Draco Malfoy had always thought he had it made.
Good looks, money, the best trainers that money could provide, and a good position on the best damn team in the UK. The Slytherins were something of badasses in the volleyball league, and they absolutely dominated at the tournament levels. He lived with his family, sure, but who wouldn't when he got the whole West wing to himself.
He had a perfect life.
And then the team owner, Tom Riddle - famous for moulding many previous winning teams - had dropped a bombshell on him.
"What?" Draco said, dumbly, sure he had to have misheard.
"You've been traded."
"I - I don't understand." Trades were for getting rid of problem players and bringing in decent replacements. Or, well, sometimes, trading someone really amazing in by any means necessary. But that had already happened once to them - and it hadn't been to their advantage, in the long run. "I can't be traded, I'm - I can't!"
"Well, you have. So get used to it." Tom said, sitting at his desk.
"Who - who are you replacing me with?!"
They couldn't be as good as him. They couldn't, that just wasn't possible...
"We got the opportunity to get Cedric Diggory in."
"From Hufflepuff?!" He demanded, shooting forward in his chair, stunned. "You're trading me for a bloody Duffy Huffy?!"
"Draco," Tom said sharply. "Mind your tongue."
He flushed, and sat back in his seat, feeling strongly like a reprimended child. Tom was just a team owner, but the man always seemed to have so much more power than a man in his position should. He just seemed to rule every situation he was in, and a single sharp glance from him was usually enough to make any arguement die instantly. "Even you have to have heard of his current stats, Draco, unless you have been deliberately obtuse. Cedric Diggory is an up and rising star. This is a huge benefit for our team."
"Yeah." He muttered, just this side of petulant. "But not for me."
"Draco." He said sharply. "We're not firing you. We traded you. And with an increase in pay, I might add. We negotiated to make this as painless of a transition as possible for you."
He hesitated, smiling slightly. At least they'd done that...
"All right, well. Where have I been traded to?"
And that was when the bombshell that Tom had dropped a moment before turned into a feather in the grand scheme of bombshells, and he gave him the real one.
And it blew Draco's world apart.
All the temper tantrums in the world hadn't done him a lick of good. Draco had been traded and that was that.
To the Gryffindors.
He could have handled any other team in the league. Hufflepuff, or Ravenclaw - hell, even Dumstrang or Beauxbatons, but no, he'd been traded to the damn Gryffindors, which as far as he was concerned, was a death sentence for his career as a professional athlete. Their stats were in the loo. There was no two ways around it. They were a hell of a team. And not in a good way. He went so far as to seriously consider quitting volleyball altogether, but if he quit the professional leagues, his chances of getting to the Olympics pretty much went out the window with that decision, and wasn't that why he did this in the first place? For his Olympic dreams?
Oh sure, he appealed. Begged Tom to even just keep him on as alternate. But they already had their alternates, and while Tom Riddle was slicker than slick, when he made oaths, he kept them.
And that was why Draco found himself standing on the front porch of the building that was apparently the Gryffindor training camp - what kind of team lived together, anyway - with all his bags and his worldly possessions, knocking on the front door.
He wasn't terribly impresed, so far. Oh sure, the 'house' he stood in front of - if one could even call it that - was large and made of thick stone that looked quite impressively expensive. But it also looked like the builder had somehow managed to turn the blueprint on its side when he built it, or something, because it was quite narrow - and very, very tall. The shrubbery around the building had sort of grown out of control, and even the lawns were too long, really. Didn't they take pride in their buildings?
The door was opened by a woman with slightly frizzy brown hair that seemed bound and determined to escape the ponytail she'd bound it in. She looked very familiar, actually, though he couldn't think of why.
"Ah." She said when she realized that it was him. "You're late."
Draco could have made a pretense of checking his watch and acting surprised, but he was frankly still too pissed off to care. "Traffic was shite."
"Yes, well." She offered her hand. "Hermione Granger. I'm the team coach."
And that was when he realized why she looked familiar - something like two years ago, there had been that big dinner, celebrations for their Olympic teams. All the major teams - male and female, both - across the UK had been invited. His mates from the Slytherins and him had really had too much to drink the night before, and had sort of made a point of making a fool of some of the girls from one of the other teams. In their drunken stupidity, it had seemed like a brilliant idea. They would all ask a different member of the Salem's lady team out to dinner, then snub them when it actually came time to act on it. It had worked, somewhat better than they had expected, and it had sort of made a mess on the sports scene. At the time, they'd sort of thought that the girls deserved it - some minor riffraff team that wasn't terribly good, trying to act like big shots with them? It was laughable.
He took her hand, awkwardly, and shook. "Draco Malfoy. A... pleasure to meet you."
"I believe we've been introduced," she said, briskly. All business. "Now, if you'll take your bags, we'll get you settled into your room, then we'll get you over to practise, so you can meet the rest of the team."
He nodded, and scooped up his bags, following her.
There were, apparently, no staff to help haul his bags in, and no elevator to get up through the massive maze of floors, so his suitcase thumped behind him each step as they slowly rose up the spiralled staircase. "I, ah... I didn't know you'd stopped playing," he said, honestly just trying to fill the silence.
"I realized my skills were put to better use," She said, not sharply, just... matter of factly. He'd sort of expected her to be more, well, bitter. "You're on the sixth floor."
"Awfully high up," he remarked. He didn't know why he cared what she thought of him, anyway. She had been a fairly shite player, anyway, if he remembered correctly. Very technical, but with absolutely no passion.
"We heard you liked heights," She remarked, lightly, and pushed the door for the sixth floor open. "Your door is on the left."
"Who's on the right?" He frowned, hauling the last of his bags up.
"No one, at the moment."
Pleased with this information, Draco dragged his suitcases to the door she said was his, and waited for Hermione to unlock the door for him. She huffed slightly, and he smirked a little to himself. He knew she wasn't this smooth unruffled woman she was trying to act like.
Hermione pushed the door open.
And he cringed.
Everything - and he did mean everything - was red and gold. Everything. From the chairs at the little table to the canopy on the bed - who even did canopied beds, anymore? - to the blankets on said bed, to the arm chair in the corner, to the curtains, to the carpet... everything last blessed thing in the whole bloody apartment was red and gold. It was... revolting, actually. It sort of made him feel queasy. As far as rooms go, it looked like a nice enough place - there was a little sitting room in front of a fireplace, and a nice big bed, with the aforementioned canopy, and a little table and chairs that he supposed served as a bit of a breakfast nook, and there was an open door at the back of the room through which he could see a little bathroom. As the room went, it wasn't bad, not really. But it could really use some repainting.
"...can we repaint our rooms?" He asked, clearing his throat.
"No." Hermione said, and the smirk on her face was almost too devious. "Well then. Come on to practise."
