When Draco is seventeen, he protects Potter from the Dark Lord. From his aunt. From his father. From his own friends.
He doesn’t know why he does it (you do, you do); he only knows that the world is not the way he was taught it was. It is not comprised of us and them, at least not the way he’s been told. Rather, it divides into the darkest and the less dark, and Potter—for some reason Draco has never been able to discern—has the fewest shadows of all of them.
Draco has been living in shadows for nearly two years. He never thought he’d long for the light.
But there comes a moment when Draco is forced to kneel in front of a boy (no, no, don’t let it be his eyes are green you would know him anywhere) and point a finger. There comes a point when he knows knows that if Potter were to perish, he’ll never be allowed to see the sun again.
He is Crucioed after Potter escapes. For hours, his body twists under the magic, the vindictive whip of his aunt’s wand. Yet for the first time in his whole, cowardly life, he fears something more than failure, more than pain. He clamps his jaws tight and takes it.
Later, Draco is surprised when Potter comes back to him, though he knows he oughtn’t be. As the world spills orange and red and his lungs fill with acrid smoke, that same bright, defiant gaze he’s memorised for years comes into view and a grimy, slick hand reaches for his. It feels (different than how you’d imagined holding his hand would feel) strange to cling to Potter, to accept his aid. His fear falls away like a cloak against the hot sweep of Fiendfyre licking his heels.
Chest pressed tight to Potter's narrow back, Potter's heart beats (alive, alive) a wild staccato under Draco's hands.
They drink and talk until the pale blue slivers of sunrise begin creeping across the sky. Potter is in Greece for a month, the same as Draco, although Potter’s already been there a week. He needed a break is all Potter says at first, and though Draco has learned enough to know that Potter doesn’t court the press the way he’d once thought (looking at Potter’s pictures in the paper in fifth year, embarrassed when you caught yourself tracing the shape of his smile with your fingertip), he is surprised at the lengths to which Potter will go to leave everything behind.
Stumbling back to Draco’s room seems like the normal progression of events after no sleep and massive amounts of alcohol. Potter’s obviously never given a blowjob before, but his enthusiasm cancels out any lack of skill, and Draco stares down at him in confusion as Potter eagerly sucks on his cock, issuing loud slurping noises and small moans. He places a tentative hand on Potter's head (you do know how to be brave, remember that you were once before, for him), his drink-loose limbs beginning to tense. When Potter doesn’t shove his touch away, Draco takes a gulp of air and tangles his fingers in the strands.
Potter reaches up and laces their fingers together in his hair. His bobbing head causes the reaction it’s supposed to, and Draco is left gasping, shocks thrumming through his body, as Potter crawls up the bed and kisses him. He wanks Potter slowly, too (afraid that this is a dream) stunned to reciprocate in the same fashion for fear of breaking eye contact. But Potter doesn't seem to mind; he simply leans into Draco and rolls his hips into the touch of Draco’s hand with a sigh.
He and Ginny Weasley are taking some time apart, Potter explains when Draco (wakes to find Potter still curled around you, his skin warm and alive when you prod him to make sure he's real) asks in the morning; they’re exploring options.
Well, I could help you with that, Draco says, kissing him and slotting himself between Potter’s thighs. And Potter laughs and nods, licking into Draco’s mouth before pulling back breathlessly and murmuring, It’s a shame a I paid for a whole ‘nother room.
It’s not an I’d like to see you when we get back but it’s not not one, either, and they spend night after night falling asleep twisted in luxurious hotel sheets gone oily with lube and sticky with spend. Waking up beside Potter seems even less plausible, yet continues: Draco wakes up with Potter after working him open with three fingers, after sinking inside his body; he wakes up with Potter after coming on a sweet, euphoric rush when he shows Potter how to push into his. He wakes up with Potter, after his hands have mapped out Potter’s body so thoroughly that they feel (empty, so empty) unfamiliar when not touching some part of him.
Draco wakes up with Potter until the days run out—and then, one morning, he wakes up alone.
Astoria is pleasant and funny, and Draco (could never love her, no) likes her quite a bit. When she confides to him that she wants only one child and is hoping to get that out of the way quickly, Draco laughs and touches her hair lightly and admits (that you’ve always wanted someone else, never that) that his appetites lie elsewhere, too. The wedding plans proceed quickly after that, tripping along with the ease of the traditional year-long engagement for pureblood families.
