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The Way We Are

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Draco sorted through his quills and watched Potter from across the Common Room while he waited for Blaise so they could start on their Charms homework. Goyle did his with Potter these days and Pansy had a group with a couple of Ravenclaws, so they figured they should start their own little group.

So far, everything appeared to be business as usual with Potter, and he hadn’t seen any evidence of the gloom that had clung to him like a cloak the day before.

He had been watching all day; at breakfast, in classes, in the corridors, and Potter had acted like his normal nauseatingly expansive self.

Which made Draco wonder how often Potter found himself depressed and then had to deal with it, considering how much a part of the routine it appeared to be.

He looked up as Pansy sauntered down the dorm stairs with her book bag, presumably on her way to get started on the exact same Charms essay as him. He raised an eyebrow when he saw her detour towards where Potter was sitting with Granger, flipping pages in an absurdly random manner while she lectured.

"So, Potter. I hear a rumor you think I sizzle."

Draco almost groaned, but he should have expected it really. There was no way Pansy was likely to stay quiet about something like this.

Potter blinked once then gave her a wicked grin. "Why yes, Pansy. I do think you're one of the hottest girls in school. In fact," he rubbed his chin, as if in thought. "I think you're almost as good looking as Hermione."

Draco abruptly swallowed the guffaw that wanted to emerge, pressing his lips tightly together to prevent any sound from escaping. For one thing, laughing like a hyena was undignified. For another, it could get him killed by the Wrath of Pansy if he indulged right this minute.

Pansy's face was twisted as she tried to settle on an expression. On the one hand, she had just been declared one of the hottest girls in school, publically no less, by none other than the Vanquisher. On the other hand, Potter had also said that she was almost as good looking as Granger, not someone she considered good looking on the best of days.

Her voice was a little strangled when she spoke, "That's... nice, Potter."

"Any time, Parkinson."

The two waited until she nodded and walked out, the portrait door snapping to behind her. Then Potter and Granger burst out laughing, and Draco's lips trembled as he tried to hold in the chuckle rattling in his chest.

"Seriously, Harry. One of these days some girl will kill you in your sleep, and then I'll be able to say I told you so."

Potter just grinned, unrepentant. "But 'Mione! I do think you're one of the best looking girls in the school." He chuckled. "Besides, if 'some girl' managed to get that close while I was sleeping, I might let her."

"Harry! That's sexist!"

"Not if you're speaking metaphorically rather than literally, it isn't."

Granger groaned. "That's it, I'm leaving. Besides, if I don't rescue Ron from the Ravenclaw practices now, he may never get any work done."

Potter chuckled again. "Later 'Mione."

His eyes met Draco's as he watched her walk to the portrait hole. They twinkled, laughter springing into them again as he grinned at Draco. Then he winked and went back to flipping pages in a manner that could only have made sense to him.

The warmth in that look stayed with Draco all night.

 


 

 

One week later, and it awed Harry how willfully blind people could be when they weren’t consciously made to pay attention to something. He hadn't told anyone about the way things had progressed with Malfoy except for Ron and Hermione, and he knew Malfoy wouldn’t have mentioned it except to the obvious candidates. But in all honesty, he was pretty sure that anyone just had to look at him around Malfoy and they would be able to guess.

For one thing, Harry was a bad liar, at least when it came to things which didn't threaten someone's life or his own. And especially things where he didn't give a flying fuck what others thought of him. So just asking him point blank might not have been a bad tack to go with.

For another, there was not saying anything, and then there was lying with your body. Malfoy was pretty skilled at it. As he should be, given the practice he had had over the years. Harry couldn't really begrudge him the ability considering it was probably one of the things that had led to his survival mostly unscathed through the War. But it also meant that he wasn't as likely to give the game away.

Harry, on the other hand... Seriously.

Until very recently he couldn't be in the same breathing space without wanting to pick a fight, and now he was making googly eyes at Malfoy – and no one had noticed.

He knew he was making googly eyes because Ron had expounded on the subject in clear disgust all through dinner when he'd caught him staring at Malfoy yet again. The only thing that had shut him up in the end was Harry mentioning that if maybe he made googly eyes himself, Hermione might be persuaded to abandon her school books more often. That at least had given Harry some peace while Ron contemplated the possibilities. Peace that Harry promptly used to continue his surveillance of Malfoy.

Whose only response had been to glare. As if that would make him cease and desist.

It did occur to him that this might just be behavior that people had become used to from him, and because it all fell in the realm of strange they were more likely to dismiss anything happening between Malfoy and him as par for the course.

He was aware that he had watched Malfoy as closely before all the snogging had arrived to make his senses reel, and he had to acknowledge that from the outside it might be a bit hard to judge or understand that the motivations for the same kind of behavior were vastly different this time around.

To be fair, Harry reckoned the professors were probably so relieved that he wasn’t likely to blow up at Malfoy these days that they might not even care why the new peace had been instituted as long as it continued. Besides, it was a well known fact of any given school that the teachers are invariably the last to know with things of this nature. It was practically a law, and he knew of no reason that the teachers might suddenly become more perceptive of teenage angst – especially when concerning two such unlikely candidates.