He frowned, blinking at her. "...right now? I just got here."
"Yes, well." She held out her hand, offering a little keyring with several keys on it. “Here. Keys to your room, the house, the pool house. Feel free to come and go as you please... so long as you're always here for practise, and ready to go for game times. Breakfast is at seven, lunch at noon, and dinner at six. The kitchen is always open to you, whenever you need it. Which could be often, I don't know what you eat like. But let's go to the practise field now, you might as well get to know the others."
"What others?" He frowned. "Oh, you mean the team. How many of us are there?"
"Four, now, same as any other team." Hermione rolled her eyes. "Not too bright, are you? And here I thought your entirely impressive testing scores from your grade school years were going to prove you to be an intelligent person. Shame."
Draco flushed slightly, surprised. It wasn't often that people talked to him like that, like he wasn't their... well, their better.
He didn't like it.
Hermione rolled her eyes, and crossed her arms over her chest, pinning her clipboard against her chest. "Well, come on, then. Hurry up, we have the team to meet."
"I'm coming," he grumbled, and followed her down the stairs again, and out of the building, quietly.
As they walked across the back yard of the Gryffindor training camp grounds, he realized that everything here was gold and red. There were deck chairs with striped cushions in those colours, and umbrellas over little tables, and at one place, even a gazebo painted all in gold with a red roof. Who the hell did this much colour coordination in a home, really?
"So does everyone in the team live here?"
"Yes," Hermione answered, nodding. "I do, as well. And Albus Dumbledore, the owner of the team, he lives here too. We're kind of... like a family, you know?"
He frowned slightly, considering that. He didn't really like the idea of living here with the others, but what choice did he have? He'd taken a look over the contract they'd had him sign long before he actually came here, and it was... well, weird, for lack of a better word. Technically, it was one of the best contracts he'd ever seen. It gave him lots of money, provided him with top notch health care and a very fine retirement plan, but it was also sort of weird, saying that during the entire competition season, he needed to live in the team building, and travel with the team, and... it was sort of odd, that way.
Draco also truly hated the clause that suggested heavily that he should be wearing team colours when not on the field.
That was never ever going to happen.
Not in anyone's wildest dreams.
Even now, he was technically wearing Slytherin colours, though it wasn't the uniform, just a silver and green track suit over a t-shirt and some short trousers. He had always looked good in those colours, he thought, so he had loved wearing them for his old team. He wanted to be with that team, now. He didn't want to be with the Gryffers... they were shit players. Always had been. But what choice did he have, anyway?
He sighed, and frowned as they approached the little practise "field", which was really a patch of sand, but it was fine, nice white sand. He liked the looks of it, at least.
There were three men on the field, sort of tossing a volleyball back and forth over the net, but... well, it was sort of tragic. They weren't terribly good at it. And these guys were both supposed to be a professional volleyball team? Lovely.
There was a tall gangly guy with red hair and freckles, and that guy at least seemed to have the reach needed. He kept fumbling whenever the guy on the other end of the little pitch tossed the ball to him, but at least he looked like he had the coordination to catch it if he tried hard enough. That guy could probably be good, if he was shown how to do it, right. The guy beside him was broad shouldered and seemed to have the sheer power needed, but every time he volleyed, it would go too far, and would end up bouncing across the grass. It rolled towards them, and Draco bent to scoop it up, frowning slightly.
The third man on the pitch bounded towards them, grinning too broadly, looking way too excited to be there. He was short and gangly and as far as Draco was concerned, completely the wrong type for volleyball. "Hi!" He said, cheerfully. "I'm Colin Creevey."
"So you are," he said, clearing his throat. "This is yours, I believe..."
Colin took the ball, beaming. "It is. So you're our new team member, huh? Okay, well... come meet the others."
He distinctly did not like this boy.
"Weren't you that... reporter?" He frowned as he followed him back towards the sands. "I mean, I used to see you around the matches all the time... you were always snapping pictures."
Colin's face absolutely lit up. "You remember that?"
"It was hard to miss. You were constantly snapping your flash at us." He grumbled, and stepped closer to the edge of the pitch, looking the other two up and down. "So. I'm your new team mate."
"So you are," the tall redhead nodded, briefly, and Draco sighed slightly.
"Red hair, freckles... taller than two people combined..." He looked him up and down. "You must be a Weasley."
"What's it to you?" He scowled.
"I'm your cousin, you ruddy git," Draco drawled. "So obviously I know who you are. Draco Malfoy."
"Oh great." He sighed. "Mum's cousins. Well, I'm Ron."
"Ron." he nodded, then glanced past him at the other man. "And you are...?"
"Neville Longbottom." He stepped closer to offer his hand, and Draco shook, firmly, rather impressed, actually. This man had a good firm handshake. He'd been right when he'd thought that this man had a considerable amount of power. "Welcome to the Gryffindors."
He smiled tightly. His mother had insisted that he really ought to make the best of the situation - though she had also said that she didn't really understand why this volleyball thing was so important, but she had sort of just really wanted him to get settled down and have children by now, so her opinion was more than a little biased - but she was right when she had said that he really didn't want to make enemies. He didn't want to make enemies. He didn't really care to make friends, either, but he didn't need any enemies. Especially if he was supposed to be working with them every day. "Thanks. So let's see what I'm working with, hm?"
A practise session did not make him feel better.
Hermione knew her stuff, she really did. She had good suggestions, suggestions that even the Slytherin coaches wouldn't have thought, and she really seemed to understand the rival's strategies. The problem was that she was somewhat - no, not somewhat, she was very - optimistic about the skills that her team possessed. She seemed to think that Ron was better with his hand eye coordination, and that Neville had more restraint, and that... well, that Colin was just another person entirely, actually.
It was beyond frustrating.
It was enough that Draco was sitting on one of the deck chairs in the back yard, turning his mobile over and over in his fingers and seriously considering trying to quit volleyball again.
This was just too much. He couldn't work with this. He couldn't go from superstar doing so very well in this career to literally the bottom of the totem pole. If he stayed with a team like this, he wasn't going to have a shot at the Olympics anyway, so why was he going to bust his nut trying to help this team win when they couldn't care to try to win themselves. It was just... this was just too much.
He looked up, startled, and frowned slightly. "...Ronald."
"Ron." He corrected, and settled into the chair beside his, considering him for a moment. "...how you doing?"
"Hn. If you have to ask, you don't want to know," Draco sighed, and slumped back in the chair, staring up at the hideous red and gold umbrella over his head.
Ron watched him for a moment, and just before it got to the point where it was really creepy, he shifted a little, and cleared his throat. "Look, I know you didn't want to be on our team. Dumbledore had a meeting with us, told us that you were... that you weren't even informed that this was going to be happening. And I know our... our track record isn't so good."
He snorted. "To put it mildly."
