Harry rolled over and blinked up at the ceiling, letting the last of his dreams fade away. It had been a good night, no disturbances for either him or Draco and he smiled even before his mind had time to remind him what today meant. When his thoughts caught up with the rest of his body his smile grew and he glanced over at his still sleeping bedmate.
If it had not been for the fact that he could see, all be it somewhat blurrily, the two rolls of parchment on the table beyond his sleeping soulmate, Harry would have thought yesterday evening had been a dream.
He was now, one hundred percent officially, as declared in the documents at which he was looking, an employee of Hogwarts. Before the final moment dawned when his life as a student ceased and his welcome at the school ended, Harry had become part of the place he loved as a home. If it had not been for the fact that dark forces gathered outside the enchanted walls in the rest of the wizarding world, he would have been content.
He lowered his mental barriers to magic and let himself just feel everything around him. Hogwarts was home and it seeped into his whole consciousness as he let his Hecatemus abilities free reign.
[You think awfully loudly when you're happy, you know,] a rather sleepy mental voice floated into his mind. [Some of us are trying to sleep.]
[Sorry,] Harry replied, but was only able to contain his exuberant delight for a few seconds. [Last night was just so ... wonderful, it was incredible.]
[Well I knew I was good,] Draco drawled in his thoughts, cracking open one eye, [but...]
Harry lent forward and gave his soulmate a swift kiss, which interrupted Draco's train of thought.
"While I enjoy pandering to your ego," he said as he pulled back, "and our little private celebration could be described by both those words, I was referring to earlier in the evening."
Draco pouted at him in the most adorable manner.
"I'm hurt," Draco said and batted his pale eyelashes.
Harry couldn't decide whether to laugh or leap on Draco with all the restraint of a sex crazed dragon. He looked at the clock and slowly a smile crept onto his face; it was still early. His soulmate raised an eyebrow and Harry knew that Draco was aware of exactly where his thoughts were headed.
He could always blame it on his Hecatemus instincts. He wasn't quite as sex crazed as he had been right after they had bonded when his body and mind kept demanding they reaffirm their connection physically, but he could use it as an excuse. And Lucius trying to separate them with Dissaepio Iugum had meant they had both been doing a lot of reaffirming anyway. It was going to take a long time for them to get over that even with protection woven into the rings they both now wore.
There was, however, only one problem with Harry's less than innocent plans; it may have been early, but there was still a lot to do. For example, this morning was not a morning for leaping in the shower and then leaping out again almost before he was wet. For a start he needed to wash his hair and once shampoo had been introduced to his raven black mop it took forever to rinse it out again. Everything else paled in comparison to trying to tame his hair.
"How long do you reckon we could barricade ourselves in the prefects' bathroom before anyone blasted down the door?" he asked as an idea began to form in his mind.
A wicked smile graced Draco's face as he also glanced at the clock.
"Oh, I think we have about an hour," Draco said with an innocent tone, which belied the expression on his face, "as long as we get there before one of the Ravenclaws decides to take a soak with a good book."
"Then how would you like to prove you are more worthy of the terms 'wonderful' and 'incredible' than anything else I may have been talking about?" Harry asked and for good measure ran his fingers over Draco's shoulder and down his soulmate's side.
Draco pouted again and Harry almost gave up on self-control.
"You need me to prove my worth," Draco said in the best impression of insulted that Harry had ever seen, so much so in fact that for a fraction of a second he actually believed he may have said the wrong thing.
At the beginning of their relationship he might have doubted himself for longer, now he adjusted to the game quickly.
"You have to forgive me," he responded and moved closer to Draco, looking down at him through his eyelashes. "I'm just a Gryffindor and I need these things repeating before they make it through my thick skull."
The corner of Draco's mouth twitched just slightly at the display before it was dragged back under iron control.
"Well," Draco said as if considering the whole thing, "I suppose, in the interests of inter-house cooperation, I could be persuaded to show you again."
As he spoke, Draco's hand made its way down Harry's chest where they were pressed close together and then began to descend lower. Then suddenly Draco's touch was gone.
"What?" was about the most sensible question Harry could manage because all the blood was leaving his brain.
"We have a visitor," Draco said and pointed over his shoulder.
Harry looked; there was one of Hogwarts' house elves, looking very unsure and clutching at one of her ears.
"Binky is sorry to be disturbing Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy," the elf all but squeaked, "but she is being asked to deliver a message."
"Thank you, Binky," Draco said, "it's alright. What is the message?"
