When Cho went to kiss him sniffling and grieving, her cheeks stained with tears, it was if they both hit an invisible wall in the air. A pressure that grew as they got closer and pushed them away from each other. The closest Cho got to him was about three inches then she pulled back with a shaky laugh.
“Figures,” she smiled weakly and reached out a hand to pat his shoulder and then dropped it as she stepped back, “See you around.”
Harry immediately went and told Ron and Hermione.
Ron grimaced, “Oooh, tough luck there, mate.”
Harry frowned at him, “What do you mean?”
Hermione cocked her head thoughtfully as she set her quill down, “I’ve read about this… Sometimes a witch or wizards magical signature is so completely incompatible with another that they repel one another like… magnets. You know how when they’re opposite poles the magnets stick together but the same pole repel and you can’t even push them together? It’s like that.”
“But then, I wouldn’t be able to touch her at all? I’ve touched Cho… her arm, I’m pretty sure I’ve touched her arm,” Harry said in confusion.
“Well, that’s the very interesting thing about it, you see, our magic is quite sedate most of the time unless we’re using it to cast or when we’re very agitated- that’s where spontaneous uncontrolled magic comes from,” Hermione said, spreading her hands as she became more engaged in the subject, “and when you’re about to do something like… kiss someone you really fancy-”
“-your heart rate picks up and you get nervous and you magic gets agitated. Our bodies are really quite bad at telling the difference between good, excited nervous and more life threatening bad nervous. It only really affects you when you’re really close to someone as well, so it’s not really that noticeable a majority of the time.”
“Oh…” Harry said blankly.
“Don’t worry,” Ron reassured him, “It’s really rare to be that repelled.”
Hermione nodded in agreement, “It’s like- in a sample size of- of a thousandpeople, you’ll be slightly repelled from four or five and strongly repelled by only one, at the most.”
Ron added, “And it’s not all bad. If you find someone you’re a really good match with it’s like- like amazing, the best thing ever. True love and all. My mum and dad are like that.”
“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Hermione said.
Ron nodded, “Yeah, there’ll be others.”
Harry nodded too, trying not to dwell on what had happened.
When he tried to kiss Ginny in the common room, with everyone cheering and celebrating, they got so close he could feel the warmth of her breath ghost across his lips. It was brief and no one saw that they really hadn’t kissed. Ginny tried to hide her confusion and disappointment but Harry could see it all the same. It probably looked quite like his own expression.
They tried again in private later but it was even worse, likely because they were more nervous. Ginny gave him a sad smile and left to be alone. He heard that she spent the next couple days in the Ravenclaw tower with Luna. Ron was mad at him for breaking his sister’s heart and Harry didn’t have it in him to explain what had happened.
He felt like it was his fault and he was entirely certain he had the worst luck in the world.
After the war was a time for new beginnings. Life could only get better and Harry was certain his magical signature being incompatible with people was because of Voldemort’s horcrux being inside him. Or perhaps it was a case of not kissing enough people.
When he and all his friends went out drinking and having fun that summer he made a point, once he had enough drunken courage, to try and kiss someone. It didn’t even matter who. He just wanted to find someone he didn’t bounce off of like he was wearing a fish tank on his head. Each time he tried, it got a little easier to try again. Until it got to the point where he’d try to kiss everyone in the bar who’d let him.
He got close a few times, like he had with Ginny, but for most, he would feel the push back before he was even six inches off. Luna kissed his cheek once when she caught him off guard, it was a very sweet friendly kiss. Harry couldn’t stop thinking about how the first and maybe only time he’d ever felt lips on his skin was from a friend.
He went back to Hogwarts with Hermione and Ron to finish his schooling, for their “eighth year”. McGonagall was very big on inter-house unity. All the teachers would lavishly praise and give house points to anyone so much pausing to pick up a dropped parchment for a classmate from another house. The effort resulted in much embarrassment all around. There was no bullying, but most houses kept to themselves. Perhaps, that was why McGonagall allowed all the eighth and seventh years have a party.
Like the good teenagers they were, there was a great deal of illicit alcohol involved and very little self-control.
Harry threw back the last of his fire whisky and thumped the glass down on the table, yelling above the music from the wireless, “I’m gonna kiss everyone in this room!”
A drunken cheer greeted his declaration. A girl sitting behind him startled to her feet, her drink spilling over her fingers as she stepped closer, “Me first,” she smiled shyly.
She had been flirting rather desperately with Harry all night and though he wasn’t interested in the slightest he leaned down. She twitched forward eagerly and was just as quickly pushed back quite a distance from Harry. Apparently, she was a particularly bad match.
He didn’t laugh in her face but it was a near thing. He was just drunk enough that awfulness of his situation was fucking hilarious.
“Sorry,” Harry grinned and turned to the person sitting beside her and then the next person and the next. One miss after another as the music and chatter grew louder and the night wore on. He teased Dean and Seamus into a kiss, Dean almost managed it, close enough Harry could feel his laughter before he pulled away to give Seamus a proper kiss. He did not kiss Ron or Hermione, it would’ve been like kissing a sibling and he wasn’t interested in having creepy nightmares about it for the rest of his life. Everyone else he approached humoured him and gave Harry a go at a quick kiss.
He was fast running out of people to try- and fail -to kiss when he found himself at the back corner of the room, the large couch pushed against the wall had been taken over by the only three Slytherin’s who came back to finish up their schooling, Blaise, Pansy and, Draco Malfoy. They were relaxed, somewhat sprawled over one another with a bottle of fire whisky to pass between them. They weren’t nearly as relaxed when they noticed Harry staring at them, the lot of them stiffening like a group of alley cats arching their backs and hissing.
“What?” Pansy lifted her nose with a sniff, “We’ve a right to be here, same as you.”
“You need something, Potter?” Blaise asked.
Harry blinked, “A kiss,” he said. Once upon a time, the prospect of kissing a trio of Slytherins would have been far too nerve-wracking but not anymore. The thing about trying to kiss about a hundred odd people was that the whole procedure rather lost its magic, so to speak.
They all stared at him blankly.
“I did say I was going to kiss everyone in the room,” Harry made a show of looking around, “You’re here.”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Pansy said, raising an eyebrow in disbelief.
Blaise laughed, pushing himself to his feet and out of the tangle of his friend’s legs without somehow tripping himself up, “Me first, Boy-wonder,” Blaise said with the smug challenging sort of look that seemed to be calling out Harry’s bluff.
Harry returned the look, “Get on with it then.”
A flicker of hesitation crossed Blaise’s face before he managed to mask it, crossing the distance between them.
Harry tried to stay calm. The whole kissing thing seemed to work out better if he could but it was pointless since Blaise hardly had a go at all. As soon as the nudging pressure began to make itself known he backed off with a smirk.
Blaise dropped back onto the couch with a thud, “Well, that was anticlimactic.”
Pansy looked from Harry to Blaise curiously and then popped up, approaching Harry with a tilt to her head that brought to Harry’s mind the alley cat image again. She went up on tiptoes and Harry leaned down as she tried to kiss the corner of his mouth. Harry was a little surprised how close she got, about a half an inch away.
Her eyes widened as she pulled back. She exchanged a questioning look with Blaise that turned into a knowing one.
She looked back at Harry with an appraising smile, “I see,” she said to herself as she slowly backed away from him.
When the back of her legs hit the couch she stopped and looked over at Draco who was sitting stiffly in the centre. His arms were wrapped nervously around his waist, one hand clutching the neck of the whisky bottle as he scowled up at Harry.
“Your turn, Draco,” Pansy said. When he didn’t move immediately she gave his ankle a half-hearted kick, “Come on.”
Blaise leaned over, grabbing hold of his shoulder and pushing him forward, “Give it a go, my friend. It’s a laugh.”
Draco looked over at Blaise furiously. A flush was rising in his cheeks as he knocked Blaise’s hand away and stood unsteadily, pushing the bottle into Pansy’s chest with a bit too much force. She huffed and turned up her nose, flopping back onto the couch next to Blaise who leaned over to whisper in her ear.
Draco wavered on his feet, his eyes looking like he was having trouble focusing. He was completely and utterly pissed.
Harry watched with growing apprehension. Draco was flushed, his hair gone a little wild, even his clothes were slightly rumpled and there was a grim determination in his eyes. He took a deep breath, absent-mindedly pulling his shirt straight and smoothing his hair back with one hand, though it didn’t stay.
A prickle started on the back of Harry’s neck, the hair on his arms standing up. His heart rate began to pick up as the shivery tension raced through Harry with every step Draco got closer. He had felt this before when they fought, this thundering, shivery pulling feeling. Harry had always thought it was the adrenaline from being angry and from fighting but…
Draco stopped a foot away and then almost swayed forward until they were almost touching. Harry saw close his eyes briefly as if gathering himself, a shiver made his shoulder twitch. When he opened his eyes again Harry felt transfixed by the flat grey colour. Harry’s hand moving without his permission, pressing against the flat planes of Draco’s chest,. Harry felt another shiver go through Draco, stronger than the last, his mouth falling open in a silent gasp, his pupils darkening.
Harry leaned forward, almost haltingly. He kept expecting the pressure to start, to push him back, but instead, it almost felt like he was being tugged closer, and there was almost a static hum in the air, prickling along his skin. He reached up, brushing his fingers lightly on Draco’s chin, too nervous to actually cup his cheek. Draco tilted his head and Harry felt his breath ghost across his lips, felthis lips, soft and careful and shivering just like Harry was and-
“ENOUGH!” Headmistress McGonagall’s voice cut through the party like a blade of ice. “This party is over.”
Harry and Draco startled away from each other. The music was shut off and the room slowly took on the deathly calm of those who know they are completely and utterly hosed.
McGonagall’s eyes narrowed as she looked over the room, “There will be no more parties, for the rest of the year,” she said coldly, “Hogsmeade weekends are canceled and everyone here, including eighth years, are to remain on the castle grounds for the next three months-” there was a chorus of groans that was abruptly cut off with a single look, “-All of your curfews are now at eight pm, all of you.” There were no attempts to complain this time, simply an overwhelming and spreading air of despair. “If you are going to act like children, you will be treated like children. If any of you are found with alcohol on school grounds again, you will be suspended,” she pursed her lips in disappointment, “I do hope you will learn from this. Now go to your dorms.”
The students swayed and shuffled out of the room with their heads low to avoid eye contact.
Harry hadn’t moved. He wasn’t entirely aware of what was happening until a hand firmly took him by the upper arm.
“Mr Potter.” McGonagall said, some of the sternness leaving her voice, “Are you well? Do you need to go to the hospital wing?”
“I- What-?” Harry asked blankly, his mind entirely consumed by a single kiss, so brief there was part of his mind that wasn’t entity certain it had happened.
McGonagall frowned, her question changing to an order, “Go to the hospital wing. Have Poppy look you over.”
“The hospital wing,” Harry repeated.
The room was entirely empty. Harry didn’t know when that had happened.
“You’re trembling Harry,” McGonagall said, looking Harry over with concern, “I’ll walk you there myself.”
Madam Pomfrey had Harry spend the night in the hospital wing, just to be safe.
He wasn’t sure he slept.
He spent a great deal of time staring at the ceiling, his mind on an endless loop of the kiss. Each time his mind played through it again, it focused on a different thing; the way Draco looked, then just his expressions and then just his eyes. The way he felt, the way the kiss felt, he remembered how he smelled.
He didn’t remember smelling him at the time but he was certain it was fire whiskey, an aftershave or cologne that was a sharp mix of musk and evergreen, with a hint of something spiced, all of it so faint it was probably an exaggeration; he thought he remembered lemons, something citrus but he couldn’t pinpoint where the idea had come from. He remembered the look Blaise and Pansy had given each other. He remembered how soft Draco’s shirt felt against his fingertips.