"But we're working on it." Ron said, quietly. "And... I mean, you are my cousin. On mum's side. So I kinda figure that maybe you got some of that Prewitt stubbornness that she's got, you know?"
Draco smirked slightly, and looked over at him, considering him seriously. "True."
"So dig in, just for a bit... give us a shot of that stubborness, eh?" Ron smirked sheepishly, clearing his throat. "I mean, I know we're no Slytherins... but we're working on it."
He frowned slightly, but nodded. "You know Colin is bullocks, though, right?"
He hesitated, then nodded, slightly. "Yeah."
"You ever considered replacing him?"
Ron smiled tightly. "...we're the Gryffindors, Draco. You don't even want to know what kind of ridiculous shit we had to go through to just get you."
"Point taken," he nodded, quietly.
Fine. He'd give them a shot.
It wasn't going to do a lick of good, they were a terrible team and he was still probably going to go nowehere with them, but... maybe he just had to ride out this one season. He could ride out one season, get traded again next spring. It was possible.
He had to pray that it was possible.
Draco was not going to make it through the entire season.
His hands were clenched tightly at his side as he watched the others on the sand at the moment. It was just a friendly practise game, it was nothing fancy, but the other team was kicking their ass.
And the other team was a bunch of high school students.
It was supposed to be a friendly thing, good for public relations. The Slytherins had done it once, when he was with them, just as a sort of friendly thing, to let the kids feel like they were really special, because they got to play against real professionals, and if they managed to score a point or two, they would feel amazingly lucky, and weren't they good at this? But the kids were never supposed to win, that was not the point of these things.
These kids were winning.
Neville stepped a little closer to Draco, and touched his arm lightly. Draco looked at him sharply, and the other man gave him a slight, apologetic smile. "I'm sorry," he said lightly. "I know we're bloody bad, but... it's early in the season, you know... working together."
He nodded, quickly, and clenched his jaw slightly. "...I think we need to practise a lot more."
The other laughed softly, and murmured, "It's almost time for us to switch on. Ready?"
"Yeah, wait... Neville..." Draco caught his arm, and lowered his voice. Hermione was glowering at them slightly, and at this moment, the very last thing he needed was for her to start thinking he was trying to undermine her authority or something. "Can you hang back a little, on the pitch? I have an idea."
Neville hesitated, but nodded, quietly, and when the ref blew the whistle, they moved out onto the sand.
They fell into position, but not the positions they were usually in. Neville hung back a little, like Draco had asked, and waited, and sure enough, when the kid who had the serve went, he overshot a little, just as Draco had expected. The kid was bad for that - just like Neville was, but these kids had been watching earlier, when it had been Colin and Ron on the field, and they'd sort of assumed that they'd play like Colin did - far too close to the net. Both of the kids had moved up close to the net, and that was exactly what Draco wanted.
He nodded at Neville, and was pleased when his teammate bumped the ball - and it flew straight over the net, sailing neatly between the kids heads, and slammed to the sand just inside the lines.
It wasn't perfect, but it was a point. Maybe this team could be redeemed.
Well, he wasn't holding his breath for that.
"How are you holding up, Draco?"
"Barely, Blaise," Draco groaned, glaring up at the canopy above his head, wishing that he was anywhere but here right now. He could hear conversation and music in the background, when Blaise was talking, and he was pretty sure his friend was at yet another of his almost infamous parties. "How is Diggory doing?"
There was laughter on the other line, and Blaise answered, "Draco, he's every bit as good as everyone says he is. They guy is like damn poetry in motion."
"...is he now." He said, heart sinking.
"Well, not quite, but he is damn good," the other laughed, then he heard some muffled talking just quiet enough that he couldn't make out the words, then his former teammate laughed, and said, “Nice one, Diggory!” before saying, almost casually, “Sorry about that, Draco, I’m in a bit of a situation here. You know how it is.”
“...you're at a party, aren't you?”
“Well, it is Friday night, Draco.” He drawled. “What did we do every Friday night? We went to parties. We always do that. So I dunno what your problem is. Hell, I dunno why you're not at a party yourself, right now?”
He cleared his throat, and shook his head slightly. “There's no party going on around here.”
“Ugh, the Gryffers don't even party on Fridays? How dull.”
“Believe me,” he grumbled, “I know. I don't even understand why the hell they're like this. I mean... individually, they have skills... actually, individually, some of them have skills... but as a team, they're idiots. They absolutely cannot work together, they're frustrating.”
The other man laughed, cheerfully. “Sorry, Draco... you got traded to a shit team.”
“I could have told you that before I actually worked with them.”
Blaise didn't sound quite as sympathetic as Draco really thought he ought to. “It could be worse... at least you're still playing. Remember what happened with - “
“Let's not go there.” He said, quickly.
“You're not still sore about that, are you?”
“Of course I’m still sore about that, Blaise, you just think a person gets over something like that? Well let me tell you, they don't.” He glowered up at the ceiling – or would have, if there hadn't been a fucking hideously team coloured canopy in the way. “...I'm sorry, you don't deserve my shit, do you? I just don't like thinking about this, Blaise, frankly. I don't like realizing that I am trapped for a season with the worst team in all of the UK, whereas last year, I was in the very best. Do you understand what this can do to a person's psyche, to be pulled out of a good team, in which I was a very successful player, I might add, and moved to a shitty team in which no one can even play, much less allow me to play to my full potential? I’m never going to be able to get myself onto an Olympic team playing for the Shitty Gryffys, Blaise!”
He waited for a moment, expecting a note of agreement, confirmation that the other had even heard him, perhaps, and got nothing.
He could hear laughter, but nothing was coming from his friend.
“Blaise? Are you even there? Are you listening to me?”
“Oh, sorry.” His friend was laughing as he said, cheerfully, “Sorry, Draco, honey, I gotta go, you know how it is, parties... we'll talk about this later, okay?” And just like that, without waiting for a response, Blaise hung up.
Draco sighed, heavily, and hung his own phone up before setting it on the bed beside him.
“Thanks, Blaise, that was great.”
He supposed, in retrospect, maybe it shouldn't have surprised him. When he was a Slytherin, would he have ever associated himself with a Shitty Gryffy? Of course he wouldn't have. Never. He'd just sort of assumed, he supposed, that because they were friends before, they'd be friends after, too, and that they'd still get along, even though they were opposite sides of enemy lines, so to speak.
Because he had no illusions.
Cedric Diggory was now everything that he had once been to Blaise – a teammate, a friend. A bed mate. He had no illusions that he wasn't, hell, Blaise had a silver tongue, he could have seduced a nun. Or a whole nunnery, really. His old friend was talented like that.
He'd been replaced.
He practiced. Religiously.