Harry supposed he should thank his stars for small mercies that no one had noticed and therefore no one had tried to interfere yet. That wouldn't last long once something happened which they couldn't ignore or explain away as Harry being Harry. Like Harry grabbing Malfoy, bending him backwards over the table and snogging the living daylights out of him. He sighed happily at the thought and continued his staring at Malfoy.

 


 

 

"Potter! Quit it!"

"What?" Harry knew there was a whine in his voice, but he wasn't inclined to care at the moment.

"The staring! It's irritating, having your eyes follow me everywhere."

"It can't be all that irritating... I've been doing it since the beginning of the year."

"Yes, Potter, you have. And it's no less irritating now than it has ever been... It was just counterproductive to call you out on it earlier."

"Why does this bother you so much anyway? It's just staring... I'm allowed to look, aren't I?"

"Because it's irritating having eyes follow you everywhere! It'd be a bit better, if not by much, if you were more subtle about it, but you're as obvious as a bloody hippogriff in a china shop!"

"So you want me to stop?"

"Will you quit acting any more thick than you already are? You're perfectly capable of following when spoken to in simple syntax... YES, I want you to stop!"

Harry opened his mouth to protest his right to stare at whoever and whatever he chose, then paused mid-thought.

In a way, Malfoy had a point.

He was the one who had been doing all the staring and the making of googly eyes, to borrow from Ron's vernacular. He sometimes felt like Malfoy's eyes might be following him when he wasn't looking, but it wasn't often, and he had never been able to catch Malfoy at it for longer than a couple of seconds before Malfoy became distracted by something else and decided to return his whole attention back to where it belonged.

For some reason this realization left a hollow feeling in his chest, and he ducked his head before Malfoy could read it in his face.

"Potter?"

Malfoy was still waiting for an answer, although his voice had turned puzzled rather than the earlier aggressive. Probably wondering where Harry's mind had gone wandering off to. Harry sometimes wondered that himself.

"Fine." It came out more abruptly than he'd intended. "No more staring."

Malfoy raised one eyebrow. "You actually mean that?"

Harry tried to smile, but it came out more grimace. "Well, no promises, Malfoy. Bad habits and all that. So I'll probably stare some of the time. But I bet you can't catch me at it."

This time the smile was a little more convincing; the challenge of only ever staring when Malfoy couldn't catch him was appealing. Well, why not? Even before they became more than enemies, the way they had always worked had been a push and pull of competition between them. Harry was hoping to keep the competitions just a tad bit more healthy this go around.

"I'll see you in class, Malfoy. I'm meant to be meeting Goyle in the library."

With that he turned around and headed off, frowning a little as he always did when in thought. He was going to have to come up with some new hobbies since he was just realizing how much of his time everyday he spent staring at Malfoy and following him around. It was enough that he almost hadn't missed it when Ron and Hermione's focus shifted to each other and they started trying to spend every free moment together. The first few weeks of a new and glorious thing always were the headiest.

Harry shook his head as he turned the corner. The problem was that Ron and Hermione still had each other, glory of a new thing notwithstanding, but he was being made to find a different hobby.

It was hard, but he didn't look back to catch one last glimpse of Malfoy as he went.

 


 

 

Draco stood and watched Potter until he disappeared out of sight, and then he stood there thinking for a little bit more.

He wondered what that little head shake at the end had meant just as he was going around the corner.

He wondered what the matter with him was that his insides were refusing to settle.

This was what he had wanted, to just make Potter bloody stop staring for once. It was unsettling and disconcerted Draco every time he caught Potter at it. Even when he knew that Potter wasn't planning the next time he was going to yell at Draco or bloody his nose.

The worst part of it all was that Potter didn't even pretend that he wasn't staring. There was nothing covert about it!

But something inside Draco was still squirming at Potter's quick acquiescence. It somehow felt all... wrong.

Potter didn't give in. He argued and he fought and he made you want to scream and then he went ahead and did whatever the hell he wanted to in the first place. But Draco had hardly even had to convince him of it at all. And he hadn't looked back as he walked away, not once. He did normally, to make a face or smile or even wink or... something.

That something inside writhed again, more violently this time. The smile that he had gotten from Potter would have been a fair one from anyone but Potter.

Potter didn't smile with his face, although real smiles did interesting things with his mouth and with the tiny little crinkles about his eyes that his glasses hid. He smiled with his eyes. And all Draco had seen in those eyes a minute ago was almost a representation of the gnarly, twisty thing that was inside him right at the moment, so though it looked about right, it hadn't been a real smile at all.

Draco swung around and headed to the Common Room, abruptly feeling miserable.

Damn Potter anyway. There was no reason for him to be feeling miserable – not when he'd gotten his way!

Draco hadn't figured it all out yet, but he was betting it was Potter's fault.

 


 

 

As the week progressed, Draco continued to feel miserable and the knots in his gut continued to writhe and tug in strange ways.

Potter was as good as his word, and Draco hadn’t caught him staring even once. Nothing beyond ducking his head when Draco looked in his direction.

Without his consent, Draco was being made to acknowledge that he might miss those inappropriately intense stares. Every time he’d caught that green gaze, they’d always lingered a moment, no matter the level of irritation Draco was feeling at that point, and it had felt like they were sharing a secret. How dare Potter take that away without any warning?

Draco resolutely ignored the fact that he might have been the one responsible for the current state of affairs as he seethed.

“For fuck’s sake, Draco. Would you settle?”

