Death Eater in the making, he would have bet his last Knut it was Malfoy. He couldn't quite take in what was happening. Malfoy had stood next to him, fighting by his side. Now he was standing up to Voldemort and openly rejecting him. Harry's mouth dropped open as he heard Malfoy vehemently denounce his own father, and he turned to look at Voldemort the way one might look at a vat of acid that has just had a lit Filibuster's firework thrown into it.

Voldemort stroked his wand. Almost inaudibly he hissed, 'You are the son of my follower. You know too much to be allowed to live if you are not prepared to join us.'

Malfoy was visibly trembling, but to Harry it looked more like rage than fear. 'I will never join you. You'll have to kill me.'

Voldemort didn't appear the slightest bit put out by this news. He simply raised his wand and began to speak. 'Avada Ke...'

'NO!'

It seemed he had forgotten Harry was there. Startled for a moment he turned his attention to the dark haired boy. 'You have thwarted me for the last time, Harry Potter...' He raised his wand again, this time aiming at Harry. But it was not Voldemort's voice that spoke next; it was Malfoy's.

'ELECTRIA!'

A bolt of lightning slammed into the ground with a bang, right where Voldemort was standing. The impossibly bright, blue-white light dazzled Harry, and the force of it knocked him and Malfoy off their feet. A shower of sparks shot out in all directions and a cloud of foul black smoke engulfed them. A few little traces of electrical energy fizzed in the grass where Voldemort had once stood, and now there was just a pile of grey ash.

Neither boy moved for a moment, but sat and stared at the smoking remains. Then they looked at each other. Harry took in Malfoy's soot-smeared face and dishevelled hair. He was almost unrecognisable, but it was not the general unkemptness that made a difference. There was something about his face, and his posture. The haughty arrogance was gone. Harry blinked and looked again. Maybe it was never there in the first place...

To Harry, Malfoy's pose spoke more of a noble confidence, the kind of self assurance that appears in one who knows that what he is doing is right. Harry felt that he was looking at Malfoy from an angle he had never seen before. It was as though he had suddenly seen the candlestick where there had previously only been two faces staring at each other.

As Harry looked, Malfoy stood up, offering Harry his hand, and this time Harry took it, allowing the Slytherin to help him up.

Harry opened his mouth to speak but was suddenly overcome by the urge to laugh. He snorted quietly, trying to suppress it, but eventually he had to give in to it. His shoulders shook, his eyes began to run, and eventually a roar of laughter escaped him. Malfoy stared at him, bemused.

'I believe I just saved your life in a most spectacular fashion, Potter. Would you care to tell me what's so funny?'

Harry couldn't answer. He leaned forward, hands on his knees, crying with mirth. At one point he looked up and pointed at Malfoy before dropping again and quivering helplessly.

'What? Is my sooty face really that funny because let me tell you, you're no picture of cleanliness yourself...'

Harry shook his head and lifted his glasses to wipe his eyes. 'N...no,' he gasped, still shaking a little. He reached up and plucked something from Malfoy's hair, and held it out to him.

'A buttercup?' said Malfoy, horrified. 'You mean to tell me I stood here badmouthing Voldemort with a buttercup in my hair? You could have said!'

He looked at the pile of ashes at their feet, then at the buttercup. Then he looked at Harry who was starting to giggle idiotically again. Harry saw something twitch in Malfoy's face. He smiled expectantly into the deep grey eyes, and sure enough, within moments Draco Malfoy was weak with laughter too.

Draco felt elated, for the first time in ...well, always. It struck him suddenly that even though he had always been given everything he could possibly want, he had only ever been satisfied. Or content, at most. Happy was a new one.

For the first time in his life he had stood up and said no. Refused to be pushed towards a future that had been planned for him, without his permission. Granted, it wasn't real. It was a figment of someone else's imagination, but the point was he had said 'no.' And meant it. The fact that this made him happy had to mean something, it had to be right.

He looked at Harry, taking in the brightness of his eyes as he laughed. It was so different from the cold, indifferent stare they had bestowed on him on the train years ago, and suddenly he knew that his decision to change his own future was not the only thing to have cheered him up.

He straightened up, and with a bit of effort managed to stop laughing. Harry sobered, too, but continued to smile as Draco put an arm around his shoulders and said, 'I think I need a drink. Care to join me?'