Volleyball had always been Draco's life, the one thing that he was really good at, the one thing that made him who he was, the one thing that kept him going, no matter what the circumstances were. He practiced like playing was the same thing as breathing, like he needed it more than life itself, more than anything else. So he was on the sand more than he was anywhere else, now, making it a routine try and volley the ball up and try to beat the record of the day before. He practiced with the team, too, sure, that was what a good team member did, but they didn't really seem to be getting any better, even though they were practicing all the time too.
He was just really starting to think that things were never going to get any better.
Hermione leaned on the back of the bench that Draco was sitting on, sipping quietly at his bottle of water and honestly just trying to keep from losing his shit over this. He'd just spent the last three hours out on that sand, working, and he was sun burnt and tired, and frustrated. “Hey,” she said, quietly, and Draco looked up at her, then nodded briefly back.
“Hey,” he said, quietly.
“First game of the season, tomorrow... you're going to be ready, right? You're not going to kill yourself practicing before we can get there, are you?”
“Guess we'll have to wait til tomorrow to see,” he admitted.
“Because as coach of this team, I really have to say that I feel it's my responsibility to make sure you actually get some rest and sleep before tomorrow, because if you show up to our first game of the season an absolute mess, then you're just going to prove everyone right when they said you were traded to the Shitty Gryffys to get you off of the Slytherins.”
He blinked, and twisted to look up at her. “People are actually saying that?!”
“No,” she said, brightly, smirking slightly. “But I figured there was probably a good chance that you figured they might be saying that, so if I sort of reinforce your crazy ideas, maybe you'll play harder tomorrow.”
“Thanks.” He said, sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
“Hey, anything I can do to keep our star player going.” She smiled faintly, and rounded the corner to sit beside him on the bed, folding her hands in her lap. “Not that I’d usually call someone a star player to their face, but... you're also the only one who takes even the slightest bit of direction. Are you aware of that?”
Draco sighed slightly. “I have years of training, Hermione, years of practice... I’ve learned to be very good at what I do.”
“And you are good.” She admitted. “Better than most anyone in the field, if you ask me. Only one who's really any better is - “
“I know who's better.” He cut her off.
Hermione frowned slightly, and nodded at him. “All right, so that's still a sore topic. But you have to admit, we've gotten a little better, as a team, haven't we?”
He frowned slightly. “...Neville and Ron are a little better.”
“Neville and Ron were never too bad to begin with. They're on our team for a reason, after all.”
“...you do remember that we're the Gryffindors, right? The bad team in the league?”
“Of course I remember that,” she rolled her eyes. “But they had to be good enough to get into the professional league, didn't they? I mean, I know I was no brilliant player myself, but I was a fair shake better than any amateur player... and these boys are better than I am. Colin, on the other hand... well. He was a bit of an error in someone's judgment, if you ask me.”
He blinked at her. “...I never would have expected you to... say something like that, so frankly.”
“Well, I shouldn't.” She shrugged. “I really shouldn't. It's not a nice thing to say, or do. But frankly... I’ve done my best with him, Draco, but... he's not really getting any better, is he?”
He shook his head, closing his eyes. “He's not.”
“I mean, he could get better, perhaps,” she admitted, playing with the bottom hem of her t-shirt. “Or he could get worse. I suppose I don't rightly know, yet. But... if you'll help me with the team... maybe we can make the Gryffindors something other than the butt of the entire league's jokes.”
“...maybe that'd work.” He smiled faintly at her. He was willing to try. He wanted to try. Had to try. He had to make his life worth something, now that he was on the team he didn't want to be on, now, didn't he?
“Give it a shot, big boy.” She clapped his shoulder, and stood. “Thank you, Draco.”
“Hey, making the best of it,” he grinned.
Making the best of it didn't mean that it was somehow going to work, though.
And it didn't.
Draco was on the sidelines, watching as Ron and Colin tried their damndest out on the the sand, but it really... well, it was laughable, to be honest. Ron was doing his best, he really was, but every time he got close to making any progress at all, Colin would bollucks something up royally, and on the bench, Neville and Draco would groan, and try desperately to not look as crushed as they felt.
A mid-game break was called, and the other two members of their team headed over to join them on the bench, looking as defeated as they felt.
“This bloody sucks,” Ron muttered, leaning on the fence beside Draco.
“You as frustrated with this as I am?” He asked, quietly.
He nodded, brows furrowed.
“Shame you weren't still friends with him...” Ron murmured. “That'd save even our team, if we had someone like him playing with us...”
“Yeah, well...” Draco muttered. “I haven't seen him in years.”
“He's right there.” He frowned, looking over at Draco, and motioning towards the stands.
Draco frowned, confused, looking where the other had pointed.
His eyes widened sharply.
There, sitting in the stands like he was just some regular spectator, was him. Sports reporters used to jokingly call him the Chosen One of beach volleyball. The son of two brilliant and gifted Olympic gold medalists whose lives had been cut short tragically by a car crash when he was just a baby, everyone had thought that Harry Potter was going to be a legend at the game, just like James and Lily had been. And he was, he really was, but he hated playing, because he hated having the expectation that he was going to be brilliant, that he had to be brilliant, hanging over his head.
Once, once he'd agreed to do it, but only because his best friend had convinced him to join his team.
And then they'd had a falling out – over Blaise Zabini, of all fucking people, and Harry had left the team. And Draco had never really gotten over it.
“What the hell is he doing here?” He demanded.
“I invited him.” Hermione said, walking over to the pair of them, holding her clipboard against her chest. “Hey, Draco. They say you haven't talked to him since. I thought him coming to a game might help.”
“How is that ever supposed to help?” He asked, bitterly, scowling at her.
“Because maybe,” she said sweetly, “You'll talk to him, pull your head our of your ass, and may be you can convince him to join our team. We need some new blood, don't we?”
He groaned softly. “Do you even know why he left the team?”
“No one knows, Draco, because you both have kept it out of the press, despite him being an incredibly private person that everyone wants to write about, and you being an incredibly public person that no one wants to write about. But I know a lot of people, Draco, and I know a lot about people... and yeah, I think I know exactly why he left the team. Now, make some damn amends.”
He blinked at her.
“Go on, then!”
But of course, he couldn't run to make amends right then, just like she wanted, because the ref called game again, and they had to go back. He'd never liked that referee... Severus Snape was a former volleyball player himself, and he had never really gotten over the fact that he'd never had his big break. So he took it out on the players, being far more viscous a ref than any man ever needed to be.
They lost so spectacularly, that Draco was pretty sure it was a record of some kind. It was embarrassing enough a defeat that he sort of forgot about Hermione's attempts at making him make his peace with his old friend.
But even if he'd forgotten, she hadn't.
And Harry hadn't.