It is March when he spills the coffee all over his thigh, scalding himself (less than you did when you let Potter rest his cheek there). He spends far too long cleaning up so his eyes won’t seek out the newspaper again. Won’t see those headlines that claim that Harry Potter and Ginevra Weasley have broken their own engagement.
They plan to remain friends, the article states, and hold no ill-will toward each other. Buried in the middle of the of the statement is a section detailing their dating histories, and there is a (holyfuckingshit) surprising mention that Potter has dated men as well as women.
Draco idly (you can’t think of anything else) wonders if Potter will be vacationing in Greece that year to escape the press again.
A week later he is staring at the invitations—heavy, cream-coloured things, decorated by a border of silver-gold threading and their engraved family crests combined, and charmed to emit the scent of winter roses—when Draco feels that same surge of bewildering courage in his belly that he’s only felt a few times before. He carefully sets the invitation in his hand aside, looks at his mother and says, I can’t.
She never pretends not to know what he’s saying; he’s always appreciated that about her. But she does give him a narrow look, as if she knows (all of your secrets, all of your heart) what might have precipitated his announcement.
Are you sure, darling? she asks, though to her credit, she sounds merely curious. When Draco nods, she tells him she will handle his father but that it is his responsibility to inform Astoria. He Apparates immediately to her flat, and finds her laughing in bed with a brown-eyed woman with a Parisian accent.
She is not displeased.
He shakes hands and smiles widely; he does his duty on occasion and allows the cameras to photograph him talking to the Minister of Magic. But he feels like he's always searching, ever on the lookout for (raven hair, so much softer than it looks, that brilliant emerald gaze obscured by perpetually smudged glasses) something he can't quite pinpoint—some new way to make reparations, or perhaps the right person, who might tell him how best to make up for his host of sins.
One night at a function for war orphans, he hears a laugh that makes him shudder even before his brain processes it. He turns to see Potter striding by with the Keeper for Puddlemere United on his arm. Draco sips his drink and watches them mingle, Potter’s smile bright and charming as he chats with the fundraisers. The Quidditch player looks bored (not nearly good enough for him but, of course, you aren’t either) and at first Potter makes the obvious attempt to include him but seems to give up as the hour grows later, his frustration evidenced by a the tick in his jaw and the strain in his smile. It’s only when the man—Whitney? Wilson?—drags Potter to the dance floor that Potter relaxes with him again, and Draco appraises Potter’s box-step as he swallows the last of his champagne. It’s not bad.
Draco is about to leave when Potter’s gaze (burningintelligentfierce with everything you never know how to feel) lands on him. He expects to see shock or dismissal, but not the smirk that twists Potter’s mouth; not the small nod Potter levels at him, his eyes steady and challenging. Draco stands frozen, one foot caught in the direction of the door, until Potter’s date turns him on a spin and they break eye contact. And then Draco is on the dance floor too, tapping the man on the shoulder and asking to cut in.
Wilber-whatever scoffs, but Potter lifts a single, dark eyebrow at him and steps fluidly into Draco’s arms. Baring his teeth in the approximation of a smile at Potter’s fuming, abandoned date, Draco sweeps Potter off and barely registers the flash of the cameras around them as they spin.
I thought I would seen you at one of these things while ago, Potter says, too low for anyone to overhear. I’ve been wanting to apologise.
Don’t, Draco tells him evenly. His heart is suddenly racing with (memories of sunny, sweaty weeks and happy-wild-broken laughter, of drinks and kisses and rolling around until your whole body ached, of aching with pleasure and limitless tenderness, no no no he can't be sorry please, they're all you've ever had) nerves, but he continues to smile pleasantly, and guides Potter into a loose, easy twirl. Potter huffs a laugh, presses his stubbled cheek against Draco’s jaw.
For not having stayed longer or saying goodbye, for not even leaving a note, Potter whispers, and Draco wonders at how Potter can see through him. How he’s always been able to. Draco’s practiced smile falls away, his shoulders going tense as he grapples with how to respond. Then Potter murmurs, But it’s been a long time. I shouldn’t assume you might still...
Draco swallows hard. Stealing a deep breath, he mutters his Floo address before stopping mid-dance and striding off the floor. His cock his half-hard and damp beneath his robes and if he stays another moment (wait until you’re under him, he still wants you, even if it’s just for the night) he’ll spend himself like an untried virgin, and in front of hundreds of witnesses too.
