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Denouement

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                                                                                            Draco

 

 

 

 

-Denouement-

 

 

 

i

 

 

It's five days after the deaths, and all he can do is hide.

Hide from the eyes staring at him, the faces whispering, the walls almost breathing with the knowledge that it's his fault. Hide from the mirrors that show his pale skin alight with bruises and smudged eyes, hide from McGonagall who has been the most outreaching and understanding. Hide from crowds where he hears news of his father's arrest and upcoming trial, his mother's house arrest as they sort her own. Hide from the knowledge that his own will follow, too. Hide from everyone he knows, from his supposed once-friends now afraid to be connected to him.

But most of all, he hides from him.

He with his wide green eyes not of anger or hate or unblemished rivalry he'd always known, but eyes that state apologies from across a room. He with his soft mouth always about to call his name in that commanding way of his. He with his strange Gryffindor persuasion of throwing himself at a cause until it kills him. He with his friends who are as broken as he is...as Draco has been for a while now.

Draco hides.

Draco shivers with nightmares when sleep does take him over for an hour or two at a time.

Draco never rolls his sleeves up.

Draco's jaw twitches under the strain of constantly fighting tears over his mother.

Draco vomits when he thinks of his own future.

And when he cannot hide, when he is found, he runs. He runs by briskly walking away from a group as they whisper, pretending he notices none of them as he grabs food handed out in the Great Hall once a day, refusing to go more than that. He runs from him when he feels that ridiculously powerful aura of his from behind zoning and closing fast.

McGonagall finds him in the old bathroom, the one where they'd fought and he'd been cursed by the Savior himself, ripped open on the chest to nearly bleed to death. She finds him at the word of Saint Potter that he'd be there, hidden.

She offers him peace. She asks for his aid in fixing some of the walls. In helping Madam Pomfrey pass out potions and check patients. She quietly listens to why he whispers that he wants to help, but that no one will let him. And when she leaves him to think on it, Draco swallows harshly and curses the day he ever let that Dark fucking Lord mark his perfect arm, curses himself for his own arrogance and ego needing to show Potter, show everyone until the realization that he was in over his head, that his family was hostage, that they were making him do horrible things beyond forgiveness, that his own life was near forfeit was all for nothing.

But....

On the sixth day, after making his rounds of running and hiding and returning to the little cot he's managed to drag in the lavatory, he sees a note waiting next to his missing wand.

I've been trying to give you this. I refused to turn it over to the Ministry. It's not theirs, and it doesn't belong in a bloody museum for what I did with it. It's yours, and we wouldn't be here without you. I won't let them forget it. Harry.

He picks up the hawthorn wand, holding it and feeling as if a piece of himself has been suddenly restored. He shudders, unable to hold back the few tears that do streak across his cheek.

And then, on the sixth day, Draco smiles without even knowing it.

 

 

ii

 

 

McGonagall only smiles at him when he shows up to the makeshift additional medical areas. Pomfrey directs him, quietly, to beds with some unconscious students still dealing with effects of hexes, curses and horrible wounds. Draco spends hours wiping blood, cleaning bandages, giving potions, and though he never speaks, he feels something in him start to unwind a little. When a wounded Hufflepuff wakes enough to see him cleaning her brow, she mutters a soft thanks, smiles somehow, and passes back out. Draco holds his breath the entire time, wondering how she could be so polite to him, regardless of her house reputation, after everything.

Later that night after rereading Harry Potter's note for the tenth time, Draco tries to sleep. He's unsuccessful for the first few attempts, and so he rereads Potter's note again, but this time he's not reading the words so much as he is taking in the lettering itself, the ink, the angle it was scrawled in, the pressure that was applied, the intention behind Potter's writing. And something in his chest tightens in a good pain, but it scares him to death.

It feels like the times he'd get a response from ruffling Potter's feathers in classes, the little glares to match his own, the sound and fury of his voice as well, all enticing and riling him up in a visceral cycle of something Draco himself didn't quite understand. It had just always existed, since the day they'd met. It had always burned inside of him the way those green eyes did in frustration or anger.

He had never wanted approval from someone so much in his life—not even from his own bloody father. From the first moment he'd met Harry Fucking Potter, he'd just wanted to know him. To be close to him. To see what made him so special, why his own father bothered and silently encouraged Draco to follow in his direction. To be different. To be vindicated in what he'd thought was important at the time. And Potter had turned him down, rather well if Draco had to look back and admit it, because he'd been too stupid and pushed at Weasley verbally.

Draco sneers at that thought, then frowns, trying to throw out his father's words about poorer families.

The Weasley family has suffered enough at Hogwarts in the last two weeks and so have all finally gone home, taking one of the twins to be buried. And while Draco had been afraid, he wanted to say something in a sudden rearing of Pureblood manners, but he just knew it wouldn't be welcomed. Not by the Weasel. Not by any of them, except maybe Potter with that sad look in his eyes. So he'd hid, watching from afar as the entire family and Granger left last night, Potter with them telling McGonagall he'd be back in a couple of days and perhaps the others would follow in the next weeks.

Then Draco had helped, feeling more secure with them gone and not here to stare at him or snap at him or tell him to fuck right off.

Turning the parchment over in his hands, Draco lightly strokes over the glittery green ink in the light of his Lumos spell. His wand thrums in his hand happily, and a smile tugs at his lip as he looks from the ink to the wand again and again. And that feeling just keeps returning, burning in his chest.

He knows Potter didn't have to return it like this. He knows Potter is going to incur the Ministry's wrath for it. He knows he is utterly grateful and not just for this.

He's grateful for everything.

For himself sparing Potter when they were found.

For Potter and his friends managing to get the hell out of the Manor.

For saving Draco's life from the fiendfyre when he honestly, partly, wanted to just die.

For that idiot risking his life for everyone by walking to the Forbidden Forest alone.

For that brave soul trusting him in that moment so much that he took his offered wand (something so intimate, so personal and trusting between any two wizards) and fought the Dark Lord beautifully.

Upon seeing him do so, Draco had never felt more assured that the sun would rise again. He'd been proud to see Harry Potter win with his wand. Still is. And that pride, that feeling in his chest, all of this pain and broken self-contempt had kept him from going to his father's side at the very end.

Draco sighs and folds the parchment as he has many times now, sticking it in his coat pocket against his chest. He tries to sleep again, and this time he succeeds.

He's flying on a broom, feeling free. And Potter's flying next to him, nodding and encouraging.

 

 

iii

 

 

Draco is leaving the Great Hall after helping with wounded again. He's grabbed a small plate of dinner thrown together by the house elves, some sort of cottage pie it looks like, and he passes out of the crowd, noticing, for once, that it seems less focused on him. With relief he walks on toward his bolthole, not even going back to the Slytherin dorms yet, even though he's supposed to for safety and accountability at the moment.

The plate nearly flies from his hand as he runs smack into Potter around the corner from everyone.

Instinctively Draco recoils away, fights the immediate urge to glare, and instead just grunts what he hopes sounds something like apology and circles around. Potter clearly has other ideas as he sidesteps into the way again. Draco looks away, then back to the Chosen One's face, darker silvery blond brow rising.

Potter's hair is growing out again, shaggier on top than the sides at the moment. His green eyes are intense as always behind his glasses. His scar is barely visible through his fringe. His cheeks are hollower than before, a scratch still healing on his nose.

But there's the tiniest hint of smile on his lips, and that confuses Draco.

“All right there, Malfoy?” Potter asks, glancing to the settled plate in his hands.

Draco looks to it as well, nearly having forgotten about it entirely. He nods.

This causes Potter to frown, bizarrely enough, but Draco doesn't wait long enough to find out why. He just strides around his old rival again, spine straight, posture perfect for a moment of display. And when he hears Potter just sigh behind him, the feeling tugs, and Draco softly speaks over his shoulder, the first time to him since the ultimate battle.

“Potter,” he says in a tone of bidding one farewell.

The puzzled little nod is appreciated in return.

When he gets back to the bathroom and sits to eat on his cot, Draco glances around out of habit and takes the parchment out again. One long, slender finger traces Potter's name, the famous Harry signature at the bottom. And Draco tucks his chin to his chest, thinking of that puzzled little nod and frown, and feels strangely better.

 

 

iv

 

 

The nightmares are so bad that Draco hurts himself thrashing off the cot in his sleep. He falls hard to the floor, wincing as his head hits it with a spectacular crack. Everything is spinning for a moment, and, dazed, Draco tries to blink away memories.

He sees the sink nearby and knows he stood there once, crying, terrified, absolutely sick.

He sees the damage around and knows Potter had confronted him about the necklace, about things he barely knew of yet, but did so all the same with his stupid gut feeling and Gryffindor nosiness.

He looks down for a moment at his partially unbuttoned shirt, sees the scars, and knows Potter nearly killed him.

Draco closes his eyes against the memory of the pain from the spell and remembers, with shocking clarity, how terrified, absolutely sick, and wet Potter's face was when he'd bled out.

And he knows with certainty then that Potter had never meant to nearly kill him at all.

Swallowing roughly, he glances once more around the room and waves his wand silently, cleaning it with growing vigor in each stroke and swipe, jaw clenching at all the pain and all the stupid suffering that could have been spared if only they'd fucking ever talked like bloody people.

The broken sinks repair somewhat messily, the floor tries to look as if no heavy stone pieces had ever fallen upon it. Glass heals together.

It doesn't look like it never happened. But it looks like progress.

Draco stares for a long time afterward, nightmares forgotten.

 

 

v

 

 

Draco quickly begins to suspect that Potter's timing is scheduled when he nearly tips two more days' worth of dinner plates.

Each time the Boy-Who-Lived stares him down intensely, asks that soft, “All right there, Malfoy?” and waits patiently until Draco passes with a softly uttered “Potter” in turn.

It's beginning to get annoying.

Draco prickles inside on the fourth event of it.

By this point it's clear to him that Potter's doing it as his only way of capturing Draco for the moment, of getting to look at him at all. That Potter's sad, understanding, knowing eyes stare at him with sympathy, never pity.

And it lights Draco on fire.

“All right there, Malfoy?” he asks nonchalantly yet again.

Draco's repressed anger and desire to scream both coil in him at the same time, and the scowl that deepens his face is palpable even to Potter, whose eyes widen. Draco says nothing, just glares in a way he never truly has at Potter—not with rivalry, not with egging, not even playfully or in annoyance. He glares in agony.

Silently Draco passes him and doesn't utter his part, not this time. Not again. He keeps walking despite the soft call of his surname and doesn't look back when he hears Potter hesitating to follow.

When he doesn't, Draco is thankful, and he eats his dinner in silence as always, wand out with a soft Lumos, parchment on his lap, one finger trailing over Potter's writing.

“I don't need it,” he says, staring at the paper.

“I don't need you,” he corrects himself.

“I hate you,” he snarls in the silence.

As the words stay exact and static, that I won't let them forget it and Harry shining up at him mercilessly, Draco begins to cry. He's so fucking alone. And it's only now, with Potter's plate disruptions and words that Draco really, truly knows it.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

vi

 

The first owl comes at dawn three weeks after.

Draco receives it alone outside, far away from the others. It's a little tawny thing, but the seal on the scroll creates the same effect as if they'd sent a raven. He opens it, shaking, and reads answers to questions he's not asked:

His father's been sentenced to twenty years in Azkaban.

Though in a way he is not surprised at all, Draco stares at the font, a black hateful ink with curls and poise that Potter's chicken scratch writing lacks. At font that lacks the warmth of said scratch, as well.

He swallows nervously, wondering why he doesn't feel as upset as he probably should. Lucius Malfoy had, after all, made his own bed and done it spectacularly—flaunting his Mark, using it multiple times, opening the Manor to the Dark Lord and his trope of evil—and it was time he paid the price that he'd forced on his own wife and son.

Draco's eyes keep reading with mild terror, scanning for news of his mother, and there, at the bottom, his mouth falls open:

In light of information, Narcissa Malfoy has been fined and ordered community service of three years instead of prison as a result of aiding Harry Potter against He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named at the Battle of Hogwarts, in accordance with testimony from young Potter himself.

Draco Malfoy, you can expect to be summoned to trial in two days.

He stares at all of it nestled above a shiny signature and half of a wax seal.

Draco barely stops himself from falling as he cries in relief. His mother's okay, he reminds himself. She's going to be fine. He has no idea what Potter's testimony for her meant, but he knows that it falls right in line with Potter's character to do something if the statement of her aiding him is remotely true.

As he quakes with fear at the last line again and again, feeling utter doom in each fucking well-crafted letter of every word, his fingers reach in his robes for the parchment; he wonders if Potter will save him, too.

 

 

vii

 

McGonagall meets him before dawn in the bathroom he's called home for the last month. She kindly helps him up, adjusts his robes at his neck, and tells him to breathe. Draco is quietly grateful, but silent, and follows her out, locking the door behind him with a tightly aimed spell.

They walk out of the school, passing sleeping volunteers and students alike that also refused dorms, staying to help any needing the last bit of aid and beginning reparations on the school itself. None look at them, and for that, Draco is relieved.

They Apparate into Diagon Alley and from there take a private Floo into the Ministry; he doesn't ask why, but he wonders if it's her way of delaying the inevitable.

Draco's breathing is coming in shudders, his shoulders stiff in pain from being squared so purposefully when they want to crumble, and his throat bobs constantly, irking the fuck out of him.

He will not cry. He will not give these robed fucks the satisfaction of hurting him so visibly.

With a harsh exhale, he snaps together and feels immediately more solid as a result.

At security, there's an inspection before the court room, and an uproar ensues.

“He has his wand! It was supposed to be taken for evidence!”

“Get his wand away from him! He's not yet sentenced!”

“He must have stolen it back, the filthy little Death Eater!”

“Fucking slimy Slytherin.”

He gave it to me! He screams inside, over and over. Potter gave it to me! He gave it back, don't you fucking see?!

McGonagall argues heavily with two wizards over the wand, flashing her clever old eyes to Draco as questions demand answers. He mouths Potter's name as carefully as possible behind one wizard's back, and her face lights up with understanding. With approval, of course, because Harry Potter did yet another great thing.

It's when one wizard tries to rip the wand from his stiff hand that Draco nearly loses it, heart racing, ribs heaving with his panic.

The professor snaps at his side, steps between he and the guard, and reminds him to have some bloody (she didn't curse) manners. The wizard, chastised, backs away. Draco, feeling sick as hell, surrenders his wand to the quieter of the guards only when promised it will be returned to him upon verdict.

“You will get it back,” McGonagall declares soundly to him as they pass through another corridor. “You have nothing to fear, Draco, but your own terror. You know your actions. You know your choices. You know the influences upon them all the way to the end. The willow will bend where the oak breaks from wind.”

Draco frowns at her, trying to take it all in before he's roughly shoved into the trial itself.

The pulpit is massive, and dozens of witches and wizards stare down at him with condescending faces and matching hats. Draco steps where he's directed. His skin feels clammy, his throat dry and hoarse. The mild shake that started since his wand was taken still tremors inside his right leg slightly, and he leans against the wooden box to hide it.

As the new Minister Kingsley Shaklebolt calls the room to order and begin, he reads the list of crimes accused of Draco:

of being a Death Eater.

of aiding fellow Death Eaters at Hogwarts.

of aiding the Dark Lord with his own home and resources.

of a few other crimes they try to stick in, like accessory to murder, manslaughter and the like.

Draco blinks before he feels his insides turn to stone. His emotions are so shaken, his spirit so broken and terrified, that they have frozen inside him quite literally. His grey eyes are dull and hollow like Potter's cheeks have been. But he stands straight, tall, and posh. A Malfoy to the end.

He is asked many questions. Why did he join the Death Eaters? Was he forced to? How long had he been aiding Death Eaters to get into the school? What was his version of the events involving Potter, Granger, Weasley and the others at the Manor? Could he account for where he was during most of the battle itself?

A voice that sounds like his, sharp, biting, yet dead, answers every one.

“I joined voluntarily at first. My peers, family, and family acquaintances had. I wasn't directly forced at the time. It was expected of me. I used the Vanishing cabinets for weeks. I gave her the necklace after spelling her. Yes, I helped them directly enter Hogwarts.”

He tells them as much as he can remember from the fight, from a lot of it until it is so black and blurry that he can't. He doesn't tell them about Dumbledore, not that he was sent to kill him as a test to save his own hide nor that Severus did it for him.

They, of course, rake him over the proverbial coals.

Family members speak and spit at him in anger, adult witches and wizards snarl at him and blame everything entirely on him.

His wand is suddenly produced, and he is accused of stealing it.

“I didn't,” he reiterates for the third time.

“Then how was it given to you?” a snide witch asks from his left in the panel.

Draco hesitates. He doesn't want to name Potter. Perhaps it's out of respect for Potter putting his own arse on the line by giving it back in the first place, no matter what the words on that parchment (he knows them by heart and repeats them in his head now for comfort) say. Perhaps it's because he feels he owes Potter this for helping his mother.

Draco begins to rescind his previous words, to lie about stealing it, when the doors swing open behind him.

And there is Potter in muggle clothes, absolutely fucking furious.

Draco controls his jaw from dropping just barely. Even from his spot he can see the fury in those green eyes, the tightness in the stride, the itching of a hand to grasp a wand in his pocket.

“Ah, Mr. Potter,” Shaklebolt calls.

“I was nearly barred from my testimony. I'd like to know why. Minister,” Potter adds the title after the fact, making Draco's lip twitch with an almost smirk.

“It was felt that you'd said enough upon one Malfoy's account,” says an Auror from the right with his arms crossed.

Potter glares, and it's beautiful.

“Well. I'm delighted to give more.” Potter snaps his head around the room, eyes tight, and then fixes his gaze firmly upon Draco for a split second; Draco feels his heart almost pause a beat as a result.

Go away, he suddenly thinks. Don't let them think I'm using you, you fucking fool.

“Mr. Potter, while we are grateful for all you've done, we are here today to decide the fate of Mr. Malfoy for his own actions. Regardless of Mrs. Malfoy's saving of your life, this is decided now.”

Draco's eyes widen, life coming back into them unexpectedly. Aided, they'd written. Not saved.

He can see the moment Potter actually bites back the snark he'd had at the ready, and it, too, is almost glorious to see. Then, with a brief inhale, Potter softly says, “You're standing here, grateful for what I've done, only because Draco Malfoy willingly gave me his wand to fight Voldemort with. Something to take into account with these crimes, I expect.”

Gasps echo from those who had obviously been removed from that detail. Draco feels his chest warm in that good, painful burn.

“I'm not saying that what he's done is dismissing by it. But I am saying it is redemptive. He's eighteen. He was manipulated by family, by pressure, by Voldemort his-damn-self, and though he bowed to it for whatever reason at first, he only continued clearly to do so at the fear of his own life and that of his mother's, no doubt. It doesn't mean he had no regrets, no fears. No anger and desire to do the right thing. He gave me his wand that day, risked his bloody life to do it. It was Draco Malfoy's wand that killed Voldemort, and he deserves some damn credit for it.”

The burn is beyond burn. It is now fiendfyre in his chest.

Potter continues, ignoring the silent room and few gasping attempts to interrupt, “And that's why I gave it back to him. You can note it as being evidence, but it doesn't belong to you or to any department or museum. Its owner is still alive, quite actually, and it's beyond low to keep it from him when he gave it to me in such trust.”

Draco stares at him with awe he barely hides.

Shacklebolt shifts before them, studies Potter intently. “You're quite prepared to be his only character witness, aren't you.”

“I'm prepared to be his anything,” Potter replies back, eyes only on the Minister.

Draco's eyes flare open at the whispers. They're probably thinking things like “Potter the hero,” “Potter's a scary lawyer,” “How brave of Potter to stand up for his enemy.” And Draco's staring and thinking, quite loudly to himself, that Potter looks damned determined enough on his behalf to literally be anything he needs—a sword, a shield, a something that wraps around his spine and tingles as he listens to Shaklebolt continue talking, not taking a word of it in. His fingers itch to grab for the parchment still in his pocket.

Draco tunes out everything from that moment but Potter himself, watching him stand firm and straight for once without his slouch, fringe in his defiant eyes that don't blink, mouth set and determined as he responds to each question in drill:

“I do not believe Draco Malfoy to be a danger to anyone at this time.”

Potter, you fucking arsehole.

“No, I do not believe Draco Malfoy should be anywhere near Azkaban.”

Potter, you fucking fool.

“Yes, I believe Draco Malfoy was manipulated by Voldemort and other Death Eaters. I believe he was terrified for his life and acted as such.”

Potter, don't you fucking dare!

“Yes, I believe Draco Malfoy should do some sort of penance. He's been aiding survivors at Hogwarts the past few weeks, and that's well on its way, innit.”

Potter, I hate you.

“Yes, I believe Draco Malfoy can be trusted with his wand.”

Potter, stop! Stop!

“Yes, I am willing to observe him myself if necessary.”

Stop trying to save me, you fucking idiot!

“Yes, I believe Draco Malfoy should be allowed near Hogwarts again. It's home to us. To all of us, including him. And if we can go another seventh year, those of us who missed everything for this bloody war, the he should be allowed to do so as well.”

Potter! Stop being the fucking Hero!

“No. I think the student body will get, in time, that we all make mistakes, no matter how colossal they are, and move on. I believe Draco Malfoy should have that chance, too.”

By the time the group is discussing among themselves, Draco is vehemently staring a hole right through Potter, his mind screaming at him in ways it never has, both utterly furious and pleading in hateful pride and gratitude, in disgust at the both of them, and in blinding, absorbing adoration of bravery displayed.

When his sentence is uttered by a tired witch to his right, Potter's eyes burning on her the entire time, it takes Draco blinking rapidly to focus in again and realize that it's too late.

It's far, far too fucking late.

The Golden Boy has done it again. Draco's off with service to the school for the remaining year he will attend, volunteering to restoration efforts before and during, and two years more community service after graduation. He is expected to donate many galleons to charities helping victims of the war.

Draco wants to scream. He wants to laugh.

For now his life is entirely forfeit. Not to Azkaban...but to him.

 

 

viii

 

His wand is returned to him in a far more polite manner than it was taken. There's hatred so thick it's tactile around them, but as he takes his wand again, Draco feels safer, whole, and shakes less inside his dress robes.

McGonagall speaks with Potter about something as the room disbands, some people whispering that he got off too lightly, of course he did, that Potter was a fool for believing anything about Draco, that of course a Malfoy would ride the coattails of a true hero to save his own skin.

And it's all he can do not to just punch Harry Sodding Potter in his fucking handsome face the second Potter looks back to him in relief.

And it's all he can do not to just put his face to that rugged shoulder in those fucking muggle clothes and laugh.

“All right there, Malfoy?” Potter asks, a small half-smile at the corner of his lip.

Draco stares at him, astounded. Simply fucking astounded.

It takes him a moment of swallowing to even have the spit to speak, but he does, uttering the single soft, “Potter.”

Potter smiles gently, without pity, without demand, and nods once.

Draco thinks about throttling him, but keeps his hands to himself, fingers stroking his wand reassuringly as they wait for the professor to finish speaking. When she does she looks between the pair of them with the oddest (and scariest, he'll admit) little smile and takes them both by the arms to Disapparate.

When they walk together into Hogwarts, it is silent. Students and professors stare with held breath, waiting for anything to happen. They eyeball him in fear again, and Draco's arm burns with the eyes upon it beneath his robes.

It's only when Potter claps him on the shoulder with a slight smile and nod, then walks away, that it seems the entire fucking school exhales, walls and all. Eyes drop a little, faces relax some, breath escapes faster.

McGonagall quickly takes over, directing people back to duties and the like. Draco expects she'll give a speech later about the trial, about his punishment and new roles in service. But until then, he bolts.

When he looks in the mirror in his sanctuary, for a split second he sees himself before: Panicked breath, deathly pale, smudged eyes, terror in his chest as he rips his vest off his head and grips the edges with white knuckles. It takes him a full moment of closed eye concentration to rock him back to the present.

He sees a tired young man staring back at him in long black formal robes.

He sees smudged eyes, but less terror.

He sees panic, but it's getting under control.

Draco sees himself breathe out. And, parchment clutched in his fingers, he cries, desperately loathing and hating Potter for always managing to be the good one, for always seeing him at his fucking absolute worst. He cries in complete gratitude to the same beautiful, frustrating, sodding Potter.

 

ix

 

He starts his duties the next day. McGonagall offers some time for himself, kindly, knowingly, but he refuses. Best get on with it, he thinks, and so works under her direction with restoration efforts, Transfiguring and spelling with the rest to heal the walls of Hogwarts. Each bit of destruction rips him open more, makes him see that awful fucking cabinet over and over, and each replaced brick, each new seam of tapestry, grants him a strange kind of peace.

Potter flits about helping students along the job, encouraging with his presence and words. Draco says nothing to him, not even a spoken thank you. For once in his life, Draco doesn't know what to say to him. Potter seems to understand and barely speaks in turn, mostly nodding politely or knowingly to him on occasion when their eyes meet.

No, Draco doesn't say anything. But he wonders. By Merlin, he wonders.

Why did you do it? Do you get off on helping people? Do you have to feel needed? Do you expect me to do something for you now? Do you want me to do something? Why do you look at me like that? Why, Potter? Why do you care?

And the biggest, most often considered: Why don't you hate me?

 

 

x

 

 

It's late, sometime after the trial.

Draco is exhausted. He's yet to relocate to the Slytherin dorms, mostly because it feels haunting to go with the barest handful of younger Slytherins still around. Blaise and Pansy are with their families. Greg has gone home. Crabbe is gone, lost to the fire. Draco has no friends here. Just witnesses to his downfall, his pride being wrought out every day for wringing. So he stays in the bathroom as long as he can get by with it, at least until school will start in the next month.

It's shocking to know Hogwarts is going to resume again. It won't be as if nothing happened, he knows that, but he wonders, still...how it will feel.

Will it, in its way as it had before, feel like a home of sorts again for him like Potter called it?

Or will his personal guilt, his memories of that Room of fucking Requirement and the tower of Dumbledore's fall make him forever feel like a traitor in its halls?

He shudders, afraid to even dwell too much on it. Not when he has lost so much. Not when his mother can only communicate to him by owl now, as she is carefully watched. Not when he'll need McGonagall herself to take him to Diagon Alley to prepare his year's supplies since he, also, is carefully watched. Not when Severus is dead and no one fucking cares.

He considers breaking into the Headmistress's office to speak to Severus in his portrait, but knows he wouldn't be able to communicate if he tried.

He continues to sleep on the cot in the cold room of memories, the parchment now quite bent up and wrinkled over constant rubbing and folding and unfolding always in his grip at night, wand in his other hand.

Draco at least attempts to eat and cares more for his appearance until the shadows under his eyes are a slight purple and no longer a deep disgusting violet. He strengthens himself physically moving things for people when asked, breaks out in sweats from constant hours working beyond when he's called to take a moment.

Potter continues to send him glances, nods, and contemplative looks.

Draco works on, desperate to never glance, nod, or look back.

Instead he throws himself into it all, knowing damn well if he doesn't that there's nothing left.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

xi

 

 

One day he gives in to the odd thought burrowing into his brain and heads down to the lake during his free time. Draco walks about it, finding peace in the warm wind and salty air, and his eyes light upon the white tomb in the distance.

The calling is immediate, the demand justified, and his feet drag him to it before he even feels himself move.

Draco swallows, bends and touches the stone. It's beautiful, and it's healed, and knowing only what he knows, this makes no sense. It should be broken. Desecrated. The once great Headmaster himself should be partially visible inside, wandless.

But there's the stone. There's the stone.

The frown is light on his brows while he considers this, and the sudden voice behind him has him nearly leaping over the damn tomb entirely.

“I put it back, if you're wondering.”

Draco blinks, exhales, and composes himself. He says nothing as Potter's trainers appear in the corner of his vision, then the rest of him while the Savior himself walks the length of the tomb to his father-figure.

Potter stops on the other side and looks up at him. Waiting, the git.

Draco swallows and forces a halfhearted glower. All that silence between them, and he's got to break it like this. Shame. “I wasn't. I don't care about that fucking wand.”

Dark brows rise in response to his snap, and Draco ignores them.

“Well, you know anyway. It's in there, with him. Where it belongs. And it's sealed.”

“You...did this, this entire thing?” Draco asks, not knowing why he should be surprised at all.

“Yeah, Malfoy.”

Draco gives the perfect tomb another appraising glance, then reluctantly nods. “It's....”

“Better,” Potter fills in softly, biting his lower lip. “It's better now.”

“Yes. He shouldn't have been so...exposed,” Draco grumbles, feeling like an idiot as he actually tells his thoughts to his former (saving his arse at the Ministry makes it former) enemy.

Potter sighs, hands in his pockets. “No, he shouldn't have.”

Why he says it, he doesn't know. But Draco whispers, “He tried to help me.”

And Potter, bloody know-it-all, do-it-all Potter, stares back intently and simply mutters a soft, “I know.”

Draco fucking explodes. Weeks of silence, months of not knowing the right thing to do, years of jealousy and desperate want of attention just blow out. He jerks forward, seething, and spits, “Of course you fucking know. You're Potter.

“I meant I was there, you berk. That night. I was fucking there.”

Draco startles, grey eyes now afraid and hating it. He shakes his head vehemently. “No. No one else was there. Just him, and me, and then the Death Eaters and Severus.”

“Malfoy, I was there. I was body bound under the bloody stairs and forced to watch!” Potter almost shouts in his face, that usual sad glint in his eyes gone and replaced with desperate need to scream, to break, to know.

“No,” Draco mumbles, unable to accept the implications.

“Yes.”

Eyes closed, fists tight, Draco shudders. Potter will always see him when he's weak. It's like a bloody prophecy Trelawney missed.

“Malfoy?”

“What?” he asks, tongue sharp. “What the hell can I say to that, Potter? You saw what I was going to do. You saw it all. What the hell can I say?”

Potter rubs his face and runs a hand through his hair. “Nothing. You don't have to say anything. I just...I wanted you to know that...I didn't...I don't....”

Draco's lips tremble, hands grasping the cold white stone in front of him. “Don't what, Potter?”

“I don't blame you.”

Shock. He's in shock. He has to be. That's why he's not breathing.

“I know you didn't want to do it. I know that being with me before to get the one horcrux made Dumbledore deathly ill, and I saw in Snape's memories that his killing him was planned way before you or I could know.”

No. Not a fucking chance.

“You're lying,” Draco growls, voice beyond warbling and wet as his eyes. He itches to wipe his face, but refuses to show this bastard any more weakness.

Potter stands firm, his own hands now on the stone between them. “No, I'm not. I swear to you that I saw that truth. I swear to you that Snape protected us both by doing what he did—he kept you safe and didn't give me away. And I swear to you that, for that one moment, I do not blame you.”

Draco's fucking chin quivers against his will. “...and for the rest?” he dares to ask.

Potter's eyes set into green flames. “I tell myself that though you knew better, you were too scared to stop it all. That you're not that bad of a fucking person. That you didn't actually want to get so many killed to save your own hide intentionally, but it happened anyway. I tell myself that saving you from that fiendfyre was worth it, because I know it was. I tell myself that you didn't point me out to the Death Eaters. I tell myself that some part of you cared enough. I tell myself that you, willingly, threw me your wand and saved it all, no matter what else you've done.”

Pale, ashen lids slide down over grey eyes. Blond hair almost silver stirs in the soft breeze.

Draco doesn't hear Potter even move. He's too far gone in that moment, so far lost in this feeling of wanting to fall to his knees and repent and accept the acceptance just given verbally that he doesn't even hear him step so close.

“I was really fucking angry with you at first. I hated you more than anything. But your bloody wand haunted my pocket and my sleep. Your face. Your voice calling my name. And I had to let it all go, Malfoy. Had to,” Potter says fiercely under his breath against the wind. “I have a feeling that you're better than all of that. I hope you prove me right.”

Draco can't even stop himself. The words are out too quick, too instinctively defensive. “Need to protect that reputation of yours for that testimony, don't you, Savior?” he all but snarls emptily.

Potter grabs his shoulder harshly and spins him so they're face to face, nearly eye to eye if Potter were just a little bit taller. Green eyes flaring, lips parted, grip almost painful, Potter looks him dead in the eye and says, emphatically, “I have faith in you, you fucking git.”

Draco feels sick.

“Don't ask me why. I just do. Have some fucking faith in me to be sincere, why don't you?”

The parchment almost burns a hole in his coat in his mind, the writing there, the intent in the font to protect, like Potter always does. It's just that...all this time, Draco never thought outside of the heated moments in the war that Potter would ever include him in that feeling. But he does. Obviously he does. Why, Draco doesn't know. Potter himself seems not to.

And Draco can either take it, take that intent and accept it, or he can forever truly burn it out.

At his silence, Potter stares harder, not even blinking.

Then, feeling faint, Draco simply nods and drops his heavy brow to Potter's jacket-covered shoulder, accepting the strength offered to him as Potter adjusts to the new weight and stands there for some time, the hand on Draco tightening in a different, assuring way.

When they finally draw apart, neither commenting on the unusual closeness as they walk back together to the school, Draco breathes out low and steady. Potter is full of power next to him, like wild magic. It's intoxicating, thrilling, and seductively making him feel safe now.

“I have, you know,” Draco says over the wind.

“Hm?”

He huffs a little, a self-mocking laugh. “I have faith in you, Potter. It's ridiculous. When you rose again to fight him, no matter how you pulled that off, I knew it was always you. Prophecy or not, only you could do this time and time again and be the one to finally fucking kill him. That was why I threw you my wand. I did have faith, right then, in you.”

Potter freezes a little at his side, causing Draco to pause with a brow rising. The look his rival gives him is a strange one—it's a smile and a frown and sadness all at once, like Potter himself doesn't quite know how to feel.

“Thanks, Malfoy. I...thanks.”

“Oh do shut up. I've been verbose today for the both of us.”

A laugh that makes the burn in his chest set even higher, the coil at his spine teasing in a way Draco is concerned about as it shoots once, briefly, through his groin.

Then, with another laugh, Potter sighs. “Wanker.”

 

 

xii

 

 

Draco sees a lot more of Potter after that day. Potter appears everywhere, actually, helping in areas Draco is, eating dinner as Draco takes his customary plate now from the Hall and eyeing him in that annoying contemplative Potter way that means interference is coming. And it does, satisfyingly so, when Potter calls to him from a nearby chair a few days later at dinner.

“Malfoy! Come sit.”

Draco stares at him like he's mad. Which he is. Idiot.

“Malfoy, c'mon.”

Everyone in the bloody Great Hall is now staring at them with extreme interest. Draco feels the panic coming on, the anxiety slithering up his spine, and walks from the hall, running as he does to go hide as he had before.

This time, though, Potter follows him.

Draco's teeth are on edge as the idiot matches him step for step all the way to the door of the fucking bathroom. He spins then, furious, about to fling his stupid plate in Potter's stupid face. “What?” he demands. “Just leave me alone!”

“I just want to talk,” Potter calmly says, plate in his own hand.

Draco thinks about the irony that where they'd once fought and he'd nearly died is the very place he is now contemplating slamming his potatoes up Potter's nose with satisfaction. His thoughts must show in his face because Potter takes a step forward, challenge in his green eyes.

“Go away.”

“Malfoy, don't be a twit.”

You're being a twit. I want left alone.”

“Look, if you're gonna yell, can we just eat right here? It's getting cold unless we charm the plates.”

Draco stares his once-enemy down. Why is he ever surprised by this idiot anymore?

Potter wandlessly unlocks the door behind him, and Draco's brows fly up his forehead, his plate nearly flipping into his chest as the brunet storms past into Draco's sanctuary. Potter looks around in the bathroom, no doubt reliving his own memories for a moment. Draco closes his grey eyes tiredly and steps in after him, shutting the door again.

There's a strange expression on Potter's face when Draco moves past to sit on his cot.

Potter's staring at spots Draco had fixed a while ago, lips moving in words Draco can't make out, until that intense gaze is on him once more, specifically on his chest. Feeling exposed, Draco scowls and holds his plate tighter, arms up to cover himself. But Potter seems to be looking through it, through his defense and beyond, no doubt seeing blood.

When Potter gulps loudly, Draco is shocked.

He remembers the look Potter had as Severus came. The shock.

Even so, he doesn't expect to see Potter look so self-loathing before him.

Dark brows drawn, eyes furious, teeth biting lips, knuckles white around the plate in his hands, Potter is utterly disgusted with himself. He's shaking, even, just enough for Draco to see visibly, and the green eyes get strangely moist before they slam shut.

Draco stares, waiting.

“I didn't know,” Potter grates out, what feels like an hour later. “I didn't know it would...do....”

The burning in Draco's chest mellows. He wants to sling vile anger Potter's way, but honestly, he doesn't have the energy. Being together in this room is draining enough.

“Well, it did,” Draco mutters finally.

Potter actually flinches.

Draco's lips move, not censoring his thought. “Just doing your duty. Being the great Hero.”

Potter manages a glorious glare that Draco returns, then carefully breathes and sits down, plate in lap. “I thought I was. I thought everything was about you. You had to be up to something. And you were.”

“I'm flattered,” Draco sneers and tears into his chicken.

“Don't be an arsehole.” Potter scoops some potatoes and plays with them a moment with his spoon. “I still shouldn't have done it. I was just so bloody angry. Because, yeah, of course it was you.”

“Meaning what, Potter?”

“Meaning, you're always behind shit. You start things, you bicker, you were naturally as a Slytherin probably part of all of it.”

Draco wants to sock him in the face, but doesn't. “Stereotyping much, Potter? Did I do half of what happened to you here? Really, did I? I charmed badges. I played Seeker opposite you. I mouthed off. Beyond the events recently, what else did my Slytherin self do? Did I open the Chamber of Secrets? Hm?”

Potter pins him with a glare so hot Draco can feel its heat. “Shove off.”

“You shove off. You followed me, remember.”

“I try to fucking say I was wrong, and you stomp all over me. What else did I expect to happen?” Potter almost shouts, plate shoved to the side out of his lap.

Draco sits his fork down and wipes his mouth, choosing to irritate Potter with silence.

It works.

Potter's fists ball up, and he growls, “Damn it, Malfoy, even you didn't deserve that. You didn't deserve Voldemort in your house threatening you, and you didn't deserve that spell I cast.”

Softly, surprising himself, Draco asks, “What do I deserve, Potter?”

“I don't know,” Potter answers as softly. “But not...not that. All that blood.”

Draco snorts.

“And scars.” When the green eyes widen, he nods. “Several, actually. You've only got the one,” he gestures to Potter's brow, then touches his palm flat to his chest. “I've several. From you.”

He expects Potter to be stunned silent or to mouth off in defense.

He does not expect Potter to demand to show him.

Veritably stunned, Draco shakes his head. “You...what?”

“I said show me.”

“What, my word not good enough for you? Of course it isn't.”

Potter almost chews through his lip, fingers in his hair raking fast. “No, damn you. I want...I want to see. I want to see what I did.”

“What will it change, Potter?” Draco asks wearily.

“You never know,” Potter replies. In Draco's head it's almost ominous.

They stare one another down until it's clear Potter isn't planning on leaving any time soon. Annoyed, but also curious, Draco gives in. He slowly moves his plate near Potter's on the floor, then slides his fingers over his jumper, pulling it over his head and tensing at the soreness from all the restoration effort. When he finally gets it off, he notices Potter is watching him in a heated, strange way, and the fire flicks his heart and cock simultaneously in response.

Draco swallows quietly and focuses on his buttons, anything to not get absorbed by that look. The white undershirt opens up, Draco exhales, and his chest is visible: the paleness of it, the ribs from his lack of eating well for the last while, his pink nipples and lightly muscled abdomen from all the physical work. And the scars. Of course, the scars. They slash across ribs, across his diaphragm, his solar plexus, his pectoral, faded some into tight silvery lines.

When he finally has the gall to look at Potter again, he's speechless.

Potter is staring at his chest. Potter's eyes are raking his chest. Potter's lips are rubbing together, his teeth teasing the lower one. Potter's cheeks are flushing like Draco's own. Potter's gaze is both on fire and moist.

He leans forward, and Draco doesn't breathe.

A lean, large, somewhat tanned hand reaches. Sets upon Draco's cool skin. Fingers touch scars, trace them, slide to the next. Draco fights the gasp as he struggles for air, fights this weird feeling in his chest and the even more terrifying one in his trousers.

And Potter just touches him as if in a trance on his knees until his palm comes to rest over Draco's left side, fingers splayed over his back under the shirt. His thumb rubs gently across a scar on his abdomen.

Draco watches Potter close his wet green eyes and shake. He debates throwing Potter's warm hand off of him as the strange feelings get bigger and deeper, his trousers tighten with agitation over his cock, and Potter just keeps stroking the scar over and over absently.

“I'm sorry,” Potter finally says, breaking the silence. “God, Draco, I'm sorry.”

Draco blinks back tears he didn't know were even forming in his fucking eyes. Yet again, Potter has left him in a place where he doesn't know what to say.

“You were always a prat. But you were still one of us. Your actions, up and down, eventually proved that.”

Draco chokes. The thumb is still stroking, and the fingers on his back tighten in almost possessiveness.

“This...this is my regret,” Potter finishes and slumps a little, hand sliding down Draco's side to his hip.

He shudders, of course, beyond sensitive in the moment and awed by the contact. Potter's head hangs down as he drags in deep, heavy breaths, and Draco finds that he can't stand that image. He may have always wanted to beat Potter, yes, but he wanted Potter to see him. To notice him. To validate and stand equally, if not possibly as friends, as enemies. Draco has admitted fully in his time trapped in the Manor that he was quite a little shit over the years, and that not a damn bit of it should matter.

While Potter, Granger and Weasley went on the run, Draco seriously, deeply, considered himself. And Potter. Always Potter.

He'd accepted then that some of his anger at Potter was attraction. One-sided, repressed and desperate.

He'd accepted then that nothing would ever come from that realization.

He'd accepted that no matter what good he could maybe ever do to repent, he'd always be the villain. The evil Slytherin only capable of selfishness in everyone's eyes.

Aside from Potter's own words at the Ministry hearing, it never once crossed his mind that someone really, really, might also see him as a victim.

Potter shakes again, hand limp on Draco's hip. It slides away, slowly, and Draco grabs it, heart in his throat. Carefully Potter raises his head and meets his eye, confusion there. Draco's throat bobs a little as he holds Potter's hand between them, bites his lip, and squeezes his fingers reassuringly.

A little smile appears on Potter's handsome mouth. And he squeezes back.

Draco nods, to what he's not sure, but he does so anyway, and lets go, watching Potter sit back a bit dazed until he blindly reaches for his plate. There's a smile that steals across his lips quickly as he does the same, and the little intake of breath lets him know that Potter caught it happen. Draco immediately drops the smile, but his eyes are open and warm on what looks like a green mirror, reflecting something right back to him.

They eat in silence that night, and when Potter leaves with both plates, his gaze lingers across Draco's still unbuttoned shirt.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

xiii

 

 

Try as he might, he starts dreaming of a hand on his hip. It's beyond frustrating, that little touch, as if Potter doing so branded Draco so deeply that Draco himself can't heal its mark away. It's also agony to remember, because the next day Potter works at his side, moving stones with him, never speaking but always looking at him with a bit of his lower lip caught between his teeth.

It's agony because Draco keeps his sleeves down, making him hotter than fuck as he works, and because he has to focus all his mental will into keeping his body from reacting to that strange look, from that memory of a possessive hand on his chest. From his dream where he touches back.

It's stupid, all of it.

Potter, to his core, is so selfish. So absorbed. He has no idea what he has done, as usual. He cannot see effects that don't touch him, consequences beyond his Gryffindor bubble of righteousness. And Draco wants to hate him so, so much.

When a placed stone wobbles and nearly falls upon Draco's head while he's bent, not looking, Potter jerks him away, and both of them watch, chests heaving, as the stone falls and cracks, breaking into pieces. Draco feels the rushing ribs against his back, the arm around his chest protective as it restrains him from the stone, the hot breath on his neck.

He fights the shiver through sheer will.

Potter releases him after a belated moment of pregnant silence. Draco stumbles away, needing to be farther from him than this measly distance, and Potter says nothing as Draco glances over his shoulder with a grateful nod. But he does smile, more to himself than Draco, and turns back to work with it never leaving his lips.

 

 

xiv

 

He's moved more stone in a single day than he ever has in his life. He's run back and forth, flicking Wingardium Leviosa charms all over the place, obeying requests from professors, and he's not said a single fucking word. Potter's been gone again, no doubt to check on Granger or the Weasel. Somehow it's not quite the bloody same without him being eyeballed constantly by a ridiculous Gryffindor and making him feel entirely on edge in a way the rest of the people left here don't. Now his duty is...it's just...thoughtless, mindless movement.

It's not until the soft voice stirs so close to him that he does speak. He'd almost forgotten she was here now, too.

“I think it's lovely for you to help. Gives you...something special. Something yours, doesn't it,” she whispers softly, staring at him with those massive, kind blue eyes and hair so like his.

Silly, smart Ravenclaws. Uncanny, observant, nosy little Ravenclaws.

Draco flounders. Lovegood was always one to make you take a moment. He blinks, then nods with a rough swallow and continues forward, sweat rolling down his neck into his shirt and irritating him. A glance to his sleeve pisses him off further, and he wishes he were alone so he could carve his nails up his arm for just a split-second like he sometimes does.

But she isn't finished. Oh, no. Not the Ravenclaw with the strange purity.

“You shouldn't hide it, you know,” she begins with a little smile and uses her wand to move boxes out of his way. “The more you show how it makes you feel, the more it makes them feel, too.”

Goddamn it, he knows that. His brain is intelligent, after all.

It's just that...it'll take time. It won't be immediate. The stares will get longer and stronger before they desist entirely, and it irks him that he feels bound by his own skin. That moving on doesn't always mean an entirely visible new slate.

Draco settles on a snort and half-shrug. “I know,” he grunts.

Luna Lovegood just smiles as he scowls down at his feet and settles his own box. She kindly sends a cooling charm over him, and Draco sighs. It's bloody hot in the dungeons.

“Thank you,” he murmurs.

Immediately, some corner part of his mind questions why it was so easy to say to her, but not to him.

 

 

xv

 

 

Luna Lovegood begins to keep him company, and it is utterly bizarre. At first she simply appears, like a ghost trailing him, and when she isn't there, he finds himself peering around just in case. He then seems to only blink before walking next to her often, without intention, and she speaks about things that he can choose to comment on or just listen to as well. Some part of him, no doubt the same part of him that once thought her “Loony” too, now appreciates her words and her concerns about nargles and all sorts of magical critters he still isn't too certain exist.

But he does listen, and he does smile the tiniest bit, and he counts the hours of Potter-less-ness that agitate and rouse him, and his hand rarely leaves his pocket during downtime, parchment tucked neatly to be touched upon need.

Draco takes his magically filled plate like usual at dinner, blood freezing when he hears the whispers as he nods at Luna Lovegood's little wave from across the room.

“Of course the Traitor makes friends with the Loony. Who else would have him now?”

“Can't believe even Luna would stoop so low.”

“Yeah, but Harry seems to think he's okay now, right?”

“Harry's too good to know what he's doing.”

Draco stares down at his plate, fury rising. He wants to turn and fling it right into the face of the mixture of Gryffindors and Ravenclaws speaking in those hushed tones right behind him. He wants to scream into their faces that, damn it, it wasn't always about fucking Potter. And it irks him that these fucking faces saw what he'd done at the final fight, too.

Proof enough of his recent thinking that he'd be forever the villain. His internal monologue still snapping away is only justified.

Draco exhales roughly, turns and shoots a scathing look over his shoulder right at them. It's not his best, but it's damn well up there. The group appears surprised; it's quite possibly his first attempt at what they believe of him and have for a long time. One scowls back, ready to fire at him with a “how dare you even look at us that way” argument, but there's a soft pale hand on his covered arm, and Lovegood says, “I think Draco is quite brave to be here. Don't you?”

“Brave?” one Ravenclaw sputters in shock at the gentlest reprimand Draco's ever heard.

“Sure! It's brave to stand alone against the anger, whether it's merited or not,” Lovegood confirms with a smile as Draco's expression twitches, his neck flushing under the collar. She gazes over the group with soft, settled, otherworldly eyes. “And it's not really kind refusing to acknowledge change, either.”

The Gryffindor who'd glared most seems flustered and shifts her expression from affronted to huffy when she looks to Draco. He merely lifts his lip in a ghost of a habitual sneer, then forces it to drop and simply stares at her with a slight tilt of his left brow.

Luna Lovegood seems satisfied by something in their faces now, something in his own. She nods, tells them a polite good evening, and walks Draco away, not commenting on how mystified he looks as she tugs him, leads him like a child and a dragon.

Merlin's beard, she's as bad as Potter, he thinks.

But she's not the same as Potter.

Draco sits nervously as she directs him to the table and eats quietly, listening to her and, shockingly enough, Longbottom talk about plants harmed around the castle regrowing lovely with some help. It's not terribly interesting to him, but Draco is wound tighter than a damn piano string as Longbottom's eyes drift over.

He waits for it.

But all that comes is, “Seen you moving a lot of the heavy stuff around. Best watch your back doing that. My gran really hurt herself once.”

Draco's face opens more than he wants it to. He blinks, grey eyes quiet, lips parted a little, then forces the automatic suspicion away. Is he really here? Is he really doing this? “Yeah. I, um...I've used several charms, but some things....”

“Right. I'd say the work's coming along, too. We might actually be ready by the end of the month for term to start,” Longbottom continues, an actual small smile aimed at Draco, stunning him.

“Yes. We might be.”

“You're stayin' on for eighth year, like us, then?”

Draco nurses his lip, knowing with that trial he'd not really had a choice anyway. “I...have to.”

Longbottom looks a tad sheepish. “Oh.”

“I mean...not that...I wouldn't...possibly want to. I hadn't had the time to consider before...before I was told to stay, I suppose,” Draco finishes, internally smashing his stupid face into a wall. Perhaps the one near the entrance hall he's worked on so much. It's bloody well solid enough.

This time Longbottom nods, both serious and gentle. “Ah, yeah.”

And Luna Lovegood merely glances between them, as though everything is as it should be.

 

 

xvi

 

 

He doesn't hide so much the next few days.

Not that Lovegood and now, apparently, Longbottom would let him.

The pair appear often together now more than apart, and Draco accepts this as a new natural thing around. Their quiet conversations nearby are oddly comforting, even if he does feel uneasy for them to be so close so often. Still, they also seem to know when he's reached his social interaction limits, though, and fade out, calling soft goodbyes as he wanders off to get some air outside or go to his cot in the bathroom. They never follow. They never demand his attention or presence. They simply take what he offers and save him some odd, awkward place if he wants it.

It's refreshing.

It's almost freeing.

He sits with them again at dinner, almost passing by out of routine, but when he sees the little inviting smile on Luna's face and the strange, half-sideways twisted welcoming, anxious smile on Longbottom's, he's sighing internally and feels shoved back into his trial—albeit, a much nicer version of it. He takes that odd, awkward place, feeling exactly like that.

The rest of the room stare and whisper, more curious than aggressive as before. Draco's shoulders are as broad as they can go, his posture straight and hair perfect in response. He looks nowhere but at the pair across from him, and he eats with the manners his mother trained him to have.

He sits stiffly at first, but slowly relaxes through the dinner, listening (with surprising attention) to Longbottom's accounts of the rest of the wizarding world at the moment that he'd gleaned from his recent Daily Prophet. Draco has forgone receiving the paper via owl for a long while now, and given everything, he's damn well not about to start up again.

Longbottom eyes him warily at first, but not because of whom he is.

Draco knows. Draco sighs. “Get on with it, Longbottom. I'm sure I'm painted quite lovely.”

“Well, it's...not that. I mean it is, but it isn't. There's been quite a few letters to the editor published arguing back and forth on it, but it seems most of the public isn't entirely updated on details,” Longbottom begins as he butters a roll.

Draco's brow cocks habitually when he notices there's no anxious tremor to that motion. And the tiny, curve to the left of his mouth comes out when he remembers Longbottom killing that awful fucking snake, not looking at all like the terrified boy in first year.

“What did you expect?” Draco asks quietly, but with a hint of sass. Mostly tired, repressed sass.

Luna Lovegood hums to herself and stabs into a large leaf of lettuce. “People so rarely know the truth. It's funny; sometimes when it's right there, they see it even less.”

Ravenclaw wisdom at its finest. And that's, for once, not a joke at all.

Longbottom nods and nudges her with a little elbow and a twinkle in his eye. “That's what we have you and your dad's Quibbler for, right? They only have to read.”

“Yes,” she smiles. “We do our part.”

Draco fights the incredulity itching to come across his expression. He has forgotten, it seems, about Luna and Xenophilius Lovegood and that bizarre magazine. He's never read one and wonders what it honestly is like. A glance at Luna's composed self (despite the random leaves in her hair) only makes him more curious.

Does Potter read it?

Draco rolls his eyes at himself when they're not looking.

“Harry owl'ed yesterday. I saw it go to Professor—I mean Headmistress McGonagall's office. He's probably coming back soon,” Longbottom comments after they've started picking at dessert.

Draco's fork inadvertently stabs into his tart a little too roughly. The crust is broken unevenly.

It begins to build inside. The mere mention of Harry, not Potter, is bristling. It's like they know two different people sometimes.

Luna smiles her same smile. “It'll be nice to have Harry back again. Maybe he'll bring Hermione and Ron, too.”

A twitch at the eye.

“Yeah! And we can all finally just sit down and relax,” Longbottom adds wistfully. “Feels like it's been ages since we've all been together.”

And that's it.

It's all he can take. Little doses of people. Little doses of reminders that he's not now and never will be one of them. Because, even if these two and Potter himself were so inviting, those two won't be. And they all know it.

Draco draws together, his perfect posture losing its grip as the urge to run hits him impressively hard in the square of his back. Quietly he slides out from the table, nods a polite goodnight, and turns away.

The odd, awkward place isn't here now. And that's fine.

Longbottom manages to groan and curse himself loud enough for Draco to hear as he exits.

Draco, eyes closed as he leans against the wall near the bathroom, can't imagine why.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

xvii

 

 

The nightmares are back, and they are vicious: His father's white face as he hands over his demanded wand. Granger's screams. Potter's distorted, painful face staring up at him in silent plea. His mother calling his name after the Dark Lord's demise. His broken feeling as he doesn't move.

With a gasp akin to one breaking the water drowning them, he bursts awake, heaving up in the cot. Chest full, lungs grabbing for air, face wet, Draco wants to scream.

He's tired of there being so much change around the place, and yet here he is. Stuck.

Stuck dreaming about mistakes.

Stuck seeing his worst fears.

Stuck watching himself try to undo some of it all helplessly.

Images of trying to run with his mother from the Manor in the night flood his mind, and Draco shifts forward, hunched entirely, that proud posture long gone.

Pale face in paler hands, he is devoid of color.

He is only the moonlight.

And he wonders if he'll find the sun.

 

 

 

xviii

 

 

“All right there, Malfoy?”

He's like the damn lightning bolt on his forehead, Draco thinks. All silence until boom.

There's a shuffle as Potter throws off his robes and climbs upon the stone steps next to where Draco has been sitting, staring out at the lake from afar.

He's disconcerted, of course. And Potter, as always, is perfectly aware.

Bugger.

Draco's nose twitches at invisible dust, and he shrugs, a nonchalant spoken, “Potter.”

Like it means nothing. It's always meant everything, hasn't it. Every fucking time over the years.

Potter smiles, blinding, and stretches back onto his elbows, gazing forward to the lake as well. Draco isn't going to ask why he's so happy. He doesn't care. But Potter feels like sharing, it seems, and he says, “They're coming soon. Hermione's almost finished, thank God, and Ron's getting back to being himself. Gonna be weird shopping for supplies after all this. Sitting in class. Turning in loads of parchment.”

The last word, of course, makes Draco's fingers rub the very scrap in his pocket where his hand has been tucked all day of his break. He hates himself for it, but it's almost a grounding talisman at this point. And, no, the irony does not escape him.

Small talk, really, is not his thing. It could be, perhaps, but only with someone like Blaise or Pansy. Someone he doesn't have to do this all the time with. And Saint Potter's been gone long enough to have recharged himself.

“Neville says you've been 'round with him and Luna some.”

Oh, Potter.

“And?” Draco replies, a smirk there with the tone high and so like his old self that it makes even Potter laugh.

Potter shrugs in his handsome corded jumper. “Just thought it was nice, is all.”

“Nice.”

“Yep.”

“You are, and have always been, utterly transparent, Potter.”

Potter doesn't blink. He doesn't even deny. He just smiles.

Draco rolls his eyes. “Stop being so bloody happy.”

“Why?”

“Because it's annoying. Go shine your light somewhere else.”

Potter scoots closer and holds his hand out next to Draco's on the stone, smirking. “Dunno, Malfoy. Looks like you could use a little sun, to me.”

Draco's stomach drops out. He can't do this. Oh, God, he can't.

He's nearly up on his feet when Potter's smile finally vanishes and a brief panic crosses confusion instead. Draco mumbles something entirely incoherent and debates, quickly, which way to run, just needing yet again some fucking fresh air alone, but Potter's grip on his wrist is immediate, tight, and demanding. Always demanding.

“C'mon, now. Pretty sure we've been much more ruthless in the past than that.”

Idiot. It takes everything he has not to smile at first.

Draco glances down at the hand wrapped around his wrist, then further on into the green eyes and glasses staring up at him expectantly. He stands his ground, feet firm on the steps, “Maybe, Potter, things aren't the same.”

“Maybe you aren't.”

The sneer is painful on his mouth. “What would you know?”

“Well, the old Draco Malfoy wouldn't dare sit with Luna and Nev of all people, for starters.”

Draco tenses, grits his teeth, and shakes his head. “So damn proud, aren't you. Raising little Potters and growing your own army, one forced friendship at a time.”

“Don't be an arse,” Potter sighs, rolling his eyes. “And sit down.”

“No.”

Potter quirks a long, dark brow. Fringe blows across it in the breeze. “No?”

Draco's chest is heaving. The ghostly feeling of Potter's fingers on his chest is echoing almost real. And he can't. “No.”

Humored, apparently, Potter tilts his head. “Why not?”

“Because, Potter, you can't always get your way,” Draco mutters and yanks his wrist out of the tight grip, feeling a brief spark of pain for it. “Conversations between other people can happen without you feeling proud of yourself. And for having been a king among charity cases, you sure seem to forgo your anger at that and pass the crown to others, knowing what you do about how it feels.”

Potter's mouth has fallen open. Good.

Of course it's then that Lovegood shows herself, blonde hair curly and messy almost like Granger's, and Draco wants to Vanish himself. She smiles, bobs her head gently, and he nods in return, getting a very annoyed huff out of a certain Gryffindor as she passes on by.

“I cannot believe you're friendlier to Luna Lovegood than you are to me.”

“Why not?”

“Gee, I don't know, maybe all the shit we've been through?”

Draco crosses his arms, jumper almost too warm. Potter's eyes flick to his chest for the fastest of seconds. “We've all been through shit.”

“Not like you and I have. Not like we have together. We're different, Malfoy.”

“What's your point, Potter?”

“Just wondering why I'm never enou—you know what? Never mind.” Potter suddenly stands, taller than him on the higher step, and it's unnerving as hell. Green eyes flick with fire, wild hair sorts itself lovely. “I'm stupid. See you 'round, Malfoy.”

Draco's jaw clenches hard enough he's afraid he's cracked a molar. “You think we should be pals because of what you did? Because of the trial? Because I threw you my wand?”