Draco scowled at Pansy.

“Honestly, I liked you better last week when you kept disappearing at odd moments and coming back with just snogged hair. At least there wasn’t all this moody grumbling without saying what in bloody Samhain is bothering you to begin with.”

Draco just crossed his arms and looked away. That was the other thing that was pissing him off.

Because they’d caught each other’s gaze often enough, Potter would just have to tilt his head or raise his eyebrows and they could sneak off when they knew they wouldn’t be missed. Neither of them had had to say anything. And now it had been three days since he’d last snogged Potter, and Draco was emphatically not happy.

Pansy growled. “Draco, if you do not tell me what your problem is right this instant, I’m going to tie you to a chair and-”

She broke off as the Common Room door smashed open, and the Weasel tripped through it.

Draco’s eyes narrowed as he watched the she-Weasel walk in with Potter, holding something in her arms. She rarely visited the Eight Year rooms, and Draco wanted to know what she thought she was doing here now.

Next to him, Pansy stiffened suddenly. He looked at her questioningly.

“Those are brownies. Fudge brownies! I can smell them from here!”

Draco’s eyes narrowed again as he looked back at where the three Gryffindors had settled.

Now he was thinking about it, what she-Weasel was holding could be a baking tray. She set it down in pride of place on the table next to the hearth and lifted the foil cover. There it was. The chocolaty smell of fresh baked brownies wafting through the room, making more people than just Pansy sit up and take notice.

Potter wouldn’t. That was supposed to be their little joke. And now he was carrying it out without even telling him? And he was letting the Weasel’s deranged little sister help?!! Draco could feel his temperature rising.

He barely paid attention as Pansy clutched his arm. “Draco! They smell really good! We have to find a way to get me some.”

Draco was more concerned with the way Potter was hovering as she-Weasel sectioned the brownie and lifted out a piece for the drooling original Weasel.

He was willing Potter to look at him with his mind, so he could know that they still shared the joke. That wasn’t asking too much. That wasn’t even staring really, it was just looking. ‘Turn around. Turn around now. Turn around and look at me.’

“Draco! Are you even paying attention? Order Potter to give me a piece!”

This was new. “What makes you think he would if I told him to?”

“Well he’s your boy toy or whatever it is that the two of you do in between snogging. You should be able to get one measly piece of brownie from him.”

Draco’s temper frayed some more as Potter still didn’t turn around. Was now in fact helping she-Weasel play host as they handed out pieces to everyone who had gathered around.

His laugh was a bitter thing as he answered Pansy without looking away from the party at the other end of the Common Room. “He’s no nothing of mine, the little traitor.”

Pansy squeezed his arm and gave him a little shake. “What is the matter with you? Whatever Potter’s done, he’s probably too thick to even know he’s done something wrong. Just go over there and shake some sense into him if you have to.” She then abruptly dropped his arm as Goyle appeared at the dorm stairs. “Greg!” Her brownie hunting had found a more likely target.

Draco was glad. He was still glaring at Potter, fists clenched, willing the Gryffindork to turn around, and every minute that Potter spent smiling and nodding to mindless idiots, was a minute Draco came closer to losing his temper all together. Didn’t he care? It had been three days! Three days!

Potter finally accepted a piece for himself, and as he bit into it, his eyes flicked upwards, almost involuntarily, and caught on Draco’s steely glare. They continued to stare at each other as Potter chewed slowly, licking his lips for crumbs. Then the she-Weasel stepped into his line of sight, interrupting the stare, and raised one hand to wipe chocolate from the corner of Potter’s lips.

Draco surged to his feet. He was abruptly angry enough to feel his fingers tingling, all that fury demanding a target.

Pansy materialized in front of him before he could get started on systematically ripping out the she-Weasel bint’s fingers, one at a time. How dare she-

“No, Draco.” Pansy’s voice was low but forceful. “Not here, not like this.”

“Pansy, get out of the way.”

Pansy shifted in place as she heard the deadly serious intent in his voice, but she didn’t move so Draco turned to glare at her.

“Pansy-”

A familiar tan hand with tapered, calloused fingers interrupted before he could get any further, waving between them.

“Hi. I come bearing gifts. Pansy, would you like some brownie?” Potter kept his eyes on Draco even as he addressed Pansy. “It’s double fudge, chocolate chip – fresh out of the oven.”

Pansy took the napkin Potter held out to her with a soft murmur, but didn’t move away.

Draco and Potter stared at each other for a moment. “Quidditch pitch, ten minutes?”

Draco nodded jerkily, then spun around to march up the dorm stairs. He would not be held responsible for his actions if he stayed in the same room as the she-Weasel any longer.

 


 

 

Draco was pacing impatiently on the walkway by the time Potter appeared and dropped his broom next to Draco’s.

“Malfoy-”

Draco didn’t let him finish, yanking him forward by his collar and pining him in place with a hand in his hair. Potter’s glasses dug into the side of his face as he deepened the bruising kiss, tongue and teeth lashing as all of his pent up frustration found expression.

Potter moaned and seemed to sag, leaning all his weight against Draco, clutching at his arms.

Draco was still angry and he wanted ... something. He just couldn’t figure out what. He hated having this ball of emotion that he’d been carrying around with him for the past few days. It felt like he was waiting for something from Potter but he was damned if he knew what exactly.