His old friend was waiting for him, standing outside the Gryffindor change room, his thumbs hooked in his pockets. He looked exactly as he always had, disheveled black hair and bright green eyes behind those perfectly round framed glasses, and yeah, he still dressed like a pauper, but he was tall and lean and had a sheepish sort of smile that made Draco stop dead in his tracks.
“Hey,” Harry said, quietly.
“...hey.” Draco said, at last.
"Good luck, mate," Ron said cheerfully, and patted him on the shoulder before he headed into the locker rooms. Neville gave him a quick, sympathetic smile, and Colin just sort of stared at Harry like a bloody lunatic for a moment before Neville grabbed his arm and hauled him into the locker room behind him.
"So." Harry said, quietly.
"So." Draco repeated, then lifted his chin slightly. "Well, this isn't awkward at all."
"Can we talk?" The other asked, softly, smiling tightly. "I don't want to impose, I don't want to interfere in your life, or anything, it's just... ah... I really need to talk to you, Draco. There's some... some things we need to talk about."
"I should say there are," He murmured, but nodded, and motioned towards the stands. "Wanna sit?"
"Yeah, that'd be good."
They settled in one of the highest rows of the seats in the stands, sitting awkwardly side by side, like they used to, in the old days, when things were better, and times were good. Their shoulders brushed against each other, and it was silent for a few long moments as they just looked out at the volleyball court, empty now.
It was Harry that broke the silence.
"It's been a long time," he said, finally. "Almost two years, now?"
"Hm." Draco nodded. "It's true."
"...so I heard you, ah... you and Blaise had a thing for awhile."
"We had a thing for a long time, Harry. You did too."
He cleared his throat, and looked down at his hands, flushed. "...yeah. There was that. I mean... I didn't... I'm sorry."
"Well, that's the first time I've heard that one." He glanced over at Harry, then murmured. "...thank you. For the apology, I mean."
He nodded, and murmured, "I mean... I never wanted for this to happen, I really didn't, Draco, it was one of those things... you know, a long night, too much Firewhiskey... and you know Blaise talks like a goddamn silver tongued snake..."
"He really does." he agreed, laughing softly.
"And... I made a mistake."
"You know what the worst part was?" Draco said, looking down at his own folded hands. "...if you had just... talked to me about it, or asked me about it... or hell, just done something other than just... bolting? You know I would have been totally fine with it. I really would have been. I mean... I had a thing for Blaise too. And I, you know... always kinda had a thing for the idea of having a whole bunch of men in one bed. I mean... it's kinda hot."
Harry blinked at him for a moment, then pointed at him. "See, these are things I wish I had known two years ago."
"Yeah, well... if I'd thought of it, I would have mentioned it." He murmured, flushed. "Except that you bolted and I felt like an idiot, and... I threatened to quit volleyball, which was a very bad idea... but yeah. This stupid... trade... it didn't really make things better. Know what I mean?"
"Yeah," he murmured, then glanced around the beach for a moment before abruptly darting forward and pressing his lips lightly to Draco's. "I'm sorry. I am."
He sighed softly, closing his eyes, then murmured, "Does this mean you'll come back to professional volleyball?"
"Am I going back to the Slytherins like they keep asking?"
"That wasn't really the idea," he smirked. "I was actually sort of hoping that you were going to join our Shitty Gryffys. I've been trying to make them less shitty, but I'm pretty sure we're going to suck until we get rid of Colin, and... well... you're a considerably better player, Harry."
"So I've heard. Haven't played in two years, and they still insist on calling me the Chosen One. It's getting kind of frustrating."
"So join the Gryffs. Maybe they won't call you the Chosen One anymore once they realize you've joined a team that sucks."
Harry barked in laughter, and leaned on Draco's shoulder, slightly, smiling. "Would you mind?"
"Mind? Not sucking? No, I wouldn't mind." He rolled his eyes.
"Heh... no promises on not sucking."
"Oi." Draco laughed.
"Yeah, yeah... I'm a bloody perve. Learned from the best."
So it turned out that Draco was right, and Harry was wrong, and the Gryffindors were more than happy to accept him to their team.
Ron was practically bouncing as he headed into the living room of the little Gryffindor Tower, all but bounding as he walked. "This..." He grinned, happily, flopping down on the couch across from the others, "Is the best thing to ever happen to the Gryffindors. Let me tell you. It's gonna be awesome. We are going to kick ass."
Harry rolled his eyes. "Maybe."
"Maybe, but maybe not." Draco pointed out. "I mean, I'll all for our team kicking arse and taking names, because it's about time we did, but... you can't pin all your hopes on Harry. You know how many people have done that, in the past, pinned their hopes on the Chosen One, and then been disappointed?"
"Yourself included?" Neville asked, sitting down in one of the arm chairs.
Draco cleared his throat. "No... actually, that wasn't about the Chosen One thing... that was sort of... just because I fought with my best friend, you know."
"And your boyfriend."
Everyone turned to look at Hermione, who was leaning on the back of the loveseat that Harry and Dracohad settled themselves in. "What?" She asked, arching a brow. "It's about time the world knew, anyway, you two have been hiding this for way too long, and acting like it was this super big secret, yes... this is why Harry quit volleyball two years ago. Because they had a lover's quarrel. Do try not to have anymore lover's quarrels, boys, all right?"
"Unless you're doing it for the makeup sex," Neville pointed out, cheerfully. "It's totally worth it for the make up sex."
"Thanks, Nev, not sure we needed that information," Ron rolled his eyes.
"So... what's the plan, then?" Harry asked, quietly, crossing his arms slightly. "I notice that Colin isn't here."
"He's retired." Hermione said, clearing her throat. "He was... encouraged to retire, mostly. But yeah, he's retired, and... that left us with a sizeable gap in our lineup, and... well. That's where Harry came in. He'll be our new starting player."
"Well." Draco shrugged. "That's remarkably simple, isn't it?"
"Actually," Hermione admitted, "I was sort of shocked with how easy it did turn out to be. Pieces just sort of fell into place. Now... since we now have a new player and all... we should really get out there and practice. We really need to get you up into proper fighting form. It'll work out well, I promise."
"...because you're going to work us to the bone, aren't you?"
She grinned back at Draco. "Pretty much."
They actually lost their first game.
Not by nearly as much as they had been losing before, but yeah, they lost their first game.
They won the next one.
And the game after that, then the game after that, then lost one, then won again, and again, and again. They started winning so many matches that it didn't even take much effort to get them into the very next thing in the line, which was the finals. The championships.
And they kept winning there, too. Game after game after game, until they were finally in the second last game of the match. They were set to face Hufflepuff, Diggory's old team, and if they won this one, they would be heading to the final game of the competition.
Slytherin versus Gryffindor.
They so had to win this match, because they so had to fight the Slytherins.
Everyone was there, there were reporters on scene, there was television coverage, and Olympic scouts in the audience, and... it was a big deal. A really big deal.