Potter pauses, one foot up a step, turning sideways. He's incredulous, like Draco's baffling him somehow. “Uh. Yeah. I think...we're past the petty crap. Or we should be. What's it ever done? What's it ever gotten us? Rivalry near death.”

“What is your price?” Draco finally asks, the question no longer swimming in his skull as it has since the trial. “What is Potter's price for his unsolicited help?”

“Pardon?” Potter asks, shocked.

Draco's lip curls, and the old anger flares, and the new burning in his chest quickly dives back to the fire of hate. “I didn't ask for it, Potter. Not everyone merits your bloody rescues.”

Potter sneers back, and strangely enough, Draco's found that he's missed seeing it some. It's almost a comfort. “You think I did it for myself, don't you.”

“Didn't you?”

“You fucking prat. You utter fucking prat.”

Draco takes the insults like a champion and steps closer until they are, quite literally for the first time, levelly eye-to-eye. “Stand in my place, Potter, and tell me what you might see in a single day.”

The challenge roars back at him in Potter's gaze. “Oh, believe me, I've thought about it.”

Nostrils flare on both sides. Jaws lock harshly.

“It never once crossed your mind that I wanted to do it for you, did it.”

“Not really, no. There's no actual motive for that, Potter.” And Slytherins know motive.

Potter almost laughs in his exasperation and gets even closer, making Draco's spine snap ramrod straight. “Blimey, Malfoy. You threw me your wand. You trusted me. You gave me a weapon to fight. You don't think that mattered to me? You don't think hearing you talk to Dumbledore didn't matter? You don't think every attempt you've held up in the past year to cover your own fear of Voldemort hasn't mattered? You arsehole. Of course it did. Even when I wanted to punch you, it mattered.”

Draco doesn't blink. Grey and green have never been so locked, so intense before.

“You know, I don't quite think that's even the problem with you,” Potter suddenly says, face lighting in a dangerous way. “I think you don't believe that I want it to matter. Or that I'd ever genuinely not be the hero people make me out to be. 'Cause I'm not, you know. I'm really, really not.”

“Oh, please. Spare me.”

“Take your own advice, Malfoy. Walk a day in my shoes. Look through expectations of me. Then maybe we'll talk and exchange what we both saw.”

Draco huffs, nose wrinkling in bad habit. “Fine.”

“Fine.”

Jaw tense, the feeling in his chest settling back to warm, Draco calls out as Potter turns away one last time. “Potter.”

And Potter glances back, face mid-smirk, and grunts his surname as he should.

 

Chapter Text

 

xix

 

 

Invigorated by the exchange, Draco walks the lake a bit and goes to the bathroom, needing to think. His body is humming with the old energetic response to riling up Potter, but he's still not entirely happy with himself for saying quite so much of his deeper thoughts.

It's not like he hasn't thought about what Harry Potter must go through. In fact, it is a topic quite often visited.

It's more that he wonders if Potter can also see himself fall into those expectations he mentioned, see how wound for the hunt he gets with his hunches and prowling Gryffindor sense of right and wrong. He wonders if Potter, while certainly tired of always being called upon for everyone, needs it, just a little bit.

And if he doesn't, if he's past it, then excellent. But Draco doesn't quite suspect his rival is there yet. He doesn't believe Potter is free; how can he be when he burdens himself if the others aren't doing it to him?

Still, Draco sleeps on the thoughts after a silent lone dinner. His dreams briefly involve him passing through the Great Hall with his plate, but in them he doesn't pass Potter, Lovegood and Longbottom's table without that tanned hand snatching his wrist and those green eyes warming with the challenge. In his dreams he wraps his fingers back.

Exhausted, he wakes and showers like usual. Stares into the mirror a little more relieved as his appearance, though indeed paler still than he used to be, seems to be reviving itself or going back a year or two. But he notices how his grey eyes look older, perpetually tired and wary, and, fantastically enough, nothing like Lucius Malfoy's. There is an unnamed substance in them that keeps it separate.

He combs the wet hair back like always, but it dries fluffy from the humidity and bends back down his brow. He slides on clothes from his trunk that has appeared with a note from his mother, and he is thankful to feel more himself just with the cashmere against him.

Any day McGonagall will call for supplying. And he is not looking forward to it.

After eating a solitary breakfast in a lone corridor, he goes to Severus's old Potions rooms. He sits down at one of the tables on a stool and closes his eyes, almost able to believe that he can, for a moment, just step out of this and back into time. Back before everything went so, so wrong. He can see himself staring at a young Potter who, at that point, hadn't quite mastered his magnificent eye intensity, and he can feel the nagging in his younger self.

Look at him.

What's so special about a scar?

He's not really good at Potions, anyway. Unlike me.

Granger can't not answer a bloody question.

And the time skips forward, and he sees himself in Transfiguration. He's heckling Potter with charmed badges, charmed paper birds, and anything he can do to get Potter to step down from the pedestal. To, for once, not be so bloody Gryffindor to the point he makes Godric look like a Hufflepuff. Draco, behind the pranks, behind the need to poke Potter, has always wondered at that grimness upon Potter's face. Better to see it glaring intensely, doing strange things to his insides.

And he thinks, again:

Is he still so special?

But his eyes are quite green.

And the smirk, when it comes, is delicious.

...I want him to look at me. Just once. Look at me without that expression, and maybe, just once, I won't try forcing it off your face, Potter.

Draco jerks aware, hands tight to the potions workbench in front of him, breath coming fast. Had he really thought such things? Had it really not just been...this...urge to infuriate to see the raging hero crack? Had the set look always bothered him so much? And why did it?

Had he been so jealous at one point that a stupid hippogriff's preference was a slap to the face?

Or had it not been only simple jealousy, simple look at me, I am as good as you, Potter all those years?

Draco had, of course, felt that attraction mixed in...how could he not with bodily slams, visceral threats, heated eyes always slung between them, no remote interest in Pansy or another girl when he had that waiting for him? But....

Had some subconscious part of him been, in its way, trying to get that vivacious, determined ox to stop putting his head down and bursting through all of the things these adults seemed to keep setting him in? He's not entirely sure. Probably not. More likely he wanted to see the kind eyes he showed his friends aimed at him for once or, even, the looks he'd seen between Potter and the Weasel's sister not long back.

And fuck him for that. Like he needs it. Like he wants such ridiculous things despite touchy tanned fingers on chests and wrists.

With a sigh as he leaves the room and thoughts of missing Severus, too, Draco realizes that maybe Potter, since the war, hasn't looked entirely as grim as the last few years.

Thank Merlin. Maybe there's hope for him, too.

 

 

xx

 

 

After helping Flitwick rework his entire classroom, Draco slumps back, tiredly, to the bathroom and washes his hands, debating a fast stolen bath from the Prefects' bathroom as well. But the parchment waiting on his cot, folded a little haphazardly, is too riveting.

It looks of the same make as the one in his pocket, and when his shaking hand reaches for it, it feels the same, too. Draco blows out his breath, unnerved by how easily Potter does this to him, and snatches the paper with venom, with the need to rip a bandage off as fast as possible.

Hermione's often said I do without thinking, even if it turns out in the end. Since she's rarely wrong, she probably isn't about that, it begins with that green, scrawled angled font. Draco's heart pounds while he reads the last part aloud, the more embedded bit as if Potter's own determination nearly ripped through the paper with his quill, Meet me on the same steps. I'm ready to exchange when you are. Harry.

The note goes into his pocket with its predecessor, posthaste.

And it's funny, Draco thinks as he forgoes that idea of a bath and hops straight into the Slytherin dorms for the fastest shower of his life. It's funny how he never signs it Potter.

The thought dodges about him, and he moves quickly to his destination in a striking emerald jumper and dark trousers, wet hair ruffling along his forehead with the slowly cooling air. When he steps down the open corridor that looks toward the lake, he almost thinks for a single moment that Potter isn't there. He doesn't see him right away. Perhaps it's because he's expecting an equally, usually ruffled and wild looking Potter that's never tamed, and instead there sits a young man in a surprisingly nice outfit of wine colored jumper and tasteful muggle jeans, hair still tousled but more like the type that results from a fantastic shag. The glasses are off, the eyes are closed, and Potter's reclined against the steps, letting the sun hit his face through the clouds as they go by.

Is it possible to die of choking on one's own pulse? What a humiliating way to go.

“Potter,” he finally says, disturbing the mental painting he's long since emulated and saved into some part of his brain for dreaming.

Potter jerks aware, glances about, then flips on his glasses with a silly chuckle. “Oh! There you are, Malfoy. Got my note.”

Draco stares at him, suspicion clear, as he steps down and forces himself to sit almost two feet away to the left. He prefers the left. He's not sure why.

“I got to thinking.”

“Dangerous, that.”

Potter snorts, rolls his eyes, then snickers. “Fair. I walked into that one. But I got to thinking, you know. I did just...sort of barge into your trial and take over. I didn't quite mean to do it that way, and I'm rather surprised they let me.”

“Potter, you just slayed the Dark Lord. Give it a few months, and they'll throw you on the back burner again, telling you that you're too bloody young to have opinions on things that matter,” Draco advises with a shrug. “The memory of your fight is too close for now.”

“Has its benefits.”

“Mm.”

There's a forceful exhale to his right. “So...I guess I didn't ask if you wanted my help or not, but I felt I had to at least give a testimony anyway.”

“That Potter sense of honor at work, I see.”

“What do you think might have happened if I hadn't gone, Malfoy?”

Draco folds his hands together, elbows on his knees, perched beautifully. “I don't know. I've thought about it. I figured Azkaban, despite my age. Most aren't as logical as you, and Merlin, that's a terrifying thought, given how illogical you are.”

He waits for a barb in return. He gets a heavenly smile and curses inside as it fades away.

“I couldn't let that happen. I couldn't let them send you to that place,” Potter whispers, voice and face suddenly vacant the way only being near Dementors can make one look. “No matter changes to it, I couldn't. It's why I was so bloody angry when I found out they'd told me an off-time for your trial, and I'd missed going with you and McGonagall in the first place. Madam Pomfrey about had a stroke when I ran out as far as I could and Disapparated. She's quite upset about the wards getting finished.”

Ah. Draco had wondered why Potter had shown to such a formal hearing in only muggle clothes and a raging scowl. Lovely combination, though, really.

“My point is...you're right. I was so caught up trying to do the right thing by you that I didn't wonder if maybe you'd rather I didn't.”

Draco's eyes as grey as the clouds above close, and a small smile threatens his face. Finally. Fucking finally.

“But I'm still glad I did. If I could go back, I'd just ask this time.” Potter eyes him in a blatant sideways look. “Question is...would you have wanted me to, then?”

“...no.”

“Why not?” Potter asks, and it sounds like he's been whipped by that blasted tree out there on the grounds.

Draco leans forward, sliding his arms down around his legs now, chin on his knees. “I told you, Potter. Not everyone merits your rescues. Nor do they always want them.”

Potter huffs, crosses his arms. “What do you feel you deserve then? Nothing? No one's help? No one to care what happens to you?”

The horrible rushing sound of his own blood in his ears overtakes him as he stares out across the grounds, voice dull. “Maybe.”

It's more than he's ever wanted to admit to anyone, and old habits make his legs immediately tense for striding away, mouth prepping some sort of retort that he needs nothing, no one, no matter what he does or doesn't deserve at this point.

But his traitorous emotions continue, without his consent, admitting aloud to the one person he doesn't want to hear, “Maybe it is all my fault. Maybe I should be in Azkaban. Maybe I should get the looks, the hate. Maybe Lovegood really is Loony being nice to me.”

“What would that make me, then, sitting with you, listening and trying?”

“It makes you Potter. Nothing more, nothing less. It's who you are and what you do.”

Potter sighs. “Good to know you didn't do your part in the thinking at all.”

“Shut up. I did. Of course I did.” Draco feels some warmth in his chest, remembering his thoughts in that old Potions room. “Came away with more than I was prepared for.”

“Oh?”

It's so soft and so misleading. So casual, as if not really curious, but it is absolutely pleading, that sound. Draco turns, then, and faces Potter for the first time in a couple of days. He's tired up close, some shadows matching Draco's under his vivid eyes. But his mouth is firmly set, and Draco knows it's a lost cause.

“It was me, wasn't it,” Draco whispers. He's staring at it, after all.

Potter frowns. “What was?”

“Your...the....”

When Draco doesn't speak, can't with the thought that maybe that bloody grim expression was there because of him, Potter gives a hopeless little smile. “All right there, Malfoy?”

Oh, the bastard. Clever.

Draco pulls himself into a more composed position. “Fine, Potter.”

“Why did you hate me?” Potter quietly asks, and the entire world shatters.

Draco shatters.

His skin is no longer a boundary, his bones are no longer solid, his blood is everywhere. His heart screams, stuck in his throat.

Merlin preserve him.

Draco blinks away wetness. Weakness. “I did and didn't.”

“Why?” A demand, sure, but not really. A pleading one again.

“You didn't...maybe you did,” Draco grumbles. Maybe Potter did see him, just the distorted confusing, angry version of himself Potter always managed to bring out somehow. Maybe that was the source of the grimness.

“Did what? C'mon, Draco.”

The breath catches audibly. Slowly he stares over at Potter, the shock visible. Potter's voice over his given name is both a curse and a balm, and it slides over him like water blessed by a unicorn's horn. It's healing, it's burning, it's nothing he ever imagined it would be.

“Saw...me,” Draco finishes, so softly that Potter leans closer to hear it.

Potter's frown is back, but it's not angry at all. “I did see you.”

When Draco says nothing, infuriated by the literal interpretation, Potter adds, “I did, Draco. Looking back, I saw someone who drove me mad, sure, but the competition pushed you as well. I saw you become a fantastic flyer. I saw you pull off perfect potions. I saw you trying all the time, and I wondered why you hated me for it.”

Merlin's arsehole.

Potter could see.

Draco shifts as if his leg's gone numb, but truly his nerves are singing with excitement. With fear. With the rush. “Not all of us could get by on being Harry Fucking Potter.”

“You think I wanted to?”

“No,” Draco admits, considering his own reflections. “Honestly...I don't anymore.”

“Good. 'Cause I didn't. I hated it. I was never judged by anything but it, as if I was so ignorant because of what was done to me that everyone had to baby me or treat me like some child. Then they'd ask me to do things they couldn't do themselves.”

Draco sneers in absolute agreement. “Fucking vipers. Of course they did.”

Potter looks to him in pleasant surprise, then smiles. “Yeah. Vipers, the lot.”

“Potter, you've met my family. Do you think I ever had a chance to be like you, or the Weasel or Granger, even? Do you think I ever could have just...been?” Draco asks, eyes back on the grounds watching the grass and plants sway.

“I don't know, Draco. I think if you want to do anything, you can. You've drive enough. But I see your point. I get it,” Potter murmurs.

Draco flushes again at his name. Bloody Gryffindor. “It felt like no matter what you did wrong, you were always rewarded or saved by Dumbledore. It was aggravating. Meanwhile, anything I did went severely punished if not by Dumbledore, by the entire Gryffindor house. I could only do wrong, Potter. And when you've gone long enough being told expectations of you by family only to have differing ones in actuality, eventually you give into the real ones pressuring you daily.”

Potter smiles a little after some silence. “So...you didn't hate me.”

“I loathed you, you bastard.”

“Loathed with respect, perhaps.”

“Don't be cheeky.” The laugh is startled out of Potter, and it is beautiful. Draco smiles, unable to help it. Draco snickers. “You rejected me first, remember.”

And there it is. Fucking hell. Potter's eyes widen dramatically, and Draco knows it's all over.

He goes to shove to his feet again, loud curses rolling about his skull, but Potter's fingers grab for his jumper at his side and in turn take hold of his warm body through the clothes. Draco wracks with a tight shiver, his eyes staring wildly down at the hand daring to claim him so openly, and then up the arm to face of the young man searching him with such intensity, such understanding, such openness.

Draco sits again, not breaking the eye contact. And Potter doesn't let go.

“Ron had been the one kind, real person to me on the train. He was my first friend, Malfoy. My first in my entire life, for that. What you said then...childish or not, easily forgivable with time or not, I had to defend what I'd just gotten. I'd known a life of isolation and hatred, and Ron had been afraid of me not wanting to know him just because of who I was. People frightened me with over-familiarity, and he had backed off instead. Ron never tried to be anything but himself.”

Draco trembles, and Potter grips the jumper tighter, his side more in his grasp.

“We were both foolish children trying to impress other people, it seems,” Draco finally mumbles, utterly frightened of the moment.

Potter's mouth parts. The lower lip is soft, wet. Eye catching.

“You wanted...to impress me. All this time. It was hate, because it didn't...you didn't think it....”

Draco closes his eyes against his doom.

The laugh is so sudden that he jumps, jerks away, and Potter pinches his waist as a result when he instinctively clings on.

“Sorry,” Potter murmurs, letting go against strange disappointment in Draco. But then he scoots closer, much closer, until they're barely apart, both looking forward.

“I really didn't know you, did I? I always thought I did. I always thought, 'Malfoy has to be up to something. He always is.'”

Draco shrugs, his shoulder rubbing Potter's with a tingle. “Don't feel guilty over it, Potter. I barely knew myself. It wasn't until the Manor that I really saw how I just...you never refused my father, not in my family, and I guess seeing him hand his wand right over with that pathetic look made me certain that I didn't want to be him anymore.”

“You never were, not really,” Potter amends, rubbing his shoulder to Draco's intentionally and leaving it there. “You were always just Draco. A posh prat, but one with a streak of humor and cleverness, I have to admit.”

Draco winces and looks away.

“But without the influence of Lucius Malfoy...you really are Draco. And you're a lot more introverted than I ever expected.”

“That so?” Draco asks, curious, and leans into the shoulder press more with the dare bubbling into his chest.

Potter smirks and lowers his brow a little until they almost touch there. “Yep.”

Draco blinks.

He can give up now and see where this takes him.

Or he can put the final spell into the wall that protects him.

When Potter's left hand casually presses alongside his right one, Draco's decision is made. He pushes back, just a little, until his smallest finger is slightly bumping over Potter's own. Both of them are breathing heavily and pretending not to hear it. Draco lightly sucks his lower lip as Potter stares at the action, as if spelled.

And then, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, their hands slide together firmly, streaked with nervous sweat, and clasp. Rougher fingers fold through his slender ones.

“You can just be Draco, you know,” Potter says, as if he's not entirely changed the world just now.

Draco bites his lip. “Not if it brings that look on your face forever. I'd rather never speak again with you.”

“What look?” Potter asks, squeezing his fingers.

Draco tries to breathe. “The grim one. The one you always wore. The one I hated on you. The one I tried to get rid of, even if I had to infuriate the shit out of you to do it. The one that made me feel even less seen. You were a fucking child, Potter, but you looked like a bloody adult.”

When Potter stares in soft wonder, Draco sighs. “I never said I wasn't complex, Potter.”

The smile is there, and so is the delighted little cough behind them.

Hands pull apart as if burned. Draco slides, inching by casually stretching to look the other way, hiding his red face from Luna Lovegood behind them as Potter, flush and all, just looks up.

“Hey, Luna.”

“Hi, Harry. Draco. Thought you might be hungry. Good talks usually make me so.”

Draco flinches as a plate is magically lowered onto his lap. His hands cradle it carefully, and he notes as Potter does the same beside him.

“Thanks, Luna. Kind of you.”

Draco nods, daring to glance to her and sees the warmth there. The approval and inclusion. “Lovegood,” he murmurs his thanks silently after.

Luna merely bows her head and flaunts off in her curious way, leaving two entirely uncertain people sitting together staring at their sandwiches.

Potter laughs eventually. “Well,” he says, shoulders bouncing with the sound.

Draco shakes his head, rolling his eyes in an amused way as he lifts his sandwich and goes for it. “Do shut up, Harry. I'm trying to eat.”

He laughs, loudly, when Potter drops half his sandwich in shock and it rolls down the stairs, falling apart all the way down. How fitting, Draco thinks. How utterly fair.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

xxi

 

 

As if just realizing it's pulling toward the end of summer and past the spring, Draco's body has an odd little extra step in it when he walks. He tells himself it's not from that talk, and it's not from that hand in his, and it's definitely not from their walk to deposit the dishes afterwards, both of them talking, strangely enough, of the bravery of Neville Longbottom.

It's not from the new calm in his duties. It's not from the new calm in his solitude. It's not from the new calm even in the bathroom he knows he'll have to vacate soon for Slytherin dorms.

It's just there, and that's good enough for now.

He digs a little harder at a spot of spill on one of the potions racks in Severus's old classroom, volunteering to clean and prepare it for the term. In the past hours he's dusted with the help of spells, washed tables, set different tools for cleaning, and has started work on all of the shelves. He hasn't dared to go near the private rooms of the man he called godfather and personal hero. He hasn't even attempted a break-in of the potions storage with its fierce wards all humming of Severus's power still.

He's just cleaned. Happily, too. And it's the first time he's really “cleaned” so domestically in his life. A Celestina Warbeck tune gets stuck in his ahead, much to his horror, and he hears himself humming it as he wipes the shelves and bottles he resets, almost growling out the lyrics in annoyance.

The creaking of the heavy door behind him is alerting, and Draco pauses briefly. He knows that it's not Luna; she's volunteered to help straighten the Ravenclaw tower today. It's not Longbottom either. Draco's pretty certain he saw him near Professor Sprout earlier, babbling about herbs and plant stocks. And that leaves one person who would seek him out in the bloody dungeons for anything at all outside of McGonagall herself.

“All right there, Malfoy?” he asks, sounding oddly chipper.

Draco sighs and looks to the ceiling as if it has answers. “Sure, Potter. Cleaning.”

“I see. Been a while since I've been in here.”

“Indeed.”

“Still feels like him, doesn't it.”

Draco wipes another bottle, nodding. “It'll always be his rooms.”

Potter leans against the wall nearby, arms crossed casually, glancing around with light reflecting from his glasses. “Yeah. I think you're right.”

“There a reason you've come to chat me up, or do you make a general habit of interrupting busy people?” Draco mutters, bending to pick up a small bottle that had fallen and thankfully not cracked earlier.

There's the sound of Potter shifting his robes, and then, “Thought you'd might like to go for a fly, actually.”

Draco's poor head smashes under one of the fuller shelf levels with a resounding thump, and even Potter hisses in sympathy. He rubs at it, glaring at Potter as he carefully adjusts the now shaky bottles and replaces the one he'd bent for in the first place.

“Are you mad?” he finally asks, eye on the window. “It's a bloody nightmare out there.”

“It's just some rain.”

“Just some rain, he says. He's only got lightning burned into his forehead, so why would he fear it on a broom?” Draco finds himself teasing, sweeping his arm to the empty classroom as if waiting for a student's response.

Potter laughs. “Seriously, it's not raining that hard near the field. A fly in the rain can be very refreshing.”

“So go fly, Potter. Fly your Gryffindor heart out.”

“How long's it been since you've been on a broom, Malfoy?”

Draco blows out his breath, dusting his arms off. “A...while.”

“So c'mon, then.”

“Potter, unlike you, some of us really do have self-preservation.”

Potter smirks. “I'm not that bad.”

“Oh, Harry, you're worse,” Draco sighs dramatically and glances around at his work, waving his wand to end some continued cleaning charms. For an old dungeon room, it's probably as good as it'll ever get.

“Just come fly with me, Draco.”

“Give me a real reason.”

Something almost like lightning flashes through his green eyes as he tilts his face, pinning Draco to the table with his gaze. “I like watching you fly.”

Draco arches a darker silvery brow. “Oh bugger off, Potter.”

“I'm serious.”

“I don't even have a broom here. Mine's gone.”

“Use a practice broom.”

“Those fly like shit.”

Potter shrugs, looking contemplative. “Have to get you a new one when you go for supplies, then, but a training broom can handle for one fly.”

Draco stares him down. “In this weather?”

“Can always share mine,” Potter ventures with a horrific smirk.

“You are an arsehole,” Draco grounds out as he waves off the candlelight and grabs his robes. Potter follows him out of the room and down the hall. “A totally disturbed, hexed and vexed arsehole.”

Potter says nothing, but smiles the entire way as they head out. Draco stands under the rain for a moment before throwing out Umbrella charms over the both of them. If he is going to get talked into this, he'll get wet enough in the end anyway. They hustle across the grounds in robes that thankfully do not trip and enter the storage and team rooms under the arena stands as thunder cracks above them.

“Potter,” Draco warns, eyes roaming for any shaking of the roof and walls.

“S'nothing, Draco. Grab a broom.”

“Sodding nutter,” Draco grumbles, but does so, snatching someone's left behind older Nimbus model. They shrug off their outer robes and debate some of the quidditch gear, but neither end up reaching for it. Potter's in his comfortable muggle clothes, and Draco winces as he looks out from the exit, knowing his poor trousers and jumper are going to need mended by house elves after this.

Potter grins at him then runs out like a lunatic, hopping on his broom and taking off instantly into the grey sky and its mist of rain. Draco shakes his head, mumbles some curses, and swings his leg over the Nimbus before taking in that familiar feeling of weightlessness that changes his center of gravity when he, too, shoots into the sky.

The charm holds about half strength, letting some of the rain touch over his face and shoulders, but he doesn't care now. Potter's looping about at ridiculous speeds. Draco takes a breath and decides to ignore his once enemy and now something else, perhaps friend, and ventures to fly on his own; he'd close his eyes if he could, just rest across the broom and let it take him, but as that's dangerous as hell, he compromises with a half-leaned form and finds some center of peace in the fast, but smooth arcs he takes. Up into the clouds, then down gracefully in a large bowl like shape, coming back out again and tilting to the left over the stands, remembering with fondness watching quidditch matches in his first year.

Potter flies past him on another up swing, shouting happily like a madman and drenched from either removing his Umbrella charm or it wearing off. Draco laughs at him, unable to hold it back. It's just beyond entertaining to see him flying like a loon, happy, and he looks quite sexy at it, too. Something so simple, he thinks, does so much, and he immediately adjusts to tap his pocket and be sure both parchments are secure in his trousers and dry. Satisfied, he finds himself floating somewhere in the middle of the field, face tilted back to the rain now touching him well enough, hands out for a moment before resuming their grasp on the broom.

Mouth slightly open, he drinks in some of the rain water, then tilts his jaw back down, rain starting to run from his wet mop of hair into his eyes and soaking his lashes. And right across from him, hovering as well, is Potter. Staring.

Draco stares back, keeping the flush down with his grip on the broom.

Slowly Potter smiles and shouts over the rain and wind, “I told you. You needed a fly, Malfoy!”

“Yes, yes, it's refreshing,” he calls back, rolling his eyes and smirking.

Lightning crackles across the sky suddenly, and both sets of eyes widen, searching the other before simultaneously taking off for the team rooms. Potter flies much faster on his newer broom, and Draco tries to keep up, jerking harshly as the thunder snaps and a bolt shoots not far away, momentarily blinding him. The balance is offset, and he spins out for a second, shouting hoarsely as he tries to regain control of the broom in the now very heavy wind.

Potter is screaming his name from somewhere, but Draco is spinning so sickly that he can't even tell what direction.

Draco manages to regain control right before he's going to smash face first into the ground. He rolls once more, this time on purpose, and pulls the broom to a stop, legs catching the ground too close and flinging him over as lightning strikes past the goals.

He barely gets a moment to try to breathe against the wind and the pain in his chest from the tumble before Potter is upon him, dragging him up and hoisting him to his feet with an arm under his shoulder, broom in one hand. They weave as quickly as possible back into the team room they'd used, and Potter throws the broom one direction while managing to sit Draco's hyperventilating form down against a locker.

“Breathe, Malfoy, breathe!” Potter's saying loudly into his face, but Draco can barely hear him over the continual huge thunder rolls and pain in his chest.

Firm palms surround his face, molding to his cheeks, and green eyes become the only source of focus before him. Potter's on fire with worry, blinking rapidly and then not at all, and just keeps talking as Draco gasps. His eyes follow the words formed by the lips before him:

“Come on, come on, breathe! Breathe with me. Slowly out, slowly in.”

“Breathe, Malfoy.”

“It's all right.”

“You're all right.”

And as Draco finally shudders, ready to shut down when his breaths come slow enough, Potter leans in and smiles, soaked and relieved. “That's it. You're doing great, Draco.”

A thumb absently strokes the end of his brow, and Draco's eyes flutter, lungs slowly filling and deflating in a much more comfortable way and pace.

“I'm sorry,” Potter finally murmurs as Draco blinks again. “You were right. I shouldn't have pushed you out here.”

Draco manages a laugh, even if it does sound like he's downed an entire bottle of Firewhiskey alone. “I'll be fine, Potter. Despite you trying to kill me getting back down, it was worth it.”

“I didn't think about the wind and that old broom, I'm sorry,” Potter grumbles, face tilted. But he smiles, just a little one. A wet little smile with rain on his face. “Worth it, huh.”

“Yes, you idiot.”

The grin is almost painful. “Good. Good.”

And then Potter lets go of his face and plops down beside him without any grace at all. Draco coughs out another laugh, then jolts a little as the building does vibrate with the storm outside. Potter touches his shoulder, reassuring, and Draco leans into it, wild-eyed as he glances outside at the thick rain upon them now.

“Should pass quickly. Seems to be the heart of it. Then we'll get back inside.”

Draco nods tiredly.

“You sure you're all right?”

“Tired, Potter. Probably going to catch cold after this, and it'll be your fault. Selfish Gryffindor, you are.”

“I'll bring you loads of tea,” Potter promises with a chuckle. “And some Pepper-Up.”

Draco sighs and slumps, exhausted as the last moments really catch up to him. He says nothing when the firm, wet hand takes his; just interlaces their fingers and holds tight through another nasty crack outside. It's not that Draco hates rain or storms. It's just that the nastiness reminds him of the Manor and the Mark and the war, and trying to outrun it is like trying to out run the Dark Lord, and it's all too much right now.

“Rest a minute,” Potter murmurs.

Draco's eyes flit for a second about the empty room, then to his mostly wet clothes, then to the hands between their thighs with Potter sitting on his right.

He knows he's tired, and he knows what he wants to do, but there's one question he has to have answered before he does.

“Tell me I won't be hexed by Weasley's sister.”

“What for?” Potter asks, sounding perplexed.

Draco closes his eyes, energy zapped, and relaxes his cheek to Harry's shoulder. Potter freezes a moment, then adjusts, sitting closer and more slouched to accommodate Draco's heavy head.

Fingers squeeze his as his mind drifts off, safe. Warm. Beautiful.

“No,” Harry murmurs softly against his hair. “You won't.”

 

 

xxii

 

 

It takes a large vial of Pepper-Up, at least five teas, loads of toast, and tons of gripe in two days before Draco's cold is gone. Potter had, after the storm significantly passed, roused him gently and handed him his robe, then walked him all the way to Pomfrey herself, sheepishly explaining why Draco looked like hell warmed over and couldn't she forgive Potter for being a total idiot and help him.

Draco didn't want to sleep in the Hospital Wing. He wanted to go back to his cot, damn it. But no one argued with Poppy Pomfrey and won, and so he took half the Pepper-Up, drank tea Potter brought that was surprisingly decent, and passed out while listening to Potter getting lectured. His own, he was certain, would come when he was well enough.

Draco winces through it as it does, telling her that yes, from now on he'll be more responsible about flying, and doesn't she remember quidditch played before in storms during terms here, and oh, right, of course she wasn't approving of that fact. He shuffles out of the Hospital Wing, nary a sniffle, but with a glass of pumpkin juice and a quiet thank you.

He nearly passes Potter racing up the stairs to enter, and Potter stops so suddenly he almost goes backwards down the stairs. Draco's hand shoots out and steadies him with a firm grab of robes under his neck, and he waits until Potter's little smirk is there enough to let go.

“That'll make her very happy, Potter. Breaking your bloody neck on your way in.”

“Yeah. No kidding.”

Draco snorts and waves him off, turning to sip his juice as he keeps going downstairs. Potter revolves and falls in-step next to him. “What are you doing?” Draco asks, voice sharp.

“Well, I'd come to see if you were feeling right, but since you're here and not there, I'll just follow you back down.”

“Why would you come check? Merlin, Potter, it's just a cold. Not even a busted rib.”

Potter shrugs, seeming strangely anxious. “You didn't look well at all. Slept fitfully. Just wanted to be sure I hadn't caused serious damage.”

Draco's head comes up. He grips the cup harder. “I see.”

“Huh?”

“You can go now.”

“What? Why?”

Draco walks faster, takes longer strides so that Potter nearly jogs keeping up with him.

“Draco, what the hell is your problem?”

He stops so suddenly that Potter's face bashes off of his back, and he can hear the little curse as the git adjusts his glasses. Draco almost growls. “I don't need you checking on me. I don't want you doing 'your thing' around me.”

“What thing?” Potter asks behind him, confused.

Draco whirls, robes flying, juice not spilling in a classy move. “This, Potter.”

Potter's frowning, upset. “I don't understand.”

“You don't have to.”

“Don't be a prat, Draco. Just explain it to me.”

Draco moves in close, sneer taunting. “It's about you. Everything is about you.”

“What?” Potter asks, astounded.

“You check on me to satisfy yourself. Your own curiosity, your own guilt. You follow me when I ask you not to because you think if you have good intention that that overrules my apparent autonomy,” Draco snaps harshly, sounding darker than he has in weeks. “You don't think, Potter.”

Potter glares, and like it used to be, it's bitterly delicious to see. “I'm just trying—”

“—to do the right thing. Of course.”

Potter steps closer, causing Draco to shift the cup in his hand to the side from its previous spot against his chest. “Yes. No. I thought we were becoming friends, you berk. I wanted to check on my mate and make sure he was all right, and yeah, make sure my own foolishness didn't bust a rib or anything.”

“You....” Draco's mouth opens. Nothing more comes out.

Friends? Really? Mates?

Huh.

“Are you even listening to me?” Potter asks, frustrated, the words breaking through the roar in Draco's ears.

Draco blinks. “I am now.”

“If you want me to bugger off, fine. But don't think I believe for a second it's about me.” Potter looks sad briefly. “Surely your friends would have done the same as me, right?”

Blaise would have laughed his head off and told him a cold was his just rights. Pansy would have sighed, rolled her eyes, and got him a tea someone else made with a pat on his head. He's not quite sure what Greg would have done, or even Vincent if he were alive; perhaps Greg would have made him a tea and ate the bits of crust from his toast that he hates while Vince would just mouth about Potter. But none of them probably would have dared Pomfrey or other students to see him over a cold.

So what if his friends weren't like Potter or Potter's crowd? They were still his friends. It was just...different. They all came from Pureblood families. They knew the rules, the expectations, the hollowness in bonds. It was just different. So what if affection is shown without hugs but banter? So what if it wasn't like the Weasleys?

“You have nerve with that pity in your eyes, Potter,” Draco practically spits.

Potter, amusingly, takes a deep breath, as if to steady himself before calmly reopening his eyes. “All right, Malfoy.”

“I have friends, Potter. And even if they aren't like you and yours, they are mine. They're no less than yours.”

“Never meant that, Malfoy.”

Draco huffs, shifts his weight.

Potter glances around, hand on his neck.

Oh, hell. Draco gives a theatrical sigh and downs the rest of his juice so he won't spill it. “You didn't have to check on me. It was...kind of you to do so, no matter the reasons, I suppose.”

“Yeah,” Potter says, but the light is back in his eyes like Christmas in Hogwarts.

“Do you really want to be friends with me, Potter? I mean, really,” Draco asks, waving a hand about himself. “How could that ever work out well for either of us?”

Potter cracks his neck and eyes him in that knowing way Luna Lovegood does, and it's all Draco can do not to groan aloud. He knows that look. Fucking crap, he knows it.

“You think it's worth a shot. You think we'll be jolly good mates. You think we're fantastic,” he guesses.

Potter just smiles.

Draco rolls his eyes halfway. “Ugh. Fine. If you'll shut up, run off, and let me be.”

“Friends spend time together, you know,” Potter teases, but nods readily.

“Potter, you've been stuck on me for days now. I think you've got that covered and then some. Don't think it's necessary, required, or needed,” Draco throws out, uncomfortable. The territory is murky, the water shifting, and he can't tell if that's a sea monster of emotion beneath him now or just a calm fish of newness swimming by.

Potter shrugs in that way that Draco used to stare at often. “I'll shove off whenever you want. I mean, we'll both be pretty busy soon getting prepared and all, but...don't hate me for wanting to spend time with you. Getting to know you better.”

“Just don't try to make me fit into a mold, Harry. It won't work.”

“Wouldn't dream of it.”

Draco snorts in disbelief, Potter laughs, and a hand claps his shoulder as the Savior walks past.

 

 

xxiii

 

 

The second parchment becomes as crinkled as the first from being opened and folded so much. The smell of it fades a bit as well, but the green ink stays shining, the determined lettering making even more sense to him after the confrontation outside the Hospital Wing.

Draco stands again before the mirror seeing nothing but confusion.

Hadn't this been what he'd always wanted? Potter, a friend?

The breath fogs the glass as his brow touches it, and Draco tries to think.

Would he, inadvertently, have made Potter into a Blaise or Pansy with his childish takes after his father's Pureblood mannerisms, had that happened? Would it have been real friendship the way this could be? And what does that even mean?

Looks like you could use a little sun, to me.

That tanner hand always touching him.

The green eyes always watching.

The universe, Draco believes, is a cheeky bastard of an old wizard clapping his hands and sitting under a big droopy hat, casting and miscasting spells as he aides and destroys life.

And the ridiculous thing is, he could use a little sun in a lot of ways.

Something has to fight the shadows around him, always threatening.

Something has to keep the fears at bay.

Something has to give him drive to keep going.

If he were the moon, and Potter the sun, it would be sensible for them to never quite meet except upon an eclipse. Magic at such times is wild, empowered, unpredictable, Draco knows from studies. And it's also limited.

Because eclipses barely last a moment in life.

So how can this?

 

Chapter Text

 

 

xxiv

 

 

“While thinking is wonderful, too much can actually be bad for you,” Lovegood chimes as Draco grudgingly sits down to breakfast.

He shoots her his tiniest, most insincere and tired-as-hell-before-tea glare. Ravenclaws have no business being Legilimens, he thinks. Not at all. Luna Lovegood doesn't even blink at his glower.

Longbottom munches on bacon, nodding his agreement. “Take me for example. I worry about failing so much that I fail because of it.”

Point to Longbottom.

Draco sighs loudly and brushes some jam onto his toast. “After what you did, I don't think you've need for such worries again.”

“What...? Oh. You mean.... Yeah,” Longbottom chuckles, blushing a little. “Stupid snake. I still worry, though. I feel stronger now, more confident, but I don't know. Sometimes...sometimes the nervousness is just there, you know? Like you know something will be fine, but you can't stop worrying anyway?”

“I understand,” Draco murmurs after he swallows.

Longbottom's smile is welcome. Inclusive. It's disturbing, this uncomfortable warmth in his chest. “Yeah. I think we all do it to some degree.”

“Do what?” Potter suddenly asks as he drops down beside Draco, reaching for the jam jar. Instantly the atmosphere changes both at the table and around the room. Eyes that had stopped glancing over are now fully staring, and Draco feels them all over his body like insects.

“Worry and mess up 'cause of it,” Longbottom offers as he finishes his bacon.

Potter grunts and picks up his juice. “That we do then,” he agrees, flicking his eyes to Draco at his side. “Even you, Malfoy.”

“Never said I didn't,” Draco shoots back, annoyed. It's not his fault Potter's late to the conversation.

“When are you going for supplies?” Potter asks, fork in a scotch egg.

Draco groans and puts his face in his hand, elbow on the table in a way that would have made his mother lose her mind. “I forgot about it again. Soon. Very soon.”

Longbottom assures him it'll be fine. “How will you go?”

“Headmistress,” Draco answers.

“That'll be a killjoy,” Potter teases, throat moving with the swallow of his juice and catching Draco's eye. It's a good throat. A strong one. “Hagrid took me my very first time. That was fun.”

Draco snickers, thinking of the big hairy gamekeeper. After everything, after so long, he has no distaste for Hagrid anymore. But he doesn't know him at all, not like Potter does, and like with so many of the others at Hogwarts, Draco doesn't even know where to begin learning or if he should.

“It's strange,” Luna begins, and all three males glance to her, in unspoken agreement that any time Lovegood uses the word strange that it's about to be worse. “I got used to it being the small amount of us here for so long. A new term will bring many more people.”

It's a terrifying thought, Draco knows, and he shudders, already imagining the eyes behind him multiplied into the triple digits.

“Probably not as many as you think,” Potter adds, scratching around his robes at his neck. “I mean, lots of parents are still unsure about leaving their kids alone despite Voldemort being gone.”

Other students nearby wince at the name. Draco himself recoils inwardly, and always has after damn near living with the man, but he takes pride in Longbottom's lack of reaction and Luna's entirely unaffected smile.

They are also possibly his friends, he thinks with a soft smile to himself.

Perhaps he'll build his own little group, like Potter had. Ones of his own choosing, unlike so many of the Slytherins expected to acquaint with one another for family reasons.

“Draco?” Potter asks.

Draco snaps aware staring into his cup; he'd not even caught he'd been spoken to at first. His grey eyes scan the two Gryffindors and the Ravenclaw all staring at him with concern, and it unnerves him. “What?” he asks, confused.

“Well, I asked if you thought you might be all right with all the new people coming,” Longbottom repeats, and there is genuine care in his eyes.

Care, Draco believes as he remembers his past taunts of the young man, that he doesn't deserve.

“Why wouldn't I be?” Draco replies, brushing it off. No need for them to feel sorry for him. Things are what they are, and he's not a pity case. As he'd said earlier, why worry over what will happen?

Luna tilts her head in her very unique way, and Potter shifts to face him better. “Seriously, Malfoy.”

“I'll deal with what I have to, Potter,” he says, shrugging. At Luna's unblinking blue gaze, he sighs. “There's nothing I can do to prevent what's coming, and you know it.”

“You haven't shown them,” Lovegood counters, and Draco's mouth twitches.

Potter arches a dark brow, glasses glinting with light from the charmed ceiling. “Shown who what?”

Lovegood doesn't even wait for Draco to respond. She reaches, boldly, across the big stupid table and grabs Draco's left forearm, fingers clenching with gentleness around the hidden Dark Mark below his white sleeves. Draco stares at her like she's gone entirely mad, more so than usual, and wonders just when all of these people decided he was safe and available to touch.

Potter's eyes darken as others begin to whisper while they watch.

It only incenses Draco more, and he sends Luna a tight look that she seems to understand and she lets go, leaving him to jerk his arm to his side quickly.

“She's right,” Potter declares not a second later.

“I don't care,” Draco retorts.

“If you really don't, you wouldn't hide it,” Potter throws back.

Draco wants to put his face to the table and rest it there a good long while.

Do friends mean people constantly harassing you for your own supposed good? Blaise barely did anything quite like that, and Pansy only would for her own entertainment. Not that he disliked them for it. They understood boundaries.

“Like you don't hide your scar, Potter?”

Potter's jaw locks a little, then he exhales and actually flips his hand under his fringe and shows the scar off to the room while staring only at Draco.

“Satisfied?” he asks after a minute when his palm returns to his cup.

“Arse.”

The smile thrown his way is all too knowing, and it burns through Draco differently than the warmth from Lovegood and Longbottom. And that in itself is both disconcerting and confirming.

“I think you should show it.”

“You think lots of things, Potter.”

Longbottom coughs, catches their locked eyes, and quietly says, “You know, Malfoy, if Harry's cool with it, I think you should.”

“Why must he give his approval for everything?” Draco all but snaps back, face hot.

Potter shoots Longbottom an understanding expression before pushing his cup away. “He means, Malfoy, that our scars are both from Voldemort. And if I can show mine off, so can you.”

“That's different. Yours wasn't....”

“Wasn't what?" Luna asks, sitting forward politely.

Draco glances around the room, waiting a breath until some have looked away from their spot at the table, and sighs. “Willing.”

No one speaks. And that really says it all.

When Draco rises to leave, no one stops him.

But Potter appears in the hall before he's barely down it. He looks to Draco's arm in silent permission, and Draco thinks that maybe for once Potter has listened to something he's said. Potter takes it when it's offered and rolls the sleeve up, staring tightly at it.

Draco hates this. He hates looking at it, and he hates Potter looking at it, too. It's an ugly thing, really. Tasteless.

“What's taken willingly isn't always taken in real preparedness,” Potter slowly says, almost like he's quoting someone or thinking about it. “People must make their own decisions about things, and their feelings can change. You can grow. You can choose something new. Make meaning for yourself.”

Draco stands silently, gaze wandering Potter's face.

Potter rubs his thumb over the tattoo, and Draco nearly hisses at the sweet contact, the spark in his veins down his back to his crotch.

“It's just a snake and a skull. Pretty Slytherin if you ask me.”

The smile splits Draco's face before he's ready for it, and Potter, for once, looks blindsided. The slow grin spreads back at him, thumb stroking once more before he lets go.

“All right there, Malfoy?” Potter asks as Draco stares at his bare arm, not rolling the sleeve back down to the cuff.

“Oh do shove it, Potter,” Draco murmurs with a laugh.

And before the mirror again that night, parchments in pocket like protection, Draco stares at that skull and snake, and he strips away all the meaning and lays over it Potter's words.

He walks about the room, glancing at all angles at his reflection with rolled sleeves.

He imagines Lovegood's smile of approval and Longbottom's nod.

He sees Harry's smile.

It works like a charm.

 

 

xxv

 

 

Draco nearly has his first panic attack as he prepares to leave the castle again with McGonagall. He knows Diagon Alley is going to feel horrific for him, and he hates that he must go at all. Surely his mother could arrange someone to owl or ship him books and supplies?

But, as the Headmistress reminds him, some things must be done the old-fashioned way.

Draco's beginning to hate old-fashioned tripe.

Potter stops them before they leave, sauntering over as McGonagall quickly runs to speak to a student nearby with a question. Draco and Potter lock eyes, and his tension must be visible; if it were hidden, Potter wouldn't have stepped any closer, stared any harder, or touched his robed forearm.

Draco feels his throat scraping roughly as he stretches the arm away, revealing a rolled up sleeve inside. He doesn't say anything, hoping Potter understands.

And Potter must, for there is no smugness, no “I told you so,” no expected self-pat.

There's just a smile Draco's seen aimed at him a few times now that's open and warm and just a little bit shy somehow.

“You'll be okay,” Potter whispers. “It's just grabbing books. Quills. Crap.”

“I don't need a pep talk, Potter.”

“But you do need someone to remind you that when it gets bad, when you feel it's too much, that you can close your eyes, breathe, and take a minute. And when you get back, do whatever you need to do.”

Draco follows some of the advice right then, closing his eyes a second. “And you care because...?”

“I'm your friend, idiot.” Potter pauses, then looks to him with the smallest bit of insecurity. “Aren't I?”

Classic trap, but he won't fight it. It's clear Potter's not going to give up, and it's stupid to fight what he's wanted for so long. Besides, he's fucking exhausted from not sleeping. “Yes, Harry. I suppose you are.”

Potter glances over his shoulder as McGonagall wraps up her talk, then back to Draco with a heated focus Draco has never seen before. A strong hand seizes his for a moment, thumb brushing over his pulse point at the wrist, again with some odd hint of possessiveness.

“I'm glad, Draco. I'll see you later.”

And then Potter is gone, and he is Disapparating, and the true hell begins.

 

 

xxvi

 

 

Diagon Alley is what he was prepared for and more. It is whispers, stares, spit, and snarls, no matter what McGonagall does to protect him. Every second is agony, and Draco wonders if he'll ever get used to simply strolling through a street again in his life. Supplies are quickly bought and rarely debated on, refills for items are ordered, robes are fitted faster than usual, and when he and McGonagall pop back outside the grounds, she reaches out to touch his shoulder with an unspoken apology.

He knows what he looks like.

He feels it all hanging on him.

He is disgusting.

The sleeve is rolled down after being screamed at. His hair is riddled with water, spit, and Merlin knows what else. His robes are somewhat tarnished after nearly being set on fire by one particularly nasty witch. There's a bruise under his chin from where he'd fallen at one point, not speaking as he rose with McGonagall's aid and threats to the wizard who had pushed him.

“In time, Draco. Everything changes with time.”

Draco says nothing, and it makes her sigh.

He storms into the bathroom after carefully avoiding everyone possible. He rips his robes off, his jumper off, and grabs at the sink, shouting. Screaming. And he looks in the mirror, horrified. The same pale, terrified, panicked face is staring at him like it had so long ago, only now it's also angry. Furious. Raging. He can't breathe.

His wand is up and pointed the second he hears the door slam with its weight.

And there across from him stands Harry Potter, speechless.

Not again. Never again.

Draco's legs give out as he drops his wand arm and falls to the floor, the harsh gasp tearing from his lungs. Potter's shock and momentary relapse of memory passes, and he bends near Draco, asking him questions. Checking him over.

There's only one thought in his head. And it's roaring.

“You lied to me!” Draco screams and throws Potter from him as he struggles back to his feet.

Potter stares, mouth open.

“It wasn't all right. It never could have been. They hated me. They did so many things to me, said so many things. It was a bloody riot almost!” Draco's breath catches into a fucking sob as he grips the sink so hard his joints protest in his hand. “I'm not okay, Harry!”

He blinks and Potter moves across the room again, has taken him to his chest, has pressed Draco into one of the rare hugs of his life and the only one from Potter himself. Draco shudders, the whimpers cutting out of his chest making him so fucking angry at himself, and Potter just holds him, arms around him, head to his as he leans down into it.

“I'm so sorry, Draco. I'm so sorry. Those fucking arseholes don't understand, and they won't for a while. Sodding Prophet.”

“It doesn't matter. They didn't care that I tried, Harry. They didn't care about anything, but how I must be manipulating you, spelling you to stand up for me.” Draco pulls it together and yanks away, trying to break Potter's tight grip across his back. The action creates a rebound of momentum, and their skulls crunch together for a moment, brows throbbing.

Draco shakes, unable to move now that he's felt Potter's nose to his, that mouth so close.

Potter breathes in and out deeply, then loosens his hold enough that Draco finally pulls apart. Draco shouts and his arm, the fucking Dark Mark black under his silk white sleeve ironically visible, shoots out, fist connecting with glass in the mirror that cracks into a spiderweb.

The anger is so raw. It's almost ethereal as he sees several broken reflections of himself at once.

“They'll never let us be friends, Potter,” Draco says the thought aloud. “They'll never let me move on at all. Best just let it go. Let me go.”

“Not a fucking chance,” Potter shouts back and grabs for Draco's bleeding knuckles.

“Potter, don't be dense. I'm not going to be screamed at by everyone for the next year as the one manipulating you at Hogwarts.”

“Anyone screaming that can fuck right off.”

“Granger will. Weasley will. I doubt you'd tell them to fuck right off.”

Potter pulls his wand out and softly calls a minor healing spell, and Draco is, quite literally, spellbound in the moment of feeling his skin heal together over the fresh cuts. Green eyes flare against him. “I've told them things are progressing well here, and that includes you. They're my friends. It won't be perfect right away, but they will come 'round.”

“Harry.”

“Draco, I know you're not manipulating me. If anything, you've been entirely blunt about everything you feel when you speak.”

Draco withdraws his hand, scanning over it briefly. With a tired flick of his wand, the mirror heals for a second time, and Draco rinses the blood from his skin.

“I'm sorry about what happened to you today. It'll just take time. They don't probably know everything, the Prophet doesn't help, and people want to think all sorts of things about you or me or anyone because they just will regardless,” Potter says with clear experience. “Don't listen. They're just angry right now. It's raw, and they want to hurt those that have hurt them. Most of the Death Eaters are dead, in Azkaban or on their way. Your mum and you are lucky.”

“Lucky because of you, apparently.” Draco's teeth grind together. “How did she save you, Harry? I want to know.”

Potter blanches. It's not a good look on him, that deathly paleness.

He angles against the sink while Draco runs water and ducks his head, wanting to partially rinse what he can off before a shower. Potter is stiff when he speaks, but he is truthful. Draco believes every word.

“In the Forbidden Forest, she lied to Voldemort. She spared me.”

“So you didn't die? I mean, you rolled right out of Hagrid's arms well enough.”

Draco turns the water off and shakes his head under the nearby towel that keeps getting replenished by house elves in the night.

Harry Potter stares ahead, almost lifeless. “I died, Draco. I did.”

Draco reaches out before stopping himself. His hand clasps around Potter's upper arm warmly. “Tell me,” he insists, grey eyes open and finally pulling the green gaze back to them. “Tell me, Harry.”

Harry swallows. Blinks. “He used the Killing Curse. And I died. I...went somewhere. It looked like a train station, almost. And Dumbledore was there. We...spoke. And...I made a choice.”

“What choice?" Draco asks, a little too loudly.

“I didn't have to come back,” Harry whispers, looking all at once ashamed and regretful and wistful.

And Draco feels his gut get ripped open.

So much of what he's known and believed about Harry Potter is true. And some of it isn't.

For the first time in his life, Draco hugs someone on his own.

His arms feel good around Harry, and to his mixed delight and flustered anxious fear, Harry slides his arms as well, and they stand there, held together.

“I won't judge you, Harry,” Draco says in his ear. “I'd be a true hypocrite if I did.”

“Thanks, Draco.”

“And I don't think that you should feel guilt if you had wanted to not come back.”

Harry sniffs in the same way Draco had earlier before his sob, saying, “Thank you.”

“I always mocked you for being the hero because it felt like it was all you knew to be, and that maybe some part of you needed it to survive,” Draco explains, entirely warm and nervous. His wet hair sticks to Harry's head, but Harry doesn't complain.

Harry snorts. “You're right and wrong. I only...ran with it, because I didn't know much of whom I was at all. And, well. Being good at something for once.”

“You're decent at loads of stuff, you liar. Quidditch, for one.”

“If I start taking count of these compliments, will you stop giving them?”

“Absolutely.”

Harry chortles into Draco's shoulder, and it's even better. “Ah, Draco.”

Draco returns the unexpected squeeze from Harry and steps back, listening as he finishes his story: That killing him killed the part of Voldemort that had been inside him. That it had left Voldemort open to actual death then. That Harry had chosen to come back in the end to do the right thing, yes, and hoped, in a twisted way, that maybe he could rest afterward, at least, dead or alive. That Narcissa Malfoy had spared Harry by confirming his death despite his return after he'd nodded secretly that Draco was alive.

“I know I talk about you giving me the wand, but I don't remember if I actually thanked you for it,” Harry says with a frown.

Draco shakes his head, fingers waving. “Don't mention it.”

“Oh.”

Draco groans with a mild stretch, then sighs. It's time, and he's ready. “Harry?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you for taking it. And for giving it back.”

For everything.

Draco watches Harry smile, and it almost lights the room. The smirk is back, and there's a hand on his briefly, rolling that stupid sleeve back up.

“Don't mention it,” Harry says.

Clever bastard, Draco thinks.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

xxvii

 

 

Draco finally finds the sun the following Thursday.

He lies out in the grass near the lake, robes and all, almost napping in it.

It is warm, and kind, and beautiful upon his face, his bare arm.

And when Potter stretches out beside him silently as possible, Draco smiles against the sunshine. A bit of shadow drifts over him as Potter settles, and the miniature eclipse is present as his eyes open, grey to green, with lips so close he could kiss them if he tried. Then the little eclipse is gone, and Potter is flat on his back staring upward to Draco's right, as if claiming his spot.

“Luna and Nev wondered where you went for lunch,” Potter says by way of explanation.

Draco breathes in the light and Potter's delicious smell next to him, all clove and spice and heat. “Didn't feel like eating.”

“Just needed some sun?”

“Yeah, Potter. Something like that.”

Potter smiles. Draco smiles. His stomach flutters like a giddy school girl.

“You look better,” Potter comments quietly, eyes searching.

Draco knows. He passed the mirror test today quite well. The fire in his chest is warming him now, rather than burning, and it's begun to circulate around his limbs. It has since their hugs days ago. It has since Potter began eating often by his side across from Lovegood and Longbottom. It has since Potter teased him in a corridor yesterday as they passed, not demanding anything of Draco at all.

The change is welcome, for once.

“I feel better,” Draco admits when it seems Potter is waiting for something.

Potter just nods. “Good. Could I ask you something?”

Draco blinks against the bright light when he cocks his head. “Don't see why not. I'm in a generous mood, Potter.”

“Charming,” Potter laughs softly, then rolls over a bit to look at him better. “I just...wondered. Us talking about what happened to me. Didn't really talk about what happened to you. Luna and Nev have both been worried, but they don't want to ask and upset you.”

“Oh. That. Let's not. The sun's too nice, and you'll never hear me say that again.”

“Did they physically hurt you?” Harry asks, and his voice is like a sharp blade under velvet.

Draco sighs and nods, head rubbing his robes beneath him. “A little. One tried to set my robes on fire. Others spit. Screamed. Loads of things.”

“Fucking lunatics,” Potter scowls, then blinks the anger away.

Draco doesn't care, though he would have been appreciative; he's too entranced by the way the sun warms Potter's dark, unruly hair as the wind toys with it like a lover.

“I don't want them blaming you for anything beyond what you did do, and that's with context,” Potter continues, looking off to the lake. His face sets into something dark, something desperately sad.

Draco scoots closer. “What is it?”

Potter sighs. “I don't want you treated like Snape.”

Immediately defensive, Draco debates sitting up just to feel like the boost of height over Potter will help him not be so lost at the thought of Severus. “Don't talk about him like you know him, Potter. He was close to me. Very close.”

“I didn't mean insult, Malfoy. I know it must sound mad to you, but I have more respect for Snape than you can imagine.”

“You're right. That sounds absolutely mental.”

Potter huffs, a little amused. “Was he like Dumbledore was for me to you?”

“Severus was beyond a father figure, Potter. He was the only man I emotionally did consider a father the last while. The one I really listened to, should have listened more to in the end. I loved him. He was my godfather, in a way.”

“Like Sirius, then,” Potter murmurs, voice sad in the breeze that continues to love his hair. “I barely got to know him, but I loved him so much. It's almost cruel how little I got to be around the only real parent I ever wanted. Not that the Weasleys aren't a great family to be invited into. Molly and Arthur are lovely and beyond generous. But Sirius....”

Draco nods, understanding entirely.

“I want to tell you something, but you can't share it. It's...about Snape, Draco. Something he shared with me at the end.”

Draco turns his head, looking eagerly to Potter as Potter stiffens strangely. “What was it?” he prompts curiously.

“When Voldemort set Nagini on him to kill him, thinking he'd take control of the Elder Wand, I tried...I tried to save Snape. He made me bottle a tear of his memories and flee instead. I poured it into Dumbledore's pensieve. And then everything made sense.” Potter's fingers twist in the grass, tearing some and letting some go. Draco notes every little movement studiously. “All that time I thought Snape had it out for me...he was really protecting me.”

“Sounds like Severus,” Draco admits. “Why you particularly?”

Potter swallows loudly over his vulnerability and feels like the Harry that Draco is coming to know more, just like he did a moment ago in his protective anger. “He loved my mother.”

Draco's eyes nearly bulge from his skull. “He what, Potter?”

“Snape was in love with my mother, Lily. All that time. And when she died, he held her corpse. He promised Dumbledore he'd protect me, and he did—even sent me his Patronus to help locate a horcrux at one point. He muttered counter-curses against Quirrell's curses aimed at me in quidditch. He did so much, never being thanked or seen for it. He was a double agent for Dumbledore the whole time he was with the Death Eaters, and everything was planned. He took the kill blame because they'd already agreed, and because he had to spare you losing yourself to it.”

