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New Beginnings, Strange Endings

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Rain clawed at the windows of flat no. 7 of Hamsworth Place, London. It was uncomfortably warm; the air seemed to stick to everything it touched like a thick layer of tar. This late July thunderstorm had been expected and forecasted – the whole city of London seemed to have dried up and become unbearably hot over the past few weeks. This was required, but not necessarily fully appreciated.

Harry James Potter, however, did not feel the need for the angry downpour against his window at an hour that felt this ungodly. Rolling over to glance at the digital clock – a muggle invention – on his wooden bedside table; he read 07:10 and groaned in response. He wasn’t generally one for sleeping in, but being woken up this early on a Sunday surely was, as the muggles say, taking the piss. Undefeated, he sunk his face directly into his pillow in a fight to return to his interrupted slumber. Most mornings consisted of a similar initial refusal to move; besides, where was there for him to be?

It was three years since the final battle: three years since Voldemort fell. Harry had since moved to his own flat, alone, in muggle London in an attempt to live a normal life away from newspaper headlines, interviews, and autographs. This worked whilst Harry lived amongst muggles – the fidelius charm he had cast over his home kept him safe from the prying eyes of the wizarding world. But, naturally, every time Harry stepped foot anywhere near wizard territory the cameras were pointed, the eyes were wide and the questions were asked. At first, Harry was stubborn enough to avoid any and all busy wizard-related locations for an entire year after the war ended, leading to suspicion and rumours in the Daily Prophet. Harry didn't care, he was just glad that they had no new information regarding him to twist into why their Saviour is anything but that, despite his defeating of the most notorious dark wizard in history.

Harry’s commitments lay in regular visits to Ron and Hermione (who were still his best friends) and their new-born daughter: Rose Granger-Weasley. Hermione was also to thank for Harry’s flat – a friend of her cousin, or something like that, was moving out of it and ended up selling it to Harry. Rose seemed to like Harry, or so he hoped; she had cried throughout roughly half the times he had held her, and only about a third of those crying fits had started after Harry had initially cradled her in his arms. Moreover, there was a monthly visit to the Burrow to see Molly and Arthur Weasley – the pair who had practically raised Harry alongside Ron and his six other siblings since his first year at Hogwarts - whilst accompanied by the Granger-Weasley trio and Teddy: Harry’s three-year-old godson. Visiting the Burrow always entailed a hearty meal, loud laughter and, occasionally, the company of other family members who had decided to visit, too, such as Bill, the eldest Weasley brother, his wife, Fleur, and their baby girl, Victoire – she and Teddy got along very well, he even allowed her to play with his toy dragon: a Swedish short snout, nonetheless (this was a Christmas present from Charlie Weasley). It was Harry’s weekly duty to babysit young Teddy from Wednesday to Friday. The bright, blue-haired toddler (who was a metamorphagus, like his mother had been) would be brought over by his grandmother, Andromeda Tonks, to Harry’s flat weekly so she could have her break from being his guardian. Teddy, like so many other children, was sadly left an orphan of wizarding war: of Voldemort, just like Harry was. This lead to Harry being determined to give Teddy some form of a father figure, even if he wasn't by his side constantly. Teddy would stay in Harry's guest room, which he now knew as Teddy’s room. Harry kept a small supply of toys, crayons and chocolate frogs on hand in preparation for Teddy’s visits (though he himself was partial to the last of these). The sapphire-haired youngster loved to play with Harry, who assumed this was because he was slightly more engaged than Andromeda when it came to roaring like a Hungarian horntail in unison with a giggling three-year-old. Teddy truly was like the little brother, if not the son, that Harry had never had. These weekly visits kept Harry feeling optimistic: the innocence of young Teddy always kept him this Gryffindor grounded.

In terms of his finances, Harry’s inherited riches were far from running out – after all, his grandfather had been the creator of Sleekeazy’s hair potion which had supposedly quadrupled the Potter family’s gold. Harry did not care for his money and rarely spent it on himself (he would always spoil his friends on their birthdays, anniversaries and at Christmas alongside purchasing regular gifts for his godson), however, he appreciated the fact it allowed him to remain unemployed. Though, for the time being, determined to distance himself from the wizarding world and being adapted to how muggles live, he would have definitely struggled if attempting to work among the non-magic folk. Of course, wizarding jobs were out of the question; the three years since the war ended had entailed Harry’s declining of seven different offers of Auror training from the Ministry of Magic. Harry was perfectly aware that by now he could have been head Auror, earning thousands of galleons annually, if he had accepted one of the first offers. However, he would have sooner taken on an army of brutal blast-ended skrewts than face any more dark magic willingly; he’d done enough of that to count for the vast majority of the wizarding population before he was even of age.

The war had, of course, left its scars. These were physical, littered all over Harry’s body like disturbing souvenirs of battle, but mainly psychological. Harry hardly slept, ate or spoke for a long time after the final battle: the first year away from the curious and suspicious eyes of the wizarding world had been one of the worst of Harry's entire life. In that time he broke off his relationship with Ginny Weasley (who had now, surprisingly, fallen for Luna Lovegood, a Ravenclaw school friend of theirs whilst pursuing her career in professional quidditch for the Holyhead Harpies). Due to the fact that Harry was practically another Weasley brother, he and Ginny were still as close as ever. Harry was incredibly proud of her and impressed by her chosen career path. He had also been approached by many professional teams regarding the role of their seeker position, but that involved being in the spotlight, which was exactly what Harry was avoiding. A mere seven months after Harry had taken Voldemort down with his own rebounding curse, he had reached out to a muggle therapist in an attempt to get some form of closure and help. Claiming to have fought in a muggle conflict, he opened up, explaining that he had to kill others and watch his own people die. The therapist was a kind woman, around thirty with dirty blonde hair and a naturally tanned completion, slightly lighter than Harry’s own. Albeit little could be done for Harry without him attempting to explain an entire magical war that went on right beneath her world’s noses (which would have likely lead to her questioning his mental health even further than she already was), he still appreciated knowing someone who thought of him as completely normal. To her, he wasn’t ‘The Boy Who Lived’, ‘The Chosen One’ or ‘The Saviour of Wizarding Kind’: he was just Harry Potter.

In the end, Harry knew taking up this woman’s time was a waste of her skills and that he had to work through things with the help of those who had been by his side as it all happened. He needed people who understood. More than once he and Ron had stayed up drinking firewhiskey into the early hours of the morning, discussing the people they had lost, attempting to remain dry-eyed so it seemed less real. Harry had allowed his defences to fall around both Hermione and Ron, more than once flooing to their home, unannounced, in a dismal state. With alcohol on his breath, tears down his face and panic in his eyes, Harry needed his friends more than ever in these times. No one could truly get through to him when he was in such a state, but the person who could do the closest thing to calming Harry down was Ron. Hermione could stem the flow of tears, but Ron could stop Harry’s verbal lashing out. Harry never listened to what he had to say, all words of reassurance would wash over him like a wave, but Ron would stop his yelling and consequently calm him down slightly. However, this wasn’t always enough; Harry longed for the day he found someone who would truly know him: someone to simply love him.

Hermione and Ron loved him, for certain. He was like a brother to each of them; they would undoubtedly give almost anything for him, and this applied vice versa. Teddy loved him, too: Harry was his father figure, his hero, his example to follow (this undeniably terrified Harry). The other members of the Weasley family definitely loved him as well – he was practically one of them, as we already know. But no one’s stomach fluttered like butterflies on a spring morning because of Harry. No one knew every detail of the dark hairs on his tanned arms or the way he used a spell to make his bed but never to make his tea – it was unlikely that anyone knew Harry’s odd habit of using magic for almost every domestic task that doesn’t involve preparing something for consumption, like making his dinner; he always did that himself, it was simply his way of doing things. Everyone knew Harry Potter, but no one knew Harry.

Indeed, he had shared a few fleeting kisses with Cho Chang (who he believed had now shacked up with a muggle), but this felt like a lifetime ago. He had also had a little over six months of holding Ginny's hand in the castle hallways and snogging in broom cupboards. But neither of those girls truly knew him – that was not love. And besides, Ginny's newfound discovery of women just goes to show how real their relationship had been (though Harry’s memories of their short-lived romance weren’t exactly picture-perfect, either).

The time was around 9am now. Harry had indeed won his battle a little after 7am and fallen back to sleep for the best part of two hours – waking up naturally was definitely preferred to jerking awake to the sound of angry rain making a racket against your window. Sprawled out in bed like a starfish, Harry glanced over at the window which was still receiving a thorough beating from the rain. Stretching his already outstretched arms slightly, he let out a yawn that was anything but graceful. Harry always spread out in his sleep – it was part of the reason he never slept well next to other people. The few times he and Ginny had shared a bed at the Burrow he had loathed it; ‘cuddling’ was not a concept he was either familiar with or happy with. He'd much rather claim the whole bed to himself, wrapped in his cocoon of his duvet. In all honesty, Harry Potter was practically terrified of close physical proximity with other people. This may be from having a total lack of it – growing up with the Dursleys never involved hugs, of course, and his friends rarely touched him very closely as they understood that it made him uncomfortable; if they did it was generally a fleeting hug. To give credit where it’s due – again, another muggle saying - they may not have known all the finer details regarding Harry, but everyone knew he wasn’t much of a hugger. Ron had struggled to understand this at first, but he was used to wrestling with his older brothers and received regular rib-cracking squeezes from his mother. Harry thought he would probably like hugs and such like if he were to get used to it - where he stood at that moment it was practically alien to him. On the other hand, it may be that he hasn’t received physical affection from the right person yet in order to truly appreciate it.

After the first few minutes of sleepy-eyed waking up, Harry Potter pulled himself from the depths of his duvet to start a new day. Wearing nothing but his Gryffindor red pyjama bottoms, he glanced over at his reflection in the mirror before picking up his glasses that lay carelessly beside his alarm clock and wand on his bedside table. After restoring his vision, he made his way over to the full-length mirror on the wall opposite the foot on his bed and observed himself. He was verging on being quite tall, around 5’11”. Atop of his head lay a bed of black curls, just as his father’s had once been. Harry was sure that he was the spitting image of James at the age of 20 (going by the few pictures he had of him, that is) though his hair was definitely more styled than his father’s once was. The sides were cut short, but on top lay his curls, swept forward over his forehead, covering the scar that made him supposedly special. The scar he loathed. This haircut had been another of Hermione’s brilliant ideas – he definitely appreciated this one. Harry also noticed that he had a light stubble kissing the sides of his face and slightly down his neck – that was nothing one of his wandless spells (that he had mastered) couldn’t fix. Focussing on the flow of his internal magic, Harry waved his right hand over the stubble, tilting his chin upward in the process. The familiar, tingling warmth graced his skin, leaving him smooth for a few more days. Pleased with his work, Harry returned his attention back to his reflection. Broad, bare, tanned shoulders lead down into slightly muscular, toned arms. Exercising wasn't a daily necessity for Harry, but it was a regular occurrence in his routine in an attempt to clear his clouded head. His broad chest fitted in perfectly with his strong arms, lightly scarred in places from past duels with death eaters. It was just as tanned as his arms and showed further muscle definition. Dark hairs grew down his stomach, entering his pyjama bottoms. His bare feet showed wiggling toes – Harry never could stay perfectly still. Giving in to the temptation of movement, Harry took himself to the bathroom for a shower before making his breakfast.

It wasn’t as though Harry was disgusted by his appearance – no, not at all. He could have been like Uncle Vernon, or one of the pig-like prophet photographers, or even reminiscent of the withering old wizards who jittered in joints like the Hog’s Head (not that Harry often visited those places anymore due to his Merlin-forsaken fame). No, he certainly didn’t dislike himself physically, but he wasn’t exactly fussed over how he looked either. He had scars, an ugly, strangely shaped one on his forehead, at that. He wasn’t as tall as a lot of other blokes – Ron definitely had the upper hand there. He didn’t feel the need to dress in a fancy way, either. To Harry, he was just Harry and deserved no special treatment or to be treated like some kind of bronzed God like the papers had suggested in the past.

This specific day’s outfit of choice consisted of his favourite pair of jeans and one of his many jumpers. The jeans were a faded shade of grey having been worn time after time. The jumper was a deep red (despite leaving Hogwarts three years ago, his ridiculously strong sense of Gryffindor pride certainly continued to shine through) with a small hole in the right sleeve from where Harry picked at it and played with it when he was nervous. He had made a habit of sticking his thumb through it, hence the lack of attempts to fix it – by hand or by magic. Harry wore no shoes whilst at home (he had always been averse to the idea of trapping his feet in such a way whilst in his own space. Not for a snobbish ‘don’t get your mud on my carpet’ reason, just because he found it comfortable and enjoyed the different temperatures and textures the flooring of his flat provided the soles of his feet with. The hallway had wood, the bedrooms and living room were carpeted and the bathroom and kitchen had tile).

By half past nine in the morning, Harry James Potter stood in his kitchen, toes wiggling, placing bread in his toaster – once again, that’s another muggle invention; it cooks your slices of bread to make them crunchy so you can put various spreads and toppings on them, it’s quite delicious. Soon the kettle was boiled, the butter was spread and breakfast was served. From there his day may entail going for a jog, visiting his friends, practicing wandless magic (he had practically blown up his living room more than once whilst doing this before hastily repairing it with various spells). Harry occasionally drove his car (a rather frightful muggle method of transportation entailing a steering wheel, brakes, and seatbelts) to a secluded spot in the country to practice flying. However, on this specific day in late July, Harry's day was much less exciting: he was going food shopping in his local muggle supermarket: Sainsburys. This was a mundane task, to say the least, but it is necessary. 

A little before midday a slightly drenched Harry Potter returned with two bags of shopping, containing tea bags, eggs, bread and a variety of other dull food-related items. He had also purchased a bottle of his favourite apple scented shampoo as his current one had almost run out – who knew growing up would be so dull? Shutting his door, closing out the rest of the complex of flats, he placed both bags on the floor and waved his hand. Immediately every single item he had just bought began soaring through the air – at a speed that is probably deemed impressive for a loaf of bread or a carton of milk – towards their rightful places in the kitchen. This was easily one of Harry’s favourite wandless spells he had taught himself as it was personalised to his own preferences as well as to the layout of his own home - plus the fact no one likes putting away their shopping. Folding the bags that had previously contained these items, he placed them back where by the door below a shelf of his favourite wizarding books. These shelves contained many of his old schoolbooks – including ‘Holidays with Hags' and ‘Magical Me' by Gilderoy Lockheart; Harry still felt subtle pangs of guilt when he remembered the state of the man's memory now - or the current lack of it. Standing proudly beside these books was a copy of ‘Quidditch Through the Ages’ by Kennilworthy Whisp and a copy of ‘Hogwarts: A History’ by Bathilda Bagshot that Hermione had bought him two Christmases ago (Harry had never read it, of course, even in adulthood he still outright refused).

Following his flying food through his flat, Harry walked into his kitchen and put the kettle on to boil. Cupboards opened and closed around him as tins and packets travelled to their rightful places. The crescendo of rumbling from the kettle filled the raven-haired young man’s ears. Harry favoured his tea with little milk and two sugars, apparently the same way his father used to. Harry remembered all too well the morning Sirius asked him how he took his tea back at Grimmauld Place during the summer before his passing. Sirius had gasped, clapped a hand over his mouth dramatically and practically cheered in celebration. He may have been a fully grown adult, but his personality seemed to have never left his Hogwarts dormitory.