The beauty of dreams, of course, is that one minute you can be in one place, and the next you can be in another, and think nothing of it. Your subconscious simply transports you to the place you ought to be.

With a small amount of concentration Draco did just that, and found himself sitting in the beer garden outside The Three Broomsticks with Harry. Two pints of Cauldron Brew stood on the table in front of them, and the rest of the small courtyard was empty of customers.

Harry was first to speak.

'I don't want to sound ungrateful or anything, but what the hell was that all about? Why did you help me?'

A hundred possible answers to that question raced to the front of Draco's mind, jostling for attention.

'I don't suppose you'd believe I just fancied a change?'

'Not for a minute.'

Draco sighed, and took a gulp of his beer. He was tempted to pour out his heart to Harry, but the Gryffindor looked so relaxed and happy. He couldn't bear to darken the mood. Keeping his tone casual he said, 'I don't think we are meant to be enemies. I've had my eyes opened recently and I think I've been backing the wrong horse. You had it right all along, I just couldn't see it. I was trained not to see it.'

Harry gazed at him earnestly, and asked 'So what was it that opened your eyes?'

Draco opened his mouth to answer, then wondered just what the heck he was going to say. I invaded your subconscious mind using an illegal potion. In fact that's what I'm doing now, just to have someone to talk to...

He was pretty sure that wouldn't go down well, even in a dream.

'Umm, actually, do you mind if I don't go into that now...I just found out some things I didn't know; things that you do know. Let's just say I think I get it now, what I should be fighting for, and who I should be fighting against...and it isn't you.'

Harry stared at him. Then he smiled his bright, infectious smile again. 'Well let's drink to that!' He raised his glass. 'A cease-fire?'

Draco nodded, picking up his pint and clinking it against Harry's. 'Cheers', he murmured, before taking a deep breath and downing his pint.

Harry followed suit, and they banged down their empty glasses at precisely the same moment. Then they laughed, both aware that their competitive spirits would endure, cease-fire or not.

Harry's features straightened and he looked thoughtful for a moment. 'You know what?' he said, 'I think I'll miss it - fighting with you, I mean'.

Draco felt his heart warm up at the thought of Harry missing anything about him. Then he suppressed the thought and struggled to respond. 'Umm, er...well there's always Quidditch,' he pointed out.

Harry visibly brightened. 'Ah, yes! We may be friends off the pitch, but when that whistle blows, be very afraid...'

Draco grinned stupidly at Harry's confirmation that they were now friends. The one thing he had wanted all his life, and the one thing his parents couldn't buy for him. A little voice in the back of his head pointed out that this still wasn't real - it was a fantasy that he was inventing as he went along, and Harry was only participating unknowingly. A louder voice at the front of his mind reminded him to make the most of it while he could. He ploughed on...

'Of course, if you think you need a certain amount of animosity in your life I could always oblige. As your newest friend I think it only right that I should offer my services as a sparring partner.'

'You mean, if I have a really bad day and need to punch something...'

'I mean, you can try!'

'Well, today has been a pretty bad day,' and Harry playfully punched Draco in the arm.

Draco punched him back with a chuckle.

Harry pushed Draco off the bench, then launched himself at him, and an impromptu wrestling match ensued which both boys found hilarious. Draco managed to immobilise Harry for a moment but Harry was more resourceful than he thought. With the hand that wasn't jammed behind his back in a half nelson, Harry managed to tickle Draco's left side until he let go, laughing and cursing.

Eventually Draco ended up lying flat on his back, with Harry on all fours, pinning him to the floor by his shoulders. Draco knew perfectly well that he could do something really evil with his knee to free himself, but decided he was perfectly happy where he was. He noticed for the first time that Harry's smile was slightly crooked, and made a dimple in his left cheek.

He reflected on how everyone had always told him he was lucky. So lucky, to have Lucius Malfoy as his role model.

'Walk in your father's footsteps, my boy, and you won't go far wrong,' his uncle's voice echoed in his head. He had accepted that without question.

Looking up into Harry's smiling, slightly grubby face, he wondered how there could ever have been a doubt in his mind over who was the person he most admired in the world.

Harry interrupted his thoughts. 'Well, as fights go, that was pretty easy. I think I won that one.'