Draco breathes funnily as he reconsiders many of the events he remembers: Severus scowling at Potter, Severus watching Potter, Severus being firm with Draco to ignore Potter, Severus taking the burden away at the end.

A single phrase enters his mind as if from the other end of the quidditch field, it's so entirely strange, and he says it aloud:

“What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?”

Potter frowns next to him. Draco sits up drastically, chest heaving in strange excitement as he looks to Potter wide-eyed. “Potter! That's it!”

“What's it?” Potter asks, rising up on his elbows.

“Our first day in Potions, Severus asked you that question.”

“And I had no idea what he was talking about, as usual.”

Draco laughs, runs a hand through his hair, and shakes his head. “No, no, Potter listen. You said her name was Lily. Lily Potter.”

“Er. Yeah.” Potter blinks, puzzled. “Where are you going with this?”

The breeze is nice on his face, the sun almost getting a little too warm now. Draco gestures, forearms bare and catching Potter's proud eye, and he says while searching memories of his mother's books, “Powdered root of asphodel—asphodel is a type of lily flower. I think it means something...something about graves. Taking something to the grave? And the infusion of wormwood—bitter sorrow. Harry, Severus told you that day. Right then. You just didn't know it.”

Harry sits up, entirely in awe, eyes humongous and greener than the grass around them.

“Holy shit,” he whispers, then takes Draco's hand excitedly. “Draco, you're bloody brilliant!”

The blush is hotter than the sunshine on his face, and Draco can feel it burning red. But Harry keeps laughing in shock and awe, and he looks...impressed.

He looks impressed.

Draco's heart does a funny thing in his chest.

His fingers tighten against Harry's.

They both smile awkwardly and look away, relaxing as the intensity of the moment slides by.

“I think he still hated me a bit, you know. Loving my mum and hating my dad and all.”

“Severus was an odd one. Who knows.”

“Yeah.”

Draco stirs, egged on by the vision of the hand still holding his, as if Harry had forgotten all about that. “Harry?”

“Hm?”

“I think Severus respected you, at least in the end. Do you...do you think...your Sirius Black would me?”

Harry leans closer, knocks their shoulders together and draws Draco's attention to him. “Yes, Draco.”

Draco wipes at his brow, slicking the fringe from his eyes. “How so?”

“Draco, if anyone knew the life of someone who made a mistake, got caught up in the wrong thing at the wrong time, and spent years of courage surviving with little of his truth known and appreciated, it was Sirius. He'd know exactly how you feel, and he'd be proud of you for moving forward.”

The wetness in his eyes stings a little as he nods, glancing away and diverting the topic slightly to avoid Harry noticing it. “We're related, you know. Mum's a Black by birth.”

“Oh, yeah! I saw her on the wall. Bellatrix, too.”

“The fabled Grimmauld Place, I take it.”

Harry snickers. “I gave it to the Dumbledore's Army people during the war. Maybe I'll go back to it after Hogwarts. At least...at least I have a home, if I want it, right?”

“Sounds like,” Draco agrees, thinking of the Manor and his mother so isolated.

He moves to stretch and realizes that he's still holding Harry's hand. A deep, lovely flush spreads down the back of his neck and over his ears as he stares down at their hands. Harry follows his gaze and pauses as well, both now focused on the pale and lightly tanned hands twined together, fingers interlaced, thumbs rubbing the backs of respective palms.

Draco isn't going to speak first. Not on his fucking life. But he is smiling to himself.

Harry coughs a little, but doesn't move his hand away at all.

They sit like that for quite a while, held hands seeing both sun and shade from passing white clouds above. Draco and Harry look everywhere but each other at first and then only at each other, and when it begins to sprinkle from a random little grey cloud that has decided to play between the white fluffy ones, they rise, grabbing robes, and run for the castle, hands tight together.

Draco's mind is screaming as he strides down the halls toward the bathroom, knowing he'll need to wash up and cool off before going to dinner. Harry follows at his side, hand still woven with his all the way to the silly door. Draco pauses and gestures with his eyes, his stomach growling not a moment after to signal his intent.

Harry laughs, rubs his thumb clear across Draco's knuckles and squeezes.

Feeling like an absolute idiot, Draco just stands there, blushing and smiling, unsure of what the hell to do when Harry leans forward, licking his lip nervously.

Draco closes his eyes, the little gasp escaping as he feels the soft, wet imprint to his cheek.

And then Harry is gone, no doubt as red faced as Draco is left alone there in the hall.

 

 

xxviii

 

 

The little kiss seems to have been magical.

The feeling of it doesn't wipe away when he washes his face, and it's there all through a rather subdued dinner where he says little and Potter talks loads with Longbottom, and Luna Lovegood glances between Draco, who is both bowed close and away from Potter on the bench, and Potter, who is doing the exact same so that their ankles brush awkwardly.

It's there when Draco announces his leave and bumps Potter's shoulder with a smirk, getting a very nice bit of red across the Chosen One's cheeks just for him.

It's there when he lies in the cot wanting to shout with all this excitement in him; he's not sure where it's coming from entirely, but it's in the heat of his chest, the tingle still of his cheek, and the small surge through his body and groin.

Entirely busy the next day with aiding McGonagall herself with the cleanup plans for the Slytherin dorms he'll be in charge of executing, Draco feels nothing but the little pressure still throbbing to his cheek, and he grows very terrified of the fact that he can't let it go.

Can't stop seeing Harry leaning so close.

Can't stop wanting to see more.

It's the first time he's ever been so interested, ever wanted to try something so normal.

But he knows one thing now.

“Decidedly not friendship,” Draco sighs to himself as he paces the bathroom before dinner that night.

And it's not.

Friendship is arguing with Blaise and Pansy. Friendship is knowing Greg Goyle may not have been the smartest of the bunch, but that he was decent in Hagrid's class and liked Draco well enough for always checking on him with a joke.

Friendship, he supposes now, is Luna Lovegood's smile and eyes on him, like a protective ghost. Friendship might just be Longbottom's sheepish looks and kind attempts at conversation, no matter how botched they may sound.

But friendship is not touch me and more and Harry Potter's mouth on his mind.

It is not making a single person's smile the reason for yours so much of the time.

Draco trembles a little, afraid of losing the progress that's already been made.

Potter is his friend. Draco thinks he always will be in some sense, now. But Harry...Harry is...something else to Draco. Harry Potter is undefined, but more than friend in emotions, in actions.

After all, no one else is holding his hand and kissing his cheek. No one else is staring at him with that sad, shy smile. And there's no one else he can't stop thinking of to save his life anymore.

When the little tap echoes through the room, Draco breathes out and forces the debate away, tucking it in his mind for later. He opens the door, suspecting Luna Lovegood has found his hideout after all with that little knock, but there stands Potter. So beautifully awkward.

Draco takes him in, all fresh from a shower and clove still, hair drying in wild patterns, eyes nervous behind his glasses, robes hiding the rest from view. “Potter,” he greets with half a smile.

“Just wondered if you'd gone for dinner yet.”

“About to.”

“Ah.”

Draco shifts his weight, uncertain of what to do now. There's been a new crackling, electrical yet grounding energy between the two of them since the lake afternoon, and Draco knows that Potter is just as aware of it. He supposes some part of him had expected Potter to retreat and never look him in the eye again.

But it's much more Potter and Harry and Harry Fucking Potter to just show up and force it all.

Draco chews his lower lip. “Come to escort me?”

“If that's all right,” Potter agrees and shifts a bit.

“Sure,” Draco agrees, wanting to slap himself for feeling bashful because it's simply atrocious and ridiculously silly. Summoning his last bit of Slytherin strength, Draco walks to Potter, nods, and follows him out the door, locking it habitually with his wand behind him.

And to his right there stands Potter waiting, and Draco catches up, and in a blink their hands are bumping again, just a little, but it's enough. Fingers reach eagerly, clasp, and Draco sighs to himself, so bloody nervous. Potter is doing the low throat coughs next to him, and it's reassuring.

So this is a new thing then.

Interesting.

They both let go outside the Great Hall and enter side-by-side, mutually choosing to ignore the whispers like normal. When they settle on the bench across from Luna and Longbottom, they're greeted with now familiar welcoming smiles, and Draco murmurs his hellos while his plate magically fills with a bowl of vegetable stew and toast.

Draco manages to listen to most of the conversation tonight—mostly concerns with returning students and the new first years—and only really starts to speak in turn once he's dug into his whipped cream, mousse dessert.

“Can't believe we were once first years now. Seems so long ago,” Longbottom says as he picks up an apple.

Luna nods, smiling right at Draco. “Memory is funny like that. What seems long past often isn't, and what seems to have been anger sometimes is really confused affection.”

And with that Draco promptly chokes on his bite, spared only by a whack to the back from Potter next to him, blushing just as furiously as he is. Good. If he must deal with Luna's creepily good awareness, then so should Potter.

“All right there, Draco?” Harry asks, and the slight turn of the reassuring phrase churns Draco's stomach in a good way.

Draco coughs one last time and wipes his face with a napkin, relieved he didn't just spit his chocolate all over the place. “Fine,” he croaks.

“Gotta go easy with those, mate. I got some ice cream up my nose once when I breathed at the wrong time. Then I sneezed right on poor Professor Flitwick when he stopped to ask me a question,” Longbottom tries to offer helpfully, and Draco is at once flustered by the verbal acknowledgment of friendship and entertained at the image of tiny Flitwick with a gob of cream in his face courtesy of Longbottom's nostrils.

He laughs a little loudly, startling everyone around, but Potter laughs with him, then Longbottom and Luna, and the rest settle into the background again to be forgotten.

Potter exhales later as Longbottom gives him some look with meaning Draco doesn't know, and Potter replies, “Yeah, they're on their way. Hermione's meeting at the Burrow, and then she and Ron will be coming about a week before term start.”

Luna pauses, delicate hand holding a sweet. “Do they remember her?” she asks.

Draco frowns, utterly lost now, and the very sad look on Harry's face is enough to genuinely concern him. “Does who remember whom?”

“I'll tell you later,” Potter murmurs, but sighs and turns to Luna. “Yes and no. It's...rough.”

“She shouldn't hate herself,” Luna simply concludes and goes back to her dessert.

Draco blinks, wondering just what Granger could possibly do to merit such self-loathing worry, and Longbottom pats Potter's arm once and pulls away. “She'll be all right, Harry. Hermione's strong.”

“Stronger than we knew. She got me through all that running,” Harry concedes, looking exhausted just at the thought.

He'd never asked Harry about what had happened to the trio on the run. About their errand for Dumbledore. About just how the Death Eaters had managed to find him, looking so terrible. Even with a hexed face, Draco had known that stare at him to have had no doubt it was Harry; he'd lived for seeing it for years.

Sensing that he's not quite conducive to the conversation, Draco finishes his tea quickly and rises, telling them all good night and getting polite returns. Potter stares at him as he goes, he knows because he knows the feeling of those green eyes on his back and has counted every instance of it over the years.

It's powerful. It's the slightest bit dangerous. But most of all it's addictive.

Back in the bathroom, Draco's fingers rub over his wand in his pocket when he pulls out the parchments, clutches them as he calls up the feeling of Harry's hand in his, and he shudders with anticipation.

For the eclipse may be but a moment, but it is the greatest waiting.

And when Harry knocks again later and spends a straight hour sitting on the cot talking about the travels and the fear, and Ron's disappearance, and Hermione's Obliviated parents, Draco just holds his hand and listens, watching the two planetary bodies growing ever closer together.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

xxix

 

 

The very few Slytherins still present are hard at work under his orders. Many of them gave him glares for being so “humble” lately, so quiet and “bowing” to the pressure of the other houses, while some shook their heads at those Slytherins, arguing quietly that Draco had done wonderfully keeping his image through it all. There were of course mentions of “betrayal” as expected, but when Draco finally cracked the whip of his vocal chords, entirely over it and already feeling uncomfortable in his own previous dorms, the rest were silenced long enough for him to take a moment and breathe.

Most still complain about helping sort the dungeons at all, and Draco rolls his eyes. Yes, the house elves do most of the work. But McGonagall's directive in making the Houses clean their dorms themselves was to give them back a sense of control of their environment that had been disturbed and taken from them. Practical in theory. Messy in Slytherin execution.

But McGonagall was always rather Gryffindor, wasn't she.

Toward the end of the afternoon, Draco finally snaps again and dismisses them all for the day, beyond full of complaint, snark, and frustration. He wonders, briefly, how he'd ever gotten along with some of these students before it all, wonders if his priorities were so transparently selfish and pointless, wonders if it's a Pureblood problem or a Slytherin one.

He stays behind to tidy the dorm where he'll have to come back to in two weeks' time. The “special” group of "eighth" years agreeing to return for a seventh year completion will receive the most private dorms this year out of respect for their hampered education and N.E.W.T. preparations.

The bed is cloaked by dark curtains, and Draco airs out the silvery sheets and deep emerald blanket. A fireplace sits nearby, a desk of deep mahogany, loads of nicely scattered shelves, and a tiny closet. Two other beds and desks are across the room, and as Draco eyes them, he imagines one will be filled, at least, by Blaise Zabini soon. The other perhaps by Greg.

At three o'clock Draco is ready to take a nap. He's quite tired and quite dirty and quite tired of being dirty. When he falls back upon the bed he's chosen, his eyes close for the briefest of moments, and then something bright threatens his closed lids.

Scowling, Draco almost draws the curtains, thinking it's light from the fireplace.

And then he remembers that he didn't, in fact, light one.

Startled, Draco sits up. His legs are half-folded up on the bed and hanging off the edge, his wand is gripped tightly in his fingers, and he is quite literally nose-to-nose with a white, misty stag. He holds his breath as it sniffs at him.

Quietly, it turns and begins to walk back toward the stairs to the main rooms of the Slytherin house. Draco gapes at it, and it's only as he follows it in a trance back past the large main fireplace that he remembers just what the fuck it is.

It is a Patronus.

And it belongs to Harry Potter.

“What does he want?” he asks the stag, almost with reverence.

The stag pauses to twitch an ear, then its tail, and keeps walking on, glancing every now and then over its shoulder at him.

Draco's brows have yet to join back near his eyes. His mind reels at the thought that Harry has sent him a Patronus, a summons almost. It's cheeky. It's egoistical. It's quite nice, in fact.

And when the Patronus vanishes through the portrait door, Draco pushes it open from his side.

There stands Harry, looking quite sheepish in his robes and Gryffindor tie.

The silvery stag is gone.

“Didn't know the password,” Harry grumbles, embarrassed.

Draco can't help the light laugh. “Well. Makes more sense then. You've a nosy, insistent Patronus, you know. Quite no conception of personal space.”

“Hope it didn't bother you much.”

“No. Startled me, yes,” Draco admits, running his hand through his loose pale hair and watching Harry's eyes follow it.

Potter grins and rocks on his heels a bit. “Sorry.”

Draco shrugs it away. “Need something, Potter?”

“Yes! I mean, no. I don't know.”

“My, Harry. You're quite coherent today.”

Potter barks out a laugh. “Shut up.”

Draco rolls his eyes, glances about, and holds the portrait door open. Harry steps through, biting his lip, and both ignore the grumbles of the painting about letting a Gryffindor inside.

He strolls through the common room, noticing Potter pause and take in a few of the chairs, staring over them intently as though it means something. Odd, but whatever, it's Potter. Draco whistles and catches his attention again, nodding his head toward the stairs off to the side.

When they stand in the now mostly cleaned new dorm for him, Potter blows out a breath.

“Quite a ways down here, isn't it? Don't you feel...I don't know...smothered? Alone?”

“A little, if I'm to be honest,” Draco sighs and lights the fireplace with his wand and a spell. Bent at the knees, he glances up to find Potter staring down at him, green eyes sparkling with the orange of the fire. Draco purses his mouth, continuing, “But I'm used to it. My favorite class was Potions, after all, and that's in the dungeons as well.”

“Point.”

Draco pushes back upright, grey eyes flicking over Potter's very tense form. “Something wrong? You look wound.”

“Heh. I feel wound,” Potter mumbles, cheeks a touch of pink.

Draco's eyes dart to Potter's clenched fists, and he reaches out to take one, forcing it to relax with his long fingers pressing Potter's out flat before they curl together. Potter trembles a little as Draco steps closer, towering over the somewhat slumped form of the Gryffindor. It's intoxicating, feeling so powerful for doing so little.

“All right there, Potter?” he asks softly with a small smile.

Potter's throat swallows roughly, the sound loud for a second. “I have no idea.”

And it's as if his own nervousness has just gone. Draco feels astoundingly confident for the first time in his life. There's no audience to impress, no Purebloods to emulate, only Potter to fluster. Only Harry to look that enticing as he stares up at Draco, eyes rapidly bouncing back and forth across his face.

All Draco knows is that he's staring down the line of no return.

It's the line he's always wanted to cross. The line he knew was always inside himself. The line that grew out of him and into this shifting being before him, always tripping him up.

And it's Potter, of course.

It was always going to be Harry.

Draco inwardly begs for this to not blow up in his face like a Weasley twin's firecracker and moves slowly, firmly, determinedly forward. Harry's face tilts up, eyes half-open and closing.

The eclipse hits hard when his lips fall upon Harry's soft, thinner ones, and Draco's free hand automatically reaches for that fucking shag-me-up-the-wall hair of Potter's. Harry pushes back against him hard, eager, and Draco smiles against it, lips opening together.

Harry's mouth, Draco finds, tastes like butterbeer. It's warm and rich and inviting as his lips slide there, tasting ever so gently, tongue commanding and daring to slide between Potter's teeth to stroke his.

His cock jerks, he's hard in his trousers when Harry also grips his hair with fingertips brushing Draco's ear, and Draco is lost. Draco's kiss changes from curiosity and please want this, too into more, the tempo fierce and desperate and built up for years. Harry barely catches breath each time Draco does before diving back in, held hands yanking Potter closer and against him, fingers gripping tightly in hair and more.

When Draco feels light headed, he pulls up, gasping, and sees Harry open those green eyes. They're not full of confusion or anger or distrust anymore. They are full of curious wonder.

They are full of fire light.

They are full of Draco's own reflection.

Harry lets him breathe for all of ten seconds before jumping him, knocking him back on his heels and jerking his head down with that grip on his pale hair. Harry is dominating for the moment, his tongue now playfully lapping at Draco's, and mutual groans tinge the air alongside the fire's crackles.

Draco smiles against Harry's smile and walks backward, shuffling a little awkwardly until he feels the bed behind his thighs. He breaks the kiss by letting gravity take him, pulling him down upon the bed with the parted curtains and fire warming it, grey eyes intense as the storm they flew in not long ago.

Potter drinks him in, laughing as Draco smirks in a very Malfoy way, tightens his grips on Harry and tugs, sprawling the Gryffindor over his lap.

There's a gasp—his, Harry's, maybe even both—when Harry's thighs settle over his, lips back to demanding attention, clasped hands now released to touch everywhere. Draco is utterly pleased with the weight of Potter over his lap, with the feeling of their slick lips sliding together, with the knowledge that his slender fingers are inside of Harry Potter's robes and touching him through his jumper like its his skin. He notes, absently, that Potter's put on some muscle over the last month, and it's a delicious thing to know.

Harry, on the other hand, seems quite content to straddle him, both palms holding his cheeks for a hotter, intenser kiss until they slide down around his neck and over his vest and shoulders, gripping hard in a way Draco understands all too well.

The ache in Draco throbs in time with the feeling in his crotch, the tightening therein, and when Harry takes a breath to sigh, Draco's already moved on, mouth nibbling a firm, stubbly jaw, tongue licking over an expanse of hot neck.

Harry's moan is a sound that Draco will remember for the rest of his life. How can it not be, when it's so low and yearning and then soft and high, when it's the most magical sound he's ever heard? And he, Draco Malfoy, has made Harry Potter make that sound.

There's no grimness upon Potter's face now.

There's no irritated glower that, in the right moment, is fucking hot.

There's just want and need and aroused green eyes.

“Draco,” he whispers above him, gasping his name.

“Holy fuck,” Draco cracks.

Draco shudders harshly, so hard he can't stand the fabric of his trousers restraining him anymore. Thoughts become actions, fingers pull robes and limbs, and Harry is as close as possible, rubbing right against him. And it's all Draco can do to not come right in his trousers when he feels the equally excited cock against his.

Yes. Yes. There it is. Proof that he's not just dreaming. Heat he's not imagining.

Harry Potter wants him.

“Merlin's bollocks, Harry,” Draco groans when Harry pushes, rubbing them together. He wants this. God, he wants this. But it's too fast, even for him. Not until he knows this isn't one of Potter's things to do, one of Potter's attempts to satisfy his curiosity. Not until he knows it's more than the eclipse itself. Not if this means the casual friendship is gone. He wants. But he knows.

Harry shakes against him, face buried in his throat, lips kissing and sucking.

Draco sighs and rubs his back, his sides, grips his hips and slides his palms over Potter's strong thighs. Then, with maximum self-control, he tips them to the side, watching Harry resettle and stare at him in mild confusion, but mostly fear and awe. Draco smiles to reassure him, exhales long and deep.

“Did...did I do something wrong?” Harry asks quietly.

Draco can't help it. He laughs. He laughs and it grows, and Potter smiles again and laughs with him, until Draco sweeps his hand over his seriously tented trousers and says, “What do you think, Harry?”

Harry's laughter dies as his eyes focus unabashedly, face flushed. Draco's breath is still heaving a little, his abdomen rising and falling as he watches Potter ogle his erection that's still quite ready to go. When Harry bites his lower lip and sucks it, Draco can't handle it.

“Oh, fuck, don't look at me like that.”

“Huh? Like what?”

Draco moans as Potter does it again, glancing between his face and his covered cock. “Like that. Like you want it. Want me. Like you're debating ripping my clothes off.”

“But I am.”

Another huge laugh erupts.

Draco thinks he's never laughed so much in his life at once.

“Fuck, Harry, you'll be the death of me,” he sighs, quite happy with that idea for once. Pale fingers take Harry's between them, grey eyes take a moment to slide down his body to absorb Potter's own tented response to the kissing. “Mm.”

“Hey. If I can't look at you like that, then you can't look at me like that, either.”

“Terribly sorry,” Draco mumbles, not sorry at all. Potter's grin tells him his insincerity has been noted.

Harry exhales and scoots closer, nose rubbing Draco's jaw as his head settles upon Draco's shoulder. Their hands hold tight while Potter's right thigh slides over his own.

It's a little claim, he believes. And it makes a fire roar in Draco.

Draco turns slightly and presses a soft kiss to Harry's brow. “So.”

“So,” Potter agrees, voice small and breathy.

“This is....”

“It is....”

“Different.” “Nice.”

They chuckle together. Draco slides his free arm around Harry, holding him by the waist. He wants to bask. He wants to let this go on forever. But he has to know. It's like a little bit of Potter's prowling has come into him, and Draco asks, “What happens now, Potter?”

“I don't know. What do you want to happen, Malfoy?”

“You first.”

“What? But. Fine.” Harry snorts against him, knee pressuring on muscle. “I've never done this before. So I don't know what comes next.”

“Never done what, exactly, Potter?”

Harry grumbles.

“Never snogged a bloke? Never snogged a friend? Never shagged?”

“Blimey, Malfoy,” Harry mutters, thoroughly embarrassed by the sound of it. “Yes, I've snogged. I mean, I snogged Ginny when we were just friends, for instance. Just never have snogged a bloke. And I didn't think it fair to shag her and just leave her waiting to go on the run.”

The mere mention of Ginevra Weasley has his erection dropping fast. Draco feels coolness enter his blood, his pounding heartbeat dies off a little.

The panic hits.

What is he doing? Oh, God, what is he doing?

Snogging Harry Fucking Potter, is he mad?

He remembers the Weasley girl running to Harry after Voldemort's death. Holding him. Kissing him. What he'd wanted to do in his subconscious core. And he is now sick and, frankly, unable to believe that even Harry Sodding Potter would stoop so fucking low as to cheat on his girlfriend like this. It's not like Potter had explicitly stated Weasley was no longer in the picture when he'd started holding Draco's hand, either, and it makes him even more infuriated to have allowed himself to have gone along with it, to have been seen in a way he never imagined he would be known. It angers him that he let it happen, and that even Ginevra Weasley, with her dead brother, doesn't deserve it, no matter how long or how much he's wanted Potter for himself. Perhaps a couple of years ago, he'd not even stop, thinking it more fun to steal Potter from Weasley. But not now.

Not now.

Harry must notice the tension in him change, because he's sitting up and gazing down at him, worried. “Malfoy? Draco, look at me.”

“Sod off, Potter,” Draco snaps, armor back in place. “Just fucking sod off.”

“I don't understand. What's wrong?”

“I want to be left alone now.”

Harry growls above him, fingers almost ripping his vest and digging into his skin beneath it and his shirt. “Damn it, Draco, I just answered you is all. Sorry if they weren't answers you wanted.”

“You think I care if you've snogged blokes or Ginevra Fucking Weasley, Potter?”

Harry's teeth show as he scowls. “Clearly you do.”

Draco pushes up, face hot and so close to the one he'd just lost his control over. “No, Potter. I don't. But I do care about being used.”

“Used? For what?” Harry rolls his eyes and holds tighter. “Just calm down a minute.”

Draco tries to throw him off as the panic grows, his heart racing for a different reason this time, breaths coming quick again in a horrid way. Harry finally lets go and watches him slide away with great sadness and confusion...and just a hint of anger and shame.

Sitting upon the side of the bed, face in his hands, Draco tells him to leave.

Harry protests at first, mimicking how he's sitting and softly asking Draco what he should say.

But Draco is done. His energy is gone. His hand rips his wand from his pocket and magic flings the goddamn door open so hard it nearly cracks the connecting wall.

Potter jerks away from the bed, obviously upset, eyes wet and angry, and storms out.

And Draco slams the door with his wand, tears his fingernails into his scalp, and cries.

 

 

xxx

 

 

This is what the eclipse is like.

It's hot, intense, and full of shadowy magic.

It teases the moon and inflates the sun.

It is powerful and blinding to those foolish enough to look directly at it.

And when it is over, the magic recedes in strength. The celestial bodies part to their respective places of the sky. And people move onward, forgetful, except for the sun and the moon, whose memories are kept close and loved and hidden away from the world.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

xxxi

 

 

He begins sneaking dinner again, forgoing breakfast and lunch.

He rarely leaves the bathroom or the dorm, whichever feels safest, unless McGonagall directs him to work.

He sees no one intentionally and avoids Potter like he has dragon pox. It seems like Harry is doing the same when he sees no sign of Potter, either.

He feels like he's reverted, and his glares are instantaneous now no matter the target.

When someone comes, it is not who he expects.

It's a dark headed, tall young man and not a Ravenclaw imbued with what Draco suspects are divination powers.

Longbottom looks a bit nervous outside the bathroom door and gives him a sad smile. “Hello, Draco.”

“What do you want?” Draco asks, voice even as he attempts to be polite despite his rage.

It's like Potter to send someone to check, even if it's indirectly asked. And Draco feels confused because he knows he's not angry with Neville Longbottom at all. In fact, Longbottom is, if anything, one of the most forgiving and kindest people he's ever met. It's slightly nauseating, in a good way.

“Hadn't seen you 'round to eat. Thought you might be sick again.”

“I'm fine.”

“Oh. Well, Luna figured something was probably really wrong, so she said you'd be here.”

Draco's eye twitches. “She's a bit much sometimes.”

Longbottom shrugs without insult. “She's really sensitive is all. To pain and sadness and the like.”

“Then she must be better without me near,” Draco reasons and starts to close the door with a soft goodbye.

“No! No, I didn't mean that! Oh, bugger it, we're just worried is all.” Longbottom's exhale stops Draco's arm from continuing to move, and his grey eyes meet the dark ones pleading with him. “I'd like to think that you and us...we got to be kind of friends lately.”

Draco's eye twitches harder. He wants to scream at this grown person to vacate his safe place, to vanish, to snipe and shout about Longbottom's gran or his parents to scare him off for good. Can't he see how lost a cause Draco is when it comes to this type of stuff?

But he just nods silently instead, feeling all the more doomed.

“So, if we are then, do you want to...talk? You look like you're about to explode like a Howler.”

The comment is like a counter-curse. Draco's anger sighs out of him, and he leans against the door frame. He laughs, but it's empty. “A Howler. Yes.”

“What happened?” Longbottom asks. “Between you disappearing again and Harry nearly killing himself on that bloody broom of his, I don't know what is going on.”

Draco blinks once. “He what?”

Longbottom nods, looking worried. “Luna and I saw him storm out the other day toward the storage. He went flying, a bit too high, and we think he passed out. Regained consciousness before he hit the ground, thankfully, but broke an arm when he landed. Been in the Hospital Wing since. And won't talk to us at all.”

Draco is speechless. Staring.

“So I wanted to know if you...knew anything? Harry always talks to us. But he just...he won't now. About whatever it was, he won't. We're worried about him. Thought maybe you could help us. You seem to be getting on quite well now, and well...Harry doesn't like to say a lot of what he went through in the Battle and all.”

Damn him. Oh, damn him.

Draco's sense of need-to-know, fear and worry about Potter sizzles through his body painfully. “I d-didn't know,” he finally sputters.

“You didn't?” Longbottom sighs and rubs his head. “Damn. Well, he is okay, just so you know that. Should be all healed up shortly.”

“That's...good.”

“Are you okay, Draco?”

Draco swallows, looking into Neville's eyes. “Do you truly care? After everything I've ever said...done...to you? Are you mad, Longbottom?”

Neville laughs, and it's startling. The goofy smile is back. “Sheesh, Malfoy. There is such a thing as time and forgiveness for the little things, you know. Besides, you've been great with us since the war ended, and Harry talked a lot about stuff you went through. Luna said she saw you in the Manor, how horrible it was, and she worried, too.”

Draco doesn't even try to stop his body from collapsing against the door. It sags a little, and he looks to his feet.

“I'm...not really doing well at the moment,” he finally says.

“Sorry to hear it. Anything we can do to help?”

Draco slowly lifts his head, pale platinum hair in his eyes. “No, but...thank you, Neville.”

Neville Longbottom smiles widely. “No problem, Draco. Just let us know.”

After Neville leaves, it takes Draco an hour to gather his courage, and most of it's spent staring at himself in the mirror angrily.

“You are going to go up there, you are going to confront him for his utter stupidity for trying to get himself killed with his recklessness, and then you are going to leave. No more, no less.”

An attempt to walk away, an abrupt return back to the mirror, then:

“You are not going to look at his eyes any longer than necessary. You are not going to thinking about snogging him.”

Draco's reflection says nothing, but his eyes catch its arm moving down, and Draco feels his actual fingers rubbing the parchments still in his pocket. Sneering, he jerks away from the mirror, slings his robes on, and storms out in an elegant move.

He runs out of inertia near the Hospital Wing stairs. Trembles wrack him, legs shake as he forces himself to take the steps one at a time like a child, and when he comes to the top he stands still and breathes.

Then he imagines his mother's face and composes himself. Imagines Lucius Malfoy's cool stare, and the look slides right over him, ready to go. There are, in fact, some good things his father taught him to do.

Draco Malfoy squares his shoulders and enters the Hospital Wing, looking every bit the dominant, intelligent Slytherin he is, the Pureblood he is in his perfect stride and unbreakable face.

He finds Potter in the far left of the room alone, sitting on a bed with a faded copy of The Quibbler in his non-bandaged hand. And when his steps echo enough, Potter tears his gaze from it and looks him dead in the eye.

Draco stops.

It's so silent. A silence full of promises and pain and possible relief, but mostly, it is a silence of growth.

And then Potter looks away once more, studying the papers.

Lip arching in his best sneer, Draco moves forward until he's near Potter's bed. Potter's breathing is quick beneath the Hospital's clothes. He is entirely affected.

Draco wants to smile, but doesn't. He's still got it—that ability to rattle Potter inside and out.

“Potter,” he grounds out, the old tone almost archaic in sound after so much disuse.

Potter flicks his eyes once, then ignores him.

“Neville Longbottom tells me your recklessness nearly got you killed again. Color me surprised,” Draco says levelly, impressively cool grey eyes scanning Potter's wrapped arm and potions on the side table.

Potter doesn't speak. It irks him.

“Are you fucking mental?” Draco asks coldly. “Were you trying to kill yourself?”

“No,” Potter says, and there's barely hidden anger in it.

“Then what, Potter?”

“None of your business, Malfoy. Go away.”

Draco sighs dramatically. “Fine. And when Neville asks if I've come, you can attest that I have.”

And he spins on his heel and expertly walks away, rage burning in his chest from being so close, so damn close to Harry and feeling so far away. From being close enough to touch again, to grab and hold and snog him right into that fucking stupid bed.

No. No thoughts about snogging. He's had this talk.

“Hurts, doesn't it?” Potter calls.

Draco freezes. Slowly he cracks his neck and looks past his shoulder at Potter, who is staring as furiously at him from across the room. Harry's jaw twitches, lips in a grimace.

“It hurts when someone won't let you in. When they throw you out for no fucking reason.”

“No reason?” Draco snarls, whirling with a flare of his robes in only the way Severus could have ever taught him. “No reason.”

Potter shrugs and looks away.

“Potter, you're the one going around touching and snogging blokes you're supposed to be just making friends with while you have a girlfriend,” Draco snaps, his voice like a whip in the empty room. “So yeah. Just using me, maybe to see if you like blokes better, fuck if I know. Maybe the entire friendship attempt is a fucking lie, just a big joke to throw at me for baring myself to you, finally, O Saint Potter.”

He's seething, unable to stop. “No fucking reason.”

There should be shouting, he thinks, as he pants angrily. There should be contradictions and counter arguments and insults.

Yet there is nothing. Just the silence again.

Potter is entirely speechless and horrified, sitting forward suddenly, Quibbler tossed away.

Draco shakes, tremors skirting his legs and chest. "What, Potter? What is it?"

Potter groans and palms his face. “Fuck, Draco.”

“Fuck you, too,” Draco hisses and walks out.

 

 

xxxii

 

 

Who needs to see an eclipse anyway?

Barely lasts but a moment, and then it's gone, and so fucking what.

Draco nearly throws a box of rubbish gathered from the dorms across the room in his anger.

When he sees the white mist this time, he tells it to fuck right off.

It takes Draco a moment to realize that this mist source is much smaller than the last, and Draco frowns as the little hare shape darts about his legs impatiently.

“Oh, bugger off. Who do you even belong to, you little thing?” Draco asks with an exasperated sigh. When the Patronus refuses to vanish, Draco grits his teeth and follows it right back through the common room and to the stupid portrait.

He flings it open, ignoring the shout of the portrait itself, and shouts, “What do you want with me?”

Luna Lovegood blinks before him a few times.

Oh fucking hell. Draco sighs and rubs his brow with his bare arm, sleeves rolled to the elbows from the heat. “I didn't know it was you.”

“It's all right,” Luna says, absolutely unaffected. The hare disappears behind her into nothingness, and Draco fights the smile at the thought of her Patronus being such a carefree hopping little thing.

“Can I do something for you?” he asks when Luna says nothing else.

Luna sighs, for once, and it's almost like the one his mother makes in disappointment. “I thought maybe I could speak with you. There's something you should know, and, well, Harry's not quite that good at...talking sometimes.”

“He's making you play messenger? Lovegood, you know that's ridiculous, right?”

“He doesn't know. I'm trying to help.” Luna tilts her face, long moonlit hair flowing down one side in its waves. “Harry was very sad last night. And this morning. I took him down to see the thestrals with Neville, and I think that helped. But I know he won't be better until you talk again.”

Draco's oddly charmed, but equally annoyed. “Merlin, Lovegood, we're supposed to be adults now, aren't we? Stuck in this half-cocked eighth year crap because of a Dark Lord's greed. Let's act like it and move on.”

Luna smiles at him. It's sweet. It's calming. Goddamn it. “That's a rather astute point.”

“Ravenclaws may claim the wisdom, but you don't own it all, you know.”

“Not at all,” she agrees readily, blinking gently.

Draco slides to the floor, smirking as Lovegood mimics, sitting next to him, feet out. One foot is missing a sock. He frowns at that, but she immediately waves it off, saying yet another of some creature he's never heard of have been raiding her clothes again.

“That's...awful,” he says, clueless.

“It'll come back. I think they just want to be noticed, is all.”

Oh, Merlin, here it comes.

Draco crosses his arms over his button-down shirt. “Yes, I know. We all want to be noticed.”

Luna nods. “Mm.”

“Are we done now?”

“I think there was a misunderstanding somewhere,” she says, ignoring his question and tired, begging face.

Draco groans, not even pretending to hide it, and buries his face against the Mark tattoo. “Do tell.”

Luna clasps her fingers on her lap, looking down the hall. “Well, I'm pretty certain Harry and Ginny aren't together anymore. I thought I saw them arguing after he killed Voldemort actually. Arguing about you.”

“You...huh?”

“Yes, that's right. She was saying that it was still too dangerous to trust you, and that your help at the end didn't erase anything else.” Luna sighs softly, and it's like music. “I think she was just grieving Fred at the time.”

Draco sits, stunned.

“Harry...well, he wasn't happy. They shouted a bit. He said that there were things she didn't know that mattered, and that while he also didn't think one good deed canceled out every other, he was still quite angry with you, too...but he believed you could be trusted and that you weren't really a bad person.”

Eyes closed, head to the wall with the muffling grumbles of the portrait behind him, Draco breathes out. “So?”

“Well, Ron and Harry had a row after that. And Hermione reminded Ron that Harry and Ginny hadn't really been that close in a while, and it was wrong to force them to stay together just for Ron's sake,” Luna continues, voice never wavering from its usual gentle understanding. “Ron blamed you, in part I think, since you were in the argument. That's silly, I feel, but emotions are hard sometimes.”

Draco stares ahead, not seeing anything. “They...split.”

“I'm fairly certain, yes. Harry hasn't talked about her in a long while. Talks about you constantly, though, or did.”

The flush is so hot that Draco's skin is red and flaming like a sun's burn. “Er....”

“If you care for someone, you shouldn't try to push them away just because you're afraid. You should just tell them. Anything could happen, and they could be gone forever,” Luna advises, stern for the first time. Knowingly stern.

Rather than pretend he didn't know what the hell she was talking about at this point, Draco grunts. “He never said they broke up. I spoke about her before, and he never said they were apart. Yet he kept...things happened. I felt used. Potter's good at using people without realizing it. He never knows what he causes until he sees the chaos.”

Luna raises her brows and nods, looking like for the rest of the world someone hearing a child speak profound truth. “Sometimes chaos is beautiful and good, but yes, Harry should pay more attention to some things. He's...a little oblivious, I guess. But sweet. And he means well.”

“Meaning well doesn't make him infallible.”

“Not at all.”

“Why are you doing this?” Draco asks directly, nerves burnt out. “Even if he isn't with Weasley's sister anymore, it's all rubbish. Our friendship or whatever it was clearly wasn't able to stand on its own and had to bow to something else, and that destroyed it all. I destroyed it. And he let me.”

Stupid fucking eclipses.

Draco nearly jumps from the floor when Luna reaches over and squeezes his arm once. She softly whispers an apology for startling him and shrugs.

“You were happier. Both of you. You've always been...drawn together.”

“I had a father wrapped up in Potter-mania fear as a Death Eater, and I tried to be everything like my father wanted to compete. When I failed to befriend Potter, I could only attack him, rival him,” Draco spits acidly. “Of course we got drawn together.”

Luna shakes her head, earrings jingling. “Not that. You're...like two stars, caught in the fields they create. They always circle each other.”

It's too much.

Draco peers at her. “You're a serious Legilimens, aren't you.”

She stares at him, eyes wide. “What? Oh, no. Of course not. That would be rude, anyway, without someone's permission.”

“Oh,” Draco says, a little disappointed and even more suspicious. With an internal shrug, he goes with it. “And if those two stars cannot be near one another, save once every so many years for just a moment? What's worth the rest?”

“I think you have the wrong stars, then. Yours are much closer. They're so close that they're blinding each other and the rest of the stars around them. They just fight their gravitational fields,” Luna explains, hand at her chin in serious thought. “I think that's it. They just need to find their balancing point in their fields, so neither is destroyed or lost out of bounds.”

“You are too much sometimes,” Draco mumbles, but he's smiling.

Luna smiles back. “I hear that on occasion. Not quite sure what it means.”

Draco chuckles. “Just don't ever change.”

They sit together, both smiling a little to themselves, for a few minutes.

“You're sure they're not together?” he asks quietly, picking at lint on his trousers.

“Quite. Though I believe anyone Harry could date would have to contend with something else in the way.”

“Being Harry Potter, you mean?” Draco asks, thinking of Rita Skeeter and the Daily Prophet hounding Harry as a child. Fans. Critics.

“Sure, but they have to deal with how he feels for you, first.”

“Beg pardon?” Draco asks, nearly choking on his breath.

Luna pushes herself to her feet unexpectedly and nods as she stretches.

“You're quite the bright star, Draco Malfoy,” she says cryptically as she walks away, leaving him to stare after her.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

xxxiii

 

 

Potter's sitting on his cot by the time he gets done eating and goes to the hidden bathroom to sleep. Draco freezes up at the doorway, nerves tight and beyond plucked like a harp from the last few days.

Too many planets and stars and fuck all, he thinks.

He sees the strain in Harry, too, as Potter sits with his head to the wall, hands in his lap, not even wearing his robes, just a grey muggle short-sleeved shirt and some muggle trousers again. There's lines under his purple tinted eyes, a sag to the firm mouth Draco had snogged quite happily. Even his wild hair looks limper, and that's the pathetic straw.

“Potter,” he greets hesitantly.

Harry jerks aware, having apparently been half-awake. Green eyes snap to him, and Potter scrambles off the cot, standing near the middle of the room. “Draco,” he greets back.

Draco squints, shrugs, and walks past to wash his hands and face at the big sink with its mirror of all judgment. Potter appears behind him in the reflection, staring at him with a mix of frustration and longing, and Draco fights the smile.

“The arm?”

“Healed fine.”

“Need something, then?” he asks, carefully neutral.

Harry smiles a little. “You.”

Draco can't stop the single laugh in time. “That was bad, even for you.”

“I'm serious,” Potter says, strength in his eyes now.

“As am I. What are you doing, Potter?” Draco sighs and pats his hands dry, turning to look directly at the cause of his wonderful vexation. “We push and we pull, and frankly, I'm growing rather fucking sick of astronomy.”

Potter jerks, puzzled. “Um. What?”

Draco groans in his head, wondering if Luna Lovegood hears it somewhere. “Nothing.”

Potter chews on his small smile and rocks back on his heels casually. “Right, um. So. Where was I?”

“You need me, apparently,” the words drawl from his mouth, and Draco watches Potter's eyes flame green for a second, quite like they had during that fantastic snogging. Knowing Potter's snogging expressions had never been on the list of things to avoid considering. He thinks.

“Yeah, I do.”

“You do not. Stop it. This is getting ridiculous. Even if I assumed because you never told me, and it all blew up in our faces like one of your Seamus Whatever Gryffindor's explosions, so what?” Draco laughs sadly and cross his arms, scratching at the Mark without looking. “I don't know what you were hoping for beyond a snog or a shag, Potter.”

Potter centers himself with a huff and steps closer. “Clearly more than that.”

“You're mad.”

“Angry, yes. Hurt, yes. Crazy, quite possibly.”

Draco bites the inner bit of his cheek, refusing to let him do this to him.

Potter sighs and kicks at the floor with his trainers. “I didn't catch that I hadn't...made it clear that I wasn't with Ginny. I can see now how utterly terrible that looks.”

“And?”

“And you still should have said that then and saved us all this bollocks,” Harry grumbles and waves his hands between them. “We could have fixed it then and gone back to snogging.”

Draco raises a silent brow. “Potter.”

“Malfoy.”

“Why did you split? Sounded like a little Weasley match in the heavens by all accounts.”

Harry grimaces and turns away a moment, hand on his hip. “I dunno. It just...didn't feel right anymore. Hadn't really in a long time. Ginny had fancied me since I was first around Ron, and I helped her with the Chamber stuff, and then she helped me with the Half-Blood Prince's book....”

Potter freezes like someone's hit him with a binding curse.

Draco closes his eyes. Severus had explained it all to him as he'd lain, bed bound and bleeding.

“I'm still sorry,” Harry whispers, green eyes begging. “She helped me hide it. Put it somewhere in the Room of Requirement so I'd never find it. And she kissed me there. And that started it.”

“Glad you had a merry time disposing of a near-murder instrument,” Draco says lowly, looking over his nails.

Harry grunts, taking the verbal blow, and shakes it off. “I'd wanted to come to the Hospital Wing to check on you...say sorry, you know. I was just in such shock and, well, ashamed. And Snape would never have let me near you.”

That he understands. Draco nods gracefully.

“Ginny and I tried...I don't know. Something. It wasn't bad, but it felt like it got thrown together, and my heart wasn't really in it considering everything going on around us. I'd never had a relationship before. And Voldemort shot it all to hell, and I had to run to keep them all safe away from me and leave them here when Hogwarts was horrific to be in, and...I started to see how being with me was wrong. For anyone,” Harry explains, looking right at his feet. “I'm not...good for people. Bad things follow me. Hurt others. A lot of people died for me in this fucking war, and I hate every instance of it. Makes me want to have chopped that bastard's body apart, rather than just attack him with magic.”

Draco swallows, listening calmly.

Stars, she'd said. Gravitational fields. Circling. Too close and they destroy another. Too far and one is lost.

Balance. Bollocks.

“I am anyone,” Draco mutters, catching Harry's attention. “You said for anyone. That means Granger as your friend. That means me as...whatever.”

Harry tilts his head back. “I know.”

“Then what are you doing here?”

“I'm not sure, but...I think it has to do with righting things.”

Draco's eyes incense, his posture slams his spine against the sink, and Potter's hands are up, asking him to wait, just to wait.

Potter exhales. “I meant...righting things from the other day, not using you to right something else. You have to understand, Draco. It's...in my nature to try to fix injustices, mine or not. I keep striving for something, and everyone forced me into a purpose with Voldemort and...I don't know. I don't want to be an Auror any more, I don't want to...be that anymore. But something still feels off, and I know that being around you helps me figure out what I need to do. For some reason. Again—not using you. It's actually just a lovely side-effect of being around you.”

“Balance,” Draco whispers, eyes rolling so far into the back of his skull that he hopes Loony Lovegood sees them wherever she is.

“Yeah. Balance.”

“Well, it's fixed. We've spoken. So go on.”

Potter rolls his eyes, too. “Talking and being tentative friends again isn't fixing it.”

“Isn't it?”

“No.”

Draco huffs, sneer ghosting back to his eyes and lips. “And what does fix it? And fix what? What the hell are we anyway? Nothing.”

“Not nothing, and I'm not sure yet, but I want to find out,” Harry volunteers and comes very close. Their eyes lock, and Draco feels Harry enter his personal space. Potter swallows, his focus drifting down to Draco's mouth. “I think fixing it...it starts with this.”

Draco groans when he's kissed right into the sink, hands grabbing his waist and tongue entering his mouth determinedly. He can say loads of things about Potter's failures, Potter's mistakes and Potter's bad habits. But the man, this young adult after the last few years no matter his figure age, can kiss.

Hands grasp. Lips part again and again.

Draco takes a breath as Harry presses their brows together and stares into him.

“This is mental, Harry.”

“What isn't?”

“What do you even like about me?” Draco tries to withdraw with the anxiety in his stomach, but Potter is a stubborn, good Gryffindor and keeps him steady.

Harry smiles, and it's different. It's not shy or sad or knowing. It's not smug. It's seductive. Draco's pupils widen, and his trousers and pants feel tighter. “You can be quite a prat.”

“Oh fuck off,” Draco snaps and yanks his hand free from Potter's.

“And you can be quite thoughtful, in your own way. You worry, but never say it directly. You get what you want and aren't afraid to do anything to get it. You're smart, smart as Hermione, probably, but don't tell her I said that,” Harry snickers, and Draco's disgruntlement dissolves into a laugh imagining Granger's face. Harry strokes his cheek. “You're also the one person who pushed me more than anyone else. Hermione may have nagged me to do homework, Ron to buck up or get off my problems, but you drove me to.... I constantly felt compelled into competition or the need to push myself harder to outdo you. Sometimes you were quite harsh about it, like with those 'Potter Stinks' things during the Cup, but other times...I got on the quidditch team because you threw Neville's remembrall and dared me to get it, Draco. I caught it at McGonagall's office window, and she got me on early.”

He is entirely red and pale and blotchy and shocked. Everything but cool and composed and Malfoy, if but a moment. Draco smiles the one he does often, the lips pressed tight into a little tease. “Well, Harry. Seems you owe me some favors for that one.”

“Right?” Harry laughs and kisses him once. “Now, you drove me absolutely mad as well. There were days I wanted to just hex you into nothing, you shit. You had no idea the hell I went through sometimes when you were doing it.”

“You're right. I didn't. Sorry,” Draco says, absolutely serious. “But in all honesty, Potter? I'd rather have egged you on then to please my father and to see you irritated over...you know.”

“So you mentioned before,” Harry murmurs.

Draco's knee bounces in his anxiety. “Did I do it?”

Harry frowns, smiles and kisses his brow. “No, no. I don't know if you're even aware of everything that happened to me, Draco. I mean, where do I start? First year I fought Quirrell in the dungeons with Voldemort on the back of his head. Second year your own father slipped Tom Riddle's diary into Ginny's cauldron in that shop, and she ended up in a trance and opened the Chamber, where I fought a fucking basilisk. Third year I met Sirius, nearly killed him, and then saved him from Dementors, a ton of them at once, with my Patronus. Fourth year I got roped into the Cup against my will, my name put there by a false Mad-Eye Moody who was really Crouch, Jr., to get me to Voldemort's ritual site for my blood. And you, more or less, know the rest, don't you?”

Draco says nothing. But his eyes close. They're wet for some reason.

“Shh,” Harry whispers and holds him tight.

“And where was Dumbledore in all this? Letting you go through it?” Draco demands suddenly, like someone struck him across the face.

“Sometimes he pulled me out of it. Sometimes he was just there after. I...got myself into a lot of trouble, just trying to do the right thing. Usually dragged Hermione and Ron with me.”

Draco opens his eyes. Harry's so close. He can see it all.

And the irony hits him. Hard.

The only person to ever see Draco was Harry Potter, despite their childish attentions.

And, perhaps selfishly, Draco believes the inverse to be true.

He'd never wanted to be Harry, just to know him. To be better, sometimes, depending on how heavy his father weighed on his mind. He hated Harry for always escaping trouble, for always getting back in it, for everyone thinking he could do no wrong when he had been quite the victim of the opposite truth. He'd seen Harry at his best and at his worst, called him on the subtlety in his altruism and his curious nature and come out fine. After all the teasing and mocking of that Gryffindor bravery, he'd fully trusted Harry to protect himself and Draco during that one detention in the Forbidden Forest. Despite fleeing like a sensible person at one point, of course.

Balance. Hm.

Harry's nose is pressed to his as he murmurs, “You still with me?”

“Yeah. I'm here.”

And pale hair falls into black, and pale hands stroke a lightly tanned face, and Draco, as he kisses Harry deeply, pulling Potter between his legs against the sink as he's hoisted upon its edge, has found the sun again.

 

 

 

xxxiv

 

 

Not much else is said or decided that night. Mostly, they snog, quite enjoyably.

Draco's dreams are a little bit confusing, but Harry is in them, sitting at his side and laughing later on, and that helps him endure even after he wakes, terrified, to the possibilities of what is coming. Draco believes he himself could snog, shag and go, at least as a baseline experience with things, but Potter clearly can't. He's too honorable or he's too emotional or, quite probably, he's too romantic somewhere inside. It's an interesting conundrum.

Draco sits for tea and toast in the morning, delighting Luna and making Neville smile.

Harry sits beside him closely, but not too close, as the eyes watch on carefully around them.

“How's the Slytherin dorms coming along?” Neville Longbottom asks Draco over a muffin.

Draco swallows his bit of tea and rests his cup, shoulders angled for Potter to gaze at his chest distractedly in his favorite tight vest and shirt combination. “Nearly done. The house elves will have to finish some things, repair wise.”

“It's good of you to oversee it all,” Luna says as she selects a fresh orange.

“McGonagall...asked me to.” Draco sighs and gazes into his nearly empty teacup.

Harry angles closer and subtly bumps his foot near Draco's, making him smile a little bit. “What's wrong with that?”

“Hm? Nothing. Just...didn't...didn't know how much I'd rather stay where I am now.”

“The bathrooms, you mean?” Neville says, then winces. “I swear, I don't mean that the way it sounds. I could see why—it's all isolated there. Quiet. Could do a lot there.”

“It has its perks,” Harry murmurs, and Draco nearly spits his tea and shoots him a glare over the cup.

“Don't you miss your friends from your House?” Luna asks curiously while she peels the orange in a strange manner.

Draco feels eyes on him. Shrugs. “Yes, I suppose. They're not people who change very much, and the rest of the House either hates me for doing the right thing or hates me for getting caught in anything. It's...it's just different.”

“Sure sounds it,” Neville comments, looking a bit disturbed.

Potter just smiles and bumps his foot to Draco's again. “You have us, too, of course.”

“Of course,” Luna agrees, sending Draco a brilliant smile that, even still, he doesn't trust. At least in her case it's more along the lines of fearing she reads his bloody mind.

Neville nods and taps the table. “And Ron and Hermione, too. Ginny and Dean.”

“I hate to disappoint you, Longbottom, but not a single person in that list feels the way you do.”

“Just haven't come 'round yet. Have to experience it for themselves.”

“Experience what?”

Luna sucks the juice from an orange wedge rather loudly, interrupting for a moment.

Potter sends him that seductive smile. Bastard. “Experience you being you with a bit more maturity and openness, is all.”

“I'll show you maturity, Potter.”

“I'm pleased to witness.”

“Stop it,” Draco growls at the open flirting, glancing at Longbottom and Lovegood as both stare at them strangely.

Harry sighs, but he's clearly not done yet. Not for the day, anyway.

He proves Draco right when he turns up at the Slytherin dorms with a smile and another Patronus, and Draco starts to think it's getting rather silly seeing so many misty forest creatures running about the common room lately.

Harry sits still upon the bed in the dorm, not helping at Draco's own request while Draco sorts his trunk with a glower. He has barely anything in the bathroom where he's stayed, but damn it. He hates to leave the solitude.

“Hermione owl'ed me this morning.”

“Why does my stomach clench with dread at this, Potter?”

Harry stretches out on his front, looking down at him from the bed's edge while he sorts items on the floor. “She's coming tomorrow with Ron and Ginny. I told her I needed to tell her something, so she's curious.”

Draco nearly smashes a finger as the trunk lid shifts in his shock. “Harry, no.”

“What? What's wrong with wanting one of my two best friends, who by the way is the most mature of the two and will come 'round fastest about it, to know?”

“And what would you say to Granger, hm? 'Oh, Hermione, it's great! I snogged Draco in the loo for two hours last night. Should have been there.'”

“I'm not tellin' her that.”

“Then what?"

Harry flicks a bit of his tie at Draco's head. “Just that I like Draco Malfoy, and I want it to go somewhere.”

“Best have Pomfrey ready. Granger will stroke. First she'll learn you want a bloke, then she'll discover it's me, and that might well kill her.”

“You're actually quite hilarious, did you know that?” Harry teases him.

Draco looks up with flair. “Of course, Potter. I'm a well bred man.”

“Are you, now?”

“You're technically a Pureblood. Just not as strong of one as I am.”

“That stuff...does it still...?”

Fair question, he supposes, and leans up a moment to bring their eyes level. The green shade of Harry's eyes never fails to be so vibrant. “No, Harry. I don't care about Mudbloods and all that anymore. Bigger things to worry about.”

“Good. So tell Hermione that.”

“Right, and just hand my balls to her on a plate, no thanks.”

Draco, come on,” Harry insists, and something in the way he speaks Draco's name tugs at his belly and groin and heart all at once. It's a tone Draco's heard Granger use on the Weasel. It's...a relationship tone.

A bit awed by that, Draco doesn't notice that he's spaced out until fingers brush hair from his brow. He blinks, grey eyes shifting to take in Harry's calm face. “What?” he softly asks.

“Nothing. I just like looking at you.”

“You do, hm?”

“You're an attractive person, you idiot,” Harry drawls, pouting his lips a little in thought. “A very attractive person.”

Draco smiles widely, teeth showing. Harry grins back. “Good thing you're a rugged, handsome bloke, isn't it.”

“Rugged? Lovely.”

“Are you feeling weird about this, yet? I'm getting there,” Draco admits and sits back down, hand on the trunk with a sigh. “This is weird, Potter. Very weird.”

Harry's eyes are on him as he asks, “Do you not want this?”

“What is this?”

“Us.”

“Potter, you go from bugging me about friendship to bugging me about snogging. I can't keep up with you.”

“Maybe I wanted to be your friend and snog you this whole time.”

“Liar.”

Harry snickers and scratches his head, adjusting his glasses. “Okay, fine, not the entire time. Kind of hit me that a lot of our tension is...sometimes sexual. Then I wanted to do both.”

Draco rests a moment.

The thought has burned through him since Lovegood's chat. But since he's never even been sure of anything beyond basic attraction to Harry in the past, he has no idea what he wants next. Or if it's even a good idea. It's really not, if one takes the rest of Hogwarts and the wizarding world into consideration.

“I know that look. You're hesitating.”

“Well one of us should. Someone has to think with their brain and not their cock.”

Harry laughs loudly, rolling onto his back and draping an arm across his chest, and Draco laughs with him.

Stars, he thinks, and asks, “Harry, am I just your bloke test?”

Potter stops laughing and looks at him seriously. “No. I've always...I dunno, when I look back on it, I'm not entirely sure now why I ever liked Cho, and Ginny was more a mix of guilt and friendship and closeness. It's not...quite the same rush or feeling I get like with you. Kissing you is everything I wanted in the past. But you were the first bloke I found attractive, and the only one I wanted more than some random thing with if I ever tried it.”

Before Draco can speak, Harry adds, “I'm not using you.”

“Good.”

“Look, I can't explain it that well. I just like you. I'm attracted to you, and I think I may have been for a while.” Harry sighs and takes his glasses off, haphazardly setting them near his side as he rubs his face. “I mean, clearly you like me. Am I your test?”

“Harry, I've always been gay.”

Potter jerks and rolls to look at him right-side up, glasses grabbed quickly. “Really?”

Draco sighs and fingers a quill on the floor from the trunk. It's not exactly something he's shared with even his closest friends much. “Yes.”

“And you just knew? All this time.”

“I've never been attracted to women. Not even in the curious way. But I play the part well enough if I need to.”

“I imagine you had to.”

The unspoken words because of your family hang in the air between them.

“So, you have more experience than me?”

“Probably a bit. Got drunk once over a summer and snogged the son of a family friend from France. We both preferred blokes, and neither of us could ever say it to anyone else, so.”

Harry rests his chin on folded hands. “Did you...did you shag him?”

Draco smiles a little. “Jealous?”

“Shut up.”

“Well don't be. It wasn't an entire shag,” Draco admits as he refolds some robes and begins replacing items in the trunk.

“Then what?”

“Merlin, Potter, he sucked me off. That was it.”

Draco pauses as he dumps in letters from his mother that detail her service and more or less house arrest and his father's sentence. It's only after he adds more items that he registers how Harry is silent.