Such a big deal, in fact, that Draco somehow thought he should be... more nervous about it.
Instead, he just caught the front of Harry's jersey as they were about to head out onto the field, and murmured, "Can I get a kiss for good luck?"
"Sure can." he grinned down at him, and cupped his jaw, kissing him eagerly.
They weren't really... out, exactly. Oh sure, both were "out", everyone knew that they were gay, that had become a whole lot less of a taboo these days, so it was fine, but as a couple they weren't really... out. They were sort of still... closetted, that way. Obviously the rest of the team knew, but that didn't mean the whole world did, yet.
"Mmm." Draco sighed softly, eyes closed. "Wow."
"Hey," Ron leaned on the wall beside them. "...do I get a kiss for good luck, too?"
Harry laughed, and glanced down at Draco. The blond arched a brow, and drawled, “I told you my thoughts on this.”
Harry laughed, and cheekily, leaned over to press his lips to Ron's. The redhead made a sort of soft squeak sound – he clearly hadn't been expecting his teammate to actually do it – but he also didn't back off.
“Interesting.” Draco drawled, and patted Ron on the shoulder. “C'mon, they're expecting us on the field.”
“Wait.” Ron said quickly, flushed. “But, ah, I don't know which of you two has the lucky kisses. So maybe, I – maybe I’m not lucky yet.”
He laughed, outright, and stood on his tiptoes to give the much taller man a light, soft kiss. It wasn't like magical sparking fireworks, or whatever those terrible romance writers would have referred to the experience as, but there was something like a surge of adrenaline through his veins, and a hot, heavy feeling settled in his lower belly. It was... well, it was good.
Neville cleared his throat, behind them. “I'm starting to feel downright left out.”
Draco laughed outright.
Ron lifted his glass, laughing, and they clicked their glasses. “To success!”
“I still can't quite believe we actually won,” Neville chuckled, sipping at his glass. “I mean, I know we've gotten good – really good, I mean, but I’m still not really used to the idea of actually winning, you know?”
“Get used to it,” Draco drawled, sipping at his glass and feeling delightfully lightheaded. This was definitely not their first glass, and they were definitely not slowing down anytime soon. “Because we are kicking ass and taking names these days.”
Hermione laughed, and stood. “Don't get too cocky, now, Draco.”
“Where are you going?” Harry asked, frowning slightly. “Party's not even close to over, 'mione?”
Neville snorted, and repeated, softly, “...'mione.”
“I know,” she smiled softly. “But I have some paper work to get done before the game in three days, dot some Is, cross some Ts. You boys have fun, all right? Have as much fun as you can without me, all right?”
Ron smirked. “We could get up to a lot more with you.”
“Behave, young man,” she laughed, swatting his shoulder as she left.
“It's far more fun,” Draco drawled, “To misbehave.”
“You've always loved misbehaving,” Harry agreed, his hand settling above Draco's knee, fingers curled lightly around the other's thigh. “And you were always very good at it.”
“I was, though, wasn't I?” He smirked, draining the last of his glass, and held it forward. “Fill me up!”
Neville leaned forward to pour him another glass of champagne, and murmured, wistfully, “I've always sort of just wanted to cut loose and misbehave.”
“You know there's an easy solution to that,” Draco smirked.
The other blinked back at him, then asked, slowly, like he was slightly afraid of the answer, “And what is that?”
“Simple,” he grinned, setting his glass aside before snagging the champagne bottle out of the other's grasp. Shifting forward, he crawled into Neville's lap, and straddled his thighs as he trailed his fingers down the back of the other man's neck. “The answer, dear Neville... is to simply misbehave.”
“That...” he smirked, “I can do.”
It seemed like a perfectly natural thing, at that moment, for Draco to curl his arms slowly around the other's neck and press his lips to Neville's. And yeah, it seemed perfectly natural to squirm into him and kiss harder when he discovered that Neville seemed rather amenable to this here development.
And it was really quite a bit better when Harry's broad, strong body pressed against his back, peppering light kisses across the back of his sunburnt neck.
“I'm feeling left out!” Ron hollered from the other couch.
Draco reluctantly broke his lip lock with Neville to lift his head and drawl, “Then get over here, you big baby.”
Ron nearly tripped over the coffee table in his eagerness to get there. Flopping heavily beside them, he grinned, eagerly, and said, “So... here I am.”
“So you are,” Harry laughed, reaching over to brush his fingers down the back of the other's neck, lightly.
“I'll drink to that,” Draco drawled.
“You have the bottle, Draco, darling,” Harry reminded him.
“So I do,” he smirked, and leaned back slightly, pouring some of the slightly golden bubbly liquid into his own mouth. It was a bit much, really, and it overfilled his mouth, and he laughed eagerly as champagne dribbled down his jaw and neck, staining the collar of his shirt. “Ha, I’m a mess.”
“A sweet mess,” Ron said cheerfully, and leaned forward to lap up some of the champagne off his skin.
“I certainly hope you mean the champagne, and not me.” Draco drawled, smirking.
“Naw,” Neville kissed the underside of Draco's jaw. “You taste pretty damn sweet, too. Can I get a little of the bubbly, then?”
“Sure,” he laughed, tipping the bottle to pour it into the other's mouth.
He laughed, gulping it down, and generally making a mess of himself. “Well,” Neville laughed. “That felt downright kinky.”
“You thought that was kinky?” The 'chosen one' laughed, and slid his hands under Draco's tee, pushing it up and over the the other's head, so that Draco finally had to hand the bottle over to Ron so that the man behind him could push his shirt right off of him. “We'll teach you about kinky.”
“Ah... are we naughty school teachers today?” Draco drawled.
“Naw... we're just being naughty in general.” He laughed.
It's difficult to describe, exactly, to someone how one ends up falling into sex with three other people. From a purely logistical standpoint, there are the issues of positions and how exactly to ensure that everyone got equal attention. But any one of those four would tell you, without a single doubt, that the little hangups were more than made up for.
Ron was the one who finally managed to wrangle Harry out of his shirt, though somehow when it came to getting himself undressed, the redhead got things a little jumbled up, and ended up just tugging off his trousers and leaving his tee on, but it sort of matched Neville being naked as a jaybird except for his socks and shoes, and that sort of got them awkwardly together in a sort of adorable mess.
It was Harry that shoved the coffee table out of the way and tumbled onto his back on the rug.
“C'mon down, the weather's fine!” He laughed.
Neville curled up at his side, laughing, though naturally he'd had to dislodge Draco from his lap, first. Draco, naturally, had flopped down on the rug, too, then abruptly bolted up and said, eagerly, “Ron, bloody hell, get down here, I’ve heard all these rumours about Weasleys, and I wanna know if they're true.”
He blinked. “Rumours?”