He relinquished the hold on Potter’s collar, reached up to yank off the glasses and dropped them carelessly.

“Malfoy.” Potter murmured, one hand sliding down his chest and around him.

In response, Draco bit his lips and deepened the kiss, not letting Potter put any space between them. He pushed, driving Potter backwards until they fetched up again the castle wall. Then he leaned all of his weight against Potter and concentrated on making him pant, feeling him harden against him.

Coming up for air, he bit and licked a trail along his jaw and down his neck until his collar got in the way.

Pinning him in place with his lower body, their throbbing erections pulsing against each other, he moved back just far enough to yank Potter’s t-shirt over his head, then resumed licking and biting the side of his neck.

Potter groaned and growled a little, his head thrown back and one hand yanking at Draco’s hair now.

Draco knew he was probably being too rough, but something in him wanted to mark all that expanse of golden skin. So he bit a little too hard, on the edge of pain, and sucked and nibbled until he was sure that this side of Potter’s neck and shoulder would be mottled with purpling bruises come morning.

Potter yanked harder on his hair, pulling him up for another scorching kiss, wrapping his arms around Draco’s neck as he surged and rutted against him.

Draco pushed in an even rhythm so that Potter bumped against the stone wall with each stroke, his grunts and moans swallowed by Draco’s mouth, feeding a need in him, soothing the surging ball of emotion writhing in his chest.

Draco broke the kiss again, retracing all of the tender spots on Potter’s neck and shoulder, then moving lower to lave and bite at first one nipple, then the other. He licked a trail down his chest, outlining his abdominal muscles with his tongue, pressing a kiss to his navel, and lower still where his jeans hug on his slim hips. He traced their edge with his tongue, then trailed an open-mouthed kiss up his flank.

By now Potter was panting and writhing, his hips making little thrusting motions, wanting a return of the friction.

Rising, Draco kissed him again, tongue exploring Potter’s mouth, stroking his teeth and accepted his tongue into his own mouth. He yanked up Potter’s thigh so one leg wrapped around him, pinned him in place, then yanked up the other leg so Potter’s back pressed against the wall and he clung to Draco with his arms.

Panting into Potter’s shoulder, he rubbed against him in earnest now, pushing harder, moving faster, trying to find rhythm that would relieve the tension singing up his spine.

The needy sounds pouring from Potter – whimpers, groans, grunts and moans urging him on, pleading for more – soothed him further, helping him focus, pouring heat through him that seemed to fill up all the empty places.

Potter’s fingers twisted in the material of his shirt, clenching and opening, digging into his shoulders as the pressure and flame built between them.

Draco added a twist to each thrust, moving faster, holding Potter in place with bruising fingers.

“Fuck! Oh...!” Potter gasped and panted, mouthing the side of Draco’s neck, warm wetness staining the front of both their trousers where they were pressed together.

Pressed so close together in fact, Draco could feel Potter’s heartbeat against his chest, one beat off from the thundering of his own heart.

He continued thrusting, milking Potter, working towards relief from the tension that had all his muscles tightening and bunching. He clenched his fingers as Potter tightened his hold by cinching his arms and legs around him, leaning up to trail soft kisses up his neck.

Potter brushed soft fingers over the nape of Draco’s neck, and suddenly he was there, gasping and swearing through his own release.

They stayed liked that, clutching each other as Draco caught his breath, before he moved his head back so he could look Potter in the eye.

Blinking away the dancing spots of light, Draco tightened his hold on Potter’s hips as he slid down the wall a little. “You are to stay the fuck away from the she-Weasel. You hear me, Potter?”

Potter stared back, his expression peaceful, a soft light burning in his eyes though he wasn’t smiling. He tightened his hold where his legs were still wrapped around Draco’s waist, warm cum cooling between them, and stroked Draco’s cheek with the tips of his fingers, brushing away stray strands of hair. “Not someone you need to worry about. That ship sailed a long time ago.” Draco frowned a little at this response, and the smile in Potter’s eyes finally broke out. “Besides, there’s no going back from this.”

He leaned forward and kissed Draco. His legs stayed locked around Draco’s waist, his arms securely around Draco’s neck, this kiss much softer than everything they’d shared so far, just a gentle glide of lips, less urgent, somehow sweeter.

 


 

 

Harry sighed into the kiss, stroking his fingers up and down the back of Malfoy’s neck. He was particularly responsive to that, and Harry loved playing with his hair when he would let him. As it was, Malfoy had issues with anything that could be considered ‘girly’ or ‘poncy’ or just plain ‘Hufflepuff’.

Harry didn’t mind. It just meant he had to be more sneaky about it, and he took great pleasure in catching Malfoy off-guard with his ‘Gryffindor-ishness’ whenever he could. He had managed to startle a deer caught in headlights look on Malfoy’s face quite a number of times now, and every time had made his chest warm up.

It wasn’t so much the surprise that he looked at Harry with on those occasions; it was just that he momentarily forgot his guarded walls, and Harry got to see the warmth there, tentative yet, but Harry was going to make it his mission that Malfoy learn to trust that warmth. Too often Harry saw him wondering if this was real, whatever this was between them.

Harry hadn’t stuck a label on it yet, and he knew that if he let her, Hermione would be quick to find him one. Harry was resisting because he wanted Malfoy and him to decide together what to call it when they eventually got around to it.