He remembered the kiss. He remembered the kiss. He remembered the kiss.
His first kiss was with Draco Malfoy. His first kiss was at eighteen. He’d never been able to kiss anyone else, after trying hundreds of times and his first kiss was with Draco Malfoy.
He needed to go find Ron and Hermione. He needed to talk to them so badly he thought he might burst. He knew Madam Pomfrey would not be pleased but Harry left the hospital wing as soon as he thought he his friends wouldn’t strangle him for waking them up.
Before he even realized it he was running back to the dorm. Bursting inside and startling the only person in the common room, Hermione. She was reading in front of the fire, looking no worse for wear considering the night before.
Her eyebrows shot up when she saw Harry, closing her book with a snap as she stood, “There you are! You disappeared after the party and no one knew where you were!”
Harry crossed the floor, talking between breaths, “McGonagall took me to the hospital wing but that’s not important-”
“The hospital wing!” Hermione’s eyes widened, “Are you alright?”
Harry reached out, gently desperately grasping Hermione’s forearms with both hands, “I’m fine! Not important! Listen-”
Hermione’s brow furrowed, “Harry-”
Harry was practically bouncing on his toes, “Listen, please, Mione- I kissedsomeone!”
Her brow furrowed further, “Harry… you kissed nearly everyone last night. Does Madam Pomfrey know you left?”
“I didn’t-” Harry bit his lip briefly, “You know how I couldn’t kiss Cho?”
“In fifth year? Harry, I’m worried-”
“The thing is-” Harry said quickly, talking over her all in a rush, “-I haven’t been able to kiss anyone.”
Hermione froze, her eyes widening slowly, “What?”
“Last night was the first time,” Harry added, his voice dropping as the energy seemed to drain out of him. He realized he was still holding onto Hermione’s arms and quickly let go, pull his hands back to his chest.
“Why didn’t you tell us?” Hermione asked a faint sadness in her tone.
Harry grimaced apologetically, “There was a lot going on. It wasn’t… important.”
“Well, it is now,” Hermione huffed, shaking her head, “How many people have you tried to kiss?”
Harry shrugged one shoulder, “A hundred or two maybe? I wasn’t exactly keeping count.”
“Okay,” Hermione said thoughtfully, “Well, I’m going to the library. There are three books I know of that I can start with. You’re going to bed.”
“What?” Harry asked in a surge of confusion, pushing his hand through his hair.
Hermione took him by the shoulder and pointed him at the dorm stairs, “You look awful. Go get a few hours rest, I’ll wake you once I’ve finished my preliminary research.”
Harry nodded as a wave of exhaustion swept over him. Just knowing that Hermione knew, that she was looking into it, took an enormous weight off his shoulders. He slipped into the boy dorm filled with the reassuring sound of a bunch of blokes snoring and grumbling and farting in their sleep. Harry didn’t even bother pulling his curtains closed and fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
Harry woke with a start as Hermione dropped herself and a pile of books on the end of his bed, “Wha-! Hermione?” He rubbed his eyes and then scrubbed his hair, blinding reaching up next to his pillow where he put his glasses and then sleepily sliding them on.
“It’s nearly time for lunch so I thought I’d better wake you so you don’t miss it and also to tell you what I’ve found,” Hermione said all in a rush, already flipping open one of her books.
“Lunch?” Ron groaned from the next bed, shoving his blankets down and stretching.
Hermione rolled her eyes, “Yes, lunch. You slept through breakfast.”
Ron slowly sat up and looked around the empty dorm, “Harry slept through too,” he pointed out.
Hermione shook her head, “Yes but Harry didn’t sleep much last night so it doesn’t count.”
“Nothing wrong with a bit of a lie in, it is sunday after all,” Ron muttered as he stood, stumbling over to Harry’s bed and sitting down next to him, “Nightmares?” he asked.
Harry shook his head, feeling his cheeks start to get hot. With a few hours sleep and the morning light to separate him from what had happened the night before, the whole, not kissing anyone thing, seemed a bit silly and a lot more embarrassing.
“Harry says he’s never kissed anyone, that he’s been repelled from every person he’s tried,” Hermione said in her no-nonsense, academic tone.
“Wot? Like every-everyone?” Ron asked, his brow furrowed, “Even Ginny?”
Harry nodded, “Yeah, even her. But last night-”
“It’s surprisingly hard to find much research on magical signatures and how they interact,” Hermione cut him off, “What I have found written about it makes it sound like a fun little side project the author just tinkered around with. The general impression I got is that your situation is very, very rare. So rare it’s not mentioned at all. I’ve been thinking of looking into the medical books. Maybe’s it’s a magical medical condition of some sort…”
Ron yawned, “So it’s like The Princess and Priestess then?”
“The what?” Harry asked.
Hermione looked up from her book in confusion, “What are you talking about, Ron?”
Ron looked from Hermione to Harry, “It’s a fairy-story. Do muggles not have that one?”
“Guess not,” Harry said, whose knowledge of children’s stories was fairly limited thanks to the Dursleys.
Hermione shook her head, “I’ve never heard of it. What in the world does it have to do with Harry’s predicament?”
“It’s kind of the same thing, really,” Ron said, his brow scrunching up in thought, “It’s been ages but it goes kinda like: A long time ago there was a Princess of this kingdom and she was supposed to marry this other Prince bloke but on the day of their wedding, they couldn’t kiss,” He raised his hands, showing a gap between the two of a few inches, “and in their culture, the marriage couldn’t happen if the kiss didn’t happen. So the King arranges for more princes, and none of them can kiss her. So he calls in all the nobles, and none of them can kiss her either.
“And the King’s so worried about his daughter not getting married and being alone for the rest of her life, he says anyone who can kiss her can have the Princess’ hand in marriage. The whole kingdom gets flooded with people hoping to get lucky, lines going around the city, people camping for weeks to get a chance and over and over again, no one can kiss the Princess. She’s really upset about all of this-”
“As she should be!” Hermione said, “Being treated like cattle. Doesn’t she get any say in this?!”
Ron smiled lopsidedly, “Mione, let me finish. It was a long, long time ago and a fairy story. Anyway; she’s upset and starts going to the temple every night to pray to their gods. At night only a single Priestess watches the temple and they start talking to one another, becoming friends. Until soon the Princess is coming to the temple to see the Priestess rather than pray and they’re talking all night, every night.
“One day Princess realizes she’s in love with the Priestess but since she can’t kiss anyone they’ll never be able to be together. She tells the Priestess she’s going to kill herself because she’s so unhappy and can’t live without her. The Priestess begs her not to and tells her that she loves the Princess more than anyone in the world.”
“She was going to kill herself?” Harry asked in disbelief.
“Fairy-stories,” Ron said with a shrug as if that explained it all, “They decide to get married. Even if they can’t kiss, they want to spend the rest of their lives together. The King agrees because he’s never seen his daughter so happy before. They say their vows and then they kiss, as easy as anything because it’s true love and they’re perfect for each other, happily ever after, the end and all that guff.”
Hermione looked sceptical, “And you think this story is about magical signatures and that the Princess’ was so… different, it repelled everyone but the Priestess.”
“Right and the Princess and Priestess were absolutely perfect for one another, that’s why they could kiss. Every kid from a magic household knows the story. It’s in pretty much every book collection of the old stories.” Ron said, “Ginny really liked it when she was little. Bill too, always a bit of a romantic our Bill.”
Hermione sighed, “It’s not terrible for a fairy tale but it doesn’t really help Harry.”
“He just has to find his Priestess,” Ron said and grinned in a mischievous way, “Shouldn’t be too hard, the whole wizarding world would gladly kiss you now. Once they find out you’re like the Princess, you’ll be beating them off with sticks.”
Harry couldn’t look them in the eye. His whole face felt hot.
Was Draco Malfoy-?
“Only one person?” Harry asked faintly.
Hermione snorted, “Highly doubtful. It’s a random magical signature, the chances of being highly compatible with only one person and incompatible with literally every single other person in the world is impossible. It’s far more likely that he’s either compatible with a few random people or with no one at all.”
“Real helpful, Hermione,” Ron said under his breath.
Hermione frowned and shoved his shoulder, “Oh, shut it, Ron. Besides, Harry said he kissed someone last night, that’s how this whole thing started.”
“Oh,” Ron said and then grinned, elbowing Harry conspiratorially in the side, “Who is it, mate? They cute? Divine? Your perfect, soul-shattering love? The Priestess to your Princess?”
“Why am I the Princess in this scenario?” Harry asked.
Hermione rolled her eyes and smiled faintly.
“Just fits.” Ron went on, “Did you get all shivery when you kissed them? Did it curl your toes? Butterflies in your stomach, heart racing, birds singing-”
Hermione interrupted him with a laugh, “Ron!”
Harry flushed, “…I mean, It was just for a second but- kinda, yeah.”
“You wanna know too,” Ron said to Hermione. He sniffed theatrically, “Our little boy’s all grown up. His first proper romance.”
Harry laughed weakly, feeling impossibly nervous about the question they were sure to ask.
“Just because Harry can kiss them doesn’t mean he’s going to like them,” Hermione said.
“They practically have to.” Ron said, “That’s how it works!”
Hermione sniffed, unconvinced, “Sounds like another fairy tale to me.”
Ron rolled his eyes and then leaned over to nudge Harry’s shoulder, “Who is it then?”
“Erm, well…” Harry took a deep breath and blurted out, “DracoMalfoy.”
Whatever Ron was going to say turned into a strangled wheeze in his throat.
“Oh,” Hermione said faintly.
Ron stared unseeing into the distance with an expression of profound regret for everything he had said in the last ten minutes.
Hermione awkwardly cleared her throat, “That’s- that’s- certainly,” she paused glancing up briefly, “I was going to say unexpected but considering Malfoy and your whole-” she vaguely waved a hand, “-relationship. I suppose, it’s not thatstrange.”
“It’s not?” Harry said.
“Well,” Hermione said carefully, “You saved his life, he saved yours… You stalked him for a year, he climbed a tree and made a hundred handmade ‘Potter Stinks’ badges to taunt you…”
“You called him you arch-enemy for ages,” Ron said, “You had Voldemort trying to kill you and you called Malfoy your arch-enemy. When you were like twelve. No one has arch-enemies when they’re twelve.”
Harry said, “Rivals. I said rivals for sure-”
“Nah,” Ron shook his head, “You said arch-enemies, mate. It’s a bit barmy looking back on it.”
“Are you sure?” Hermione asked.
Harry’s brow furrowed, “About what?”
“That you kissed him.” Seeing Harry’s expression Hermione quickly raised both hands and waved them placatingly, “You were drunk and it was loud and crowded and it was Malfoy! It would be more strange not to check, wouldn’t it?”
“I’ve spent my whole life, and a lot of it recently, not kissing people, I’m quite certain I can tell once I’ve actually managed it,” Harry said a little sharply, “I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t sleep because of it.”
Ron and Hermione glanced at each other pointedly.
Hermione cleared her throat and said, “The more important question here, is, how do you feel about him?”
“I don’t know?” Harry said a bit helplessly, “He’s quite good looking-”
Ron and Hermione exchanged another look.
“- but I haven’t talked to him since the trials. He said 'Thank you’ after it was all over and that was it!”
“You want to talk to him then?” Ron asked.
Harry scrubbed miserably at his hair, “I don’t- Maybe? It’s strange that we haven’t isn’t it? Every year I’ve been at school he’s tracked me down as soon as we were on the train just to say something.”
“and the one year he didn’t you went to him,” Ron said.
“Do you like him?” Hermione asked.
