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trapped in a blue haze

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Draco's suspicions are born the night they first make love.

They are three dates in, not counting that initial, coincidental encounter in Diagon Alley. Date number three consists of dinner at some Muggle establishment Harry has chosen. A hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant with dingy floors, dim lighting and too many tables crammed in too small a space.

To his surprise, Draco discovers he quite likes spaghetti. And despite its shabbiness, the restaurant has some sort of unassuming charm that he can’t place his finger on. Though it may have something to do with the company.

Harry is gorgeous. The simple truth of this is undeniable. In the two weeks since they’ve started dating- six years and some odd months out of Hogwarts- the other man has utterly consumed Draco’s thoughts. His dreams are filled with visions of black hair and tan skin and ethereal green eyes. He has never been so captivated by someone.

And judging from the way Harry is currently rubbing his foot up and down Draco’s shin underneath the checkered tablecloth, the other man feels the same, undeniable attraction.

They opt to skip dessert. Nearly drunk with desire, they Apparate directly back to Harry’s flat after a hastily finished meal.

They fall into bed, a tangle of limbs and panting breaths and warm mouths. Draco shudders as Harry threads his fingers in his hair and tugs sharply, the action sending tingles all the way to his toes. He responds in kind by pressing several open-mouthed kisses up Harry’s jawline.

“God, Draco,” Harry moans, his voice breathy. Humming in response, Draco grasps Harry by the chin and pulls him forward to seal their mouths together.

The kiss grows nearly violent in intensity, with clacking teeth and bitten lips and dueling tongues. Draco feels his heart flutter wildly as Harry pushes him back against the headboard of the bed, breaking their kiss to straddle his lap.

Groaning at the sensation of Harry’s body settling against his arousal, Draco buries his face in the crook of the man’s neck, latching his mouth and setting to sucking bruises on sensitive skin. Above him, Harry lets out a startled gasp and digs his fingers into Draco’s shoulders.

He scrapes his teeth against the newly mottled skin in reply. Suddenly, deft hands are trailing down his back, grasping his shirt by the hem and pulling up.

“Off,” Harry demands, tugging at Draco’s shirt frantically.

Reluctantly, he lifts his mouth from Harry’s neck so he can pull the offending garment over his head.

“Ah!” Draco gasps as Harry pulls him even closer, brazenly rubbing his clothed erection against his stomach. “Oh, Merlin- Harry-"

Harry moans in response, continuing to rut frantically, the rough material of his jeans abrasive against Draco’s bare skin, but in such a nice way-

All at once, the thought occurs to Draco that they are both wearing far too much clothing.

Reaching a hand between their bodies, he gropes blindly before locating and tugging down the zipper of Harry’s jeans. His hand hovers on the waistband of his pants, wordlessly asking permission.

Harry licks his ear and grinds his erection into Draco’s palm.

Taking this as an affirmation, Draco wastes no time in tugging the other man’s trousers and pants down and off his hips. Licking his hand, he reaches down and touches Harry’s cock for the first time, beginning to stroke languidly up and down the length.

“Oh, fuck,” Harry breathes in his ear, hands ghosting up and down Draco’s bare chest. “Oh my god, faster, please." He begins to buck his hips into Draco’s fist, action somewhat limited by the restricting fabric still bunched around his thighs.

Growling, Draco releases Harry’s now weeping cock and pulls at his waist, prompting the man to lift his hips so Draco can slide his pants down and off his legs.

“You too,” Harry gasps, tugging insistently at the fabric of Draco's trousers. “Want to see you too.”

Draco hurriedly complies, stripping off the rest of his clothing without hesitation. He nearly groans in relief as his cock springs free from the tight confines of his trousers. Harry wastes no time in straddling Draco’s lap again, capturing his mouth in another breathless kiss and rutting their bare erections against each other.

Mindlessly, Draco grabs Harry’s shirt and tries to pull it off over his head- the only piece of clothing still separating them.

He is unprepared for the intensity of Harry’s reaction. Instantly, the other man freezes, his entire body stiffening in obvious alarm. Still straddling his lap, Harry's body halts where he had been eagerly thrusting against Draco moments ago, limbs suddenly tense and rigid.

Draco pauses, horribly confused and unbelievably aroused. “What’s wrong?” he manages, hands tightening on Harry’s hips, struggling to think clearly through the cloud of lust fogging his mind.