But before then, Malfoy had to learn to trust the warmth, to not always be wondering if it was really meant for him or if he just happened to be the person available to receive it at that time.

Harry’s lips quirked into a smile as they continued the gentle slide of lips, tongues only occasionally meeting now, both of them sated but just simply enjoying themselves too much to stop. He couldn’t help the smile with the frisson of joy that was running through him.

He had seen the look in Malfoy’s eyes when Ginny had reached to wipe chocolate off his face. It had only been reinforced by the edict Malfoy felt he had the right to make. Harry was glad.

The last few days, it had been interesting to play the game, and he didn’t think Malfoy had caught him staring even once before today. But the uncertainty that was the reason that Harry had stopped his staring to begin with had been eating at him.

He was content now, because where Malfoy may not want to acknowledge anything about the warmth through word or action – that he felt it, that it was meant for him, that he had a right to it – that look had proved to Harry that he wanted it regardless. That some part of Malfoy, some part of Draco was there, and he felt the warmth. More, he returned it.

Another frisson of joy ran through him at the thought.

 


 

 

When Harry shifted in his seat yet again, trying to find a comfortable position that wouldn’t stretch his back, Hermione finally glanced up from her essay and gave him a Look.

“Harry.”

Harry sighed and shrugged. “Sorry, ‘Mione. I’ll settle.”

Several minutes ticked by with nothing but the scratching of quills, then Harry shifted as discretely as he could again. His t-shirt was sticking to his back and felt uncomfortable.

This time Hermione dropped her quill and folded her hands on the table in front of her. “Okay. What’s the problem?”

“Nothing, ‘Mione. Just my t-shirt sticking to me. It’s bugging me a little, that’s all.”

Hermione looked at him with her head cocked.

Harry recognized the look. It was the same one she got when she was analyzing and discarding different theories, and he’d had it turned on him too many times before to really be surprised.

Finally she pushed herself up from next to the coffee table where she had spread her books and came towards the table where he was working, diagonally across from her.

“Turn around.”

“What? Why?”

“Harry. You’ve never complained about clothes sticking to you before – not even when it’s insanely hot and you’re dripping sweat. And your clothes aren’t really tight enough for that to be a problem. So clearly, if there’s a problem, it’s got something to do with your back. Turn around, please.”

Harry thought about protesting, then gave in with a sigh. He quickly glanced around to make sure the common room was still empty, then pulled his t-shirt over his head. Hermione’s eyebrows rose, but he just shook his head at her and turned around in his chair.

There were two very distinct gasps behind him, and he whipped back around.

Hermione had one hand raised to cover her mouth, but more importantly, he could see Pansy standing behind her with wide eyes, having just stepped down from the dorm stairs. The second gasp had come from her.

“Fuck, Potter. What’d you do? Get mauled by a wild animal?”

Harry grinned abruptly. “You could say that, I guess.”

Hermione had recovered her composure and turned him around with a gentle but firm hand on his shoulder. “Harry James Potter, you better not mean that literally!”

Harry snorted. “No, not really, ‘Mione.”

“What happened?!” As Harry turned back around to answer, she abruptly held up one hand and jumped to her feet. “Never mind. We fix this first, then you can tell me all about it.” She spun around to head up to her room, no doubt on her way to get the medical kit she had been forced to acquire for just such occasions. At the bottom of the stairwell she paused and turned around to glare at him. “Do. Not. Move.

Harry just nodded, used to worried-Hermione.

Pansy snorted as she walked over and perched on the arm of the sofa next to his. “Is that a hickey? Sweet Merlin, I should have known.”

Harry’s hand automatically rose to the side of his neck where there was in fact more than one hickey. “We got kind of carried away.”

Pansy snorted again. “We nothing. I didn’t see Draco’s neck decorated like a finger painting gone wrong.”

Harry gave her a wicked grin. “Next time.”

Pansy’s eyes lightened as she grinned back. There were a few seconds of silence, then Pansy sighed. “Seriously though, Potter. What’s up with you this year anyway? You’ve been spending more time in the Hospital Wing than out of it.” She gave him a shrewd look. “And I bet half the time you don’t even make it there or you’d be spending double the time.”

Harry gave her a half-smile. “How do you know it wasn’t the same every year and you’re only noticing now because we’re sharing a dorm?”

Pansy raised one eyebrow at him. “Was it?”

Harry sighed and shifted as his back twinged again. “No, not really. You’d think with Voldemort out of the picture I’d be spending less time there, not more.” He gave Pansy another half-smile as she winced a little at the name.

The portrait hole behind them opened, and Harry made to pull his shirt back on, but Pansy caught at the fabric before he’d gotten it over his head.

“Don’t. You’ll just make it worse.”

As the portrait hole swung shut, he could feel a frigid sort of silence behind him, and he suddenly knew who would be standing there.

Sure enough, when he leaned sideways to peer around the back of his couch, Malfoy was standing next to the entrance, eyes narrowed, lips pressed into a flat line.

Harry started to pull his shirt on again, but Pansy still had her fingers twisted in the fabric and shook her head at him when he looked at her.

“He might as well see his handy work.”

Malfoy marched over to the two of them. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Pansy raised an eyebrow at Harry until he sighed and let her take the t-shirt away. Then he glanced at Malfoy’s rigid stance. “'Mione was just helping me fix something when Pansy walked in.”