Harry groaned, “How am I supposed to know that?”
“Get to know him?” Ron suggested a little sarcastically, “You could try talking to him like a normal person for one. And flirting?” he grimaced, “No, never mind, you’re rubbish that. No insults, o'course, no name calling, that goes for us as well I suppose, and no fights,” he sighed, “I suppose I’ll have to treasure the time one time I did get to punch the whiny little tit.”
“You’re being surprisingly supportive about all this, Ron,” Hermione said with a furrow in her brow and a funny little smile.
Ron sighed and rubbed the back of his neck, “You grew up with muggles, so I guess you don’t know, but- it’s like- a strong match between two people is really rare and when it happens it’s meant to be- you can’t just-” he gestured vaguely with open hands, “not. It’s special. It’s doubly more important if Malfoy’s the only person Harry can even kiss.”
Hermione rolled her eyes, “He’s not the only one. The odds of that are ridiculous.”
“So?” Ron shrugged, “What good is it going to do Harry if he can kiss a random wizard in the middle of china or a witch up in canada? He’s found one here!”
Hermione frowned, “Yes, well, you might have a point.”
“Thank you!” Ron said with a triumphant smile.
They all went quiet for a moment and then Harry laughed and said dryly, “Now that that’s all sorted, everything else is just a piece of piss.”
“In the end, it’s up to you really,” Hermione said.
Ron managed an uneven smile, “Sweep him off his feet, mate.”
Harry went to Charms early. It was one of the classes all the eighth years took together and Harry was fairly certain Pansy and Blaise usually sat together while Draco sat alone in the back corner. So, all he had to do was wait and then once Draco came in, he could follow him to whatever desk he choose and sit with him. Then, if Draco didn’t automatically hex him, they could talk a bit. And if that went well, he could do it again and once they were on friendly terms he could… ask him out?
Harry leaned back against the wall near the door, squeezing the strap of his bag tighter as he thought. Maybe he’d get lucky and Draco’d be pleased about the kiss too, then he could just skip straight to asking him out. He shook his head slightly, even then they needed to talk about things. Draco had been better since the war but that didn’t make everything that had happened before disappear.
He forced himself to pay more attention as students started coming in, looking for a white blond head. As the seats began to fill, Pansy and Blaise came in, Draco just behind, his nose buried in a book. Harry practically held his breath as he followed the trio up the risers. Second to last row in the back Pansy and Blaise dropped into a pair of seats, they were talking together in low whispers, a notepad full of scribbled notes between them. Draco went another row back and then walked down to the very last desk in the corner. He sat in the closest seat, so Harry couldn’t very well sit next to him without trying to slip past and his plan was already so far past the point of believability he didn’t dare. Maybe after a few chats.
Harry paused, so it wouldn’t be quite so obvious he had been following Draco and to gather his nerve. He glanced back at the other desks, only Ron and Hermione were watching him from a shared desk in the front row. Hermione nodded slightly and Ron gave him a surreptitious thumbs up.
He decided to stop thinking about it and just went, sitting in the desk and chair closest to Draco, so only the narrow aisle separated them. Draco eyebrow twitched, his mouth tightened slightly but he didn’t look up.
“Is it alright if I sit here?” Harry asked watching Draco’s expression closely.
Draco’s expression didn’t change but his shoulders tensed, “It’s fine,” he said shortly.
Harry pulled his bag onto his lap, looking for his book and setting it on his desk, quickly followed by a scrap of parchment for notes and a pen. Once that was out of the way, he went back to watching Draco.
Draco carefully removed his own things from his bag and set them up so neatly Harry thought he might be able to place a ruler between them all. He went back to reading his book, a furrow between his brow deepening as he stared at the page, eyes unmoving. He shifted his weight uneasily, leaning even closer to his book so his hair slipped down over his forehead.
Draco sat up with a huff, briskly pushing his hair back and turned in his seat so he was directly facing Harry, “What do you want, Potter?”
“To talk,” Harry said and then quickly added, “to you.”
Draco’s mouth twitched down. He shot a nervous glance down at Pansy and Blaise just below, dropping his voice to hiss, “It wasn’t my idea and I have nothing to do with it at all. Nothing, understand?”
Harry’s brow furrowed and he was about to ask Draco what he meant when Professor Flitwick came in and started his lecture. The question gnawed at Harry through the whole lecture so he wasn’t even sure what it was about when class let out. Not that he got to ask when class let out because Malfoy scooped everything into his bag and rushed out the door like he had a dementor at his heel, leaving Harry more confused than ever.
“What do you suppose Malfoy meant?” Ron asked fighting back a yawn as they headed down to breakfast.
Harry shrugged, “I don’t know.”
Hermione pulled open her bag as they walked, fishing inside the unfathomable depths to retrieve a rather daunting medical text, “Did you try asking him?”
“Would have if he hadn’t avoided me like the plague,” Harry said grumpily, “I just-” he frowned.
“What?” Ron asked.
Harry nodded towards the doors to the great hall from which loud shouts and chatter spilled out. Harry started to hang back and Ron fell back with him so Hermione peered around the doorframe. She frowned and looked up, stepping further into the room. An owl that had been perched in the rafters swooped down and dropped a folded Prophet to her. With paper in hand, she stepped back into the hall.
“The Prophet?” Ron asked.
Hermione quickly unrolled it, “They’re all reading it.”
“Not the Prophet,” Harry bemoaned, already anticipating the worst.
The main headline was: Exclusive! A Real Life Fairy-Story?!, the header below that: Harry Potter Can’t Kiss! The Amazing Story of the Princess and the Priestess Come to Life! The story was full of interviews with people Harry had tried to kiss, along with the complete retelling of the fairytale and some light conjecture by the reporter P.P. In addition to two photos of Harry and an illustration from a children’s book, the whole thing took up the entire front page of the paper.
“Rough luck, mate,” Ron said grimly.
Hermione gave him a conciliatory look, “It’s amazing it took this long for someone to work it out really, with the number of people you’ve tried to kiss.”
“Thanks that really helps,” Harry said sarcastically.
Hermione made a face at him and went on pointedly, “And it wasn’t written by Skeeter, she would have blown it entirely out of proportion. This is fairly accurate and pretty well written really, for the Prophet anyway. I wonder if this P.P. is a new reporter.”
“Pansy Parkinson,” Harry said flatly.
“Her? Really?” Ron asked, leaning on Harry’s shoulder to get a better look.
Harry nodded, remembering the pointed look she had shared with Blaise after trying to kiss him and the two of them with their notebook in Charms yesterday, probably working out the article together.
As if summoned, Pansy’s excited giggle proceeded her through the doorway with Blaise by her side. It took the two of them a while to realize they were being stared at and by whom but once they did they froze.
“You wrote this?” Harry pointed to the newspaper.
Pansy tried to surreptitiously shift the paper she was holding slightly further back and behind her leg, “Where in the world would you get an idea like that?”
“The party,” Harry ticked off on his fingers, “The two of you working on it in Charms, the initials.”
Blaise smirked, leaning over Pansy’s shoulder in an almost exact mirror of Ron, “So?”
Harry wasn’t certain on that account.
Pansy shrugged Blaise off in annoyance, “Get off, you,” she turned back to Harry with a sniff and absentmindedly straightened her hair, “It’s not like I said anything that wasn’t true.”
“It’s much better than Skeeter’s work,” Hermione said.
Pansy positively beamed, “Isn’t though? It’s about time that gossipy shrew was kicked off the front page.”
Hermione glanced at Harry and Ron thoughtfully and then back to Pansy, “Are you going to keep writing for them? The Prophet?”
“Two more lead stories and they’ve promised me a permanent position,” Pansy said.
Hermione looked at Harry pointedly, raising her eyebrows, “She’s better than Skeeter.”
“Oh,” Harry said as he caught on and looked at Pansy.
Pansy looked at him and Hermione warily, “What?”
“Well…” Harry said carefully, “If you keep writing things, truthful things… I might be more willing to talk to you than other reporters.”
Pansy smiled excitedly, “Really?! Really really?!”
Harry nodded, wondering if he would come to regret this.
Pansy grabbed Blaise’s arm, bouncing excitedly on her toes, “Can you believe it!” she crowed, then turned to Harry, “When could I-? Not now, of course. Next week maybe? For an interview. Or whenever, but before we finish school or so help me I’ll-”
Blaise careful placed his hand over her mouth, “You’ll be very very grateful for this opportunity,” He pulled his hand away, “Now smile and wish the nice people a good day.”
Pansy smacked Blaise’s hand before he could pull it back. He clutched his hand to his chest with a wince.
Pansy smiled beatifically at Harry, “Thank you so much, Mr Potter. I shall speak with you later!” She waved and they made their way down the hall.
“Did I just agree to help Pansy Parkinson become a reporter for the newspaper I loathe with every fibre of my being?” Harry asked vaguely.
“It was the best outcome really,” Hermione said. She added vehemently, “Especially, if Skeeter never works again.”
“That’s my girl,” Ron said brightly, slinging an arm over both their shoulders, “Now if I don’t get to breakfast I’m going to die of starvation.”
Hermione rolled her eyes, “You’re not going to starve to death, Ron. Harry, do you want to go in? Maybe we should go to the kitchens, just until this dies down a bit.”
Harry thought about it and sighed, “I want to get it over with really.”
“Alright then!” Ron said steering them through the doors.
The initial noise in the great hall had died down somewhat since they’d stopped outside and once they entered, it died entirely, until you could hear a pin drop. Everyone was staring at Harry.
The one to break the silence ended up being Ginny, who shot off her bench and marched over to Harry with the Prophet in hand, “Is this true?”
A hiss of whispers filled the hall.
Ron said, “Gin, this isn’t really a good time-”
Ginny ignored her brother entirely, “I need to know! Why didn’t you tell me? You could have just said, I’d understand! I thought-” her voice cracked, edged with tears that she furiously pushed through, clenching her jaw and shaking her head, “I thought it was something wrong with me.” she said quietly.
Harry stepped closer to her, dropping his voice so no one could overhear, “I just figured it out myself. Raised by muggles, remember? There’s nothing wrong with you, Ginny, you’re perfect.”
“Damn right I am,” Ginny sniffed, roughly wiping her eyes.
“It’s me that’s got the worst luck, as per usual,” Harry said ruefully.
Ginny smiled faintly and punched Harry in the shoulder, a little harder than was friendly, “Well, good luck, Princess.”
Harry winced and frowned, “Why have I always got to be the princess? Can’t I be the priestess?”
“Princess fits better,” Ginny said with a shrug, going back to her seat.
Ron headed down the table to an empty space and Harry and Hermione followed. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry was aware that around the room people were popping up in ones and two. He hoped they were just trying to get a better look, but a Hufflepuff girl broke that illusion by standing and marching over to him before he had even managed to sit down.
Her whole face went red as she said, a little too loudly in her nervousness, “M-May I kiss you!?”
She clenched her hands together in front of her, looking desperately hopeful and all of fourteen if that. The other students who had stood up began rushing over, forming a line behind her.
Harry’s eyes widened and he took a step back, “I don’t-” he looked around for support and then up at the teacher’s table. Headmistress McGonagall had risen to her feet, she caught Harry’s eyes briefly and gave him a slight nod.
There was a brief clap of noise followed by a deep magic induced silence, “Return to your tables,” she paused briefly and when no one had moved added sternly, “Now, if you please.”
The line broke up and hurried back to their seats. Harry quickly sat down as well.
McGonagall paused again to sweep the room with a disapproving look, “This is not a fairy-story. You will all leave Mr Potter alone. He is not to be harassed, pressured or otherwise ambushed in order to violate his personal boundaries. There will be ramifications if anyone tries.” She narrowed her eyes and said in a low voice, “I hope that’s understood.” She took the following silence as agreement and nodded sharply, returning to her seat.