“What?” Draco asks warily when he sees Harry staring at him.

“What was it like?” he questions. “I mean, was it weird at all? Did you...you know?”

Draco shouldn't be surprised. Potter's already admitted to practically everything he's ever done, which is almost nothing. It's rather nice to hear how virginal Potter honestly is. What good Slytherin wouldn't want to jump that, he thinks with a smirk. Potter keeps changing his world, one revelation at a time.

“Well...it wasn't weird. It was...hot. Amazing. And, yeah, he...finished me,” Draco explains.

“Did you like it?”

“Yes, Harry. A good blow is quite nice.” Draco looks to him, worried that this is going to nag in Potter's head and thus his own for the rest of the damn day. “Is that a problem?”

Draco sees Harry's eyes briefly dart down his body as he stands up, gazing over his crotch. “No.”

He couldn't be more obvious.

Harry Potter wants his cock, and somehow the rest of the world is still going on around them like that's not worth pausing to hear.

“You're curious. You want to try it.” Draco grins and steps closer, leaning down over Harry.

Harry covers his face with an arm and groans.

Draco can't take it. It's too bizarre. “Face it, Potter. You want to taste me. You want to suck me off.”

“So what if I do?” Harry asks muffled behind his sleeves. “So what if I want to have it done back? I'm a healthy young male. It's perfectly fine.”

Draco snorts, but agrees. “We'll keep it in mind, then. Harry wants to suck and be sucked.”

“Could you not say it like that, you idiot? It's so crude.”

“Best get past that, Harry, if you want to get anywhere,” Draco advises and sits down next to him, reaching out to lay an open palm over Harry's thigh. It's warm and solid. Real.

And the smile from Harry is bright. “I'll get there.”

Draco shrugs and squeezes his leg. “No pressure.”

“I want some pressure,” Harry murmurs and pulls Draco over him, stealing a kiss.

He wants to laugh. He wants to smile. He wants to know if it's all a dream.

Because surely, in reality, Harry Fucking Potter wouldn't want this. Wouldn't want him.

But as their tongues stroke together before Draco bends his face and begins to drop love bites along the Savior's throat, he knows that no matter how much it scares him, how vulnerable he feels with so much visible to Harry and possibly the world after, he needs this whatever it is now.

Granger may just kill him.

Draco smirks against Harry's throat and sucks harder.

Might as well leave her something special to see.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

xxxv

 

 

The wind whips his hair about as he leans, watching the skies darkening over the grounds through the open corridor. He's chosen this spot. He's thought about it all morning since the disastrous attempt at breakfast with the now restored group of Gryffindors eyeing him, four of them in fury.

His silent glare and little smile to Lovegood's worried face must have been so infuriating.

The steps are sharp and loud, full of righteous anger as they come.

And Draco is ready.

He'd known the second that Weasley had lit up in the Great Hall that this was coming.

But out here...it's on his terms.

In a glance he sees the red hair, blue eyes, pale face flushed maroon in violence; he is ready.

He expects the storm, its lightning and screaming thunder when Weasley crosses the corridor to his side. He's prepared for it, excited for it, come at me you fucking prick.

He braces, spine straight, grey eyes on fire.

This is it.

He is ready.

And when the hit comes, fist into his cheek hard enough to send him backward into the wall, Draco grunts and feels the throbbing in his head time to the beat of his heart. Draco considers hitting back; he has quite the rage built up over the years that could possibly kill Weasley if he unleashed the monster.

But he doesn't.

He stands straight again. Unbowed. Unblinking at the blood running down from his cheek that drips to the stone floor.

Weasley shakes the pain out of his fist. Balls the other one.

“You stay the fuck away from them. Away from anyone not Slytherin. Away from Harry,” Weasley snarls low, stepping closer, his red hair like flames in the sun. “They may buy some story about you, but I don't. You're a liar. You're a manipulator. And you're a fucking murderer.”

Draco smiles darkly, knowing there is nothing else he can do.

The words sting, of course. Exclusion, fear of things he knows inside.

And hearing it from him was really only a matter of time. He's found out all too well that one cannot make people believe anything but what they want to in their raging.

“Look at you, you snake. Smiling. You know exactly what I mean, then.”

Draco slowly shakes his head to the side. “Two things, Weasley.”

“What?” Weasley asks, face about to explode, both fists balling again.

“A vengeful Slytherin is nothing like a vengeful Gryffindor. We don't hate like you. We're selective with our grudges, and for the rest we get our satisfaction, and we move the fuck on. But not you lot. Your stupid passion can't let it go. So when I walk away from this, over it and you, I know you'll be left standing here. Still this angry. Still so pathetic. Never learning, it seems.”

“You fucking bastard.”

Draco's smile drops, and he is serious. And if he is honest with himself, a little sympathetic, though he'd never say so; he knows this anger, this grief, in front of him.

He says his next line with perfect delivery, cool and calm. “And when Harry finds out, it's not me he's going to be angry with, Weasel. That honor is reserved for you.”

His robes swish fantastically, the final stroke of the play executed to justice as he walks away, Weasley screaming incoherently at his back.

Draco knows better now. He's learned.

Draco will always be blamed by some, no matter what he does.

In the mean time, storms can only fizzle out on their own pace. Grief has to have its release.

And so will Weasley, he knows, left there to see the evidence of his own ignored violence.

 

 

 

 

xxxvi

 

 

Potter enters the bathroom later that evening.

He looks exhausted.

His eyes are pained.

The sun is aching, not knowing what to do.

But when he takes in the large bruise on Draco's cheek while Draco sits upon the cot, thinking to himself in the quiet, Harry Potter looks enraged and sad and like a father ready to throw his hands in the air.

Draco says nothing, just gazes his way.

And Potter moves in front of him, fingers lifting his jaw, thumb gingerly grazing the bruise in bittersweet pain.

“Damn it, Ron,” he curses, shaking his head. “Draco, I—”

“It's fine.”

“No, it's not.”

Draco sighs, slowly lifts his gaze to catch Harry's worry. “Yeah, it is. It was unavoidable, Harry. And now it is done. Now maybe he'll show me somehow why the two of you are friends at all.”

“He's just...angry,” Harry explains with a sympathetic, thankful frown. “Blames you for Fred, in a way. And Ginny and I, let alone everything else that happened.”

The chuckle is real, but small. A start. “He's not the first, and he's far from the last. Best get used to it, Potter. You're sitting here with the one of blame.”

“I know,” Harry sighs.

The fire aches inside him, but Draco must give him the chance. He'd want it offered, too, if only to slam it down for himself. “You can still run, you know. Escape it before the damage is done. I won't hate you.”

Harry outright glares like years have vanished between them. It stirs something inside of Draco, and Harry leans closer, eyes locking on. “I'm not going anywhere.”

“Masochist,” Draco mutters. “That's what you are, Harry Potter. What will the papers think?”

And he reaches and Harry is there, lips together gentle and greeting, everything Draco has needed all day. He absorbs it, the energy of it, the weird comfort to be found in this growing ritual between them, and for that consistency, he is grateful.

Harry presses tenderly to the bruise. “I'm sorry.”

“Don't worry about it, Potter. We both know how you fixate,” Draco warns and slides his fingers through Harry's wild hair. “Weasley's a barbarian, but he's your friend. Has to be a good reason for that.”

But Harry can't stop.

“You didn't hit him back,” he whispers.

“No.”

At first Harry looks suspicious, but then a slow, brilliant relaxation unfolds over his expression, and Draco is enveloped in a tight hug, lips to his throat.

“I'm proud of you,” Harry says.

I'm proud of you, the room echoes, the mirror's copy of Harry whispering it back.

There's a tugging in his chest, a heat in his lap, an overall brightness of star. Draco closes his eyes against the affection, comforted and warm and returns it, daring to nuzzle against that soft, crazed hair growing out over Potter's collar again.

Potter comments lowly, curiously, “I found him standing outside in the rain. He seemed angry and confused. When I asked what happened, he just said, 'He didn't hit back, Harry. I said all that to his face, and he didn't hit me back.'”

Draco smiles a little, ignoring the pain in his face.

“Given him plenty to think on, I think,” Harry murmurs, sliding his eyes to the side.

“You weren't too harsh, I take it?” Draco asks.

Harry thumbs over Draco's knuckles. “No, but I totally snapped at one point. I told him I didn't know how he could ever accept anyone's changes if he didn't give it a go himself.”

Draco refuses Harry's subsequent attempt of a healing spell to his bruised cheek. Harry just shakes his head, but seems to understand; pride really is a shared House trait.

And when Harry leaves, he kisses him soundly with promise, saying, “Draco...I'm sorry, but thank you.”

“I didn't do it for you alone, Potter,” Draco teases at the door. “Stop being so greedy.”

Harry laughs. Draco smirks the way he knows Potter loves.

With parchments in hand and Potter's smell over the cot, he sleeps beyond well that night, feeling like something solid is steadily growing itself beneath his once wavering feet.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

xxxvii

 

 

Draco misses breakfast the next morning unintentionally.

McGonagall snags him into her office as soon as she catches him going towards it and proceeds to demand answers to the nasty bruise on his face.

It's odd to see her so worried about him since Diagon Alley, and something softens a little.

“Well, I'll have to have a talk with Mr. Weasley. No violence in this school,” she says, voice absolutely firm.

Draco stands to leave when he is dismissed and asks her once to just let it go.

Her stunned look and lasting smile follows him to Sprout's Herbology rooms where he helps Neville lifting large pots of those horrific mandrakes for the next first years. He's wearing earmuffs, of course, because he's not a fucking idiot, and each little tiny squeal that begins when the pots are rearranged sets him on edge until they stop once they feel settled on their new bench.

“Temperamental,” Longbottom laughs, taking off his muffs once they finish moving nearly thirty mandrakes. “But kinda cute. If you squint hard.”

“Screaming nightmares,” Draco disagrees. “Like fat, angry carrots.”

Longbottom chuckles and takes his removed gloves for storing, calling over his shoulder, “You ready for lunch?”

Draco looks at the door nearby. Debates refusing so he can slink off somewhere more comfortable than the Great Hall. But Neville turns, and there's the pleading look, and damn it there they go walking together, with Draco wondering continually how they keep managing to do this to him.

Luna and Neville both, of course.

Draco blinks, staring at the back of Longbottom's head, and wonders if those two are anything like he and Harry have become. He's noticed their shared looks and close walks, after all.

He enters the Great Hall with some mild nerves eating away at his confidence. Awkwardly he returns the pat on the shoulder to Longbottom and proceeds to make his way to the Slytherin table, needing some fucking sense of familiarity in his rapidly changing definition of normal.

But across the room are eyes, and they're on him, and Potter is disappointed.

Weasley, interestingly enough, looks grudgingly bashful.

Draco ignores them all, especially that sharp gaze of Granger's and the pinning, tight one of the Weasel's sister, and listens to the small group of nearby younger Slytherins discussing which of their friends have owl'ed and will be returning soon.

Whether it will even be worth it.

Having once believed the world stops only for the few while it spins for the rest, Draco now stares at them as if they're stupid.

Of course it's worth it. Hogwarts is...it's....

He sighs to himself, eyeballing the magicked ceiling. “It's home, for better or worse.”

The other Slytherins eye him as if he's gone off his rocker, and he rolls his eyes, taking a bite out of the sandwich appearing before him.

The heat of awareness burns his ears, and Draco looks up once to see the Gryffindor group whispering to one another, one Ravenclaw smiling at him.

Hilarious.

They somehow manage to make up for their lack of a Hufflepuff.

Potter's raising a brow at him. Waiting.

Draco shrugs at it and goes back to eating. He knows damn well that whatever he is doing with Harry Potter isn't going to be well received by the majority of anyone, and it's quite best to keep it as private as it is for however long it can even last.

He gets lost thinking of stars and densities when the little paper bird flits to land against his hand. Draco stares down at it, ignores the gush from his immediate left from the Slytherins, and sets the little flapping thing aside to eat. It looks extremely similar to one he'd sent a long time ago. How pleasing to see what Harry remembers.

Still, though, Potter will just have to learn that not everything can happen in a day.

At least that's what he tries to set as the example, but the third fucking paper bird is quite enough to breach his patience. The Slytherins are laughing at this point, mocking him for getting strange notes from the Gryffindor side, cooing at him like he's got a fanclub.

Draco finally huffs, wipes his mouth with the napkin from his lap, and grabs the birds, ripping them open, finding the green ink and writing that has soothed him so much:

C'mon over here and eat, you prat. We're waiting.

Still waiting.

Draco, seriously, it's okay. We want you here.

Granger's giggle catches his ears, and he looks up, finding that Potter is working on a fucking fourth bird. Draco shoves back from the table, grabs the three opened ones, and walks to the Gryffindor's table, dropping them right upon Potter's half-full plate.

He stands there, bent, eyes intense and asks, “Are you done?”

“I am now,” Harry murmurs, a tad sheepish. “Got you over here, didn't it?”

“Merlin, Potter, you're worse than a school girl,” he grumbles with a hint of smirk, watching Harry Potter blush brilliantly red.

Granger's brows shoot up into that mess of fringe over her forehead, Ron Weasley looks green, Neville is smiling, Luna laughs, Ginevra Weasley is glaring and Dean Thomas is watching her in concern.

Harry shrugs, unable to help his smile behind his raised cup. “If that's what it takes.”

Draco sighs, relaxing his stance a bit. “Good for you, Potter. You know how to annoy me, and like that is a bloody surprise to anyone. If that's all, I'll be going.”

“Sit, you arse.”

Draco rolls his skeptical eyes around the group once more. There's enough tension mixed between accepting him and hating him that he's really rather impressed. He attempts to make some excuse, something to cover his exit, but Lovegood takes his left wrist and guides him to the edge of the group across from Potter. He sits like a chastised child next to her, arms crossed, one brow high at her own.

Weasley's sister frowns.

Draco feels so entirely fucking awkward as they sit there, none speaking. All waiting for someone to break the silence. And so he does, being the good guest that he is, by noting, “Luna, I see your sock has decided to come back.”

“Oh, yes! Found it hanging over my trunk. Quite nice, actually.”

Granger blinks a few times. Weasley frowns in an unpleasant what-the-bloody-hell expression that, really, isn't too far off his face most of the time.

“So, Draco and I had to move the mandrake pots today,” Neville pipes up from his left. “Didn't have to re-pot them, thankfully. Just move 'em.”

“They still protested loud enough,” Draco grunts, and surprisingly there's sympathetic nods and grimaces all around the table.

Mandrakes. The one unifying experience of Hogwarts.

Weasley keeps staring at his cheek, then away.

Coward. Idiot. Might as well stare.

Draco fights the stupid urge to pick at his jumper sleeve, fights the need to move. Potter's foot bumps his under the table intently, and Draco's grey eyes shoot to his, edge of his brow cocking a little. Potter grins to himself, confusing the rest looking at them both.

It makes him beyond nervous, this thing with Harry.

He still doesn't know what it is. What it isn't.

And he knows that while Potter is really just trying to ease him down from the stress of so many people, it's making him uncomfortable because whatever it is is getting quite visible, and as usual the git has yet to realize what he's doing.

Draco reminds himself that snogging Potter is worth this fault.

“How's the face feeling?” Harry asks, startling everyone a bit.

Draco sits up straight, meeting Ron Weasley's eyes for just a split second before they both look far away. “Fine.”

“Pomfrey could heal that easily, you know,” Granger offers with a little shrug.

“It's not a problem.”

“It may take a while to fade, is all,” Granger says, glancing between he and the silent Weasel.

Draco twitches his nose. “I don't care.”

Weasley smiles just a bit out the corner of his eye.

When Luna reaches over and rolls his sleeve up, Draco doesn't stop her. But he does give her a look, one he might give to an overeager first year. “Are you quite satisfied?” he asks when the Mark is bare upon the table.

Luna nods. “Yes. It's nice to see you, Draco.”

“You're lucky I like you,” he mumbles and smiles, just at Luna.

Luna grins. “Well, Draco, I like you, too.”

While the rest are staring at the skull and snake in a mixture of horror and fascination, Potter is looking at him—happy and something else. Something else as Harry glances between Draco and Luna. It doesn't take him long to figure it out.

After all, it was Harry who'd asked why Draco could be friendlier to Luna Lovegood than to Harry himself. While it peaks his interest, jealousy isn't a good item for table discussion among possible friends and enemies.

Still, he has to say something. Potter is just so fucking obvious.

“Pouting isn't a good look on you, you know,” Draco says quietly across the table, lips curving.

Granger's eyes zone in on them, interested, as Harry grunts and slouches more, his leg sliding higher against Draco's under the table cleverly.

It's Weasley's voice, though, that sucks all the attention away. Ron Weasley glances about, crosses his arms, and nods before giving Draco a tilted half-smirk. “Place doesn't look half-bad. Guess you've not done too terrible a job working around here, Malfoy.”

Draco smirks back. “You'd be surprised how moody these walls are.”

“I'd believe it.”

“And the paintings. All screaming at me while I try to fix them. It's entirely unhelpful.”

Hermione Granger laughs, then looks shocked at doing so.

Ron Weasley slowly smiles a little.

Neville claps him on the back. Luna tilts her face. Ginevra holds Dean's hand, but still glares at Draco, watching Harry closely.

And Harry bites his lower lip, smiling, green eyes fixated on him in relieved joy.

Draco stares down at the table, feeling Potter's leg warm against his, and wonders if he should take up stargazing and just get on with it.

 

 

 

 

xxxviii

 

 

 

It's a still slightly warm summer evening when he strolls around the lake.

He finds a spot that's semi-hidden and not far away from where he held Potter's hand and smiles. Draco's come to find that a grateful Harry is an enthusiastic Harry, and as such is quite hilariously awkward and affectionate. The ridiculously large, barely hidden love bite on his neck is proof enough. And the bruise has been healed from his cheek, because apparently it's worked wonders and bothered Ron Weasley himself.

Lying on his back up against a tree with a great view of the sky and water, Draco lets go.

He thinks of himself barely a month ago.

He thinks of his trial.

He thinks of Potter's determined hands and demanding lips.

He looks at the stars and wonders which they are, tempted to ask his resident Ravenclaw to draw him a map. He never really had taken an interest in astronomy before, but as he lies here now, simply surrounded by it, he wonders how it never crossed his mind.

It's such a vast, beautiful thing up there.

It has no bounds, no rules, no morals.

No judgment.

Just emptiness speckled with light.

And in the distance the moon waits as the sun falls, and Draco sits up, watching for a very long while as they pass one another, sharing a moment in time and space before the moon is high and alone, but bright and full...as if just that second of passing had given it the courage to be so.

He's being ridiculous; he knows that.

But he can't help but want to find meaning in things after never finding it important before.

It takes a while to compose a letter to his mother there with his wand out for light. He tells her he is safe still, that the term will be starting very soon, and that, horror upon horrors, he has made some new friends. He mentions no names, but he thinks of Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom, the first ones to take him in without demand or expectations. Without wanting him to grovel first.

He writes of Harry, saying nothing about their whatever it is developments, but notes Potter's attempts to include him in things. That it drives Draco mad, even if he's amused by that Gryffindor need. That they've mended some fences, even if it's difficult. That, of course, his father would be quite disapproving of it all. (Having tea with Potter in front of everyone? Sharing sandwiches on steps? The scandal.)

He ends it with:

And Potter is charming in his silly trials to create this bond, Mother, while I sit back and watch, hoping none notice at all. But it's all right. I think that's how it should be for now. Draco.

Even as the ink dries for him to roll the parchment, Draco is mildly anxious about attaching it to his owl. For Narcissa Malfoy is a bright star, too, and it won't be long before she asks him for the truth.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

xxxix

 

 

It's barely eight in the morning, and Draco is surrounded outside of the Forbidden Forest.

Thankfully the intruders are simply curious and friendly thestrals, all sniffing about and bouncing against him as the herd considers him carefully. It's mind blowing to him that merely an hour ago he'd still imagined such creatures to be half-cocked in Luna's wondrous brain, but when he sees them grouped together, he finds out just how wrong he is.

At first he's quite terrified. Who wouldn't be, he thinks, looking at them coming in a mass from the tree line? But as he sees Luna stay calm and even call out to the creatures with familiarity, Draco begins to hold his breath and watch. And then they surround him, sniffing, taking him in just as much.

His nerves are strumming, but he doesn't want to run from them. Maybe a year ago, he would, but now?

Now he stands in a buzzing circle of animal acceptance.

Of pure acceptance.

These creatures know nothing of whom he is or what he's done. They simply judge him right then, right there, on his heart and his intention toward them. The past doesn't matter to these darkly beautiful, melancholic moving shadows.

Draco refuses to label them as omens now; despite their reputations, Luna confides in him their intelligence, their loyalty and kindnesses, and he begins to view the thestrals as a reward for those unfortunate enough to see death. For those brave enough to keep going.

Luna Lovegood watches as they seem to accept Draco into their fold, a small colt nudging her fingers for affection. Draco reaches out tentatively to pet a large female, as Luna identifies her, stroking a finger gently down her strange reptilian horse head and his other hand past her wing with a tight, healed scar.

“They like you,” Luna compliments. “You're open with them.”

“I'm just standing here,” Draco sniffs, then snickers as the female bumps his brow with the side of her face and calls softly. “Not sure why they're picking on me.”

“It's their friendly way of poking around for meat,” she explains, then bends, reaching into the container she'd carried out with them earlier.

Instantly the herd snaps to attention, and Draco watches, fascinated, as Luna tosses small strips of meat to the youngest and then to the older members of the herd. The last piece she holds out to Draco, telling the remaining hungry thestral, the female who'd nudged him if he remembers the healed spot on her wing right, to wait.

Draco gets nervous because of course he does. He still remembers that bloody hippogriff.

“Just be yourself, Draco. They're quite smart, and she'll understand you mean no harm.”

He blows out a breath, takes the nasty bit of bleeding meat between his fingers, and holds it up. There's a huff of air, the bizarrely beautiful soft call of the female, and she trudges forward, peeking. He bites his lip. “This is for you, apparently,” he mumbles and, concerned for the safety of his fingers, throws the meat her way.

When the thestral snaps its jaws shut, catching it and chomping away, Draco breaks out into a grin.

“Very good! She's quite taken with you,” Luna observes happily.

They both watch the animals communicate with wing bumps, tail flicks, and soft noises. And the female he fed comes closer, rubs against his back, and turns away with the herd as they withdraw further into the Forbidden Forest.

Draco stays flabbergasted as he leaves Luna to return to Hagrid, the one who'd entrusted her to treating the animals to begin with a while ago.

He wonders what it means that a thestral has circled him as it had, and he stays in this thought near to the castle, pausing only when he hears his name.

Draco glances around, confused, because it didn't sound as if someone was shouting for him at all. It sounded, in fact, like he was being talked about. Stomach and eyes rolling at that thought, Draco goes to walk on to the school, but stops again.

It's Harry he hears.

And Granger.

Shit.

Footsteps trek through the open area.

Draco runs up the stairs and slides around the corner, breathing heavily as he lays low, waiting, listening as the voices grow closer outside.

He hears Harry stop on the stairs where they'd once held hands.

He hears Hermione ask him if Harry knows exactly what he's doing.

He hears Harry say, quite seriously, “No, but I'm quite all right with that.”

“But, Harry, can you trust him with this kind of thing? Forget the rest, fine, but can you trust him not to be using you? Can you be certain this isn't going to end up a blackmail at some point?”

Draco's teeth gnash together, eyes slamming shut. Of course.

“'Mione, he's not using me. And by that argument, I could be blackmailing him.”

“I just worry about you. This is a huge change, Harry. Not just having Draco Malfoy as a friend, but...but....”

Draco slumps a little, cursing quietly.

“I'm quite fine having him as a mate, Hermione, but I'm happier having him as more.”

Granger laughs, a little awkwardly. “A boyfriend?”

Draco's eyes dramatically widen at nothing down the hall.

Boyfriend.

Boyfriend. Fuck.

“Well, we haven't exactly put terms on it like that,” Harry explains, and the shuffling noise of robes reaches Draco; a tell tale Potter nervous habit, he knows by now.

And he's absolutely right. They haven't.

“Harry.”

“You don't know him like I do,” Potter says softly.

Oh that burn in his chest. Brilliant. Warm. Words he's never sussed that he's wanted to hear from anyone until right now with this awareness.

“So tell me, then.”

Yes, Harry. Do tell.

Harry sighs, and Draco smiles to himself. “He's a beautiful mess. Cares more than he'll ever say. Protective. He worries about people thinking he'll use me for everything. And he's apparently pretty big on this autonomy stuff, which, you know...fair enough.”

“You mean the argument after his cold that you wrote about?” Granger asks.

Well. He's going to have to have a little chat with Potter about sharing everything.

“Yeah,” Harry replies. “I dunno, 'Mione. I've just...gotten to see things. See things I've always wanted to see, wondered about him. I like them. I like him. I know that's fucking odd, but I do. And I'd really appreciate you supporting me in this. Ron will stroke, but I will drag his arse to my side.”

“You've got that right,” Granger says with a groan. “It's just complicated with Ron. With Ginny still. You know she's with Dean now, but she...well.”

The grimace is tight upon his features.

Harry scoffs, making him almost smile. “I'm well beyond it. I have Draco. Maybe in time she'll understand that it has nothing to do with her.”

“You should still probably speak about it. It may speed things along. It was just a bit strange for her, I think, to go through it all hoping things wouldn't change. She doesn't understand what happened.”

“Hermione, I...think this would have happened anyway. I can't explain it.”

Draco bites his lip.

...they have to deal with how he feels for you, first, Luna had said.

Merlin, Potter. Draco softly smiles to himself.

“All right, Harry. If you're sure this is what you want. That he is. I'll...try. I just want you happy, you know that, right?”

“Thanks, Hermione.”

“You have to answer me one last thing, though.”

“What?”

“Is he, you know...? I may be new to this information, but I'm not blind. That is a mark on your neck from him. I mean, I know because...Ron...um. You know. Things...happen between two people who are attracted to one another, so.”

“Oh my God,” Harry loudly groans.

Draco's pale face flushes so red he might as well become a curtain in the Gryffindor dorms. Never did he think he'd hear that question asked by Granger of all people. But the smirk feels nearly permanent now that he knows she found what he'd intended her to find all along.

Yes, Granger, he thinks. That's my mark.

And it was rather fun to make.

Potter must be blushing as hard, because Granger laughs quite loudly and tells him to calm down, seriously Harry, calm down, it's quite all right.

But Draco wants to know Harry's response so much that it hurts to stay still and not just peek.

“It's...Merlin, stop laughing, you're terrible!” Harry grumbles, then continues as Granger's laughs soften a bit. “Snogging Draco...is...it's like my first day at Hogwarts—it's fantastic, it's consuming, and I just don't want it to end. Satisfied?”

Granger goes silent. So does Draco, quite literally, as he holds his breath, the blush warm, his cock aching for that beautiful star of a young man. The smile is both gentle and loving as it touches upon his face in the shadow.

“What?” Harry finally asks, sounding quite embarrassed.

Granger moves audibly, probably hugging Harry, but all Draco can make out is, “You really mean it. You really care about him.”

“Yes. I do.”

“Okay, Harry. It won't be quick or perfect, but I'll...I'll try. He did spare you with the Death Eaters, and he did help you finish Voldemort in the end. I'm...just struggling with the rest. Things I think he'll have to work out with me for himself. You understand, right?”

“Completely.”

“Well. This is going to be so strange. You always were fixated on him, Harry. For years.”

Hermione.”

“Always wondering about him, always talking about him, always stalking him with that Map.”

Draco's brows nearly come clear off his face. Stalking? Map?

He waits until the pair part, Granger heading for the Gryffindor dorms and Harry strolling his way toward the path to his bathroom, and when he rounds the corner Draco grabs him, pushes him into the wall, and kisses the fucking breath right out of Harry Potter.

Harry gasps, goes red, and kisses back once, green gaze embarrassed. “You...heard, didn't you.”

“Every word,” Draco swears, grins, and kisses his throat. “Every fucking word.”

“Ugh.”

Draco laughs against him, face buried beneath an ear. “Like your first day at Hogwarts.”

Harry groans beneath him. “Shut up.”

“Well, jolly for you...it doesn't have to stop right now,” Draco whispers, tongue sliding up Harry's jaw, getting a small moan. “Unless you spare me an explanation, stalker.”

“Oh, fucking crap,” Harry bemoans and buries his head against Draco's shoulder. “Can...can that wait? Please? For a long time?”

“No.”

“But Draco,” Harry begins.

Draco pulls back, studying Harry's very nervous form before him. “Harry.”

Potter looks around, grunts, and shoves his hand into his pocket. A moment later a large folded parchment is produced, and for a brief span of thought, Draco wonders if his own secret habit has been somehow shared between them.

But Harry opens the parchment, mutters the phrase “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,” and Draco watches the blank parchment magically color with words he can't quite make out upside down from where he stands.

“What the bloody hell is this?” he asks, coming to Harry's side.

Harry closes his eyes bashfully and opens the parchment, and Draco stares.

There, near the middle right, is his name. Next to Harry's. And in the opposite direction is Granger's with little magical footsteps walking away.

Draco blinks. Thinks.

“I know, it looks terrible. I swear I only used it in the past when I thought something bad was happening to track you or anyone else,” Harry says, looking quite concerned when Draco continues to stare at it in silent thought. “Draco, please, just say something. Snipe at me, for Merlin's sake.”

But Draco doesn't. He doesn't quite know what to feel. Except now he knows something that he's always wondered:

So this was how Harry had always known to send him a Patronus in the Slytherin dorms.

This was how Potter had known to alert McGonagall to Draco's absence in the very beginning.

This was how Potter found him at the tomb, the steps, the lake, and leaving for Diagon Alley.

It actually just wasn't some bizarre ability he'd accepted Harry to have simply by being Potter.

“You clever, clever fucker,” Draco says, impressed nonetheless. “You stalking fucker.”

“Draco?” Harry asks, openly worried. “Look, I know, I'm sorry. It's...it's....”

Draco swallows roughly, brain working fast as Harry stares up at him, expression sinking, the worry pure and true. It's likely that Potter's own motives for following his movements since the war are also pure and true, at least he hopes. So, sure, he's not quite comfortable with this information. It feels violating, and now he'll always wonder if Harry's watching him everywhere he goes. He imagines Potter lying at night, watching his own little ink feet moving.

But even that thought, it's also...kind of...hot.

Draco pushes him to the wall again, the strange map falling to the floor beside them. “Spying on me for years, you twat. I don't know if I want to strangle you or rip your clothes off first.”

Harry's eyes are comically wide, magnified behind his glasses.

Draco slides a finger down Potter's cheek, throat, shirt beneath his robes as slowly as he can, watching with a dark smirk and gleeful stare as Harry wriggles. Moans.

He hooks his finger in the waistband of Potter's trousers and tugs. “Are you terribly sorry, Harry?” Draco asks, voice like melted chocolate.

“Extremely,” Harry gasps, sounding sincere and turned the fuck on.

Draco smiles, and it's determined. “I suppose you'll have to make it up to me. You know I value my privacy.”

“I've only used it since if I wanted to speak with you.”

Draco catches the slight off-look in the green eyes and yanks on the trousers, pulling Harry forward by the waist. “Don't lie to me,” he whispers, noses touching.

“I...I mean it, it's just...sometimes when I couldn't sleep...hell, I feel better looking at your name.”

Draco's smirk falls somewhat. “Why?”

Harry shakes, though from embarrassment or fear, he doesn't know. “I just felt safer.”

“Knowing where I was? Keeping an eye on me to be sure I wasn't up to something, hm?” Draco snaps, furious, fingers digging against Harry's warm lower abdomen.

“No! No. Lately, I...I feel safer knowing you're safe. That you're still...here.” Harry leans forward, fingers daring to ghost over Draco's soft hair. “You make me feel safer being here. I want you here. I want you.”

Draco's brow slides up while his fingers slide down, heart fluttering while he brushes against the bulge in Potter's trousers. “I can tell.”

“Are you mad at me or not, 'cause I can't keep up with this,” Harry grumbles, hips lifting slightly to press his erection firmly to Draco's fingers. “If you are, scream. If you're not, keep doing what-the-hell-ever that is with your hand.”

“I suppose I can forgive your spying,” Draco agrees and obeys, twisting his hand until he cups Harry in his palm, the material of the trousers teasing between them. It feels so good to touch him so privately, so personally, to see Potter coming undone with something so simple yet again. He feels himself pushing against his own trousers, just as affected. Just as undone, in his own way.

Harry tilts his head back to the wall, back bowing.

“No more spying.”

“No more,” Harry agrees.

Draco gently kisses Harry's dry lips. “But you can come find me if you need me.”

“Yeah?”

“Bloody stag isn't too awful to look at,” Draco admits, then lets go of Harry; a small protesting sound makes him smile. “Promise me one thing, Harry, no matter what this is or isn't between us.”

Harry swallows. His eyes clear and focus. “What, Draco?”

Draco breathes out the air between his lips. Holds Harry's hand in his. “Promise me that you trust me.”

“I do.”

The lack of hesitancy is carefully noted.

Draco's brow is met with Potter's own raised one. “You promise.”

Harry nods. “I promise. Do you trust me? Do you believe me about...the Map and stuff?”

Draco just rolls his eyes, amused. The immediate fear has died down. The understanding of waking to nightmares alone, haunted, has entered him. And he can see Harry staring at his name on that Map in the nights when, perhaps, he dreams of dying in the Forbidden Forest.

“I will,” Draco answers as Potter looks anxious. No matter the past, he has decided to look forward to whatever may come. He has since he crossed the line in the dorms. And if there's one thing he's wanted to change, it's standing by something. Believing in something and fighting for it with pride. Draco rests his brow to Harry's, feeling their hair tease together. “I will trust you, Harry.”

The world rights itself while they gaze at one another in silent understanding of what the fuck that actually means, how far reaching those five words are.

“So...we're good, then.”

“Sure, Potter. But we...probably should discuss something soon. Compare what we both are looking for and the like.” Draco accepts Harry's silent nod. “Good.”

And Harry blows out a loud breath and tilts his head, lips begging, then demanding.

It's so like Potter, Draco thinks, letting himself be kissed fervently.

So like Harry to beg and demand.

“Where were we?” Draco asks slyly, hand sliding back down Harry's front.

Harry hisses in his ear. “Almost...there...yes. Fuck, Draco, yes.”

Draco grins, goes to cup Potter again, and freezes when his eyes drift down to look, catching movement on the Map still there on the ground.

“Shit!” Draco grunts and lets go, turning from a bewildered and beyond frustrated Potter in his robes. There's a fast kiss, a quick rub of his palm across Harry's hard, hidden cock, and then a quiet, “Later, I promise, Harry.”

And then he is gone. Quickly.

Harry's sharp oh, fuck! echoes down the hall behind him, making Draco bark out laughing, and Draco knows Potter gets it now.

After all, it wouldn't do for McGonagall herself to see just how well they're getting along.

 

 

 

xl

 

 

He's been hard all bloody day, and it's stupid Potter's fault.

Too much was overheard and said, and now he knows what Harry feels like.

Draco is hard, exhausted, dirty and distracted, everything he usually strives not to be, as he cleans up in the bathroom at the sink with that large mirror; hands rub water over his tired eyes, and he shudders hoping to never dust for McGonagall ever again.

Draco groans knowing he'd silently dusted the Transfiguration classroom for some new professor he doesn't know, all because of McGonagall coyly smiling to herself.

She knows something. Perhaps she heard them somewhat.

And that's also stupid Potter's fault for distracting him with honest words and sexy demands. He has no doubt about it.

Draco had barely eaten lunch when she'd caught him in another hall and asked him to clean her office quite kindly. And he'd done so, brow raised, through dinner as McGonagall forgot all about him and dealt with letter upon letter, and owl upon owl, reassuring parents of the next coming days.

She'd summoned him a plate that he'd brought back here with him and eaten, and now he just wants to sleep, but he can't. Not with this laughably begging thing in his trousers still wanting Harry from earlier today. He's only decided to do something about it, finally, when he hears the scraping noises.

The door opens and locks quickly, and Draco looks up in the mirror to see a disheveled Potter behind him; he wonders immediately about the Map. But Harry's first words are that he'd heard McGonagall reassuring Luna and Neville that Draco had eaten dinner after aiding her and so knew he'd find him here.

Pleased, Draco smirks and turns to face Potter.

Harry looks shaken in a good way. Harry looks exhausted and distracted.

Harry is also hard. He knows because he knows that look on Potter's face now, has come to be familiar with it recently.

And Draco would bet galleons on Potter blaming him just as much for the mutual predicament.

“Something the matter?” Draco asks nonchalantly.

Harry steps closer and shrugs his robes to the floor, hand sweeping down to the erection pressing against his zipper. Draco's cock stirs in an almost hilariously excited greeting.

“You arse. It won't go away, Draco. The second it starts to go down, I think about what happened or someone mentions your name, and then it's back. You promised, so deal with this awful thing, will you?”

“Awful? Not what I'd call it.”

Fabulous, more like.

When Harry looks like he's going to tear his hair out, Draco laughs and walks closer, eyes roaming Potter with pride. “Don't worry, Harry,” he murmurs and pulls Potter fully frontal against him. “Yours isn't the only cock that won't get the hint.”

Thank Merlin,” Harry sighs in relief, face bowed and red, but there's a sweet thrust against his body that makes Draco's eyes nearly cross.

“But...first,” Draco teases to regain control, palm open on Harry's buttoned shirt. “We settle our terms. I want to know the ends of the deal before I'm damned in it. You know what happened the last time I....”

Harry rubs the Dark Mark on his bare forearm when he leaves it all unsaid. “I understand.”

“What is it that you want, Harry? From this? From me?”

“I want what's always been there,” Harry says with a shrug.

What's always been there.

Draco stands in awe.

Because it really is that fucking simple, now, isn't it.

Because no matter their past reasons, it was always there, waiting to be seen. To be understood in how it was felt. Because he spent years looking at Potter like that and the same amount of time chasing him away with the fear it inspired. Because of suns and moons and fucking stars revolving, crafting destinies far below without care.

Both of them exhale, and Draco frowns, thinking of just what it might mean to accept this: Yes, there's Harry. There's Harry, and there's weird emotions and needs, and there's delightful prospects of sexual release. But there's also Granger, the Weasel, and Ginevra to contend with, let alone the population of Hogwarts and the wizarding community of England, should it get out. There's the sodding Daily Prophet.

There's his mother.

Draco resolves to tuck that horrific thought away for later.

“You do realize what will happen if others find out. Your reputation will be in tatters, and that ignorant way they've always treated you will only get worse when you make your own decisions. I will cease to exist in any sense beyond some corrupting agent. People will probably believe I slipped you Amortentia. They'll pity you and try to manipulate you. They will never let it go.”

“And it'll show they don't care about me, Harry,” Harry nods once, intensity dialing up. “I won't give a single sickle for it. I don't care what anyone thinks of me besides my closest friends and you. That's it. Their opinions may matter on some things, but in this, Draco, only yours and mine do.”

“It's childish to believe that others will respect that, Harry.”

“Then they can fuck off.” Harry grips his fingers into Draco's jumper. “I'm tired of only doing the right thing by the world. I came back knowing I'd do one last big thing and then live for myself if I was lucky enough. And right now, that's knowing you better, and I know that I feel better around you. So I want them to fuck off for five minutes to let me laugh with you, sit with you, and do this.”

It takes all his control not to throw Potter down when the bloke rubs up against him that well.

Draco can't help the snicker, though. “I see where that stag of yours gets its insistence from.”

Harry playfully rolls his eyes.

“You're sure you could handle it?”

“Draco, I've had press written on everything I do—most of it wrong, by the way—since I came into this world as a child. I can handle it. But can you?” Harry asks, absolutely concerned. “If you can't...I understand. I honestly, truly do, given everything you're dealing with.”

Now he's hard, exhausted, slightly dirty, distracted by Potter's mouth, and disgruntled. “It's a lot to consider, Potter. The risks are quite affecting. It could follow us for years, if things blow up in our faces.”

Harry tries to hide the disappointment in his sigh, but fails.

He's rarely ever been able to hide emotion from Draco.

Draco smiles, though, hands tearing down Harry's back and gripping that nice arse of Potter's. “So it's a good thing we're both idiots when it comes to risks and larger-than-life dangers, isn't it?” he whispers into Harry's ear, the smile transforming into a full grin with Harry's gasp.

“You mean it?” Harry asks, trembling slightly.

“To be honest, I'm beyond terrified of the entire thing.”

“I was at first.”

Draco smiles, a little sadly. “I obsessed over you as much as you did me. This isn't a new strain of subconscious thought, Harry, but it is shocking to execute...maddening to know you want it, too.”

“And if you do try it, despite being worried?”

“Well, we're clearly unable to restrain ourselves at this point—a ludicrous thing, I know—and I'd rather know that if we are involved in something that it's private and...exclusive,” he admits, cool, pale nose to Potter's warm, tanned throat. “I don't need to be nearly caught again by a suspicious Headmistress nor taken in for hexing some bitchy Gryffindor girl who ogles you too long, of which there have always been many just so you know.”

“As if you're never looked at by Slytherin girls and even some Ravenclaws. As if you've never looked in a bloody mirror, you gorgeous prat,” Harry laughs and swallows against his skin, and it's magnetic. His words are like honey in warm tea. “Will you let me defend you at all?”

Draco lifts his face, eyes so close to this once rival's, this now equal's own. “Only if you respect me as you do it. I'm a Slytherin, Potter. I can handle shits, at least here at the school. I lived with the Dark Lord himself. Give me some credit.”

“Fair.”

“I just want be free of blame from you if your public image is flushed down the loo as a result of this. If I'm entirely trashed from it, it will be difficult, yes. It will anger me. But what else can they do that they aren't already doing? I've been fucking miserable, and I am entirely fucking over feeling it.”

“Also fair.”

“Look Potter, part of me doesn't...anything could change in the next hour with you, let alone tomorrow.”

It's as much as he can express right then.

Potter gets it. Harry's expression is quite a familiar determination. “I won't let it. Not with this. Not on my end.”

Draco closes his eyes. “Harry.”

“It's worth it to me, Draco,” Harry says. “You're worth it.”

Draco gapes. Eyes soften. “Why?”

“Because, Draco. You just are.”

And...after a few tense moments, he just silently nods. Still terrified. But too enraptured.

“So we're good, then. We both want a monogamous relationship.”

That very phrase shakes him, but he nods in shock. It's everything he's wanted and more than that. He swallows in disbelief of the moment and confirms, “I...sure, Potter. For now. See where it goes.”

Harry's toothy grin is too much. Draco rolls his eyes and grips Potter's arse, dragging their fronts even tighter together. Their simultaneous hiss is exalting in its echo.

He hears Harry's moan against their kiss. Feels a romantic hand in his hair.

“You're going to be utterly absurd about this, aren't you?” Draco groans.

The cackle that erupts out of Potter is answer enough. “What, I can't enjoy the fact that my boyfriend is a posh arsehole with fantastic hair, and I want to snog him into a bloody wall?”

Draco brightens, blinking rapidly. Flushes. Grunts. And shoves Potter onto his cot before climbing above him, lips branding. His fingers explore and crave, slide under soft material and stretch over muscle and warm skin.

Harry's almost whining when he nears the snaps on his trousers.

“Make it stop,” Potter demands, thrusting into the air. “You promised me.”

Entirely pleased by a demand from the Chosen One for once, Draco asks, “How shall I do it, hm?”

“I don't care. Just do something to me, for Merlin's sake.”

Draco licks his lips wet and slides back down over Harry, almost tilting the cot with his weight to Harry's side. They pause as it wobbles, then sigh together in relief when it stills again. Draco stares deeply into those fascinating green eyes of pain and pleasure, of past and future, and gently he kisses Harry once on the mouth.

His left hand goes for Potter's trousers, and half a breath later, they're undone.

Harry has stopped moving, his eyes fixated on Draco's hand sliding slowly under the open trousers and into pants and then onto bare skin.

Boldly Draco arches his palm and sees what's hidden underneath. Slides so it's more visible.

Draco bends his face against Harry's, mouth opening hotly, everything tightening in excitement down his own body as he holds Harry Potter's fucking cock in his hand.

The world is tilting, and it is doing it beautifully.

Draco swallows his own breath as he touches Harry carefully, knowing Harry's newness to this.

It's smooth and soft, but harder than Draco's ever felt in his limited experiences with another bloke. It's warm, so very, very warm. It is glorious as only Potter's cock should rightly be.

Mm,” Draco approves in a mumble.

And Harry is bowing his back, his own mouth opening with a raspy, “Oh.”

“Relax,” Draco whispers, lips to cheek, fingers sliding up and down and circling Potter to his base. He cups him with an angle change to his wrist, shuddering and pressing his own need to Harry's hip.

Harry's demanding grunt is there; one of his hands fists against the edge of the cot, while the other tightens on Draco's thigh. Draco doesn't stop stroking, cupping, holding Harry so intimately. He spreads the bit of fluid from the head and rolls it down with his thumb, repeating every so many seconds as Harry flushes hot and pants his breath.

And then he shifts his palm, holds Harry the way he holds himself when he does this, and squeezes somewhat roughly at the base and loosens going upward. Over and over with his thumb, then palm against the head, spreading more and more wetness all around until he moves, slick and soft.

“That's it,” Draco encourages softly as Harry thrusts into his hand, moaning with his eyes shut. “Let go, Potter. Just let go.”

That's all it takes.

Draco smiles as he feels Harry tense against him, shudder, and come into his palm with a heavy moan. He keeps stroking despite the extra wetness and stickiness, for a moment or two, while Harry relaxes from the high, looking for all the world like the blinding hero Draco is accepting him to be.

Harry is gasping, breath trying to slow. Harry is opening green eyes that are thankful and hot and still so wanting. So fascinated with him.

The corner of Draco's lip lifts. “All right there, Harry?”

Harry lurches upward, fast.

Draco lets Potter kiss him with clumsy, but endearing seduction at first. It's easy for him to be distracted by Harry's tongue long enough to forget about Harry's hand on his thigh; he doesn't feel it shift until it's warm and heavy over his own hardness, and Draco sighs into Harry's kiss.

Harry stares him down, silently asking.

Draco just smirks and slides his hand out of Potter's trousers to rest it over Potter's fingers and pushes, just a little.

Then Harry is rolling and shifting, tan fingers are tugging at buttons and a zipper so hard they nearly snap; Draco almost loses it when he feels Harry slide his damn pants down and tug him out into the open to stare at him.

Harry doesn't do anything at first but stare, and it unnerves Draco just a little despite knowing what he does.

“What?” Draco asks quietly, afraid to break the atmosphere. He's growing desperate.

Draco. It's...you're...I like it,” Harry says, seeming stunned at his own words.

Potter covers his needy, reddening cock with his fingers, running them up and down with a smile. He glances to Draco, teeth biting his lip. “Feel okay?”

“Don't stop,” Draco says.

He can make demands, too. And thankfully it's one of those times that Potter actually listens to him.

In mere moments Draco is clenching, abdomen flexed, voice moaning with Harry's light and hard alternating strokes, his almost reverent and then possessive manner of touching Draco in a way Harry never has.

In a way no one even in his past attempts at sexual release have.

Harry touches Draco with something else, and it's in his eyes.

It's whatever they are, touching him.

It's emotion.

It's long held secret torches that fear their flames going out that roar into bright fire, commanding one to notice.

It's the stars finding a moment of perfect balance, and the sun and the moon passing once latitudinal across the sky.

Draco comes, hard, seizing forward and locking an arm around Harry as he gushes in his lap, streaking his cashmere jumper and Harry's shirt.

The moan doesn't stop until Harry kisses him quiet.

When Draco opens his grey eyes again, Harry is smiling a new, hopeful and tentative type.

Draco presses a firm, wet kiss to lips he knows fairly well by now, then takes out his wand from his robe's pockets on the floor and uses a dash of cleaning spells to fix their clothes and hands.

Harry stares at him, and he stares back.

Draco smiles then says, with completely satisfied ego, “I always keep my promises, Harry.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

xli

 

 

They spend the remaining days watching the school preparing itself with an influx of stretched-thin professors, a few imported new ones from other schools or those bugged out of retirement like Slughorn again. The halls feel more like Hogwarts, the tempo picking up quickly.

Breakfast is now Draco having tea with Luna and Neville.

Lunch is now Draco sitting with the Slytherins, still sans Blaise, Pansy, or Greg, eyes on the green pair staring at him from across the room.

And dinner is, apparently, now Draco accepting his hesitant new place at the Gryffindor table.

Over the past few days since the talk Draco eavesdropped upon, Granger has been less restrictive toward him. She speaks occasionally directly to him, in fact, asking him things about the future, like taking the N.E.W.T.s and careers he might be interested in pursuing. Draco, given the past few months, is still at a loss as to his entire future, but rattles off ideas, pleasantly surprised when Granger says she could see him doing something other than running the Manor or banking or anything so Malfoy and Pureblood.

“You're great at Potions and have an inclination for Transfiguration, but you're also creative,” she adds, glancing next to her at Weasley and Harry at his side with an apologetic smile. “You have to admit the charmed badges and galleons and all were clever.”

Weasley sneers, then rolls his eyes.

Harry smirks. “I don't stink, though.”

No, no he doesn't. Draco knows Harry's smell after nights of snogging him before parting for bed. He knows that Harry is warm and clove and fresh like rain, akin to walking in the woods. It's a smell that's been seeping into his own clothes, and he likes it.

Ginevra Weasley continues to stare at him, but not quite in a way Draco initially suspected. She seems more hurt than jealous, more confused than hateful. It's a start, and he knows the day of dealing with Harry's past relationship is rapidly approaching as Harry always sits by him at dinner and is often found at his side randomly during the day.

They haven't gone further than another mutual release, a dry one quite sexily gained after a determined staring contest at lunch that finished with Draco and Harry grinding each other into nothingness in the bathroom after. Draco's quite fine with it. It's still too raw and new to be so able to touch Harry like that too much. For he himself to be so available for Harry, either.

Not when it's a relationship over emotionless sex, anyway.

As Granger's dark eyes settle over he and Harry again during dessert, he knows she knows.

Harry's likely told her it's official now, perish the thought, just so she wouldn't needle him anymore.

So Draco stares back at her, daring her to say anything as he purposefully leans across Potter to grab a saucer of cream; his hair presses to Harry's cheek, his back to Harry's side and chest almost innocently. Almost purely as if it looks like an attempt to annoy Potter in general to the rest.

Granger's brows jump, her face caught in surprise at the intensity of his own gaze. Harry tuts under his breath, and a hand grips his thigh once before letting go. Draco reclines and dishes out a spot of cream over his plate, then sets it down and looks away from Granger as if never having tested her at all.

It works. The Gryffindor in her flusters, and she huffs, trying to keep silent.

Draco smirks around his fork and cake.

Harry rolls his eyes with a snort.

And Ron Weasley frowns, staring at the three of them.

 

 

xlii

 

 

Leaving the bathroom feels both wrong and right, and it irks him entirely.

Even with Harry's help packing the little things to take to the Slytherin dorms, Draco is melancholy. His reflection is pale, his eyes a bit vacant.

Part of him fears what this transition might do to his brain.

He's been out of the Slytherin nest for so long that he's forgotten what it's like to be around most of them. Draco is aware that Slytherins exist that have bonds with other Houses, some that are quite unlike himself in personality, but none of them have ever revolved in his own personal circle.

It takes a secure, warm kiss that heats his chest and returns the light to his eyes for Draco to finally leave. They agree that the bathroom is still a place for them, no matter what for, and it is helpful. Settling. They also agree to meet later that night, with Draco giving Harry permission to watch for him with the Map.

Draco leaves his equal, his partner and boyfriend, he supposes, behind as he enters the Slytherin common room that has, quite shockingly, refilled itself to about two-thirds capacity. He knows McGonagall allowed some students to return a few days early this year, if they were older and wanted to transition easier; the rest, mostly fourth years and under, would be coming by train, boat, and carriage as tradition, and they would be here tomorrow.

He passes by with his box, ignoring the stares and whispers that sound more like silly snakes and less like that frightening, yet arousing sound Potter made whenever he used parseltongue in the past.

When he gets to his actual dorm, Draco is already exhausted and tense. He drops the box onto his new bed unhappily and growls, not even wanting to put the few bits of parchment, ink and clothing away.

“Look at you. Still here. Figured you'd run away like a good little Malfoy.”

Draco shoots up, hand going for his wand in his pocket at the voice he's not heard in what feels like long, long months. Blaise stands near another bed across the room, arms crossed, a sneer on his face with his sleek robes complimenting his beautiful dark, smooth skin.

“And look at you,” Draco spits back. “Daring to step down from your own flight and grace the Slytherin House with your presence for another year.”

Blaise takes a breath. Lets it out.

Draco wishes he were anywhere but the room.

Because it's only now that he remembers that while Blaise Zabini was his friend or cohort, more like, they weren't best mates at all. Zabini had made it clear a few times back then that Draco's rivalry with Potter had been ridiculous, and he'd done it in his skeptical, removed way. But he had been on Draco's side during it all, and he had fled for his life with the rest of the Slytherins at the time.

It had been Greg and Vincent there, right to the end.

He finds he barely misses Crabbe's dead, meddlesome stupidity. But he does slightly worry about Gregory Goyle, none-too-bright and now like he with a father in Azkaban.

“I hear you're doing wonders, Draco. Helping,” Blaise says coyly, snapping Draco back to the present.

Draco turns away and clears out the contents of the box, hand sliding once into his pocket for the parchments he still keeps hidden. “I was sentenced, you idiot.”

“Uh-huh. Looks more like someone trying to save his own hide and cowering, to me.”

“You don't know a fucking thing, Zabini, so just end it.”

Blaise seems mildly surprised and entertained at Draco's terseness toward him. He sighs, somewhat dramatically. “Pansy is here, too. Her mother insisted, likely hoping Pansy could emulate you and would ever get a career or show her face after this if your little turn around is doing you any favors.”

Pansy. Fuck.

Draco clenches his teeth.

Again, a friend. One of his earliest in life, really.

But, given everything, she's not someone he wants remotely near Harry.

Draco wonders if taking this year is honestly worth it at all. Maybe if he backs out he could just continue serving his sentence elsewhere. Away from what is going to be bloody torture, clearly.

“Funny. She seems a bit more interested in finding out you're here than you are her.”

Draco doesn't take the bait. He just leaves. Better things to do, he thinks. Far better. Like finding Harry right fucking now.

He's out of the common room and house quarters before it crosses his mind that he is the one without the Map. And he is the one who cannot create a Patronus.

Suddenly feeling almost lost, so very alone and honestly scared, he fights to stave off the bit of panic by keeping a tight leash on his expression as he walks. He looks calm in the windows, but on the inside he's shrieking.

He's angry with so many people now in the space again.

He's violated knowing how observing Blaise is going to be.

He's fucked when it comes to Pansy and Potter.

He's uncomfortable thinking of his own bloody friends, and he doesn't really understand why.

Draco walks without thought until he finds an alcove out near the courtyard where students gather to go into Hogsmeade together. He leans hidden in the stone, his hand shaking in his pocket despite the parchments tightly clenched there.

He doesn't know how long he stands there like that in the crisping air until he smells him, until warm arms come around him, and a chin rests against his shoulder.

“All right there, Draco?” Harry asks, concerned, behind him.

Draco shudders and spins, reaching, needing something to root him again in the sudden upheaval. What felt down is now up, what felt solid is now liquid, what felt once real now seems like hollow fantasy in his mind.

“Draco, what is it?” Harry asks again, holding him tightly.

“They're here,” Draco whispers, grey eyes suddenly darting about in terror. Oh, Merlin's arse, they shouldn't be doing this out here, even in an alcove.

Draco tries to yank suddenly out of Harry's grasp, but his beautiful Gryffindor isn't having any of it. “Quit it,” Harry grunts and pushes him into the wall, hands sliding to cup his face and stroke his brow and hair. “Who's here?”

“Blaise. Pansy. I haven't seen Greg.”

Harry curses and closes his eyes. “I'm surprised, honestly. I figured they'd...after helping that bitch of a woman, let alone Parkinson doing...what she had.”

Draco actually wants to apologize right then for ever having been near Delores Umbridge. He knows that she made Harry's life hell along with everyone else at Hogwarts, and he knows he helped it along in his anger at Potter then, at the constant pressure at his back from his father and the rest starting to begin.

He remembers, quite suddenly, the memory of knowing Harry's punishment with the magicked quill. Draco blinks, and his eyes are moist.

Fuck. Not now. Not fucking now. He can't break in front of Harry.

“Draco? Hey,” Harry murmurs and kisses the wetness away while Draco stares at him, far too open. “What's seriously going on here? You told me before, remember, that your friends were yours and just as valid as mine. I don't get the problem aside from them going to be a pain in our privacy.”

“Oh, they'll notice something soon, I have no doubt, but...I deserve it, I guess,” he whispers and kisses Harry desperately, arms around that warm, strong neck he's left several marks upon.

Harry leans into the kiss and stops when Draco pushes harder. “How? For what?”

Draco blinks angrily at lots of things. “For Blaise spouting his shit then and today. For Pansy treating people like rubbish and fingering you. For...me...starting it all by helping that fucking cunt Umbridge. It's my fault. Like Weasley says, everything comes back to me.”

Harry is silent, thinking, and for a moment those green eyes are closed off to him in a way they haven't been for a while now. It makes a pit coil like a snake in Draco's gut. And then Harry sighs and presses their brows together. “It's over.”

“So? Harry, it's all wrong.”

“I know, and I'm glad you see that now. But I'm fine, and it doesn't all just come back to you. Let it go, Draco. Umbridge got hers, and Zabini and Parkinson will have to deal with the rest of Hogwarts now,” Harry says, eyes thankfully open to him again. “They will have to be accepted the way you've been dealt with for the last while. You're ahead of the curve. Be happy.”

Oh.

Draco hadn't thought of it that way.

It helps a little. But he pushes nonetheless, needing the balance from his personal sun, “I don't know why you won't hate me for things now.”

“I did and got over it. I'm finding my time is better spent liking you,” Harry flirts, and Draco smiles somewhat with a huff.

“Shut up, you romantic sod.”

Harry practically glows when he kisses Draco again. “There you are, you bastard. Had me worried for a moment I'd lost you to the rest of it.”

It's everything he's needed to hear.

It has meaning beyond definitions that Draco has words for in his mind.

It's an acceptance he continues to question, but maybe a little less so now. And it heals him.

Draco pulls Harry closer, tongue sweeping in, fingers clenching in that dark hair he loves so much. Harry's hands are on him, slipping and sliding against and inside his robes, and a heated thigh presses between his legs to rub against him just where he's been warming up on his own.

He needed this, and knowing he needed it is very, very strange.

They kiss until they hear the polite, awkward cough.

And then Draco tries to fling himself into the wall, praying if he does it hard enough that he'll just melt out of existence.

No such luck, of course.

Granger smirks nearby. Draco's stomach twists in embarrassment and nerve at losing the upper hand on the good Know-It-All, and Harry is not helping by continuing to press against him with a smile.

“Hey, 'Mione.”

“Harry. Draco,” Granger greets, still sounding that modest polite way.

Draco frowns. Harry snickers. “Draco says hi.”

Draco shoots him a little eye roll, and both Potter and Granger smirk in unison. And holy hell is that annoying.

“Well, I'm going then,” Draco grunts and attempts to push Harry off.

Granger changes her stance. Her eyes seem trapped between hesitation and nerve to do something. “Actually...I was hoping to talk to you.”