“Just like James! Merlin’s beard, Harry. You may as well be the same person.” Sirius had grinned as he spoke, though behind his eyes Harry thought he saw a hint of reminiscence which may have spiralled into sadness if it wasn’t quickly contained. “Just wait until I tell Remus.” Sirius sighed fondly at the thought of the other man’s reaction – or was it just at the thought of the other man in general? Harry had always been slightly taken aback by the closeness of his godfather and former professor’s relationship. Harry could have sworn he’d seen Sirius wink at Remus more than once – and not in the way he would at Harry when he passed him the carrots over dinner. Harry had always hoped that they were lovers as both of them had gone through hell in their lives and deserved their own piece of heaven. Of course, Remus had gone on to have Teddy with Nymphadora Tonks, but that doesn’t mean that he hadn’t had feelings for Sirius prior to this.

At this very moment, as Harry stared into his empty mug, waiting for the familiar click of the kettle finally boiling, he slammed headfirst into a brick wall of realisation that he truly missed Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Mad-Eye, Dumbledore and everyone else he had lost. They had all died for him. His parents, Sirius, Remus, even Peter-bastard-Pettigrew. The familiar emptiness greeted Harry as an old friend as it pumped through his veins and into his heart, his chest squeezing his lungs in a merciless grip as his eyes began to sting as though tiny hot knives were jabbing them.

All of a sudden, completely drawing Harry out of this state and into one of blatant confusion, two different sounds filled the flat. One expected, another not so much.

Whoosh!

Click!

Coming from the fireplace, the sound of flames springing to life followed by the crackling sound of fire filled the living room. The kettle had also boiled, but no tea was going to be made at this moment in time. A third sound penetrated Harry’s ears, and Merlin, it was always a welcome one – albeit feared as well.

“Potter! Are you home?” anyone who had attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry would obey the woman from whom this question came without a second thought. The familiar Scottish accent filled Harry’s ears and he immediately stiffened in surprise, multiple questions springing to mind.

"Minerva?" Harry called. It was stupid to even check, of course it was her. Not just any random woman could make Harry immediately feel like he was twelve again, caught sneaking through the school after hours. But why had Hogwarts’ headmistress Minerva McGonagall floo’d to Harry’s humble home at midday on a Sunday? Something must have happened.

“Yes, Potter. I need to speak to you.” She replied, her voice firm yet containing a hint of affection. Harry made his way out of the kitchen faster than he had once fled from the room of requirement back in his sixth year in an attempt to avoid being caught by the delightful Dolores Umbridge.

"Minnie – are you okay? Is everything at Hogwarts alright?" Harry's questions slipped out of his mouth like water slips through your fingers: unstoppable. McGonagall made an approving sound at the use of her nickname, though you'd never have guessed she'd be one to approve of such a title for herself. However, the main reason she smiled at Harry's use of this name is that it was what James Potter would always turn to in an attempt to get out of her detentions. It always failed, but he and Sirius would always try their luck. Indeed, like it did so many other people, James and his son's resemblance made Minerva McGonagall practically glow at the thought of how proud Harry would have made his father.

"I am very well, thank you, Harry. And Hogwarts is perfectly fine, thank you. With me watching over it, it will only ever be just that." Harry believed that; the woman was a bloody machine, as the muggles occasionally say. “Term ended on this Friday just gone, and we are in fact a professor short.” Harry was unsure of why she was telling him this, but his queries were soon answered. “Samuel Sunderheart, our defence against the dark arts professor of the past three years, has resigned and will therefore not be returning at the start of next year. His reasoning was along the lines of wishing to pursue a career as an author.” Her tone was evidently disapproving, and Harry could tell she wasn’t done yet. What she went on to say caught Harry completely off guard. “Happy early birthday, Harry. I am aware that it is on Tuesday.” Harry instantly beamed, Samuel Sunder-something briefly forgotten.

“Thank you, Professor! I mean – Minerva.” Harry grinned, forgetting he wasn't fifteen and sat in transfiguration for a brief moment. "Now, what is this about the defence post you want to tell me?" There was a brief pause, followed by the clearing of her throat.

“I am offering it to you, Potter. The availability will be announced in the Daily Prophet on Wednesday of next week if you do not take it – the papers do not yet know that you have been offered the post but it is likely to be discovered. I am willing to give you it without an interview as I know you are one of the most experienced young men in defence against the dark arts I could ever find – consider that an early birthday present” She paused briefly as Harry spluttered in response. “Before you attempt to interrupt me once more, Potter, I want you to know that I will be very firm when reminding the students that you are as normal as any other professor and that your fame should not interfere in the classroom. I know that you need something like this, Harry. You thrive off having something to work at and you would make an excellent addition to the staff table, I must say.”

Indeed, Harry had attempted to interrupt her speech multiple times so he could exclaim multiple things along the lines of ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’. But, at this point, he was left completely dumbfounded.

“You do not need to make your decision instantly, Potter. I’ll give you today and tomorrow, so please let me know by Monday night. Just floo to my office at Hogwarts - the whole way, please. I’d like to see you properly as opposed to just my head sticking out of your fireplace or yours out of mine. Take care, Potter. I’ll see you soon.” Before Harry could even think to speak, her head had vanished and the fireplace now consisted of just dwindling embers. After taking a few moments to absorb what had just been stated, he slowly stood from the kneeling position he didn’t realise he had fallen into amid the excitement and shock of McGonagall’s appearance. Re-entering the kitchen to an empty mug and a kettle that needed to be boiled again, Harry stared out of the window into the seemingly everlasting pouring rain.

She was right, Harry did thrive when he had something to work on. Aside from his arrangements with friends and family, Harry did little else other than amuse himself. He had no real hobbies and would eventually need to get back out into the wizarding world, so why not bulldoze into it by taking a job that would earn him a place on the front page for weeks? He had said it himself many times: Hogwarts is his home. This job was perfect for Harry and exactly what he needed, but the list of negatives surely outweighed the positives. Starstruck kids, not seeing Teddy as much, whatever the hell the papers would make of the situation… Harry let out a long, slow sigh. He knew what he needed to do, no matter how taxing it may be to initiate; he would floo to Hogwarts that very evening to accept the position of defence against the dark arts professor.

Harry boiled the kettle again and was soon sat on his sofa thinking the situation through with a mug of tea in his lightly calloused hands. He knew it was for the best. Besides, what would a Gryffindor be without a burning desire to take on new challenges that could easily backfire? Harry released yet another sigh.

This was required, but not necessarily fully appreciated.

 

Chapter Text

Light flooded the large, circular office in which dwelled Headmistress McGonagall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Bookshelves lined parts of the walls, so tall and filled with ancient novels that it would take a man his entire lifetime to read them all.

It was early evening on this Sunday in late July, and though the headmistress was supposed to be working, her thoughts lay in the offer she had posed to a younger man that same day.
Indeed, her work was seemingly never done. With writing and marking exam papers, perfecting school rules, planning the training programmes the professors would follow and preventing Peeves from destroying the place, McGonagall should have been working hard. In her spare time she enjoyed checking and maintaining the herbology greenhouses – she had always secretly had a green thumb. She would also pay Hagrid a visit as often as she could, politely declining his rock cakes and tea.

However, at this moment in time, McGonagall could think only of Harry Potter. She hadn’t spoken to him in many months prior to this day. He had seemed healthy enough, his flat appeared to be in good condition (from what she could see of it from her spot in the fireplace) and he certainly wasn’t displeased to see her. All in all, McGonagall thought the brief discussion (albeit more of an announcement on her behalf) was successful and she hoped that Potter would make the right decision and take the job. She didn’t think she could cope with the tedious process of reading applications, holding interviews and learning to trust a new fully qualified witch or wizard around her students whom she cared for so deeply.

Shaking her head and tightening her lips, she returned to the task at hand. There was no point in pondering Potter’s potential decision; she may not hear back from him for another day. Instead, she began examining the curriculum for each subject and what would be taught to each year group. Of course, she never changed this; this way of teaching had been in place since Hogwarts had been founded, however, she deemed it essential to double check that her students were receiving the best education possible. At least an hour of this tedious process passed before the unexpected noise penetrated the silence within the office.

Whoosh!

Erupting from her fireplace behind her, flames rose and out stepped a figure. Broad-shouldered, naturally tanned and quite tall: Harry Potter was here with his decision. Slowly turning her head to take this in, a thin-lipped smile graced the older woman’s face.

“I didn’t expect you so soon, Potter.”

“I guess I’m full of surprises.” Both nervous and uncomfortable, he ruffled a hand through his hair as he said this, deeply reminiscent of his father. The smile edged its way further across the headmistress’ face upon noticing this. She quickly waved her wand and transfigured a stool – this was, indeed, the same stool used in the sorting at the start of every term – into a more comfortable, high-backed chair, not dissimilar to the one she was sat on. Having leviated it over to sit next to hers behind the desk, she gestured over to it with her hand. Slightly taken aback by not having to sit across the desk from her, Harry made his way over to it and was seated, properly facing his old professor for the first time in years.
“Have a biscuit, Potter.” She gestured over to the same tin that had been sat on her desk back in Harry’s fifth year and he smiled warmly in response, taking one and instantly indulging in it; it tasted like he was back in his school robes, too. “You didn’t take very long. I was expecting to have to extend your decision time. I had no idea that you’d make up your mind the very same day I asked you… You are here with an answer, yes?” McGonagall frowned slightly in thought.

“Yes, professor, I am here with my answer. I surprised myself with the fast pace of it all, but I just knew what was right.” Harry was undeniably scared, playing with the hole in the sleeve of his jumper. McGonagall watched this action closely, remaining silent, hoping he would be able to give her the answer without persuasion being required. “I’d like to accept your offer.” Harry finished, fully sticking his thumb through the hole upon concluding his sentence. McGonagall smiled. She really smiled. It wasn’t just an approving tightening of the muscles around her mouth or a slight nod of the head, either; she was practically overjoyed. “When can I have curriculum plans? Or teacher training? And when do I arrive at Hogwarts? Where in Merlin’s name do the teachers even sleep?” Harry very nearly laughed in amongst his slight panic that had built as the questions rolled off his tongue in a long line.

“Now, Harry -” McGonagall was a matter of moments away from adopting a comforting tone and walking Harry through the steps of being a professor when she was interrupted. The interruption came in the form of a familiar voice; a voice that would, like McGonagall’s, cause anyone who recognised it to plunge immediately into a respectful silence.

It was the voice of Albus Dumbledore.

“Be calm, Harry.” He spoke from his spot on the wall, placed just right of Severus Snape among the rest of the past head teachers of Hogwarts.

“Albus, go back to sleep,” McGonagall responded, though no signs of irritation were anywhere to be heard in her tone.

“Professor Dumbledore, sir!” Harry exclaimed, reassurance washing over him quickly.

“Minerva, how do you expect me to ignore the appearance of the young man whom, dare I say it, was one of my favourite students?” Dumbledore replied with a cheeky smile; he clearly still played McGonagall up, even in the afterlife.

“Albus,” McGonagall huffed, “allow me to calm poor Potter’s nerves.” Dumbledore chuckled at her.

“You’ll do very well, Harry. You are one of the youngest teachers Hogwarts has ever taken, but certainly not any less gifted.” Dumbledore commented, playfully ignoring his old colleague.

“Will I be the youngest professor teaching this year, sir?” Harry asked, suddenly curious about his fellow members of staff.

“Yes, but only by one day, if you can remember an old friend’s birthday, that is. There is also-” Harry cut Dumbledore off with his excitable reply, not realising that the old portrait hadn’t finished speaking.

“Neville! Of course! He wrote to me after the war; Professor Sprout retired, didn’t she?”

“That’s right, Potter. This will be Longbottom’s third year of teaching.” McGonagall responded instantly, the slight smile had never once left her lips. “Now, gentlemen, it is about time I explained what is expected of Harry.” Dumbledore smiled softly and gave Harry a small wink before leaning back into his armchair and selecting a sweet from the bowl beside him. Harry supposed that being a portrait wouldn’t be so bad; Dumbledore had a never-ending bowl of lemon sherbets and fizzing whizbees beside him. “Here, I have your curriculum for the year. It contains everything you will teach every class you have.” She handed Harry various sheets of parchment, each labelled with a different month of the year. “Here is your timetable, it will tell you which two houses you have from each year group in every period throughout the days of the week. I urge you to plan your lessons ahead of time; you know full well that when a teacher goes into a lesson blind, the class takes control and hell itself rains down. You were, I believe, at the head of this mischief quite a few times.” There was no hint of resentment present in her tone, as though she didn’t blame Harry’s younger self for taking advantage of these times. “The 1st of September is, indeed, a Saturday, meaning that lessons will officially start on the 3rd of the month. However, all teachers will arrive to settle into their living quarters on Thursday the 30th of August. Please get here between 12pm and 2pm for lunch with your colleagues. This will allow you two days to get your bearings before the students arrive.” She listed these off as though it was second nature to her.

“This sounds doable, but how should I travel here? What about the reporters? They’re bound to swarm.” Harry’s forehead began to crease in worry as every potential negative outcome began pouring into his mind yet again.

“I hate to interrupt again, Minerva, but I’d like to give my advice here,” Dumbledore interjected coolly. “Harry, you should apparate to Hogsmeade before taking a carriage from there to the castle. This is, indeed, what the majority of your fellow professors do; a large part of you taking this job is to reintroduce you to normality as opposed to constantly being singled out due to your fame, hence why I see it as important that you take no special measures when travelling here but simply do what everyone else does – the reporters would certainly pick up on it, otherwise. Let us not provide them with anything else to write about.”

“Exactly as I would have advised.” McGonagall respectfully nodded to her predecessor.

“What can I say? Great minds think alike, Minerva.” Dumbledore joked.

“Albus,” McGonagall released a discreet chuckle; the pair had a special bond of friendship that made Harry glad Dumbledore wasn’t truly gone, “you old fool.” She continued to smile softly, sighing to herself and returning her attention to Harry. “You will be teaching in classroom 3C. I ensured it was this one as it is where Remus Lupin once taught you; I felt as though you’d appreciate knowing he was once present in that very room to calm your nerves at the start of term. I know how close you were.” McGonagall’s tone lost any and all intimidating undertones it may have previously had as she spoke this last part, cloaking Harry in a verbal blanket of reassurance. Harry was too taken aback to respond, so he simply nodded and smiled; he was beyond grateful for this woman. Knowing that Remus was once there, guiding him and teaching him, made Harry determined to make his old professor proud – he didn’t truly understand that Remus, Sirius, and his parents would always be proud of him no matter what and that he didn’t need to be a teacher for that to be the case.

“Do you have any questions, Potter?” McGonagall crashed his train of thought as she attempted to fix her tone to one of a more serious matter (and failed due to the playful smile still ghosting her lips from Dumbledore’s antics).

“No, I’m good, thank you, Minerva.” Harry politely stated, both amused by the pair’s playful bickering and awed by the mention of Remus. “I’ll read through the notes over the following weeks and will see you on the 30th.” He had been playing with the hole in his sleeve again as he said this, his gaze dropping, showing his slight apprehension regarding the situation. “So, you’ll ensure the students don’t treat me like… you know.” Harry muttered his request, as though embarrassed to admit who he really was, any faint amusement flickering out like a flame.

“I’ll make sure of it, Potter. However, they may still be slightly star-struck at first. Allow them a lesson or so to get over that hill and you should have a smooth run from there. However, they will all eventually learn of the second war in History of Magic and may return to their state of shock regarding your very presence. Professor Longbottom has this issue, too. Professor Binns always warns him in advance of teaching it so he can plan a free lesson where he’ll answer any questions his students may have regarding what he did. Though this is evidently not compulsory behaviour, I have no issue with it. The choice is yours, Harry. I am confident that you will shine in your new career.” McGonagall never refrained from speaking the truth, which Harry appreciated. She never sounded too intimidating or blunt, either; she had a motherly quality to her which Harry found most comforting. He rose, ready to leave.

“Thank you, both. I’ll see you next month.” Harry nodded to the headmistress and then to Dumbledore’s portrait before grabbing a handful of floo powder. About to throw it and request it took him home, Harry was stopped by a final comment.