Pansy snorted. “Right.”

Malfoy glanced between the two of them, trying to figure out what was going on. “Fix what?”

Just then Hermione clattered down the stairs and dropped her kit and a small bowl on the table in front of him, flicking her wand in a casual augumenti. She then pulled a potion vial from her bag and added a couple of drops to the water, before dipping a clean rag in it. “Right. Turn around, Harry.”

There was no help for it really, not when Hermione used her bossy tone. Harry sighed and turned around.

Malfoy hissed and grabbed his arm.

Harry peeked up at him, but he was staring at Harry’s back which had been hidden by the back of the couch til now. The look on his face made Harry wonder how bad his back actually looked.

The occasional twinges of pain had been irritating but bearable, so he figured that he’d probably scrapped some of his skin. Judging by the reaction he’d gotten, maybe he should have been paying better attention. He honestly hadn’t felt it was bad enough to warrant all the fuss. Nothing worse than a carpet burn. Being pushed up against rough castle stone while distracted by more interesting activities could do that.

The look on Malfoy’s face made him wonder though. Maybe it looked worse than it actually was. Wouldn’t be the first time.

“Right. Hold still, Har. This is going to sting.”

He nodded to let Hermione know he was ready.

He clenched his teeth and pulled air into his lungs through his nose once she started though. The stinging was much worse than he'd been expecting, but he held still. Malfoy’s hand on his arm tightened.

When Harry glanced at him he was staring at his face now, his own face paler than usual. Harry tried to give him a smile, but it wasn’t the easiest thing with his teeth clenched as tight as they were.

Hermione patted the last of the scraps, then wiped up the stray drops that had dripped as she worked. “All done. I’m just going to add some salve, but that shouldn’t feel anything but wet.”

Harry breathed a sigh of relief and relaxed his stiff posture. He had to admit it already felt better.

“Potter. You idiot. Why didn’t you say?!”

Harry managed a proper smile this time as Hermione dabbed salve across his back. “Honestly, it didn’t register at the time, and it really wasn’t so bad after.”

Malfoy clenched his own teeth, but didn’t say anything. He didn’t let go of Harry’s arm either.

“Right then. Now that the emergency’s been taken care of, I’m off.” Pansy dusted off her hands dramatically and headed out the portrait hole at a pace just this side of too fast.

Hermione just shook her head and started collecting her things together. “All done, Har. You’ll want to leave off the shirt for a bit until that dries, but otherwise we’re good.”

She looked up and raised one eyebrow, eyeing the two boys in front of her.

Malfoy had finally let go of Harry’s arm, if only to allow him to turn back around, but he hadn’t moved far. She could see the white imprint of fingers where he’d been clutching too hard, and he was hovering in an almost hulking posture next to Harry’s seat. ‘Interesting. Hmmm...

“I’m just going to wash up and put away my things, Har. I’ll be back in a bit.”

Harry nodded to Hermione as she headed back to her dorm, leaning forward a little to avoid getting salve on the sofa he was seating in.

As soon as Hermione was out of sight, Malfoy sat down on the table she had been using as her station, a scowl firmly planted on his face. Harry raised his eyebrow and waited.

Getting tired of glaring, Malfoy finally spat out, “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“What, Malfoy?”

“You were hurt, and you never said anything! In fact, that has to have been stinging since yesterday! How the fuck did you even get through classes?!”

Harry shrugged. “It wasn’t so bad.”

“Potter. You utter imbecile. Let me explain something to you. No pain is good pain. It wasn’t so bad is not an excuse for not getting your back fixed. You were bleeding, for fuck’s sake!”

Harry blinked. “I was? You would think it would’ve hurt worse in that case.” Harry blinked again when Malfoy let out a short, strangled scream. “What?!”

“You’re missing the entire point here!”

“Come on, Malfoy. I didn’t want to make a fuss when it was something I could handle.”

“What fuss? Was there any fuss? As far as I can tell, you’ve reduced Granger to having her own portable Hospital Wing so there was no fuss. She fixed you up in under five minutes. Where is the fuss?!”

Harry’s eyebrows rose at the way Malfoy was spitting out the word fuss. “And this doesn’t count as fuss?”

This wouldn’t be happening if you’d just spoken up when you got hurt.”

Harry sighed. “I can’t keep running to the Hospital Wing with every little thing Malfoy.”

“And no one is asking you to. In fact, just the opposite. Tell the nearest reliable person when something does happen. If you can’t stand Granger’s fastidiousness then tell me, for fuck’s sake. Even I could have dealt with those scraps in under five minutes and you wouldn’t have to walk around like some later-day saint!”

Harry blinked yet again at the vehemence of this speech. Then he smiled, grabbed Malfoy’s hands, yanked him up as he stood, and whirled them both around, pushing Malfoy into the sofa so that they had changed places. Then he climbed up to straddle Malfoy’s lap, one knee on either side of him, hands cradling his face.

“Potter-?! What-?!”

Harry cut him off with a scorching kiss, stopping just before his nether self started to take an interest. He leaned his head against Malfoy’s as they caught their breath, smiling at him.

“I like it when you worry about me.”

Malfoy frowned instantly. “I am not worrying, Potter. Your sheer idiocy is irritating and could no longer be borne in silence.”