“About sizes and skills,” he drawled. “C'mon, get over here.”
“You do know I’m your cousin, right?”
“Like a second or third cousin, seriously,” he rolled his eyes, and held out his hands, cheerfully. “Sides, you're a man, and I’m a man, we're both men, Neville's a man, Harry's a man... none of us are going to get pregnant, so who the bloody hell cares if we're cousins? Now get your skinny freckled ass over here so we can get on with our investigation.”
He snorted, but got his skinny freckled ass over there.
They woke up the next morning with a false sense of security and happiness and joy.
They'd fallen asleep on the rug, all strangely piled on and around Ron, who had ended up sort of spread eagle on his back. The rug was going to be an absolute nightmare to clean, all champagne and spunk and lube that Draco had produced from somewhere the night before, but at the moment, none of the four really cared about the rug. Screw, as Harry had muttered when he threw his arm over his eyes, the rug.
And then reality intruded like a bucket of cold water, in the form of Hermione, who threw a newspaper on top of them, and said, firmly, “Wake up, boys.”
Draco sighed heavily, and said, “If you're trying to shame us into hiding our nakedness, Hermione, it won't work. You're quite welcome to join us, though. It's certainly not something I’ve ever tried, but I’d certainly be willing to try and bring a woman into our messy little orgy.”
“Laugh all you want.” She motioned at the newspaper, but she clearly wasn't laughing. “You made the front page of the sports section.”
“Oh, for our brilliant triumph yesterday?” Draco grinned.
Harry picked up the paper off of his chest, and sucked in a sharp breath.
“...not for our brilliant triumph, then....?”
Ron leaned over, frowning, and sucked in a sharp breath. “Oh bloody hell, Draco, this isn't good.”
“Why? What is – oh.”
The photo montage on the front page had a photo of the entire Gryffindor team – and that included Hermione – across the bottom of the group of photos, then an individual shot of Harry of Draco on either side. But it was the middle shot that had made everyone pale. Harry and Draco in the entrance of their change room, lip locked. It was a shot from maybe a week ago, from that Dumstrang game, Draco was fairly sure, and the head line underneath almost made it worse - “The Real Reason the Gryffs are Winning? Potter Seduced to Join the Team.”
“...what the bloody hell?”
“The article and the photos are thanks to the same source.” Hermione said grimly. “Colin Creevey.”
“What?!” Neville gasped. “Why would he do this to us?!”
"He did this because he's furious." Hermione settled on the edge of one of the two couches, frowning slightly. "He's furious because he was basically forced to leave the team. So that Harry could join. He's bitter, and... I can't exactly blame him."
Draco sighed heavily, and sank back against the floor, staring up at the ceiling, feeling sort of numb. "...well then."
"...what do we do?" Harry asked, quietly.
"Well, I suppose we're out of the closet, babe." Draco reached up, sort of blindly, to pat Harry's shoulder, clearing his throat. "...sorry. But I guess now everyone will know that you're dating a teammate, now."
"Do we tell them about... this?" Neville motioned between the group of them. "About you know... this?"
"What is this, though?" Ron pointed out. "I mean... are we all... dating?"
"I'm not sure I can even imagine a world in which I need to juggle three boyfriends." Draco groaned, rolling onto his side, then sitting up, slowly. "Oooh... my back hurts... okay... so I do like you guys. I actually really like you guys a lot. But seriously, there is no way that all four of us are dating."
"Partially because there are significantly bigger issues to deal with?" Hermione demanded. "There are people calling me already, this is a PR nightmare."
"Why?" Ron frowned, confused. "What's wrong with them dating? Everyone knows they're both gay, so what?"
"Because people are seriously starting to think that Harry is on the team because he's sleeping with Draco," she said, crossing her arms.
"So what?" Neville frowned.
"So this is a serious issue for us actually not making a mess of the championship," she muttered, sighing heavily. "It looks like nepotism. There are some concerns that there will be an investigation by the review board."
Draco gaped at her. "They wouldn't."
"They will," she nodded, frowning, and shook her head.
"...you really think they will?" Ron murmured.
Harry sighed, and stood off the floor, pressing his hands into his lower back, and arched his back, cracking his spine. "Knowing the review board... yeah, they will. I mean, on one hand, I half want to suggest that we do tell the world that we're doing this - and seriously, Draco, stop being a stick in the mud, I am full on planning on having more of these little orgy things, so this might turn into a relationship, whether you like it or not - just so that they'll stop and understand and get it."
"I don't think the rest of the world would really 'understand'." Hermione said, rolling her eyes.
"Maybe they'd feel less homophobic if we had a girl in here, too, eh?" Ron asked, wiggling his eyebrows mischeviously at her.
"Oh, seriously, Ron. Grow up. There are more important things at stake, right now," she said, rolling her eyes as she stood, as well, and pointed out, helpfully, "Maybe you ought to get some pants on, Harry. Seriously. You're hanging in the breeze."
"You like it," he drawled, smirking slightly. "Give me the truth, Hermione... you can work this out, can't you?"
She sighed, and nodded. "I think I can find a way to make it work for us."
"Thanks." He patted her shoulder. "You're a good friend, 'mione."
The three of them watched from the floor, then Neville said, quietly, "Is it just me, or is there some kind of history, there?"
"They dated in school." Ron murmured. "So there's history."
Draco nodded at Neville. "Years ago."
"Huh." he blinked, surprised. "Well, I didn't expect that."
"You do know we can both hear you, right?" Harry asked, crossing his arms over his bare chest as he smirked down at the three men on the floor.
"Of course you can. We wouldn't have it any other way," Draco grinned, cheekily, and stood up, finally, reaching for the ceiling as he stretched. "So who supposes that the tub in their room is large enough for all four of us to fit into? Five of us, darling Hermione, of course you're welcome to join us."
"Four." She smirked slightly, bending to pick up the newspaper. "I have to deal with damage control. Don't forget to practise today, boys? You have a very big game in two days. Remember?"
"Way to rain on our parade," Ron rolled his eyes.
"I'm raining because some one has to, Ron." She smiled, and patted his shoulder. "Go. Take your bath, boys."
Neville held up a hand, and said, cheerfully, "My tub is big enough."
The morning of the final game of the final championships, there was electric tension in the air. It was a sort of tense power and sparking in the air, as though they were all waiting for the moment when the electricity flared into lighting and fire. It was a strange sort of sensation - but they all knew what it meant. It was a palpable sense of unease and anticipation. They were nervous. Scared.
They were all nervous.
And for a good fucking reason, really. After all, they were about to face the juggernaughts of the beach volleyball world. The Slytherins had ruled the court now for years, and they had dominated the court this year the same way they had before, when Draco was there. He was almost offended that him being there or not ended up making no difference whatsoever. But even so, the game was big, the game was nearly there, and what the hell were they supposed to do other than just... approaching it as best they could? After all, it wasn't as though they could have practised anymore than they had, and when it came to team relationships, well. Draco was pretty damn sure there wasn't another team in the whole world that would work together as well as they did.