“Harry,” Dumbledore’s voice instantaneously stilled Harry’s movements. He turned, raising an eyebrow at the portrait of the man whom he respected more than any other. “Happy early birthday.”

Professor Potter left Hogwarts with a smile upon his face.

 


 

Just over a month had passed since Harry had accepted his offer as Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. Tomorrow marked the day he returned to Hogwarts: his true home. In all honesty, Harry felt like a terrified first year again. Though he knew the castle, he would be seeing it from a whole new angle and would be taking on many great responsibilities. Harry's birthday had entailed an evening at the Granger-Weasley household, drinking too much firewhiskey and retelling old stories. Molly and Arthur had taken Rose for the night, making the occasion stress-free.

Ron and Hermione’s reactions to his new job had been amusing, to say the least. Both were thrilled that Harry was tackling life from a different perspective – Hermione was convinced that this would benefit Harry’s state of mind greatly. Ron was particularly jealous of the fact Harry would be living in the teacher’s quarters; it was every Hogwarts student’s secret dream to know what they truly looked like. He had actually demanded that Harry took photographs in a Creevey-esque style and owled them to the Granger-Weasley residence. Both Ron and Hermione worked at the Ministry and were envious of Harry’s exciting new branch of work, desperate for tales of something other than their day-to-day routines.

Teddy’s reaction had been one Harry had feared to know; he didn’t want to make the boy feel abandoned or disgruntled. However, young Teddy was thrilled to hear the news and told Harry that if he wasn’t his teacher when he went to Hogwarts he wouldn’t visit him ever again. To this, Harry chuckled and tickled the young boy.

“We’ll see how the first year goes for me, Ted.” Harry had said in response, a wide smile on his face. The joyful image of the child who was practically his son sat vividly in Harry’s mind for months after this moment, inspiring and motivating him in moments of need.

Just after 5pm on the last night in his flat, Harry Potter decided to stop procrastinating his packing and dug his old suitcase out of his wardrobe. Shoving his hand into the back pocket of his jeans, he withdrew the perfectly folded list that Hermione had owled him the previous day. He hadn’t asked for this; she just knew he’d need some help.

 

Her neat, cursive handwriting read:


• Shirts; ones to teach in, formal ones, some to wear outside the castle or in your spare time.
• Trousers; jeans, some appropriate for teaching, just generally respectable pairs.
• Shoes; something formal other than your bloody Converse, please, Harry.
• Ties; not your ruddy school one, obviously! You must appear neat and tidy, Professor Potter!
• Socks and underwear; why must you always forget such obvious things?
• Pyjamas; we’d all rather you didn’t sleep in the nude, Professor.
• Coat, scarves, gloves etc.; it’s going to be winter soon and you know how cold Scotland gets. Yes, you may be good at heating and drying charms but they wouldn’t be necessary if you’d just dress properly.
• Dress robes; I can hear you groaning from here.
• Stationary and everything McGonagall has provided you with; you need to know what you’re actually doing as a teacher. Don’t be ‘Lockheart: round two’, Harry.
• All your photographs; I know how important they are to you.
• YOUR SODDING TOOTHBRUSH, YOU VILE GIT.
• Your wand; knowing you, you’d leave it on the ruddy coffee table.
• You’re an adult, Harry. Take it from here. And don’t forget to apparate with your case.

 

Harry shook his head and chuckled to himself as his eyes made their way down the list; he could practically hear his friend shouting each point at him as though she were in the room. He immediately raised his left hand in preparation of a wandless spell to pack his case for him before a streak of common sense struck him. His internal magic, which he would be channelling in order to carry out this wandless task, comes from him and him alone. Since he is one of the most forgetful people on earth – second to his old friend, Neville – his magic would be just as bad. Harry sighed, his arm falling limply in defeat; he would be packing the muggle way.

 


 

It was late morning on the following day when Harry made his way around his flat, Hermione’s list in hand, checking that he hadn’t forgotten anything. He was due to apparate to Hogsmeade in ten minutes and felt as terrified as a first-year. Looking around his living room, he noted that all his photographs were safely packed in his case and that his potted plant – a peace lily, symbolising his mother - had the correct charms cast over it so it would (probably) survive whilst he was away. His kitchen was unchanged bar his favourite mug (patterned with golden snitches, of course) which was safely wrapped in a jumper, deep in his case, to avoid any breakages on his travels. Entering his bathroom, he saw his toothbrush was missing; this meant that he had, indeed, managed to pack it for once. His apple shampoo also lurked in the depths of his suitcase. Satisfied, he entered his bedroom. His drawers were empty of clothes, just as his wardrobe was. Casual costume, formal fittings and outfits ideal for those horrendous ‘not-smart-not-casual’ occasions – the muggles especially love these – were all folded semi-neatly, ready for the journey. Entering the hallway, Harry raked his eyes over his bookshelf; it was untouched, of course. Hogwarts’ library has every book you could ever dream of, meaning that the only reason Harry would take one of his own would be for the sake of sentiment (he had enough family photos with him to tick this box, trust me).

Unable to avoid the moment any longer, Harry Potter grasped the handle of his suitcase in his left hand. The two fitted together naturally after years of dragging it through the barrier at platform 9¾. Green eyes were hidden as he shut them before taking a deep breath, stepping into a quick turn on the spot, his mind fixed on the road in Hogsmeade where the thestral-pulled carriages departed from.

“HARRY POTTER!” an unfamiliar voice sliced through the air, followed by the flashing and clicking of countless cameras.

Click!

“IS IT TRUE, MR POTTER?”

Click!

“ARE YOU HOGWARTS’ NEW DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS PROFESSOR?”

Click!

“HAVE YOU RETURNED SINCE VOLDEMORT FELL?”

Click!

“AREN’T YOU FRIGHTENED?”

Click!

Click!

Click!

It never seemed to end. Harry was surrounded by reporters, all after that perfect shot of their Saviour, finally out in public again. Harry was greatly disorientated, his breathing failing to steady itself. Apparating always shook him up, but he had no chance to stop, so he began to move ahead. His heavy case bumped along behind him – he would have leviated it to save himself the task, but the reporters were so close to him they’d have simply knocked it from the air. Raising his right arm to shield his eyes from the flashes, he mumbled the words ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘excuse me’ over and over in an attempt to move through the growing crowd. Hoping to reach his carriage soon, Harry Potter lowered his head and tried with all his might to simply focus on walking.

Click!

“HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CONTROVERSIAL MIXTURE OF FELLOW PROFESSORS?”

Click!

What in Merlin’s bollocks did that mean?

Click!

“HAVE YOU SEEN -”

Click!

“- HIM SINCE?”

Click!

Seen who?

Click!

The volume of noise and photographs being taken escalated, making Harry even happier to see that he was approaching his carriage. Pulled by a thestral and situated on the left side of the street (outside some kind of old potions supplies shop), it was just as McGonagall had told him it would be in the letter she had owled him a few days prior to this. Grateful for his escape, Harry managed to climb in, despite the reporters’ attempted grabs at his clothing and suitcase. The thestral immediately began to walk, leaving the shouting crowd far behind, as it started its short journey to take Harry Potter back to where he belonged. After all this time, he was finally going home.

 


 

The journey lasted for a lot less time than Harry had anticipated it would – a large part of him was still terrified to return to the place where he had once fought for the lives of those he loved and hoped greatly that he would never have to leave the comfort of his carriage. Drawing to a halt, the thestral stilled perfectly, as though made of stone. Briefly closing his eyes to compose himself, Harry readied his mind for his first view of Hogwarts since the day it had been in ruins. He peeled his eyes open, suddenly stunned by what stood before him.

The same large, iron gates that Harry knew so well opened up on to the grounds of the castle. The dirt path he had followed so many times as a child lead up to the grand entrance of the most glorious building on earth. The prominent front entrance greeted Harry like an old friend as the midnight-haired man embraced the sight of various towers and turrets that had been repaired perfectly, as though crafted by the hands of a god. A twisting feeling in his gut brought thoughts of excitement and nerves to Harry’s mind – he almost had to check that he wasn’t eleven again, wearing his brand new school robes for the first time since they were fitted.

Without thinking, he climbed down from where he had been sat and stood his suitcase beside him. Glancing to the thestral in an attempt to thank it, Harry simultaneously grabbed his suitcase before beginning a fast-paced walk towards wooden front doors of Hogwarts. They were open slightly, meaning that people had already arrived. Was he late? Was this definitely the right date? Did he actually take the job in the end, or had that been a dream?
His thoughts were sent cascading into a pit of silence as he pushed the door open further. The entrance hall looked as though it had never seen death or suffering – however, the man inhabiting it certainly had.

It was Argus Filch.

“Nice to see you again, Potter. Allow me to take your case to the teachers’ quarters. Go on through…” His voice was the same, as was his face. The unnerving twitch of his left eye paired with his yellowed, crooked teeth brewed a concoction of fear and caution within anyone who met this man. His rough, wheezy voice made the hairs on Harry’s arms stand up, as though he had just been caught out of bed, roaming the castle in the early hours of the morning. Filch had raised a shaking arm that was cloaked in the same robes he had worn when Harry had attended Hogwarts and pointed it to the open doors of the great hall. Harry glanced over, seeing a single table lined with his colleagues, light chatter filling his ears.

“Thank you, Filch,” Harry responded, letting go of his case before the caretaker snatched it away. Should he have called him Argus? Do teachers call each other their first names? Does that man ever change his clothes? There was so much that Harry didn’t know.

“Come on, my sweet…” Filch cooed to the scabby old cat that Harry hadn’t noticed had been twirling around her owner’s feet. Her amber eyes were homed in on Harry, as though she were remembering every time she and Filch had caught him breaking the school rules. It was Mrs. Norris, the vile, old creature.

Harry withdrew his eyes from the odd pair as they walked away towards the marble staircase and started towards the great hall. To say he had butterflies in his stomach would be an understatement; they felt more like the flying keys that he, Ron and Hermione had come across in their first year. Entering the great hall and stopping to take in what lay before him, Harry saw that only one of the house tables was laid out (it was the Ravenclaw one, to be precise). The enchanted ceiling showed the sunny sky which dwelled outside, wisps of clouds gracing it in places. But Harry had no time to take anything else in; two familiar voices were shouting his name.

“Harry!” A soft yet enthusiastic voice illuminated Harry’s senses: it was Neville Longbottom! However, he had no time to respond, as the second voice boomed through the air.

“’ARRY!”

Hagrid.

Both his old friends were making their way down the table towards him, arms open wide, ready to embrace him. Harry grinned so widely it was a miracle his jaw didn’t break, making his way towards them. Captured in a great hug from his half-giant hero, Harry knew he had nothing else to worry about. It didn’t matter that he didn’t know everything about being a teacher and it wouldn’t make a difference if he wore his muggle Converse shoes to teach in. As long as he was here among the people he knew and loved, everything would work out. It had to.

Wiping his slightly dampened eyes once Hagrid had released him, Harry beamed at the two men. Willing himself to muster up some words, Harry took a deep breath.

“Hi, guys.” He continued to grin, patting Neville on the back. He turned his head, clocking a smiling Minerva McGonagall who was sat at the head of the table, Professor Flitwick to her left and a plump, blonde woman to her right. She was evidently a professor who had come to the school after the war as Harry had no memory of ever seeing her. She turned to look at him, pushing her glasses up the bridge of her nose with a long fingernail that had been painted green. She and Flitwick both gave Harry welcoming smiles before returning to their conversation and food.

Closer to him, Professor Sinstra was sat opposite Professor Trelawney. Harry’s old divination professor clutched her shawls and beaded necklaces close to her, occasionally reaching out a bony hand to grasp some food. It appeared that her fellow female professor was attempting to initiate conversation with her – clearly, this was failing.

Quite literally pulled away from his observations, Harry was guided to a seat between Neville and Hagrid. Overwhelmed yet exhilarated, he was thrilled to see that a large slice of treacle tart sat waiting for him. Touched that they had remembered his favourite dessert, Harry tucked into the sweet slice, listening to the herbologist’s chatter. Harry learned that Neville had not only been the school’s Herbology professor for the past three years, but also head of Hufflepuff house! Upon questioning this – after all, Neville was a Gryffindor in their school days – Harry was reminded of the shortage of staff after the war and that he was filling Sprout’s boots fully, not just partially. Besides, he had the box ticked for the vast majority of typical Hufflepuff traits.

Hagrid had a new batch of flobberworms and had managed to catch a second giant squid – yes, he was also responsible for the first one – which turned out to be a female.

“Got ‘im a lady-friend, I ‘ave. Maybe we’ll get baby giant squids! That’d be a sight to see from the Slytherin common room, eh, ‘Arry?” Hagrid had chuckled light-heartedly after excitedly telling Harry this. However, all Harry really wanted to know was how Hagrid had convinced the headmistress that it was a good idea to adopt a second giant aquatic creature.

Harry was still slightly zoned out as the meal went on. He had hardly registered the fact that there were other professors he hadn’t observed and greeted as he sipped his pumpkin juice from his goblet. The entire situation was brilliant – yes, definitely brilliant – but essentially very overwhelming.

He most certainly wasn’t ready for the shock that was about to hit him.

Finishing his tart, Harry placed his fork down on his plate. Neville and Hagrid were now conversing across him about certain types of plant they were yet to attempt to feed the flobberworms with, which gave Harry the chance to stop listening and have another look around the great hall.

A few other professors were seated down near McGonagall’s end, some Harry recognised and others he did not. Turning to look the other way, he saw Trelawey still clutching at her clothing, as though terrified it may sprout legs and run away from her. Professor Sinstra had long since given up on communicating with her, so now the dark-skinned woman was sat, quietly contemplating her surroundings. Harry appreciated that not everyone was overly excited to see him – in a world where everyone knows your name, it’s a gift to find people who aren’t desperate to shout it at you. Of course, he was thrilled at Neville and Hagrid’s enthusiasm, but they were his friends; it was different.

Then Harry’s eyes landed on another figure. He was sat alone, a fair few places away from any of his colleagues. The man was about Harry’s age and, from what could be seen of his seated figure, was both tall and slender. He wore a pale grey shirt that had clearly been professionally pressed – it was unbuttoned at the top, exposing the beginning of a perfectly pale, slender neck. A pointed chin accentuated the man’s jawline, leading into his prominent cheekbones. The young male was holding his goblet half-way to his lips, as though something had frozen him to the spot. His posture was tensely relaxed, a mixture of two conflicting emotions clearly racing through him. White-blonde hair gracefully fell into his face, causing Harry’s heart to practically stop as he came to a terrifying realisation.

Woodland leaves the colour of emeralds stared into the centre of a storm, as grey as the sea on a rainy day.

Harry Potter was staring into the eyes of Draco Malfoy.

Chapter Text

Harry couldn’t look away. His eyes were fixed on Malfoy’s, shock thumping within him. His old enemy seemed so different to who he once was, yet he also appeared practically identical to his past self. His white-blonde hair immaculately fell into his face at a perfectly controlled degree of messiness. The sides were shaved; oh, Merlin, it was undercut. His bone structure was, if anything, more defined - something Harry could already tell Malfoy prided himself on. His long, slender neck led into the gentle curve of his shoulders. In his right hand, he held a fork, loaded with the spaghetti he was about to eat before catching Harry's eye. Harry had never noticed Malfoy's hands; they were delicate and sleek, most certainly incredibly soft. His long fingers seemed almost elegant - they were practically feminine. Forcing himself back to reality, an utterly bemused Harry Potter attempted a curt nod in his colleague’s direction (however, the quick, jerkiness of this action paired with his slightly slack-jawed expression conveyed his pure horror and awe perfectly). Embarrassing Harry even further, Malfoy looked rather cool and collected. He arched an eyebrow at Harry in response before returning to his meal. He didn’t look at Harry again for the entire meal, as though he was oblivious to his presence.