Harry loaded up his plate with a sigh.
Across from him, Seamus pulled out a notebook, flipping it open to a blank page, “Right so, let’s start off the betting with how long it takes for the first plonker to jump our boy Harry. Any takers?”
A few hands went up. Dean pulled out a handful of sickles, “Eight sickles on an hour.”
“Two sickles on ten minutes,” Ginny said with a grin, tossing her coins into the pile.
Seamus grinned and cast a tempus charm to start a counter, “Any other takers!?”
Harry groaned and ducked his head as he ate.
Once all the takers on that were up, Seamus set up a betting pool on how long it would take for someone to get detention, how long it would take before Harry was assigned a personal guard, and who would be his Priestess.
The first betting pool went to a perfect guess of twenty-six minutes when a sixth year Ravenclaw boy rushed Harry and bounced off Harry's magical signature like a ping pong ball and whacked his head on the floor, knocking himself out.
Luna won eleven galleons and five sickles.
Thank you for reading! ♡♡Love and kisses!♡♡
Draco had avoided him again, the entire day. Not that Harry could easily escape the hovering crowd that seemed to follow him around ever since the entire breakfast fiasco. Even the Ravenclaw boy giving himself a concussion didn’t dissuade five other students from trying to kiss him, four girls and one bloke, none of who even got close but also managed not to injure themselves.
Harry squirmed restlessly where he lay on top of his bed. He had originally thought to have an early night but was pretty certain he wouldn’t be able to sleep. He grabbed the marauders map and unfolded it on his chest, looking over the castle. With the seventh and eighth years on a constricted curfew and it getting near ten, the rest of the student’s curfew, the hallways were nearly empty.
Harry was about the close the map when he saw something utterly unexpected, Draco Malfoy, at the top of the astronomy tower. He flung himself out of bed, only pausing to grab his cloak and hurrying down the stairs. In the common room, Ron and Hermione were curled up together on one of the smaller couches by the fire.
“I’m going out,” Harry told them.
Hermione’s brow furrowed, “What for?”
Harry grinned, “I’ve got a temple to visit. Gods to pray to, that sort of thing.”
“Good luck then, with your ‘praying’,” Ron finger quoted .
Hermione rolled her eyes and added, “Don’t get caught.”
“Me?” Harry scoffed, “Never. I’m the master of subterfuge.”
Harry slipped out the portrait, pulling the cloak around him as he hurried down the hallways to the base of the tower. He checked the map one more time, just to make sure he wouldn’t be climbing the stairs for nothing, then made his way up the winding steps. He took his cloak off before stepping out onto the landing.
Draco was all wrapped up in a fur-lined cloak, leaning against the stone parapet staring gloomily into the middle distance. A cold breeze was tugging at his hair, swirling it out of place, making him looked windswept and ethereal under the light of a gibbous moon.
Harry cast a warming charm over himself as he crossed the distance.
Draco turned at the sound of him approaching, everything about him growing guarded as he recognized Harry, “Potter. What are you doing up here?”
“I could ask you the same thing,” Harry said, “Seems like the sort place you’d avoid.”
Draco shuddered, turning back to the parapet, bracing his arms on the top and looking out at a black horizon. “I asked you first,” he said sullenly.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Harry said half-way truthfully, leaning on the wall.
“I said I had nothing to do with it,” Draco said.
Harry’s brow furrowed and then he blinked, “Oh! You mean the article. I know Pansy wrote it. I talked to her.”
Instead of helping, this only seemed to make Draco bristle more, “She didn’t do anything wrong! She-”
“-just wants to be a!-” Draco froze, “You know?”
“It was an alright article. It’s all true anyway.” Harry said, glancing over at Draco.
Draco stared at him with wide eyes, “It is? You really can’t kiss anyone?”
“There’s one,” Harry said.
Draco frowned, “Well, good luck with that,” he said bitterly.
Harry looked away, a faint and unfamiliar pain lodging in his chest.
“Don’t you have anything better to do, Potter?” Draco asked.
Harry sighed, “You never said why you’re up here.”
“Couldn’t sleep,” Draco muttered.
Harry stared down at his hands, “How’s your mother?”
“You’re asking me about my mother? Really, Potter?” Draco asked in dismay.
Harry glared at him, “I thought it might be a safe subject to talk about.”
“Between us?” Malfoy said, “Nothing is a safe subject.”
“Only because you won’t stop being a tit,” Harry snapped.
“Says the one who just called me a tit,” Draco sneered.
Harry returned the expression mockingly, “Says the one who won’t just tell me how his mum’s doing.”
Draco was looking tense as a puffed cat, torn between hexing Harry or just leaving altogether.
Harry leaned back and then took a step back, before looking away from Draco altogether. For a bit there, they had been close enough that Harry could feel that faint buzz skating across his skin that made him want to shiver. He sighed and looked up at the stars wondering if the original Princess had this much trouble, then mentally cursed himself for thinking of himself as the Princess.
“Mother is doing quite well, all things considered. She’s been re-doing the Manor,” Draco said begrudgingly.
Harry glanced over at him in surprise, quickly dragging his gaze back to the sky before attempting to keep the conversation going, “She’s redecorating?”
There was an interminable pause, which Harry was afraid wouldn’t be filled, before Draco answered, “No, re-doing. Moving the walls, replacing everything not nailed down, shoving heirlooms in the attic, all the furniture transfigured, new floors, new paint, wallpaper,” he said the last like a bad taste in his mouth. “As if the last few years are a stain she can scrub out if she just tries hard enough.”
“Well,” Harry hazarded, “if it helps then… no reason not to.”
“Wallpaper,” Draco muttered then took a deep breath, “She asks after you in her letters. She won’t tell me why, just something about what happened in the forest and now she-” he stopped abruptly.
“Well, I’ve been alright. Certainly a lot better than-” he paused, uncertain about finishing his own sentence. “…Erm, before,” he finished lamely.
Draco said stiffly, “I would imagine that anything would be an improvement over being hunted by a mass-murdering megalomaniac.”
Harry looked over at Draco in surprise.
Draco rolled his eyes at Harry’s expression, “I’m not made of glass.”
“Alright,” Harry said and nodded, “Yeah, better than that.”
Draco’s brow furrowed faintly as he looked away from Harry and back at his hands, “What do you want, Potter?”
“What?” Harry asked in confusion.
“We’re not friends but this is the second time you’ve done-” Draco waved a hand absently, “-whatever it is you’re trying to do here. You either want something from me or it’s pity. I won’t be pitied, Potter.”
Harry snorted, ignoring Draco’s frown, “I can’t imagine pitying you.”
Draco’s eyes narrowed, “Bollocks. That’s utter fucking bollocks.”
Harry found himself looking at Draco’s hands, long elegant fingers as they gripped at the stone, slowly dragging into loose fists.
Harry said carefully,“…The way I look at it. I can’t imagine many people could survive what you went through.”
“Do you?” Harry interrupted to ask, “Do you think many people could survive having Voldemort in their home, holding their parents hostage, threatening to kill them?”
What little colour was left in Draco’s face disappeared and he swallowed hard, squeezing his eyes shut, “You could have. You could have done more than just survive,” he said bitterly.
“If I had my parents, if he had my parents-” Harry bit his bottom lip and shook his head, “I don’t know. I’m not sure I could.”
Draco took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Harry forced himself not to stare at Draco’s face, glancing sidelong at his hands again and feeling relieved when Draco relaxed them again. Harry could hear him breathing; he felt like his own breathing was far too loud.
Draco slid his hands over the stone, curling his finger over the edge, “So you don’t pity me. Fine. I still don’t understand what you want.”
Harry dropped his head, ruffling his hand through his hair as he mentally ran through possible answers, most of which were entirely certain to make Draco angry. He spoke slowly, making sure every word was in place before saying the next, “I want to get to know you.”
“Fuck off, does this look like sharing time to you?” Draco said with a sneer, whipping away from the parapet to leave.
Harry grabbed Draco’s arm, “Wait! I- um- please just-”
“Let go of me or I’ll hex your bollocks off!” Draco stepped back, jerking his arm free. His eyes blazed, looking about ready to do just that when he whirled away. The swirl of his cloak would have made Snape proud.
Harry leaned back against the parapet with a sigh.
Thank you for the support and for reading! I hope you like it so far♡
“How’d it go?” Ron asked as Harry came back into the common room.
“Well… he didn’t hex my bollocks off.” Harry huffed and dropped into an overstuffed armchair next to his friends. The room was entirely empty except for them.
Ron nodded slightly like had expected that, crossing his arms over his chest, “Spill it then.”
“Ron!” Hermione exclaimed, smacking his arm.
“We can’t help if he doesn’t tell us what happened.” Ron said, “and it’s not like anything happened.”
Harry winced, “Brutal, mate.”
Ron shrugged, “It’s Malfoy.”
“You don’t have to tell us anything,” Hermione said, “In fact, you shouldn’t feel obligated to try and win Malfoy over at all, just because of a- of a magical condition. Unless you want to, of course.”
Harry scrubbed his hands through his hair. He absolutely wasn’t going to tell them about his growing obsession with Malfoy’s hair or beautiful hands. Instead, he told them an abbreviated version of their conversation.
“That’s not too bad really,” Hermione hazarded once he had finished. “You were able to talk for…a bit.”
Ron was staring blankly at the empty chess board on the table in front of him, arms still firmly crossed.
“Ron?” Hermione asked.
Ron’s brow furrowed, his eyes narrowing but didn’t answer her.
Harry and Hermione exchanged a look.
Ron leaned forwards slowly and opened the box of chess pieces and took out the kings, setting them on opposite sides of the board, “The thing is, you and Malfoy used to be on equal ground,” he tapped the white king and then the black king, “but the war has changed everything.” He took out the two white castles and set them on either side of the black king, “So, he was raised a king, but has been dethroned,” he slid the king back off the squares and took out a black pawn to put in its place, “You talked to him like an equal but he, being a prickly little tit, is very aware of the difference of what he is compared to what he used to be.”
“So-?” Harry asked.
“You need to-” Ron paused his eyes narrowing, “he’s in a position of weakness, you can’t ask more from him.” Ron stared at the board for a long moment and then reached into the box, pulling out a white pawn and setting it in front of the white king, “You need to offer him something, give him power over you, or at least equivalent power.”
“Oh,” Hermione’s eyebrows rose and she laughed as she threw her arms around Ron hugging him enthusiastically, “You’re right! You’re entirely right!”
“Yeah?” Ron flushed faintly, looking pleased.
Harry’s voice was edged with frustration, “Right about what?”
Hermione planted a kiss on Ron’s cheek before pulling away. She cleared her throat dramatically, all business again, “You need to tell him something about yourself first. You asking him, he’s probably thinking it’s more like an interrogation than a genuine desire to get to know him. If you offer him something first he might be more open to talking with you.”
Harry nodded, “I can do that. You think that will help?”
“Maybe?” Ron said with a bit of a shrug, putting the chess pieces away.
“You really want to keep doing this?” Hermione asked.
Harry felt himself flush faintly and ducked his head, “Yeah, I do.”
Harry drifted close to the walls as he walked through the dark castle hallways heading for the Great Hall where Draco’s dot on the map had been last. Inside, the sconces along the walls were unlit but the candles still hovered over the long student tables. The flickering flames added new stars to the enchanted sky above which was clear and bright with a billion pinpricks of light.
Draco was sitting on the edge of the head teachers table, swinging his legs back and forth idly as he craned his neck back to look up at the false sky. The moon shone through the windows behind him, crowning him with a silver halo of light.