Hermione leaned in the team room, hugging her clipboard to her chest, and smiled, softly. "Hello boys."
The guys nodded, sheepishly.
Stepping into the room, she took a deep breath, and considered them both for a few moments, then reached out to touch each of their heads, gently. "It's going to be good, boys. You've worked hard, you're all very good at what you do. Just remember, Neville... don't hit too hard, okay? Ron, remember to hit with your fingertips, not your whole hand. Draco, make sure not to get too cocky out there on the sand. And Harry... ignore what you're going to hear out there."
He blinked up at her. "...ignore what I'm going to hear...?"
"There are some people angry about the whole... relationship thing." She sighed softly, dropping her arms by her sides. "I'm sorry, boys. It's going to be... possibly a little distracting."
"We can deal with it," Harry said, confidently.
Draco groaned softly. "Hopefully."
"We can." Harry said again, nodding as he reached out to squeeze Draco's shoulder, quietly. "It's going to be okay."
Neville grinned brightly. "Hey, the four - the five, sorry, Hermione - of us, we can do anything."
Ron grinned. "Totally."
Draco rolled his eyes, and said, firmly, "Let's get the hell out there before we turn into an eighties montage and there starts being some slow, cheesy slow motion action for us to do training montages to, or something."
The game was a good game. There would be a description of it, but the game would have been a hard thing to describe. It was all action and movement, and there were highs - moments where they were able to absolutely rub their new successes in the Slytherin's faces - and there were lows - where the bastard ref Snape made bad calls or where the Slytherins scored points, which they totally did. There were some people in the crowds that cheered their every success, and there were a frustrating group that were there, quite literally, to mock and jeer over the relationship that Draco and Harry had that had been outted by Colin's article.
Really, the game was touch and go, there were moments where they were sure they would win, and moments that they were sure they were going to lose.
In the end, they lost.
But it was by a narrow margin, and in the end, winners or losers... they were happy.
Blaise came forward, at the end of the match, interrupting the awkward - but delightfully fun - little champagne party that the Gryffindors were having - because maybe they had lost, but son of a bitch, they'd gotten to the very final game in the championships, that had never, ever once happened to the Shitty Gryffys before, of course that deserved some celebration! Clearing his throat, he said, sort of awkwardly, "Hey."
Draco turned from the little gathering they were assembled in, and considered the other man for a moment, then nodded, sipping at his tall glass. "Hello, Blaise."
"You - you did well, today."
He considered his former friend, as gorgeous as he ever was, for a few long moments, still sipping at his glass, then nodded, finally, and held his hand forward, offering it to him. "Thank you, Blaise."
The gorgeous Italian shook his hand, smiling softly. "I'm sorry it's been so long, Draco."
"Well... I've had my mind on other things," he smiled faintly, and motioned at Harry, who stepped closer, leaning casually on Draco's shoulder. "I'm sure, by now, that you've read the news."
Blaise nodded, quietly, and said softly. "Congratulations, Harry."
"Thank you," he said, nodding.
"Come on, now, boys!" Ron howled from the table where he had clambered up onto it, laughing as he shook up the bottle of champagne, and abruptly showered them all in the champagne, warm, wet, sticky sweetness raining down on them, dripping down their hair and down into their clothes, and Draco laughed, eagerly, holding onto Harry's arm. "It's a party! It's time to party!"
Hermione laughed, sitting up on the edge of the table, Neville curled in close to her side as she mischeviously held her own glass to his lips. "We got a reason to celebrate, don't we?"
"We sure do," Draco smirked, and kissed Harry, softly.
Blaise cleared his throat, and said, quietly, "...I guess I'll talk to you guys later."
"Sure," Draco breathed, pressing close to Harry, looping his arms slowly around Harry's neck, just sort of holding onto him as Ron shook up the bottle of the champagne again, and showered the frothy gold liquid all over them again.
"Come on, now," Neville laughed, champagne dripping out of his dark hair. "I think this party ought to go somewhere a little more private."
"What," Ron laughed, crouching beside the pair sitting on the edge of the table. "Don't want to have an orgy in the middle of the beach?"
"Of course I do," he smirked back at him. "On the Gryiffindor beach."
Harry stepped closer, and reached out to snag the bottle out of Ron's hand, and leaned back, pouring some of the champagne into his mouth, swallowing deeply, Adam's apple bobbing slightly as he did. "Mmm..." he sighed, finally, head still thrown back, champagne on his skin, dripping in his hair, streaking his glasses. "Is Hermione joining us, this time?"
"Hermione's right here," she drawled, and snagged the bottle out of his fingers, pressing the mouth of the bottle to her lips as she swallowed, deeply, then finally lowered it, and murmured, "And yes. She will be."
"Mmm... about damn time," Draco grinned.
Hermione stepped into the bedroom, flipping through several pieces of paper on her clipboard, bare feet padding on the stone floor as she headed across the room, smiling brightly. "I have some interesting news."
"So do we," Ron yawned, stretching. "And it's far more interesting than anything you've got there."
"I doubt it," she rolled her eyes, setting one knee on the edge of the mattress as she continued flipping through the pages.
Neville half sat up in the bed, looping one of his arms around her middle, and dragging her down onto the bed. She squealed slightly as he tugged her down to the bed, and laughed, kicking her feet in the air, merrily. "Neville!" She laughed.
"Much better," Draco drawled, his head still pillowed on Harry's chest as he watched her, and laughed when Ron helped Neville tug her onto the bed properly.
"Mmm... what kind of news did you have, anyway?" Harry drawled.
Hermione flopped properly on the bed - which was really sort of fitting that she be sprawled on the bed with them, anyway, since all she was wearing was a slightly over large t-shirt that they were pretty sure was one of Ron's - and wiggled the clipboard. "Remember that big championship a few months ago?"
"Yeah," Harry smirked. "We lost."
Neville pointed at him. "But we lost damn well, my friend."
"We did," he agreed, laughing.
"So what about the championship, 'mione?" Draco asked.
"There were Olympic scouts there." She tapped the clipboard. "So there is talk of the Olympic teams."
Ron sat up straighter. "...which of us do they want?"
"Well." She hesitated. "...they'd actually like you all to try out. I mean, obviously, try outs don't guarantee anything, but... ah... I'm really more excited about the fact that they want me to apply for the couching staff."
"Congrats, 'mione!" Ron grinned, pleased.
"Totally!" Neville nodded.
She wriggled a little, beaming.
Draco grinned, wolfishly. "...celebratory sex?"
Harry grinned. "Lets."