Harry smiled and gave him another scorching, breath-stealing kiss to remember him by before he headed up to bed for the day.

 


 

 

Harry woke up soaked in sweat, tangled in the sheets, the remnants of his nightmare still curling around him, and grateful that Ron was conspicuously absent from his bed yet again.

He sat up and rubbed his face with his hands, shivering as the breeze dried the sweat on his body. Sighing, he got up, grabbed his towel and headed for the showers.

There was no way he was going to go back to sleep after that so he might as well get dressed for the day, though it was only about two in the morning and he’d barely gotten any sleep to begin with.

Warmed by the shower, his thoughts turned to Draco as he pulled on his jumper.

It had been weeks since he’d followed him at night, and he wondered if he was roaming somewhere around the castle tonight. Just because Harry was no longer following him around didn’t mean that his nightmares had stopped.

Making an impromptu decision, he pulled on his sneakers, grabbed the map and his invisibility cloak, and headed to the door. Slipping out of the Common Room, he consulted the map, checking the Owlery first. Sure enough, the dot labeled Draco Malfoy was there, lingering next to the windows.

Putting away the map, Harry strode with sure steps towards the Owlery. Just before entering, he took off his cloak and draped it over his arm. It wasn’t like Malfoy didn’t already know he owned one.

“Couldn’t sleep?”

Malfoy jumped and whipped around, wand in hand, then scowled when he realized it was Harry who’d spoken.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

Harry shrugged. “Nightmares.”

Malfoy frowned, then turned around to face the inky night again.

Harry carefully placed his cloak on one of the tables placed in the corner for addressing letters before posting, then sidled up to stand next to Malfoy and nudged him with his shoulder. “Want to talk about it?” Malfoy just raised an eyebrow at him. “Come on, it might make you feel better.”

“Do you want to talk about your nightmare?”

Harry huffed a laugh, conceding the point. “Not especially, but that’s just me. Sometimes it helps to talk about it though.”

Malfoy didn’t say anything, just turned away. Harry nudged him with his shoulder again.

Malfoy sighed gustily. “Potter...”

“Come on. It’s fine if you don’t want to talk about it. But come sit down at least. Aren’t you tired of just standing here?”

“I am not sitting on this filthy floor.”

“Wasn’t suggesting that you do.”

Malfoy finally turned to look at him again. Harry gestured at the table where he’d left his cloak.

“Potter, tables are meant to be sat at, not on.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “You have got to see someone about that stick up your arse.”

Malfoy scowled and glared, but Harry grabbed his arm and tugged him over to the table regardless. He cast a cushioning charm on the table, and a localized warming charm. He then hopped up on it, scooting backwards until his back was to the wall, and smiled at Draco, daring him with his eyes.

Malfoy rolled his eyes and heaved another heavy sigh, but he mimicked his movements until they were seated side by side.

“Now what?”

Harry smiled up into the grey eyes staring at him. “Now, nothing. You go back to your brooding, but your neither regions thank me in the morning for having spared them.”

Malfoy’s eyebrows quirked, and Harry grinned to see the wicked thoughts his deliberate phrasing had inspired. If nothing else, Malfoy could always be trusted to pick up innuendo. He nudged him with his shoulder again, but this time stayed leaning against it.

“Potter, what have I said about cuddling?”

Harry snorted. “This is hardly cuddling, Malfoy.” He grinned then, and reaching over an arm, draped it over Malfoy’s shoulders, pulling him tight against his side. “This is cuddling.”

Malfoy squirmed and shrugged off the hold. “Errgh. Enough of that, Potter.”

Harry took his arm back but looked at Malfoy quizzically. “Tell you what, Malfoy. You agree to one good cuddle, and I’ll give you something in return.”

Malfoy’s face twisted at the idea of a ‘good cuddle’, but he still had to ask. “Like what?”

“Almost anything you care to ask for. It’s up to you, really.” Malfoy fell silent, his brow knitted, as he thought about this. Harry smiled. “You don’t have to come up with something right now. How about we say I’ll owe you one?”

Malfoy looked at him askance, then nodded his head jerkily. “Fine.” His voice was clipped.

Harry’s eyes lit up. “Really?”

Malfoy gritted his teeth. “If you’ve changed your mind now, Potter, I-”

“Oh no, I haven’t!” Harry got to his feet hurriedly.

“What the hell are you doing, Potter?”

“We agreed on a good cuddle. And since you’re clearly a cuddle novice I’m going to have to teach you what it really means. Now scoot forward.”

Malfoy eyed him distrustfully, then finally scooted forward, making enough space for Harry to slip behind him and then slide down to sit with one leg on either side of Malfoy.

Malfoy leaned forward over his knees, feet dangling off the table now, not touching Harry as he glared at him over his shoulder. “The hell, Potter?”

Harry just grinned, leaned forward to wrap his arms around Malfoy’s waist and hauled him backwards until he was snug against his chest. “This, Cuddling Apprentice Malfoy, is the real deal.”

To be honest, Harry was far from what could be called a Cuddle Expert. There were rather a limited number of people he felt comfortable getting this close to, and even then cuddling was never something he could endure for long without fidgeting. But this was something he’d wanted to try with Malfoy for some time now, and if he had to bribe and tease Draco into it – well, that was just Malfoy’s way he supposed.