Harry leaned against the door frame, taking a deep breath to brace himself. The thing was, he had always rather noticed Draco, his hair and his voice and the way he gestured. Harry had noticed him a great deal more than anyone else and he didn’t even really realize he was doing it unless someone pointed it out. He just found his eyes drawn to the flash of white-blond hair and turned when he heard his voice. Harry wondered if maybe everything had been leading up to this in some sort of roundabout way and if it had, and what Ron said was true, then Draco must have felt it too, a bit at least.
Harry took the silencing spell off his shoes and pulled his cloak off.
Draco jumped slightly when Harry crossed the floor and then glared. He waited until Harry was closer so he could keep his voice down to a hiss, “Are you stalking me, Potter?”
Harry stopped at the bottom of the risers leading up the head table, looking up at Draco. Before he could answer, Draco threw in another barb.
“I should say, stalking me again. You never do know when to leave well enough alone. Always poking your nose where it doesn’t belong, trying to make things right,” Draco sneered.
Harry hesitated and then nodded, “Yeah.”
Draco twitched backwards, looking more surprised than when Harry had first startled him.
Harry took a deep breath, “Yeah to all of it. And I’m afraid am really stubborn as well.”
Draco stared at him.
Harry smiled hopefully.
After a drawn out bit of silence, Draco said, “You’re a nutter.”
“Maybe so,” Harry said, stuffing his hands in his pockets, “So I was thinking, I could start sharing time.”
“Sharing time?” Draco asked after a pause, still looking at Harry as if he had gone rabid.
“Well, that’s what you called it.” Harry said, slightly defensively, “Just ask me something.”
Draco’s eyes narrowed, “What sort of something?”
“Anything you want?” Harry said trying not to roll his eyes.
Draco’s eyes narrowed further and he looked Harry over and then around the room, as if expecting a trap. Once satisfied, he asked, “What happened in the forest?”
Harry groaned. Of all the things he had to ask, it would be that.
“I knew you were full of shit,” Draco said quietly, his voice lacking its normal venom.
“That’s not it,” Harry said, pushing his hand through his hair, “Only three people know what really happened, your mum, Ron and Hermione and the last thing I want is it getting out-” he waved a hand at the world in general, “-there. It’s bad enough as it is with the press and papers and this stupid kiss thing.”
“Aww,” Draco said with a melodramatic pout, “Poor Potty, doesn’t want all the world to love and adore him, bowing, grovelling, kissing his feet?”
Harry frowned at him, “You’ve got to know I hate it. If you know me at all, you’ve got to know I hate it.” He sat on the risers, his back to Draco, scrubbing his hands over his face, “I was cornered by a group of second years today. Twelve years old. I swear to Merlin they only went up to my waist.”
Behind him, Draco choked a laugh down into a snigger.
“Very funny,” Harry muttered.
Draco jumped off the table and reluctantly sat on the steps near Harry, “I won’t tell anyone about whatever happened in the forest.”
Harry glanced over at him sidelong.
“I won’t!” Draco said petulantly.
Harry draped his hands over his knees and stared at them fixedly, “I died.” He took a shaky breath and quickly added on before Draco could ruin the moment, “I went into the forest and Voldemort killed me with an avada kedavra.”
“You don’t look very dead,” Draco said.
“I came back,” Harry smiled faintly, “Decided it wasn’t for me.”
Draco grinned for a split second before wiping the expression from his face, “Very funny, Potter, but that doesn’t make any sense. People don’t just come back from the killing curse.”
“Well, there were a lot of factors involved,” Harry said, thinking of the deathly hallows and being a horcrux but it was too soon to share that just yet. “Dumbledore always said love was the strongest magic there is. I was going to die to protect them, everyone in the school.”
“Sounds like bullshit to me,” Draco said.
Harry shrugged, “Ask your mum then. She was there, she saw me get hit by the curse. Voldemort asked her to check I was dead and she lied to him, so she could find you.” He shivered and squeezed his hands together, “How about we talk about anything else now. How are you doing on the potions assignment?”
Draco studied him, his shoulders relaxing, “I finished it yesterday.”
Harry grimaced, “Any pointers?”
“What do you have so far?”
Harry’s grimace deepened, “I haven’t started it yet?”
Draco closed his eyes like he was in pain, “It’s due in two days, Potter.”
Harry shrugged guiltily, “I finished the Defense paper.”
“We still have a week for that!” Draco said in dismay.
“It was more interesting!” Harry said defensively.
Draco rolled his eyes, “Fine. Meet me in the library tomorrow after classes and I shall assist you, out of pity, of course.”
Harry grinned, “I’ll see you there.”
Pansy’s all too chipper voice cut through Harry’s thoughts like a hot knife through butter. He stopped and half turned as she raced up with a cheerful, and terribly fake smile.
“Could I interview you, Mr Potter?” Pansy asked, “You did say-” she broke off with a meaningful look.
“Can you stop calling me Mr Potter?” Harry asked.
Pansy nodded without hesitation, “Harry? Potter? What would you prefer?”
“Potter, I suppose. It’s what I’m used to.”
Pansy leaned forwards slightly, “So? Interview?”
Harry sighed, “How much say do I get about what you write?”
Pansy’s eyes narrowed slightly before she covered up the expression with another cheerfully fake smile, “I’ll give you one veto. I’ll let you look at my notes and you can get rid of one thing if you like,” she sniffed imperiously, “but that’s only if this is absolutely exclusive, deal?”
Pansy raised an eyebrow and extended her hand.
Harry hesitated for a second before reaching out to take it, “Alright. I’ve got a free period now before my last class so-”
Pansy cast a tempus charm so quick her wand was only a blurred twitch before it disappeared u her sleeve again. She glared at the time, latched her hand around Harry’s wrist and dragged him into the nearest empty room. The door slammed shut behind them followed by a locking and silencing charm as Pansy sat on top of a desk and pulled out a piece of parchment and a peacock quill that had been charmed pink to float beside her, poised to write.
“First off, thank you for granting me this interview, Mr Potter,” Pansy said brightly, her eyes watching the quill to make sure it was transcribing everything before she focused her attention on him.
“Err… sure?” Harry said, feeling a little off balance at the sudden change in tone. He leaned against an empty desk, dropping his bag on the ground by his feet.
Pansy nodded absently, watching the quill again, “Every wizard-born has grown up hearing bedtime stories of the story of the Princess and the Priestess but now it’s come to play out right in front of us in the life of our own Harry Potter, saviour of the wizarding world.”
Harry frowned at the description.
Pansy smiled wickedly at his discomfort but her tone stayed professional, “But this isn’t a fairy story and Harry Potter is just a person.” She paused and cleared her throat as she folded her hands neatly together above her knee, “So, how are you feeling since news of your condition came out?”
Harry gave her a funny look, “It’s not a disease.”
Pansy frowned faintly at herself, grabbing the quill and scratching out a few lines. “Right, forget about that.” Her frown furrowed faintly and she hazarded, a great deal more carefully, “Would you say- Would you confirm earlier reports about your inability to kiss anyone are true?”
“They are,” Harry said a little reluctantly.
Pansy nodded, “In the wake of this reporter’s last story, Mr Potter has been inundated by those wishing to test their luck. Despite Headmistress McGonagall’s best efforts students have continually attempted to kiss Mr Potter without his consent, disrupting both his life and those of other students.”
“Usually-” Harry cut in, “-interviews have a lot more questions in them.”
“Oh shut up,” Pansy snapped and then grabbed the parchment again with a scowl and scratched that out. “Fine. I’ll just ask a lot of questions then and work out the article later.”
“So you can’t kiss anyone. Have you gotten close?”
“Yeah,” Harry nodded.
“With who?” Pansy asked, her eyebrows twitching up in interest.
Harry sighed, “Ginny Weasley and Dean Thomas came close.”
Pansy tried to hide her interest by glancing away at the quill as if happily scratched away, “A boy and a girl? Would you be upset if your perfect magical match was a bloke?”
“Can you say more than two words at a time, Potter, or is that your limit as far as conversation goes?” Pansy said impatiently, snatching her quill before it could write any of that down.
Harry smirked and shrugged nonchalantly.
“ugh,” Pansy groaned under her breath. She closed her eyes briefly, gathering herself and fixing her hair absentmindedly. “Okay,” she said levelly, “How do you feel about students trying to kiss you without your permission?”
“I don’t like it,” Harry said, rolling his eyes.
“But one of those students could be your perfect match, your Priestess,” Pansy went on.
“I think…” Harry mused, “if it’s like the stories and the stronger your magical connection, the more perfect you are for one another. Then, my perfect match would be someone I’m at least sorta attracted too right? Not random strangers or students I don’t know or little kids.”
“And what if you never find someone?” Pansy asked her voice dropping.
“I-” Harry broke off as the thought lodged in his mind like a thorn. A part of himself, a very small part he hadn’t wanted to acknowledge, wondered that as well and wondered if maybe he had dreamed what had happened at the party. He had had a lot to drink. It was late. It had been so brief.
He chewed on his lip then forced a smile on, “It’d be nice if I did. No one wants to be alone…. If I couldn’t find someone I suppose I could always marry a muggle.”
“A muggle?” Pansy’s nose wrinkled in disgust.
Harry laughed weakly, “Other than being magicless, they’re the same as us. I’m sure I could find someone smart and clever… sarcastic… sharp,” he smiled faintly. Harry wiped the expression off his face when he realized who he was thinking of, and just as promptly the feeling of dread returned. He told himself it had happened, it wasn’t a dream. It had been real. He was certain. He had to be certain.
Harry grabbed his bag, pulling it over his shoulder, “That’s good enough right? I need to head to class.” He headed toward the door without waiting for a reply.
“Wait!” Pansy said hastily.
Harry stopped and half turned back towards her.
Pansy flushed faintly and quickly tucked her hair behind her ears, “You’ve been talking with Draco right? You’re going to study in the library later?”
Harry gave a brief nod.
“Just- If you could-” she broke off, bit her lip, glanced away awkwardly, “…Don’t hurt him.”
Harry’s brow furrowed, “Hurt him? I won’t-”
“Not physically, you brute,” she said impatiently. She went on more carefully, each word delicately laid out like the silver cutlery for a ten-course meal, “He’s- He’s always wanted your attention.”
“Alright,” Harry said, not knowing what else to say. He removed the locking spell from the door and was about to leave when he remembered, “I get one veto, right?”
He heard Pansy stifle a hissed shit under her breath. Harry let the silence draw out, enjoying the way Pansy’s shoulders tensed and drew up around herself.
“In your article, refer to me as the Priestess would you, and the other- whoever as the Princess,” Harry said.
“What?” Pansy said in utter confusion.
“I just prefer it, alright?” Harry said. He waited until Pansy nodded and then left the room, slowly heading to his last class for the day and imagining Draco in ermine-trimmed robes, crowned in gold.
Draco had picked a table near the back corner of the library. His face was partially hidden by his fringe as he leaned over a piece of parchment. As Harry got closer, he noticed that Draco seemed paler than normal.
“You alright?” he asked as he pulled out the chair beside Draco.
The parchment crumpled under Draco’s hand as he reflexively tried to hide it. He scowled in recognition, his hand relaxing, “Do you get some sort of perverse enjoyment out of sneaking up behind me, Potter?”
Harry thought about it for a second, dropping his bag onto the empty chair beside him, “Maybe.”
“Maybe?” Draco repeated, his voice caught between mocking and bewilderment.
Harry smiled faintly, “I mean, I could certainly learn to like it well enough.”
Draco kicked out at him but only succeeded in hitting the leg of Harry’s chair. He flushed faintly either in pain or embarrassment and asked, “Why are you sitting next to me?”