“Me?” Draco asks dumbly, damn it, but he can't help it.

“Yes. You.”

Harry's brows go quite happily up his forehead, making his scar scrunch. It teases Draco, as he's used to seeing that scrunch when he traces and kisses that scar much like Potter does his Marked arm. “Well, then. Guess I'll go...er, somewhere.”

When Harry starts to move, Draco snaps, hand on Harry's wrist, “Oh, no. Don't you dare leave me with her like this.”

“She won't bite you, silly.”

“You don't know that,” Draco hisses.

Harry just chuckles and kisses his cheek. “See you later. Everything'll be okay with the rest. I'm not going anywhere just because Zabini and Parkinson show up. You got that, Malfoy?”

Heat curls in his belly, zings through his abdomen and cock. Draco wants to groan at that contesting, dare you tone. Some sexy, sinful Gryffindor he's got.

“Ugh, Potter.” Draco finally crosses his arms. But the thought of his complicated Slytherin friendships does have him uncharacteristically kissing Harry Potter in front of Granger once before Harry waves and goes back into the school. Might as fucking well; she's seen worse now.

Draco glances to a slightly red faced, amused Granger and sneers. “What do you want?”

“If I hadn't just seen that with my own eyes, I'd have never believed it possible,” she whispers, clearly trying to not laugh or scowl. “You...you are so weird.”

“Mm.”

“You're horribly rude. Foul tempered. Biting.”

“Yes, yes,” Draco sighs, brow up and waiting. “And?”

Granger's face tightens up again, voice coming faster now. “You were horrible to me here. Called me disgusting things. Nearly got us killed. And then I see you kiss him like that and wonder if I just hallucinated hitting you at all.”

Draco leans his head back to the wall, throat bobbing once. “Trust me, you did. Well, too.”

“What are you?” she asks softly, the anger fading a tad. “You were part of everything wrong, and yet here you are...trying to be part of everything right. Actually trying.”

His face stays cool. Passive. And his blood is boiling at such fucking scrutiny by Ms. Nose-In-A-Book.

Granger tosses her hands up as if giving up the ghost. “Harry and I had a long talk about you. Several over the years and while we were on the run, but one recently that is most important. He told me the truth. He told me what you did and what you actually didn't do. He told me what he saw in you. And then I remind myself that I saw you spare Harry to the Death Eaters, that I myself saw you save us all by giving Harry a weapon. Your own wand.”

“Are you quite finished?” Draco asks, beyond discomforted.

“I don't know what you are, Draco Malfoy. I don't know how to deal with you anymore. Especially when...when you're with Harry. I can't hate Harry for choosing his boyfriend as he has, but it's...so weird,” Hermione Granger states with mild confusion, brows furrowed.

Draco manages a tiny laugh. He can't fault her there. “Trust me. I know. The 'b' word is terrifying.”

Granger fights the smirk against her lips. “I had thought you might be using him, you know. Manipulating him into some false friendship to get you spared the populous opinion, or even worse, some sexual thing to control him for whatever reason. But I was wrong. Quite, in fact.”

“Yes, you sure as hell are wrong,” Draco scowls, agitation of the day making itself present. “If you'd stop thinking, for once, that you know fucking everything, maybe you'd learn a thing or two.”

Granger blinks. Breathes. Then softly says, “I am doing that now. I never...never thought that I did know all there is to know, Draco. I just always tried to learn it in case it could help someone.”

Draco shrugs. He doesn't care.

Her reasons are her reasons, true or not.

“I guess what I'm trying to say is...I wanted to apologize to you for thinking that lowly after everything,” she admits, and Draco's anger is frozen away. Granger wipes her eyes. “It was so hard to be away, to leave Harry alone and go deal with my parents, too. I missed so much. I'm trying to make up for it.”

“How are they?” Draco asks casually, recalling Harry's disturbing description of what had happened to Granger's parents and the obvious resulting concern.

Granger seems surprised, but opens up willingly. “My parents? They...they're getting better. Remembering more often. The second round of counter spells seemed to clear them enough, and they decided to move back from Australia where I'd hidden them. Now it's more...remembering parts of their lives with me in it. But they know who I am, now, at least.”

“Good,” he says softly, thinking of his own mother alone in the Manor halls with few house elves and some peacocks. He wonders if she's gotten a cat lately; she'd always wanted some fluffy type his father had disliked for its shedding.

Granger laughs oddly and wipes her eyes again. “And there you go. Doing it again. God, you're weird.”

Draco curls his lip. “Doing what?”

But Granger is laughing even harder at his little visible sign of annoyance, and then she is coming forward and smiling at him as though he is some rare book she's just found in the library.

Fucking nutter.

“I thought he was absolutely mad to care for you the way he does. Now I get it. Oh, Harry,” she laughs, then sighs, looking happier. “Harry is so very insightful sometimes, if we just listen to him and ignore his track record of getting us into serious trouble.”

Draco just stands there, completely at a loss.

He knows he's taken Granger's expectations of him and thrown them every way possible.

But he doesn't understand this friendliness.

“One last thing, Draco. Harry tells me you don't care about blood lineage much anymore.”

Draco really needs to talk to Harry about boundaries, fucking hell. He scoffs, “I don't. I watched Purebloods kill and Purebloods die in sacrifice to the Dark Lord. I saw Mudbloods try to help others where my family and friends didn't. I saw what....”

He stops.

Thinks of his face in the mirror. Thinks of waking from hearing Granger's screams in his dreams, the shaking and the helplessness they induce. Thinks of Hermione Granger saying she'd support Harry's choice in him.

Granger waits, patiently.

Draco inhales slowly, knowing it needs to be said just to be out of him, but God does it suck to have to say aloud: “Let me be clear. I may have disliked you for your nosy, know-it-all tripe, for...for your ability to be free and close to Harry, but I do not condone what my psychotic fucking aunt did to you or anyone else at Hogwarts. I didn't know how to stop her at the Manor. I didn't know what to do at all in there. I panicked. Living with the Dark Lord behind my back made me panic thoughtlessly all the time.”

Hermione's eyes tear up, and she chokes, rubbing her face with her palms after a moment while Draco berates himself for making Granger fucking cry, because he knows that the Weasel is going to come swinging again and Harry's going to be upset, and he's got enough to deal with, frankly, thank you.

But Hermione hugs him.

Hugs him.

Hugs him.

Draco swallows, nervous, and gently pats her back once out of literally not knowing what to do.

When she looks to him again, flushed and smiling through wet eyes, she says, “Thank you. I'm still upset with you about some things, but...I'll be okay now. We will, I think, and I hope not just for Harry's sake.”

“Meaning?” Draco asks, not in the mood for games for once. Not when he has Zabini's anger to go back to in the dorms.

“Meaning, you idiot, that...I cannot believe I am saying this, but...maybe you and I could actually grow to get along on our own.”

Draco groans. First Lovegood, then Longbottom after Harry's returning of his wand.

He doesn't know if he can handle a third person in Potter's circle immersing into his world just yet. Granger seems to understand and pats him on the arm, gesturing with her head to walk back with her.

He does so, feeling out of place.

Hermione tells him that Harry sits in the Gryffindor common room at night with her, talking nonstop about Draco Bleeding Malfoy and that it used to irritate her, but now she thinks she'll enjoy it.

And when his blush reaches his ears, she laughs, and says she definitely will.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

xliii

 

 

Time pauses, speeds up, and rewinds while Hogwarts comes to life in the way it is meant to be. The candles are lit, the boats have been rowed, the carriages drawn, and if it weren't for the stupid stones and tapestries he knows he healed, he'd think nothing had ever happened at all.

Except there's the weary expressions on the older students, and the heaviness in his own self, and the haunted, fearful souls around hoping to settle again in trust within the walls.

Draco watches the new terrified and excited first years get Sorted with the Hat, seeing nothing, saying nothing, bored out of his mind, but glad the eyes are finally off of him for the first time that day. From waking to Blaise's remarks on his continued new strangeness to avoiding Pansy as long as possible to running around for McGonagall nearly like a secretary to confirm this or that has been done and finished, Draco has been exposed like a raw nerve all day.

It doesn't help that his fucking tie is choking him with its claim of House and place, further reminding everyone there just whom he is and always will be to them. Some of the first years are still eyeballing him as they're sorted, whispering that it's bad if they're sorted into Slytherin with him. A few Slytherins, to their credit, roll their eyes and shoot him some very brief empathetic looks. Finally.

Across the big room, barely visible through all the people, Potter sits.

Draco lifts his eyes every so many minutes, relieved when theirs meet for just a second. It's all he needs to take his next breath and stay silent, sitting straight and with his arms crossed. He can feel Harry, feel that strong energy, and it's centering. But he's still pale and blank as he considers the rest present that keep on staring occasionally at Harry as well in an entirely differing manner.

For he is Saint Potter, the Savior, slayer of Dark Lords and the one who evaded death again.

And for a brief moment, he's transported back. He sees Potter in the half-giant's arms, and his heart is dead, and his soul is gone, and nothing will ever be fixed again with this screaming voice in his head calling Harry Potter's name in vain to get up, get up right now. He feels the tightness in his chest, the panic racing, the moisture in his eyes, and a voice he's avoided shakes him right out of it.

Sometimes she really has her uses. Sometimes she really is a friend.

“You look like someone just died, Draco,” Pansy infers from his left as she comes further down the table to sit by him.

His lips tighten. Across the tables Harry's eyes flare up, no doubt catching the empty look on his face. But Harry doesn't understand, and Draco is grateful, still, and decides to play nice. “Hello to you, too,” Draco murmurs, glancing once at her sideways.

Pansy looks fantastic, of course, not a hair out of place. “About time you stopped avoiding me. Not sure what I did to earn that, Draco.”

“I've been busy.”

“Sure. I've heard all about you being busy like a servant.”

“Shocking when one has a sentence to serve, I know.”

“So?"

“We've all been doing things, Pansy. Me and half the fucking people in this room. If you must heckle someone, do it elsewhere. It's not as if you can't spare your attention when you, Blaise, and I are unwanted here.”

Pansy's voice is sharp, her eyes shining with the hunt to dig at his emotional response. “My, my. Good to see you still sound like yourself. Crowd bothering you?”

Draco shrugs, not giving her more blood to sniff after; it's the only way Pansy Parkinson knows how to show she cares for his well being, but there's too much change that she wouldn't try to understand. Couldn't understand.

His wall stays in place, despite its emotional ripples. “Who cares about them?”

“Clearly you do. You know they're all staring. It's like you're a big, bad monster,” Pansy laughs and leans closer, eyes sparkling. “You certainly look the dashing part tonight.”

“Thank you,” he automatically responds, but his brain has locked onto that word mercilessly.

Monster. Finally, a word for the way so many have looked at him. He's a monster. A monster that hasn't blinked in almost a full two minutes since that revelation.

He's hyper aware of the snake and skull on his arm, and even more conscious of the telltale feeling of Harry's harsh gaze across the room. Draco waits until Pansy turns to call something to Blaise, and stares Harry's way, lip quivering and hating it.

That ridiculous Gryffindor righteous anger, that need to protect and destroy, to roar like the bloody, vengeful lion overtakes Harry's expression, and for once it doesn't bother him.

Draco smiles, just the tiniest amount.

He understands Harry's particular anger with her. And he sees the jealous, needless fear lying underneath it.

Nonetheless, for the first time since meeting Potter, Draco is comforted by that expression, especially as he feels so fucking isolated at his own House table while the rest shy away from him to preserve their own reputations. Perhaps there is something to be said for Blaise and Pansy, after all, as they sit surrounding him still compared to the rest. Perhaps they do care in their own way. Or, perhaps, he is the only one who will speak to either one of them in turn, and like good Slytherins, they stick to that security. He doesn't blame them either way.

Draco frowns when he realizes that he misses Lovegood's smile and Longbottom's sheepishness, even Granger's speculation and Weasley's careful watching. Their awkward acceptance of him, that feeling of being united somehow, tugs at him.

Draco wonders while he leaves his dinner untouched if they just see the monster responsible for their pain and try for Harry's sake alone. If he didn't know any better, he'd think they'd spelled him somehow with this pathetic desire to leave his spot and go straight there, sit down, and ask them if they think he's a flawed human being that can still make something of himself. It's certainly mad enough to make him absolutely resolute to avoid them for a while in his speculative, distrusting embarrassment at the thought.

Such thinking inspires resentment, and it is a struggle to not let it overtake him as the questioning starts. In the consuming uncertainty, he almost reconsiders Harry's protective glance as selfishness that it can sometimes be, that Gryffindor anger still on his face as self-righteous and covetous, as if Draco has become yet another object in Potter's collection to hoard and protect and nothing else.

But Potter's gaze adjusts just enough when it comes back to him, and it is open. Worried. Apologetic and wanting. And he becomes just Harry again.

His Harry that he knows now in such a special, new way.

I'm sorry, Harry mouths to him, as if reading his very thoughts.

Draco lets it slide over him like a warm shield, and he relaxes a fraction, soaking into it like a nice bath. His quick nod calms Harry's eyes.

The rest of the dinner is just as boring, but he has yet to feel the edge of the tension cut off. New students are quite loud, as they often are, older students are catching up excitedly, and the rest, those who remember it all, just stare, quietly speaking to themselves.

He wants to ask Harry if he sees him as a monster, too. Or had.

He probably had.

Merlin knows Draco has certainly done enough to Potter over the years to earn it. The depressive thought batters against the shield of Harry's feelings that he clings to with this clawing in his mind.

Eventually he leaves the Great Hall, knowing Harry is too busy to meet him tonight. And when he enters his dorm, Draco feels the shield of Harry waver, then crumble as if only fueled by the physical proximity alone, and he is swallowed by black, void dreams of exploding stars and mirrors and Harry screaming for him to just look, Draco, look.

 

 

 

xliv

 

 

Harry isn't at breakfast, and it rattles him all the more after his nightmare.

Luna looks entirely caught up by some second year Ravenclaws, and Longbottom comes in late with dirt on his cheek and an odd scratch under his chin.

The routine, at least for now, seems over.

What had he expected to happen? That their little strange friendships might actually last beyond some strange late summer? That anyone would care once things went back to normal again?

He's lost his bloody mind even wanting to care.

Draco sits with the Slytherins, ignoring Blaise's question of why he looks disappointed.

He later finds Granger's familiar face in his Transfiguration class with its new professor, and she settles next to him with a knowing smile.

A bit of parchment leaves her fingers as she pretends to reach for an ink well across from him, and he takes it quickly, excitedly, knowing well the feel and scent of the paper.

He smiles to himself as he reads that green slanted scrawl: Sorry I missed breakfast. Things are a bit chaotic. Hope you have a good first day, and I'll find you when I can. Thinking about you. Harry.

Draco sighs, heart doing some atrocious little flip, while Granger bumps her shoulder to his, sympathy in her small smile.

“He was quite upset to not see you after we finally got everything sorted in the dorms,” she whispers. “He worried all night.”

He flushes, thankful at least his own disappointment was so matched. Draco folds the parchment and places it next to the other pair in his trouser pocket, trying not to feel tense as the room gets more populated.

When Luna appears last in the classroom and takes the seat at his other side, Draco feels something missing from the morning slide back into its new place and lets out a breath he hadn't known he'd been holding.

“Hello, Draco,” she says. “Sorry I missed tea. Neville is, too. He said something about a carnivorous plant getting a little excited this morning. How are you?”

“Dealing,” he says quietly, knowing it's foolish to lie to this Ravenclaw. “I don't think I've yet to fade into the background in any room.”

Luna exchanges a look with Granger behind his back, then pats his left forearm as she often does. “We're here if you need us.”

“I don't need anyone,” he automatically retorts; he hears his voice, sees a flash of mirror from his dreams, and winces and puts a hand over half of his face. Luna accepts the silent apology in his eyes and smiles, letting him exhale in relief.

Given McGonagall's new role, she's hired a replacement to teach her classes. The man strides out from his private room into the class, looking for all the world like he almost belongs with them as a student. He's young, highly attractive with his thick dark hair and chocolate eyes.

“Hello, everyone. I'm Professor Aria, and no, I cannot sing at all,” he teases with a grin and a slight Italian accent. “My husband's quite adamant that I never try in public lest I kill some poor unsuspecting bystander.”

While the class snickers, Aria walks to and fro, taking roll and speaking with each student; when he reaches Draco, he says nothing about Draco's past nor stares at him with suspicion. He simply nods kindly, wishes him a good semester, and moves on.

Draco declares that fine, quite fine. The less attention, the better.

The trio exit, getting some looks while they debate lunch. Granger's already itching to go to the library, and he rolls his eyes. She skips off while Luna joins Draco, taking their plates outside. Some students have already done so nearby in little groups, staring curiously. Girls look him over, then Luna next to him.

And Draco barely covers the private smile at what he knows is about to be the newest rumor in Hogwarts. Harry will have a fucking conniption that yet again he's seen friendlier with Lovegood than himself, and it will be brilliant.

“I wanted to ask you something, Draco. You did quite well when you went out to see the thestrals,” Luna begins, twirling her pasta. “I have heavy morning duties now, and I wondered if you might want to share that one with me, if you would have the time. I'm sure the animals would enjoy seeing you again.”

Draco draws inward, disturbed by the thought of being responsible for anyone or anything else. “Surely Hagrid could recruit some eager younger years.”

“He does sometimes for other creatures, but thestrals can be dangerous.”

“Only the thestrals?”

“Yes. They find meat on their own, but Hagrid likes to give them special treats a couple of times a week. You only need to distribute it fairly and spend time with them, which I think is the nice part. If you help me, you only have to go out once a week.”

Draco considers all the eyes flicking constantly back to him. Considers how nice it might be to only be around that simple acceptance of the animals again and accepts quietly.

Luna is quite pleased, smiling above her plate.

Draco stares at her, wondering if he's just been tricked into something else entirely. But he smiles when she leaves, and he digs into his new Transfiguration homework as it seems most challenging to distract him from the eyes and the lack of one Harry Potter that should be next to him.

Draco finally sits to dinner at the Slytherin table, feeling unusually out of place and frustrated when Harry's vacant from the Gryffindor table again.

Blaise slides closer, gazing at him with speculation. “You are different, aren't you.”

No. Yes. “I'm tired.”

“You're quiet. Not bitching about Potter, not leering at Gryffindors, not caring about anything, or so it would seem.”

“So?” Draco asks, shrugging his shoulders.

“Don't tell me you've given up.”

“On what?”

“On being yourself just for these people's approval. Shutting down to please them.”

Draco stares at Blaise, surprised at the concern in the dark eyes, and then really hears what's being said between the lines. “I am being myself,” he counters, stunned. “So what if some people talk to me as a result of it? So what if I stopped doing pointless things? I've had a lot to deal with lately. You try putting the bloody walls back together and see if you give two shits anymore about stupid rivalries.”

“You're sure? Seems like you're trying to be someone else for the rest of them.”

Draco's anxiety that he's repressed all day bubbles. That can't be true. Everything he's felt, everything he's gone through since before the trial was fucking real enough, right? The discomfort, the nightmares, the hand holds that center his mind are, too. Draco exhales. “The truth is I don't want to still live in some pointless club, miserable, with our families and acquaintances in Azkaban, Blaise.”

Blaise considers this quietly. Draco barely touches his dinner, eyes refusing to leave the table. His fingers wrap tenderly over the parchments in his pocket.

The truth is that he refuses to be the entitled, shallow child anymore standing in its father's shadow trying to measure up. What now would Draco even have to measure up to? None expect anything from him but the worst, his father is in fucking Azkaban trying to keep his scraps of sanity, and he's in a relationship with Potter as an equal. The past has become petty and boring, and there's no group supporting the behavior anymore...just loads of victims watching him warily. Fairly.

He knows he has a future to think about, if he wants to ever step out of the Manor in his life again after this. Life won't just stop.

“Draco,” Blaise murmurs, catching his attention. His friend gazes at him.

“What?” he asks quietly.

Blaise tilts his face. “It wasn't me who had the Dark Lord himself in my home. I can see why that might prompt some personal change. I expected something. I'm just...astonished to see this side of you so open, I suppose. See you settle a bit.”

“It is what it is. Where's Greg?” Draco asks, changing the topic to shake the thoughts. He's heard next to nothing about him.

“At home with his mum. Seems to be helping her. I doubt he'll be back. Honestly, it would be a waste if he tried. He's...not exactly the right material.”

Draco sneers. Only he got to dig at Goyle. “He was quite fine in Hagrid's class.”

Blaise rolls his eyes. “So he was adequate at one thing, and a stupid creature class at that. He's still a bumbling idiot needing his mummy to survive.”

“Doesn't mean he was worthless. People can have fucking meaning outside of what your mummy taught you, you fucking prick,” Draco breaks, eyes finally darting over to the Gryffindor table where he sees several pairs watching him.

They aren't the only ones.

Draco closes his eyes at the silence of the closest tables nearby.

Apparently he had shouted his retort at Blaise loud enough for a few to hear.

McGonagall passing by murmurs, concernedly, "Five points from Slytherin."

Draco sizzles at the mistake, not looking her in the eye. Day fucking one. Day fucking one. But at least Harry isn't here to witness it.

Blaise glares at him as the talking starts again. The small group of Gryffindors debate, and Granger comes striding over with singular purpose.

Zabini sneers at her, muttering “Mudblood” under his breath as she closes in on them.

Draco, coiled so fucking tight, has sprung. He bends down, face tight to Zabini's openly shocked one, and says, “Get over yourself.”

And then he rises from the Slytherin table and greets Granger with a what-do-you-want look.

She stares between them, uncertain, saying, “I wondered if I could ask you a question about something in Transfiguration this morning, if that's all right. Your thought on one of the concepts.”

“Fine,” Draco agrees to the lie and follows her out the door, feeling Blaise's gaze hot on his back.

The second they find a quiet spot in the halls, Draco leans into the wall with a harsh exhale.

“Are you all right?” Hermione Granger asks, concerned. “We heard your voice rising.”

Draco swallows, eyes closed. “I'm fine. First five points from my House. They'll hate me even more now, the lot.”

“We wanted to let you know that you can still sit with us anytime you like. You don't have to, but you can if you wish. Term starting hasn't changed that.”

Yet again Granger manages to inspire awkwardness in him at the open, waiting feeling behind her words. Draco grunts, trying to shake off the curiosity. “I highly doubt that was at all an entire group agreement.”

“Well, Neville and I agreed on it, and Ron did after.”

Draco turns his face, brow to his forearm against the wall, and looks at her at his side. “Why?”

Granger shrugs and tucks some stray messy hair behind her ear. “You're becoming one of us, I guess.”

One of them?

Years ago, he'd have sneered her down for the very words. One of what? A loser? A chummy idiot to a bunch of non-Pureblooded gits? But now...now he doesn't know what to feel except for the general frustration and desire to be left alone rolling through him.

“What, one of Saint Potter's misfits?” Draco finally mutters under his breath.

Granger sucks in air, then harshly exhales through her nose. “I'm not biting. I know you're just upset because you've had a highly stressful day, and I know that Blaise Zabini is a total jerk.”

“Not a total one. Just mostly,” Draco feels the need to clarify. Blaise actually is concerned about him, even if he shows it differently than the Gryffindors would like. “He's confused about...things. Doesn't mean he isn't worried in his own way for me, Granger, or that he should be faulted for it.”

“Well I've yet to see a positive side to him, so,” Granger shrugs and sighs. “Do you want to go back in and sit with us?”

“No.”

“Will you ever sit with us?”

“I don't know.”

“Are you really going to let everyone else keep you trapped in expectations?”

Draco comes off the wall, glaring hotly. “Like you aren't doing the same? Trying to force me to be like you, one of your little group? All wonderful and grand and abnormally fuzzy to the point of occasional vomit?”

Granger rubs the bridge of her nose. “Okay. That...I suppose is fair.”

“Mm.”

“But we are giving you the chance to make your own expectations, Draco. We are trying to show you by including you, if you want, that we'll accept you, however you come to us. You don't have to be fuzzy or wonderful. That would just be ridiculous. And that's the difference, so don't you dare say it isn't there. Harry may have started reaching out, but you reached back to him...and even Luna and Neville, too. It's nice, Draco. It's how things should be across it all, isn't it?”

Sometimes Granger really does rattle him by making such things sound so easy, so natural, so possible.

But he tries, saying, “I'm just...there's...it's difficult. I'm the same, but I'm different. So what. Barely any of you trust or like me anyway. Some things will never change.”

“You'd be surprised, Draco. And the offer still stands. Sit with us when you'd like.”

When she sighs again, he quietly turns away and tosses a hushed, annoyed word of gratitude for the offer over his shoulder, getting a little glance of happiness in return.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

xlv

 

 

“One at a time,” Draco grunts, and the thestrals pause as if understanding exactly what he means. With a smile he feeds the babies and then the adults, saving his favorite older female with the healed wing for last. She circles and bumps him again after she eats, and Draco pats her side.

“You seem to like me well enough,” he says quietly to her. “So you tell me. Are we what stays the same, or are we the changes that we make? Or, and I know this sounds horrible, are we both and have to accept that confounding nonsense?”

“Sounds like a bunch of loaded questions for a horse to answer,” Potter calls behind him.

Draco twists, heart pounding, and sees Harry standing, robes moving with the wind, hair catching about his glasses. Green eyes he misses smile at him as Harry walks to his side.

“Luna said you'd be here. Hagrid know you're helping?”

“Yes. He told me several times that I didn't have to do so,” Draco explains, smirking at the memory of the big, kind oaf staring at him happily when Draco had replied that he'd wanted to feed the thestrals. He'd narrowly avoided possibly the most awkward hug of his life today, worse than that thing Granger had sprung on him.

Harry chuckles under his breath, then reaches out a hand for the female to sniff before they watch the herd return to the trees. “Never will forget the first time I actually saw these. Or flew on one.”

“You've flown on one?” Draco asks, impressed.

“Yeah.”

“What was it like?”

“A bit like flying on Buckbeak, but he was more powerful.”

Draco instinctively shudders just thinking about that hippogriff, and Harry laughs, able to read his face and thoughts. “Still haven't forgiven him for swiping at me. Loved you well enough, didn't he, the fucking chicken.”

Harry shakes his head with a laugh. “C'mon. If you had approached him right in the first place, he wouldn't have attacked you. And he barely hurt you. You milked it all up, you shit.”

So.”

“Draco.”

Draco grins when Harry eyes him. “Father was still ruthless, though.”

“Yeah, he was.”

“It was just all for show anyway,” Draco sighs, waving a hand. “He loved his appearances, his image. No one trifled with it, Harry. And me getting scratched by a bloody chicken of a creature for needing to outdo you was going to be played out to its fullest lest I bring ridicule to the name. He and I both knew I wasn't that injured. And I didn't ask for him to murder the damn thing, just so you know.”

Harry grimaces. “Sorry. At least Buckbeak survived Lucius Malfoy.”

Draco glances to his watch and curses, then eyes Harry. “Were you really going to let me stand here going on about my fucking father when we could be doing much more important things with these few minutes that I do have alone with you?”

“Not my fault you never shut up, Malfoy,” Harry teases.

Draco squints his best challenging glare and sneer. “Then shut me up, Potter.”

Harry grins widely and obeys the command, mouth like honey from breakfast. Much better, Draco thinks to himself when he tastes nothing but Harry and grips the front of Harry's robes. The planets feel briefly aligned again, his star brightening after a few dull days.

“I missed you,” Harry grinds out, voice rough when they part slightly, and Draco fights the flustering romantic quiver in his spine and heart. “Barely got to sit down at all. Had a long meeting with McGonagall about my future and N.E.W.T.s, then class, and then had to help a first year who had had a major panic attack after getting lost. But I didn't stop thinking about you. Hermione said you had a rough dinner. What happened?”

“Blaise happened. He thought he was being helpful in his concern that I'm only changing myself to please other people.”

“Of course,” Harry growls, and Draco smiles, turned on by the sound and the emotional drive behind it. “If anything, you've become more of yourself, and we've just gotten to see it happen. I don't think you're changing for anyone but yourself, Draco.”

Draco rests his cheek to Harry's collar, standing in a warm hug in the sun. It's so easy to hear those words and Vanish away his fears of the prior night. “I know.”

“So why were you asking a thestral such life questions? Did he get to you?”

“He only brought up a concern I had as well.”

“What?”

Draco's uncomfortable, but he tells Harry anyway, trusting him. He'd promised to trust him. “Just made me wonder at the authenticity of it all...of everything since...since the trial.”

Harry's hands stroke down his back soothingly, then interlace with his own. “Sounds rough. I think you're just figuring things out for yourself, and that means there's no right or wrong answer, not really. But something has to feel natural or real, right? Maybe try not to over complicate it, you know? And don't let anyone tell you how you have to be. Just be what's comfortable to you.”

“That...helps, thank you,” Draco sighs and backs away, knowing they need to return.

“I mean, why do you think I spent yesterday arguing with McGonagall about Aurors? I don't know what I want to do with my life, but I know that I've changed my mind on that plan. I don't care if I'm good at it. I'm tired of it. I'm tired of death. People just don't know or want to know it about me.”

Draco frowns, disliking this notion that people are pushing Harry toward more darkness and death no matter his blindingly good track record at disposing dark magic. He leaves a firm, supportive kiss on Harry's lips and takes his hand to start the trek back to the school.

“People don't know I want you, though, do they?” he asks, teasing.

“Nope. They think you want Luna.”

Draco cackles loudly. Harry is scowling, and it's hilarious.

“Jealous of your own friend, Potter?” he asks with glee. “She is pretty. Shame.”

“Oh, shut up. Overheard some Ravenclaws this morning talking about how my boyfriend is having romantic lunch dates with my friend. You're lucky Nev knows the truth about you two being friends, especially since they seemed worried that you were gonna corrupt her like a good little Slytherin with your trouser snake,” Harry gripes, clearly annoyed yet also smiling. “Took all I had not to tell them you're corrupting me with it.”

Draco keeps laughing, gripping Harry's hand hard. “Imagine...imagine...if they only knew how well I've gotten you off. Their stupid faces might just melt to the floor.”

“Probably,” Harry guffaws. “You have done an excellent job at it so far.”

Draco blushes, damn him, and glances down as they walk, eyeing Potter's growing bulge with wistfulness and bouncing eyebrows of mirth. “You're damn right I have. And look at that. It knows it, too.”

“Told you I missed you,” Harry just says softly, smirking.

“Missed you, too.” Draco sighs, then rolls his eyes, gesturing with his free arm dramatically, “Merlin, I sound stupid sighing over you. Just hex me now. Spare me this nauseatingly charming feeling before it kills me.”

“Nope. I'm rather taken with you, so sigh away.”

Draco stops, and Harry jerks back slightly as the motion catches his movement. “You really mean that? There's...nothing you would...change?”

Harry shakes his head. “Not my place to change anyone, Draco. I just want you happy with yourself.”

Draco pauses with him behind Hagrid's hut, out of sight. Leans into Harry against the building itself, pressing as closely as possible, mind full of those strong words.

“I miss when we could just spend hours in a bathroom, arguing and snogging,” he says.

Harry groans in sympathy. “Me, too.”

“I have to go. Potions with Slughorn.” Draco winces and pulls away, only to get tugged for another hot kiss that distracts him. “What are your classes?”

“Defense Against the Dark Arts. Apparently it makes others feel safer to see me in it, and I suppose it's a good fall back to have a N.E.W.T. in if I must, since it can open doors to other careers as well. I might drop it, I don't know. But what I really want is to get Madam Hooch to show me how she trains students, and she's receptive. Says she's too old for it anymore.”

Draco takes in the words, proud to see Harry standing up for himself and his own desires against the masses. “You want to teach first years to fly? You'd do well, if you don't make them fly into a bloody lightning storm. It's your fetish, isn't it, you freak.”

Maybe. Maybe it was hot watching you soak in the rain.”

Draco snorts playfully. “How kind of you, Harry. But are you really going to do this?”

“Well, I don't know yet. It's what I talked with McGonagall about. Hooch is wanting to retire after everything, so the position will open up. I mean, I don't really need the money, so it would be more about doing something for myself. Giving back to Hogwarts.” Harry's eyes are brilliant in the sun as he jokes. “Anyways, we'll get through today and have the weekend. Just breathe.”

“Trying, Harry,” Draco whispers, kisses Potter soundly with regret, and then walks away before he's too tempted to skip his first Potions class to do more enjoyable things.

 

 

 

xlvi

 

 

Potions is hell, and the homework has stepped up several notches.

Draco gives up trying to work in the Slytherin common room over the weekend when it fills up with Slytherins feeling uncomfortable with the other Houses after the war, as if they're the ones with the Dark fucking Mark on their arm, and returns to his dorm only to find Blaise arguing with Pansy.

Something inside his mind snaps. Just a little.

Draco throws his book and supplies in a black leather bag and leaves the dungeons altogether.

He's barely down the hall when Slughorn brings up the little matter of inviting he and Zabini to the annoying dinners he's reinstated with his little club of students.

Ten minutes after that, some fifth years run around the corner straight into him, spilling some sort of horribly made love potion all over the place. Draco rolls his eyes; he can tell from the look alone that it's far from amortentia quality and wands some of the mess away.

The three girls flee whispering together, and Draco continues on, his frustration mounting.

The smell on his clothes is strange. His skin tingles, nose twitching, body confused, like kindling readying for a fire.

And it's the angry Hufflepuff he passes muttering a quick Death Eating traitor under his breath that sets the match going.

Draco spins and pins the boy with a look that has the fourth year panicking. “What did you say?”

“N-Nothing,” the Hufflepuff sputters and runs off, shocked friends following.

That's it.

Draco stalks to the Great Hall on the Sunday afternoon. Potter is there with Luna, Neville, and some of the others, and Harry smiles, then frowns when he sees Draco approaching like a possessed man. Hermione Granger's eyes widen, and even Ron Weasley rears back, asking a hushed, “What the bloody hell happened to you, Malfoy?”

He's sticky, clothes half pink still, rosy cheeked, and caught between murderous and turned on thanks to the bloody waste of liquid that was, in fact, not so much a silly romance inducing potion as it was an overcooked, over-brewed aphro-fucking-disiac.

What naughty girls.

“Harry,” Draco says, eyes only on his lover.

Harry immediately rises. “What's happened?”

Draco slings his bag down onto the table next to Luna and says, “Keep this safe from nargles.”

“Sure, Draco,” Luna smiles and shrugs at Granger's puzzlement.

“Draco?” Longbottom asks, looking over his bag with its now tumbled out quill.

“Come,” he grunts at Harry.

And then Granger bites her lip in a sly smile as they stride off, Potter quite confounded. Draco is silent, ignoring all of the questions at his back until they get near the bathroom sanctuary, and then he grabs Harry by that fucking handsome tight jumper that's showing off his chest so fucking well and pulls him past the cot and into a stall around the corner, slamming him against the wall and clicking the lock on the door behind him.

He casts a single Muffliato under his breath with his wand before tucking it back into his robes.

Harry, for his part, is gaping like a bloody fish.

“Breathe, Harry. Can't have you passing out now.”

“Draco, what is going on with you?”

Draco takes his own breath, mentally preparing. “Harry, I've had a bad couple of days. I've had a seriously fucked afternoon. Between Pansy and Blaise screaming, the fucking Hufflepuff calling me a Death Eating traitor as I passed, and the idiot girls dumping an entire aphrodisiac potion on me when we collided, I'm furious and harder than a fucking broomstick.”

Harry stares silently, mouth open, cheeks warm.

It's sickeningly adorable, and he wants it.

“So,” Draco continues and kisses Harry's throat once before letting his hands move south to undo Potter's trousers, “I'm going to deal with it. Constructively.”

“Meaning?” Harry asks breathlessly as Draco yanks the trousers down and finds Potter half-erect in the sexy black underpants.

Draco gets on his knees and looks up, serious. “I'm going to suck you off.”

Harry shudders against the wall. “You don't have to do this now,” he rasps. “You're angry and upset.”

“I want to.”

“You're sure?” Green eyes are so close to caving in, to getting what Harry's admitted to wanting in the past.

“Yes, Harry. I want to do this. I'll be fine.”

Harry swallows nervously. “Well...okay, then, if you're sure.”

“Shush and enjoy, Potter,” Draco grunts, smirking responsively to Harry's grin, tugging the black material down as well to get the most intimate view of Harry's flushed groin against his dark patch of hair and muscled, bare thighs.

It's almost too much. Draco moans and strokes him once, his own cock throbbing.

Harry trembles under his fingertips that slide from strong thighs to curved arse, and Draco closes his eyes, licking one large, slow swipe of his tongue up Harry's entire cock.

Potter's response is instantaneous. He shouts and grasps along the stall for anything to hold onto as his knees bow the slightest bit. Draco pauses in his next lick to grab one of the shaky hands and holds it, feeling Harry weave their fingers tightly. Then he goes back to licking twice more before taking the head of Harry's cock into his mouth.

He's like silk to the touch, warmth and musk and male to the taste.

It's everything Harry is condensed into a single moment, and Draco instantly feels his frustrations drop away.

Harry jerks, gasping above him while Draco takes more, slowly at first and then faster, backing away and returning until he's all but swallowed Potter down to the base and making the Chosen One nearly scream. Fingers flex against his, the thigh he holds pulsates with straining need. Draco withdraws and moves, opening his jaw even more and using his lips to suckle the tip, tongue digging underneath.

Draco, I...I....” Harry groans low and deep, head tilted forward and heavy green gaze watching with hazed interest. He pants, and there is nothing sexier. “God, don't stop.”

Fucking Potter, Draco thinks, always making him lose his sanity in every way possible.

But he begs, silently, for Harry to never stop saying his name like that.

Fingers lift off Harry's thigh to cup his sac then settle around his base, and the resulting sexy, heated grunt is worth the change of pace. Draco closes his eyes, feeling himself pouring into it, giving as much as Harry does with the little, tentative thrusts into his mouth.

His own body is begging him for something, so Draco lets go of Harry's hand and reaches for the button of his trousers. Harry's fingers slide into his hair as if they belong there, and Draco is quite content feeling that they do when Potter palms the back of his head and holds on.

Warm licks swiping, fingers teasing, mouth sucking and then sliding away to tease with the tip of his tongue, Draco turns Harry Potter into a beautiful mess all his own.

Harry shivers against the stall. Pleads. Thrusts. Gasps. Demands.

Maybe that's his effect, he hopes, as he manages to stroke himself with his free hand, switching it with the one he'd used to grip Harry. Maybe he'll create beautiful messes everywhere now.

And he's close. So close looking at this mad, special being that he wants so much, that he's growing scarily dependent upon needing, upon seeing, upon touching.

Draco refuses to run at the thought and moves with more vigor. So he's new to this relationship stuff, too. So what.

Harry whimpers above him, reddened lips open. “Draco...I'm...I'm going to....”

Draco nods around Harry's cock in his mouth and curls his tongue under the tip with one more go, dragging it all the way up. Harry cries out hoarsely, grips his hair, and comes. When Harry just shudders against him, Draco pulls back, swallows, and sighs out the rush with his eyes closed and mouth open, coming quietly in his own palm.

It takes them both a moment to recover.

Harry is first, blinking down at him when Draco finally feels like he can move again.

Understanding is in his eyes, his touch as Harry gently tugs him by the arm to his feet.

Draco swallows again, tasting Harry still, and leans forward to cover Potter's body with his own against the stall's wall. Harry rests a hand upon his lower back, arches briefly to brush them together, and both grit their teeth at the naked, intimate sensation they've yet to experience until now.

“Better?” Harry asks quietly, cheek to his.

“Much,” Draco admits, feeling quite calm.

Harry laughs tiredly. “D'you have any idea how hot it was to see you do that? Do you have any idea how good you are at it?”

“I can imagine having your rival on his knees finishing you is quite the sight.”

“You'll get yours,” Harry whispers the hot promise in his ear, then licks it. “I promise.”

Draco shakes, already imagining it. But right now the room feels too bright, and he feels so tired and sated, and when they spell themselves clean, do up their trousers proper and exit the stall, they collapse upon the cot, Draco above Harry.

“What shall our excuse be?”

“Hm?”

“I stole you right from them, Harry. They'll be curious.” Draco groans and burrows his face into Harry's jumper that smells like Harry and sweat and sex. “Granger will know something happened.”

“She scare you that much?” Harry digs, metaphorically and physically with his finger in Draco's ribs. “I've seen her set on knowing things. I totally get it.”

“Well, you smooth it over, then.”

“Fine.”

They lie together, just being together, then mutually agree it would best for none of the group to come hunting them down. Draco reluctantly leaves his once sanctuary with Harry, letting go of his hand before they emerge into the open halls. They walk closely, smirking and looking opposite directions, hoping to tone down the whispers that always come just from them being near each other.

But Draco knows that Harry is flushed and gorgeous after he comes with his glistening, relaxed face. And Draco can only imagine how he looks despite his attempts to smooth his ruffled hair. His lips feel slightly swollen, and he keeps biting the lower one, which doesn't help the “just sexed” look he damn well knows he has.

When they reenter the Great Hall and thankfully still find the group in the same spot, the eyes dart straight to them curiously. Granger's widen so dramatically that it looks painful. Luna actually laughs, and Draco decides he'd rather not know why. Neville looks surprised, then elbows Luna. And Ron Weasley stares, mystified, clearly able to tell something has changed, but not sure what.

The great buffoon.

“Back so soon?” Hermione asks as they sit down together next to Neville.

“Yep. Just a little problem with a potion spill in the hall,” Harry lies, and Draco stares at him, quite surprised at how well he pulls it off for that second, considering how horrible at it Potter usually is.

Ron sniffs and stretches his shoulders. “Potion spill, huh?”

“Bunch of idiot girls attempting to seduce some poor sod, I imagine,” Draco replies smoothly, and Harry smiles.

“Were they successful?” Luna asks, blue eyes bright.

Draco shoots her a look he knows she'll interpret with that amazing brain of hers. “Who knows. Aphrodisiacs are powerful.”

Luna laughs and slides his bag back across to him. “Nargle-free, as you asked.”

Granger chuckles. “Gosh, Harry, remember when Romilda tried that love potion on you back when?”

Harry grunts and looks embarrassed. “Yeah.”

Draco raises a brow at him. “Well. Did it work?”

“I never took it, of course.” Harry grins and glances to Weasley. “Ron did.”

“I did what now?” Weasley demands, quite affronted and half-standing up.

“Remember those chocolate cauldrons you ate? Yeah. Romilda made them to try to get me. Then you ate them thinking they were for your birthday, and Slughorn and I had to talk you into taking an antidote without you knowing. You were in great form that night, Ron. Hilarious.”

Weasley turns such a shade of red that Draco can't help the terrible cackle that bursts out of him, startling everyone. “Shut up, Malfoy,” Weasley snipes, but it's barely gruff and followed by a smirk when the rest burst out laughing, too. “Bet you never had a girl try to give you one.”

Draco smirks. Harry turns subtly to face him, curious. The rest lean forward, almost simultaneously. “No, of course not. I always told them to bugger off,” he says, arms crossing comfortably. Not like he'd have felt shit, anyway. “They just sighed and chattered and did those things. Plus, Pansy's always been quite the deterrent.”

“Are you seeing her, then?” Neville asks politely, leaning into Luna gently.

Draco blinks, horrified at the image. Harry's foot wraps under his ankle, silently demanding an answer. “No,” he tells Neville. “Merlin, no.”

“Oh. I heard her talking about you yesterday, so I wondered.”

Harry leans forward. Obvious git. “Oh? How so?”

“Just sayin' that she thought he was acting weird, but he'd 'grown up nicely' over the summer and all,” Neville relays, fingers quoting.

Draco groans. “Trust me, that is not what she meant. Pansy likes to irritate me to show she cares. She didn't mean I've gotten better looking. She's just being sarcastic. We're not...no.”

“Better not be,” Harry mumbles under his breath, and Draco chews on his lip to hide his smile.

Granger glances between he and Harry with a little smirk.

“You know, Malfoy, your shirt's still a bit pink. Wouldn't have been you that got a potion dumped on him, would it?” Weasley asks, head cocked to the side with the smirk of one going for the kill.

Draco slyly smiles and rubs his chin. “What, Weasley, afraid I'll jump you if so?”

Ron sputters and turns away, cursing him and making the rest snicker. “Well, then, why'd you need Harry to clean up?” he suddenly asks, and the table is silent.

Hermione Granger's eyes pop hilariously. Harry holds his breath.

Oh, shit. Well.

Draco's ego decides for him, and he fucking goes for it, knowing damn well Ron Weasley will refuse to look the truth right in the face in his own discomfort. “'Cause it worked, Weasley. Why else?”

Hermione chokes on her water.

Luna's blue eyes light with laughter at Neville's shock.

Harry stares at him like he's lost his bloody marbles.

They wait in silence.

And then, to all their relief, Ron Weasley saves the day with a growled out, “Like hell, Malfoy, you creep.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

xlvii

 

 

Routine as always is best, and thankfully it comes when it is desperately needed. Transfiguration and Potions alternate a few days a week and give him enough space to breathe and work on the many lengths of parchments he's already created. The thestrals greet him once weekly with their pretty, soft cries, and the female with the healed wing he's since affectionately dubbed “Nudger” continues to nudge him each time she sees him, as if he's one of her colts grown.

Draco walks down halls with half the amount of stares as time slowly passes. He's reserved, but otherwise normal when he speaks to both Blaise and Pansy at dinner. He resumes his old routine of breakfast with the mixed group at the Gryffindor table, much to a delighted Hermione Granger's surprise. He always sits right next to Harry with Luna on his left, who is the one daily rolling his sleeves up beneath his robes, each time saying softly, “Nice to see you, Draco.”

Ron Weasley begins to thaw and jokes and even blows up on a Slytherin who'd snarled at Draco for “fraternizing” too much. Ginny Weasley finally says hello to him when they pass by in the hall once, even if it is a bit terse at first. And Draco is astounded by what small signs of acceptance feel like. He knows explanations are coming due, and that the more speculative both Weasleys begin to seem means that he'll have to draw himself together and just get it over with soon.

For now, though, a hesitant, tender peace slides into him as he sleeps, eats, and breathes parchment. That same peace flares hot when he meets Harry each night, nearly past curfew, in their bathroom. Sometimes they just sit together on the cot, saying nothing, but taking comfort in the other's presence. Other times they're lucky to keep their wits about them as fingers grope and tongues stroke and eyes alight with need. But each night before they part, Harry whispers his name and kisses him determinedly, and Draco finds he can walk back to the dungeons and prepare to face another day.

Quietly, he takes up astronomy. Luna says nothing when she catches the introductory book from the library fall out of his bag during lunch once, but she smiles quite proudly to herself. When it's not long after that that Neville mysteriously offers him a small hand telescope to use that he'd found in his trunk, Draco rolls his eyes at Lovegood's subtlety, but accepts graciously.

Draco usually showers late at night after he's seen Harry. He hates washing Potter's amazing smell away, as it clings so nicely, and as such often lies with his robes hanging close by the bed as they keep most of the scent. No one else is awake when he uses the boys' shower at nearly one in the morning after finishing more reading, and he takes the time to relax in the charmed water to the exact heat he wants.

But one night after he showers and goes to brush his teeth, the routine cracks.

Blaise enters, half asleep and grumbling. Draco's eyes dart in the mirror, very surprised to find him awake. And when Blaise simply removes his nightclothes, jumps in to rinse, and jumps back out, Draco gets it.

At least he isn't the only one with messy wake up calls from certain kinds of dreams lately.

Blaise dries off with a towel and stares at him in the mirror as Draco runs a hand through his wet hair, combing it.

“Wow,” his friend says.

“What?” Draco grunts, glancing up sharply, unconsciously tightening his towel around his waist as he leans against the counter.

Blaise's gaze goes from surprised to thoughtful, and that's never a good thing. When he steps closer and casually flicks a spot on the back of Draco's neck that feels tender as a result, Draco nearly flips.

Oh, no. Oh, no.

This can't be happening because Blaise Zabini is far more fucking clever than Ron Weasley and much less needing to pretend what he's seeing isn't real.

“I knew it,” Blaise mutters, triumphant. “I fucking knew you were distracted for a reason.”

Draco blinks, thinking quickly in his anxiety that Blaise, the observant shit he is, has now found one of Harry's most recent marks. He debates lying, telling the truth, everything and anything as those eyes of Zabini's grow more amused by the second.

“It's nothing,” he shrugs, and takes his wand from the counter nearby to dab a quick healing spell across it.

He feels it work.

He knows it's gone.

And he immediately wants to vomit with regret.

“Damn, you must be serious about it to do that. Who's the lucky bloke?”

“None of your business.”

Pointless to hide his sexuality from the one Slytherin who'd caught onto it ages ago when Draco had gotten quite a silly crush on some professional Quidditch players and was accidentally found with a poster and his trousers open, damn it.

Blaise grins brilliant, shining teeth in the low light. “Oh. Oh, you had best not be telling me it's from who I think it is.”

“Sod off. At least I didn't wake coming in my pants and need to clean up that badly,” Draco sneers back, getting an eye roll.

“I don't feel cleaning spells always do the trick. Sleeping while residue laden is not my choice.”

“And not sharing my private business with you is my choice.”

Draco dresses quickly in the silky nightclothes and grabs his things, ready to march out and hopefully go to sleep with a Zabini who thinks he imagined the whole thing in the morning. But Blaise calls out as he leaves, “It only took you this long to finally get his attention, didn't it. You'd better make him beg for you, at the least, Draco. It's only fair, that idiot Gryffindor.”

“I do,” he says, giving up, leaving with a hot blush on his face.

But Draco cannot sleep that night, even after Blaise quietly returns and passes out, lightly snoring away in the next bed across the room. He cannot sleep because he knows that mark is gone, and it shouldn't be gone because he was never ashamed of it in the first place.

Blaise's apparent humored and puzzled approval is quite appreciated, but it makes him keep tensing, too.

He just wanted it to be theirs. Their secret. Their lives that no one would understand anyway.

It's only after he finally changes with the dawn, strolls through the school all the way to the Great Hall where Hermione Granger is already sitting with tea and her Transfiguration book that Draco looks to her, for once, and asks for help.

“I need him,” is all he says, voice choking uncomfortably.

And she understands. She rises immediately, ties her hair back, and leaves her items there with him while he waits impatiently, wondering if he's just made a humongous mistake in showing this side of his vulnerability to Granger.

Draco can't stop the little shake, the feeling still that something is off with his body and his emotions, until he sees Harry himself storm through the entrance to the room, absolutely concerned. He's barely wearing his bloody clothes: the shirt is haphazardly buttoned, tie hanging, trousers at least done up correctly. Trainers snap loudly to the stone floor, and Harry is suddenly there and touching his face in the empty room as Granger watches, worried.

“Come on,” Harry whispers and takes his hand.

Draco allows himself to be led to their bathroom, their space, and when the door shuts, he breathes out. Robes get thrown off of him, he nearly rips the buttons from his own shirt like an uncivilized fool, and he turns baring his shoulder and neck to Harry, who is quite confused beside him.

“Fix it,” he says, then looks away, feeling sick.

“Draco? What is it? What's wrong?”

Draco trembles as he stands, hand holding the edge of the large mirror's sink. To his left his reflection glares back at him, pale and wavering with the shame he feels inside.

He closes his eyes. “Please, fix it,” he swallows, and puts his fingers on the healed spot.

Harry steps closer. Draco feels the rough fingers stroke his and the clear spot of guilt.

And then Harry bends, wraps his arms around Draco from behind, and lowers his mouth, kissing and biting and sucking exactly upon it, and Draco moans, feeling like he's standing in rain. The longer Harry works on his skin with additional licks and kisses, the more Draco calms down and clutches at Harry's forearms in gratitude.

It's gradual, but the off feeling eventually stops as the little throbbing continues in his neck.

“Wanna tell me what this was about?” Harry asks when he finishes with a round of kisses across Draco's shoulder, then tugs the shirt back up over the skin.

Draco turns, glances at their reflection as Potter nuzzles the side of his neck, and finally feels that urge to be sick slowly vanishing, too.

“Blaise saw it last night. He knows. I said nothing to your identity, but he knows,” Draco explains, jaw locked. “I...I healed it. I took it away because I...I wanted...it's mine to have and know, it's our business, and I panicked, Harry.”

“Okay,” Harry says, pulling back and blowing out a breath.

Draco looks down the scant space between them into Harry's accepting green eyes. There is no anger there. Draco's chin quivers, and he jerks away. “Be fucking angry at me, will you!”

“What for?”

“Because I took it away, Harry! I hid it! I...I acted like I was ashamed of it, and I wasn't, not like that, I just...fuck,” he shouts down at the sink, gripping it harshly. “I'm ashamed of letting it matter, Potter. I could never be ashamed of you after everything now. Why you ever look at me and think, 'Ah, yes, I want Draco Malfoy,' I'll never know. I'm nothing. I'm worse than nothing. So be fucking angry at me, all right?”

Harry's expression shifts, and the melancholy in Draco grows.

“Draco,” Harry begins, looking over him in the mirror as he surrounds Draco once more.

Draco waits, breath heaving, his only thought being for Harry to please make this stop.

“The only thing making me angry is that you're this angry with yourself,” Harry says, shaking his head. “You're not nothing. You're everything. You're what's keeping me sane now. I get if Blaise Zabini's comments, which I'm sure were quite lovely, made you panic, and I'm not upset with you for reacting in that moment.”

“You should be!” Draco shouts. “I should have walked out and proved it didn't matter what he thought, but I didn't. I panicked. That sodding need to give two shits about my fucking image as a Malfoy just reared right back to fucking life in that split second. At least he only teased me at the end. Said to make you beg for it.”

Harry snorts, but stares him down intently. “You're still finding yourself, Draco, and Zabini and Parkinson being around keeps you in this...this half forward, half back pace. Can't be afraid to keep walking, mate. Can't stop just because they remind you. And you'll still care about your image, a little. That's part of you being you. It'll just change as to what's important about it, I think.”

Draco shivers. He desperately wishes for the balance to come back.

And it does, quietly, when Harry sighs in his ear and says, “I'm not ashamed of you, and I don't want you to ever feel that way about yourself. I want you to feel proud. I want you to see how far you've come and how much you've done in just a short time since the war ended. I want you to see yourself through my eyes. You're beautiful, Draco. A massively complex and strange kind of beautiful, but I like it.”

Finally, he smiles.

The mirror is kind and shows him Harry smiling, too.

“Besides,” Harry continues smirking as he nudges the clothed spot with his nose. “I fixed it all better, didn't I? It's fine.”

Draco nods, half-out of it from the lack of sleep and emotional high, and then flushes. Looks away, embarrassed. “I just made a fool out of myself, losing it like that over a fucking love bite. What is wrong with me, Harry? What have you done to me?”

“Looks like you've just not slept to me.”

“I haven't.”

“And since the war ended, you finally felt you could and should stand up for your own actions, take them to account for yourself,” Harry murmurs gently. “It makes sense, Draco. Perfect sense. You're not a fool. You're just tired and emotional.”

“I...I suppose, but I hate this feeling. It's so pathetic. Just...don't...just don't think I'm going soft or anything, Potter. I'm not. I'm just...tired,” he says, feeling so stupid. “I'm still me.”

“You'll always still be you, Draco Malfoy. All that Pureblood breeding.”

Draco huffs, but smirks. Harry casts a quick look to his watch and tugs him over to the cot, falling down together. Draco wraps around Harry, right thigh and arm holding across Potter's warm body, and his face falls heavily to Harry's collarbone.

“Sleep,” Harry whispers. “I'll wake you in a bit. You've plenty of time.”

“Cheeky, goody-goody Gryffindor,” Draco sighs, already on his way to sleep. “I must be loony. It drives me mad, but I also...quite like it...sometimes.”

Harry's soft laugh is felt rather than heard, and Draco drifts entirely.

He dreams of the mirrors again, but the void is gone and the bathroom is there. Harry stands behind him, hands on his upper arms, and says, Look, Draco. And smiles.

And Draco looks at himself with Harry in the mirror, sees Potter's dark hair to his pale strands, Potter's warm skin to his coolness, and smiles when he sees the balance right there in front of him.

 

 

 

xlviii

 

 

It takes nearly two more weeks into the term before he is ready.

Hilarious, since apparently a received punch was much easier to handle.

Draco prepares in the bathroom alone, not telling Harry what he's been up to at all despite Potter's needling and grunting at being kicked out of their space earlier than usual. He decides that Potter is quite right about him changing what is important as he carefully plans his casual outfit, thinking that anything too dressy or too dark might put Weasley off. He paces before the mirror, throwing out what he hopes to be worthy dialogue to the silent glass.

He breathes in and out. Remembers the two new marks on his throat and shoulder and smiles.

Then he rolls his sleeve up since Luna wasn't at breakfast and strolls out, ignoring some of the eyes and smiling to himself when others just nod silent hellos without even looking at the snake and skull on his skin.

He finds Ronald Weasley outside with Hermione Granger, sitting and talking about something in his Defense Against the Dark Arts class.

Draco kicks the ground, annoyed at having all this preparation go to waste.

He turns to leave, but she calls out, “Hi, Draco.”

Caught, he steps on down the stairs, polished black shoes lightly slapping the stone in the rhythm. Hands in his jacket pockets in the new autumn wind, he shrugs a quiet hello to the pair.

“Something up?” Weasley asks, frowning.

Draco doesn't respond. His eyes settle on Granger's in silent plea for that big famous brain to get the hint.

And she does, the slow warm smile spreading across her face. Hermione jumps up, hair swinging, and grabs for her bag and things while Ron Weasley grunts, “What? Hermione? Where are you going off to?”

“I just forgot something in the common room. I'll be back in a bit, Ron.”

“Yeah, well. Grab me a biscuit, will you, from my stash Mum owl'ed?”

“All right.”

Draco swallows and steps out of the way, exhaling as Hermione gives him a grand knowing smile with her back to her boyfriend.

“Good luck,” she whispers, and drifts on by.

He'll need it, he thinks, as Weasley continues to eye him speculatively. “Sittin' down or what, Ferret Face?”

Draco grunts his annoyance, but bends gracefully, one knee raised, eyes looking out at some students bustling in the afternoon to and fro from Hagrid's. The magical creature care classes have taken off as some form of therapeutic aid to several students this year, and Draco finds the irony in himself caring for the thestrals when he never would have before.

“All right. Spill it. You never want to talk to me, and you wouldn't be here if you didn't have something to say.”

Draco exhales, grey gaze glancing sideways. “You're right.”

“And?” Weasley asks, arms crossing as he sits back.

“You and I need to put the past behind us.”

“What for?”

“Ourselves. And Harry.” Draco sighs, hoping Potter understands just how uncomfortable he is doing this for his sake. If it isn't proof enough how he feels for the idiot, nothing will be. “So, let's deal with it, Weasley. You say yours, I say mine, we walk away with it done.”

When Weasley eyes him suspiciously, Draco adds, “And no fists. Or wands.”

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

Neither know how to begin, though, and that's a problem.

Draco taps his bent knee, anxiety rising a little. He's forgotten half of his planned speech, and damn it all if that isn't just his luck now.

“Why'd you do it?” Ron asks suddenly, startling him a little.

“Do what?”

“The good stuff. Not finger Harry at the Manor and give him your wand against You-Know-Who.”

Draco licks his lip. Count on Weasley to go right for the meat.

“Well,” he begins, “Potter and I, we just...it's hard to explain that rivalry we had unless you were in it. I may have gotten quite annoyed with him, beyond frustrated at him, and eventually just tired of it all, but I never wanted him dead. I lived with that...that thing in my home, Weasley, and I knew the only one who'd kill him was Harry. He was my only hope, in the end, to get out of it.”