"Hermione Granger is asking if Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy would be obliging and meet her and Ron Weasley for an early breakfast," Binky said.
"Did she say why?" Draco asked.
The elf shook her head.
"In one half of an hour," Binky said.
"Please tell her, yes, we will be there," Draco told the elf.
Binky bobbed a curtsy and vanished. Harry groaned and flopped back on the bed.
"Why am I friends with Hermione again?" he asked.
"Because she likes to be prepared and has saved your arse more times than I care to count," Draco replied. "Come on, up and at it. Sex will have to wait, but we can still use the prefects' bathroom."
Harry groaned again, but even losing the time to get his hands on Draco couldn't dampen his mood for long.
* * *
It was the last breakfast of term, but the Great Hall was mostly empty when Harry and Draco walked in. Since there were no lessons and everyone not staying for the summer just had to catch the train, it appeared most were leaving eating until the last minute. Only Hermione and Ron were waiting for them at the Gryffindor table.
"Morning," Harry greeted as they went to sit down.
"Heya, Harry, Malfoy," Ron said, blinking at them blearily.
"Good morning," Hermione said at the same time and her smile was bright and very much awake.
[How are two such different people in love?] Draco commented. [I see many strained mornings in their future.]
Harry snorted a laugh.
[Pot calling kettle black,] he said.
Draco had to agree, he never would have tagged himself and Harry as a couple before it happened either. That underneath the trappings of upbringing and privilege they were very similar would never have occurred to him.
He mentally shook himself. Clearly Harry's contemplative mood was affecting him as well. He always tried to look to the future, after all his past was filled with so much failure, but his mind seemed to want to look back today. At least it was only over the last year. It had contained some very bad times, but also some of the best of his entire life.
Sometimes he found himself wondering why someone like Harry would have picked him. He knew it was all supposed to be to do with compatibility and sensible things like that, but Harry had still chosen him. This would never have happened if Harry hadn't chased him down the corridor outside the Library all those months ago.
The lion ring on his finger was heavy and solid, a symbol of their love and bond. It could only be removed by his hand or Harry's. Only death could separate them now.
He mentally kicked himself again.
"So," he said, reaching for the tea pot in the middle of the table, "any thoughts on who was chosen to stay over the summer?"
"No surprises from Gryffindor," Hermione said; "it's most of the seventh year and then mostly the DA. I'm more interested to see who Dumbledore picked from the other houses."
Harry nodded and Draco handed him a mug of tea before the discussion really got going.
* * *
The note on the fireplace had instructed them all to wear casual clothes, but Harry still felt strange walking into the Great Hall for an official meeting with the headmaster in jeans and a shirt. Possibly it was the fact that he was never going to be wearing the school uniform again which was bothering him. He was under no illusion as to how little he knew in the scheme of things and hence how much he still had to learn, but technically Harry knew he was no longer a pupil at Hogwarts, at least not in the traditional sense.
It was also odd to be hanging around when everyone else was rushing for the train.
He was still reeling from the fact that this now really was home, at least for as long as he was employed. He couldn't help wondering where in Hogwarts he and Draco would be living once the summer was over. All of those staying were using their habitual places for now, but Gryffindor Tower would belong to the students once they were back. It was all making him feel a little unsettled and completely at home at the same time, which was just a bizarre combination.
As Harry looked around he realised that most of the DA were still there, but there were others as well. At first glance it was hard to tell who was from which house, except for one group; they were quite obvious.
[Slytherins,] Harry said, without needing to glance at his soulmate to know Draco was looking in the same direction he was.
The huddle of students was small compared to the rest of the houses, only five, but Harry found he was glad they were there. Pansy Parkinson seemed to be in charge and beside her was Gregory Goyle. The other three looked like their backup.
[The rest of the school don't like it,] Draco observed.
[Of course they don't,] Harry said; [as far as they're concerned Slytherin is full of Death Eaters. They don't know what we know.]
[I'm not sure we know what we know,] Draco said, although when Harry glanced in his direction there was no indication on Draco's face that he was thinking any such thing.
If there was one thing that Harry envied about Draco it was his soulmate's ability to shield everything he was thinking from those aristocratic features. When Harry had been hiding from everyone during his sixth year it had been easier, but these days he was sure he gave far too much away on his face.
[Do you want to talk to them?] Harry asked.
The situation with the Slytherins was not clear cut. They had given Draco information on who had opened the wards to allow Draco's father to access Hogwarts, but not in a way that showed their clear support. Finding Blaise was the traitor had been an accident more than anything else. That Dumbledore was willing to allow children of probable Death Eaters to remain for the summer classes was either incredibly foolish, or part of a master plan that Harry could not begin to fathom. How the man had ever convinced their Slytherins' parents to let them stay was something Harry really didn't want to think about.