Harry’s eyes meet Draco’s, his pupils blown and dilated so only a rim of green iris is visible. Seemingly coming back to himself, his body relaxes minutely. “Nothing,” he mumbles, grabbing Draco’s hands and pulling them down to rest on his bare thighs. Exhaling shakily, he pulls his shirt off and tosses it on the floor. “Kiss me again,” he demands suddenly, pulling Draco’s face forward and locking their lips together in another bruising kiss before he can think too closely about what has just transpired.

Draco takes Harry that first night. Works him open with one, then two, then three fingers, taking his sweet time to coax every languid moan out of the man until he is practically sobbing for more. Face to face, they make love for the first time, with Harry’s legs locked around his waist, fingers digging bruises into Draco’s hips as he drives deeply into the other man’s body.

“Harder, oh, yes! God, right there-"

Draco complies, pounding his hips flush against Harry’s ass, panting from the intensity of his efforts. Below him, Harry cranes his flushed neck backwards, moaning wantonly, erection bobbing up and down as Draco’s actions jolt his body.

Draco watches, mesmerized, as his cock pistons in and out of Harry. A sort of surreal, out of body experience occurs as he realizes that, yes, the gorgeous man he’s currently fucking is indeed Harry Potter.

“Take it,” Draco growls, leaning down to press a sloppy, possessive kiss against the man’s bare chest. From this position, he can’t thrust as deeply, but it’s worth it to be able to taste Harry’s skin.

“Oh, Merlin! I’m close. Draco-"

He latches his mouth on the man’s nipple, lightly suckling the raised nub. Reaching a hand down between their writhing bodies, he grasps Harry’s straining erection and pumps hastily, thumbing the slit of his cock with each upward stroke-

Harry lets out a loud, keening sound. Draco feels his cock twitch in his hand. And then, Harry is coming, shuddering beautifully as wet streams paint his stomach and warm Draco’s hand.

Draco continues to stroke him through his release, breath hitching as Harry’s ass clenches tightly around his cock. Leaning down to rest his forehead against the man’s chest, Draco growls and bucks once, twice, and then he is coming too, pulsing and releasing deep inside Harry’s body, continuing to fuck him through his orgasm.

The room grows silent save for their heaving breaths. Limbs suddenly shaky and uncoordinated, Draco allows his body to collapse. Pulling his softening cock from Harry’s ass, he mouths an apologetic kiss against the man’s neck when he gives a slight grimace at the action. “Alright?” he asks, rolling off Harry’s body, leaving one arm slung casually over his chest.

“More than,” Harry laughs, trailing his hand up and down Draco’s arm. “That was bloody brilliant.”

Draco hums in agreement and closes his eyes, sated and drowsy from his recent orgasm.

“You’ll stay?”

The question is soft and sounds more like a statement. Draco smiles lazily. “Of course.”

Another moment passes, and then Harry presses a kiss against his bare shoulder and sits upright, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. “I’m going to clean up and grab some water. Want anything?”

Draco opens his eyes. “No, I'm fine-”

His voice cuts off abruptly. It is hard to see well in the dim light of the bedroom, but now that Harry faces away from him for the first time, he can see that the man’s back is badly scarred. Dozens of pale lines crisscross the tan skin, some flush to his body, others twisted and raised-

Before he can comment or look any closer, Harry leans down and pulls on his discarded shirt, hiding his back from view. “Alright, I'll just be a minute,” he comments without looking back at Draco, standing and treading barefoot and bare-assed from the bedroom.

Draco stares at the retreating figure. Resting his head back down against a pillow, he wonders for half a moment if it’d been a trick of the light. But no- the marks on Harry’s back are undeniably scars. Draco’s gut clenches as he contemplates their origins. From Harry’s Auror work? Or from the war, perhaps? Draco has his own collection of such scars.

But something about these particular marks- so many of them, and so systematically striped up and down Harry’s back, turned practically silver with age- makes Draco feel deeply unsettled in a way he can't put in words.

Harry returns a minute later, spelling the lights off wandlessly and crawling into bed. Curling up against Draco, he sighs contentedly and buries his face in the hollow of his neck. They lay together in companionable silence. Draco isn’t sure if Harry realizes he’s seen the scars, but the other man doesn’t mention it, so neither does he.