Dumbfounded yet stubborn, Harry had decided that ‘two can play at that game’ – the muggles love that one. For the rest of the meal Harry had enjoyed his food and exchanged small-talk with those sat around him, though Harry’s brain was still going haywire over the blonde’s very existence. Just as Neville started to talk about a girl he had asked out, McGonagall stood up at the head of the table.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we are all present and correct. Surely we have eaten enough for one afternoon. If you would like to make your way to the teacher’s quarters, please. Your bags will be outside your rooms.” Harry and his fellow professors watched intently as she spoke, taking in the older woman’s words. Harry glanced over Malfoy – despite telling himself he wouldn’t – to see that he, too, was watching and listening.

 He must have changed if he was giving McGonagall his time of day. Plus, she actually employed him, despite her old resentment against Slytherins… He couldn’t be the same person as he was when times were dark.

 Quickly, everyone rose from their seats, the sound of light chatter returning and building up as they left. Harry nudged Neville’s arm as they ascended the marble staircase to the fourth floor.

 “Neville, why did you never tell me Draco Malfoy was a professor here?” He kept his voice low, agitation evident within his speech.

“Didn’t want to put you off taking the job, mate. Besides, Malfoy keeps to himself. Seems like a good enough bloke these days – must be if McGonagall hired him.” Neville replied, unsurprised by Harry’s small outburst.

 “How long has he been teaching? What does he even teach?” Harry couldn’t help his curiosity; he was flawed by the fact his old enemy had returned to Hogwarts with all the awful memories it must have held for him (this was ironic, really, considering the fact he, himself, is Harry bloody Potter, and this castle was where he had faced his death multiple times).

 “This will be his second year. I have no idea what he did for the first year after the war; clearing his name with all the other ex-death eaters, I guess. I don’t really talk to him. Like I said, keeps to himself. He’s potions master – a bloody good one, from what I’ve heard. He isn’t head of Slytherin, though; that’s Professor Meyrick, the woman who was sat with McGonagall and Flitwick just now. She’s transfiguration professor, too. Helped rebuild this place and started at the same time as me – she’s a right laugh, but also dead serious. Professional but nice. Quite popular among students. Takes no crap.” Neville informed Harry, who was incredibly grateful for his friend’s knowledge and relaxed attitude.

 By the time Harry was fully up to date with who taught what, they had arrived at the entrance to the teacher’s quarters. Filch stood outside, his scabby old cat winding lovingly around his legs, awaiting the small crowd of teachers. Harry and Neville stood at the back, as though they were students again, waiting for someone to tell the Fat Lady the right password. Malfoy stood slightly away from everyone else, Harry noticed. His posture was elegant, slightly confident, and he was staring up at the ceiling, as though bored of waiting.

 “All your bags are outside your doors. Your key is already in your door. Have a nice night.” Filch droned, his right eye twitching as he spoke. “Come on, my sweet.” He cooed at Mrs Norris as he began walking away, his old limp still present in his step.

 This annual routine was second nature to the majority of Harry’s fellow professors. A large, wooden door that Harry remembered walking past hundreds of times as a child swung open, revealing a grand corridor that lead into a sharp L bend. The walls were lined with oak doors, embellished with intricate gold designs, depicting the Hogwarts crest in the centre. They each had a large, gold knocker and doorknob – a key was protruding from each of these, ready to be turned. Outside each of these sat various cases and bags, each belonging to a different professor. The flooring was marble, like the rest of the castle, but the walls were a glorious royal purple. Enchanted ever-lasting candles in matching golden holders illuminated the scene, helped by the large, arched glass doorway that stood at the end of the hallway, next to the dramatic bend. It lead out on to a balcony that overlooked the grounds – a view Harry had missed greatly over the past three years.

Stepping forwards, Neville and Harry entered the hallway in amongst the precession of teachers. Looking left and right, Harry read various name plaques on doors. ‘F. FLITWICK’, ‘S. TRELAWNEY’, ‘R. HOOCH’ and many more stared back at him as he heard the turning of keys and shutting of doors. He continued walking, bidding Neville farewell as the Herbology professor disappeared into his living space. Harry came to the end of the corridor, peering through the clear doors and drinking in what he saw before taking the left turn he was presented with. From what he had seen from the mere glance, this would be a view he would spend many nights appreciating. Every inch of the lake’s vastness could be taken in from this angle – Harry decided this was his new favourite spot in the castle. The final door on the right was slightly different as it was less grandly decorated. The sign read ‘TEACHERS’ BATHROOM’, to which Harry internally rolled his eyes, thinking about how the muggle world would view a shared bathroom as an act of vile savagery in these circumstances. Turning left, Harry came to a much smaller corridor with only two doors – one on either side of it - before reaching a dead end. He quickly recognised his own case, barely standing up, deeply in need of replacing. Its antithesis stood opposite it: sleek, sturdy and black. It looked almost brand new – or, simply taken care of, unlike Harry’s. Not thinking to read the sign on the door it stood by, he approached his own belongings. And, sure enough, the door before him bore a plaque saying ‘H. POTTER’. Harry took a deep breath, unable to truly take his remarkable situation in, and reached out to open his door.

 It wouldn’t budge, of course. This was Harry Potter, after all. The Boy Who Lived, defeater of dark wizards, who couldn’t complete simple tasks like a competent human being. He twisted the large handle once more – to no avail, of course. Deciding to try the key and cursing under his breath when it didn’t work, Harry didn’t even notice the approaching person.

 “Come on… Oh, Jesus Christ.” Harry grumbled.

 “Who?” Sounding both mocking and curious, this sudden interjection shocked the frustrated raven-haired boy into releasing an unflattering yelp, much like a scared puppy. Looking up, completely mortified, Harry’s eyes greeted Draco Malfoy’s for the second time that day. Harry’s face flushed the colour of Weasley hair as he began his undignified attempt to piece words together.

 “Just – just some bloke who can’t do much right now – for my door, I mean.” Harry muttered, realising that the supposedly confusing statement he had made was yet another muggle-ism. He awkwardly scratched the back of his head and shrugged his shoulders. Malfoy responded with a simple noise, conveying slight confusion, but also a sense of both superiority and control.

 “You can’t get through your door, can you, Potter?” Malfoy asked. Harry would have expected his signature snarky smirk to accompany a strong streak of mocking in his tone, but neither were present at their usual intensity – or, at least, the intensity they were in their school days. Malfoy had a hand on his hip; fingers splayed gracefully. Harry couldn’t help but hold his gaze on it for a second longer than considered normal, utterly fascinated by their shape and the way they matched the rest of him so well. He hoped Malfoy hadn’t picked up on this.

 He had, of course.

 “No, I can’t get in the ruddy door.” Harry admitted, sighing loudly in defeat. The edge of Malfoy’s lips twitched slightly before he took two wide strides over to Harry, presenting the pale palm of his hand, silently requesting that Harry gave him the key. Malfoy had closed this distance quickly, his long, slim legs carrying him elegantly. His shoes tapped loudly against the marble floor as he moved – he wore leather boots with Cuban heels, giving him a significant amount of height on Harry, who assumed they were both Italian and extremely expensive. Handing over the key, Harry took a step back and watched as his unexpected colleague opened the door for him, making it look as easy as pissing off Filch.

 “You turn it right, Potter. It’s the same when you lock it from the inside.” His expression sat neutrally on his face, his voice carrying a similar lack of emotion. Harry was, of course, sporting the same bemused expression that had been plastered all over his face at the meal. Had Draco Malfoy really just helped him? “Here,” Draco dropped the key back into Harry’s hand before turning on his heel and stepping over to his own belongings. Before Harry could thank him, Malfoy had disappeared inside his room. Practically gawping, Harry read the sign on the door that faced his own.

 ‘D. MALFOY’

 Grasping the handle of his case in one hand and tugging it into his room roughly, Harry shut the door behind him and scanned the room for his bed. Not even taking in his surroundings, he dropped the case and sat down with a thump. Running his hands through his hair and sighing, Harry contemplated just how bad his luck was. No matter how much he had changed, he was still going to be living across from Draco-bastard-Malfoy. But, then again, he had helped him open the door with no complaint. The Malfoy Harry once knew would have probably stolen the key and swallowed it. Harry hadn’t got it in him to even attempt picking apart his interest in the blonde’s hands. It was just a detail he’d never noticed before, it was just part of Malfoy…

 Harry’s case had fallen on its side when he had released it. It lay on the floor in front of his wardrobe that stood to the right of his door. It was oak, like the doors, and stood proudly beside a tall, thin, bookshelf that was pressed against the wall. It contained many textbooks that were likely to help with his teaching – and, of course, a copy of ‘Hogwarts: A History’; Harry could never escape it.

 A desk was against the left wall - quills, parchment and pots of ink sat upon it, ready to be used for marking and other responsibilities Harry would soon have. The chair tucked beneath it was sporting a purple, plush cushion that matched the rich wallpaper that wrapped around the room. A large window on the opposite wall illuminated the entire room, showing off the lake. The grand, double bed that Harry was currently sat on had coverings of the very same purple on the duvet and pillows and sat facing the wardrobe and door. A sofa sat proudly in the corner of the room to the right of the bed, black in colour with predictably purple cushions placed at either end of it. The floor was a pale carpet that Harry would appreciate putting his bare feet on – he had already been getting excited to feel the marble flooring beneath his toes for the weeks leading up to his arrival.

 Kicking off his shoes and lying back on his bed, Harry Potter stared up at the ceiling in an attempt to clear his mind. It really was him. Of course, it was.

 Draco Malfoy.

 


 

Draco shut his door behind him abruptly, stopping in his tracks. Instantly, he shut his eyes and drew in a deep breath, exhaling sharply as he stepped forward and leaned his case against the wardrobe carefully. Not bothering to look around – he already knew this room like the back of his hand – he pressed his fingers against his now closed eyes before tracing his hands over his forehead, finally carding through his silvery hair. Putting one pointed boot before the other, he made his way over to his bed where he sat with a thunk, staring down into his lap, groaning at the situation he had been involuntarily thrown into.

 Potter would surely have changed - the war had been over for years. He, himself, was not the same; the only reason he had conformed to such despicable ways was for survival – his own and his family’s. Now, as a teacher, the thought of the views he had once supposedly shared with the other death eaters sickened him to the very pits of his stomach. However, Potter did not know this – how would he? They had not spoken in years, and never in a manner that was neither spiteful nor offensive. Three years ago, Draco had stood and watched as his side of the battle destroyed the very place he now sat, the very place he taught in, the very place he had come to know as home again.

 Draco flicked his head up, attempting to shut his rambling mind up. He needed some peace and quiet, and not the kind the muggles get when they turn down their television. Looking around, he noted that the room was the same as ever; the tall, oak wardrobe to the right of the door hugging a bookshelf to its side. The same sofa sat in the corner, facing the desk he would soon sit at to mark test papers and classwork. Perched on the edge of his bed, long legs bent as the knees on which his pointy elbows rested, Draco stared up at his door, wondering if Potter would ever understand that he isn’t the man he used to be. They would have to get along, surely; they worked together, now. But why did Draco care what the professor thought? Surely, Potter’s views made no difference to him, other than giving him an easier life.

 The stupid Gryffindor’s presence truly does bring out the best in people, Draco thought as he recounted the exchange outside their rooms that had taken place mere minutes before. How come he had looked at Draco’s hands? Why was the Boy Who Lived so nervous? It could have been a front – was he really faking? Potter was likely unpacking now, not even considering Draco in the slightest.

 Gazing at his door with an odd emptiness spreading within his stomach, Draco rubbed a hand over his chin and rolled his eyes at the situation, trying to keep some form of a grip on himself. It really was him. Of course, it was.

 Harry Potter.

 

Chapter Text

The rest of the day rolled over considerably smoothly, consisting of Harry making his September lesson plans and trying desperately to not overanalyse his previous exchange with Malfoy. He worked into the evening, only stopping to eat dinner with Neville before retreating to bed. He was undeniably nervous for the term to start, but also excitedly anticipating the beginning of his new profession. This was his fresh start and would improve his situation greatly; it was required, but not entirely appreciated.

The following day marked one day until the arrival of students. Since Harry was prepared for his lessons, he allowed himself this pleasant Friday to explore the grounds to truly get his bearings. Having eaten a quick breakfast of bacon and eggs, he slipped on his favourite denim jacket and headed outside towards the lake. The sky was clear and as blue as the ocean, yet there was a bite to this brightness as the cool September air grasped Harry. He pulled his jacket around himself more, shielding himself from the chill.

The ground felt so familiar beneath his feet – he silently thanked Merlin that the grass wasn’t wet, or else his Converse would be damp (these Muggle shoes are predominantly fabric, making them most unpleasant to wear whilst wet). Harry had missed these lakeside walks, the vast expanse of water to his left leading out towards the countryside. Harry’s mind began to read through his old memories, turning the pages of his teenage years. Walking along, Harry passed the spot where Ron had once accidentally walked into a sixth-year girl in their second year, embarrassing himself horribly; Harry hadn’t let him live that one down for months. Harry also noticed the place where Hermione and Ginny had threatened to throw him in the lake if he didn’t study for his History of Magic test – he never did study for it.

Truth be told: without insignificant, silly moments like these, Harry’s time at Hogwarts would have been miserable. He had been incredibly lucky to have these people in his life. There were times when he didn’t feel the pressure of the whole wizarding world depending on him, and there were times where he wasn’t The Boy Who Lived. There were times where he was just an average student refusing to revise for his exams. He wanted to pull pranks, kiss his girlfriend and enjoy his life.

That couldn’t be the way it went, though. He’s Harry Potter.

His fun was extinguished by a gust of wind that came in the form of a prophecy. He was a child with an unspeakable fate. His relationship failed due to the consequences of this hell, and the combination of this within his shit-storm of a life lead to quite the opposite of enjoyment. He left Hogwarts and he was miserable. But now he was back, could this be reversed?

Besides, he hadn’t been the only one who was miserable, had he?

Harry’s feet flattened the grass as he walked. On his right was a tree, one that sparked a significant memory of Harry’s. In his fourth year, he had watched from his window as a certain blonde spoke into his hand where he held the vile animagus form of Rita Skeeter.

Malfoy really got up to a lot, didn’t he? As did I, I suppose. But I was fighting on the good side, wasn’t I? But, surely Malfoy didn’t want to be who he was? If he did, he wouldn’t be here and McGonagall would never have employed him in the first place! Malfoy must have been miserable. Malfoy’s family must have pushed so much on him. Voldemort literally lived in Malfoy Manor, how did they cope? How is Malfoy so collected? Malfoy… Did Malfoy take the dark mark? Do scars litter Malfoy’s body like they do mine? Malfoy… Why are Malfoy’s hands so delicate? Malfoy… Malfoy…

“MALFOY-!” he gasped as his foot caught against an elegantly outstretched leg.

A moment passed, consisting of a startled Harry leaping away from the figure sat on the grass.

“You should watch your step, Potter,” Malfoy announced from where he was seated, humour grazing his tone. The ghost of a smirk played upon his lips as he looked up at the startled young man.

“S-Sorry, Malfoy. Was lost in thought and- yeah…” Harry apologised awkwardly, his right arm extending to nervously scratch the back of his head and neck; he was practically cringing.

“No matter,” Malfoy responded neutrally. At this moment Harry noticed that his colleague was holding an open book, tapping a finger on the back cover. Just as Harry was about to bid him a good day before walking off in both denial and shame, Malfoy spoke again. “Sorted out your lesson plans, Potter?” Harry was dumbstruck – was Draco Malfoy making small talk with him?