Draco seized the moment. Raising his arms and placing his hands on Harry's waist he replied, 'Oh, I don't know...'

Harry's eyes widened, but he didn't pull away as Draco slowly ran his hands up Harry's back. Reaching the back of his neck, he gently pulled Harry towards him, raising his own head off the ground at the same time. He felt Harry's warm breath on his face; they were so close. Draco closed his eyes, and parted his lips expectantly. He ran his hand up into Harry's hair, then...

SLAM!

Draco opened his eyes. He was back in his dorm, alone. His fist closed on empty air.

'Bugger!' he said, emphatically.

Harry woke with a shout and promptly fell out of bed. A light came on and he fought to free himself from his tangle of blankets.

'What the hell?' he muttered, panic-stricken.

'Harry! Are you ok? Was it another nightmare?' Ron's pale, freckled face appeared in the lamplight. Harry gaped at him, wondering what his friend would say if he knew what Harry's subconscious had just been doing.

'Umm. Yes! Nightmare. Terrible. Um...'

Ron helped Harry disentangle himself. 'Shit, Harry, I thought maybe you'd got over them. I mean, last time wasn't so bad...I thought you'd be back to normal. Was it the same as always, or was it a new one?'

Harry paused. New. Oh God was it new. 'Er...much the same, really.'

He scrambled to his feet, clutching his bunched-up blankets in front of him. It wouldn't do for Ron to catch sight of the front of his pyjama bottoms right at this moment -it would be all too obvious that Harry had just had an entirely different sort of dream from what Ron was imagining.

Ron stood and looked at rry awkwardly. He clearly wanted to help, but didn't have a clue what to do. Suddenly he brightened, and exclaimed, 'Hermione! I could go and get her. She'll do a relaxation charm or something!'

Harry ignored the churning bewilderment in his head for long enough to smile knowingly. 'Ron, if you want to go and visit Hermione in the middle of the night, that's up to you. But don't do it on my account.'

Ron blushed. 'Will you be ok?'

'Of course. Go back to bed,' replied Harry, anxious to be alone with his traitorous mind.

Ron looked doubtful, but obediently took a step towards his own bed. 'Ok then. Goodnight Harry.'

'Goodnight Ron.' Harry climbed gratefully back into bed.

'If you need anything I'll go and get...'

'Goodnight Ron!'

'Oh. Goodnight, then.'

Harry pulled the curtains shut around his bed and lay back, tense and perplexed; not to mention uncomfortably aroused. Where the hell did all that come from? He tried to think of something else. Neville doing press-ups. Hagrid trying to de-worm Fluffy. Dumbledore clipping his toenails...a pair of fathomless grey eyes gazing at him while their owner stroked his arm with a swan feather quill...

Aargh!

It was no good; it wasn't going to go away. He couldn't stop his mind from wandering back to the dream, and what had been about to happen when he woke up. He gave in to the impulse to imagine the feel, the smell, the taste of him.

Oh Hell! He could almost feel those warm, soft hands. Gliding up his back, snaking into his hair and drawing him close. He'd nearly responded, but then...suddenly his mind had started shouting, 'Not real! Not real!' and the dream dissolved.

He tried to bring it back, creating in his mind's eye the image of unkempt platinum hair splayed out over the grass. He stroked a finger over his lips, imagining it was Draco's. He ran the same finger down his chest, wondering how he could never have noticed how appealing that shy half-smile was. He'd always thought it was a smirk - how wrong he had been!

Sharing a dorm with four roommates usually deterred him from indulging in what teenage boys do best. But this was an emergency. He was in pain. He allowed his hand to wander downwards, shivering with delight as his fingers squeezed gently.

His imagination went berserk. One minute Draco was lying passively on the grass, smiling sweetly and stroking Harry's hair. The next he was on top, kneeling astride Harry and tearing at his robes. Harry stroked faster, picturing Draco shrugging out of his own robes and reaching down to undo Harry's flies.

That was enough. Harry convulsed in blissful release, murmuring a name he had never thought to speak except in anger. Then he drifted into a rapturous sleep, dreaming only the sweetest of dreams.

At the same time, in a dormitory deep in the castle dungeons, another boy gasped with a rush of pleasure, Harry's name escaping his lips with a shuddering breath.

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