Weasley nods absently. “You were always a right prick to him.”

“As he was to me.”

“But you were first, Malfoy.”

Draco grits his teeth and controls his temper. “Yes, I suppose I was, but that was because he refused to be my friend. He...he chose you,” Draco mutters, feeling his ego screaming at him.

Ron Weasley smirks widely. “Yeah, he did. He's a smart bloke. He knew who would be his friend and who would use him.”

“My father would have wanted me to use him, but it doesn't mean I would have. I would have seen him as my equal, then, and the rivalry was that strong as a result, Weasley. I do have friends, believe it or not, and we're quite independent people.”

“So.” Ron shrugs, now quite broad shoulders stretching his crimson jumper. “Can't defend how awful you've always been.”

Draco's jaw locks. “Funny. I see it the other way. I saw a trio of people who thought they could get away with trying to do anything and everything in the school and be rewarded for things the rest of us would be punished for doing. I saw three people who thought they were better than the rest of us simply for being Gryffindor. I saw three people who always thought they were not only right, but that they knew best what to do for anyone and ignored the rights of the rest of us to decide for ourselves.”

Ron Weasley gapes, flustered, and reddens. “You what, now?”

“Why else knock at you lot if not to throw you off your fucking pedestals, hm?”

“But we didn't...none of us were on pedestals or wanted to be.”

Draco sneers, triumphant. “Perhaps the rest of us wanted to be something, too, you know, without you three always in the spotlight. Or, rather, you and Granger in Potter's big shadow.”

The glare sent his way is confirmation that he has, in fact, found a raw spot.

Well good. Now they're getting somewhere, aren't they?

“Yeah, well, you hurt people all the time, and not just us, but Neville and others. You said horrific shit to my girlfriend, who hit you brilliantly by the way.” Ron smiles, smug. “Gotta love when 'Mione loses it.”

“Yes, well, she hit better than you, just so you know,” Draco smirks, and Weasley's smile is fading fast into a scowl. “Fact is, I was raised by Purebloods who demanded and expected only the best for themselves. When it seemed I was stuck instead with what appeared less than I deserved as to my social circle and expectations, I reacted as I was programmed to do.”

Ron blinks. “You were an arsehole because you didn't get what your mummy and daddy always said you would?”

“Not saying I'm proud of it, Weasley, just explaining why children are bastards.”

“Huh. Hm.”

A pause. Both of them shift as they relax more into the other's presence, despite the topics.

Weasley slides back to rest his weight on one arm, elbow propped. “Why'd you do it, Malfoy? Why'd you give in and join them?”

Them. Ah, yes.

Draco closes his eyes, then reopens them, stronger as he speaks his truth to someone he never saw justifying anything to at all: “Would you believe me if I said I wanted to be rid of my need to impress Potter, when all he did was glare more and more and believe me so awful anyway? Would you believe me, Weasley, if I said that it was expected of me by family and acquaintances to do so? Would you remotely understand that I never had a chance to avoid it the way it all played out? Mother tried to get me help through Severus protecting me, and Dumbledore knew. Always knew. I lied to him, pointlessly of course, but in the end when it happened, I didn't lie to him. I told him the truth. They expected me to kill him, or they would kill me.”

Weasley stares at him for quite some time. Enough time for Draco to get a touch nervous. But then the ginger sighs and glances away. “But you didn't. Harry told me the truth.”

“No, I didn't. I couldn't have anyway, even if Severus hadn't come. Take that as you will.”

“Harry said he was very sad for you in that moment. Proud, too, because you knew what the right thing was and trusted Dumbledore enough to say it.”

“Harry thinks lots of things about me that may or may not be true.”

Ron shrugs. “So, your wand, then?”

Draco flinches against the memory, the fear that if he had missed that Harry and he both would have been killed instantly by the Dark Lord.

“He was our only chance, Weasley. He always was. And I hate that on his behalf.”

The silence this time is impressed. Weasley almost smiles. “I suppose Harry's not entirely mad trusting you. Maybe. He's my best mate, and he tries to see good in people. Didn't in you though, for years. Hated your arse.”

Draco glances away, telling himself he has no right to be upset with the information. He'd given Harry Potter every reason to hate him over the years, and then some. Yet they'd stayed revolving, hadn't they, regardless, trapped in those gravitational fields of theirs.

“Doesn't seem to hate you now at all,” Ron mumbles, and there it is.

The blue eyes are wanting to know.

Draco has debated the consequences of telling this to Weasley for the entire two week period. He knows Harry will either be extremely happy if it works out well or quite furious if it doesn't. He knows it's his first chance at truly sharing their secret with someone else of his own free will.

And while that terrified him with Blaise finding out, this...strangely doesn't.

Not when Weasley looks like he's just been waiting this whole time and just wants to say what he thinks about it already. Not when Granger is in Draco's corner, too, to clap the ginger on the back of the head if he mouths off about it.

“He's your best mate,” Draco intones over the wind. “And he's my boyfriend. So it's best if we just try to get along, isn't it.”

His own words flame in his chest as he says it, altogether, for the first time aloud to someone not Harry or Hermione.

Weasley sucks in air quite audibly, sitting up straight. His eyes are popping, fingers digging into grass and dirt. His jaw drops low. “I fucking knew it.”

“Shocking, really. You tend to avoid things that freak you out, and Harry and I did just start out being friends before you arrived.”

“You didn't try anything before that, right?”

“No. I actually was quite angry with him then for lots of reasons, and I avoided everyone for a while. I was not the direct reason for Harry and your sister's falling out, no matter what you want to think of me.”

Weasley frowns, but his face has softened a lot since they started. “When you say...boyfriend, do you mean, um, you know?”

Draco snorts, licks his bottom lip, and smirks. “Yes.”

“Really? Like...doing...stuff. Gay stuff.”

“Yes, Weasel, like doing gay stuff.”

“Wow.” Ron blinks, brushes red hair from his eyes. “You and Harry, huh. After...after all this time, I guess it makes a weird sort of sensible nonsense, doesn't it?”

Draco just smiles softly. “Why do you think I always went after him, Weasley? It wasn't just rivalry and rejection of friendship, not all of it.”

“Holy smokes, you wanted him.” Ron stares, looking like a bug-eyed fish.

“Yes. I did.”

“Blimey, that's...okay, that's just painful. You have a shit way of showing you fancy someone, you know that? Could have saved us years of crap if you'd just told him.”

“Right, and he'd have laughed me off, gotten quite angry, and never spoken to me again if he didn't accidentally tell someone and it spread like fire through school,” Draco replies nastily. “I can well imagine the laugh you'd have all had at my expense. And besides, my father would have lost his mind.”

Weasley shudders, lips wrinkled in disgust. “Shit, yeah. Didn't think about your dad. As for us, well, I'm sure we would have ripped you apart some, just for you having done it to us for so long, and eventually maybe I don't know...let it go and whatnot. But Harry, I don't think he would have been that awful to you. He would have finally understood, and even if he hadn't felt the same or anythin', he probably would have lightened up around you loads. He's good like that.”

“Yes, well. He thought I was always up to something evil, apparently, so I doubt it.”

“Have you seen yourself? You look kinda like an evil bastard would—all pale and done up in black a lot and with a smart mouth.”

Draco cocks an arrogant brow. “Lucky for you, I'm not so evil after all. Imagine if I hadn't had a conscience, Weasley. Just imagine what I would have done.”

“Yeah.” Weasley shakes his head, as if he's dizzy from it all. “Who else knows about you two?”

“Granger. Potter told her first, probably hoping if she got over it, she'd help you do it later. Blaise has figured something's up, but he doesn't know how serious it is. I'm sure Luna Lovegood has suspected since it all started with Harry pushing me, and Neville may as a result of that.”

“There's only one thing I need to know, Malfoy. Just one. The rest of the details you keep to yourself. I'll be happy for Harry being happy, but I don't wanna know, you know.”

“Fair. I wouldn't want to know about you either, with Granger.”

Ron chuckles. “Fair, yeah. Just this isn't some thing right? You really mean it. You care about him and stuff. Harry's important and not some tool to make yourself look better.”

Draco exhales through his nose, breathing out the frustration and wondering how many times in his life now he's going to hear that fucking phrase. “I'm not using him. I want him. I like him. And, if you must know, he came after me first. Ask him such questions, Weasley.”

“Merlin's beard, Harry. That's balls.”

“I thought he was a raging nutter.”

Ron breaks out laughing, and Draco snickers. “Well, he is. You're so weird. He's so weird. I guess you belong together after all.”

“Pff. Some standards you have.”

“Just don't break his heart, right?” Weasley whispers, blue eyes hazing like ice for a second. “You do, and I'll end you. He's been hurt enough by all of us, me included.”

Draco swallows, seeing the light back in Weasley's face and jerks, almost reflexively away, when a large hand claps his shoulder in new camaraderie.

“You know he can hurt me just as much, right.”

“Yeah, but I don't care so much about you yet. That day comes, I guess I'll knock him 'round, too.”

Draco grins, elbows Ron Weasley in relief, and pushes himself to his knees to stand.

And later, when Harry stops by the bathroom, Draco leans against the sink and waits, knowing by now Ron Weasley has to have said something to his best mate about it all.

Harry opens the door, shuts it behind him with both hands held back, and smiles so warmly, so openly, so emotionally that Draco is, at first, quite blindsided.

Then there are hands in his hair, lips on his mouth, and a warm body pressing him backward as Harry Potter expresses his eager gratitude.

“Wasn't for you,” Draco says with a nonchalant shrug later. “Just felt it needed out of the way, was all.”

Potter grins.

Draco smirks.

Neither one buys it.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

xlix

 

 

If the eclipse has come and gone, and their stars are really much closer together than that entirely, Draco wonders if the next month and a half is mostly a shower of falling stars around him in beautiful synchronicity.

Pansy argues with him each night over dinner, clearly unhappy for being out the loop about something while hissing that Blaise is obviously in on it. Zabini just smirks at her quite happily, and each night before bed, asks Draco how many bruises he's got, keeping a tallying bet going.

The bastard is winning because Harry cannot control himself, even when Draco explains the bet. Potter just grins each time, says how dreadful it sounds, and proceeds to mark yet another spot, some of which have gotten quite adventurous past his throat and more upon his collarbones and chest.

At least Blaise never says Harry's name when he asks how begging the boyfriend's been.

Pansy, Draco knows, just wouldn't understand. She's too jealous of a friend, too demanding, and for now, too immature compared to where he is now. He knows, though, the day will come soon when she will join him, as she gets less and less snappy with other students around her at their stares and isolation of her and just goes on, making the most of her time in N.E.W.T. preparations.

And the rest, thankfully, have gotten quite used to seeing him at the Gryffindor table at breakfast and lunch, surrounded by a mixture of folks and usually Harry as well. Ron Weasley smiles at him, includes him in jokes, and seems overall much happier with the air cleared while Hermione Granger watches them interacting over a heated game of wizard's chess.

Draco finally catches Luna and Neville once outside the greenhouses, looking for Longbottom's aid for a special ingredient on a project in his Potions class, and he quickly slips back the way he came, eyes and smile wide, telling Harry later how disgustingly cute it had been.

He rolls his sleeves inside often unless he's cold. Barely anyone comments on it, and those who do now get odd looks for caring. It's fucking amazing.

It's not perfect, and there are bad days, but it has gotten much better.

Like Harry had predicted, he'd been ahead of the curve by helping to rebuild the school itself. Enough of the students had watched him to spread that word, and Potter's group including him in lots of things has made it quite clear: Draco Malfoy is no longer seen as the monster responsible so much as he is simply a Slytherin arse again. At least, that's true of Hogwarts.

It's a fate he can live with, he thinks.

He fends off Narcissa Malfoy in her weekly letters with details of his classes and entertaining anecdotes of his friends, like the time Neville got pinched on the arse by a groping vine plant when Draco was helping him clean (ironically not doing so at the insistence of his sentence he still carries out). He mentions Harry carefully, and his mother does in turn, always asking now how Mr. Potter is doing and saying that it's nice that Draco has finally settled the bitterness between them, if only for his own sake and, as always, to be careful of whom he trusts.

Draco snogs Harry into walls and alcoves, forgoing the bathroom at times when they're both too busy and far too fucking desperate. Potter even pulls him one night into the Prefects' bathroom, thanks to Hermione's password from being one, and strokes him maddeningly well until Draco's eyes roll back when he comes loudly, screaming afterward at the sight of Moaning Myrtle giggling.

The insolent ghost has the nerve to try to follow them to their bathroom, and Draco's threat finally sends her flushing away when he decides he'll just go get Hermione Granger then, won't he, and let her deal with Myrtle, since Harry's clearly a blushing mess still, the useless git.

His heart flutters each time he sees Potter down a corridor, talking to some student. His pride flares as he sees girls of all ages checking his boyfriend out, while he thinks to himself that they never had a chance.

And they didn't.

Luna is right, and he damn well knows it now, as Harry gives him constant proof.

Everyone has to deal with how Harry Potter feels about Draco now as he publicly claims his friendship and, among close friends, displays other types of affection.

The first time Harry kisses him in front of the others, Ron Weasley spits out his fucking tea across the picnic they'd set up outside, drenching Draco's jumper and making him shout at the ruined cashmere. Hermione is quite flushed, Luna and Neville grin together with their held hands, and Ginevra Weasley watches them with a stunned, but laughing Dean Thomas, as if finally understanding something.

Draco doesn't hesitate anymore.

He takes Harry's hand even if one of the odd group is around.

He kisses Harry back tastefully when Potter reaches, aware of the sensibilities and shock of his new friends.

But he still jumps quite high when Harry passes him through a crowd and has the nerve to pinch his bum as he quickly goes by because Merlin, the Chosen One is ballsy.

The star shower is beautiful, captivating and true.

And he is stronger, more confident, and no longer ever afraid to look himself in the mirror.

 

 

 

l

 

 

The day Ginevra Weasley comes to him as he is leaving Potions is the day Draco has been awkwardly dreading. She looks as uncomfortable as he does, and that's something he's glad to see.

“Can we talk?” she quietly asks, eyes firm, and he knows there's not a chance he's walking away from her; she'll hex him into fucking oblivion if he tries.

Draco nods with a sigh and lets her lead him well through the school and into the currently empty Divinations room in the evening before dinner. Ginny breathes through her nose as she watches him set his bag down at his feet and lean against the wall, waiting.

She swallows, jaw locked, then looks away. “Before I say anything, know I'm happy with Dean. Very. He's great, and I'm quite fine with that. I just...I need to get this out, and then I can really move on.”

“Understandable,” Draco murmurs, arms lowly, gently crossing against his abdomen as he tilts his face, watching her shake her long red hair in the muted light of the room's candles.

“I don't know if I'll ever like you,” she admits, eyes hot. “Because of you people died. Because of you my brother is dead. And because of whatever you've always had with...with Harry, I clearly never had a chance, even though it was me supporting him the entire time.”

Draco swallows, leans his head back, and closes his eyes. He didn't make his aunt kill people, but he supposes fixing that cabinet is just as good as having used Bellatrix's wand himself, the same going for the actions of the rest of the Death Eaters.

“I loved him since I was little, you know," she admits. 

And he can't help it. Draco laughs.

It's not mean at all. It's entirely drenched in sympathy. He knows.

How did anyone not love Harry Potter when he came back into their world?

When he opens his eyes to find her still staring at him harshly, he nods.

Ginny Weasley shakes her head. “Seems I wasn't the only one, though. I'm not blind, Malfoy. The others may think it's cute or strange, but I know. I know what love looks like, even if it is taking the face of a former traitor.”

He says nothing, but his jaw locks like hers. He doesn't know if he's in love with Potter consciously yet. He knows he is far from ready for it. But he's not so into self-denial as to deny that there's probably something quite like it that's kept him tethered to Harry all this time.

Because love and hate are not, as some people believe, two different, separate things. They are, in fact, two sides of the same emotion, both hot and passionate, one broken by a line of distrust and hurt. The distrust between he and Harry had been wide enough to inflame them both in the passionate hatred of a possible love, and the balance they're finally finding seems to be restoring the line.

“Ron thinks I need to talk to you. Apparently you worked whatever spell you did over my brother, 'cause he's quite chummy with you now compared to when term started.”

“He still gives me hell for his own amusement. All I did, Ginevra, was tell my side of the story, listen to him tell his, and then told him that the entire point was to do it for ourselves to move on...for Harry to not be afraid that two significant parts of his life could never blend and keep him forever divided.” Draco glances to her sharply. “You may think me entirely selfish, but I'm not. I'm simply more self-aware and self-preserving than the lot of you Gryffindors.”

Ginny looks furious at his use of her full name, but by the time he stops speaking the anger has faded a great deal. “You're not going anywhere, are you?” she asks, throat moving rapidly with her questions. “You're never going to give him up.”

“Not unless he asks me to, not unless I feel I must,” Draco says softly. He's damn well earned his relationship, thank you. His lip curls a little. “Like your brother, you continue to think this is all me. Neither of you apparently truly understand how much of it is Harry's doing. He won't let go unless I demand him to, unless I convince him that he's done me great wrong. And I tried, a while ago, not knowing you'd been apart, thinking he was still with you when he was pursuing me. It hurt the both of us, and he still pushed until he got right back where he was, until I knew you were over and that he was closing in on me whether I would ever be prepared enough or not. He chose me, Ginny Weasley.”

Ginny looks as if whiplash has struck her. She jerks her face for a second to the side, then glares through the strands of hair fallen over her face. “You....”

“I had some modicum of respect, even for you. Shocking, I know. Now, if you do care for him in any capacity, talk to him. Clearly there's some unfinished discussion to be had between the two of you,” Draco murmurs, then pushes off the wall and steps close, glancing down at her with heat she meets. “But do not think for a single second that I will give him up for you now that I know where everything stands, now that I've had him for myself. He's not my object to control, but he is the other half of my relationship. And, as you said, you're quite happy with Dean Thomas, aren't you?”

“Yes, I am, actually. Dean never had the world to hold on his shoulders for me to share his attention. I never hated Harry for that—for sometimes being an afterthought during it all—but it is nice to be seen first before the rest of the world.”

“As anyone deserves to be seen.” Draco blinks. “Where you took the afterthought in what you probably felt was good sportsmanship, I snap my fingers in his face and remind him that I'm fucking there. I remind him that not everyone views his savior complex so kindly. And I become a first filter for things as a result in his priorities, as he does mine. That is why he and I work in a way you didn't, and that is why you're far, far better off.”

“The fact that you make scary sense is making me feel sick. Trust me, it's not like I haven't tried figuring this out between you two,” Ginny sighs, steps back as he does. “It took you and Harry coming clean for Dean to stop being worried about Harry and I.”

“Thomas strikes me as someone who cares a great deal. Who does the right thing at his own expense and not to fulfill his own sense of selfish altruism, like Harry has once in a while,” Draco says offhandedly, watching Ginny's eyes widen. “Why do you all look at me when I say that? It's true. But regardless, yes, I'm not going anywhere. You do not have to ever like me, nor I you. I won't demand such irresponsible unfairness of you that I won't give myself.”

Ginny laughs, sounding exhausted, but nods. “Fine. Just so we're clear.”

“Hate me all you like, Weasley, if it helps. I don't care. Just don't let it become something stupid. I've enough rivalry for one life.”

“You don't hate me?” she asks, brow rising. “You never hated me for having him?”

Draco sneers, feeling the old jealousy sliding on like a glove. “I resented you.”

“Good,” she murmurs, but she's smiling the tiniest bit.

“Now, can I expect that Bat Whatever Hexing of yours? I'm quite hungry and would like to eat, first.”

Ginny Weasley smirks. “It's Bat-Bogey Hex. And no.”

Draco shrugs. “Just know hexes are fair game, Weasley. I'm not an idiot, and I will fight back if it's the right thing to do. I know you're quite good with that bloody wand of yours and a danger on a broom.”

“You should join Slytherin's team this year, if a little late. We've a game coming. I'll show you danger,” she grins mercilessly.

“Quite fine with one Gryffindor trying to kill me on a broom, thank you,” Draco says and grabs his bag, leaving her quite puzzled, but smirking and looking at him with a settled decision she hadn't had before.

That night he licks his way over Harry's collarbone, murmuring, “You should speak with Weasley's sister.”

“Must you talk about Ginny right now, you berk?” Harry asks, panting, straining against his trousers below Draco's waist.

“She cornered me today, Harry. It's been somewhat dealt with, but nothing can really be resolved on my end. I wasn't the one who broke her heart.”

Harry flinches. Green eyes slam shut.

And Draco holds the handsome face and forces Potter to stare up at him. “Do your thing, Potter. Go save your friendship.”

“I will. Later.”

“Harry, I'm not having this discussion twice, and I wouldn't have in the first place if I hadn't been afraid I'd be hexed for being your lover.”

“She'd best not even try,” Harry almost snarls, and the immediate defense, instant ferocity of it shocks Draco.

He stares, stunned.

“What?” Harry asks, breathless.

“I wouldn't want you to rile at your friends over petty anger, Harry,” Draco says, a bit taken back by the possessiveness in Harry's gaze. “Once, maybe, I'd have gotten off on such things, but not now.”

Harry exhales, forces himself to cool off while Draco sits up, straddling him on the bathroom's cot. “I wouldn't. I'd...put my foot down.”

“You mean your wand.”

“I mean whatever.”

“Harry.”

Potter stares up at him, and Draco freezes, feeling entirely on the spot only the way the Dark Lord himself could make him feel. There's darkness there. There's capability there. And then there's knowledge he hadn't seen before.

There's quiet, hidden love, fierce in the dark of Harry's determination.

Love that supposedly took the Dark Lord out twice.

It's so powerful that it terrifies Draco as much as it enthralls him.

Yet as Draco kisses him deeply, confusing the ever loving shit out of his poor boyfriend with the abrupt mood changes in doing so, he can't help the gladness at seeing that power aimed his way in want and protection. It sizzles along his nerves, raises the hair on the back of his neck and on his arms, and draws him like a moth to the destined flame.

For Draco has never seen this kind of power before. But he wants it.

Merlin, he wants it.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

li

 

 

 

All hell breaks loose toward the end of November.

At first it seems like a normal day.

Draco has his breakfast tea with the group, snickering over Luna's latest item theft by one of the thestrals; one of the males had managed to sneak right off with her scarf still wrapped around him from when she patted him down. Draco vows to get it back for her if possible the next morning he goes out to treat the animals.

Harry's drinking pumpkin juice at his side, yawning tiredly. Draco glances over him with worry, knowing that just being near the DADA class is draining his boyfriend so much. At least he's training under Hooch, Draco thinks with a sigh. Harry's desire to teach flying has quite literally taken off with the new Headmistress and Hooch, and there's little doubt in Draco's mind that it's exactly what Harry will be doing next year.

It scares him, though; he has no idea where he might be.

Owls come to deliver post above them.

And that's when it happens.

Several screams echo across the rooms. Shouts. Curses and shocked guffaws.

And Draco looks about, utterly confused, until a copy of the Daily Prophet lands in front of Hermione Granger's plate, and he sees his own face on the cover as his photo-self pushes Harry Fucking Potter into a wall and kisses him hard while Harry's hands wind into his hair like they usually do.

The headline reads, in bold unapologetic print, Hogwarts: Enemies in Love or Dark Magic at Work Upon Harry Potter? Inside Source Scoop Within.

Draco's mind blanks. Sound rushes through his ears like he's drowning in water. He doesn't feel his body anymore, doesn't see anything in front of his open eyes, isn't remotely aware of Harry freaking the fuck out next to him in anger, then fear as he physically shakes Draco's entirely frozen form.

Draco is having a panic attack, and it is dangerous.

“Breathe! Oh, please, breathe, Draco!” Luna Lovegood shouts at his deadpanned expression.

It takes the firm, very familiar slap across his face from one Hermione Granger to snap him out of it, to make him finally drag air into his completely empty lungs, and Draco shakes so badly that it vibrates the table.

“Draco, look at me!” Harry's screaming in front of him, holding his face in his hands, eyes roaming him in worry.

But he can't.

All he can see is that fucking beautiful intimate moment stolen for all the judging world to see.

His heart is racing so hard it hurts. He starts gasping in both shock, then fucking fury. A hand yanks his wand out of his pocket, and shouts erupt, arms wrapping around him to hold him and rock him, and Ron Weasley tells the rest of the room to shut the fuck up.

Draco is screaming inside with the raw anger he's never felt in his life until now.

Not even under the thumb of the Dark Lord himself was he this fucking furious.

Pressed between Luna Lovegood and an oddly protective Ginny Weasley who holds his wand hand down, whispering that it'll be okay, just breathe, you idiot, or you'll die, Draco finally looks around the room.

Everyone is staring at he and Harry.

Some are outright laughing. Some are gaping. Some are spitting in disgust.

And as his worst nightmare plays out before him, it somehow manages to top itself when more owls come flying through the windows suddenly and drop nearly a dozen brilliant red Howlers right at him.

Everyone hates you, his internal voice reminds him. How could he ever think otherwise?

They'll never really see him as anything beyond a traitor and now the blemish upon Potter's reputation, it argues. He is disgusting.

Before him Ron Weasley and Neville Longbottom rip the Howlers apart, stunning them into silence and tearing them to angry shreds.

They're angry on Harry's behalf. They think you deserve it, his mind spits as it continues its rage, you selfish shit, look what you've done.

Ginny Weasley is checking his dilated pupils closely, talking to someone behind him while he rests quite literally in Luna Lovegood's lap, the back of his head to the her throat, her arms gently holding him as she rocks.

Dean Thomas says he's going to run for Madam Pomfrey and does so, the sound of his boots scraping the stone echoing loudly in Draco's ears over the laughing screams.

And he can't take it anymore.

Draco throws everyone off of him, knocking Lovegood back and Ginny Weasley into Harry himself. He slaps Hermione's hand that reaches in fear for him. He glares at everyone around him in blind fury.

And then he rises away and walks out, shaking so hard his bones are fucking rattling.

Part of his fucked up brain tells him to find a tower and jump. Why not.

Part of his conscious mind tells him to run for McGonagall's office for help.

The rest of him screams in agony for Severus to make it stop, for someone to make it all stop.

And it does, as if by magic.

Draco stops just outside the entrance, back to the crowd, when the single voice rises above all the rest as Harry Potter screams his name.

Draco slowly turns, shocked, not blinking to see Harry standing nearby, panting, tears in his eyes and fury in his expression. He stands utterly still as Potter approaches him like he's one of the thestrals, wild and dangerous despite the trust and hope between them, while everyone watches, murmuring in the background.

Harry holds out his fingers. “Draco, please don't do this. Let me protect you.”

He knows. Harry fucking knows. Harry knows him well enough to know that Draco was going to march his arse all the way out of Hogwarts' boundaries to Disapparate and never return in his shock and humiliation.

“Let me,” Harry begs quietly. “Please.”

Draco looks past him at the crowd of people eagerly watching from multiple positions, some climbing across tables to see better. He sees his new group of friends watching him with a mixture of horror and worry and hope. He notes the tears in Luna Lovegood's eyes that he has never seen before.

For some reason, it is that sight that makes him take the step.

Perhaps it's because she was the first person to reach out to him besides Harry Potter, when he didn't trust Harry's motives at all.

Perhaps it's because there is no one purer in this fucking world than Luna.

Perhaps it's just because she is his first true friend going out of her way to help him, talk him down, give him the clues to figure things out.

Draco takes Harry's shaky hand, hears his boyfriend gasp in relief, and feels Harry yank him closer to enfold him into a hug. Harry's breathing harshly in his ear as Draco lets himself be held, still not blinking in the shock to his system, and after a moment Potter lets go and turns to face the entire room, hand holding his tightly.

“So now you bloody well know,” Harry snaps, the sound echoing as everyone else goes quiet. “Now you know because someone thought it their right to intrude into our private lives, as if all of you are so entitled to everything about Draco and I at all.”

Draco cautiously watches as Harry glares out, and there it is.

That dark possession, that different power of love only Harry has.

“I will find out who you are.

“I will make you own it.

“And I swear to God, if one of you helped Rita Skeeter into these walls somehow, I will make you tell the entire school so they know never to trust you again.”

Draco stares in awe now, heart racing with pride over the anxiety, as he watches Harry lose his shit in the best way possible.

“This is my life. Mine. It doesn't belong to any of you, and nothing so intimate is any of your business. It doesn't belong to you. It belongs to Draco and I.

“I'm not ashamed to say that we're together. He hasn't been putting potions in my tea, as the article suggests from its 'inside source.' He hasn't been doing anything to manipulate me.

“But he has been through hell for his actions in the past, and he continues to go through hell for your own present amusement, and if you think for a moment that you are justified, then you are the most selfish, immoral people I've ever known.

“No one heals unless we let go, unless we forgive someone not for them necessarily but for ourselves. We eat poison the longer we hate, and we only kill ourselves in the process.

“I did not come back for this. And I'll be damned if I lose what makes me happy for your pathetic amusement when I died for all of you once already.”

And with that Harry falls silent, and Draco looks at him, and he is so fucking proud. He can't even be angry, upset, or scared. Like the rest of the room, Draco is spellbound by Harry Potter's voice and words and roaring emotions.

“Since you all apparently care so much to see it, then here, have a bloody close up,” Harry snaps and jerks around, grabbing Draco tightly for a kiss that makes energy zip right through his entire body.

When they part there's a clap.

Luna Lovegood smiles so widely that it's nearly breaking her face.

There's another, and another,

and Hermione is wiping her face,

and Ron alternates between glaring around the room and nodding,

and Ginny takes a breath and smiles happily at Draco for the first time,

and Neville is raising his fist into the air.

The rest of the room slowly makes its decision. Groups break apart, words and glances are exchanged as students bicker and accuse one another of being the supposed source, and Draco sees Blaise straight threaten another Slytherin, booming in the boy's face with the condescending grace only a Zabini could have. Pansy slaps one fourth year girl, shouting Draco's not ugly for Potter, you fucking cunt and makes him almost laugh.

Harry holds onto him, and Draco holds back, fingers grasping and digging into his robes in shuddering emotion.

Their secret is out, and all Draco can think is that now he can kiss Harry whenever he wants, hold his hand outside during a walk, and never again have to have an excuse for being seen together.

He thinks maybe, in the end, it's not entirely horrific.

But at the thought of the letters his own mother must be getting at the moment, he leaves Harry's side and lurches toward the remains of the shredded Howlers, sighing in relief when none are from Narcissa. Ron and Ginny wince when Molly Weasley's name appears partially torn on one envelope, but Draco shakes his head at them silently, and they mutually sigh.

Dean Thomas appears with Pomfrey and McGonagall and several staff to take control of the situation. Pomfrey sits Draco down immediately to check him over, tutting at him with clicks of her tongue about the shock to his system and how he needs rest, lots of rest, and possibly some magic to help calm his still rapid breathing. McGonagall listens to an irate Granger defending him and showing off her copy of the paper to the Headmistress, who in turn looks infuriated, too.

But Harry just kneels next to him between the throng of loudly talking people.

Green eyes are shaken, but leveling. Terrified, but exhilarated.

In the end Pomfrey gets her way.

Draco spends almost three days in bed rest, and strangely enough, he finds he needed it.

He sleeps with minor aid of potions and writes the horribly awkward letter to his mother when he gets the slip of a note from her owl with just the phrase We have much to discuss, Draco upon it.

People come in and out to see him and talk. Luna plays cards with him while Neville roots for both of them equally. Hermione helps him with class notes he's missing, as she's in both of his classes. Ron brings a chess board up and bothers him after dinners. Ginny and Dean both come and go, checking on him and earning his trust. Even Blaise and Pansy come to see him, smirking and heckling him about being unable to let Harry Potter go and how he's absolutely mad. Pansy makes reparations to Harry in her own way, mostly by condoning his speech in the Great Hall and saying he's not all that bad. Harry, at least, seems to understand and rolls with it, to Draco's relief.

And Harry stays.

At first Pomfrey and McGonagall both argue with the Chosen One.

But Harry, as Draco has long suspected, always gets his way to one end or another.

So Harry's notes are brought to him. He sleeps in the next bed when Pomfrey's watching and jumps into Draco's the second her lights go out. He eats with Draco and talks with him often through the times when no one else is there. And he holds his hand and snogs the hell out of him, too.

“You can go sleep in your own bed, you overbearing, needy brat,” Draco gripes the third and final night, feeling so bloody flustered at the attention. “I'm fine. Pomfrey says my breathing's all leveled now, and my heart's not having its rebellious aftershocks.”

“Don't want to,” Harry sighs, feet on his bed, arse in a chair Luna had left there prior.

“Merlin's arse, Harry, what's the problem really?”

When Harry stops smiling, Draco knows. Harry takes the Map out of his pocket, and Draco's brows rise. “Even when you fall asleep in here, I check this. I see your name, and I stop being afraid that you've bolted without my awareness. I wake up from hearing Voldemort's echo in my head, and I open it to just see your name and center again.”

Draco stares him down, waiting.

“Don't you get it?” Harry asks softly, voice cracking. “When...when I saw the paper, I thought I'd lost you right then. I saw that look on your face, and I don't think I'll ever forget it. You were so scared, so angry, and I thought I'd lost you, like the last months had just vanished right in front of me. And when you got up and left in that anger, I thought I'd never see you again unless I stopped you.”

“You may not have,” Draco sighs. “I told you a long time ago that I wanted it, but that they'd hate it. Hate me, blame me, judge me. I guess in that moment I thought I might have ruined your life. Merlin knows my own really hasn't had worth in some time, and I just...I couldn't breathe in there, Harry.”

Harry leans forward, shifting the Map to the other bed and presses their brows together. Green, so very, very green before him, they are the eyes of an old tired soul in a young, desperate warrior, but the burning emotion is there again, and this time it has no darkness.

It shines like a star.

“I love you,” Harry whispers. “So don't you leave me.”

Draco blinks tears away and huffs, completely blown away at those words, the intensity behind them. “Well. Way to box me in there, Harry.”

Harry laughs, his own eyes wet.

Draco pulls Potter over him, inhaling the clove and the rain and feels the lightning of energy strumming through the body he's getting to know so well, and he whispers tiredly, “Love you, too, you persistent nag.”

He falls asleep to Harry shifting to wrap over him with a happy sigh.

And when they wake in the morning, they find that Pomfrey glances at them through her window and so has noticed each night and not said a bloody word.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

lii

 

 

 

The next week is surreal, and it's not just because the secret is out.

It's surreal because Harry Potter is in love with him, and the world's still spinning on while Draco wonders how.

Draco tries really hard with each new day that Harry holds his hand in public, even kisses him in greeting and farewell while other students watch with gaping mouths or run smack into walls hilariously, but a piece of him continues to fluster as he stays in shock with the knowledge.

His fucking face has been Gryffindor red all week, and it's all Potter's fault.

That he feels similarly about Harry as such has also yet to shake itself from the random reminders that pause his steps, leaving him occasionally staring down empty corridors with a large, extremely embarrassing cheesy smile of disbelief.

Because it's fucking huge news, isn't it? He bloody well thinks so.

Harry loves him.

Genuinely. It's there when he walks Draco to classes or sits and eats by his side. It's there when he catches Potter staring at him often now, without reserve. It's there when they meet for fast, steamy moments in the bathroom, getting more and more frustrated when things aren't going far enough.

He loves Harry.

Again, genuinely. He feels it there each time he accepts Harry's hand or purposefully leans against Potter in a hall, each time he kisses the Hero tastefully with an audience in a way he'd once imagined doing but never thought possible. He sees it in his own face in the bathroom mirror when he looks past Harry's shoulder while Harry slides a hand down his trousers and hazes his mind in another way.

They aren't ridiculous, though.

It's not something they've said since, and probably isn't something they'll say frequently at all.

No need, really, when they have hands and lips and cocks speaking for them.

And it strikes Draco at one point in his considerations that, as always, Luna Fucking Lovegood is right about things like balance and Harry and Draco.

Still, though, their secret is out, and they're together quite officially now, and the fucking world didn't end. It merely stuttered before it kept revolving, because clearly there are much bigger world-ending events out there, like a fucking Dark Lord his boyfriend killed, which he is quite happy to remind people of if necessary.

There are many more stares for him to experience now with the still earth-shaking information of their relationship, but they're almost afraid. Some do sneer or whisper snide comments, but he doesn't give a fuck, especially when they walk faster if he does scowl at them.

Ironically, they seem to be less afraid of him right now.

Because, for one thing, who knew Potter could be so terrifying? And for another, McGonagall's rampage in her giant lecture mid-week about it all was fabulous to see, like a giant whip getting cracked across every person there, letting him count the flinches and grimaces and shameful looks on many faces. Not that he and Harry hadn't gotten their own lecture about PDA, which was as painful, but less fun to watch.

So yes, now when Draco swishes through the halls in his robes with the cold air about him, he smirks, the ultimate proud Slytherin in his walk as he holds a Gryffindor's hand, chats with a Ravenclaw, and hopes to fuck there won't be a bloody Hufflepuff next somehow.

 

 

 

liii

 

 

Thus far no one admits to being the snitch, but Draco finds that there are much more important things happening, anyway, or will be shortly if Harry is as excited as he.

Draco goes to lunch when he gets the news from Blaise, eager to find Harry to share it.

Harry glances up to him with a smile as he closes in on the table, and though everyone is staring, of course, Draco's shoulders are straight, and his walk is proud. He strides to his boyfriend without fear and sits down beside him, taking the extended hand that has become second nature since the incident.

“You look like you're in a good mood,” Harry comments over his cup.

“Is he? Oh, good. We need to establish a day to go shopping in Hogsmeade for Christmas gifts, Draco. Luna and I thought you'd like to come,” Hermione joins in from diagonally across the table, parchments spread around her plate and a quill in her hand.

Draco raises his brows and looks to Harry with a surprised, nonchalant shrug. “Um. Next weekend, I suppose?”

“Thank you, I'll mark it.”

“Sure,” Draco murmurs, puzzled as Granger immediately forgets all about him and mutters under her breath while focused on her Potions homework. He shakes it off and turns to Harry, smiling seductively and getting Harry's eyes to widen. “So.”

“So...?”

Draco leans close, licking his lip. “Blaise has to go tonight. Family event. He's already taken his portkey.”

Harry frowns. “Problem?”

Draco rolls his eyes. “No, his mum's getting married again, and why anyone would marry her when each of her past seven husbands has died, I do not know.”

His boyfriend just stares, brows up. “So that's...bad?”

How did he get stuck in love with this genius again?

“Harry,” he grunts lowly. “Bugger the poor bastard marrying her. My dorm will be free.”

Ah, there it is. Potter's eyes glow and a slow smile spreads across his face. “Oh.”

Draco nods intently. “So.

Harry scoots closer, whispering hotly in his ear, “What time should I come 'round?”

“After midnight. But I'll need to know you're coming, and you'll need to be hidden from Filch. No Patronus. It might wake people.”

Draco watches Harry debate something, the green eyes sparkling. And then a familiar large parchment is pulled from his robe pockets and ceremoniously, gently, laid upon Draco's lap. Draco stares down at it, shocked, hand gripping Harry's tighter.

“I'll wear my cloak to avoid Filch, but you'll see me coming,” Harry explains quietly. “Remember the phrase I used to activate it?”

He simply nods, turns his face and stares at Harry, waiting for the change of mind or the retracting of the Map. But Harry does no such thing.

The deep trust in this gesture is almost intoxicating, and Draco just stares, a little shaken.

Harry kisses him quickly (getting a rush of whispers behind them as is normal these days) before dashing off to find Madam Hooch, and Draco tucks the Map in his own robes, glancing to find Granger grinning at him. He scowls at her to regain composure, and she only smiles more as he walks away, the weight in his pocket heavy and exciting.

After hours of having it stuck there, Draco now understands why Harry grew obsessed with it.

The Map is a deadly treasure, able to show him anyone present in the castle and grounds. He glances at it before dinner, amused to find Harry's feet coming from Hagrid's hut, and Luna and Neville walking together from the Hospital Wing, where Neville no doubt was getting treated for yet another injury. Who knew herbology could be so bloody dangerous?

Draco shrugs at the thought, snorting, and goes back to watching Harry's feet moving.

He gets it now, what Harry means. He understands the I feel safe seeing you.

And later the dungeons are very dark by the time Draco has asked Harry to meet him.

Draco is quite nervous; he's changed twice, jumper and simple shirt, afraid one might be more mood enhancing or killing than the other. He stands before the mirror in the dorm, hands sliding down his front, grey eyes taking in his lean form. His pale hair has grown a bit and needs trimmed as it falls into his eyes once more. There are no shadows under his eyes, but there is a pleasant flush to his skin as he considers just what he's planned for the night. 

He's ready. He's been ready since the last night in the Hospital Wing.

But he's also been scared.

It's quite a final line to cross. It will take their intimacy as far as it can go.

He stares at his heaving chest, fingers buttoning his shirt again in his nervousness.

Grey eyes close. He sucks his bottom lip.

It's Harry. It's just Harry.

But it's not. It's also Potter, Harry Potter, and holy fuck.

Draco's eyes dart to the open, spelled Map, watching in shaking excitement as he sees Harry's name coming down the dungeon halls. Heart racing, Draco runs out the dorm, trying to keep his steps quiet to not disturb any of the other students with their echoes. He crosses the common room, a ridiculous smile on his lips as Harry's name gets closer and closer to the entrance to the House rooms.

He stops before the portrait door, takes a breath. Lets it out. Slides what he hopes is the calmest, most unaffected look he can hope for over his features. And then he opens the door carefully, ignoring the snoring of the portrait.

At first Draco sees nothing before him at all, just an empty hall and torches.

But there is a rustle, and part of Harry's wild hair is visible, and then glasses and a broad grin float nearly eye-level with his bit of height over Harry.

Draco shakes his head, laughs quietly, and keeps the door open for him as the cloak shifts to cover Harry again; he feels Potter brush past him invisibly, and it is strange. He's fairly certain fingers just trailed across his chest and down his arm, but he's too dazed to be sure as he shuts the door.

Shaking it from his mind, he strides through the seemingly empty common room, hearing the soft steps behind him and grinning like a fool.

All it takes is his dorm door shutting and locking with a quick Muffliato cast for the cloak to be thrown to the floor and Harry to be upon him, warm mouth and searching hands fisting tightly in his clothes. Draco laughs as he falls to the bed and kisses back.

“Someone's eager,” he comments, glad it doesn't look like him.

“I've thought of nothing else all day,” Harry admits, tongue over his throat.

Draco's breathing increases, his hands snag harshly in Potter's shirt upon his back. “Me, too.”

Mm, I've wanted this. Could barely touch you in the Hospital Wing.”

“I know.”

Draco debates telling Harry his exact thoughts on what he wants when Harry suddenly slides away. Draco pushes himself up on his elbows, then hands, a brow arched. Harry is staring at his tented trousers with what looks like hunger, and it nearly does him in then and there.

When Harry reaches, Draco barely stifles the excited gasp.

And then Harry is upon his knees, yanking Draco's trousers down, and Draco is watching, as if in a trance, while Harry pulls the rest and bares him entirely to his fucking ankles.

He's never been so nude in front of Potter before, and Harry takes a brief moment to admire his pale skin and blond leg hair, the thatch above his groin matching just a shade darker. Draco's chest is heaving again as warm tan hands grasp his long, graceful legs, stroking strongly with pride, and Harry looks up at him.

Draco waits.

“Take my glasses off, will you?” Harry finally rasps, licking his lip.

So much for seduction.

Draco groans, but obeys, folding them away from him on the bed.

He has little time to rant in his inner monologue about effort and Potter and trying, damn it, before Harry's hot tongue is upon him, mouth following.

Draco arches his spine, voice breaking as he calls Harry's name.

Grey eyes can barely open to see the glorious vision of Harry on his knees, of Draco's cock disappearing behind such rosy, swelling lips over and over. His mind hazes, his fingers nearly tear into the blankets, and when Harry sucks the head of him roughly, Draco shouts and grabs Potter's skull, thrusting a little before remembering himself.

Fuck, Harry,” Draco moans long and low, ending with a whimper. Panting, Draco teases his fingers into the mess of soft dark hair, gripping tightly as Harry goes faster, deeper, and takes him all the way. With a hiss, Draco sighs, “You...you...Merlin, Potter, I can't.”

Harry backs off long enough to stroke him a couple of times.

“Harry, I was already close just waiting on you. I can't hold back.”

And Potter smirks and sucks him again, and Draco loses his beautiful mind, grey eyes tightly shut, visions of Harry with his mouth full and all-consuming him, and he comes hard down Potter's fucking throat.

He can barely hear the coughing sound as he falls back upon the bed, feeling absolutely dazed.

Harry's soft kisses flutter up his thigh and cross his lower belly below his shirt.

“Give a bloke some warning next time,” Draco moans, arm over his face. “I had a plan, you know. A long, thought out plan of seduction. You would have been begging for me by the end of it, you shit.”

There's a stellar laugh and lips near his jaw. “I had a plan, too. Mine involved way less seduction. You see, Draco...when I find the snitch, I catch it.”

“I will not be chanting that awful grr, grr, Gryffindor, no matter what you do to me, so don't even ask,” Draco teases, but uncovers his face and looks up at Harry's kind eyes. “Awful, bloody prick. Not even trying to woo me, just throwing me straight down and telling me I'll like it. It's...it's so you, isn't it?”

Harry snickers, but looks chastised enough. “So your idea was?”

Draco blows out a breath, staring up at Harry until the mood grows quite serious. One large pale palm cups Potter's jaw, and Draco gently kisses the other side up Harry's face with hot, open mouth presses of his lips and tongue across a cheekbone, then rubs their noses together.

Harry is breathing like a frightened rabbit when he stops. Green eyes are vivid, wide and seduced.

Draco smiles to himself. “That was the start.”

“Oh.”

“All right there, Harry?”

“I...yeah,” Harry says, sounding far off. “What...what else?”

Draco chuckles, quite loving this dumbfounded version of Harry. His thumb graciously spreads over a dark brow, fingers cupping the back of Harry's head tenderly. He leans up, just enough, and whispers, “Undress me, properly. Slowly.”

Harry sighs, and Draco feels that hard cock rub his hip.

Fingers work over buttons while lips capture his, then slide his sleeves away. They barely part long enough for socks and boots to be kicked off. Draco shivers when he is bare, entirely bare before Harry Potter, who is leaning over him, taking in all those little silvery scars across his chest with shame. Draco simply tugs that wild hair close, encouraging silently, and Harry finds his peace in licking each one apologetically.

Draco blinks once and momentarily sees Harry sitting shocked before him, hand reaching for his chest, all those months ago. And, strangely enough, that shows him how far they've truly come.

Harry's tongue is warm, so very warm, and teasing upon his soft skin. It grows bold and curious, crossing back over its previous paths, dipping down near the “v” of his hips, and back up through the middle of his stomach all the way up his throat.

Draco exhales, already feeling the burning back in his veins. “Yes. That's it.”

“Tell me what you want,” Harry whispers in his ear hotly. “Say it, Draco.”

The shudder wracks him. His fingers grasp Harry's shirt sleeves. “Off,” he grunts.

Harry stands again before the bed, and Draco leans forward, while staring up at that gorgeous face in love with his. He grabs and lifts Harry's shirt until he no longer sees it. The material falls with a hush to the floor, and Draco's tongue swirls over a sienna nipple with a responsive cry, his eyes catching the dark bit of chest hair that surprises him.

It's so adult. So male.

So exactly what he wants.

His nimble fingers quietly divest Harry of his trousers and pants, and Harry steps out of them and his trainers and socks, fully bare before him. Draco stares, enamored with the lightly tanned skin with the glow of the fire warming it even more. Grey eyes travel up until they meet green, and he is stunned by what he sees.

It's the setting sun slowly, sensually sliding down in Potter's gaze alongside the fire's flicker.

It's the quiet of the dusk in the time of the moon when his pale hair shines in it after.

Draco yanks Harry down atop him, crying out at the feel of them bare together, skin against skin, and arms enfold Potter to his chest, holding tightly while legs entwine and groins rub deliciously.

“This...this is....” Harry's voice wanders away, leaving the poor bastard with his mouth hanging open in lovely surprise.

Draco smirks, licks a stubbly jaw and loves the texture. “Harry.”

“Hm?”

“I want you. Tonight. Now.”

Harry blinks, then grabs for his glasses to view him better. When the green eyes focus, Draco can see the nervousness, the virginal worry of impressing another. Silly sod. Draco's never gone this far, either.

“You're sure.”

“Quite positive, actually.”

“So you want me to do...what?”

Draco doesn't laugh. He sees how vulnerable Harry is. He knows what's really being asked, and if this is to go anywhere, it most go there sensibly.

Draco rubs his nose to Harry's warm neck. “I consider us equals, Harry, and while that means I'd like both of us giving and receiving over the relationship, I don't know how you feel about...either. There is one thing I want you to remember, though, and that's that one's only submissive as one wants to be, no matter the position.”

Harry looks a little mollified by that. Hips adjust, and the heated cock against his throbs. “I agree, Draco. And it's not like I haven't thought about, um, both.”

“Good. Now, I've thought all day about this,” Draco admits quietly, gripping Harry's arse to hold their fronts tighter. “And I just want...I want you inside me, Harry. I want to know what it's like to feel you that close. I've imagined it being you for a long time. You're a tease even in dreams, Potter, so shame on you.”

“Really?” Harry asks, mystified. “Must have been good, still, to make you want me this much.”

“Don't get too full of yourself, lest your poor Gryffindor brain overloads. But yes, really,” Draco confirms, smiling somewhat as Harry snickers. “And the day you're ready for...for me, let me know, and I'll fix it.”

Harry twitches against him, biting his lip at the reference, and nods. “I will. I do want it.”

Draco blows his fringe from his eyes in relief and glances to his night table, knowing what he wants in it. With a large stretch he reaches for it, opens the drawer, and pulls out a vial.

Harry stares at it, uncertain, and Draco bumps his forehead to that lightning bolt with reassurance. “It's all right. Just let me.”

Harry just nods, watching captivated as Draco prepares himself, trying not to feel so on edge or nervous or embarrassed about where his fingers go after the nice smelling lubrication spreads. His head throws back while Potter just views him, almost like he's attempting to remember a quidditch play to use for later with that cute frown of concentration between his brows.

After a first, then a second, and a third for good measure over a few long moments, Draco withdraws his fingers with a slight grunt.

Harry swallows quite loudly, braced on his knees nearby. But one quick glance and Draco knows that erect cock of Potter's is quite satisfied by what he just witnessed.

Don't panic, he thinks, hoping Harry won't look at him in horror. Won't leave.

Draco silently pleads with his eyes as he waits, terrified now while Harry's wide eyes still stare. Draco reaches for the bottle again, gets more lube, and slicks it over Harry's desperate cock, nearly breaking the Chosen One into a thousand pieces as Harry thrusts into his fist with want.

“You're sure you can handle this? That you want this?” Draco offers the out, heart ripping apart as he does. If Harry walks away now, the rejection might crack a part of him that won't heal.

Harry's head falls forward from its reared back position of sexual demand, and he blinks, looking over Draco and up to the grey eyes in concern. Fingers take hold of his chin. Lips brush his. “Yes, Draco. I just don't want to hurt you, is all, with me not...not knowing, um, you know.”

“Harry, I've never gone this far. It's fine. Just trust me.”

Something like relief crosses Harry's face at the reminder, but it's quick. “I do.”

“Good.”

Draco leans back, pushing one of his pillows behind him slightly for leverage. He closes his eyes, licks his lips, and tries to will the nerves away that are eating him alive.

And Harry is suddenly there, kissing his breath away, tongue delving past his teeth and teasing his out to play. Hands slide down his chest to his hips, fingers press with want and possession, and then slip farther down, lifting his knees.

Draco moans into the kiss, in love with his thoughtful boyfriend for distracting him so kindly as his legs wrap around Harry's hips snugly, feeling quite like they were always meant to do so.

When the tip of Harry's hardness brushes him, Draco gasps, breaking the kiss with his arms tight around Harry's neck. Harry glances down at him from above to the side, jaw pressing to Draco's elegant cheekbone, and he brushes him again, moving Draco's legs and hips with the action.

Draco kisses under the chin of the Savior, ready for a mutual redemption.

Harry pushes forward with one hand guiding himself, and Draco's eyes are round and large and his brain is going blank while trying to decide how to feel with the intensity and the pressure and the hard, slick cock slowly sliding inside of him feeling like a fucking broomstick with its firmness.

“Oh, woah,” Draco croaks, voice hoarse.

Harry stops, concerned. “You okay? Am I hurting you?”

Draco whines, paws like a fucking kitten at his lover above him. “No, no, no, don't stop! Don't stop. You do, and I might fucking hex you. Just go slow, Harry. You feel amazing.”

There's a soft, polite cough, and then Harry pushes again, throat against Draco's brow, and Draco drops his heavy head to press his lips to it, fingers digging deep into Potter's beautiful back.

It's a slow go at first while both shudder in shock and wonder of the knowledge that Harry Potter is doing this to him.

And then Harry is inside him fully, not moving for a second, trying to get his fucking breath back as he gasps. “Wow, Draco,” he finally says, panting.

Oh, he knows. He knows because he feels that hard length nestled so deep inside of him, the tip brushing something interesting. He knows because he's adjusting to Harry's girth that he's always loved before and always pondered about for this moment.

Now that it's here, Draco is in sexual awe. Emotional awe. Physical awe.

Harry takes one of his hands a moment, folds the fingers together and squeezes.

“Move. I want to feel you,” Draco commands gently. “I'm fine.”

Harry nods, sweat already dripping down his face from his brow with the heat of the fire and the heat between them. Draco licks it off, hissing as Harry slides out a little and rocks back in gently, finding a nice rhythm that lures Draco far away from self-aware embarrassment and into demanding, screaming greed that he's much more comfortable feeling.

His own hand strokes his cock in time with Potter's thrusts.

Harder, Harry,” Draco groans.

And Harry snaps his hips on command harshly, pounding more than rocking like a good Gryffindor eager to prove himself, and Draco's mouth falls open in a silent, breathy moan. Harry shifts a little for comfort, then does it again and again, and the tip of him is hitting perfectly against his prostate, and Draco, of course, cannot be fucking surprised because this is Harry Fucking Potter, now isn't it, and isn't he just the luckiest fuck in the whole world.

“Yes! Oh, fuck yes, yes!”

Harry barely has the breath to laugh above him with his thrusts and shaking moans. “Ah! I...I.... Mmph!”

Draco tightens his legs, fingers of his free hand letting go of his cock and sliding down to claim that curvy bum he loves so fucking much, and he pulls, taking Harry deeper, moaning, “Come in me. Just come.”

A whine starts in Harry's throat, and Draco feels the determination warring with physical limitation, with virginal tolerance despite their frequent forays into sexual things, and he angles his hips, thrusting upward to meet Harry when Harry slams back down roughly.

The resulting slapping of flesh and sheathing of cock is so fucking fulfilling that Draco comes, sucking in air loudly with his gasp, watching the white fluid spend across Harry's stomach as his lover jerks above him, opens his gorgeous green eyes and red lips, and comes inside him.

They lie there like that for a few moments, just staring, both dumbstruck.

Harry's arms quiver as he holds himself upright, and Draco finally becomes aware of the soreness of what they've done.

There's a soft kiss, a mutual sigh, and Harry carefully, slowly slides out, collapsing on top of Draco's welcoming torso, allowing himself to be held. Both try to just breathe for a little while, each lost in their own mind to the new plane of intimacy they've just achieved.

Finally, Harry asks quietly, tiredly, “How'd I do?”

And Draco snorts, pokes his ribs, and grunts, deciding to tell the truth, “Brilliant, as usual in nearly everything you do, you perfect arsehole. Gloat away.”

Harry laughs, rolls onto his back, and lets Draco reach for his wand to clean them as usual.

When they curl together, Draco smiles behind Harry with an arm around Potter's waist, heavy blankets keeping them warm as the fire smolders to embers.

He stares at the the dark wild hair in front of his face, and he falls irrevocably further in love.

He knows he's fucked.

He knows this is it.

And he knows that Harry Potter will either make him or break him in a totally new way.

Draco nuzzles Harry's neck, nose dragging through that soft hair, and kisses behind an ear while Harry murmurs Draco's name.

This night is everything for Draco. Harry hadn't run, but charged in, ready like the brave, reckless, beautiful soul he is, and they'd gotten through it with the discovery of just how enjoyable it can be to trust one another, to show one another. To find the balance in their gravitational fields.

“You make me love you,” Draco whispers in the dark, sighing, “you amazing, addicting thing. Do you know what you're doing to me, or is it just part of Potter being Potter, changing the world with each step you take whether I'm ready or not?”

“'ve you, too, Malfoy,” Harry whispers, totally asleep, fingers holding his and words clenching around Draco's heart.

Draco just laughs softly with moist eyes, unable to believe that this has become his life.

 

 

 

liv

 

 

When he wakes a few hours later on his back with Harry wrapped over him, still quietly sleeping, Draco at first thinks he's dreaming.

It takes Harry's heavy weight consistently pressing into him, the small warm breaths on his neck puffing, and the fast, vibrant memories for Draco's brain to catch up.

They had sex last night.

Harry shagged him and did it well despite the initial awkwardness.

Merlin's something, he's too fucking blown away by it in the Sunday morning hours to even think of a good curse. How ludicrous.

The room has gotten quite chilly with the fire out, but Draco's too tired and too pinned to even move for his wand to relight it. And besides that, at least Harry's quite the warm body pillow.

He glances down, grateful that Harry took his glasses off at one point while he was asleep. Draco is fond of seeing Harry without them, as it is rare and pure and absolutely vulnerable, but those glasses have become so signature Harry that Harry almost appears exotic when spared them from his nose.

Silly, perhaps, but true.

The sigh escapes him sounding happy and tortured and buggered to hell, for he lies in bed with the Boy-Who-Lived, and there's just nothing grander than that fact, no matter how much he hates the burning of his own blush, no matter how much he secretly is thrilled by its same heat.

Harry's a beautiful Boy-Who-Lived.

Draco smiles, but the memory of Harry taking him so wonderfully has him adapting the thought. Harry's a beautiful Man-Who-Lived. His Chosen One.

How the bloody hell did this even happen, he wonders.

One day he's hated by all and angry at being in the same space with Potter, entirely convinced that Harry's misguided sense of right was going to crush him to death. And then time skips, and he's in bed with Potter with a delicious, small throb in his arse and a half-erect cock just thinking about how it got there.

Draco closes his eyes again, far too comfortable to keep entertaining such thoughts.

But he does dream this time.

Candlelight, silk sheets, and fingers intertwining with his.

An older, even more mature and adult Harry winking at him over a cup of tea.

Flying in the sky on a broom, the heat of the sun guiding him with its light.

Draco dreams his subconscious hopes of the future, never having any idea when he is later roused by soft kisses that he dreamed at all.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

lv

 

 

 

The falling snow is pure and stark against the black of his coat, the dragon hide of his gloves, and the dark skin of the thestrals. They shake it off with their wings, calling, ever strangely graceful in their haunting way as they walk about, greeting him with sniffs and bumps.

And Nudger circles him, rubs him with her wing and the rough, heavy top of her skull against his shoulder.

Draco smiles and rubs her down most, growing as resolutely fond of this creature as she seems to be him. The warming charm he's cast about himself helps in the dip in temperature this morning, and the extra light from his wand aids with the late rising sun in the time of winter's breath.