“You said you’d help me on the potions paper?” Harry said.
“That doesn’t mean you need to be right next to me,” Draco said stiffly.
“Why?” Harry asked, “Is being a prat contagious?”
Draco took another kick at him and this time managed to connect with Harry’s ankle.
Harry jumped, letting out a hiss of pain.
Draco smirked triumphantly, “It must be since I caught it from you.”
Harry rolled his eyes, “What’s this then?” he tapped Draco’s wrinkled parchment.
“Oh.” Draco looked down, smoothing his hands over the parchment, “Well…” he bit his lip briefly in thought, “It’s a letter, from my Mother.”
“Yeah? She alright?” Harry asked.
Draco sighed, “Why are you so interested in my Mother, Potter? Quite frankly, it’s a bit unsettling”
“She saved my life,” Harry said with a shrug, “Did you tell her I was doing alright? Since she asks after me and all that.”
“I told her no such thing,” Draco said.
Harry fought down a smile, “What does it say then? You looked a bit pale when you were reading it.”
“Don’t pretend you care,” Draco said so softly Harry wasn’t sure he was meant to hear it.
“I’d like to- to care,” Harry said, his face feeling warm.
Two spots of pink bloomed on Draco’s cheeks, “Oh shut up,” he muttered, hastily folding up the letter, “I asked my Mother about what you said last night and she-” he took a deep breath,” -she said that you were hit with it, the spell, and doesn’t know how you survived. She thinks a powerful magical artefact must have been involved which I am far more inclined to believe over the power of love.”
Harry laughed at his tone, “My mum’s love saved me the first time, your mum’s love saved me the second- I’m rather partial to the power of love myself,” he smiled even wider, “considering my situation, third time’s the charm, right?”
“Ugh,” Draco said flatly, picking up a book four inches thick and dropping it in front of Harry with a thump. He looked slightly more pleased with Harry’s dismayed expression, “This is the best text to reference for the moon and other celestial phase effects upon ingredients and how they combine.”
Harry slowly lifted the cover, he swore it creaked, and groaned, “It’s only a foot and a half of parchment, I don’t need all of this.”
“And that is why you’re rubbish at potions,” Draco said with a sniff of superiority.
Harry flipped through to the introduction. There was no table of contents and the writing- and it was hand written- was tiny and cramped like the author was afraid of wasting parchment. There were very few illustrations and they were all very small and crowded like begrudging afterthoughts.
“Books like this are why I hate potions,” Harry grumbled.
With a very put upon sigh, Draco grabbed the book back, opening halfway and turning the pages until he somehow found the one he was looking for, and pushing it back in front of Harry. “Start here.”
Harry smiled, “Thanks.” He didn’t miss how Draco flushed faintly even as he quickly turned his head away.
Harry had been afraid he’d be too distracted by Draco to get much done on his assignment but he was sorely wrong. Draco was used to tutoring the notoriously thick Crabbe and Goyle, he didn’t tolerate idle chit-chat, distractions or daydreams. No matter how much Draco sighed and complained he always made sure Harry was on the right track and would explain anything he wasn’t certain about in the most succinct way humanly possible, the polar opposite to how Hermione went about helping. For all that, once dinner got close, Harry couldn’t have focused a second longer.
“What are you working on?” He asked Draco.
“There’s still ten minutes left,” Draco said, not looking up from his writing.
Harry glanced at the massive potions book and flipped it closed, “I’m halfway done.”
“Not the point.”
Harry rolled his eyes and leaned in a little closer, “The point is that I’m done as I’m going to be. Are you working on the Defense assignment?”
“I’m working right now, if you don’t mind,” Draco said coolly.
Harry narrowed his eyes suspiciously. Draco continued to ‘work’, although Harry was fairly certain he was not 'working’ in the slightest. Harry waited. When Draco went to dip his quill in the inkwell, Harry snatched the parchment away.
“Hey-!” Draco grasped after it.
Harry leaned away as far as he could in his chair, reading- Dear Mother, I am speaking with Potter now as you so surmised, but it is nothing of any import. I am not entirely certain of his- and the letter ended there.
“You write mum a lot, don’t you?” Harry said, putting the letter down in front of himself.
“Return it please,” Draco said stiffly, his mouth pursed in a thin line.
Harry took his quill, dipping it fastidiously in the ink, “Ron hardly writes at all and Hermione only writes once a week. Do you write every day?”
“Not every day!” Draco blurted, looking embarrassed and pretending not to be embarrassed in the slightest, “She worries. After everything that happened-” he hesitated, “-She worries is all.”
Harry held the parchment flat and wrote at the bottom in his neatest handwriting, which meant he had to write quite slowly- Mrs Malfoy, this is Harry Potter, I’m doing well. Thanks-
“What are you doing!?” Draco sputtered, grabbing for the paper again.
Harry smacked his hand away, “Saying hi to your mum, since you won’t do it.”
-for asking after me and for everything really. I’ve been getting to know Draco, although he’s being very difficult about it. I hope you are doing well. HP-
“There.” Harry smiled at his handy work, grabbing his wand to seal and protect his message before handing it back to Draco.
“I could just tear it off,” Draco muttered, squinting as he read what Harry wrote, “Start the whole letter over again-” he frowned, “-Merlin, your handwriting is atrocious.”
“It’s legible!” Harry said defensively.
Draco snorted and rolled his eyes, placed the parchment on the neat pile of his other paper and stacked his books atop that.
Harry cast a tempus and saw that dinner had already started, shoving his things haphazardly into his bag.
“Do you always make such a mess?” Draco asked. He held his bag open and with a quick charm, his neat stack of paper and books, filed themselves into his bag just as neatly.
Harry sighed, “Hermione tried to teach me that charm once, never could get the hang of it.”
“Shocking,” Draco muttered sarcastically.
Harry began absentmindedly fussing with the chaotic mess of his bag, not wanting to leave first.
Draco stood, looping his bag over his shoulder. He half turned away, his hand still resting on his chair, “I’m not going to go out tonight, much as I am loath to disrupt your stalking.”
Harry grinned, “Terribly inconvenient, I’ll have to rearrange my schedule entirely.”
Draco paused, his fingers toying absently with the swirls carved into the wood on the back of his chair, “I was- Tomorrow night I might go to the pitch.”
“Might? When?” Harry asked.
“You’re the stalker, you figure it out,” Draco said as he quickly walked past Harry and out of the library.
I hope you're liking it so far and thank you ever so much for reading♡
Harry turned, half expecting to see Pansy before he realized the voice didn’t fit. The girl was wearing Slytherin colours but, best guess, she was a fifth or sixth year, with long blond hair rather than Pansy’s short black bob.
“Err, yeah?” Harry said nervously.
“My friend Ellidh said she kissed you, is it true?” she demanded.
Harry frowned, “Who-?”
“Ellidh Keegan!” She shouted, her face taking on a red tinge, “She’s a sixth year Ravenclaw with brown curly hair and freckles across her nose!”
“Amelia, Ellidh isn’t the type to do that and you know it,” A tall hufflepuff with spiky black hair said as he walked up causally to join his friend.
“Shut up, Jeremy!” Amelia said sharply, keeping her glare fixed on Harry.
Harry shook his head, “No, I haven’t kissed her,” he said, trying to edge around them.
Amelia moved with him, continuing to block his way, “But you let her try, didn’t you? I’ve heard people talking-”
“No.” Harry said with an exasperated sigh, “I haven’t let anyone try. I’ve been jumped and surround and tricked but I had nothing to do with it. Let me pass, would you?”
Amelia face grew redder and she snatched the sleeve of his robe to keep him from leaving, “She said-”
“And I said No.” Harry cut her off, just barely holding onto his temper and not wrenching his robe away and shoving past her like he wanted to.
“Come on, Amelia,” Jeremy said, gently catching her arm, “I know you fancy Ellidh but-”
“I DO NOT!” Amelia shouted on the verge of tears as she let go of Harry’s robes and ran down the hall, shoving Jeremy as she went.
Harry heaved a sigh and pushed his hand through his hair.
“So- The kissing thing is totally off the table?” Jeremy asked, “Because I’ve always thought if I ever were to fancy a bloke you’d-”
“Enough, Mr Zhao,” Headmistress McGonagall interrupted tersely.
Jeremy looked past Harry’s shoulder, his expression warping with apprehension.
“You must have an assignment you ought to be working on,” McGonagall said, “Go on. Before I find you something to better serve your time.”
“Yes, Headmistress!” Jeremy said, backing away and then walking down the hall as quickly as one can without breaking into a run.
Harry watched him go the whole way, only turning round when the other boy was out of sight. “You saw that?” he asked.
“Yes. All of it in fact,” McGonagall had her hands clasped together in front of herself, mouth pursed in a thin line, “Jumped, surround and tricked. That is what you said, wasn’t it?”
Harry winced, “It’s nothing really-”
“I beg to differ,” McGonagall said smoothly. “Are you headed to class?”
Harry shook his head.
“Come along then,” McGonagall nodded down the hall.
Harry fell into step with her, following her down the hall and up the staircase to her office. As soon as they stepped inside a tray with a small tea service appeared on her desk with a faint rattle.
McGonagall filled both cups in quiet silence before taking her seat behind the desk. “Take a seat, Mr Potter, and some tea. I assure you, you are not the one in trouble, at least in this instance,” she said with a fond smile.
Harry lowered himself into the chair across from her, putting a splash of milk and sugar before sliding the porcelain cup closer to him, “So-?” he hazarded.
McGonagall sighed as she leaned back in her chair, “Hogwarts does not allow love potions, mind control spells or any other method of coercion that removes a person’s ability to consent. The fact of the matter is, regardless of the fact that perhaps no one in this school would be able to kiss you, their attempts to do so against your wishes are assault, and I very specifically announced that it wouldn’t be allowed or tolerated.” She picked up her teacup, balancing the small cup on its saucer with ease, “So, regardless of your wishes on the matter, I must act.”
Harry toyed with the handle of his own teacup, “What are you going to do?”
McGonagall frowned faintly, hiding the expression by taking a sip of tea. “…A great deal of your life has been decided for you and I would prefer to not continue that legacy if possible. That’s why I wanted to speak with you about how you would like to proceed. If you have any sort of preference in that matter-?”
“And you can’t just pretend you didn’t see anything?” Harry asked without much hope.
McGonagall shook her head, “It’s not just what happened in the hall today. I have heard rumours about other incidents and they seem to be growing in prevalence. I have been ignoring it, I can no longer do so.”
Harry scrubbed his hand through his hair in frustration, “What are my options then?”
“You can provide me with the names of those who have tried to kiss you and they can be punished, lightly of course.-”
“-Or I can request the aurors provide you with a guard during the day which should dissuade further attempts.” McGonagall took out her wand, summoning a tin of biscuits. She took a ginger biscuit and held the tin out to him.
Harry waved it away with a frown, “That’s it? Those’re my choices?”
“Unless you can think of another solution, then yes,” McGonagall said.
Harry chewed on his bottom lip, brow furrowed in thought. McGonagall remained quiet, nursing her tea as Harry tried to think.
“Could we- I just get it over with all at once?” Harry said absently, still thinking.
“Get it over with?”
Harry nodded, “In the fairy story, everybody lined up and had a go at kissing the Princess and the school isn’t very big, it wouldn’t take very long.” He picked up his cup, taking a fortifying gulp of tea, “I’m not going to tell on everyone who- I’m not going to do that. And the last thing I want is having an auror follow me around like I can’t defend myself from a bunch of kids.”
McGonagall sat her cup down on the desk as she sat forward, “That would be highly unusual.”
“Mr Potter,” McGonagall cut him off by holding up her hand, “Allow me to finish. While unusual, your suggestion is the better one so long as you’re willing to put up with the burden of it.”