And I’m supposed to know you’re not okay with my staying over after you Firecall me to come over every night for a bloody month? Potter shouts when Draco accuses him of moving in without asking. Draco sneers (stop it stop it stop) and says that just because Potter’s cock tires him out better than a Calming Draught doesn't mean they should be sleeping together.
Potter punches a hole in the wall, then whips around to brandish his wand, and Draco flinches. When Potter’s face goes white, Draco tries to take it back (the words the flinch the icy knowledge that he's going to leave you) but his tongue has gone thick and clumsy, and his throat has closed tight. They stare at each other for a moment in silence, and then Potter’s face twists, eyes glittering with moisture, and he Apparates away.
Draco should be fine with it (except).
The thing is, they’ve never talked about anything, not once. Not really. Potter is circumspect any time they venture out together in public, the way he is with most people, and Draco has never pressed for more. He would never dream of it, no matter how much he might want to how Potter's arm sliding over his shoulders would feel, or the press of Potter's palm against his own as they walk, because when they're alone... When they're alone, Draco gets to be the man who throws Potter’s legs over his shoulders and hears his gutteral cry of pleasure as Draco plows into him on one long stroke; he gets to be the man Potter opens up with a deft, earnest tongue as Draco shudders and groans and begs for Potter’s fingers, his prick, his hand around Draco’s cock. He gets to be the man that Potter fucks but (could never love) doesn’t acknowledge as anything in particular and he could live with that, he could. But he doesn't know how to live another day choking down the singular, waiting terror of waking up with no Potter, and no note.
Draco drinks like he hasn’t in years, maybe never. Drinks simply to get numb and avoid the questions he should have asked, the declarations he might have made if not for the ripe clutch of fear that Potter would leave before Draco was ready to let him go. It was always inevitable that Potter would (see what you really are again) leave eventually though; maybe it’s better this way, Draco thinks. At least now he can stop waiting.
Only, in the morning when he wakes up, Potter is stretched out beside him on the bed. His glasses are askew on his face, his t-shirt dirty and untucked enough to reveal a golden strip of skin over his hip. Draco swallows against the sour taste in his mouth, a strange new fear like he’s never known (it’s joy, you fool, this is joy) rising in his chest, unwieldy and overwhelming, too big to be tolerated alone.
Draco reaches over to pull off Potter's glasses; blinking awake, Potter brings up his hand and catches Draco's wrist. He opens and closes his mouth, then takes a breath and pins Draco with a (he won’t, he doesn’t, he couldn’t, no) curious look.
I’m sorry. I know what you were trying to ask. I should have told you— He breaks off, hesitates just long enough for Draco to begin to believe he’s saying something of significance. I won’t leave again.
I love you.
Draco stares at him, spinning on the words. The world bends like it had as he'd contorted under Aunt Bella’s wand; like when Potter’s pounding heart had rested under his palm. It bends the way it did with their first kiss and for those precious days after. The world bends like when Potter looked at him and said Dance with me over the shoulder of his date, without saying anything at all.
And the same words, stuck in Draco's throat for so long (you can’t tell him, don’t—!) rise the way that feeling does whenever Potter is around, as hot as the curse that gave him his famous scar. They fall off his tongue like a prayer, whispered against Potter’s lips.
I love you too.
Draco’s wrist flares with heat as the glowing strands wind around their handclasp. The blood in his veins warms as it travels from his pulse-point to his heart, scorching with desire and longing in equal measure; it's hotter and heavier than love should feel, Draco thinks, except he knows what the spell does, knows that the extra weight is something Harry is feeling too—the weight of another heart, being linked to his own.
It burns like Harry's gaze does on Monday mornings before he takes Draco’s tea away and plucks at the buttons of his waistcoat. Like his kisses on rainy evenings before he spreads Draco out on the rug in their parlour and slowly takes him apart. It’s heavier than the boneless mass of Harry’s lean, muscled body resting atop him, breathless and sweaty, before he slips out of Draco and holds him close.
It is everything Draco has always been afraid to want from this man who is everyone’s something. But now Draco is Harry’s everything (you are, you are) and he is, finally, unafraid.
The flash of heat and strange tug settle inside his heart in a way he has another hundred years or so to get used to; a reminder, with every beat, that he gave it to someone freely, exchanged it for the honour of taking care of theirs. Harry smiles, slow and promising, and pulls him into a kiss before the Justice deems them wed. Draco hears the bark of delighted laughter, hears applause and the Justice’s formal intonation as Harry’s tongue slips into his mouth, curling around his own. And then they are pressed tight, kissing—kissing—and Draco hears nothing but their heartbeats, beating in time with one another.