“Night,” Harry mumbles sleepily, his breath warm and moist against Draco’s neck.

“Goodnight,” Draco replies, absentmindedly interlacing his legs with Harry’s.

Seemingly moments later, Harry’s breaths even out, face going slack and relaxed with sleep. Lulled by the sound of the other man’s breathing, Draco soon follows suit, musings and misgivings momentarily forgotten as he surrenders unto sleep.


* * *


The weeks pass in a blur. Draco and Harry continue to see each other more and more frequently, at first several times a week, then practically every day. Draco sleeps over at Harry’s flat most nights- a logical conclusion, since Harry’s bed is where most of their evenings end.

Draco asks about the scars several weeks later, after a particularly satisfying round of sex. “Oh, you know,” is Harry’s incredibly vague response when Draco casually asks what the scars are from.

His voice is carefully composed, but his eyes betray the depth of his discomfort at the question. Draco immediately drops the subject. Harry is less reserved about removing his shirt after that brief conversation, but Draco notices that he tends to tense up whenever his back is touched, and that he always needs to be facing Draco during sex, regardless of their position.

Draco chalks it up to sensitivity, but even so, can’t quite shake his unease.

His suspicions continue to mount over the weeks as he notices the strange, off-colour comments Harry occasionally makes during their day to day life.

Harry lives in a Muggle neighborhood, and has a handful of peculiar, Muggle artifacts that absolutely fascinate Draco. There’s the funny machine in his kitchen- a tiny box that you place food inside of, and then like magic, the food is hot again.

“It’s not magic,” Harry laughs the first time Draco comments on this. “It’s electricity.”


“Electricity,” Harry repeats patiently. “Didn’t you take Muggle Studies?”

Draco frowns and takes a bite of reheated pizza- another food Harry has introduced him to which he finds he quite likes. “Of course not. My father would have never allowed it. That’s why I have you to explain things. What’s electricity, then?”

Draco’s mind quickly grows numb as Harry talks about electricity and energy and wires and something called power-lines (whatever the hell those are). Despite his boredom, Draco feigns interest and asks more questions, simply because he likes the way Harry’s eyes light up when he explains about these sort of things.

There are other strange machines too. Another kitchen appliance which takes food and whirls it around inside until it turns to liquid. Draco doesn’t see the point of that one. And a corded, noisy thing which Harry occasionally pushes around his flat- something called a hoover, which Harry explains, “sucks up dirt.”

“Why not use a cleaning charm?” Draco asks, genuinely confused.

Harry smiles tightly. “Force of habit, I suppose.”

And then, there’s Draco’s favorite machine. The telly. A square, shiny box tucked in the corner of the sitting room. Draco is enraptured the first time Harry shows it to him. The bright, garish colors and loud noises are absolutely hypnotizing. He sits there for hours that first night, crouched on the floor, pushing the button that magically changes the picture. He flips mindlessly between screen after screen until his eyes water and burn and Harry has to physically take and hide the remote from him.

This is how they spend many lazy evenings together. Curled up on Harry’s sofa watching television after dinner.

“Can’t believe I didn’t know about this sooner,” Draco admits one night, head comfortably tucked up under Harry’s chin. The two of them sit cuddled on the couch watching an old film- one of Harry’s favorites. Draco can’t remember the name, but it involves outer-space and lots of men dressed in funny white suits. “I would have loved television as a child. Absolutely brilliant, it is. Can’t believe Muggles invented it before wizards.”

Harry hums in response and strokes a hand up and down his arm. “I know. I think I would have liked it too.”

On screen, several men begin to sword-fight with brightly glowing sticks. “What do you mean?” Draco asks, suddenly distracted. “Didn’t you have television growing up? You said practically all Muggles have one. Weren’t you raised by Muggles?”

Behind him, Draco feels Harry tense, arms stiffening minutely around his body. “Yes,” Harry answers after a long moment, voice so quiet that Draco can hardly hear him above the din of the television. “I was.”

“So, they didn’t have a telly, then?”

“They did,” Harry replies carefully. “I never watched it, though.”

Draco frowns, wriggling his body from Harry’s grasp so he can turn around to look him properly in the face. “Why not?”

Harry’s eyes are shiny with an emotion Draco can’t place. “Wasn’t allowed.” He purses his mouth, suddenly tight-lipped, and turns away to stare pointedly at the television.