“I- Er- Yes, actually. All of my September classes are roughly planned. Have you?” Harry found his feet as his statement went on, relieved to have found common ground with Malfoy; or so he thought he had.

“Potter, the only teachers who fully plan their entire timetable are those who are new and Neville Longbottom,” Malfoy spoke with a smirk which both amused and angered Harry. But despite the miniature dig at his friend, Malfoy’s voice contained no malice (could this be Harry’s deeply feared, complex muggle concept: banter?). Harry shuffled awkwardly, surprised that this wasn’t routine for all the professors.

“Makes sense I guess,” Harry responded quietly, lowering his hand to fiddle with the sleeve of his jacket. “How do you know what to do each lesson, then?” He questioned, nervous to embarrass himself.

“Potter, I’m potions master. I mark where each class has got up to in their textbook. For whichever class I have, I open their textbook to which potion they’ve got to, summon the ingredients they will need to make it from the store cupboard, write the method on the board and proceed to walk around, silently judging their appalling chopping and brewing.” Malfoy listed this off as though it were as simple as tying your shoes. “Teaching is no joke, though. Don’t take your profession lightly.” Harry had no idea what this meant, but nodded immediately in response, too bewildered by Malfoy’s willingness to converse.

“Bit tougher since I’m defence, though. Need to move desks around for practical lessons, set more writing tasks… I’ll figure it out as I go on.” Harry speculated, his discomfort returning when he came to focus on the fact he was stood and Malfoy was sat, yet he felt as though Malfoy was towering above him with his superiority. A few more moments passed before Malfoy spoke again, catching Harry by surprise when he finally did.

“Nervous to teach, Potter?” He questioned, not quite casually, but definitely not maliciously.

“Yes-” Harry blurted out before he could even stop himself. In that moment he wanted to bury himself alive, embarrassment boiling within him. He had just admitted his fears to his ex-enemy – or so he assumed they were no longer enemies – how laughable is that?

“Naturally,” Draco responded, closing his book, pulling in his outstretched leg to meet the one he had tucked beneath him before standing, all in one swift movement. Harry had to tear his eyes away to avoid becoming fixated by the other man’s elegance; he was quite intriguing to watch.

“I suppose it is,” Harry replied once Malfoy was stood a few feet away from him. Malfoy cocked an eyebrow as he nodded in response, slipped the book beneath his coat-clad arm and began to walk in the direction Harry had been. After stepping a few paces and realising Harry was yet to follow, he turned and frowned, the creases in his forehead asking Harry why in the name of Merlin’s saggy you-know-what he wasn’t coming. Alarmed that he wasn’t simply being abandoned, Harry scrambled to meet Malfoy, ensuring there was a significant gap between them as they started to walk together, ensuring that no one’s personal bubbles were invaded. The wind began to pick up as they moved silently, causing Harry to internally curse his stupid muggle jacket (denim, although fashionable, has never done anything for keeping out the cold). Harry pulled it around himself in response, shoving his hands into his pockets. On the other hand, Malfoy’s long, black coat engulfed him in an evident warmth that made Harry exceedingly jealous. It was accompanied by a deep burgundy scarf as though this was the middle of winter. Looking away from Malfoy and at his own feet, Harry involuntarily shivered.

“Not the most sensible choice of clothing.” Malfoy piped up as if Harry didn’t already know this. “Get your wand out and cast a heating charm.” He advised, slightly bluntly. It was Harry’s turn to nod in response to this before wandlessly casting a heating charm over himself, his hands still in his pockets. Further seconds of silence slipped away as Harry enjoyed his newfound heat. “Well?” Malfoy asked, confusing Harry.

“Well, what?” Harry asked, genuine confusion ringing clear within his words.

“Aren’t you going to cast it on yourself?” Malfoy asked as though he were talking to a child.

“I did?” Harry asked this as though it was a question before realising that he hadn’t used a wand. “Ah, I see.” He corrected himself, removing one hand from his pocket, flexing his fingers slightly as he held his hand out, as though showing Malfoy his internal magic through his fingertips was possible.

“Wandless?” Malfoy asked, much more coolly than it would have been vice-versa.

“Yeah, taught myself it all over the last three years. Much more practical.” Harry explained, watching the jigsaw pieces slot together in his colleague’s mind as the situation began to make sense. Draco nodded respectfully, clearly impressed. “Can you do wandless?” Harry asked curiously, finding his feet within the conversation now they were on a subject he was confident in.

“A few simple spells. Nothing much.” Malfoy responded honestly. This still impressed Harry; wandless magic is incredibly hard to learn, even in small amounts.

“Impressive,” Harry answered, speaking his honest opinion. Malfoy merely scoffed in response.

“What will you be teaching in your first few weeks, then, Potter?” Malfoy asked, folding his arms to shield himself from the wind that had suddenly arrived in fleeting gusts.

“Well, I know lumos maxima is on the agenda,” Harry responded, holding out a hand which suddenly contained a bright, swirling ball of light. Malfoy glanced to his left, cocked an eyebrow at the orb before looking straight ahead once again.

“Show-off.” He finally said, a flicker of a smirk sneaking onto his face. Harry let out a breathy chuckle before closing his fingers over the palm of his hand, causing the ball of light to vanish as quickly as it had appeared. They continued to walk in a somewhat comfortable silence; Harry felt partly relieved that their conversation had seemingly come to an end, but he also wondered if he should walk off since they were done. Was Malfoy getting annoyed?


 It had been quiet for what felt like many years. Draco didn’t want to appear too conversational, or else Potter may be intimidated or suspicious of him. He was surprised that Potter wasn’t more obviously skeptical of him; he was, and technically always will be, a death eater. Draco began to frown as his shoulders tensed, his mind racing as it made violent assumptions.

Potter should hate me! In fact, why hasn’t Potter already grabbed me, petrified me and called the Minister to come and arrest me? Yes, I have changed, but Potter doesn’t know this! He must be faking. I might as well present my wand to him along with my freedom. Merlin, I’m going to be back in Azkab-

“It still doesn’t feel like I’m back here. I keep thinking I’ll be going back to my flat tonight or something.” Potter’s words sliced through his thoughts like a knife. His tone was awkward and he’d done another of those breathy chuckles afterward; Draco realised that he did these when he was slightly uncomfortable and making small talk.

“Have you lived there since… we left here?” Draco quietly asked, unable to outright mention the war after his sudden fears of being labelled with his old title which he so despised.

“Yeah. It’s nothing special. I live alone, but my godson, Teddy, comes to stay with me two nights a week.” Harry responded, slightly perkier now he could bring Teddy into the conversation. “I live in muggle London. It’s nice to be away from the press. I wasn’t sure about taking this job because of that reason, but I guess I had to do something with myself sometime.” He continued, shrugging his shoulders as he concluded. Draco’s ears practically pricked up at Potter’s mention of living alone – hadn’t he been in a relationship with the Weasley girl? The Weaslette, was it? Unsure of why he cared so much, Draco decided to focus on something else Potter had mentioned: Teddy.

“Son of Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, is he not?” Draco asked, little emotion in his voice.

“Yes,” Harry spoke almost in a whisper; he could barely be heard. He clearly hadn’t been expecting the mention of these people.

“Battle of Hogwarts, correct?” Draco quietly questioned, his tone respectful.

“Mmhm. Teddy lives with Andromeda, now – that’s Tonks’ mother. She’s an incredibly brave woman.” Potter informed Draco, his tone still low, unknowingly putting his foot in it (you don’t want to know the muggle meaning of that one, it’s quite disgusting). Mentally, Draco clapped his hands and shouted HAH! but kept it internalised.

“I know, Potter. Andromeda Tonks is my aunt.” Draco drawled, sarcasm and humour rolling off his tongue playfully. Harry raised his eyebrows in realisation, opening his mouth to speak before Draco beat him to it. “I know, us purebloods with our grossly inbred bloodlines. Your godson is technically my cousin, kind of. It’s all so distant I wouldn’t count it.” Draco smirked at Harry, whose expression had returned to the classic slack-jawed one it had been when he’d noticed Draco across the great hall the previous day.

“Merlin…” Harry muttered, mentally connecting all the dots.

“Quite,” Draco said shortly.

A few more quiet minutes passed, the only sound to be heard was the wind and their feet on the ground. They had come quite a distance by now, far away from where students generally gathered. Draco shifted his book from under his left arm to his right, catching Potter’s attention as his eyes momentarily locked on his long fingers that gripped the spine of the book. He ripped his gaze away before posing his question.

“What is it you were reading?” He asked inquisitively.

“Poetry. It clears my head.” Draco responded simply, quietly pleased that his company had spoken first.

“May I ask you a question, Malfoy?” is what Potter said next, causing Draco’s shoulders to tense. This was a phrase he dreaded. How had he gone from content to uncomfortable in a matter of seconds?

“If you must.” He bluntly responded, his unwillingness to comply springing forth. This didn’t stop Harry Potter, of course.

“How long have you been teaching here?” It seemed innocent enough, but Draco knew what was coming.

“This will be my second year.”

A moment passed.

“What did you do for the first year after the war?”

The image of the inside of his cell in Azkaban came to Draco’s mind, intertwined with his numerous court cases. The sounds of people whispering his name as he passed in public came next, invading his mind. His left forearm felt as though it burned due to his hyperawareness of the mark which cursed it. Draco’s mind flicked through the months of that year, the bitter taste of muggle alcohol and something they called cigarettes crawling along his tongue. His throat tightened as he remembered how he had practically lost himself, throwing his miserable life away, thinking his name would never get cleared.

Draco Malfoy did not talk about that year.

“Malfoy?” Potter sounded concerned and Draco quickly realised that he had not responded. A sudden anger fuelling him, he stopped in his tracks and turned to face a surprised Potter.

“I do not speak of it.” He spat out, wrapping his arms around his torso as though it could protect him from his past. Potter’s face crumbled slightly, but he was undefeated.

“I was only asking. I figured it was a fair exchange for me telling you how I’ve lived and- ”

“Well, it’s not.” Draco was terrified of this topic and had mastered the art of masking this with rage.

“Okay, okay. I apologise.” Potter spoke softly, putting his hands up in surrender. This only angered Draco more, making him wish he had never spoken to Potter under that tree when they had crossed paths.

Draco scowled, tilted his chin jerkily to look down his nose at Potter before taking off towards the castle without another word. As soon as he had turned away his scowl fell into a deep frown, his features crumbling as his angry front deteriorated into the deep despair he had spent so long repressing. He hoped with all his being that Potter would not follow him; he needed to be alone in that moment, or at least far away from everyone – especially Harry Potter. His mind overturned itself countlessly as he regretted his every move from his previous conversation, scolding himself like his father used to when he was a child.

This is why you hide, Draco. This is why you don’t trust people anymore. It was foolish to attempt to initiate contact with him in the first place. It was a pitiful act of desperation and loneliness; I’m pathetic. Potter only remained in my company because he pitied me. He pitied the lonely death eater, how utterly tragic. I don’t need anyone’s pity and I certainly do not care what Harry Potter thinks. He is irrelevant and shan’t cross my thoughts again today.

Just keep telling yourself that, Draco.


 Harry watched as Malfoy stormed off towards the castle, regret and worry engulfing him immediately. Had he really been that unsubtle in his asking?

Malfoy’s shoulders were hunched as he walked away, his arms still protectively crossed over him. Harry could see the poetry book poking out from beneath the blonde’s skinny right arm and wondered what kind of poetry it was. Clearly, Draco had some deep-rooted issues, so it must have been a collection of angst-inducing, hyperbolically depressing language.

Harry shook his head in an attempt to wipe his saddened, confused expression off his tanned face. He hadn’t exactly nagged and pushed Malfoy, had he? He didn’t know that he would reply so negatively! Harry racked his brains to come up with some comfort for himself, his thoughts racing as he stood perfectly alone within the grounds of Hogwarts, watching his peculiar colleague vanish into the distance.

 What’s Malfoy’s problem? Sure, he was likely getting his name cleared, but I managed similar social stigma, surely? Or am I simply navel-gazing? I’d never mean to upset Malfoy, not after all we went through. He’s surely creating this big issue with my words for himself, I didn’t do anything deliberately wrong, did I? I hope he’s okay. Not that I care – well, I do, but not to the level where I’d be running after him. He wouldn’t want that, would he? I don’t know. I need to head back inside. I’ll keep my mind off Malfoy somehow. I can think about more than just him.

Just keep telling yourself that, Harry.

As Harry began slowly making his way back to the castle, now utterly alone, a sudden noise erupted from the lake.

Splash!

The giant squid and a slightly smaller - but still giant - squid emerged together, swimming above the surface of the deep waters, circling one another. This must have been the female squid Hagrid had found.

Merlin, even the giant squid was falling in love. Yet, here was the famous Harry Potter, with no hope of finding anyone or anything who will truly love him in a way that makes your heart flutter and your knees weak. He may have had fame, fortune, and friends, but what was that without true love?

Harry Potter was to be alone.

Or so he thought.

Chapter Text

The sound of general conversation fluttered around Draco as he and his fellow professors took their seats for the sorting ceremony and start-of-term feast. Professor Meyrick’s hearty laugh filled the great hall as she and Flitwick exchanged jokes, the cheerful tone clashing with Draco’s mood. This, surely, was a moment to be professional; he remembered the professors sitting silently as he walked in for his sorting all those years ago.

He pulled out his chair with his left hand, swiftly sitting down on it. He was situated at the end of the row on the right side of the hall, Professor Sinstra on his left. He still wasn’t feeling talkative after his exchange with Potter the previous day, but the beginning of term was guaranteed to remind him of who he is now: a professor, and therefore a good person, whose past is no longer of relevance. Glancing down the row to his left, he saw Trelawney shuffling nervously in her seat as well as Longbottom sitting calmly, awaiting the entrance of the students. McGonagall stood at the front of the hall, straightening the parchment on the podium that Draco still associated with Dumbledore’s old speeches and outbursts of short, nonsense phrases.

Reverting his eyes to the stretch of table, he tried desperately to ignore the question his brain repeatedly asked as soon as he laid his eyes on the empty seat at the opposite end of the row. It was obvious who was missing from it; his presence had always grabbed Draco by the shoulders and spun his brain in circles. There was no figure absent-mindedly bobbing his leg or scuffing his awfully dirty muggle shoes along the floor. No one was there, messing up their already ludicrous hair and pushing their glasses up their nose. Draco fought against himself to stop wondering. He didn’t give a damn who was late – if anything, it was a good thing for him because it shows him in a good light for being on time. Pointlessly, Draco tried to think of anything but his infuriating colleague, though his mind still stung with the memories of his brief interrogation yesterday as it did flips wondering why he cared so much about The-Boy-Who-Lived’s whereabouts.

Where the bloody hell is Harry Potter?

Draco checked his watch; the sorting was to start in five minutes. The first years were likely clambering out of their boats whilst the second to seventh years bounded up towards the front gates, robes blowing in the September wind. He wasn’t nervous, he’d done this the previous year, but all those faces looking up at you was still daunting when you knew the fact they all knew who you once were. Draco didn’t have the chance to slip into a brief period of self-pity; the sound of the large door opening and footsteps was far more interesting.

Harry Potter had just walked in.

“Sorry, everyone. Am I late, technically?” He asked, frowning apologetically at McGonagall as he quickly strode towards the front of the hall. He was wearing a grey button-up shirt and simple black trousers beneath his robes – they were also black. Draco almost approved until he noticed the familiar, ungodly muggle shoes – Converse, were they called? They’re white canvas. However, they were clean, making them slightly more forgivable than usual.

McGonagall assured Potter that all was well and he took his seat on the far end of the table from Draco. Draco made a point to not look over at him, merely staring straight ahead, awaiting the arrival of Filch and the second to seventh years. Even if Potter stood on his chair and screamed across the hall to Draco, he would not have flinched, broken his composure or looked at him.