Harry rumbles a laugh, widening his legs a bit more. “You were not! You would’ve told me that already.”
“Well,” Draco tells him imperiously, taking a nip of flesh. “I certainly wanked to you, at least.”
“Liar,” Harry says, smile growing. He clearly remembers how shocked Draco seemed by every little suggestion that Harry wanted him, that first night together in Greece—how he leaned away from Harry each time Harry slid closer in the booth, how fast he jerked his hands back whenever their fingers brushed. Before then, Harry hadn't let himself look at Draco in a way that lingered, or appreciate that Draco's cutting smile came with an equally sharp sense of humour; on his own and free to do whatever he wanted, Harry had been determined to make up for his own stubborn blindness, and Draco's said the same thing more times than Harry can count: he'd never considered being with Harry, before that night.
Draco’s breath gusts warm against Harry’s burgeoning erection but Draco doesn’t reach to touch it, not yet. Harry rolls his hips in subtle invitation and Draco smirks, dips, and licks at the crease of his groin.
“When I was fourteen I considered asking you to the Yule Ball,” Draco mumbles against his skin. He flicks his tongue out over Harry’s balls and Harry shudders out an exhale; his cock jerks, rising heavy away from his body.
“This is an awful birthday blowjob if you can’t stop fucking with me long enough to suck me off,” Harry complains, but his smile doesn’t falter even a little. "This morning's was much better.
Draco lifts his head. His lips are shiny, the grey of his gaze soft and serious. Harry feels a punch of real of desire, beyond the lazy game they’ve been playing.
“Is that what you thought you were getting tonight?” Draco asks, raising one flaxen eyebrow. “Maybe I’m going to eat you open and fuck you into incoherence. Maybe I bought a host of new toys for us to try. Or maybe I just loosened myself up in the shower and am already dripping for your cock,” he says with a wicked grin. “You’ll have to wait to find out; that’s why they call it a birthday surprise, Harry.”
Harry shifts his legs restlessly. He takes a deep breath and allows his mind to wander, to better focus on the thread that binds their hearts. Draco’s want undulates between them, filled with a warmth that delights Harry to his marrow when it spills through him, pushed by the force of Draco’s love.
He settles back against the pillows. “Go on, then,” he says roughly.
Draco nods, lips twitching, then resumes his slow exploration of the lower half of Harry’s body. He curls his hand loosely around the base of Harry’s cock, and leans in to rub his cheek against against the crown, eyes sparkling mischievously.
“You’re such a dick.” Harry laughs, and Draco snickers a little, but tightens his fist.
“I wanted to be your best friend when I was eleven,” Draco continues when their laughter dies down. He finally—finally!—skates his lips around the leaking tip of Harry’s prick with hot, open-mouthed kisses. Darting his tongue out again, he swipes away the pearl of moisture welling in the slit and uses his hand to drag Harry’s foreskin down over the head, then back again.
“I'm sure," Harry says, groaning. "Very well done, not telling me for the last six years.” He tries to focus. “Did you have a Harry Potter doll when you were seven, too?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, you’ve met my father,” Draco says immediately; he flattens his tongue and licks the vein that runs along the underside of Harry’s cock. Harry flexes up, panting with frustration when Draco moves his head away. “But Theo’s father wasn’t a supporter, and he used to tell stories about The Boy Who Lived. I used to beg to hear them whenever I went over. That was when I was seven.”
Then Draco takes Harry in, methodically lowering his mouth over Harry’s shaft. Harry bunches the sheets in his fists with the half-maddened hope Draco wasn’t lying about the shower thing, because he can’t think of anything he wants more right now than to sink deep into Draco’s—anywhere.
“Okay, I get it,” he chokes, pumping upwards into Draco's sweetly attentive mouth. “You’ve been in love with me your whole life.”
Draco draws off him teasingly, letting his cock pop free with a noisy slurp. He climbs up the length of Harry’s shivering body and straddles his hips, pressing his hands flat against Harry’s stomach to lean forward and catch Harry's mouth in a deep, dirty kiss.
“My whole life,” he says into the kiss, working his hips in a slow grind. The oily slip of lube between Draco's legs dampens Harry's cock and Harry looks up, his breath quickening. Draco licks his lips and meets his gaze with lust-blown eyes. “The last ten years, and my whole life.”
Harry’s lashes flutter shut of their own accord as Draco pulls him into another kiss. He lets his mind wander.
And his heart can’t find the lie.