Draco can take a hint. Easing back against Harry’s chest, he turns his attentions toward the movie, smiling involuntarily when he feels Harry press a gentle kiss on his hair.

Despite his newfound love for television, Draco finds it difficult to pay attention to the conclusion of the movie. He supposes he can understand why Harry hadn’t been allowed to watch this sort of television as a child. The film is rather violent, after all. But there are so many different sorts of shows on the funny little box- some of them made specifically for children, as Harry had explained it.

Draco’s heart flutters in his chest. There is something terribly disconcerting about Harry’s tone of voice. So guarded and controlled and careful with his words. The same way he’d sounded when he talked about his scars, several weeks earlier.

Something about the situation doesn’t sit right with Draco. But he hardly feels comfortable pushing the matter with Harry, so new and unfamiliar is their relationship. And so, he buries his concerns deep, deep down and resolves to forget about the matter entirely.


* * *


Draco quickly comes to realize that Harry has a thing about food.

He is unwaveringly religious about mealtimes. He never skips a meal if he can help it, and he is strangely insistent that Draco follow this same, unspoken rule.

“Come on, let’s go have breakfast,” Harry murmurs to him one lazy Sunday morning when they’ve decided to have a bit of a lie in.

Still half asleep, Draco turns his head from where it rests on the man’s shoulder and presses an unhurried kiss against his collarbone. “Hmm,” he hums senselessly.

Harry chuckles, ghosting his hand up and down his rib-cage. “Come on, it’s nearly past ten. We should eat something.”

“No,” Draco grouses, mouthing wetly at Harry’s bare shoulder as he begins to lightly rut his morning erection against the man’s hip. “Think I’d rather have you for breakfast.”

Harry laughs, his voice breathy. “Later. Food first.”

Draco frowns, stilling his ministrations. “I’m not hungry. Though perhaps I could be persuaded to eat something," he leers, running his hand down Harry’s chest and cupping the man’s groin through his thin pajama pants.

To his surprise and slight hurt, Harry grabs Draco’s wrist and pushes his hand away. “You need to eat,” he says, voice strangely urgent.

“It’s practically lunchtime,” Draco whines, fully aware of how childish he sounds but beyond caring. He’s horny, for fuck sake. “We can eat then.”

“No. Now,” Harry demands, abruptly sitting up and nudging Draco’s head off his shoulder.

Draco merely stares, taken aback by the uncharacteristically demanding tone of the man’s voice. “Fine, then,” he concedes, huffing as he adjusts his now half-hard cock in his pants with a grimace. “No need to get your knickers in such a twist.”

Harry smiles, though it doesn’t reach his eyes. Leaning over, he presses an apologetic kiss against Draco’s temple before rising from bed. “Come on. I’ll even make those pancakes you like so much.”

One of the many perks of dating Harry Potter is that he is, surprisingly, an excellent cook. Having been raised solely on catered meals, both at home and then again at Hogwarts, Draco is a shoddy cook at best. Since his move out of the Manor, he has subsided primarily on tinned food and takeaway. It is a welcome change to eat home-cooked meals again.

He helps Harry with the cooking sometimes. Chopping and dicing things he can handle well enough; it’s just like preparing potion ingredients. But he could never do what Harry does. Flying throughout the kitchen, stirring pots and sprinkling spices and flipping things expertly in frying pans. Cooking delicious meals without so much as a recipe. The man is a bloody wonder.

“Where did you learn to cook, anyway?” Draco asks offhandedly one evening. They are enjoying a late dinner of mushroom ravioli- entirely handmade.

Across the table, Harry freezes, fork raised halfway to his mouth. “I did a lot of cooking as a child,” he responds after a long moment.

Draco chews thoughtfully. “Who taught you? They must have been an excellent cook.”

Harry stiffens. Draco sees his throat visibly spasm as he swallows a bite of pasta. “My Aunt Petunia,” he says shortly, his expression tense.

By now, Draco knows that Harry had been raised by some Muggle relatives, but this is the first time he’s mentioned any of them by name. Before Draco can ask any further questions, Harry abruptly changes the subject.

“More ravioli?” He grabs the serving bowl from the center of the table, offering it to Draco.

Draco glances down at his plate, still half full with pasta. “No, thank you.”

Harry nods tightly and spoons himself the remainder instead.