He could function just fine without him.

Surely, he could.

 


 

Harry couldn’t believe his luck. Of all evenings to receive a floo call from Teddy and Andromeda, it had to be the one where he was already vastly behind schedule and couldn’t find a matching pair of socks. On one hand, he was thrilled to hear from the cheerful child. On the other, he really needed to get a move on and get down to the sorting.

“I miss you!” Teddy called through the fireplace as his godfather frantically searched his room for a smart outfit. He internally cursed himself for not organising this sooner; he’d been procrastinating like a bloody Ravenclaw.

“I miss you too, Ted. How are you and your aunt?” He responded as he did up his robes, checking his watch and grimacing at how little time he had to get to his seat in the great hall.

“Good!” He responded cheerily. Harry could picture his big grin perfectly; there’d be gaps where his baby teeth had fallen out and fluffy blue hair tumbling down around his ears and over his forehead. Harry smiled and shook his head, knowing he had to say goodbye. He already missed Teddy greatly; being away from him for so long was going to be tough.

“I’ve got to go, little guy. It’s teacher stuff, I’ll tell you all about it when we next talk. You’re going to be good for Andromeda and let her put you to bed now, yeah?” Harry spoke softly, leaning down close to his fireplace as though that would close the distance between him and his godson.

“Okay, Harry. Love you,” Teddy cooed in response, melting Harry’s heart.

“I love you too, mate.” He smiled, waving his hand and ending the floo call. He shook his head to rid it of the sudden emotion that was swelling within him, dropping to one knee to tie his Converse. They were part of the reason he was so late – they were so dirty that he needed to use multiple cleaning charms to finally make them white again.

Moving through the castle at a half-jog, he quickly arrived at the great hall. Stopping outside to check his watch, he saw that the ceremony was to begin in five minutes; he had gotten there just in time before the entire school did. Ruffling his hair just like his father once would, he pushed open the door and stepped in, calling his most sincere apologies out to his fellow staff.

“It truly is fine, Potter. You haven’t even missed the start of the feast.” McGonagall assured him as he took his seat, smiling warmly at him – he wondered if she’d be this easy-going on the other members of staff if they were to do this.

Harry had glanced up at Malfoy as he entered, noting that he’d be sat as far away from him as possible. Harry felt an odd mixture of relief and disappointment at this – he’d like to smooth things out with the blonde, but at the same time, it would simply be easier to keep his distance. The man was clearly temperamental. Malfoy wasn’t looking at Harry when he came in but was merely staring straight ahead, as though no more had happened than someone coughing or a fork being dropped – this bothered Harry slightly more, but he kept his mouth shut.

Filch entered soon after, leading a crowd of second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh years into the hall. They quickly split off into their correct house tables, filling the great hall with the noise of robles rustling, footsteps fumbling and children chattering. Once they were seated and silence had fallen, the first years began to stream in, lining up along the front of the hall in preparation for their sorting. Harry shuffled in his chair uncomfortably as all eyes fell on him; some people gasped, others simply gawped.

“So the rumours were true!” Someone whispered.

“The actual Harry Potter!” Another chimed in.

“I thought he was basically a hermit?” Yet another person spoke quietly.

McGonagall cleared her throat, restoring order. She introduced herself, welcoming everyone to another year at Hogwarts. Fewer eyes lay on Harry now – the first of many first years had been called up to be sorted.

The sorting hat started the ceremony with its song before sending a first year, Amelia Barnes, to Gryffindor (Harry internally cheered in response to hearing this new addition to his old house). Gregory Greywood went to Hufflepuff, another boy went to Gryffindor, another to Slytherin, three girls in a row went to Ravenclaw and so on. Watching as a young boy walked over to the Slytherin table, Harry noticed two girls who were seated down the row from where he chose to sit. They were deep in conversation with one another, evidently happy to see each other. They looked around fifth or sixth year age and clearly could not have cared less about being at Hogwarts, the sorting in general or the supposed celebrity saviour who sat before them at the front of the hall. One had long, red hair – not Weasley red, this red was either beautifully charmed or dyed the muggle way. It was dark and rich, like red wine. She had a pale complexion and Harry could see her top button was undone (for her sake he hoped McGonagall didn’t spot that). She was whispering in the ear of the other girl, her perfectly manicured hand covering her mouth – her black nails were bound to land her in detention. The other girl’s hair was much shorter, curlier and a shade of dirty blonde. She wore her uniform neatly, her robes pulled tightly around her. She was smiling to herself at whatever the other girl was saying, her cheeks rosy in the light of the hall.

Skimming over the rest of the hall in a desperate attempt to not make eye contact with any student that was staring at him, Harry concluded that he never truly appreciated how many students this school took on each year. Hundreds upon hundreds of young people sat before him, shades of black, red, green, blue and yellow flashing before his eyes. Deciding his safest bet was to continue watching the sorting, he tore his eyes away from the great mass of students and watched as Henry McNabb made his way over to the Ravenclaw table.

Immediately bored and unable to resist the urge, Harry flicked his eyes over to catch a glimpse of Malfoy. He thought he’d likely be watching the sorting contently, a self-satisfied smirk on his smug face because he knew exactly how to look both professional, intimidating and everything Harry wasn’t being at this moment in time.

But he wasn’t.

Harry looked to his right and found that Malfoy was looking to his left, directly at Harry.

Has he been staring at me?

Harry blinked hard, likely pulling his typical bemused face that he seemed to be doing more often than usual. Predictably, Malfoy raised an eyebrow at Harry in response before turning back to the sorting, folding his hands together and looking completely at ease.

You’re familiar with that feeling when you’re shocked. When it’s like something is rising in your chest. It’s the same when you’re disappointed, embarrassed, upset; the list goes on. Well, Harry felt as though a large balloon was pressing up against his lungs, constricting his ability to breathe as his face burned red with the shame.

How can that evil git be so well-composed whilst I’m about to snap in two every time we make eye contact?

Harry begged himself to not look over at him again, imagining the way his sleek hands must be elegantly knotting together or how his fingertips would be pattering against the polished tabletop. By some incredible chance, Harry managed to remain sane and proceeded to watch the sorting (though his mind was elsewhere).

Draco Malfoy was to be the death of him.

 


 

Bollocks.

I’m a gentleman, but shit, bollocks, and shit.

Potter caught me looking at him.

It was only a quick glance, for Merlin’s sake! It’s not my fault his hair is in such a state that I had to stop and observe it, or that I had to glare at his awfully filthy glasses. It was not my fault.

Draco threaded his fingers together to distract himself, directing what would have been blush atop of his cheeks into his fingertips as he forced it out of his body into the table top, drumming his fingers against it. Even he surely didn’t look composed at this moment, embarrassment was rippling through him like fire in his veins. He couldn’t sit still.

He didn’t even notice that the sorting had ended.

He did, however, notice when McGonagall introduced the newest edition to Hogwarts’ staff: Professor Harry Potter.

Of course, that name caught his attention.

Famous Potter.

Chapter Text

Monday morning arrived much faster than Harry would have appreciated. Though he was prepared to teach, his nerves were getting the better of him. At breakfast, he sat with a rather cheerful Professor Longbottom who was practically ecstatic to get back out into his greenhouses. Also, he enthusiastically told Harry about the woman whom he had previously mentioned asking out; he had told Harry about this on the Thursday they had arrived at Hogwarts. He retold one of their conversations and mentioned something about an upcoming date they were going on. Harry could only half-listen; his other ear was open to the whispers that came from the students’ tables as they watched their famous defence professor’s every move. Uncomfortable, Harry stared down into his toast and nodded along to Neville’s continuous talking – he seemed to not notice the groups of students who were fascinated by his colleague.

Leaving breakfast early, Harry made his way to his classroom on the third floor to prepare for his first lesson of the term. Entering room 3C, he was greeted with the familiar dragon’s skeleton that he had sat below in his school years. Waving his hand to move the stacked desks into where they should be, Harry walked to his own desk at the front of the classroom where he had already placed today’s work in neat piles, ready to be handed out to students. Checking the blackboard was clean, he began to contemplate – no, he was panicking slightly – whether he should invite the students in from inside the room by opening the door magically or walking to the door to invite them in himself. Was the latter too personal? Or was that how his teachers had always done it? His mind was blank.

Deciding to invite them in himself, Harry’s nerves spiked as 9am rolled around and his class began to build up outside. Taking a deep breath and striding over to the door, he turned the handle and revealed himself to his first ever class: fifth year Slytherins and Gryffindors.

Outside his door stood two girls whom he instantly recognised alongside their classmates. They looked insufferably bored already, resembling the way he and Ron had once dragged themselves into their lessons. One half of the pair had long, vividly crimson hair and was noticeably tall and thin. Her pale skin contrasted with her dark makeup and she twirled the end of her hair around a finger – the nail on which was painted black. To her left stood a shorter, more awkward looking girl with curly, mousy brown hair. Her freckled face was without any makeup and she was biting her nails as she waited. Her uniform was neat as opposed to the other girl’s; her tie was loose and her top button was undone, just as it had been at the sorting feast.

“Good morning, come on in,” Harry spoke as clearly as he could, trying to sound professional but not demanding – or should he be demanding? The class filed in silently, taking their seats wherever they saw fit. Harry had not devised a seating plan; his plan was to get to know each class and then deciding if they needed one or if they were well-behaved enough to do without. Harry made his way to the front of the class, walking past students, some of whom seemed slightly star-struck to be directly in his presence. Ignoring this and turning to face his class, Harry allowed himself a moment to take in all the faces that were staring up at him, almost thirty students clad in black robes, some with green and some with red.

Harry noticed that the two Slytherin girls he had recognised were sat at the back, looking rather underwhelmed by their famous teacher. Harry appreciated this, although they did resemble the stereotypical sulky teenager.

Just like me in my school days, then.

“Good morning, all. Welcome to your first defence against the dark arts lesson of the year. I will be your professor for the year, and we will be covering numerous topics that are listed in your textbooks. My name is Professor Potter, does anyone have any questions about how these lessons will be carried out?” As Harry had introduced himself he had waved his hand towards the chalk board, making a piece of chalk write out “Professor Potter” on the board behind him – this caused a few “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” from his class. He could have sworn he also heard someone mutter the words ‘show-off’.

When no hands were raised and Harry concluded that no one had any questions (he was thoroughly grateful that no one had sarcastically questioned why he told them his name when it was evident who he was) he requested that everyone got their textbooks out and turned to page 211. This was the beginning of chapter 15: “Advanced hexes and jinxes and how to repel them”. Relieved that his first lesson wasn’t going to be overly heavy-going, Harry began to explain variations of hexes and jinxes, commonly used ones, getting students to suggest ones that they know and having them take notes. Things were running smoothly and Harry felt comfortable; the class was engaging well, apart from two students.

These two students were the two girls at the back whom Harry had come to know, having called the register, as Macy Madder and Olivia Braithwaite. Macy, with her long red hair, was whispering into Olivia’s ear through the cloud of curls that covered it, just as she had done at the sorting feast. Olivia was giggling gently at whatever Macy was saying, and Harry knew just how to silence their jokes. Doing this felt almost alien to him, after all, he had spent many years of his life whispering silly things into his own friends’ ears! However, this was his job now, and he was not going to half-arse it.

“We’re going to be taking a more practical approach to this final portion of the lesson. May I have a volunteer, please?” When no hands were raised, Harry caught the eye of Macy.

“Ah, Miss Madder! Come to the front, please.” He smiled pleasantly, not a spark of passive-aggressiveness or annoyance present in his tone. The pupil huffed under her breath, pushing her chair back dramatically and sauntering up to the front of the class – her manner seemed almost familiar to Harry, but this was probably her disinterest towards school life that he had also once felt at her age. “Alright, everyone. I’m going to be demonstrating the jelly-legs jinx on Miss Madder, here.” Harry announced, resulting in collective chuckling from the class. “It’s Miss Madder’s job to try and use the counter-curse that I have been clearly telling you all as I explained this jinx to you. Once she has successfully thrown it off, someone else may have a go if they wish.” Macy rolled her eyes and chuckled quietly to herself, knowing that he knew she hadn’t listened to a word he had been saying as he had been teaching the class. She wanted to be annoyed, but this new guy was too damn good, and she definitely did deserve what was coming, even if it was embarrassing.

Pulling out his wand for the first time (to show the class the way they would be doing it), Professor Potter waved it in a circular fashion and exclaimed, “Jellify!”

Macy’s legs did, indeed, go to jelly. She stood, glued to the spot, wobbling around, attempting to keep herself upright. The class – particularly the Gryffindors – laughed aloud, drinking in in their classmate’s amusing state.

“And what would the counter-curse be, Miss Madder?” Harry asked over the top of the laughter of the students.

“I wouldn’t know, sir.” She responded, both her arms extended outwards at her sides to try and keep her balance. Harry allowed her to wobble for another moment before responding.

“And why is that?” Harry asked her, his teacher-esque tone becoming easier to use.

“I wasn’t listening.” She mumbled in response, almost losing her balance completely, causing a small grin to spread across her face – it was rather funny. Harry couldn’t help but smile, too; she did deserve this small punishment, and she had definitely been a good sport about it.

“If I catch you speaking to Miss Braithwaite again this lesson it’ll have to be detention for you both. I won’t be taking house points from you today, but that won’t stop me in future.” Harry told her, causing the class to grow much quieter and a subtle “ooooooooh” to come from one corner of the room; Harry assumed this was the muggleborns as the sound was incredibly familiar to him, often heard coming from groups of muggle teenagers on the streets when something interesting happened amongst them.

“Understood.” She nodded to him, her confidence returning slightly.

“Unjellify,” Harry spoke coolly, waving his wand casually. Macy looked slightly infuriated at the simplicity of it.

“You may return to your seat. Now, for homework…” Harry began to explain their essay recapping what a hex is, what a jinx is, examples of them both, how they can be prevented and when it is appropriate to use them. As Macy made her way to her seat, Harry heard her mutter to Olivia as she sat down.

“I can’t believe the counter-curse was just unjellify.” She complained, resulting in Olivia giving her a comforting pat on the arm as she silently laughed at her.

“Miss Madder, Miss Braithwaite. Detention.” Harry spoke loudly, cutting through the pair’s exchange like Gryffindor’s sword. They both rolled their eyes but nodded in defeat. Harry instructed them to arrive in his classroom at the beginning of lunchtime.

The lesson wrapped up smoothly, and a few students even thanked Harry for the interesting lesson. He was incredibly relieved that it had gone well but was worried that he may have been too harsh on the odd pair of girls who sat at the back of the room. In all fairness, they had been breaking basic classroom rules and by instantly dishing out a detention Harry was, indeed, making it pretty clear that he wouldn’t be taking any shit this year.

He wasn’t actually going to give them a proper detention, though. It was their first day back - who was he, Snape? He was simply going to warn them that he was letting them off lightly. He hadn’t taken a disliking to Miss Madder – she definitely felt familiar to him, he just didn’t know why, yet – but she needed to be kept in line.

Sitting down behind his desk, embracing the fact that he was free for this period until lunch, he began looking through the notes the students had made in class this lesson. He began to realise that as the lesson had gone on, the students had appeared less and less dazzled by his very presence. This was definitely because he was speaking to them and being nothing more than a teacher, making them realise that he really is just another bloke. This gave Harry hope that, eventually, the entire school would stop looking at him like The Boy Who Lived and more like The Bloke Who Taught Defence, or something else mediocre and average that didn’t involve autographs or staring or newspaper headlines.

All in all, his first few days at Hogwarts had gone quite well and he was settling in considerably comfily. There was simply one thing that was bothering him aside from the overwhelming looks of sheer adoration from many of the students. There was just one thing that had his mind busy with wonder, confusion, and questions. There was just one man who had embedded himself in Harry’s thoughts more than any other ever had.