He feeds them the special meat in his specific routine, and when he finishes by throwing Nudger her piece, Draco exhales, his breath steaming the cool air matching that of the thestrals. His fingers open instinctively to run over the colt as it dashes about him excitedly, and he closes his eyes when he feels two warm adults brush him, standing still as if binding him in the herd.

Keeping him safe.

Keeping him heated.

Keeping him going.

Draco fights the lump in his throat when they finally move away after several moments, soft calls over their backs in their strides to the Forbidden Forest again.

Nudger says goodbye, huffing air into his brow with a bump.

And that is how Luna Lovegood finds him, nearly twenty minutes later when he is almost late for Transfiguration, still standing with his lit wand and warming charm, still watching the space where the animals were, still wondering what good in him they could possibly see to deserve this.

 

 

 

lvi

 

 

 

Loads of new eyes watch them as they stroll as a group through Hogsmeade.

Other students pass by, paying less attention compared to the adults shopping and drinking and waltzing through the village. Draco tries not to let it bother him and squeezes back when Harry grips his fingers through their gloves, unafraid.

Granger stops them early on, dictating the time they are to meet at The Three Broomsticks for lunch and drinks, and they break apart, hilariously into couples. Harry snickers when they pass Luna and Neville browsing in a shop with Luna holding some strange looking, spinning glass item for Longbottom's approval, and Draco jerks Harry's arm and tilts his head when he sees Dean Thomas kissing Ginny Weasley's red face below another shop's mistletoe.

Draco parts from Harry's side long enough to duck into a place catering to broomstick needs and quickly makes purchases for Harry. He walks out with a bag full of new practice robes, some fantastic smelling wax for the Firebolt, and a magical leather strap that Harry could use for practicing teaching; Draco watches the demonstration by a completely puzzled shopkeep as the man explains that this was for little ones that struggle, didn't he know, and it would help keep them on the brooms at first with balance with a quick snap here and here, and surely he wasn't spending ten galleons on the bloody thing, was he now.

He steps back out, finding Harry chatting with Ron Weasley outside a quill and journal place, no doubt waiting on Granger inside with her likely purchasing for her own needs rather than gifts.

Draco crosses the street, smiling when Harry glances to his dark, tightly drawn large bag.

“S'that?”

Draco snickers, taking the offered fingers with his free hand while Weasley rolls his eyes playfully. “If you're good, you'll find out at Christmas.”

Harry's brows pop up. “Guess I'll be on my best behavior, then, won't I?”

“You're not capable of that,” Draco teases, then shakes off the chill of the whistling wind by stepping closer.

Weasley bumps his shoulder to Harry's, nodding. “Damn right, he isn't.”

“I can be well behaved, thank you both very much.”

“Bunch of crap, Harry,” Ron laughs. “Your 'well behaved' is how you are when Mum's around, and that's sketchy at best.”

Harry sneers and rests his brow to Draco's shoulder. “Don't have to be so mean this early in the day, Ron.”

“Freezing my balls off, Harry, 'cause none of you but me argued with 'Mione about waiting until a bit later to get up. You know. With the sun.”

“We left with the rest,” Draco intones, brow rising.

Weasley shakes his head, amused. “If I've learned anything since that bloody war, it's that we are the exception to the rules now. I mean, I feel so out of place anymore. Too many...too many kids around, you know?”

Draco nods readily, having felt that since well before term ever started. Harry grimaces, but agrees softly. Draco glances Harry over as he steps back slightly, pouting. “You have no bags.”

Harry lights up, eyes brilliantly shining. “What I got you doesn't fit in a bag. So you be very good, Draco Malfoy.”

“No promises,” Draco murmurs, but smirks and bends for a quick kiss in the quiet alley. His grey eyes smolder as he slyly rubs his hip against Harry's warm crotch through their robes. “Will it have a bow, Potter, to unwrap with my teeth?”

“Oi, you two!”

“Get over it,” Draco and Harry both chant at a blushing Ron.

Granger appears just in time to save her mortified other half, and they enter The Three Broomsticks as a group, happy to find the rest already at a large table they've created and claimed. Draco follows in behind Harry, led by their joined hands, and his stomach clenches.

Everyone is staring.

Half of them are whispering.

“Just keep looking at me,” Harry urges with a small smile and tugs him to the table. Both strip out of their robes, slinging them on the nearby hooks.

Draco swallows and throws out his best unimpressed Pureblood look to the rest of the room. He sets the large bag down near the wall and pulls out a chair, nearly falling when some arsehole across the room uses his wand to pull the chair away. Everyone at their table snaps to attention, Ginny throwing out the nastiest look at the older wizards leering their way.

Harry helps him right himself a moment, and Draco turns, arms crossed, wand in hand. Harry shakes his head, disgusted. “Got that out of your system, have you, lads?”

One of the eldest, grey haired and all, shrugs his shoulders. “Don't need no bleeding sodomite wizards in here, even if one of ya slayed the Dark Lord himself.”

“Betcha that'un took it from the Dark Lord, Melbrewn. Malfoys take everything, don't they.”

Draco's eyes flare, his fury coming clear in his face. Harry's equally enraged next to him and takes a step closer toward the middle of the room.

“Come closer and say that to my face,” Harry snaps at the second wizard with his insinuations, his hand wound into a raised fist. “I fucking dare you, you ignorant piece of crap. What the hell is wrong with you?”

The wizard puffs his pipe, yellowed teeth grinning around the stem. “Ya heard me.”

“I'll show you who takes what, you pathetic excuse of a squib,” Draco calls and goes forward, wand half-raised, ready to fight. Draco's best sneer has both wizards scrambling to stand from their reclined positions by the fire, and he nods to the second one.

Harry steps forward, angling to protect him but giving him room with his wand.

There's fire in those green eyes, the dark love flaring to life, and it grounds Draco even more.

“Just like your fucking father, aren't ya, boy? Merlin knows he's taking something in Azkaban, too. You posh types, all cross at us with your hidden disgusting ways.”

The idea is so ludicrous that, for a moment, it throws Draco.

But then the fury is back, and the hex is on his lips, and everything freezes.

The two wizards are immobilized with a fast Petrificus Totalus from the wand of Madam Rosmerta herself as she exits a side door, and the rest of the room stands, stunned, as she snaps her wrist and floats the bastards right out the flung open main door to lie in the snow.

No one is starting that lot in my pub. No one,” she calls, cheeks warm and angry. “Lest you forget, you idiots, we still have students in here. Now drink your beer and eat your food and kindly shut up.”

Granger immediately goes to the pub owner, thanking her quietly, but Madam Rosmerta glances Draco and Harry's way, the warning also clear in her eyes. They, too, must behave.

Fuck all.

Draco grunts, and goes back to sitting, elbows uncharacteristically resting on the table in a manner that would make his mother and father livid.

Harry's warm hand rests upon his back, reassuring. The eyes of his friends watch him in concern, and Draco pretends not to notice as he finally draws together and reaches for a menu, looking it over with a scowl.

By the time the butterbeer is served, the bloody best in all of England, Draco is much calmer. Ron Weasley sneaks two tumblers of Firewhiskey from one drunken, sleeping sod's table, and Harry and Draco split one, both gasping from their sips of the strong drink while Hermione Granger glares at them.

Draco lays a casual arm about the back of Potter's chair later on while they eat and talk of classes, of how difficult things are being. Ginny speaks of her full term load, and Draco blinks, having totally forgotten that she was a year younger than the rest of them. Dean looks at her, whispers words of support, and Draco considers them, watching as the handsome smile breaks across the dark skin in the firelight.

Longbottom breaks out a deck of cards, and they play, Draco mostly watching and sipping his second butterbeer, trying to not pinch the back of Harry's neck too much as his boyfriend grips Draco's thigh with meaning.

Luna is in a deep talk with Granger and Weasley about Hogwarts and its atmosphere when the bell chimes behind them. Draco glances over his shoulder, then stares, brows up.

Pansy is staring back, face matching his like a mirror.

At first the table's conversation hushes.

Draco quickly notes that Pansy is alone, with a single bag, and ruffled from the wind and cold. She looks miserable, though only he could notice how. Draco glances about the table, seeing everyone debating what to say as the silent, little stand-off continues, and Harry, beautiful fucking soul that he is, kicks out a nearby empty chair and waits.

Pansy stares at it in shock.

Draco smirks. “Sit. You're letting in the cold, Pansy.”

As if in a trance, Parkinson shuts the door behind her and weaves over, sitting in the chair beside Harry with her bag on her lap, round, uncertain eyes watching the rest as they do her before looking to Draco, as if waiting for his approval of her into the moment.

Draco just brushes an open mouthed kiss to Potter's bared throat in thanks and sighs, relaxing with his legs stretched under the table to lie across Harry's own. “How's things, Pansy?”

“Mad,” she answers, shoulders squared. “Can barely breathe with these stupid classes.”

“Ideas as to what to do?”

“Mum wants me to apply for Ministry work of some type. Thinks it'll...help,” Pansy trails off, noticing the rest are still watching and haven't gone back to their cards and talks.

Granger smiles shyly at her, and Draco is not surprised when she offers some ideas that have Pansy Parkinson sharply looking to her in suspicion, at first, and then slowly, relaxing consideration.

And everything resumes.

Harry slaps a card down, making Neville groan.

Ron debates Luna on the rights of garden gnomes.

“Little arseholes. You try dealing with a colony of them and an angry mum and see if you give two shits about their rights,” Ron says to her defense of them.

Ginny laughs, apparently quite understanding the sentiment of this statement, and Dean Thomas throws his own card down, trumping Harry's with a grin.

Harry leans into Draco as the game wraps up, growing untamed dark hair atop his head nearly blocking his vision.

And Draco smiles, still sipping his butterbeer, wondering if in some other life it could have always just been like this.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lvii

 

 

The weather turns sour for a few days, the snow nearly impossible so that feeding the thestrals becomes quite difficult. Draco sits in Transfiguration shivering despite his warming charms, dry robes, and other body heat in the classroom. Granger enters with an expression that Draco has learned means something is wrong, and so he glares at her, waiting for her to break.

“You need to talk to him,” is all she says, biting her lip. “He needs you. As soon as you can after class.”

“What happened?” Draco demands, anger rising. He has too many guesses to imagine which it might be.

Hermione glances around and leans close, whispering, “He got a letter from a relative. It upset him.”

Draco rears back, frowning as Luna sits down on his other side. “A relative?”

Granger nods. “On his mum's side that he stayed with before coming here. It was...not good, Draco. Not good at all, judging by his reaction.”

Already incensed by the idea that these muggles have apparently been terrible before this, Draco seethes through Transfiguration, getting a brow or two from other students and a concerned look from Aria, himself, as Draco's wood-to-glass dragon manages to bite a Hufflepuff nearby by accident.

Luna takes control of the little thing when Draco strides of out class on Granger's heels, following her all the way to the Gryffindor dorms. She gives the password in front of him to the reluctant, petulant Fat Lady in the portrait who first checks him out, then snipes about his House.

Draco sneers at the painting as the door swings away and follows Granger inside, brows up as he takes in all this ridiculous red across the common room.

It is warm and cozy, though, he'll give it that.

Hermione takes him to a set of stairs nearby, gesturing, “Up twice to the right. He's in his dorm, or should be, last I left him.”

Draco nods, glances around at the thankfully empty room for no witnesses, and hoofs it up the stairs, slowing as he cracks the heavy wooden door open.

He hears crying. Soft little cries. And it breaks his heart and sets him murderous with rage.

Draco enters and finds Harry sitting in the window sill nearby, knees bent up, parchment in hand, arm over his eyes with his glasses hanging in his fingers. He slings his bag to the floor and stands.

“Harry,” Draco calls softly.

Harry snaps together, cracking his elbow painfully against the wall as he jerks and puts his glasses back on quickly. Draco watches his boyfriend wipe his eyes and cheek to remove the evidence of his upset and grip the parchment tightly as he rises, swallowing.

Draco sees how on edge Harry is and eyes the nearest bed. He makes the decision, kicking his shiny black boots off and climbs upon it, legs spread a bit. Then he pats the middle between them and opens his arms.

Harry shakes and walks over, falling into his chest with his back, brow to Draco's jaw.

“Talk to me,” Draco soothes, long fingers teasing over Harry's wild hair. “Tell me who to kill.”

“N-No one,” Harry grunts.

“Granger said you'd received a letter that upset you.”

Harry swallows and waves the parchment around. “Yeah. Not...not upsetting so much as I guess it just all hit me at once, you know...everything that's ever happened to me since leaving them.”

Draco honestly doesn't know much about Harry's life prior to his reintroduction to the wizarding world, and so asks, “What was it like? What happened to you?”

His arms go around Harry, wrapping warmly to hold Potter to his chest.

Harry quietly, methodically, tells Draco his truth:

He tells Draco that his mum was the only witch in his immediate family on her side, and that his aunt, a muggle, ended up with him through Dumbledore after his parents' murder.

He tells Draco that this same aunt abused him with neglect, with mental manipulation and near servitude like conditions.

He tells Draco that he slept in a cupboard under the stairs and cooked every meal from a young age onward for the family. He says he that while he can cook, he'd rather someone else do it.

He tells Draco that muggle school was a nightmare, that he was always bullied, and that when he got upset strange things happened that he didn't understand.

He tells Draco that when the owls began to come that the family even tried taking him far away, thinking distance was a factor, and Hagrid himself had had to come retrieve a clueless, unknowing Harry to go to Hogwarts.

He tells Draco of the hand-me-down large clothes from his cousin, Dudley, who'd written him today and managed to find some owl to get it there.

He tells Draco of how Dudley made his life a living hell, only for Harry to save the muggle from a Dementor years ago and earn him some Ministry trouble as a result of it.

“He...he thanked me. He said he'd been going through a lot lately with his parents and university, and that it just hit him when he was walking campus in the fog one night that I'd saved his bloody life and been hated for it in that house because how dare I do magic and that the Dementor had probably only been there for me, anyway.”

Draco sits holding to Harry tightly, every nerve in him screaming to get his wand, get a broom, fly to this muggle house and set it on fucking fire with them inside.

He doesn't realize how hard he's breathing, how tight he's holding Harry until Harry tries to turn. “Draco, calm down.”

“They tortured you, Harry,” Draco snaps, livid. “And Dumbledore let them. For eleven years.”

“He was trying to protect me from Voldemort since no one knew for sure what had happened in Godric Hollow. Since the rumors were that he was still out there.”

“I don't care, Harry! The Weasleys themselves may have taken you in then, and we'll never know because of this. Because of Dumbledore always doing what is apparently right, but to me, entirely selfish. It was easier to dump you off, and it was easier to manipulate you all these fucking years like a sacrificial lamb,” Draco nearly shouts, each word slicing his throat more and more as he discovers anger inside of him that he hadn't even known existed.

No, he hadn't wanted to murder Dumbledore.

But it hadn't meant that he'd thought the former Headmaster entirely pure in all intention.

Harry struggles in Draco's grip, twisting enough to hold his shoulder and look him in the eye. “Draco, Dumbledore genuinely cared for my well being. I...I have to think that in the end, no matter what. I have to forgive anything that was...manipulative.”

“If you must,” Draco continues to grind his teeth together. “He had better fucking have.”

There's a nuzzle to his cheek, a kiss, and a warm brow.

But Draco isn't finished. He's too hot with anger. “And these...these muggles, these Dursleys. I'll fucking kill them.”

“Don't. I don't want you in Azkaban for some petty muggles.”

“Harry, they have to pay.”

“They've been shamed a good few times, trust me. They grew afraid of me later, you know,” Harry murmurs, free hand touching over Draco's crossed arms around him. “Once...once when I was young, before I came to Hogwarts, we went to the zoo for Dudley's birthday. They had some snakes.”

Oh fuck,” Draco groans, having an idea of where this is going.

Harry snickers. “I spoke to this big constrictor type, and it...seemed...to listen. To understand me. People ran past, like I was weird or something, and Dudley came up and beat on the glass of the exhibit like the brat he was, and I got so angry.”

“What did you do?” Draco asks, eyes wide and looking down Harry's cheek.

Harry leans back into his hold, sighing. “I don't know exactly. One second the glass was there, the next it was gone, and Dudley had fallen into the exhibit while the snake slithered out of it. Then the snake thanked me, and I heard it speak, and then the glass was back and Dudley was trapped inside. My aunt and uncle knew I'd done something, and I got locked in the cupboard with no dinner that night.”

Draco's scowl is digging down his face and throat as he bends, forehead to Harry's skull. “I cannot believe such trash would ever treat you like that. Even I treated you better at my worst, Harry.”

“I know.”

“Merlin, just tell me where they live.”

“Nope.”

Draco's eye twitches. “Harry.”

“Draco, no. I appreciate your anger on my behalf, but I'm not losing you to Azkaban over years of pent up frustration I have,” Harry explains, sighing sadly. He waves the parchment again, almost absently, “And Dudley, at least, seems to have wanted to clear the air and say thank you to me. He has no idea what all has happened since, but apparently he found a letter from McGonagall after the war ended that my aunt had tried to burn. It told them what I'd done...what I'd survived. McGonagall, I guess, thought they'd be proud of me.”

“Fuck their pride. It means nothing,” Draco snipes, wrestling with this weird need to do something about this, to protect Potter and prove he gives two flying shits. And, well, fuck these muggles. “Have pride in yourself, Harry, without that.”

“I do.”

“So...so you said it felt like everything hit at once? All the years of utter shit with that thank you?” Draco asks quieter, huffing his breath out to calm down. “You're not angry with this Dudley now?”

Harry swallows and shakes his head side-to-side, lolling it on Draco's shoulder. “I'm tired of being angry, I guess. I can appreciate how hard it was for Dudley to even feel what he did, let alone wonder how long it took him to find and catch an owl that would deliver it. If it's ever remotely possible, I'd be fine...getting to know him on new terms someday. I just...need some time to process this from the Dudley I knew.”

Draco laughs, then stops, feeling an uncomfortable parallel. A way too closely uncomfortable one. “True. I guess he's...trying.”

Harry shrugs, not seeming to catch his discomfort. “I just...I always wondered if Aunt Petunia was just jealous of my mum, and that's why she got so angry, so awful with me.”

“Either way, Harry, you've nothing to be ashamed of. You're a bloody hero.”

“Literally,” Harry jokes. But his voice is soft and broken and weary.

“Stop,” Draco says, lightly smacking Harry's thigh with his closest hand. “And no matter what they've done to you, you...you're a better person than they'll ever be, regardless of how Gryffindor you get. If...if we are anything, Harry, it is proof of your ability to forgive people who hurt you.”

Harry sits in silence for a few minutes after that with his eyes closed, and Draco feels the wetness on his fingers after it drips down a tan cheek. Draco sighs and shifts a little, brushing his face against Harry's.

“Would you really kill them?” Harry finally asks, his voice soft.

“Honestly? I might've. I also might've hexed the fuck out of them or unleashed a boggart or two into their house as punishment instead, I suppose.”

Harry whistles quietly. “Ouch. That would terrify them. Aunt Petunia would constantly see me or my mum, and Uncle Vernon would probably keep seeing my blown up Aunt Marge or something else as crazy.”

“Your...what?”

“I blew up his sister at dinner once.”

Draco blinks. “Blew...up.”

“Yeah, you know, like a balloon, and she flew away.”

There's stunned silence while Draco thinks about that sentence.

And then there is absurd laughter.

Draco laughs so hard his stomach is in pain from it, and he shakes with Harry as Harry starts in, too. “I...I can't believe you.”

“I'm serious! Ministry had to come clean it all up.” Harry shrugs against him, glancing up with one green eye visible through the glasses and hair. “I just...got mad again, was all.”

Draco smiles slow and seductive, and Harry's mouth lightly opens. “Remind me to never get you so riled up at me, then, Harry. I'd like to keep my bits from exploding.”

“Oh shove off,” Harry gripes, but laughs and leans heavily into his chest. “Thank you, Draco.”

“Mm? For what?”

“For...this. Coming to find me, and listening, and wanting to kill someone on my behalf.”

“That's how we Slytherin care about our friends, you know. You Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs don't get all the credit. Slytherins and Ravenclaws care in different ways, is all,” Draco smirks. “Might make a Slytherin of you, yet.”

Harry flushes oddly and turns away, prompting a what the hell, Harry out of Draco. His boyfriend coughs, then admits, “When I was sorted, it...didn't know where to put me at first. I just kept saying 'Not Slytherin,' and I guess it took it into account when it sorted me into Gryffindor. Dumbledore later told me that I was a true Gryffindor, I was, because I could pull Godric's sword out of the hat in the Chamber, and that any part of Voldemort in me was probably the Slytherin confusion...but I always wondered, you know.”

Draco's brows slide way up. “Well, then.”

“Yeah.”

“Feeling any better?” Draco asks, hopeful.

Harry smiles, angles his face to see Draco better. “Yeah, I do. Thank you.”

“S'what you do, isn't it, when you're in a relationship? Help one another, listen and the like. I think. Still new to...this crap.”

“Yes, you generally do,” Harry affirms, then snickers. “And snog.”

“And snog, yes.”

Harry grins. “And shag.”

Draco smirks. “And shag.”

Harry's grin gets bigger. “And call each other stupid names.”

Draco reddens, thinking of every disgusting couple he's ever seen at Hogwarts over the years, and vehemently declares to his laughing boyfriend, “Not a fucking chance, Potter.”

“Oh, come on, not even as a joke? I mean, don't get me wrong, I got enough of it when Ron dated Lavender Brown that time with her puppy talk, but I have to admit...I've been curious as to what you'd call me,” Harry murmurs, looking utterly adorable in his quietly begging way.

Draco rolls his eyes way back in his head, shaking it. “Merlin, help me.”

“C'mon, c'mon,” Harry eggs. “Just for fun, once. I promise."

“Fine! Droll Gryffindor arse,” Draco grumbles, embarrassed. He shrugs behind Potter, leaning back more so Harry could lay somewhat upon him. He clenches his eyes. “I...suppose. Ugh, Potter. I suppose I'd say darling or dearest. There, now do shut up.”

Harry doesn't listen, because of course he doesn't. “Really, now?”

“I am Pureblooded. Calling a significant other 'babe' was not allowed in my fucking family.”

Harry erupts in a loud chuckle that nearly rivals Draco's own from before. “Oh...oh my God. I...I just tried to imagine your dad saying it to your mum, and wow.”

Almost ready to vomit at that image, Draco flicks Harry's forehead right on his scar. “Shut the fuck up, darling.”

Harry rolls in his arms until he's lying directly atop Draco. He smiles, a little half one, and rests his chin upon Draco's chest. “I actually like it, you know. Dearest.”

“Don't you even. We're not doing this, Potter. It's never going to be a thing, absolutely not. I refuse, you fucking wanker.”

“Whatever you say, darling.”

“I will hex you, you bastard.”

“I believe you, dearest.”

Draco turns his head to scream into the nearest pillow at the ridiculousness of it all, and Harry kisses up his throat with a laugh. “Stop it! Stop it right now, you dunce.”

“Oh, fine. Take all the fun out of it, why don't you.”

“You said for fun only once, and that's that, Potter,” Draco says, tsking his tongue. He catches the little look of bizarre disappointment on Harry's face, rolls his eyes once more, and mutters, “You silly sod, what the hell am I to do with that face? Pity it? Snog it?”

“Snogging sounds great. And when Ron comes in, he'll go mad, 'cause this is actually his bed.”

“There's the Slytherin in you, Potter,” Draco gleefully observes before Harry leans in and brushes their mouths together. “Should I fear for my health, being up here? Is that Weasley red hair contagious, you think?”

“Nah. Fear for your buttons, though. This one's loose. I guess I do pull too hard sometimes.”

“Damn it, Harry, I've only told you that countless nights, you ruffian.”

Harry's soft moan as Draco palms his head soothes away the ruffled feathers, worried ego and loving concerns into a rather hospitable atmosphere. The pleasant sinking feeling in his chest continues with each touch, each continued second of Harry's green eyes lovingly fixed upon him, and Draco falls a little more, hoping he burns just as brightly secure as Harry himself does in this bizarre, wonderful bond they've grown.

Wrapped up in each others' arms, they pay no mind to the dark warnings of the raging snow storm beating at the window with its tap, tap, tap.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lviii

 

 

It's still dark when he arrives a few mornings later, and the whiteness of the snow against the overcast sky is almost frightening in a way he cannot understand.

Draco wraps his scarf tighter, wand out with a Lumos, warming charm in effect since he stepped out of Hogwarts itself. He eyes the oddly silent tree line, sees no shapes. Hears no calls.

His stomach drops, his eyes searching, nerves feeling wound.

Softly he whistles for Nudger, and even after three minutes, there is no response.

This is, after a few months of routine, extremely unnatural.

Concern grips him, and Draco debates hoofing it to Hagrid's to get the big half-giant in case something is wrong. But the sudden cacophony of sounds stop him.

Draco's blood freezes colder than the snow falling upon his cheek.

Thestrals are screaming in the woods, hooves are beating closer, and there's a roar he's heard only one person make near him, imprinting that sound upon his nightmares.

He moves before he can stop himself, running into the trees, wand out and ready, breath heaving hot steam into the icy air. It's dark in the woods, and his Lumos makes it all the more eerie when he gets in just far enough to see what he's been hearing.

The thestrals are scattered, colts and foals shrieking at the separation from parents, adults breathing heavily and snapping those dangerous jaws.

And in the middle of it all stands a werewolf, dripping saliva and throwing up already bloodied claws. Half the herd of animals lies dead or dying, wounded with wings broken or ripped, legs sheared.

Draco shakes in fear and fury, knowing he has to do something.

For they have cared for him, accepted him, and brought him into their world.

He cannot run away from them.

He will not abandon them.

The light of his wand gives him away, and the werewolf dodges a kick aimed for its head as it springs toward him, disrupting the scattered group again. Draco's wand arm comes up, but he sucks in air in his shock at how fast the creature moves, how gleaming its eyes are in the light so close as it goes for the kill.

He blinks as he falls back to a knee, and it is thrown from him with a fierce cry.

Nudger, he thinks, staring at the female in awe as she slams her front leg down and dares the werewolf to try again. Her wings are out and wide, one with its scar startling in its flapping warning, and her flank already has blood dripping down it onto the snow near his feet.

Draco brings his wand around and tries to get a clear view of the werewolf. He has to kill it. He has to kill it right fucking now, or they're all dead.

He throws a Killing Curse and misses as the werewolf ducks, howls and runs at him again, barely deterred by Nudger's rearing kicks.

Draco cries out, twists thankfully out of reach, and tries again. He misses at the last second when the creature drops low and charges. And this time, he has no breath to call another curse fast enough.

The werewolf tackles him around Nudger, slamming him against a broken tree and nearly bruising every rib he has. Draco screams in pain as his back throbs its protests, and he tries to duck away from the dripping mouth breathing so closely.

Harry, he thinks, hazy, unable to focus for a second.

Harry will be coming soon, walking him back as he's begun to do lately.

The thought slams him into reality quicker than the snarl that spits blood all over him.

No.

No, no, no.

He is not losing Harry, too.

Fuck off!” Draco shouts and manages to twist and kick up with his leg, catching the beast in its gut and sending it back enough to crawl away. His left arm he wraps around his screaming insides, his right holds his wand ready.

The werewolf rebounds and leaps into the air, coming right down upon him before he can say the curse. But there's a blur, and something in his way, and a thestral's cry of pain he's only gotten to know in the worst way possible.

Draco watches Nudger fall before his feet, and he finally has the clear shot at the monster breathing blood into the snow.“Avada Kedavra!”

The green magic of the ultimate curse slams the creature backwards through the air and into the ground near another dead thestral, and it breathes no more.

Draco collapses to his knees in shock, dropping his wand as his shaking palms roam Nudger's neck and shoulder in front of him. She's still alive, whimpering, but her blood stains his hands as his fingers find the slashes to her throat.

“No! No! Please, don't, please, please,” Draco begs, wishing he knew anything strong enough spell-wise to save her.

He curses himself for being in so much pain that he cannot recall the one Snape used on him to stop his own bleed out after Harry's Sectumsempra curse and so attempts the one healing spell he does know, the one he saw Harry use on his knuckles after breaking the mirror; but it cannot repair the damage to the arteries nor replenish the lost, vast amount of blood pooling around her and over him. 

Draco's head falls forward, his brow buried to the side of her big throat, and he cries into her, holding the thestral as she dies quietly in his arms.

“I'm sorry.”

“I'm so sorry.”

“It's my fault.

Over and over and over.

By the time he even hears Harry shouting for him in concern, Draco's covered in blood, looking to the rest of the world as if he were the werewolf, himself. His tears blend down the red of his cheeks and into leathery thestral skin.

“Where the fuck is he? Draco! Draco, seriously, where are you?”

“I don't see him, mate. Wait...Harry, look! Tracks! He's in the bloody Forest!”

Draco!” Harry snaps, caught between a shout and a scream, and Draco can feel the terror strumming across Harry's vocal chords.

But he can't speak. He can do nothing but shake and rest on his knees, holding a dead thestral.

They find his location moments later, both Harry and Weasley silent at first in shock.

Draco sees even better with three separate Lumos spells going at once, and he takes in what they, too, are noticing: the broken bodies, the scared cries of those still living or wounded, the shrill bleating of a lone colt, the dead werewolf's black eyes gleaming still in the dark, and the blood.

The blood, so dark red it's almost black in the already dark woods. It has spread, like a river, and it has violently splashed itself across the trees and snow.

And Draco sits, bathed in it, when they finally spot him.

“Oh my God,” Harry cries out, running right for him. “Draco!”

Weasley softly curses, but the horror is there in his sputtering voice.

“Draco! Draco, please God be alive!” Harry begs and falls down beside him, grabbing him into the tightest hug of his life.

“Holy hell! Malfoy, you all right? Has he been bitten by that fucking thing?”

Harry leans back to glance his face over with his bright wand, fingers attempting to wipe some of the blood from his cheek and brow. “Draco, are you injured? Just nod.”

He manages a slow negative shake of his head. His back and ribs are nothing compared to the carnage around him.

Harry blows out a terrified breath and clings tighter, glancing down. When he sees the bit of scar on the useless wing, Harry gasps.

“I'm gonna get Hagrid and McGonagall. And 'Mione. She knows what to do in shit like this,” Weasley calls, stepping back. “Harry, will you two be fine 'til then, or should I stay?”

“Go. We need help,” Harry agrees, and there's silence long past the moment Weasley has stepped out of the tree line less than half a kilometer away. Harry glances around, wand out, but neither hear another werewolf nearby.

“Draco, I'm so sorry this happened,” Harry whispers, warm nose to his frigid, sticky cheekbone. “She...she saved you, didn't she?”

Draco shudders. Nods. Tries not to throw up with the hot blood on his hands keeping him warm while the body he holds slowly succumbs to the winter chill of death.

Even in her death, she continues to save him.

And the irony makes him want to fucking choke.

“What happened?” Harry asks softly, licking his dry, cracked lips. “How'd you even get in here?”

“They were...screaming,” Draco says, and his voice sounds so far away and so brittle and so tired.

Harry clenches his eyes shut. “You heard the attack happening. Fuck, I'm so sorry.”

“I...t-tried, Harry,” Draco swallows against his painfully sore throat. He shakes harder as he cries silently, hating it, hating everything, wanting to just go back to this fucking morning when he woke up and dressed and thought the fucking world was safe and possibly forgiving.

“Tried what, Draco?”

Draco just jerks his head around at the carnage.

“Did you kill it or did she?”

“The Killing Curse...it's green. Do...do you remember...green light?” Draco asks, grey pained eyes searching Harry's in the light of the wands.

Harry flinches slightly, but nods. “The second time. When he did it in here, yes.”

And Draco closes his eyes, feels the hot wetness searing against his cold skin as it falls, and lets go of Nudger's body to wrap around Harry Potter, holding the Boy-Who-Lived in desperate need.

“Sorry,” Draco whispers. “I'm sorry I asked.”

“It's okay, Draco. You're in shock from using that curse. It's a lot to take in with everything else at the moment.”

“If...if I hadn't tried to help, she'd be alive maybe.”

It's a confession, or close to what he feels one is like.

But Harry doesn't approve and shakes his head, lips brushing over his closed eyelids. “There's no way to know that, Draco. This wasn't your fault.”

“But Harry!”

“Draco, look at me. Right now.”

Draco withdraws enough to do so, barely able to keep his eyes open.

Harry looks ripped apart. His eyes are so wide, so knowledgeable, so full of pain and bloody experience against his stark, unnaturally pale skin in that second, and he says quietly, “She chose to protect you, Draco. Give her honor, not doubt. It's all I've ever wanted from anyone I've helped—not for them to keep thinking any pain I had was their fault for me taking it instead.”

Draco's chin quivers, he gulps air, and he bends his brow to Harry's throat. “It's still my fault.”

“No, it isn't.”

“I never should have seen them. I never should have...have exposed whatever I am to them. It's...it's like a fucking curse or something, Harry! You should...should go!” Draco says and shoves at Potter, pushing him away against the pain in his chest tearing him in two.

Harry takes his face in both palms and snaps their gazes together, refusing to let go. “I'm going nowhere, Draco. And even if you'd never met the thestrals, there was always a chance something like this could happen in this place. It's not your fault.”

Draco exhales shakily.

“It's not.”

Draco trembles.

“It's not,” Harry says one last time and kisses him briefly, holding him tightly again. “I was so fucking scared, Draco! I thought you'd been killed at first!”

He's breathless at the raw emotion in his ear, speechless at the clenched fingers in his robes around his shoulders, and broken when he hears Harry cry.

“I've lost everyone, Draco. If...if anyone is cursed, it's me. Everyone I love dies, 'cept Ron and Hermione. Everyone. My parents, Sirius, Dumbledore, Remus and Tonks...even Fred and Snape. Anyone I care about,” Harry chokes loudly, and Draco forces air through his lungs, even when he doesn't want it. “I've tried leaving Hermione and Ron behind, all of my friends, and they refused every time. And before we got together, I was beyond terrified about getting closer to you in case I got you killed, too. In case you, too, were taken from me.”

Draco accepts the crying love against him and grows steady, holding Harry back as tightly.

“I can't lose you. I can't. After everything we've been through...I just can't. And every day I get up and see you smile and hear your snark, I tell myself it'll be okay. That surely nothing is that cruel. For a moment today, I thought I'd been proven wrong.”

Harry rubs his wet cheek to Draco's shoulder and pulls back to look at him. Draco almost shouts in fright at seeing the large swatch of blood across Potter's face before he remembers that he is soaked in it.

“You've always been everything, Harry,” Draco murmurs, heart catching at the slow, sad smile of understanding on Harry's lips. “And...and I'm...I'm not afraid. If you're not afraid, I'm not.”

Draco clings to Harry in the dirt and blood, both of them shaking off the intensity.

And when Ron returns with Hagrid, McGonagall, Hermione and Luna, Draco is forced to his feet, shoving his wand in his pocket and wincing as he holds his chest.

“You said you weren't injured!” Harry snaps and glances him over in fear.

Draco hisses when a hand prods his back. “Just bruised, I think.”

“I'll get the rest of 'em back ter the grounds. Harry, take Malfoy. He needs to be 'way from this place,” Hagrid says, his own eyes wet in the light of even more wands now and that of the slowly lightening sky as he sees the damage and takes in the frightened survivors.

Harry nods and tries to lead Draco away, but Draco won't budge.

“Draco?” Hermione asks, worried.

“She...she needs buried,” he mutters, shivering harshly in front of everyone staring at him. Draco bends and runs a hand over the slick, cooler skin once. “It's what's right. I'll do it.”

“Hagrid will help bury her. Let's get you cleaned up, first, all of you before you freeze to death,” McGonagall says, taking him gently by an elbow. “I must know exactly what happened here, Draco.”

“I killed it,” he says, looking with utter hate to the werewolf's corpse. “Disgusting, vile monster.”

Yes.

That is a monster, he knows now.

He is not.

“Not every werewolf is a willing monster, Draco,” Granger says and looks to Harry for some reason.

Draco gets right in her face, scowl aflame. “Shut up, you fucking imbecile. Take your know-it-all needs elsewhere. I'm done.

Hermione gapes, angry and understanding, and winces when Harry shouts, “Not fucking now, Hermione.”

“Sorry, I didn't...I'm sorry.” She exhales, tries to explain with an oddly shaky voice. “I didn't mean to insinuate that...that.... I just knew one, once, and I knew he hated what happened to him and would have hated doing something this awful. I suppose I hope this one felt similar, but...all this...blood.”

Exactly, Granger. All this blood,” he barks, sizzling inside.

Draco fights the old urge to call her a fucking Mudblood in his anger and steps away, then sees Luna staring at him, wiping her face clear of tears. He slowly walks to her, blows his breath through his tight lips, and bows his head. “I wasn't fast enough at first. And Nudger's gone.”

“Always did think she thought of you as hers,” Luna says, then smiles a painful, gentle type.

Draco shivers, still, his clothes and robes glued to his frozen skin.

“I'm sorry,” he whispers, feeling like he's broken Lovegood's pure trust in him. “It's my fault.”

Surely he has. Surely getting her precious animal friend murdered is worth her hatred, no matter how many had died before he got there.

“You listen to me, Draco Malfoy,” Luna grunts, eyes deadly serious.

Draco's own eyes widen as he waits; everyone else raises their brows.

Luna moves closer and holds his cold cheek. “You are not evil, Draco, and this didn't happen because you're a bad person trying to be better. It just happened because sometimes sad and awful things do.”

“Lovegood,” he grunts in his self-loathing.

“No, you listen!” Luna almost shouts, determined. She stands up on her tiptoes and looks him dead in the eye. “You are a good person. If you weren't, she never would have protected you. Nudger loved you. They all do. There is good in you, and I promise you, one day, Draco Malfoy, you will finally see it without always questioning it...without being afraid.”

Draco's throat clenches as it swallows.

“You are my friend, and I will help you as much as I can,” Luna whispers gently. “I told you, once, Draco. You are a bright star. So don't you forget that, okay?”

He can't speak. This is Luna, Loony Lovegood, and this is Luna, his friend. Mind made up, he leans forward and hugs her, uncaring of the blood he imparts to her clothes from his robes. Luna doesn't seem to care either, for she holds him back, still on her toes, arms around his neck.

“You'll be okay,” Luna says against Ron's whispering to McGonagall.

Draco nods and releases her, watching as she smiles up at him as if neither are covered in sticky, drying blood in the snow.

“'Mione, send a Patronus when Hagrid's ready for burials. I'm going to get Draco cleaned up,” Harry says, authority in his tone that even McGonagall raises a brow at yet strangely doesn't argue with him over.

Draco sighs, takes the warm hand demanding his, and lets Potter lead him this time out of the Forbidden Forest and far away from the smell of death and the echoes of the thestrals' screams.

 

 

 

 

lix

 

 

 

Draco shivers in the warm water of the Gryffindor showers.

His bloody pile of clothing lies in a heap in the corner of another stall, and he stands with his brow to the wall, letting the water run red rivets down his face, back and chest to the floor.

He feels empty.

He feels less like a bright star and more like a black hole.

There's a rustle or two behind him, and then a chest to his back and arms around holding his body gently.

Draco breathes as calmly as possible, eyes still closed, as Harry imparts his warmth into Draco's icy skin better than the water does. They stand like that for nearly five minutes, just heat and water and Harry's lips across the back of his neck in soft assurance.

He lets Harry turn him.

He allows Harry to soap a cloth and begin the intimate, gentle process of washing his skin.

He glances through wet lashes to Harry's soaked dark hair as his lover, boyfriend, partner, everything bends to his knees to wash his legs after caring for his upper torso.

Draco stares through the water even when Harry grabs for a second rag, soaps it, and carefully cleans his face off before washing his hair, tipping his head back when asked to rinse.

And Harry says nothing, just stays there, solid, and holds Draco when Draco reaches with shaking arms.

“It...nearly...killed me,” Draco finally says against the rushing of the continued water. “It was...on top of me. In my face. And...and all I could...think was that you were coming. That it...it might go for you.”

Harry blinks water from his eyes, his expression so sad. So knowing.

Draco hiccups, growls and hits the wall with his fist. “I wasn't going to let it kill you, too. If...if I had to...to stop it no matter how, if it saved you, I....”

“I know,” Harry murmurs.

And he does.

He would more than anyone else.

Draco simply leans against Potter's chest, slick skin to skin, not noticing his own tears.

For he may still be pale.

He may still be void of color at the moment.

But he has Harry, and Luna's words are true.

They will bury the animals. They will decide what to do. And he will, eventually, be okay.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lx

 

 

He tries for normalcy.

He eats in the Great Hall next to Harry, but says little.

He takes notes under a watchful Granger in classes.

But all he can see is the obsidian headstone that he has transfigured for Nudger's grave.

It is tasteful, beautifully sculpted from a fallen log into the shape of a half-folded thestral wing with a little scar etched into it, the phrase In death, you I honor across it in silvery letters.

Luna had held his hand as he'd stepped back, finishing the transfiguration work that took him a good hour for the whole thing, at least. And Hagrid had clapped his shoulder with a tear, nearly knocking Draco upon his startled face, catching him at the last second before his pointy nose struck dirt.

Draco tries to get through the nights without seeing the reflection of the werewolf's eyes or hearing the screams of the thestrals in his sleep, but he fails badly enough that a very tired, silently worrying, and loudly nagging Blaise Zabini yanks him plumb out of bed to his feet, throws his slippers and robe at him, and says, “That's it. I've had it.”

“You think I want to sleep like this? Waking up shouting every other hour?” Draco yells, infuriated. He, too, is fucking exhausted. Beyond it. He wants to process this nightmare and move on.

Blaise exhales through flared nostrils, then steps into his personal space. “I know you don't. But I've gotten no fucking sleep in three days and neither have you, not really, and this is fucking enough. C'mon, Malfoy.”

“Dare I ask where you're taking me hostage?”

Blaise grins a Slytherin smile and holds him by the upper arm, Draco protesting as he quickly shoves his wand into his robe's pocket and follows. Zabini walks him all the way to the Gryffindor House painting while he complains, and Draco wants to punch him.

He does so, lightly, cracking Blaise in the upper arm as Zabini finally lets go.

“Stop it, you shit,” Blaise scowls and socks him back as lightly.

“I am not letting anymore of you lot through this door!” the Fat Lady says, indignant, waving a fan over her face.

Draco and Blaise both sneer.

“Then I guess I'll just bang your bloody frame to bits,” Blaise grumbles and raises a fist to knock.

“No! No, don't touch it! You'll break it!”

Draco rolls his eyes and jerks Blaise away for a second. “I'm sure the password's changed since I was last brought in, Blaise. Let's just go. This is mad. Doesn't fucking matter where I sleep, I can't stop seeing it, all right?”

“Yes, well, I overheard all about your sleep in Potter's bed and how you didn't wake shouting once for five hours that day. So let's try that again and save my fucking ears and your bloody mind, shall we?”

“I passed out then, you idiot. I don't need him for everything. I can deal with this. It's just...fresh. Now let's go,” Draco demands and turns, stalking off, muttering about stupid friends and stupid selfish sleep and stupid fucking Blaise making him walk out here in his stupid nightclothes.

It's just some fucking dreams. It's not like he hasn't had nightmares before dating Potter.

“Oh, the fuck you are. Get back here, Draco! I'm not saying you can't handle shit on your own. I'm saying if it lets you fucking sleep, lets me fucking sleep, then so be it.”

Draco pauses, glances to the ceiling, and grits his teeth. “I killed a fucking werewolf, Zabini. I'm not a bloody weakling. Now move it. We'll discuss your handling of me later.”

Blaise snickers and starts to walk after him, leaving behind a blubbering painting of a woman. “What, gonna sic Potter on me? He the jealous type? I'll bet he is. I'll bet he comes after me with that look he has.”

“Do shut up, for once,” Draco mutters, blushing, knowing damn well Harry would probably do exactly that, but he pauses.

They both do.

Because the swinging of the painting is subtle in its echo down the hall behind them, but just loud enough to have the hair on the back of their necks rising with its creepiness.

They glance to one another in mutual puzzlement, then over their shoulders.

Hermione Granger stands at the door, rubbing her face as if to clear sleep.

“Draco?” she asks with a yawn.

Draco curses, kicks at the floor and then at Blaise. “Now look what you've done. Do you have any idea the hell the Weasel is going to give me for this?”

Blaise gives him a little shove and faces Granger head on, both watching as her cool, defensive exterior slides right over her face at the sight of Zabini.

“Where's Potter?”

“Sleeping,” she answers. “I'd imagine.”

“Well get him. I've got his boy here, who needs some damn sleep. I would like to sleep once, as I've not the last few nights.”

“What's going on?” she asks, tightening her robes against her in the cold hall.

Draco rolls his eyes. “That's it. I'm going.”

“The fuck you are. You're marching into that dorm, crawling in Potter's fucking bed, and going to sleep, much like I will be in my own bed. Sleeping. Peacefully. In the quiet.”

“Prick,” Draco snipes, lip curled.

Hermione looks around, as if making sure it's only the three of them. Draco watches her debate rules and doing the right thing and whatever must constitute the Gryffindor method of conduct before she nods and walks back toward the door, waiting.

Blaise smiles, a condescendingly pleased one, and shoves Draco toward her, making him shuffle over his damn slippers. “Thank you. Finally. Some peace. Tell Potter I'll owe him one.”

“Fuck you, Zabini.”

“After I sleep. I'll hear anything you want to complain about after I sleep,” Blaise laughs and strides away, waving over his shoulder as Draco calls him a right arsehole.

Draco watches Granger look between Zabini's retreating back and Draco. He sighs. “He exaggerates for effect. I've not been that bad. Fucker's just worried, and he's vengeful enough to get his kicks like this.”

“You're sure?” she asks, looking him over. “You've had some dark circles under your eyes the last few times I've seen you, Draco.”

“So.”

“Merlin, you're so stubborn,” she grunts and tugs him by the arm inside the dorms, shutting the heavy door behind her. “You two deserve each other for that, alone.”

“Blaise and I?”

“No. You and Harry. Stubborn, stupid boys, barely taking care of themselves.”

“I can take care of myself,” Draco chides, crossing his arms petulantly.

Granger smirks and points at the stairwell. “Go sleep. He'll be happy to see you.”

Draco waits, watches as she stands purposefully between he and the exit as if reading his mind. “Demanding twat,” he gripes, but quietly steps up the stairs.

Truthfully, he wonders about Blaise's comment. He had slept perfectly fine in an extended nap after Harry cleaned him up. Sure, he'd passed out, but he had stayed quite asleep...quite content, resting better than he had since the time Harry had slept in his bed.

Perhaps it was being surrounded by Harry's scent. Or...perhaps...it's just because something about being near Harry feels safe.

Draco freezes, one hand out to open the dorm where Harry is sleeping.

He slowly lowers his fingers, paling more than usual.

He's aware that things have gotten...deep. He's conscious of the fact that he feels far more for Harry than he ever imagined he could; after all he's in love with the bloody Gryffindor, and it shakes him that he's this comfortable. That he wants so much.

Is it weakness, he wonders, is it unrealistic to keep thinking that any bit of this will last?

But, oh Merlin, does he want it to last.

Draco blinks, glued to the steps, struck as it comes.

Oh, he thinks.

The thestrals didn't last. Nudger hadn't, either. And his mind can't seem to let that go.

And in a split second, he gets it, gets why he's having the fucking nightmares and why he's still staring at Harry's door like a love-struck idiot and curses himself, wishes he could hex his own absurd mind with its worries about the future and being forgotten by the one who's become his own personal sun and center of his solar system.

Embarrassed, he debates leaving entirely. He's stood here far too long now to the point of foolishness. It's too much thought, and he's quite tired of thinking and dreaming.

Besides, he has reading to catch up on. Might as well. Surely Granger's already given up and gone back to bed, anyway.

And then quietly the door opens, and Harry is standing there with the open Map and a lit wand, green eyes round.

Draco stares at him, swallowing the uncomfortable lump in his throat. “I...Blaise couldn't sleep. The nightmares are loud. He brought me here.”

Harry returns his stare, brows arching to shadow his forehead in the light of his wand.

“Just...been a rough couple of nights, as expected,” Draco mumbles, awkward and feeling quite dumb. Is this what he does now? Begs Harry to make bad dreams go away?

How needy.

He hates feeling needy.

“Draco.”

“It's childish, isn't it, begging my bloody boyfriend to help me sleep.”

“No, not at all. It's...it's just trust, Draco. Trust and love,” Harry insists and holds out his hand. “Let's go get some sleep, okay?”

Draco eyes him, still quite visibly discomfited.

Harry smiles, but tugs him up and into the room, quietly ushering him to his bed. Ron Weasley snores a bit like a frog one bed away, and Neville rolls over across from them. Dean Thomas, Draco notes with relief, is a quiet sleeper.

Draco slides his slippers off, drops his robe upon Harry's trunk, and climbs in when Harry pats the bed next to him. There's a sweep of wand, and the curtains mostly shut, and Draco appreciates the dark.

He stares at Harry, barely able to see him through the light of the window coming through the slight opening in the curtains, and Ron's loud, coughing snore startles him into jumping a bit. Harry snickers quietly and aims through the gap, shooting a Muffliato at Weasley's bed.

“Thank fuck,” Draco whispers in the quiet. “How do you sleep with that thing so close?”

“Sometimes it's comforting to hear. Other times I do what I just did,” Harry admits with a grin, then slides under the covers more and tucks Draco to his chest.

He has to know, though. “How long were you staring at that Map, Harry?”

Harry gazes at him fondly. “Long enough to be worried when you weren't coming in.”

Draco rests his cheek to Harry's shoulder, his brow to Potter's jaw, and his arm and leg across Harry's body, claiming him and allowing his boyfriend to claim him back with an adjusted, loving hold to stroke fingers over Draco's soft hair.

He relaxes instantly. His aching eyes close. He smells Harry's centering cloves and rain and woods, hears that heartbeat below him, and already feels himself drifting off to the lips brushing his brow once.

It's fucking pathetic how fast it all happens.

Part of him almost wants to withdraw and storm out in no doubt a bizarre form of self-protest, but he's fairly certain the grip Harry slides over him is semi-permanent and will require strength he doesn't currently possess to break.

Part of him wants to throw that part of himself out the bloody window for being selfishly stupid when he's got a warm, calming presence under him.

And part of him, the part that wins out, curls tightly to Harry and falls deeply asleep, dreaming as if drinking a vial of Dreamless Sleep, his spirit entirely open and vulnerable yet safe, cocooned in Harry's arms and Harry's private world.

 

 

 

lxi

 

 

 

Oi! Ow! Ow, ow!”

“Shh! You idiot, you'll wake him.”

“I didn't mean to stub my toe, Harry. I tripped over the Slytherin's bloody slippers when I checked on you and cracked my foot on your damn trunk.”

“Harry, I'm gonna get some breakfast. Nev's run for hot chocolates.”

“Thanks, Dean.”

“Merlin, Harry. When did he show up, anyway?”

“Late, Ron.”

“So...he not doing well?”

“Nightmares. Apparently enough that Blaise Zabini had enough of them keeping him awake and dragged him here.”

“Cheeky. It's almost like Zabini gives a shit.”

“Maybe he does.”

Right, and that vault of galleons you've got at Gringotts is really mine.”

“Ron, hush. You're getting loud again.”

“Fine. How long you gonna let him sleep for, anyway?”

“If he wants to eat breakfast, he can. If not, he can go back to bed. It's Saturday.”

“Harry?”

“What?”

“...this is serious, isn't it.”

….

….

“Yeah. It is.”

“Like, this isn't just a temporary physical thing at all.”

“No, it isn't.”

“Blimey. Never saw this coming.”

“Yeah.”

“So...you...you, um. Fuck it, you love him, don't you?”

“Yes, Ron. I do.”

“Wow. Er, so...like...really love him, love him?”

“I'm mad for him, you berk. Shush.”

“How long you been mad for him?”

“I dunno.”

“Bollocks. Your fucking face is redder than my jumper.”

“Shove off.”

“Answer the question, coward.”

“I did. I don't know, Ron. It's just...been there, hidden, confused and the like.”

“Damn. Well, I suppose...you could do worse. At least he's decent looking for a Ferret Face.”

“He's quite handsome, you arse. And brilliant. And way deeper than you'd imagine.”

“Dunno about all that. I threatened to knock him 'round, you know, if he ever hurt you.”

Ron.”

“Wait, wait. I did, and you know what he says to me? 'You know he can hurt me just as much, right?' And I thought, woah.”

“You're getting loud again.”

“I'm sorry. Anyways, I said to him that I didn't like him well enough yet to knock you 'round if you hurt him, but I suppose that could change.”

“Oh?”

“Harry, I wouldn't have wished what happened in that Forest on the Malfoy I knew years ago. He's strong, you know. I might've panicked or something too much, I don't know. I was bloody useless with Sirius and Lupin that night, you remember? I guess...I guess what I'm saying is, I'm...kinda proud of him.”

“Should I keep that memory for him to use in a pensieve? I think I will.”

“Like hell. You keep your mouth shut, Harry. Can't have him thinking I like him or anything. Gotta keep him on his posh toes.”

“Sure, Ron.”

“I think he loves you, too, just so you know. I've seen the way he looks at you.”

“I know he does.”

“Oh. Well good, then. Still fucking weird, but good.”

“Yeah, it is.”

“Oh, shit! Watch it, Nev, 'fore you spill that crap everywhere!”

“Ron, go help him. Merlin's sake, his arms are too full and Dean's just as loaded. And be quiet, will you?”

“Ah, shut up. Bugger's probably been awake this whole fucking time, and if he knows what's good for him, he'll keep pretending to sleep.”

“Whatever, Ron. Go help.”

“Fine.”

…..

“You are awake, aren't you?” Harry asks warm nose bending to tease over his hair.

Draco's smile splits his face, and he burrows into Harry's chest, trying desperately to keep his laughing quiet.

Harry snickers, strokes his face with gentle fingers, and tilts his chin up to smile at him. “Morning, beautiful.”

“Oh, don't you dare. No names, remember.”

“Not a name. Just a truth. You're stunning right now,” Harry whispers, eyes drinking him in like a warm butterbeer on a cold day. “Just...beautiful. Sun's shining right off your hair, and it's lighting up.”

Draco blushes and bends his head, tucking his face against the heated chest before kissing it twice and jolting with a laugh at the sudden sharp crash, a tumble of bodies, and a loud, Weasley scream of "damn it, Neville, how did you kill that bloody snake and still manage to be so fucking clumsy!"

A moment of silence while he and Harry both chuckle quietly.

And then another echo of Ron Weasley up the stairs:

"It's dripping up my fucking nose! Wait, here, just, ugh! I've got it. I'll sip the bloody thing from my face now. Oh, hey. It's not too bad. Good job, Nev."

When Draco hears the menagerie of crackling dishes and grunting comments enter the room, he glances up to Harry, sees the happiness in the big green eyes. He knows he slept damn well, and he has a feeling the nightmares might stop now.

Draco sighs against Harry's shirt, feels the warmth below it that shivers in response to his touch, and thinks that maybe sleeping in a Gryffindor dorm isn't so bad, either.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

lxii

 

 

 

One day in the middle of December, he walks down to Hagrid's to check on the now penned small herd where most of them are healing nicely from the attack. And, like they have since the event, they greet him eagerly when he enters, bumping against him and calling and making him feel entirely forgiven.

“Easy,” he chides the youngest as it nearly stomps his foot in its excitement to see him.

Draco throws them all some meat, then clears a spot on the fence and climbs upon it, leaning against a familiar older male that comes by and sniffs him, then stands close to keep him warm.

This poor thestral is a visible survivor compared to many left alive.

He stands, proud, with an upper bone of his left wing broken and awkwardly healing. And the skin of the wing is partially torn, scars through its gaps matching a few now embedded and scabbed over on his bony flank.

Draco pats the one shredded wing with sympathy, knowing the poor bastard's lost his beautiful natural gift of flight to a monster; in a way, he feels similarly stranded, trying to heal and survive the Dark Lord's ravaging. He leans close, resting his chin over the back of the creature, arms folded as he gets lost in thought.

His mother has owl'ed a letter this morning, and he had immediately left breakfast with the rest to sit and read and reread in an empty hall.

She's grown quite insistent, openly so in a way she usually avoids until someone forces her hand. Draco's careful sidestepping in his replies since his explanation of the Prophet article on he and Harry has clearly worked such wonders.

It's no longer are you staying focused on your studies, Draco or be wary of anyone using you, Draco, but is now do extend an invitation to Mr. Potter for Christmas, as we've much to discuss, the three of us. She really does insist.

If he's to be honest with himself, Draco can quietly admit that he is afraid. He knows Potter never backs down from a challenge, but he is unsure as to what this challenge might end up being, and he doesn't want to lose Harry over petty old wounds or fears.

He's so in thought, petting over the thestral as it adjusts closer for him, that he doesn't hear Harry at first.

“They really like you,” Harry says as he climbs up next to him, reaching to rub down the male's face as it huffs a greeting at him.

Draco nods and scratches with his nails against the thestral's back, making it twitch in delight. “Stalking me today, I see.”

“Considering you fled breakfast after getting post, yeah. I was a bit worried.”

Draco sits back, pats the animal's side and watches it walk away, stretching its wings majestically, regardless of the disability. “Sev,” he smiles. “I've been calling him that. I think he likes it.”

Harry snickers when the thestral snorts and moodily stamps once. “I approve.”

“Harry, I imagine you've plans for holiday. For Christmas,” he says quietly, looking at the white snow all around.

“I usually go with Ron to the Burrow, but this year...I don't know. I mean, I will, but I didn't know what you were going to do. And if you're staying here, then so am I. I'll just visit the Weasleys Christmas Day or something, instead.”

Draco scoffs and rests his hands on either side of him, one foot kicking out and the other bent at the toes behind a piece of wood. “No need to subvert tradition. And besides, I'm not staying here.”

“Oh. Then?”

“I'm going home, Harry.”

Harry blows out his breath, steaming the air. “I see.”

Draco smiles, glancing to the left away from his very disappointed boyfriend. With a low cough and a voice as svelte as he is, he says, “Well, I'd given the holiday some thought, and all, but I assumed you'd be busy.”

“So? Draco, you're at the top of my priority list. Tell me you know that.”

“I do,” Draco nods amicably. After all, Harry's right up there on his own. “That's why I want to tell you something, but I want you to know now that I do not expect you to agree to it. In fact I might not wish you to at all.”

Harry rubs his face, hunched over his part of the fence to Draco's right. “Dare I ask?”

“Mother has invited you to the Manor for Christmas,” Draco begins, and turns to see Harry's wide, terrified eyes boggle at him, confirming his earlier fears. “Exactly. That's why I said I don't expect you to agree to it. So best forget I even mentioned it. Save us all the headache.”

“What? Why not?” Harry asks despite looking like he's seeing a bloody Dementor.

“The invitation was more of a demand for you to appear. You'll be a guest, of course, and treated as such, but...the nature of it.... Mother 'wishes to discuss' our relationship, or so she wrote.”

“Oh, fuck me.”

Draco's teeth gleam as his lips part. “I would, Harry, but it's bloody cold.”

Harry guffaws and reaches to hold his hand over a post. “Good to know. So how much does she hate me?”

“She doesn't, Harry. Just distrusts. I wrote her a letter after...after the incident, since she was owl'ed about it, too. Nosy arseholes wouldn't leave her alone. I explained that yes, I had decided to pursue a relationship with you, and that it was mature and going well for the both of us,” Draco sighs, adjusting his weight over the wood. “She didn't reference it for a while. Just asked how I was now and then, typical things. I know it...was a shock, no matter how she'd have found out. It just happened to be a very bad way. But she eventually got annoyed with me toeing the subject and outright dictated her desires.”