This is another thing Draco has noticed about Harry. How vehemently he despises food waste. Harry always clears his plate and never throws away leftovers. He eats everything he cooks- or else he carefully wraps the food up in foil, no matter how little is left, and tucks it away in the fridge for later. Even questionable foods like the butts of bread and skins of vegetables, Harry insists on eating.

“Food is food,” Harry states frankly when Draco questions him about it one day, after he finds the man methodically working his way through an entire bunch of overripe bananas. “Better to eat it than let it go to waste.”

Draco could have dismissed all these things as quirks. Strange habits, perhaps carried over from childhood. That is, until the incident that occurs roughly six months into their relationship.

By this point, Draco has all but moved in with Harry. He still visits his own flat on occasion, but only to exchange clothes or grab various items he has need for.

It is mid-January, and the winter days are short and bitterly cold. Harry is heavily invested in a difficult case at work. From what he’s explained to Draco, a group of Ministry officiants have gone missing, with no explanation to their disappearance. The only commonality they share is that all six are Muggle-born.

Foul play is suspected. Specifically, from a small cult of Pure-bloods- radicals that still live by Voldemort’s outdated ideologies.

As Harry grimly puts it, if the officiants are still alive, time is of the essence. He and several other senior Aurors have been handpicked for the case. For weeks upon weeks, Harry works tirelessly. He spends up to twenty hours at a time on the job, leading raids and scouring various sites for any shard of evidence. Even when he's home, he isn’t really present. He spends his nights hunched at his desk, poring over reports until the early hours of morning when the sun begins to rise. Only then does he crawl into bed with Draco and steal a few hours of sleep.

Draco offers what support he can in the way of sympathetic words and gentle touches. It physically pains him to see Harry like this. His own job as a part-time Brewer in a local Potions shop is markedly stress-free, and he has few words of wisdom to offer Harry on this matter.

One night, maybe three weeks into this new routine, Draco comes home from work to find Harry passed out at his desk. Dead asleep with his mouth hanging open, cheek pressed uncomfortably against a stack of books, a quill still gripped loosely in his slack hand. He looks beyond exhausted. The last thing Draco wants to do is wake him, but he knows if he doesn’t Harry will be upset. Clearly, he hasn’t meant to fall asleep at his desk.

Draco tiptoes around the stacks of books and parchments scattered throughout the small office, making his way toward Harry’s sleeping form. Bending down, he presses a gentle kiss against the man’s jaw, the skin scratchy with unshaven whiskers.

“Hey,” he murmurs in Harry’s ear. “Wake up. If you’re going to sleep, you should do it in a bed.”

Glossy eyes open to meet his own. “Whas- wrong?” Harry slurs, still half asleep.

“Shh,” Draco soothes, rubbing his shoulder reassuringly. “You’re fine. You fell asleep at your desk.”

Harry lifts his head, neck cracking in a way that has Draco wincing. “Why are you home? What time is it?” Harry asks, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

Draco frowns. “It’s past five. I just Apparated back from work.”

Harry’s hands fall from his face. “Oh, fuck!” he exclaims loudly, startling Draco. “I was supposed to take over stakeout for Hoffman at four!”

Harry shoots upright from his desk in a blind panic. Draco is entirely unprepared for what happens next. One moment, Harry is hastily gathering a stack of parchments from his desk. In the next second, his face turns a sickly shade of puce. Eyes rolling up in his head, he goes suddenly limp, parchment scattering from his hands as his body crumples bonelessly in a dead faint.

Draco’s arms shoot out instinctively. He narrowly catches the man’s limp body before his head cracks on the side of the desk.

“Shite!” Draco swears loudly, sinking shakily to the floor with Harry’s dead weight clutched against his chest. “Oh, fuck. Harry. Harry!"

He shakes Harry’s shoulders in a desperate attempt to rouse him, but the only thing this accomplishes is making the man’s limp head flop sickeningly back and forth. “Fuck!” Draco swears again, panic rapidly mounting. “Dammit, Harry! Fuck sake! Wake up!” He slaps Harry roughly across the cheek, nearly upsetting his glasses from his face, entirely outside his element and at a loss for what to do.

Thankfully, that seems to do the trick. A low moan sounds from Harry’s limp form. A moment later, his head shifts against Draco’s chest. Bleary green eyes crack open, unseeing and unfocused.