Draco Malfoy.

 


 

For the past ten minutes, Draco had been toying with a certain idea, holding a solid debate with himself the entire time.

“Fine, fine, fine.” Draco groaned to himself in defeat, listening to the sound of Potter’s door opening and closing as his colleague left, presumably for breakfast. “But I shouldn’t be so goddamn pathetic.” He continued to mutter in annoyance as he put his quill down. “I should be professional. Friends? Really?” He continued to scold himself as he reread what he had just written. “I shouldn’t be considering any of our previous exchanges. They’re irrelevant to this job or my life at all.” He continued to talk on a low level to himself as he stood up, leaving his room in the teachers’ quarters and sliding the note he had just written under Potter’s door. He’d been having this argument with himself all morning, and finally, the presumably weaker side gave in.

How old am I? Thirteen? I sound like I want to shag behind the greenhouses.

The note had read as follows:

 

Potter,

My apologies for my previous, distasteful outburst by the lake on Friday. There are some aspects of all our lives that we never wish to touch upon, and you unknowingly asked about one of mine. I do not blame you or excuse my own rash actions, but I felt you had the right to know. Meet me by the same tree we did on Friday after dinner tonight, I’m curious to know how your first day of teaching will go.

Draco Malfoy

 

Having slid it underneath Potter’s door, Draco straightened his back and headed off to breakfast, attempting to put all thoughts of the other Professor’s tanned skin and raven hair firmly out of his mind.

Not that I’d been thinking about him at all, though. Well, of course, he crossed my mind! We’d conversed! It’s not my fault that he passed through my mind once or twice as I fell asleep. Or as I sat at my desk, observing my class. Or as I woke up and showered this morning.

Okay, so maybe I think about Potter a lot. And yes, I asked to meet him.

That doesn’t mean anything though.

Stupid Potter.

 


 

When lunchtime arrived Harry was sat at his desk, reading through the work on boggarts his third years had written in the lesson he had just taught them. The class had done well; they had engaged perfectly as he explained what a boggart was, where they can be found and how to tackle them. The next lesson with this class would be facing one. Hearing a knock at the door, Harry glanced up from his paperwork before looking back down, acting professionally.

“Come in,” He called, continuing to mark as Miss Braithwaite and Miss Madder entered, awkwardly standing close together at the back of the room. Harry looked up and smiled slightly at them, resulting in them looking rather confused. “Have a seat at the front, girls,” Harry said, gesturing to the desks in front of his. Once they were seated, Harry continued to speak to them. “Do you know why you’re here?” He asked them both, his eyes shifting between the pair.

“Because Macy can’t keep her mouth shut?” Olivia asked shyly, though she was smirking and glancing at her friend.

“Shut it, Liv.” Macy bit back playfully, shoving her arm gently, also smirking.

“That’s one way to put it, Miss Braithwaite.” Harry interjected, “You both didn’t listen for the entirety of the lesson, then continued to not do so after I asked you to behave.” He spoke coolly, feeling like McGonagall keeping himself and Ron back after almost every transfiguration lesson they’d ever had at Hogwarts.

“Not to be smart with you, Professor, but I knew what the counter-curse was. I had half-listened and was skimming the textbook the entire time.” Olivia responded respectfully, though she had a hint of mischief in her tone – definitely from getting Macy in more trouble.

“Smart arse” Macy muttered, to which Harry raised an eyebrow. “Sorry, Professor” she grumbled. “What’s our punishment?” She asked, glancing up at him.

“Nothing, simply this warning. It’s the first day of term and I’m not starting the year on a sour note with you both writing lines and cleaning desks. But I will be taking house points and issuing official detentions in future if this doesn’t get sorted. Understood?” Harry explained, leaning back in his chair as he finished.

“Thanks, sir. That’s really cool of you.” Macy responded, grinning and looking at Olivia. Harry picked up her use of the muggle phrase, ‘cool’ and assumed she had got it from Olivia (having briefly looked over his students’ blood statuses/family structures in the records, he had noticed that Olivia was a half-blood and Macy was a pureblood – she was likely to be distantly related to Malfoy or even Sirius.)

“Thank you,” Olivia responded quietly.

“Try and keep out of trouble, both of you. Especially you, Macy.” Harry warned though he was also smiling at the situation. He tipped back in his chair even further – this was a habit he had developed whilst at Hogwarts himself – and immediately realised that he had overbalanced himself. Despite his best efforts to grab the edge of the table and secure himself, Professor Potter fell backwards and hit the floor.

Smack!

“Bollocks” he groaned as he stood up – Macy was laughing, meanwhile Olivia was attempting to hold in her amusement and looking slightly concerned. “Oh, Merlin. Neither of you heard me say that, okay?” Harry panicked, internally slapping himself in the face.

“Are you hurt, Professor?” Olivia asked, a short giggle escaping after she spoke.

“Took a tumble there, Sir,” Macy interjected extremely usefully.

“Perfectly fine. Now, I will reiterate my point. No one knows I said that word.” Harry confirmed. Macy rolled her eyes.

“I swear you told a reporter to fuck off a year ago- ”

“MISS MADDER” Harry cut her off.

“Just saying, Sir. It was in the paper.” She continued coolly.

“He’s let us off, Macy. Please, just shut your mouth for five minutes so he doesn’t go back on it.” Olivia leaned in closer to her as she said this; she seemed to have a way with Macy.

“Sorry, Professor. Again” Macy spoke sincerely, now slightly embarrassed.

“It’s quite all right. Now, you’re both dismissed; let’s all forget this exchange ever bloody happened.” Harry suggested. Macy and Olivia smiled, nodded and stood to leave. Harry waved his hand, opening the door from across the room, signalling that they could go.

Harry was sure he heard Macy exclaim the words ‘fucking awesome’ as the pair walked away down the corridor. Harry knew these girls would be a handful, but he also now understood why teachers can’t help but pick favourites. There was still a definite air of familiarity that Harry felt towards the two best friends, but he currently could not put his finger on it.

Deciding to spend his lunchtime in the teachers’ quarters, Harry picked up his pile of marking and headed to his room. He smiled at his students that he passed in the corridors and greeted Nearly Headless Nick as he floated by, navigating the moving staircases with ease. Within minutes he was met by the rich purples of the teachers’ quarters, retrieving his key from his pocket. Managing to open his door on the first try, Harry stepped inside and was greeted by a surprise.

He had just stepped on a small, neatly folded piece of parchment.

Quickly putting his current papers down on his desk, he retrieved the note with his now empty hands, unfolded it and began to read. A blush crept across Harry’s cheeks, a smile bloomed on his lips, and an almost silent ‘oh’ fell from him.

This note contained an apology, a request to meet him and a sincere sign of interest.

What excited Harry the most, though, was that it was from Draco Malfoy.

Finally processing what had just happened, Harry felt a sudden wave of relief crashing through his body, questions thumping through his veins like the beat of a drum.

Why does he want to meet me? Is this truly sincere? Does this mean he cares about me? Why is he even apologising? Why does he care how my day has gone?

Eventually Harry calmed himself enough to make his way back over to his desk where he could sit, pretending to care about how Terrence Ridge thought his boggart would be a three-eyed shark or how Amelia Bridgemoore had spelt ‘boggart’ four different ways throughout her notes (bogert, boggurt, bogart and, finally correct, boggart). Though he would deny it if you asked, Harry didn’t stop glancing over at where he had placed the note on the corner of his desk. Once or twice he had even put his quill down and reread it.

Dinner was an awkward affair that night. Harry found himself sat with a rather tired Madame Hooch who had spent her day with some first years who were less than skilled on a broom. He tried desperately to not look at Malfoy – to ‘play it cool’ as the muggles, and Macy, would say – but, alas, Harry saw that he was sat a mere two seats down from him, chatting politely with Professor Meyrick. Finishing his meal of some particularly delicious roast pork, Harry stood and made his way out of the great hall. Unsure whether he should make his way to the tree yet, he dithered briefly by the front doors before deciding to head back to his room to collect a coat and scarf. Now thoroughly wrapped up warm, Harry made his way out into the chilly September evening and followed the path down the side of the lake. Looking under the distant tree, Harry couldn’t see Malfoy, meaning that he was early. Though mildly worried Malfoy would stand him up, Harry was also relieved that he wouldn’t have to be the one awkwardly approaching the other when the time came. He already didn’t know what to do with his hands and the other professor hadn’t even arrived yet.

Barely a few minutes passed before Harry heard footsteps. Turning his head towards the sound, he saw his tall, angular colleague approaching.

“Malfoy” Harry greeted him.

“Potter” He responded, nodding respectfully. Harry smiled crookedly, awkwardness seeping from every pore of his skin. “You got my note, then” Malfoy assumed, watching Harry closely.

“I did” Harry replied, his voice almost choked. Why was he so nervous? “I’m sorry for, well, offending you” he attempted to patch together some form of apology and failed.

“It was purely accidental and a product of curiosity” Malfoy responded smoothly, beginning to walk, gesturing with his hand that Harry should, too. “I should be apologising for taking off in such a manner.”

“Nah, I understand. I’ve done similar stuff that was pretty rash.” Harry comforted him, though judging by the way his heart felt, Malfoy was hardly the one who needed comforting here.

“We all do, Potter,” Draco said, his tone the slightest bit softer than before, as though sympathy was present. “How were your classes?” Harry greeted the change in the subject with open arms.

“Not shocking. Had these two fifth year girls who were a pain but also likeable. I also covered boggarts with my third years and some basics with my first years. I noticed that house rivalry is still as popular as it was in our day. I bet it’s going to hurt to take points from Gryffindor for the first time.” Harry joked, causing Draco to let out a small huff of laughter.

“I do tend to be more generous with the house points towards Slytherin,” Draco admitted, glancing over at Harry who was chuckling slightly awkwardly. A small smile cracked across the blonde’s face for the first time in the conversation, lifting a ten ton weight from Harry’s chest – or was it adding another one to it? “What are the names of those girls you mentioned?” He asked.

“Macy Madder and Olivia Braithwaite. Both Slytherin.” Harry replied.

“I taught them during the last class of the day. Behaved decently, definitely proved inseparable, though.”

“I doubt anything will keep those two apart.” Harry agreed. A few moments of semi-comfortable silence passed.

“I’m glad your day went well, Potter,” Draco spoke sincerely, looking over at the now smiling Professor Potter.

“Me too” Harry replied, internally beaming.

A few more minutes passed with little speaking, but soon Malfoy broke the silence with a question.

“Do you see your friends from Hogwarts much these days?” Harry has not expected this, but he was happy to hear it.

“Yeah, I see Ron and Hermione regularly – they have a kid now; Rose, her name is. I haven’t seen Ginny since my birthday. I met up with Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan earlier in the year, they’re living together in Ireland, where Seamus grew up. How about you?”

“I see Pansy quite regularly, probably once a month. We get coffee, generally. I haven’t seen Blaise in a while, he’s busy with his job at the Ministry. Greg has practically disappeared off the face of the earth, he’s awful at keeping in contact.” Harry found it most strange to hear Goyle referred to by his first name. “Weren’t you and Ginny Weasley in a relationship?” Draco asked, his tone slightly meeker than it previously had been; this question threw Harry completely off track.

“Yes” was all Harry could answer with, thoroughly shocked by what he had just been asked, stumped as to why Malfoy would care.

“May I ask what happened?” Draco asked respectfully.

“It just… Wasn’t right. I mean, I liked her; she’s kind and funny, and understanding, and attractive, but it wasn’t right. Her career kept her busy and she’s since found someone else. We’re still friends, it’s all fine between us.” Harry’s nerves calmed themselves down slightly, though his mind was running haywire, still wondering why Malfoy cared about his relationship status. “How about you and Pansy?” Harry questioned. Draco scoffed so loudly Pansy probably heard it from wherever she was in the world.

“Trust me, Potter. Absolutely not my type what-so-ever.” He ran a hand through his sleek hair as he said this.

“I suppose Ginny wasn’t mine either.” Harry speculated quietly. His eyes met Draco’s and they both frowned slightly.

“You still seem to describe her rather fondly, though.” Draco counteracted.

“I suppose my preferences lie elsewhere.” Harry shrugged.

“Interesting” Draco replied, confusing his colleague slightly.

Another quiet spell followed.

The pair eventually turned around and began walking back the way they came. The later evening was creeping up on the two of them, bringing with it a strong, cold wind. The sun had almost set, what remained was blanketed by thick clouds. Harry cast a wandless heating charm on himself, revelling in his newfound warmth. Glancing over at Malfoy, he noticed that he was shivering, and decided to cast another wandless, silent heating charm over him, too. Malfoy’s shivering stopped and his brow creased.

“Did you just do your bloody silent, wandless magic bollocks on me?” Malfoy asked, his tone questioning yet joking.

“Maybe” Harry confessed, smirking at the other’s use of colloquialisms.

“Once a show-off, always a bloody show-off” Malfoy shook his head, “Thank you, Potter” he finished.

“Welcome,” Harry shrugged casually, thankful for the dim light of the evening hiding his blush.

They continued to exchange sparse small talk until they reached the castle where their conversation drew to a close. The empty corridors made all speech sound amplified by fifty times, and Harry wanted every word Malfoy said to him to be for him and him alone.

Arriving at the teachers’ quarters, the pair walked down the purple hallway and followed the sharp left corner to arrive at their rooms. They turned to face one another, their backs to their own doors. Harry shoved his hands into his pockets awkwardly, and Draco folded his own behind his back.

“Goodnight, Harry.” He said quietly, meeting his eyes with a sincere glance.

“Goodnight, Draco,” Harry replied, holding his gaze.

Draco nodded politely and smiled at his colleague, turning to his door and retiring to his room without another word.

As soon as the other’s door was closed, Harry leaned back against his own door and sunk to the ground, the other man’s final words buzzing in his ears. His heart felt as though it was so huge it could explode with glee. Malfoy had used his first name for the first time since they had reunited as teachers. What did this mean? It certainly wasn’t strictly professional, like Malfoy usually was. Why did this make Harry feel so many emotions? He couldn’t stop thinking about the way it sounded as it left Malfoy’s lips, so soft and so sweet.

Harry.

 


 

Draco threw himself on to his sofa the second he had closed the door, coat still on and scarf still tied. He could have sworn he still felt the effects of Potter’s magic dancing across his skin and it was better than any physical touch he had ever received from another person. Potter’s very presence set Draco’s heart alight, his mind running wild with excitement and wonder at the man’s very presence. He couldn’t stop focussing on the final words in their exchange. He couldn’t believe he had said it! He called him Harry. But his own actions aside, Potter had also used his first name. His real name. The name that meant him, not his family or his blood status or his criminal history. And, Merlin, it sounded beautiful as it rolled off Potter’s tongue. Draco needed to hear it again. And again, and again, and again.

Draco.

Chapter Text

The first week of the term had rolled past surprisingly smoothly. It was now Friday evening and Harry had just made his way back to the teachers’ quarters having sat with Neville at dinner. He was keeping on top of his marking considerably well and felt confident that he was starting to learn the names of all his students. Another positive was that he hadn’t had to issue any further detentions after Monday’s experience, but he had taken five points each from two Ravenclaws the previous day for passing notes as well as ten points from a Gryffindor for being late to class (the latter hurt to do).

However, he hadn’t spoken to Malfoy since Monday.

Not that it matters, right?

Harry ditched his robes once he got back to his room, replacing them with his old, blue jeans and a grey button-up shirt, which he left unbuttoned near the top. His socks came off - and stayed off - so he could feel the plush carpet beneath his feet. Walking over to his record player (this is a muggle, music-playing contraption that runs on something called ‘electricity’. Harry, being Harry, had found a way to make it work with magic) that sat on his desk, he squatted to look in the box of old vinyl records (odd discs that provide said music) he had brought with him. Deciding on Placebo’s self-titled album, he set up the record player with it, waved his hand and it began spinning, the sound of the music bouncing from it as it turned.