Harry nodded faintly, “I- yeah. It’ll only take an hour or two at most and then it’ll be done with.”
“Then I shall make an announcement tomorrow morning, and the event shall be held that evening. All students shall be allowed to try and kiss you, preferably on the cheek-” she said sternly, “- once and only once. If any of them make further attempts after tomorrow, they will be punished.”
“Punished?” Harry repeated.
“A week’s detention, I think, and twenty points from their house. That should act as a deterrent,” she said firmly.
“I- okay,” Harry said, hesitating and then standing up, “Thanks for- for letting me have a say. So-”
“Would you like any more tea?” McGonagall asked.
“No thank you.”
She lifted the tin again, “Biscuit?”
“No, I really ought to-” Harry nodded towards the door.
“Oh, go on,” McGonagall said with a small teasing smile, “But Harry, if you change your mind before I make the announcement, tell me and we’ll find another solution.”
Harry grinned and nodded, “Alright, thank you, Professor.”
That night Harry lay on his bed, watching the maurders map and Draco’s dot as he went from the Slytherin common room, where he spent nearly an hour with Pansy and Blaise, to his room where he spent nearly another hour before getting up and moving around like he was going to go out, around midnight.
Harry hopped off his bed and pulled on his thicker robes for the night chill outside. He dug around in his chest grabbing a brick-sized wooden box from inside and stuffed it into his robes, almost forgetting to drape his invisibility cloak over his shoulders as he hurried out. He was hoping to get there first, entirely for Draco’s satisfaction, and felt like a ridiculous sop.
Outside the air was just cold enough to sting on the tips of his ears, smelling damp and sharp in his nose. The castle spilt a faint yellow glow against Harry’s back as he made his way across the grounds that faded as he moved farther away, the light becoming a pale grey-white under a clear star-filled sky. Every breath left behind it a faint cloud in the air, fading before he passed through it.
Thestands rose up before him silhouetted in darkness. In the centre of the pitch, a ring of moonlight waited like a spotlight. Harry pulled off his invisibility cloak as he reached the middle, turning his heel and finding no one around. Somewhat belatedly he cast a warming charm over himself and a revealing charm to make sure he wouldn’t be caught by Hagrid or another professor. Satisfied he was alone, Harry pressed his hands into his pockets and craned his head back, looking up at the sky’s glittering blanket of stars.
“Been waiting long?” Draco said, faintly smug.
Harry jumped his heart racing for a split second before he realized who it was. When he turned on his heel towards Draco, he saw a delighted smile dawn across his face.
“I suppose I can see the appeal now, when it comes to sneaking up on people,” Draco said still grinning.
Harry huffed, too pleased to see Draco to be properly annoyed, “You would.”
Draco narrowed his eyes, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing,” Harry shrugged then amended, “That we’re alike.”
Draco scoffed, “We’re nothing alike, Potter.”
“I think we are,” Harry said, feeling faintly embarrassed by how soft he said it.
Draco bit his lip briefly and then looked up, “I don’t know why I invited you. It’s not as if I’ll be able to concentrate on the stars at all.”
“Because I’m far too fit?” Harry teased.
Draco rolled his eyes, “Too annoying.”
“I’m not that bad,” Harry protested.
“So you are at least aware of the fact that you’re annoying in some capacity.” Draco said, “I suppose it’s a start.”
“Hey!” Harry bumped Draco shoulder making him stumble.
Draco shot Harry a glare as he straightened his robes with a huff.
“All the times I’ve interrupted you, you were looking at the stars?” Harry asked.
“What an astute observation,” Draco said sarcastically.
Harry sighed and looked up again, “I can see why, they’re beautiful.”
Draco shifted his weight uneasily beside Harry, stuffing his hands into his robe, “When I can’t sleep, it helps- looking at them.”
Harry nodded with a faint smile as he traced the path of the milky-way across the sky. He ran his fingers along the edge of the box in his pocket and took a deep breath, plucking up his courage.
“Here,” Harry said, pulling the box out and offering it to Draco before he could change his mind.
Draco took it hesitantly, holding it so delicately he looked about to drop it, “A snitch box?” his brow furrowed, “It’s far too dark and cold for a seekers game right now.”
“Another time then?” Harry asked hopefully. Realizing he was getting off topic he pointed to the box, “Just open it.”
Draco carefully flicked open the little latch and opened the lid. The snitch inside was silvery-blue rather than the standard gold.
“It’s a snitch,” Draco said flatly, raising an eyebrow.
Harry bounced on his toes, “Let it go.”
Draco placed his hand over the little quivering ball, “Do you have a retrieval ring? Because if this is just an elaborate hoax to get me to play a seekers game you can retrieve it yourself.”
“I modified it to return on a command word,” Harry said, gently nudging Draco’s arm.
Draco shot him another distrustful glance, “So you broke it.”
“Only a little,” Harry said with a hesitant smile.
Draco shrugged slightly, taking the snitch from the box. Its wings hummed to life and it quickly rose from the box, flitting a few feet away from them. It glowed in the darkness, every darting movement left a ribbon-like trail of light, flecks of it falling free like drifting embers before slowly fading away.
Harry glanced over at Draco hopeful and nervous.
Draco was watching the snitch intently, his expression unreadable, “It’s lovely.”
Harry breathed out, “You like it then?”
“I already said, didn’t I?” Draco said, tugging his scarf up over his mouth.
“I wasn’t sure you would.”
“It’s very clever charm work,” Draco glanced down at his feet then at the box in his hands before offering it over to Harry, “Call it back then.”
“I wrote the command words on a bit of parchment inside,” Harry said, pointing to the little scrap sticking up from where the snitch had laid, “To call it back and you can increase or decrease its range from the box, it’s um- tied to the box as its center. I couldn’t think of a better way to do it.”
Draco stared at him, his brow twitching together in confusion.
“Oh,” Harry said faintly, his cheeks heating up, “It’s for you.” He glanced at the snitch, “I made it for you.”
Draco’s eyes widened and his cheeks went red all at once. He quickly turned away, tucking his chin into his scarf to hide his face as he fumbled out the parchment, turning it towards the sky to catch enough light to read the carefully penned words, “conciliatio,” he said quietly.
The snitch diverted from its flight path and zipped back into the box, settling itself into the plush velvet. Draco carefully placed the parchment back inside and latched the box shut with a faint click, “Thank you.”
“…I- well, I’m glad you liked it,” Harry scuffed the toe of his shoe in the grass. He needed to tell Draco about tomorrow night fiasco. He took a deep breath.
“I read Pansy’s article,” Draco held the box tightly in both hands, pulling it close to his chest.
Harry’s brow furrowed, “Her article?”
“You would really marry a muggle if you couldn’t-?” Draco turned to him, pinning him with eyes the colour of slate, “You’d give up?”
“What?” Harry said, feeling utterly dumbfounded, “It was just- it was something to say. I don’t think that-”
“I mean, it’s not important,” Draco interrupted, sounding a little frantic, “kissing and physical intimacy- If you care about someone you-” his voice caught, “…if you really care about someone.”
Harry shook his head, “But at the party-”
“I don’t care about the party! The party was a mistake!” Draco snapped, squeezing the box in his hands so tightly his knuckles paled.
Harry twitched backwards as if Draco had slapped him, “A mistake? What do you mean?”
“What do you mean, Potter!?” Draco said, “You chat me up, flirting- You act like you’re courting me but-” he stopped abruptly, taking a step back. “I don’t understand your intentions. Not when I can’t give you what you want.”
Harry opened his mouth but nothing came out.
Draco took another step backwards, his jaw clenching.
Harry shook his head, he took a hesitant step forward trying to bridge the distance between them, “I don’t-”
But before he could even finish the sentence Draco had turned and ran, disappearing into the shadows of the stands and then truly disappearing under a disillusionment spell.
Harry shivered and pulled his cloak tighter around himself, “I don’t understand.”
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The dorm was entirely silent when he returned and Harry didn’t have the energy to consider waking his friends. He felt bone tired but couldn’t sleep, spending hours staring at the dark hangings of his bed. His mind kept going round and round in endless loops that only seemed more tangled and convoluted the more he thought about them.
He didn’t wake when the dorm did, or when the alarm he set went off the first time, or second, or third. He dragged himself up at the fourth, saw how late it was and threw some clothes on, doing only the bare minimum to get ready before rushing down to the great hall in hope of getting something to eat before breakfast was over. Harry ran into Ron and Hermione coming out of the great hall just as he was about to go in.
Ron threw one arm over Harry’s shoulders and dragged Harry along with them. Ron’s other hand held a bacon sandwich which he pushed at Harry. “So what was all that then?” Ron asked, nodded back towards the hall.
“Mph?” Harry muttered around a bite of sandwich.
“The announcement, mate,” Ron said impatiently, tugging Harry a little closer, “We let you sleep in, seeing as you got in late, thinking things were going well and then this whole thing-”
“You’re really going to let the whole school kiss you?” Hermione picked up the thread of conversation, “I can’t imagine Malfoy taking it well, did he? I thought things between the two of you were improving.”
Harry sighed, swallowed down a lump of suddenly very dry toast and told them, “I was going to tell him. Everything went tits up before I had the chance.”
Ron pulled Harry to a stop.
“What happened?” Hermione asked quietly, coming around in front of Harry, touching his arm lightly.
“I don’t know.” Harry shook his head, “I don’t get it myself.”
“Tell us then,” Ron said.
Hermione said, “We’ve helped before. Maybe we can see something you missed.”
Harry nodded, more to convince himself than anything. He closed his eyes, telling them everything he could remember, especially what happened at the end when Harry had lost the plot entirely.
Both his friends were frowning in confusion when he looked at them. Harry sighed again, pushing his hand through his hair.
“I think you’d better just ask him,” Ron said with a shrug.
Hermione’s frown deepened.
High up in the castle the massive bronze bell sounded the hour.
“I’m going to class,” Harry said flatly, pulling away from them and heading for Charms, forcing himself to eat a few more bites of a tasteless sandwich before he threw the rest away.
Draco never came to class.
Harry took about three sentences worth of notes during both his classes, none of which he remembered writing down. He dumped everything haphazardly back into his bag, still trying to shove it all inside in a single crumpled mess when he felt a hand grab him by the arm and begin towing him down the hallway.
“H-Hermione?” Harry said to the back of the fluffy brown hair.
She glanced back at him, her grip never loosening, “Hurry up.”
“Shouldn’t you have been in class?” Harry asked, trying to keep up and keep everything in his bag at the same time.
“Runes,” She said shortly, “I finished early and asked to be excused. Was Malfoy in Charms with you?”
Harry shook his head and added since she couldn’t see, “No, he wasn’t-”
“He didn’t come to Runes either.” She stopped in front of the gargoyle heading up to the Headmistress office, quickly murmuring the password and pulling Harry up the stairs as soon as it had moved.
“What are we-?” Harry pulled back.
Hermione tightened her grip, “Come on, We don’t have a lot of spare time.”
“What are you doing?” Harry asked, “Does McGonagall know we’re coming up here?”
“Of course, I asked for permission to use the school’s pensive and she said I could during lunch,” Hermione said. She cut a straight line through the Headmistress’ office to the cabinet in the back containing the school’s pensive.
Harry pulled free from Hermione’s loosened grip, “Why?” he asked uneasily.
“What happened with Malfoy- It’s been bothering me. There’s too much that doesn’t make sense.” Hermione said opening the cabinet and exposing the heavy stone basin, “I’d like to see it for myself.” She took in his expression and softened, “You don’t have to show me anything you don’t want to. Just the confusing part.”
Harry frown faintly.