“Oh, thank fucking Merlin,” Draco breathes, going practically dizzy with relief. “Oh fuck, Harry. Merlin’s balls. Can you hear me?”

Another moan. Harry opens his eyes fully now, looking terribly dazed as he returns to gradual consciousness. “What-?” he asks, voice trailing off. Feverish eyes meet his own and Harry’s brow furrows in obvious confusion. “Draco? What happened?”

Harry pushes against his chest with shaky hands, struggling to sit upright. Draco hisses and tightens his hold on the man. “No- stop moving! Stay still for a bloody moment, will you? You passed out.”

“I did?” Harry asks, ceasing his attempts to move and settling back against Draco’s chest with an unhappy frown. “I don’t remember.”

“Shite, Harry,” Draco groans, burying his face in the other man’s hair. “You feel alright now? You scared me half to death.”

Harry frowns, considering the question. “Fine. Little dizzy. Bit of a headache,” he admits grudgingly. “Can I sit up now?”

Draco grunts and helps Harry sit upright from the floor, leaning him back to rest against his desk. “Stay there a minute,” Draco insists when the man goes to move again. He notes unhappily that Harry still appears far too pale, forehead and hair soaked with sweat, green eyes dull and rimmed with dark circles.

“But I need to get to work,” Harry insists with a grimace, rubbing his forehead with a shaky hand. “Hoffman-”

“Can fucking wait,” Draco interrupts, voice tight with worry. He digs his wand from his robe pocket and casts a mindless freshening charm on Harry, drying his sweat-dampened clothes and hair. He pauses for a long moment, wand still raised, considering something.

“When’s the last time you drank anything?”

Harry pauses, looking a bit taken aback by the sudden question. “Um-” he muses, forehead creasing in contemplation. “I can’t remember.”

Draco waves his wand and casts a hydrating charm on Harry. Instantly, the man’s eyes loose some of their glassy sheen and he sits upright a bit more easily. “Oh,” Harry says simply, looking a bit startled. “Headache’s gone.”

“When did you last eat?”

Harry slowly turns his head to meet Draco’s intense stare. “I- I’m not sure,” he admits, looking a bit stunned by this confession. “Yesterday breakfast, maybe?”

“Fuck, Harry,” Draco swears, stomach twisting horribly. "Yesterday?"

Harry winces. “I think.”

Draco’s chest feels unnaturally heavy. “For fuck sake,” he snaps, worry making his temper short. “You can’t just decide not to eat for over an entire bloody day! No matter how busy you are!”

Harry’s eyes grow wide with distress. “Shite,” he mumbles, more to himself than Draco. “I forgot.”

“Forgot what? To eat?”

Harry nods, the gesture small and uncertain. “Happens once in awhile,” he admits quietly. “When I’m really busy, or stressed. I forget about eating.”

Draco stares at the other man incredulously. “How do you just forget to eat for practically two days?”

Harry shrugs helplessly, looking abashed. “I never feel hungry. I just eat when I’m supposed to. I’m usually really good at remembering, though. This hasn’t happened in a long time.”

All at once, Draco feels physically ill, and all of Harry’s strange, food-related obsessions make sudden, terrible sense.

“You don’t feel hungry? Ever?” Draco clarifies, dread settling like lead in his stomach.

Harry’s eyes meet his own and he seems to realize what he has inadvertently confessed. “Not really,” he says slowly, expression carefully guarded.

“Why?” Draco voices the obvious question when Harry does not volunteer further information.

Harry leans his head back against the desk. “Dunno. I’ve seen Healers about it in the past. Nothing’s physically wrong with me, I just-” his voice cuts off as he frowns deeply. He stares fixedly at the ground, and his next words come out slowly, as though carefully chosen. “Well. I think it’s probably because I was so used to feeling hungry as a child. I learned to suppress it. So I don’t feel it, even now, unless I really, really think about it. Sort of a bad habit, I guess.”

Internally, Draco is screaming. He wonders detachedly if his face looks as horrified as he feels. His mind races with a million frenzied questions. Why the fuck is suppressing your hunger a habit? What do you mean by ‘even now’? Why were you used to feeling hungry as a child? What the fuck happened to you?

But he voices none of these thoughts aloud upon seeing Harry’s face.

The man slowly raises his head, turning to look Draco directly in the face. His skin is ashen, teeth clenched, eyes wild and shiny with unconcealed panic.