Making his way over to the sofa and chucking himself down on it sideways, he stretched his legs out and shut his eyes, letting the music wash over him.

I feel like I should be wearing black nail polish when I listen to this. Maybe some eyeliner, too.

Without realising, Harry slowly drifted off to sleep, completely content, sprawled out like the exhausted teenager he used to be.

KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!

Harry jerked awake at the sound, his dream about a blonde with a dazzling body – whose face Harry couldn’t make out – rushing away from him. The record had ended, meaning that this hadn’t just been a five-minute nap. Sitting up quickly, he clambered off the sofa with an immense lack of elegance before attempting to flatten his hair to make his half-asleep self remotely presentable. He failed at this.

No one had knocked on Harry’s door before. Who could this be? The knock had appeared rather professional. Was he in trouble?

Shit, is it Malfoy?

I hope it’s Malfoy.

Approaching his door like it was a wild animal, Harry cautiously turned the handle, pulling it open.

He was greeted, much to his surprise, by a patiently waiting Professor McGonagall.

“Oh! Good evening, Minerva. How are you?” Harry spluttered, pleasantly surprised, yet slightly disappointed at the same time.

“I am well, Potter. May I come in?” She asked, smiling reassuringly, relieving Harry of his fears slightly. He stepped aside, allowing her to pass, her emerald green robes swishing behind her as she entered. Harry shut his door and moved over to his desk seat, turning it around so he could face where she was sat on the sofa. “Don’t be so nervous, Harry. How has your first week been? I’m simply here to check in on my new colleague to make sure he’s not marauding around my school.” She joked, a slightly cheeky, yet knowing look in her eye.

“It’s been going well, quite quickly, actually. I’m keeping up to date with my marking which I never thought I’d manage.” He chuckled, “I’ve noticed that my students are starting to get over the initial shock of me being, well, me.” He continued, grimacing at the mention of his fame. “The staring made me uncomfortable – I knew it was coming, but I was scared it would never lessen. I sort of forgot how fast kids lose interest in things, I think they’re starting to realise I’m just another bloke teaching.” He continued, his worries pouring out of him like water into a glass.

“For some bloke, you’re doing very well,” McGonagall replied; Harry had to hold back laughter at her use of such a British colloquialism in her heavily Scottish accent. “I’ve had positive feedback from students. A third year went out of his way to tell me that your lesson on boggarts was ‘totally awesome’.” She smiled at Harry with a sense of pride a mother would feel for her son.

“That’s… Really, really great,” Harry took a moment to process it before he could respond, a grin slowly blooming on his face, brightening his green eyes and creating small creases around his eyes. McGonagall nodded in response, still smiling softly.

“Now, Harry. Allow me to double-check that you know how to correctly issue punishments. I’m assuming that you’ve been giving out few detentions and removing limited house points because you’re far too empathetic and kind for your own good?” Her left eyebrow slowly raised as she said this, quickly making Harry feel like he had been kept back after transfiguration for a ‘quick word’ or a ‘polite reminder’. There was no reason for her to question this, of course, Harry had taken it easy on the students.

“I suppose so,” He played with the sleeve of his shirt for a moment before realising it was undone rather widely at the top. His hands flew to the buttons where he frantically fumbled with them, causing McGonagall to shake her head and roll her eyes; she had been wondering why he’d stayed like that when she was in his presence.

Swiftly moving on, the next twenty minutes were spent reminding Harry that multiple interruptions, not listening and various other poor behaviours deserve detention and/or the removal of house points. Harry even took some notes before he offered her a cup of tea which she politely declined – Harry didn’t blame her, every cup of tea he’d made so far at Hogwarts had tasted like dishwater.

Once McGonagall believed he was thoroughly knowledgeable and confident to tell his students off as and when he needed to, she stood to leave. Just as she reached the door, she turned around to face him again.

“You know, your grandfather’s hair potion would work wonders for you.” She commented.

“I know,” Harry shrugged, to which she smiled a nodded knowingly.

“Your father was the same,” She reminisced, “He refused to use it, too. What is it with you men and enjoying your unruly hair?” She chuckled.

“Adds character, don’t you think?” Harry joked, shaking the curly mess atop of his head.

“Something like that,” She teased. “Goodnight, Harry”

“Goodnight, Professor,” He responded, smiling softly.

He closed the door and continued happily; she had always provided him with a sense of guidance. Harry returned to his desk where he flipped the record. The second half of the album began playing, which queued Harry’s return to his sofa where he drifted off to sleep once more. Positive and productive it may have been, this week truly had exhausted Harry.

KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!

Yet another knocking awoke Harry from his slumber and he pulled himself up once again. This time he had had no dreams, only deep sleep. Glancing in the mirror which hung on his wall, he saw that he looked incredibly scruffy. He had, once again, undone the buttons at the top of his shirt for comfort’s sake before he had fallen asleep. His hair was particularly wild from fidgeting and, quite frankly, he needed to shave.

It wasn’t of importance, though. It was likely McGonagall coming back for something, so he didn’t have to worry – she wouldn’t care at all, she was almost like his mother-figure.

Harry turned the door handle casually, stretching his back as he pulled it open and was greeted by his visitor. It most certainly was not Professor McGonagall.

Oh, shit.

Malfoy.


“Evening, Potter,” Draco greeted him.

“Hi, Malfoy,” Potter replied, gobsmacked that he had just opened the door to the potions professor whilst in such a state. Why was he even here? “Come on in, if you want” Potter continued, stumbling over his words, his hand flying up to ruffle his hair – just like his father once did when he was around a certain red-headed Gryffindor. Draco’s nerves were flying high, but he forced himself to nod, causing Potter to step aside and let him in.

Draco stood with his arms behind his back, trying to display a casual yet inviting posture so Potter could lose the ‘deer caught in headlights’ persona he had suddenly adopted upon Draco’s arrival. Once Potter had closed the door and turned to Draco, an awkward silence fell, but only for a moment.

“McGonagall asked me to come and, well, run through the ways in which we stop our students from misbehaving. That involves issuing detentions, removing house points, extra homework and various other methods.” Draco spoke with confidence, but Harry’s mind went blank. “This isn’t me forming accusations against you or faulting your teaching, it is merely a task I have been set where I inform you of our expectations. Is that acceptable to you?” He continued, seeming deeply professional, as though the name Harry had never once left his lips. “Potter, you could do with lessening the slack-jawed expression and using speech. It’s a tough concept for you at times, I know.” He bit, a crease between his eyebrows from the deep frown he was sporting. Shocked, Potter’s bewilderment increased as he attempted to process whatever was going on, alongside the fact he had just been insulted like they were back in the third year.

“Excuse me?” Potter asked, gesturing with his hands open in question.

“No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that.” Draco corrected himself immediately, a gentle blush dusting his fair cheeks. “I’m just here to tell you about correctly telling off the children because McGonagall asked me to, but I can go if you’d prefer it.” Potter’s mind ran wild.

He’s holding it together rather well considering the fact this is a huge lie. McGonagall came and told me these exact things earlier, she’d never have asked Malfoy to come and do this! But why else would he be here? Can I trust him? I have to tell him I know he’s lying and demand he leaves.

“You can stay, it’ll be useful to run over these rules again. Take a seat on the sofa over there, if you want.” The words practically fell out of his mouth.

Well, that wasn’t exactly what he’d been going for, but it was too late now. Draco nodded and made his way over to the sofa where he sat down neatly, every movement perfectly timed and practically silent. He was a swan, whereas Potter was an elephant on roller-skates.

Potter seated himself on his desk chair, still facing the sofa from his previous conversation with McGonagall. The record was still playing in the background, and Draco seemed to notice it for the first time since he had entered.

“You brought a record player with you.” He commented, intrigued.

“You know what that is?” Harry responded, curious but still on-edge.

“Let’s just say I know more about the muggle world than I used to.” Draco dismissed. “And how is it playing here, without electricity?” He asked, curiously gazing at the spinning device. Potter didn’t respond to this with words, but with actions. He suddenly lifted his arm, flicking his fingers outwards into the room, sending blue sparks flying from their tips, filling the space with an odd glow and a loud crackling sound; these both disappeared as soon as they began. Potter closed his fingers back into the palm of his hand, the sparks vanishing into thin air. His hair was suddenly sticking up even more than usual – it barely made a difference at this point – but Draco assumed this was like the after-effects of a harmless electric shock (he knew his fair bit about the Muggle world now, trust me).

“Cool, huh?” Potter grinned sloppily.

“Still desperate to flaunt your skills, I see.” Draco counteracted, though he was smirking with approval.

A few moments passed, the record filling the silence helpfully.

“Why are you here, Malfoy?” Potter asked, taking Draco aback slightly.

“Because McGonagall sent me.” Draco firmly replied. Potter shook his head.

“I’d believe you if she hadn’t come to tell me exactly how to issue ideal punishments to students earlier,” Potter interjected, stopping Draco in his tracks.

“I didn’t know that she must have come before me and forgot to tell me not to… ” He was tripping and stumbling over his words, but managed to remain calm.

“I don’t believe you.” Potter challenged, though he was not angry or suspicious, merely curious at this point. Draco had nothing to say in response. “You can stay, though. I’m going to have a drink if you care to join me.” He added casually, both shocking and thrilling Draco.

It took a moment for him to reply.

“I’d like that.” He finally answered.

Harry stood, making his way over to his cupboard, retrieving a bottle of whiskey. He waited for Draco’s sarcastic quip about it being a Muggle brand, but it never came. As he poured two generous drinks for the both of them, the record ended. Turning to go and flip it, Harry was surprised when Draco got up and did it himself.

He can use it, too. Did he have one at some point? Surely his family disapproved.

“Thanks,” Harry said, causing Draco to shrug.

“This album is of a high standard, but I prefer Without You I’m Nothing.” He mentioned casually, referring to their preferences when it came to Placebo’s albums. Harry’s heart practically skipped a beat because MERLIN’S TITS, MALFOY LIKES PLACEBO?

“You listen to this?” Harry tried not to audibly gasp.

“You were expecting the wizard equivalent of Mozart, weren’t you?” Draco rolled his eyes. Harry tried not to laugh awkwardly, since Draco had, as the muggles say, hit the nail on the head. He handed Draco a glass and they both sat down on the sofa, the album starting again.

“So, when do you think it’s right to issue detentions?” Harry asked, smirking. Draco scoffed.

“When a person uses such sarcasm and makes deliberate quips at someone purely to embarrass them,” Draco counteracted, jokily belittling his fellow professor as his only form of self-defence.

“Do I need to get a quill and parchment so I can write you some lines?” Harry teased, and they both laughed. “Dare I really ask why you actually knocked on my door?” He asked, sipping his strong drink like it was water. His question was unavoidably filled with genuine, sincere curiosity. 

“On a dull Friday night, even O! Famous One’s company is better than nothing.” Draco drawled, waving an arm dramatically.

“O! Famous One?” Harry repeated, grinning in amusement. He shifted his position, moving from being sat normally to sitting sideways on the sofa, his knees tucked up in front of him, facing and watching Draco contently. The blonde continued to sit in a more civilised manner, one leg crossed over the other.

“Yes, Saint Potter. But, for a celebrity, you’re indecently scruffy,” Draco continued as though he hadn’t been mocked, causing Harry to remember what he currently looked like. As one hand flew up to try – and fail – to flatten his unruly hair, the other set his drink down heavily before it battled his buttons to do them up.

“Sorry about that, I forgot I’d been dressed like this – I’d been asleep, and- ”

“I’ve seen worse,” Draco smirked. Harry’s chest felt as though it was about to burst from sheer excitement, shock and is he FLIRTING with me?

Harry left the buttons undone.

The time stretched on, small talk flickering into nothing, and the sound of the record taking over completely. The pair sat contently, relaxing as the songs played on. After a while, Draco moved into a position mirroring Harry’s, both men facing one another as they enjoyed the surprisingly relaxing company. Once the record stopped once again, Harry shoved himself up against the sofa in an attempt to sit up and spoke.

“I really didn’t expect you to, well, know this Muggle music stuff,” He shrugged.

“Well, I do” Draco replied, staring past Harry, directly at the wall behind his head. “You seem like you’ve never connected with anyone about this. I didn’t think something as simple as music could satisfy a celebrity’s needs,” he dug playfully at Harry and, as usual, his eyebrow arched as the sarcasm escaped his lips. Ignoring Draco’s attempt at clawing back their past status of enemies (which did sound easier right now), Harry then spoke.

“I’ve never found anyone else who likes it.  I mean - well, yeah, I suppose it’s one of the few things I strongly prefer about the Muggle world to our one.” Harry didn’t understand why he was so nervous about connecting with Draco over this – could it have been excitement? Just as Harry’s mind fizzed and popped with wonder and questions about music, instruments and record players, Draco’s voice arose from the quiet.

“None of your previous girlfriends shared similar interests with you, then?” He asked pointedly; Harry felt his heart lurch, for he had only ever been with Ginny.

How do I tell him this without sounding like a sad bastard? He’s likely had many a partner, lots of fascinating women. It’s what he deserves, he’s an interesting bloke. But, me? Well, I’m another story.

“Not really had anyone understand it like I do, yeah,” Harry attempted to dismiss the point the best he could, turning the subject onto Draco’s side of it. “Have you really connected with anyone over this kind of thing?” The question seemed ridiculous as it flopped from his careless mouth. Draco paused for a moment before responding, and when he did, it was with something that left Harry speechless.

“If you call doing random men in those vile, Muggle public toilets ‘creating a connection’, then, yes, Potter, I have connected with others,” He uttered the words almost silently, shame creasing on his brow. Harry’s heart almost stopped as he took this in, shock and guilt rolling over him in crushing waves. “Don’t worry about it, I just had a questionable year after the war. This is why I don’t talk about it,” He continued, his tone lightening slightly, though the crease was still evident between his eyebrows.

The evening continued on and the pair spoke very little. They drank more, changed the record to yet another and enjoyed the familiar fuzziness the whiskey way providing them with. As Harry’s mind began to trip and stumble over rational thoughts, it began to dance around what Malfoy had said.

Men.

He had been involved with men.

Harry continued to ponder this as his eyelids drooped, forgetting his company entirely. He placed his glass down on the table beside the sofa softly before letting it hang carelessly, the homely feeling of sleep consuming him as he relaxed into the purple cushions.

Harry Potter had fallen asleep.


Jerking awake, realising he dozed off, Harry stretched his legs out and found that no one else was sat at the other end of the sofa from him. Had he been dreaming?

The familiar whirring of a finished record, demanding to be flipped, greeted him. So did the dimmed lighting that had been much harsher when he had been awake. Pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose, he welcomed his sight with open arms and sat up straight. Squinting to adjust, Harry noticed a note on his table, beside his empty whiskey glass.

 

‘You fell asleep, I chose to leave you to it after a while.

Thanks for the drinks. If it appeals to you, you can come and try some of the liquor I have one night.

-D.M’

 

Though the note had been short, Harry’s heart sung as he knew it had been real and that the blonde truly had chosen to spend his time with him. Harry sat quietly for a while after this, reflecting on their time together.

He mentioned numerous men.

Men.

Does this mean he would be attracted to males still?

Does that mean he could be attracted to me?

Not that I’m bothered, it’s just a concept I’m unfamiliar with. Well, not that, but…

I don’t know what I’m even thinking.

But… Do I have a chance with him?

Harry Potter went back to sleep right there on his sofa, a slight smile on his tanned face as his mind roamed the possibilities of where things could go between himself and his colleague. Though highly unprofessional, irresponsible and unlike him, Harry felt little guilt contemplating it.

After all, it never hurts to wonder, does it?