“I want to help,” Hermione said.
Harry looked down at his feet. He nodded after a moment, “It might help if I see it again too.”
Hermione stepped to the side so Harry could stand in front of the pensive.
He took a deep breath, pressing his wand to his temple and recalling everything after the snitch with as much detail as he could muster. A long silver strand came away with his wand and pooled in the bottom of the stone bowl like liquid mercury.
Hermione pressed close to his shoulder, “You’re sure?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Harry said faintly and leaned forward into the memory. Hermione came only a second behind.
Harry watched it play out all over again, and then again- it all happened so fast- before he couldn’t stand it anymore and pulled himself out, feeling as hollow and empty as the when it had first happened. He dropped himself in one of McGonagall’s chair, closing his eyes and pressing his thumbs into his temples where a dull ache promised a future headache.
Hermione’s feet shuffled against the carpet as she slowly raised her head, blinking rapidly. She plucked the memory out with the tip of her wand and walked over to Harry. He dropped his hands, tilting his head and feeling more than seeing when the memory came back to him, fresh and sharp once more.
“I want to see the party,” Hermione said.
“Wha-?” Harry looked up at her, “All of it? We don’t have time.”
She rolled her eyes, “Just the part with Malfoy in it.”
Harry slumped back into the chair, putting his wand to his temple, “Yeah, alright,” he said tiredly, pulling the memory from his mind and holding his wand out.
Hermione shook her head at him, carefully taking Harry’s wand and putting the memory into the pensive. She tossed his wand back to him, “We’ll need at least twenty minutes to eat lunch, cast a tempus and pull me out by then, would you?”
Harry waved at her halfheartedly, casting the tempus after she had already gone into the memory. He slumped further down into the chair to stare up at it and watch the minutes slowly tick by.
True to her word, Hermione stayed in the memory until twenty till and Harry took her by the shoulder, tugging her backwards until her eyes focused.
“Lunch,” Harry said, taking the memory back out of the pensive. “Figure it out?” he asked.
“Mmm,” Hermione murmured, her expression distant like it always was when she was trying to figure out a particularly tricky puzzle.
“I’ll take that as a no,” Harry muttered, grabbing his bag off the chair and heading downstairs first to pick through whatever was left of the lunchtime offerings.
“We shall see it through as efficiently as possible,” McGonagall said primly as they walked down the hallway towards the great hall.
Harry stretched his legs slightly to keep up with McGonagall’s impatient clipped pace, “You’re going to be there?” he asked.
McGonagall nodded, “Of course. You are my student as well as those who wish to-” she tsked faintly under her breath, “-tempt fate, as it were. It’s my duty to make certain things operate in the most efficient and ethical manner possible.”
Harry relaxed slightly, at least there would be no diving tackles or kissing his feet if the Headmistress herself was there.
“The optimum solution would have been if your fellow students could control themselves and not act like a great many cats in heat,” McGonagall’s expression soured, “Unfortunately, having taught for a great many years, I know such a thing to be utterly impossible.”
Harry smiled faintly, “I think you might have better luck with cats, Professor.”
McGonagall’s mouth turned up in a faint knowing smirk, “That shows what you know about cats, Mr Potter.”
Harry spotted Hermione standing by the entrance to the great hall and raised his hand to wave, “Herm-”
He was engulfed in a fluff of brown hair, Hermione clutching the front of his jumper to stay upright even as they half spun round from the force of the collision, “Harry! Harry listen-!”
“Ms Granger,” McGonagall said, “What are you doing?”
“Professor I just need to talk to Harry for ten-no-five- just five minutes it’s very important!” Hermione said all in one breath.
McGonagall narrowed her eyes slightly before begrudging them a nod, “Very well, five minutes.”
They both watched for a breathless moment until McGonagall had entered the great hall.
“Hermione, what’s going on?” Harry asked.
Hermione loosened one hand out of his jumper to take out her wand and cast a muffalito around them.
“What if he doesn’t remember?” Hermione said.
Harry’s brow furrowed, “What?”
Hermione’s hand tightening its grip like she was on the verge of shaking him out of frustration,“What if Malfoy doesn’t remember the kiss at all? Everything makes sense if he doesn’t remember it happening!”
“But someone else would have, Pansy or Blaise,” Harry said doubtfully, not wanting to grasp after false hope.
“They were talking to each other, I think,” Hermione said carefully.
“You think?” Harry said incredulously.
“Yes, I think,” she said impatiently, “You don’t understand how horrible your memory was-”
“Hey!” Harry protested.
“Not like that!” Hermione said, “I mean that your awareness of your surroundings during the whole thing was so completely muted it was like trying to make out details through a fog and I think your perception of time was distorted as well. Everything was a lot more drawn out than it would have been in real life. I mean, really” She finally let go of his abused jumper to put her hand on her hip with a huff, “the whole thing couldn’t have been more than a half a second - the actual kiss, I mean- and your lips just brushed so someone would have had be looking right at the two of you to notice which was highly unlikely in that corner of the room and the angle you were standing at-”
Harry held up his hands, “I get it! I get it, he might not have remembered.”
Hermione nodded and spun on her heel, marching towards the doors, “We need confirmation and for that we need Parkinson. Malfoy would be better but he’s probably sulking in his room if I were to guess. I was just waiting for you to go get her.”
Harry followed, caught up in Hermione’s urgency, only to nearly run into her back when she suddenly stopped.
Hermione frowned at him and shook her head, “Wait here, I’ll be right back.”
“I only have five minutes-” Harry tried to call after her but Hermione had already gone into the great hall that, if the noise coming from inside was any indication, was packed full.
Harry leaned back against the wall, absentmindedly chewing the edge of his thumb as he thought. Was Draco that drunk? Was he the type to drink so much he forgot things? What if it were true? If he didn't remember... then, maybe-
“-iously Granger, this had better be good because the Prophet will absolutely be shitting themselves for this exsclus-Potter!” Pansy plastered on a blindingly false smile, “Did you want to talk to me?”
“We did,” Hermione said, herding the two of them a bit away from the door and recasting her muffling spell, throwing a few other privacy spells on top.
Pansy glanced around suspiciously, “What is this about?”
“Did Draco remember what happened at the eighth year party?” Harry asked.
Pansy shrugged one shoulder, “Most of it. Up until you said you were going to kiss the whole room and he tried to finish off a whole bottle of fire whiskey himself.” She gave Harry a pointed look.
“So he doesn't remember,” Hermione said, she took a step closer to Pansy, “And when he kissed Harry did you see it?”
“What?” Pansy snorted, “I interviewed everyone. No one kissed the boy wonder-”
“So you didn't see,” Harry said, feeling mildly lightheaded.
Hermione caught his eye and raised her eyebrows.
Pansy looked from Harry to Hermione, “Draco didn't kiss-” she frowned, her brow furrowing in thought. Pansy shook her head, “He couldn't-?” she studied both their faces and then froze. Her eyes went wide, “He did-?” as her hand went up to her mouth, pressing over her lips, tears welling in her eyes.
“Are you alright?” Harry asked a bit nervously.
A giggle escaped her and Pansy pressed her head and palm into her shoulder. She looked back at them with an ecstatic smile, “I can't fucking believe it,” she said faintly, “You're serious? You did kiss him? You really did?”
“Now it all makes sense,” Pansy let out a breath, turning half-away and wiping the corners of her eyes. She lifted her chin with a deep breath, turned to face Harry and said, “Okay. So I'll do my best to actually try and like you-”
“Same?” Harry said faintly.
“-and if you ever hurt him I'll kill you.”
“I-” Harry opened his mouth then closed it and looked over at Hermione imploringly.
Hermione rolled her eyes, “Really? I can't imagine them not fighting.”
“You know what I mean,” Pansy said sharply.
“I won't- I- I'll try not to,” Harry stammered.
Pansy tossed her head so her hair bounced against her cheeks, “Well, that will have to do for now. But that's not what's important-”
“Not important?” Hermione bristled.
“Not important,” Pansy turned and jabbed a finger at Hermione, “What's important is that Draco doesn't know and he needs to know.”
Harry took a step backwards.
Hermione frowned, “Right now? Now, Harry has to go to the great hall-”
“Exactly.” Pansy interrupted sharply, “Now is the perfect time, can you just imagine how it will look-?”
“You are not going to get your silly newspaper job involved in this!” Hermione stepped closer, “Draco is your friend-”
“I can be a friend and get an amazing story! You goody-goody Gryffindor's are so-”
Harry backed further away and the growing hostility suddenly turned into a buzz of indistinct noise. Harry sighed in relief and a little guilty about it, but only a little.
He looked down the hallway towards the dungeons; the whole great hall could stuff it, he-
“HARRY!” Ginny's voice washed over him.
Harry turned as Ginny skipped over to him with a huge grin, Luna a few steps behind.
“You've been summoned, my liege,” Ginny said, affecting a ridiculous and extravagant bow.
Luna giggled and copied her, bowing too deeply so her hair fell over her face when she stood back up.
“What are you doing here?” Harry asked.
“Helping,” Luna said brightly, absently pushing her hair back one errant lock at a time.
“Yeah, helping,” Ginny echoed a bit too cheerfully.
Harry's eyes narrowed, “Helping how?”
Ginny waved off his concerns, “You'll see.” She turned and took what looked like a red blanket from Luna. When she unfurled it, holding it up and out, Harry could see it was a red velvet cloak trimmed with black and white ermine.
“No,” Harry said immediately.
“Come on, it'll be fun,” Ginny said. She took out her wand and with a flick the offending garment curled around his shoulders.
Harry grabbed at where it had attached to his shoulder to pull it off, “I said no. This is embarrassing enough as it is.”
“You owe me,” Ginny said, her voice just a little too flat and serious.
Harry looked at her imploringly, “Come on, Gin. You can't make me go in there like this.”
“No, I can't make you,” Ginny said in the same tone.
Harry stared at her, hoping for some sort of reprieve but none came. He wasn't going to outright refuse her and Ginny knew it. Harry groaned, his shoulders slumping.
Ginny smiled, “I transfigured it myself from a sheet. I could change the rest of your clothes too-”
“Absolutely not,” Harry said firmly. There were some limits to how much public humiliation he was willing to endure.
“A jumper and school slacks aren't very royal in the least,” Ginny said with a frown.
Harry rolled his eyes, “Well that works out fantastic since I'm not bloody royalty.”
“Ta-Dah!” Luna said, bouncing forward and pulling a silver crown from her little shoulder bag with a flourish.
“It's wonderful, Luna!” Ginny said with a little gasp, “Where'd you get it?”
“I conjured it,” Luna said primly, reaching up to balance it atop Harry's head.
The crown stayed in place for maybe all of five seconds before sliding off Harry's unruly hair. Harry caught it on instinct before it hit the floor, taking a moment to look at it more closely. It didn't look anything like the muggle royal crowns and did look a great deal like something out of a fairy story, all silver and delicate curving points decorated with what looked like pearls and diamonds.
Ginny took it away from him, holding it protectively, “This is amazing, Luna. You're going to pass your NEWTs with flying colours.”
“Thank you,” Luna said absentmindedly, looking through her bag, “I'm quite certain I have some bobby pins.”
“We could just use a sticking spell,” Ginny suggested.
Luna frowned slightly, “I don't think Harry would like that.”
“Harry would not like that,” Harry said flatly.
“I'll just have to conjure some, I suppose,” Luna dropping her bag back down by her side.
Ginny shrugged, “We'll figure it out inside. Come on, before McGonagall comes after us.” She grabbed Harry by the elbow and collected Luna with her other hand when she passed her, pulling them both into the great hall with her.
Thank you ever so much for reading! I've been getting so many nice messages and it makes me so happy♡♡