“Don’t,” Harry says simply. His voice is uncharacteristically high-pitched and unsteady. “Don’t ask. Please.”

And in that moment, Draco knows. He knows that all his deep-rooted suspicions about Harry’s childhood are terribly, horribly true.

But he doesn’t ask.

Instead, he reaches slowly toward Harry and guides the man’s crumpled face into the crook of his neck, pulling him into a firm, steady embrace. “Ok," he whispers the promise in Harry’s ear. “Ok. I won’t.”

Harry’s body begins to tremble uncontrollably and his breaths turn into shaky pants that tickle Draco’s neck. He simply holds the man tighter in response, remaining silent though he wants nothing more than to shout and rage and voice his unthinkable thoughts aloud and confirm what he knows in his heart to be true. But he knows that this is what Harry needs in this moment. Quiet support and carefully maintained control.

They sit huddled together on the floor for an indefinite amount of time. Until Harry’s shaking body stills and his breathing evens out and Draco’s knees throb from where they’ve been kneeling on the wood floor for far too long. But he still doesn't ask.

Finally, Harry is the first to pull away. Taking a single shuddering breath, he squares his shoulders and doesn’t quite meet Draco’s eyes when he looks him in the face.

“I should leave. Hoffman’s probably beside himself by now.”

“No,” Draco says unthinkingly, mind curiously numb. “No. You’re not going anywhere except straight to bed. After you eat something. Merlin, Harry. You’ll just collapse again if you go into work now.”

Harry looks as though he’s going to argue for a minute. But something in Draco’s expression must make him give pause, because in the next moment, he visibly deflates. “Yeah, alright,” he agrees reluctantly. “I’ll eat. And rest. But only for a few hours.”

“Fine,” Draco agrees tersely, mentally resolving to cancel any alarm spells Harry might set. The Ministry can go fuck themselves. The other Aurors can run the damn investigation themselves for a bloody change. Harry needs tonight for himself. “I’ll owl Hoffman,” Draco offers, helping Harry rise from the ground when the man goes to stand.

“Ok,” Harry agrees, looking half-dead on his feet.

Draco remains nearby until he’s fairly certain the other man isn’t going to faint again. “You alright to make it to bed?”

“Yes, Mother,” Harry deadpans, though the joke is halfhearted at best. “Really, Draco. I’m fine,” he insists more seriously when Draco continues to stare and hover pointedly.

Draco grunts in response. “I’ll bring you something to eat. Go,” he insists, giving Harry a gentle nudge between his shoulder blades.

“Thank you,” Harry murmurs, catching his gaze and stroking a hand up and down Draco’s arm before turning and walking out the room. His tone is casual, but his lingering touch and haunted eyes betray the depth and true meaning behind his gratitude.

Draco stands unmoving for a long minute, listening to the quiet rustles from next door as Harry disrobes and gets into bed. He feels strangely detached from his body. He can hear his heartbeat in his ears. The walls seem to warp and vibrate around him if he looks too closely. His thoughts both race and stand still, inexplicably all at once. He wants to scream. He wants to cry. Oh Harry.

Harry. He can't do this right now. Harry needs him. And so, for the first time in over six years, Draco occludes. He closes his eyes and pushes his emotions and fears and horror deep, deep down and raises his Occlumency shields to full force. Harry. Harry needs him. Draco needs to maintain some semblance of control. And this is the only way he knows how to do it.

Draco goes through the motions of sending a letter of explanation to Hoffman. He makes several cold-cut sandwiches. Wakes Harry briefly and forces him to eat before he passes out again. Dims the lights and dutifully cancels Harry’s alarm spells. Mindlessly showers and shaves and brushes his teeth. Curls up next to Harry’s still body in the quiet of their bedroom. Pulls the bedcovers up to his ears when he notices him shivering in his sleep. Reaches out a tentative arm and pulls Harry's body flush against his chest. Breathes in the man's familiar scent and presses himself against comfortingly solid lines and muscles.

He traces patterns on Harry's bare back once he's certain the man is in a deep sleep. He hesitantly touches those terrible, godawful scars; lightly, so as not to wake Harry, fingertips barely ghosting against naked skin.

And only then, under the safety of darkness, does Draco allow his shields to falter and his mind to wander and his tears to inevitably fall.