Now he placed his chin on Malfoy’s shoulder, peeking at him through his fringe, moving his hands up and down his flanks soothingly. “Come on, Malfoy, relax. You have to unwind a little for this to work.”

“What part of uncomfortable don’t you understand, Potter?!”

Harry sighed, Malfoy shivering a little in his arms as his breath tickled his ear. He kissed the side of Malfoy’s jaw before he went back to murmuring to him. “We made a deal, Malfoy. Come on, you’re already here, just... let it happen. Here, I’ll show you how.” He grabbed Malfoy’s arms and placed his hands in his lap. “Now slouch a little. You’re just the tiniest bit taller than I am.” Malfoy smirked, and Harry felt happy to see that familiar expression.

Harry turned Malfoy’s head until it rested on his shoulder, forehead pressed against the side of his neck, then wrapped his arms under his, hugging him to his chest, trying to create a cocoon like he’d once seen on TV when Dudley had forgotten that he was in the same room. Harry pushed away the impending depression that mention of the Dursleys invariably brought on, and inhaled the musky lavender smell that was uniquely Malfoy, resting his chin against his head lightly.

“Potter...” His voice was softer this time.

“Shhhh. You don’t have to say anything. Just... stay.”

Harry hummed a little in contentment when he felt Malfoy’s eyelashes brush the side of his neck as he closed his eyes. It made him happy to see Malfoy relaxing, even if it was by inches.

 


 

 

Harry lost track of time as he sat there, listening to Draco breath, enjoying the warmth seeping into his limbs.

Somewhere along the way, Malfoy had slipped into sleep as Harry sat staring at the sky. Now he was lying half curled on his side, Harry’s arms firmly holding him upright, with his forehead still resting in the crook of Harry’s shoulder, one hand curled in Harry’s shirt, holding on to him.

Harry himself moved as little as possible – he was sure any movement would wake Malfoy up, and knowing his own track record with sleep, he wanted him to have as long as was possible. Absently he renewed the warming charm around them as he sat gazing at the stars on an exceptionally clear night, enjoying the solid, warm, reassuring weight of Malfoy in his arms.

 


 

 

Draco came awake slowly, swimming upwards from a deep sleep as the chime in his head sounded, alerting him that it was six in the morning and soon the castle would be stirring awake.

He almost dismissed it and went back to sleep, he was so warm and comfortable. Surely, such warmth was only to be found in his bed.

But something nagged at the back of his mind, making his eyes flutter as he tried to wake up some more. He held still, trying to determine what was off.

Truthfully, he felt strangely safe, like if he went to sleep now, he might actually be able to get through the night without waking up violently. There was – a pulse under his ear though. He listened to the heartbeat as he tried to figure out if he was still dreaming. One heartbeat, two heartbeat, three-

Draco’s spine stiffened suddenly as the night before came back to him, and he tried to sit up only to be prevented by the arms still wrapped around him.

“Morning.”

“Potter.” Of course, Potter. Who else?

Without consciously deciding to, Draco relaxed back into the embrace tentatively.

He’d fallen asleep. He couldn’t believe he’d fallen asleep and actually slept through the night without startling awake repeatedly. Those nights were rare for him, and never happened once he’d woken from the first nightmare. Once he’d started the horror show, it was like his mind couldn’t trust that he wouldn’t see more if he shut his eyes.

And yet here he was. He’d actually fallen asleep and gotten some of the most restful sleep he’d had in ages. With Potter, of all people!

Draco stirred uncomfortably now, wanting to turn away from Potter, not sure what he wanted to see in Potter’s face right this instance, but Potter was refusing to let him go. Finally, he settled for practicality.

“Potter. There’ll be people here soon. It’s early, but not so early that we couldn’t get caught before we make it back to the Common Room.”

“Hmmm.” Potter tightened his hold, squeezing Draco’s ribs once, before slowly, very slowly sliding his hands away.

Draco shivered a little, then turned all the way around so he could peak at Potter’s expression from below his lashes. If he was going to be mocked then he wanted to be ready.

Instead Potter looked like he’d almost forgotten that he wasn’t alone, except his fingers were still absently stroking up and down Draco’s back at intervals. Draco stared more openly now that he didn’t have to look Potter in the eye.

Potter looked – peaceful. There wasn’t any other way that Draco could think to describe his expression to himself.

It wasn’t happiness – he’d seen the light of that shining from his eyes often enough.

It wasn’t a negative emotion either. It was too quiet, barely there in the softness in his eyes, in the slight hint of a curve to his lips, to be described as anything other than peaceful.

A sharp pang went through Draco’s chest. He wondered if he would ever know such serenity. He supposed he must have had it when he was a child; any loved child was born into it. But there wasn’t a time that he could consciously recall being so content to be in the present.

Potter blinked once as his hand slipped into Draco’s hair, smiling when he caught Draco watching him. He leaned forward and gave him a soft, close mouthed kiss. “Good morning, sleeping beauty.”

Draco elbowed Potter as his cheeks reddened, though admittedly it wasn’t as hard a jab as he was capable of. Something in him was rebelling at the idea of destroying the utter serenity he’d caught a glimpse of.

Potter just laughed, tightening his fingers in Draco’s hair to pull a little before letting go. “Come on. Let’s get out of here before someone shows up.”

 


 

 

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