[Yes,] Draco said, [but we'll have to play it carefully.]
The other Slytherins were just like Draco, able to hide anything they were thinking, but Harry lowered his mental barriers just a little; they couldn't hide from him. What he saw was mostly anxiety and confusion in the colours of emotion surrounding the group.
[Some people might find it worrying how good you lot are at masking what you're feeling,] he commented and showed Draco what he was looking at with a small mental snapshot.
[Some people might,] Draco replied, [but I'm sure you've been paying better attention.]
[Of course,] Harry replied, smiling just slightly at the dig. [Do we need to make elaborate preparations or can we just walk over to them?]
For that Draco gave him a look where one pale eyebrow almost reached his hairline. Harry smiled properly now; he always enjoyed Draco's reaction to sarcasm.
[Come on,] Draco decided, but before either of them could move the talking in the room began to stop.
Scanning the rest of the hall Harry realised Professor Dumbledore and several of the other teachers had just walked out in front of the head table. As ever the headmaster's presence garnered everyone's attention. Harry quickly reasserted his shields, slipped his hand into Draco's, and waited to find out what was going to be happening.
"Welcome," Dumbledore said after he reached the lectern, "how gratifying it is to see so many have chosen to stay for the summer classes."
Harry had no idea how many had been invited to take part from the other houses, but all of those from Gryffindor were there. He doubted anyone in their right mind would say no, given that the Ministry was involved.
[Not everyone is cut out for daring deeds,] Draco said.
Harry realised he must have thought the last part at his soulmate.
[But Ravenclaws love to learn everything new, Hufflepuffs will feel it is their duty to take part, Gryffindors are just Gryffindors,] Draco laughed in his head as Harry said that, [and Slytherins will have convinced themselves they need this to maintain their advantage. So no one in their right mind would have said no.]
[You have been paying attention,] Draco said.
[You'll train me eventually,] he replied.
"It greatly saddens me that this summer school has become a necessity," Dumbledore continued and Harry turned his attention back to the headmaster, "however we are living in dark times. With the Ministry's cooperation it has been decided that all those we at Hogwarts believe up to the task, should be prepared to defend themselves should the need arise. That is not to say we intend to train you as soldiers, we simply wish every student here to be able to extricate themselves from any situation that should prove unsavoury."
[That's one way of putting it,] Draco commented.
"I am sure you will be glad to hear we do not expect every student to excel in every discipline," Dumbledore continued with a warm smile.
A small titter of laughter went round the room at that.
"In that vein the first week will see each year group tested in the disciplines offered," the headmaster continued. "Then students will be divided into smaller groups depending on your aptitude for a certain subject or your existing knowledge."
Dumbledore's eyes scanned the whole room as he spoke and Harry felt himself as drawn in as every time the headmaster gave a speech. There was just something about the man that begged attention.
"Everyone will take all classes offered, but the top groups for each subject will be offered more in-depth information and instruction," Dumbledore continued to explain. "At any time, should you feel a particular discipline is beyond your abilities or not to your taste, no blame with be apportioned to you should you wish to skip those classes. Nothing this summer is compulsory, simply inform your instructor and you will be excused. If indeed you find the strain of the lessons to be too much, no one will think less of you should you wish to return home. We have judged you all to be capable beyond your years, but your wellbeing is our first priority."
Harry saw a few faces looking a little relieved at that. He doubted any would drop out completely, but he was sure some would take up the option to leave out some of what was on offer.
[Is he ever going to tell us what we're going to be doing?] Draco said, sounding just a little bit exasperated.
[Probably not,] Harry replied, [you know how Albus likes to drop people in it.]
Harry could all but feel his soulmate rolling his eyes.
"Seventh years, please see Professor McGonagall for your timetables," the headmaster continued, "sixth years, please see Professor Sprout and fifth years, please see Professor Flitwick. Which just leaves it to me to remind you all that, unfortunately school rules are still in force," a groan went round the room, "except for uniform. Areas that were out of bounds during term time are still out of bounds for the summer for your own safety. However, we cannot have you all toiling away without some relief. Every weekend will be a Hogsmead weekend and should students wish to return home for a weekend, special transport can be arranged through your head of house. Oh, and jam-rolly-polly and custard will be available at every dinner."
At that a cheer went up and Harry joined in, just because.