“No kidding,” Harry groans and tightens his grip on their hands. “She's going to kill me.”

“It's much more satisfying to watch you squirm, Harry. Trust me. That's the perk of demanding your presence there. I suppose it would look terrible if you don't go, but....”

“Ugh.”

“Just...Harry, you have my permission to absolutely refuse if you wish. Know that.”

Harry shakes his head, dislodging a few flakes that had stuck to it. Draco watches him glance around, too, observing the younger thestrals playing about.

Harry's fingers tap the wood with his free hand. “How long? Break is roughly two and a half weeks. I could spend half with you, half with the Weasleys, I suppose, if Narcissa wouldn't mind. Maybe Floo to the Burrow from the Manor.”

“Harry.” Draco jerks their hands a little, getting Potter's focus. “A day is fine. I don't want you...uncomfortable.”

“Aside from how that conversation goes, why would I be? I'll be with you.”

Draco smiles slightly. “Harry, the last time you were there...why would you ever want to go inside again? Why do you think I didn't go home after things? I stayed at Hogwarts because it was too him still. He corrupted my home, the vile bastard, and despite the cleanings I'm sure Mother's ordered done, I imagine it will take time to erase that feeling of him.

Oh,” Harry grunts in sympathy, eyes shining behind the glasses. “I understand.”

“I was only planning to stay until Christmas, Floo back or something the day after. I can spend the new year alone at Hogwarts fine. I've work and studies.”

Harry suddenly smiles, and Draco raises his brows, asking his silent what with them. “Well, guess I can modify my plans to come back after Christmas with you, too.”

Draco hides his pleasure behind a scoff. “So clingy, Harry.”

Harry beams, and the sun breaks through the fog and dreary sky behind him, lighting his dark mass of hair from the back and haloing him.

Draco stares in rapture before he shakes the feeling off, and an evil little grin steals across his lips. “If I must have you stick to me over break, do me one favor.”

“What?”

“Slughorn has a party tomorrow. I've avoided so many that I cannot avoid this one. I can bring a guest, and I know he wants it to be you.”

“Oh, hell.”

Draco shrugs. “Harry, you either love me or you don't. Time to prove it, Chosen One.”

Harry chuckles and kicks his legs, bouncing his heels to the wood slats. “Well, when you put it like that, I suppose I must go and save you.”

“Yes, Savior. Spare me the misery,” Draco teases and casts a warming charm over them both.

Harry groans into the sudden bit of warm air and thanks him quietly. Then he looks sheepish, and Draco slightly glares.

“What now, Potter?”

“Well, I just remembered, actually, 'cause you mentioned a party.”

“Oh, bloody fucking hell. What?”

“Hermione's got a party for us tomorrow night, too. So...maybe we could leave Slughorn's early and dash there. Everyone's going to be hanging in the common room, our lot. And Luna will be there. We'll have food and drink. Punch. Didn't she say something to you already?”

Yes, yes she had. Days ago. And he'd totally skimmed the conversation, too tired and riddled with thoughts about his Potions reading to pay close attention besides nodding at her expectant look.

Shows him to not be entirely aware around Granger.

Draco shouts, one long drawn out aaaaaaaaahhhhh into the air, startling the thestrals that all look back over at him and hilariously call out as if he's speaking their language.

“I take it that's a solid no, then.”

“No, no. I'll go. Fuck, they'd probably come find me if I didn't now.”

“Probably.” Harry scoots closer, enough so that they're only separated by the post itself sticking against their hips. “I'm glad, though. I want you there. I want...I like....”

Draco tilts his face, searching the darting green eyes of nervousness. “Want what, Harry?” he asks, voice like silk.

“I want you there. I like showing you off,” Harry mutters, entirely rosy through the cheeks. “What? Damn it, don't look at me like that. It's not funny. It's just...you're my boyfriend and, well, I enjoy that fact and sharing it publicly since everything happened. I like having you with me, holding my hand, snogging me in public because you're Draco Fucking Malfoy and fucking gorgeous and mine.”

Draco's teasing smile spreads into one of awe.

Draco Fucking Malfoy.

If he didn't know any better, he'd think he and Harry had even more in common than they've ever thought. He hopes so. He hopes, right in that moment, that he is as Draco and as Malfoy and as Draco Fucking Malfoy as Harry is Harry and Potter and Harry Fucking Potter.

It's so damn endearing that his chest is aching with it.

“Well,” Draco begins with a handsome smile, “I'm flattered. And I understand. But I am going to tease the fuck out of you for this.”

“Please don't. I've already buried myself quite well, thanks.”

“It's hilarious seeing Harry Potter get so flustered over me. How precious.

Harry, still very red, glares at him just a little. It's a glare that stirs Draco's belly and his cock and makes him grin harder. “Like you don't get off on showing me around. I know you do, you berk.”

Draco cackles, then mock gasps. “What, me? Proud to be the other half of this thing?”

“Oh, shove off. Posh prat.”

“Gryffindor blowhard.”

“Obsessed ponce.”

“Romantic sod.”

Laughter echoes across the pen.

The thestrals watch them, bobbing and shaking their heads as they both drop down to the outside of the fence and walk away, hand in hand, smiling in the winter sun.

And when Harry ends up with a face full of snow courtesy of Draco's glove, Draco chortles, not even caring when he is slammed into the cold powder in his robes, getting wet because Potter sits atop him and snogs him right into the ground.

 

 

 

 

lxiii

 

 

“Draco! I see you've brought Mr. Potter with you! It's great to see you, Harry! I've barely seen you at all this year,” Professor Slughorn greets them quite happily.

It's an awkward atmosphere of mingling, bored students crossed with a minor group of chatty arse-kissers that remind him of a younger Granger. There's the handsome decorations in winter theme, a nice chocolate fountain, floating trays of finger sandwiches, and soft classical music in the air.

And there's Harry, poor Harry, proving how much he loves Draco by answering every question Slughorn throws at him. It's a valiant effort, and one Draco notes with a happy, sympathetic heart.

Draco pities Harry as much as he sighs in reprieve while he slides around to grab them drinks. When he returns, Harry looks desperately polite and straining with so many eyes upon him. Draco hands him a flute of warm wassail, sipping his own, and shoots a protective glare about the room, spooking several curious eyes away.

Nosy twits. Like they've not all seen or heard about the bloody article.

Thankfully Zabini saunters over just as Slughorn gets distracted by a Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff entering together, and Blaise crosses his arms, his own flute in hand. “My, my. Date night, is it?”

“And if it is?” Draco smirks and wraps an arm about Harry's shoulders, feeling Harry sag against him in relief at the touch.

He knows he looks dashing. He dressed specifically in a way to melt Harry Potter later when they're alone: From head-to-toe he's in sensual, sleek black, the only hint of color being the Slytherin emblems at his cuffs, and the light, silky House scarf around his neck.

Harry had, at least, drooled in the hall enough for Draco to cover his own embarrassing reaction of jaw dropping and lip licking to Harry's smart dressed dark trousers and tight, handsome forest green wool muggle jumper that makes Potter's green eyes the most noticeable thing in this stupid party.

Merlin, he's delicious tonight.

Blaise rolls his eyes, brushes some imaginary dust from his pressed robes. “At least I'm sleeping again. I should thank you, I suppose, Potter. Whatever it is that you're doing is working.”

“I'm empathetic, for one,” Harry cracks, eyes fierce and the arm around Draco's waist as possessive as his own.

“And I'm not? I did force him to do what was best for him, didn't I?”

Harry shrugs, glancing Zabini over in a constructive, very Gryffindor way. “That's what I'm hoping, yes.”

Blaise simply titters, eyes glittering at Draco when he says, “I told you he'd do this.”

Draco steps between them, waving his occupied hand, ignoring the question on Harry's face. “Now, now. That's enough of that crap. We're here to band in solidarity in our one true mission: avoid Slughorn for thirty minutes until he forgets all about us and harasses some other poor sods so we can sneak out.”

Blaise and Harry wince simultaneously. Harry laughs when Blaise snickers.

Draco relaxes a little watching it happen.

They move away from the entrance, lean near some windows. Draco's back is to the wall, and he closes his arms around Harry as Harry rests into him, and just like that all the eyes snap onto them like a spell. Draco ignores the feeling of the spotlight and focuses solely on Blaise talking nonsense of his newest step-father, thinks only of how warm Harry is against his chest and how right it feels to hold him like this.

Thankfully no one has even dared to approach the trio to chat outside of Slughorn himself. Sometimes it pays to be the big, bad, scary Slytherins. It really does.

His chin rests to Harry's shoulder as he listens, nodding sympathetically now and then as Blaise groans over the rich, oblivious new step-father's lack of table manners, and the way a vase of his mother's was broken, only to be waved off as a matter of whatever since the man could simply buy another like it, or so he claims.

Draco chimes his thoughts on the moronic twat Blaise's mother has wedded and pulls Harry tighter against him subtly, shifting his hips to rub the start of his erection to Potter's rear and getting a small gasp in turn.

Blaise catches the movement and sighs dramatically, as he often does. “Now, now. Take it elsewhere if you must. I loathe looking at straight couples doing this, let alone my mate and his boy.”

“What, don't want a show?” Draco smiles, mischievous as hell. “I think you do.”

“The hell I do. I got enough of that sort from my cousin and his date at the wedding. Scandalous. Shagging in the broom closet like common whores. My Aunt Bedelia fainted when she investigated the noise.”

Draco laughs, but the words spark an image of himself shagging Harry in a closet, of himself hearing Harry moan and push back against him, begging for more.

Harry must have the same idea because he actually does push back, just a little, rubbing that curvaceous arse just right against him.

“Tempting,” Draco whispers, then quickly kisses behind Harry's ear.

And it totally is. They've not had sex since their first time, and Draco is more than curious about taking Harry the same way.

“Has it been long enough? We should get going,” Harry tries, beyond obvious.

“Don't tell me you two are going closet hunting. Disgusting, the lot of you. At least have some class, Draco.”

Draco shrugs, teeth over his lower lip. “Sometimes getting risqué is worth it, Blaise.”

“Oh, whatever.”

“Why didn't you bring Pansy?”

“Because she's trying to pretend she's not spending a ton of time in the library with her Charms work staring at that Terry Boot while he's in there reading.”

Draco's brows wing up, and he snickers under his breath. “A Ravenclaw. I'm impressed.”

“Well, Pansy can barely tolerate Hufflepuffs. She needs sterner material. A less agitated, intelligent Ravenclaw with the ability to blow her off unintentionally using a lofty head and fluster her to pieces just by saying hello to her like he does anyone else is worth my repeating questions to her numerous times in conversations, let me tell you.”

“You're quite awful,” Draco says, totally approving.

Blaise grins, shrugs, and drinks the last of his wassail.

Harry does the same, setting the empty glass down on the nearby small table. “I know him. Nice guy.”

Draco knows that tone. Silly, protective git. “Don't jump too early, Harry. He might actually spruce her up.”

“I don't know. Parkinson is just...awful, and Terry's quite nice.”

Draco bristles a little at that, knowing better than Harry that Pansy has actually gotten quite mature compared to herself a year ago. “Right, 'cause I'm not awful and you're not the fucking Hero.”

Harry grunts, squeezes his arms. “That's different.”

“The hell it is.”

Blaise rolls his eyes in sync with Draco. “No, Potter. You only want to think you're so special, getting eyeballed in the school. But you're not. The both of you are quite superfluous in conversation, but you're far from the only thing talked about. So get your bloody heads out your arses. Or each others' or whatever it is that you do.”

“Ouch,” Draco laughs, but he's relieved. “Just say what you feel, why don't you.”

His boyfriend, however, is too defensive as expected.

“Shove off, Zabini,” Harry hisses, clearly bothered.

Draco rubs his nose along Harry's neck, calming the ruffled Gryffindor lion's fur. “Harry, he's teasing. Relax.”

Harry huffs, embarrassed.

“I see I've touched a nerve. Pity. I didn't even intend to do so this time,” Blaise shrugs nonchalantly and nods toward Draco, glancing past them, lip curling in true annoyance. “Slughorn's on the prowl. Catch you later, Draco, Potter.”

“Shit! Move,” Draco says, nodding back.

He drags Harry through curtains, behind other students staring at them quizzically, and then finally out the door. They both sigh in relief and walk to the Gryffindor rooms, hands held between them.

They are welcomed into the common room quite warmly with slaps on their backs from Ron Weasley and Neville Longbottom and polite handshakes from Dean Thomas.

Draco grabs some punch and a homemade biscuit, enjoying the white chocolate frosting added to it in the shape of a small dragon.

Luna giggles next to him as she gets her own punch, saying, “I made those while trying to decide what desserts everyone would like. I put little dragons on ones I thought you would, for your name, of course. Seems like my idea was a good one.”

“Brilliant as usual, Luna,” he murmurs, but smiles and lets her roll his sleeve up carefully, the gesture so familiar it is almost equivalent to that of a greeting hug.

Harry waves him over, and Draco sits upon one of the couches in a corner, flushing as Potter wraps an arm around him and kisses his cheekbone before turning to talk to Dean Thomas about holiday plans. Draco quietly adjusts so a hand sits upon Harry's left thigh, his own leg bent over his knee at an angle to give Luna and Neville room next to them.

“What are your plans, Draco?” Hermione asks with a smile, perched upon Weasley's knee in a chair.

Draco smirks to himself at the possessively subtle way the Weasel holds onto her hip, other hand full of punch. “I'm going home, then back here for New Years.”

“And I'm going with him,” Harry adds, silencing the room. “What?”

Ron and Ginny both frown with Ron asking, “Aren't you going to the Burrow?”

“Sure, just later than usual. Spending a week with Draco, first, then leaving after Christmas early to come back here with him. You know, making the most of the time, especially since I get to deal with his mother confronting me.”

Everyone, even Draco, winces.

Luna taps her lips. “I'm sure it won't be that bad, Harry. Draco's mother seems to love him very much.”

“That's the problem,” Harry grunts, sounding nervous.

Draco squeezes his thigh. “Yes, well, I've faith in you since you're either brave or stupid enough to try and defend us. That reckless Gryffindor courage will win out as it usually has for you.”

Fingers along his shoulder move to flick the back of his head playfully while Harry murmurs, “Then I'll have faith in you to calm her down afterward.”

“Not defending it, yourself, Malfoy?” Ginny Weasley asks, voice a bit tight. Dean glances at her, concerned. Harry's body tightens against Draco's.

It's not even jealousy, Draco thinks, shocked.

It's a fucking test.

Is he good enough for Harry Potter, if she is not?

Is he, Draco Malfoy, as proud to be with Harry, as protective of Harry?

Fuck yes, he is.

And Draco forcibly exhales, glares, takes the challenge head-on in a clipped, crafted Slytherin tone, “I've been defending it since the bloody article, Ginevra. The nature of the topic is simply a difficult one, and like good Purebloods we danced around it until Mother had enough and made her demand. Considering the way she discovered the information before I was ready to tell her, it's understandable. I don't think I need to remind you of the Howler your own mother sent in her reactionary maturity, do I?”

Ginny reddens in both anger and, surprising to Draco, shame as well. Even Ron flinches at the satisfying verbal lashing given, and it calms him a bit.

“Drop it,” Harry sighs, fingers rubbing down the back of his neck. But Draco notes the disappointment in Harry's gaze aimed at his ex-girlfriend, feels the protectiveness towards him as Harry slides his other hand down to the one upon his thigh, folding their fingers together. “Narcissa has a right to want to speak with me, and that's that. I'm sure my own mum would have.”

Ginny looks away, sipping her hot cider. Dean watches her, determined yet misunderstanding, the poor fellow.

“You've got this,” Neville encourages Harry with a nod. “You killed Voldemort. You can do anything, Harry. You too, Draco. We all played our parts that day to help, but if it weren't for you two at the end, who knows how it might have gone?”

Draco glances to Longbottom, silently grateful.

Ron grins, supportive. “S'right.”

Hermione sends Harry a knowing look, and Draco zones out a bit, feeling tense still as the atmosphere around him relaxes and he does not. He has no problem proving himself to an overprotective ex-girlfriend/still friend to Harry, but he does find the attempt pathetic and tasteless when she knows bloody well that he cares.

“You sure you wanna spend New Years here, Draco?” Neville comments, looking a little concerned for him above Luna's head. He's been too quiet, it seems. “I mean, not many people here. Might be awfully boring, even with Harry.”

Harry chokes on his punch when Dean smiles and stage whispers, “I think that's the point, Nev.”

Draco nods Dean's way, but adds, “I've things to do. Loads of work still.”

Hermione groans in sympathy. “Aria and Slughorn have supplied most of my problems. History is easy as I've read so much of it multiple times, and Charms I'm fairly positive about as well as some other topics, but it is a lot of work.”

“Not all of us are mad enough to take as many N.E.W.T.s as possible, Granger.”

Ron nods behind her head exaggeratedly, stopping only when Hermione glares over her shoulder.

They chatter for a while in broken groups before Hermione takes charge, like she often does, and starts a round of silly games that Draco manages to get out of, thank fuck, simply by appearing too busy talking to Luna.

Luna, as always, is a gentle soul well beyond her years in knowing just what to do.

She lets him ramble on about the thestrals, laughing at Sev's latest dominance behavior with the herd, and gives her own perspective on possible ways to help them grow strong again.

Harry comes back to his side, sitting, wiping some confetti from his hair and face that Weasley had set off as a prank. “Enjoying yourself?”

“Better than Slughorn's party.”

“Anything is,” Harry winks.

Draco flushes and shakes his head, amused. The green of Harry's jumper is even more handsome with the firelight nearby, contrasting with the red curtains and cream.

And then there's a little, sweet cough, a nudge of a sock-covered foot to his knee, and he sees Luna pointing above his head.

Draco frowns at her and looks up, sees a floating sprig of blossoming mistletoe above he and Harry.

Luna smiles and claps her palms around her wand.

Longbottom shrugs in sympathetic I have no idea behind her, one arm along her shoulders.

Hermione puts her fingers over her face, laughing, and Ron's brows arch before he turns away for comedic effect then faces front again, telling them to just get on with it, then.

Draco's grey eyes flick to Ginny Weasley, held by a happy, laughing Dean Thomas watching them.

She's smiling now, okay, but there's just a little hint of pain still there.

Maybe she wonders why she wasn't enough. He certainly wonders sometimes why he is.

Before he can get sucked into the thinking it inspires, Harry is tilting his face and kissing him right there in front of everyone, hand firmly upon Draco's jaw branding him more in that second to everyone watching.

It's not like they haven't kissed a few times with this crowd.

But Draco's fingers twitch restlessly against Harry's leg because this kiss that Potter is planting on him is different than any the rest have seen. It's one Harry goes with when he's feeling particularly sensual and dominating, and to Draco it is quite familiar.

Draco opens his lips obligingly, sends his tongue chasing after Harry's once before they pleasantly peck again and withdraw.

There's some stunned silence.

Granger is staring at them with an odd look in her rounded eyes, to which Ron asks just what the bloody hell she's staring for and she whispers, “I don't know. That was...kind of...interesting to watch.”

“Damn you, Harry,” Ron grunts and tugs Hermione to his lap, kissing her cheek to snap her out of the daze.

The room melts, Luna floats the mistletoe elsewhere, the rest talk among themselves, and Harry nuzzles behind his ear.

“Come with me,” Harry whispers.

Draco grants him a very skeptical expression. “Really? Now? That's not obvious at all, Harry.”

“Don't care. I want to give you something.”

“Keep it in your trousers, Harry!” Ron shouts, making Dean and Neville burst out laughing together.

Harry grabs a biscuit from a floating, charmed tray and flings it at Ron's face, smashing bits of shortbread and cream all across Weasley's nose and cheeks. Ron gasps like he's drowning, fingers furiously swiping bits of food from his face while Hermione laughs behind her hands and bends to help clean him up.

“That's your influence, Malfoy! I know it is!”

Draco chuckles, aghast. “I've been sitting here quite behaved, actually. I didn't do anything.”

“Still your bloody influence. He's gotten so Slytherin since you two started up.”

Well, that's a pleasing thought.

Harry takes Draco's fingers and pulls insistently until Draco gives up, feeling all the eyes hot on his back as he follows Harry up to the dorm room.

“They're going to think I'm doing terrible things to you now.”

“I wish you were,” Harry sighs, and stops him in the middle of the room. “Now close your eyes.”

“Potter, I'm not giving you gifts until Christmas. Don't think this will sway me.”

“The only reason you're getting this early is because I cannot Floo or travel with it and it still be a surprise. And, well. I just want to see you open it now.”

Draco shuts his eyes. “So demanding, Potter.”

There's some loud shuffling noises, a nice crack and a grunt of pain, and then a heavy thud and rustle of paper as an object is heaved upon the bed next to him.

“Okay, open 'em.”

Draco blinks, eyes rounding heavily at the giant package upon Harry's mattress. “Harry.”

Harry grins and shoves him toward it, making him stumble. “I told you it was a big one. And you've been pretty good, I think, so open it.”

Harry,” Draco says again, shocked, because there's only one thing that even makes this shape in any kind of packaging.

Slowly a hand reaches forward, and he peels at the large green ribbon, smiling at that color choice. The silk falls away, and he tears into the black wrapping, eyes warming at the black wood becoming visible.

Draco unwraps the broom entirely, speechless.

“The latest Firebolt. Thought you'd like it better. It's a bit nicer model than mine, sits easier, I think, but it goes fast. So be careful,” Harry warns and steps closer to the side, smile wide. “So? What do you think?”

Draco swallows the lump in his throat.

Harry's face falls. “You don't like it. Shit.”

“No, Harry, I...I love it. I just...why?”

“Why what?”

“Why would you...?”

Harry takes his hands and kisses him once. Their brows rest together, noses touching, those amazing green eyes so fucking close and easy to read. “Because you are happy when you fly.”

Tears moisten Draco's eyes that he blinks away.

“Thank you,” he whispers and holds Harry to him, nose nestled in the dark hair. “It's brilliant. Beautiful. Sleek.”

“Should have seen McGonagall's face when I asked her to help me order it from the shop in Diagon Alley. It got delivered to her office so you wouldn't see it.” Harry pulls back and jerks his head toward the broom. “Keep looking at it. It's got personal touches.”

Draco wipes one eye and leans closer, gasping when he sees the small elegant snakes engraved along the base and foot rests, and the bold DM letters painted above the metal in silver.

“You romantic. I love it.” Draco laughs and lifts it, feels the magic and power humming through the wood and raises his brows. It's almost bouncing, ready to go.

“Can go for a fly tomorrow. Test it out.”

“I plan to.”

Harry scratches his head. “Good. I want to watch.”

Draco glances to him knowingly. “You get off watching me, don't you.”

Harry quirks his face into a mirror image of his own. “As if you don't watching me. I'm onto you, Malfoy. Staring at me in my past games and even during that one game where we played against each other.”

The blush is deep, and it is hot.

“Shut up,” Draco gushes. “I watched you to find the snitch, obviously, since you were an annoyingly talented Seeker.”

“Whatever you say, Draco. I'm glad you love it, though,” Harry says, looking quite happy.

Draco shakes his head, still a bit stunned by the gift and its thoughtfulness. “Yes, well, I didn't spend what is clearly at least a few thousand galleons on your Christmas. I spent a few hundred, mind you.”

Harry's eyes widen. “Even that's too much, Draco.”

Knowing what he does about Harry's past, it cracks a part of his heart to see Harry always giving so much and being ready, being quite willing to receive so little in return.

“No, it's not. Not for you,” Draco sighs and rests the broom to the bed once more, palming Harry's neck and bringing their mouths close. Grey connects with green, and he opens himself, hearing Harry's little gasp at the intensity he knows Potter is seeing in his eyes. “I'd do anything, Potter. That scares the hell out of me, but I would try.”

“I would, too,” Harry shivers and grabs for his hips. Drags their matching erections closer together. “Anything, though?”

“Yes,” Draco affirms, curious about that sudden heat in Potter's gaze.

“I want...I want you to...you know,” Harry whispers, flushed and beyond aroused. “I was a bit turned on yesterday, when you said you'd...if it weren't so cold. I thought about it a lot, have since we did it, and I want to feel you, like you did me. You're just...just so fucking hot tonight, and it's driving me mad. That's not stupid, is it?”

“No, fuck no, it's not,” Draco moans at the thought, at the friction of trousers to skin, at the image of him sliding over Harry, naked. “Merlin's beard, Harry, I wish I could right now. Nothing has ever sounded so tempting.”

“I know, but maybe we could leave?” Harry whines a little in frustration, lips pouting.

Draco kisses them, sucks the lower one until Harry gasps. The vow is in his touch, his eyes as he declares it. “Christmas, Harry. I promise you I'll fix it then.”

“And you always keep your promises,” Harry sighs, happy again.

Draco wraps his arms around Harry's neck, staring him down. “Thanks for my present. It's quite extravagant, and I plan to enjoy it.”

“There's more coming for Christmas. Just didn't think I could hide this one easily.”

“Spoiling me. I'll grow to expect it, you know.”

“Figured you already had,” Harry jokes and yelps at the sharp smack to his arse.

Draco bites his earlobe. “Don't be rude.

“If you're gonna do that when I'm naughty, I'm not gonna have much incentive to stop.”

“That's the idea, Potter,” Draco drawls and lets go of him to take his hand once more.

When they return to the group, Harry telling them about the broom and Draco's happy response to the gift, they sit through an eye roll of Weasley miming quotes while looking to Neville and repeating the phrase Yeah, Harry gave him a broom, all right.

Draco looks about the room once more, endeared to the absurd amounts of red in it tonight with the fire going, and his friends chatting, and Harry tucking him against his side, arm around him holding tightly, brow to his cheek. Draco closes his eyes; he absorbs the closeness and thinks about how vulnerable Harry was earlier confessing what he wanted Draco to do, reflects on how gorgeous that broom is and how appreciative he feels.

He ignores the whispers as he turns his face and kisses Harry slowly, deeply, without a fucking care. For he is happy. And he is not wasting more time giving two shits for the rest, not even Weasley with his teasing, quiet comments.

Harry sighs into it, green eyes shut, arms wrapping around his neck and shoulders while Draco cups Potter's jaw in his palm.

Eventually the rest play another game of miming words, while Harry and Draco curl together upon the couch in a different kind of eclipse, staring at each other in knowing silence and forgetting the rest of the world.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lxiv

 

 

Two days later, he's triple checked his trunk for the Floo home, thanks to McGonagall herself arranging it at Harry's polite request.

He's been up all bloody night, worried for this day.

He's tired, but ready.

And when Harry enters the Headmistress's office with his own trunk, smiling nervously, Draco nods and looks him over once.

“I tried...dressing how I thought might be appropriate,” Harry admits, looking quite fetching in his nicest robes, jumper with the white undershirt collar layered tastefully, pressed trousers and shining dress shoes.

He's dashing.

Draco squeezes Harry's fingers once. “You look perfectly fine, Harry.”

“Oh. Oh, good.”

Both of them take a shaky breath, eyes on the large clock on the mantle. Their scheduled Floo is in a few minutes, and Draco knows his mother has already been waiting since he owl'ed her this morning after dawn.

“Any...any advice?”

Draco glances sideways, sees how Harry shifts his weight, blinks furiously behind his glasses as if to steady himself. He smiles, just a bit. “Be yourself, Harry. That's all.”

“Really? I thought that was a bad thing.”

“No. Pretending to be anything other than you would be bad. Just be honest and full of that ample Gryffindor courage. She expects nothing less from you but what you've always shown her.”

“Okay. Can do.”

“Don't worry about impressing her so much. It's not like I'm going to leave you if you two don't get on.”

Harry sighs, scratches his head. “I know. I'd just like it if she did approve of me, is all.”

Draco leans in for a quick kiss to Harry's cheek, getting a blush out of the Chosen One.

The clock chimes for three in the afternoon, and Draco grabs the silvery Floo powder, tossing it into the fire and calling out Malfoy Manor's reception parlor. The flames turn green, ready.

Draco pulls his trunk and goes first, holding his breath as he goes through the bizarre process and comes out the other side into his own house, which at first seems nearly alien to him.

The white, molded paneling of the room is familiar, yet almost an echo of itself. The deep emerald curtains are pulled back gracefully. The silver décor shines, freshly polished, and the floor is reflective with its cleanliness.

Draco comes forward exhaling his held breath, and hears Harry behind him, hears the flames flicker back normally.

Harry swallows loudly.

Draco's eyes rest upon Narcissa Malfoy as she strides toward him across the room from another doorway, her dress and robes swishing about her. He lets go of his trunk and accepts her arms around him, laying his cheek against her shoulder, feeling the softness of her long hair against his skin.

“Draco, you're home,” his mother sighs, sounding almost peaceful.

“Hello, Mother,” he greets, swallowing as roughly as Harry had as he pulls back, letting her continue to hold onto his forearms.

Narcissa's dark eyes catch the firelight, and Draco sees the love and concern she only ever has for him, only ever shows him right there, and he feels mild guilt for not writing more honestly to her.

Then those dark eyes he knows are overtaken with a defensive, speculative shield, and she turns her head, taking in Harry Potter nearby.

Draco shifts, sighing internally as Harry glances between them, entirely nervous, but positively charming as he bows a little and greets Draco's mother softly.

Narcissa stands proudly, eyes narrowed. “Hello, Mr. Potter. I am pleased to see you accepted our invitation.”

“I was pleased to receive it,” Harry returns, looking quite honest.

Draco bites his lip, able to see that honesty throw his mother's prepared words just a bit. She glances Harry over again, then lets go of Draco and sashays away, calling, “Tea in the drawing room, Draco. Blinkin will see to your trunk. A guest room has been prepared for Mr. Potter.”

“No,” Draco says, surprised at his own firmness.

His mother pauses in her steps. Slowly looks back over her shoulder. She squints elegantly. “You are staying home, are you not, son?”

“Yes, for a week, and I will go back to Hogwarts to continue studying with the free time. And while Harry is here, he will be staying with me.”

“We will discuss your leaving early. And I think not. Mr. Potter will have his own room.”

“I've made my decisions, and I would not force Harry to be any more uncomfortable in a place of his nightmares as to make him sleep alone in it, too.”

Narcissa blinks, as if the thought hadn't crossed her mind in all her preparations, and she views Harry's wide eyes next to Draco.

Harry wipes a hand through his hair, tousling it even more so. “I...I could manage, I'm sure, Draco, if that's what is proper.”

“Harry, I want you to sleep in my rooms with me,” Draco says calmly, eyes only on his mother. “And I will not budge on this.”

Narcissa stares him down, eyes growing as he stands perfectly still, perfectly composed, perfectly unmoved by it. Finally, she sighs and waves her hand, continuing her steps. “Fine, Draco. Just come for tea in a moment.”

“Yes, Mother,” he says respectfully, breathing out heavily as she exits the room.

His first victory. It almost makes him more nervous that she's conceded so easily.

Harry takes his hand, blinking rapidly. “Draco, you didn't need to do that.”

“I want to sleep with you. I like doing so. I'm not having you in a bloody guest room for a week when you could be in bed with me,” he explains, fingers stroking Harry's. “Do you want to sleep with me or not, Harry?”

Harry nods. Smiles.

Draco feels something relax a tiny bit inside of himself, and he nods to the house elf as it enters, asking to take their trunks. “Both to my rooms, Blinkin.”

“Master Malfoy, Missus is wanting Mr. Potter's things bein' in the guest rooms, and Blinkin is doins as Missus demands.”

“Blinkin, she's agreed with me. Take them both to my rooms.”

“Please,” Harry adds, bending slightly. “That would be very nice of you to do for me.”

Blinkin stares at Harry, utterly discombobulated by the treatment, and just nods, whispering loudly to himself at the oddness of that Harry Potter as he grabs the trunks and disappears with them.

Draco shakes his head, amused, as Harry follows him into a hall and down toward the room where Narcissa waits.

They enter, and Draco goes for his favorite large chair, the lounger, one his father often occupied and would, occasionally, let Draco rest upon as well near his feet when he was little. It still sits large, high-backed and gorgeous with its black, smoothed dragon hide. Harry sits upon the area where Lucius would lay his legs, and Draco gestures when the magicked trolley comes into the room.

Both take cups and saucers after it visits his mother, watching as it wheels back out of the doorway by itself.

It's awkward and quiet as they all sip their tea in silence.

Draco shivers a little, and his mother subtly waves her wand near the fireplace, growing the fire a bit. He nods his head, grateful to her observance.

“As I do not wish to sit here in silence the rest of the week, I believe it best if we at least address part of this now. You must forgive the abruptness, Mr. Potter, but much has been withheld from me, and I am quite displeased,” Narcissa begins, resting her cup back upon the saucer and staring right at Harry fiercely. “Is that understandable to you?”

Draco keeps his groan inside, but Harry nods.

“Very well. I have a few questions. Will you answer them honestly?”

“Yes, Mrs. Malfoy.”

“Good, Mr. Potter.” Draco watches his mother square her shoulders by fluffing her robes gently. “You are courting my son, yes?”

“Yes.”

“You are publicly courting Draco.”

Yes. I am.”

Narcissa folds her hands in her lap after finishing her tea quietly. Draco's stomach tightens when she glances toward him. “Is this not an embarrassment to you, Mr. Potter, a stain upon your bold reputation?”

“Mrs. Malfoy, I am not ashamed,” Harry says, resting his saucer and cup upon the small nearby table. He sits forward, hands wringing together, not looking at Draco and focusing only on Narcissa as he continues, “I have had no choice with the press in my life, and I do not care what they want to craft me as. I killed Voldemort, and if that isn't enough for some bloody respect, then people can bugger off, just like I told the entire Great Hall at Hogwarts. I'm proud of my relationship, I'm proud of my feelings for him, and that's that. ”

His mother's brow arches wonderfully.

Narcissa angles her face, long black and pale hair strands mixing over her shoulder down her her arm. “And what are those feelings, Mr. Potter?”

Draco scowls at her and takes Harry's hand. “Harry, you don't have to do this. Just stop.”

His mother stares at him, lips parted in thought.

Harry flicks his eyes sideways to Draco once before Harry faces Narcissa again, strong and Potter with his expression, and Draco knows he has lost. “I love him, Mrs. Malfoy. I am in love with Draco.”

The beautiful, brave soul. Harry knows not what he's done.

Draco's heart flips as watches his mother blink in shock before she sneers, looking quite like himself. “And how can I believe that declaration?”

“Mother, enough!”

But Harry surprises him, as he always does. “You'll have to take my word, I suppose, the way you did in the Forbidden Forest that day.”

Narcissa's jaw locks.

So does Harry's.

Both go on ignoring him as Harry explains firmly, “I saved his life that day, from fiendfyre. I didn't have to, but I did. I wanted to because he saved mine, here, in this very house of yours. And when I took on Voldemort for the final time, Draco saved all of us by trusting me with his wand, which I returned to him a few days later when things calmed down and I could find him again. When I had processed it all, I was greatly appreciative of those actions, and I could see the bravery they took to go against everything he was being told and against his own fears. So yes. I've grown to love him, and you can take me at my word.”

Narcissa folds her hands in her lap, but her fingers are gripping together tighter than Draco's hold on Harry. “Why are you even doing this, Draco?”

Draco snorts, unable to help it. “Because I...I prefer blokes, and I always have, Mother. And I always hated the fact that I was attracted to Potter.”

“Draco,” his mother sighs and shakes her head. “I know this. I've known this longer than you could imagine. That doesn't mean you must be involved with Mr. Potter. There are plenty of other young suitable men without such...demands, such invasions of privacy, if you must need one.”

“You knew?” he asks, demanding. “And I don't want them. I want him.”

“Of that I'm aware. A mother knows these things, Draco.”

He grits his teeth, unconvinced. “Which house elf told you what?”

Narcissa's dark eyes flare, and he almost flinches instinctively. “I saw the way you looked at some of our family friends' sons, Draco. You refused to court Parkinson's daughter. You never spoke of any girls at all when you were home. They seemed to bore you when you thought your father wasn't looking at any dinner events. And I saw your face when you risked your life that day, submitting to him. It was not difficult to comprehend, as your mother, that my son cared for someone.”

Draco palms his face with his free hand, thoroughly humiliated and silent.

Harry scoots closer, one arm going around his back.

“You're wrong,” Harry dares to declare in the quiet room. “He didn't submit to me. He never has, and I love that about him. We're equals. We give and take together.”

Draco exhales shakily, smiling the tiniest bit at Harry.

Narcissa glowers. “Are you, now? Draco is not merely some tool, some toy for you to use until you bore of him? Why should he believe this love of yours to be genuine, true and lasting?”

He does not expect the barrage, and so Draco jerks against the questions, feeling his own fears slapping him in the face with each successive one she asks, and his jaw drops when she finishes, dark eyes gleaming like that of a lioness.

Harry sits forward, face full of that possessive love, of that power radiating so damn beautifully and terrifyingly, and Draco stares, entirely captivated.

“I tell him that because it's true, Mrs. Malfoy. It is not a phrase I ever use lightly. I've barely known love in my life. Nearly everyone connected to it has been killed or taken from me. I fight an irrational fear that because of it I am cursed somehow, even with it killing Voldemort himself, twice,” Harry snaps, voice booming and so sure of itself. “But yes, I love Draco, and he'd best believe it's real.”

It's so Potter to do this.

It's so fucking Gryffindor, daring to take righteous control in the Malfoy Manor.

So help him, Draco feels himself harden a bit just hearing it, just seeing the strength there in Harry's face, that determination he knows so well.

“I want this relationship. I've fought for it, fought for him. There is no novelty in the way you mean. I'm scared of losing it. I want it to go as long as it can, and I want that to be a long time. Draco and I will have to decide what we want for our own lives with the term at Hogwarts, with where our relationship will go then. But I want to keep it going. I know that much, now.”

“You're both too young.”

“No offense, but we've both had to grow up more than most people our age, and I'm done letting anyone else define how I should feel.”

Narcissa stares deeply at Harry, considering his bold vows. And, softly, she says, “...then I will hold you to these words, Mr. Potter.”

“Please do,” Harry retorts, but his voice trembles.

Draco shakes, stunned at this fucking day, at Harry.

His mother turns to him, the smallest bit of gentleness visible. “Draco, do you feel as strongly for Mr. Potter as he does for you? Do you really want this? Have you truly given it enough thought?”

Draco glares.

Narcissa's eyes widen.

His glare stays hot as he answers, “Yes. To all.”

“Draco,” she whispers, knuckles white against her black robes.

“I want Harry,” he confirms, feeling so adult there holding Harry's hand across from her, sitting up straight and solid. “And I'm done talking about this. He's...he's my boyfriend, my partner, and now you've met properly, and this discussion is finished.”

Narcissa sighs, but there, just at the corner of her mouth, is the hint of a smile.

They sit in more silence, Harry and Draco both tightening their fingers in almost silent agreed preparation, but all she does is suggest he give Harry a proper tour of the house, since his last visit was disgraceful to it.

Draco nods and tugs Harry to his feet, strides from the room into a corridor, and as soon as he's down another hall far enough away, he slams Harry into the wall and kisses him hard.

Harry grips back, just as desperate, just as shaky, tongue warmly greeting.

Harry takes a breath, pauses and whispers, “Well, I don't think she entirely hates me.”

Draco shudders as he looks into Harry's face when he pulls away. “You beautiful, daring idiot. You charming, brave fool.”

“You're not angry with me?” Harry asks, amazed.

“I'm too impressed to be angry right now,” Draco replies and kisses him soundly once more before taking Harry by the hand again and giving him a right and proper tour of his home, replacing each room of horrible memories as they snog in every one.

 

 

 

 

lxv

 

 

Dinner that night is a quiet affair.

Most of it is spent with Harry glancing about the room as he eats while Draco discusses his classes' progression and N.E.W.T.s preparation plans with Narcissa.

When she politely inquires of Harry's future considerations in a covert way of digging for more information about their future, Harry explains his teaching idea and his openness, he supposes, to consulting on select Auror cases if he must. He tells Narcissa that he is quite finished cleaning up messes and wants a quiet, peaceful life for a change.

Draco can see the remark there in his mother's eye that their relationship will never be anything but quiet as an aspect of such a life, and his preemptive glare keeps her from speaking it.

They lounge, later, before the fireplace in Draco's rooms.

Harry had stared about when they'd first explored, quite pleasantly investigative of the private study, private bath, lounge, and bed. Draco had felt a hint of pride watching Harry glance over his collected books, his prized, ancient dragon egg, and of course, his large, handsome raised bed with its steps up to the silvery blankets and black curtains.

But for Draco, it's strange being back in here, since his rooms had been both a sanctuary and a prison in his own home, and now here he sits, Harry leaning into him, sharing the space in an entirely new way that seals forever in his mind.

As they rest quietly against the white sofa, both exhausted mentally and emotionally, Draco silently hopes Harry is right.

He hopes that this will continue between them, even beyond their final term of Hogwarts.

He hopes that Harry means everything he's said today.

He hopes, most of all, that Harry knows he meant it, too.

“Right, that's it. I'm not waiting any longer.” Harry suddenly turns, licks his lips, and straddles Draco, wrangling a gasp from the Malfoy heir.

“Harry,” Draco sighs, palms stroking up Potter's thighs and chest. “It's been a long day.”

“I know.”

“I'm bloody tired.”

“As am I.”

Draco's lip curves, sensually approving nonetheless. “Yet here you are, grinding away.”

Harry nods, grinning, hips thrusting their warm groins together. “She can't hear this far away, right?”

“Harry, she's practically across the bloody country in her rooms,” Draco groans, fingers embedding in Potter's jumper. “Fuck, that feels good.”

Harry sucks his lower lip, and Draco's cock twitches happily at the sight.

“Fix it,” Harry says, turning Draco's heart inside out. “You promised.”

Grey eyes are large in the firelight, pupils dilated with want and need and yes.

He says nothing, just moves, lifting Harry up with him awkwardly while Potter wraps his legs about his hips. Draco stumbles toward the bed, slowly moving until he dumps Harry onto his back and lies above him.

Draco takes his time undressing Harry, kissing every bit of skin he can, licking sienna nipples, running fingertips through chest hair, and briefly sucking Harry's cock just a moment to get the Chosen One riled up.

“Draco!” Harry begs when he slides away, leaving Potter nude upon his bed.

Draco smirks and slowly pulls his vest off, unbuttons his shirt and drops it to the floor, steps out of everything else methodically, and seductively runs his hand across his own stomach to wrap around his cock for a stroke.

Harry pushes himself to his elbows, griping when Draco walks away. “Where are you going, you arse!”

Draco chuckles, gets into his trunk, and pulls out a familiar bottle, showing it to Harry as he steps back toward the bed's side. “Something important, Potter, have some patience.”

“Ugh.”

“Trust me, it helps,” Draco murmurs, sits the bottle upon his nearby table, and comfortably stretches over Harry, skin to skin, mouth to mouth. “Mm. I love that you want this so much. Want me this way.”

“I do. I fucking do.”

“Good.”

They kiss, Harry's hands possessive upon his hair, his shoulders, his lower back, and then he holds their erections together, stroking them simultaneously and making Draco's eyes widen. Draco's nose circles a spot on Harry's throat, and he licks at the skin, bites it, sucks it until it is nice and red and visible. Harry moans, tightening his arms around Draco as he relaxes, and presses soft, fleeting kisses along Harry's collarbone.

“You know, it's not Christmas yet,” Draco teases, leaning away as he taps his chin. “Guess we'll have to do other things.”

Harry's eyes burn. “Oh don't you dare tease me like that, you prat.”

“No? I shouldn't?”

No.”

Draco laughs and runs his hand down Harry's side, squeezing the flesh of his arse. “I suppose you did give me my broom early, and it flew so nicely. Harry, you're sure you want this?”

“Yes,” Harry says firmly, unblinking. “I want this. I've needed it.”

It's a feeling he knows very, very well.

Draco rises to his knees, cock bobbing. “Very well. How do you want me? Above you, as you were me? Or do you wish to ride me?”

Images flash through his mind at his own suggestions, each making him even harder than the last. But Harry shocks him entirely when he pushes himself up to his knees, turns, and rests against Draco's chest with his back, grabbing Draco's long fingers and pulling them down to touch his hot, pulsing hardness.

“Like this,” Harry whispers to the side.

“You're sure.”

“I trust you, Draco. Do you...understand?”

Draco's heart clenches with love, with understanding, and he kisses Harry's shoulder. “Yes, Harry.”

He's a bit worried at first when Harry bends to his forearms, shuddering his breath out with his head hung forward, the dark hair contrasting brilliantly against the sheets. Draco grabs for the bottle, leaning past Harry for a moment, and rests a hand upon Harry's lower back, taking careful note of the little flinch there and then the subsequent relaxation. He kisses down Harry's spine to comfort him, licking down to the top of his arse and kissing that spot as well while Harry sighs and shivers.

This is pure trust, and Draco treasures it, knowing how hard it was to get this far.

Harry is terrified, but he needs it, wants to know what it's like to let go, and has accepted his own curiosity, feeling safe enough with Draco to ask. And Draco is honored to give him what he needs the way Harry gave him his own peace.

His slick fingers find Harry's entrance. They gently circle it, and his grey eyes never leave the back of Potter's head, watching for the slightest sign of discomfort and change of mind. But Harry just raises his head, slowly, as Draco touches him so intimately, caresses the inside of him, slowly, very slowly adding more fingers as he goes, until Harry is a shuddering, moaning mess quivering on his hands and knees.

Draco's cock almost hurts, he's so fucking hard.

All the blood in his body feels like it has rushed there.

He swallows against the dryness in his mouth and gently pulls his fingers away, rubbing Harry's back with his other hand once in reassurance.

Then he lubricates himself and comes forward, eyes finally darting downward to help guide his hand and his cock.

When he begins to enter Harry, he can barely keep his eyelids open.

The instant warmth, the feeling of being held almost, is so damn overwhelming, and his ears catch the little hesitant groan of discomfort from Harry's lips.

He pauses at it, concerned.

But Harry just sighs a soft keep going, and Draco relaxes again.

Draco licks his lips, moves his hands to hold Harry by the hips, and slowly pushes forward, eyes flicking between his disappearing cock that gently slides back and forth, going in more in each movement, and Harry's head as Potter glances over his shoulder with wide, startled green eyes.

And then he is fully inside Harry, and it is the most amazing feeling in the world next to having Potter inside his own body.

It is fulfilling in a way nothing else is, nurturing and welcoming, a physical manifestation of everything that's burned in his chest for so long.

He wonders, briefly, if this is was how it felt for Harry their first time. He fucking hopes so.

Draco rocks, air hissing between his teeth, the thrusts sliding him in and out of Harry's tight, amazing arse as it encompasses him. His mind conjures up memories of watching Harry fly, of seeing Harry storm away from him, and he is in ecstasy knowing that that fucking curvy bum he's silently admired for years is taking him this way.

He hears Harry swallow loudly in front of him, takes in the long, low moan and Harry's clenching grip on the sheets.

Harry,” Draco gasps, moving deeper in his thrusts, holding Harry's hips still as he pushes.

Merlin, if this is what after death feels like, he'll fucking take it forever.

Harry moves back against him. “More,” Potter demands quietly. “Make me let go. Just...just take it all away, Draco.”

“I promise,” Draco says as he bends forward and kisses Harry's spine.

And he keeps that promise, still bent that way a bit, hips thrusting harder, faster, hands even pulling Harry back into the movements.

The heat is tantalizing, the pressure around him making his heart ache, and he tries to hold off against the tightening in his sac, against the inevitable as long as he can for Harry's sake.

He fucks Harry harder until Potter's arms quiver too much, until Harry falls down and Draco lies atop him from behind, still thrusting but now enfolding Harry into his arms with one hand holding Harry's right hip to angle.

The drugging sensations flush through his body, wrap about his spine like a tongue, flare down his legs, coil in his belly and groin, beg him to come.

Draco grunts, brow to Harry's shoulder, listening to Harry's harsh, loud, satisfied moans.

“All right there, Harry?” Draco asks, kissing the skin below his lips once.

Yes. God, yes, Draco.”

Draco smiles and reaches around from Harry's hip, shifting Potter slightly to the side so he can take Harry's cock into his hand and stroke him off with the dripping wetness already making him slick in Draco's fingers.

Harry almost screams, thrusts into Draco's palm and moves his hips backward onto Draco's cock in a desperate rhythm, pleading, “Ahhh! Yes! Just fuck me!”

Draco's heart bursts, his mind overflows, his body nearly breaks as he adjusts and feels it, feels the bit in Harry's body that will send him over the fucking edge, and pounds against it mercilessly while his hand refuses to abandon Potter.

“Come for me,” he whispers into Potter's ear. “I've got you, Harry. Let go.”

Harry does scream then, Draco's name like a broken prayer, and comes apart, soaking Draco's hand and the sheets as he gasps for air.

Draco submits to his body's demands, arches his back with one final thrust as he finally frees his fingers from Harry's cock to quickly enfold them with Harry's hand, and comes harder than he ever has before. He shakes, his entire body exhausted when his cock erupts inside Harry, when his mouth falls open in complete rapture, when he pours his fucking soul into the one he loves.

Draco presses his brow to Harry, holding them together, still inside that warmth.

His eyes are moist. The sob chokes in his throat as the awareness of the trust, of the intensity of what they've done again, of what he has done for Harry, hits him.

He knows that with time this will alternate being emotional and sexually demanding, and he's exceedingly excited about the idea of different kinds of sex. But, for now, the intensity claims them both as it did the last time.

Draco feels Harry tremble beneath him, feels those fingers wrapped with his holding on for dear life as Harry buries his face into a pillow.

Draco hears the soft, single cry.

Gently, carefully, he slides himself out of Harry, hissing at the last bit of warmth receding away.

And he lies there as Harry finally turns a little, wet green eyes so bare even as he smiles.

Harry reaches, and Draco accepts his arms, and they lie intertwined, the snake and the lion, their stars too bright, sometimes, for their own eyes.

After a long while of comfortable silence, after he's reached for his wand, cleaned them both, and started to drift to sleep, Harry asks, “Did...were you a little sore after?”

“For a bit, yes. Nothing upsetting.”

“Oh, okay.”

Draco opens his tired grey eyes, strokes Harry's cheek. “Did I hurt you beyond that? Are you in serious pain?”

Harry shakes his head against the pillow. “No. It's a good feeling.”

“Yeah, exactly, Potter.” Draco's finger brushes Harry's brow. “Enjoy it?”

Fuck, yes. That was amazing, Draco.”

Draco smiles, bright and relaxed. “Good, Harry.”

“You liked it, too?”

“Yes.” He snickers, resting his palm over Harry's hip as Harry inserts a thigh between his. “So which do you like more?”

Harry shrugs. “Dunno. Both are fantastic. I think it's just which mood I'm in for what I want to do. That make sense?”

“Plenty.”

Harry tilts his jaw down, vulnerable as he glances away. “You understood what I wanted.”

Draco slides closer, holds Harry's cheek to his chest. “Of course, Harry. I wanted the same thing with you before, and you understood, even if I worded it differently.”

Harry just nods, hair tickling his skin.

“This was going to happen, wasn't it?” Draco whispers, holding him so close. “I never even had a fucking chance did I, in the end, once you put your mind on me?”

His boyfriend just laughs. “You must not see what the fuck you've done to me for months. I would sit awake a night, staring at your fucking wand, wondering why it hurt my chest to do so, and after that, I'd sit awake wondering why I couldn't stop thinking about your eyes or your hair or the way your hand felt.”

Draco laughs quietly. “Glad I'm not the only mad one.”

Harry licks over his chest once, rubs his nose against the skin there. “The first time you kissed me, I thought I was burning alive. I've never wanted something so much. That's...that's why it hurt, when I didn't understand why you were upset with me.”

“And like an angry, impulsive Gryffindor, you tried to take it out on gravity itself.”

“Yeah, so.”

“Mad brute,” Draco grumbles and rolls to his back, feeling Harry stretch over top of him.

“Love you,” Harry murmurs, eyes closed, breathing evening out. “Thanks for keeping your promise.”

Draco smiles, looking down from the corner of his eye. “Of course, Harry.”

They fall asleep, cuddled into contentment, and when they wake, startled, late the next morning at the insistence of Blinkin that breakfast is being served, they share a shower, dress, and take tea and toast near the back patio, watching the snow falling together.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lxvi

 

 

 

The strangeness of seeing Harry in the Manor goes away by the third day.

Even Narcissa must be used to it, and she simply calls for extra sets of everything before Harry even walks into the room.

Draco likes having Harry here, even if he does worry.

After he climbed atop Harry the night before and rode him, trying out an idea he'd long been having stir in his mind, they both collapsed quite satisfied. But Draco had woken to Harry's panicked breaths, his whimpers, and held on tight, soothing Harry with his lips, fingers, and whispered words.

Harry claims no memory of his nightmare this morning, but Draco catches Harry's gaze flick once around the dining room with nervousness that hadn't been there the day before.

Draco distracts him by showing him around other rooms again, taking a more detailed tour and letting Harry dig into some books and records out of his own curiosity to see if there's anything on the Potters in them. He finds one mention in a book of letters, grinning and grunting that he thinks perhaps maybe one of his great-great-grandmothers or great-great-aunts had had an affair with a married Malfoy wizard.

“You Potters, so naughty. I've heard loads of tales about your father being just awful at school like you.”

“Oh, whatever. I wasn't that bad. You were far worse with your pranks.”

Draco simply shrugs in an old chair, knees crossed. “Got your attention, didn't it?”

Harry smiles, looking down at another letter, and Draco melts a little bit more inside.

But then, when he sees Harry grow serious, Draco frowns.

“What is it?” he asks.

“Something in here reminds me of a thing you've done.”

“What could that possibly be?”

Harry shifts behind the antique desk, finger gently sliding with the writing before him as he reads, “'I must confess I charmed my love behind the drapery, for Nora had quite suddenly appeared home, and my presence had become necessary. I left Rhiannon frozen, my heart knowing where she lie hidden, my mind terrified should she be found; but I had never meant to harm my love, only to spare her, and I took her wrath when she Disapparated and forced me to write, begging her forgiveness.'”

When Draco says nothing, knowing exactly what Harry's talking about now, Harry sighs and slides the letters together, rising to sit in the chair next to Draco.

“You broke my nose and left me body bound on the train at the start of the one term, and I wondered afterward why. Why just leave me there? Why not just do something worse, if it was still us just hating one another? Why not tell anyone and point and laugh, if it was still just rivalry's sake? I was so angry with you, and it took me until months ago to finally get it,” Harry says and shifts on the cushion to look Draco in the face now. “You were angry, absolutely, but you were also...protecting me in a way, weren't you, Draco? Like your ancestor did his mistress. Hiding her to spare her.”

Oh, fuck.

This was not what he'd expected to talk about today.

This is not what he wants to talk about ever.

Harry's voice is clear and pleading. “Draco, please answer me.”

Draco closes his eyes, entirely bared to the bone as he whispers, barely able to believe that he is answering, “Unconsciously, Harry. I didn't do so with the conscious intention my ancestor did, and I know because I thought about that much later, too.”

Merlin, he does not want to have this conversation at all. He has never wanted Harry to even know this, uncomfortable with how revealing it all is.

And now he fears it causing a problem between them somehow.

“Explain it to me,” Harry requests, a hand reaching for his. “Please.”

Draco looks to the floor, unable to view anything else while he speaks, angry with himself, “I had this suspicion that you were tailing me because that's all you did. And I got so angry. Part of it was hatred of you always interfering, part of it was fury at you for everything happening to Father. I was still prepared to do what the Dark Lord demanded then, but I think some very, very unconscious part of my mind just...knew you would be the only one to get me out of it, and I resented you for it. Like usual you always saw me at my bloody worst, and I thought turning the tables was quite nice. I was glad to break your bleeding face in for a fucking change.

Draco forces himself to breathe, eyes wet as he looks to Harry. He almost feels like he's back on that train, the anger touchable again, but Harry, his Harry, stares at him, keeping him steady, fingers rubbing his knuckles in support.

“I hated you that day, Harry. I really did, more than I ever had before. The petty rivalry was nothing against it, and it lasted until you went on the run with Granger and Weasley, at least. I felt justified hurting you and valid leaving you there. Do you understand? I wanted you to hurt.”

“Yes, Draco,” Harry answers softly, just as honest. “I hated you, too. I judged you, and I didn't believe you capable of anything good at that time. Later, I changed my mind. You changed my mind. And I'm sorry for my judgment not allowing you to seem redeemable back then.”

Draco quakes trying to get through this fucking awful required talk before it kills him.

He knows there are lots of things that he and Harry have never discussed, things of the past that both have quite willingly just mutually silently decided to forget or drop.

He knows there are things they just haven't known how to talk about yet.

But this part apparently must be said for Harry's sake.

This must be understood, and he knows that now and still dreads it, fears baring himself entirely to Harry, no matter his love for him.

Draco leans forward, fingers gripping the leather of the chair's left arm as he rips his hand from Harry's to cover his face and says, “But I didn't...I didn't want you dead, Potter. If anyone was going to kill him, it was going to be you. When I got past my pride, when I knew how in over my head I was with it all. I knew you were the answer. Being here, being trapped with the Death Eaters and him made me think on it while you were on the run.

“So yes, unconsciously I left you on that train in part to save you for that duty as much as I did it to punish you for being the fucking Hero, the perfect brat to my constant villain, the one who I felt that day was ruining my life more by being near as a constant reminder of all I never would be and everything I scorned and hated. You made my life hell as much as I did yours, Harry. But I still left you on that train, and I didn't name you here because I'd come to see the truth of my situation, of everyone's situation with that bloody monster on the loose.

“With all that anger, with everything between us then, I didn't trust you to do anything but serve your own interests, which you always did, no matter your 'reasons' for it. I didn't trust you to help me, not until you kept asking why I didn't name you, not until you came for me against the fiendfyre. I didn't even know a part of me wanted your help. And then I knew you'd gone to the Forest, and I knew you were dead, and it was too fucking late. But you stood up. You stood up, and I wanted you to kill him, to make it stop. So I threw you my wand, and with it, my trust and everything else.”

Draco already feels weak just speaking it all aloud.

He feels like he's bleeding upon the chair, the floor, like Nudger as she died in his arms.

And he hates it.

Harry closes his eyes a moment. He hunches and stares at the floor, shaken. “I understand.”

And yet, somehow, despite the hatred of this open wound, more words tumble from Draco's lips, unbidden: “I never expected you to understand my reasons, to be kind or seek me out afterward. I barely still understood it, myself. I was disturbed by it, vulnerable and angry and feeling like an object instead of a person, hated by all and like another task of yours to stroke your ego with, to fuel your image and savior complex. But you proved again that I could trust you, even more so—that you genuinely cared. You proved that you trusted me, wanted me to trust you, wanted to be my real friend. You chose me, Harry. You chose me, finally.”

Draco swallows, feels the moisture in his eyes, and reaches for the hand he's gotten to know so well; he slides his fingers through Harry's, startling Potter into sitting up straight once more. Harry's eyes are wet, too, and the grounding begins, their bond burning warmly across their hands.

Draco stares at him as he adds, “You know I was jealous, Harry, but you don't know why. You were Harry Potter, champion of our people even as a child, and you rejected me, a Pureblood, a Malfoy, a child who'd been practically raised with the task to befriend you. I didn't want to befriend you for anyone but myself, though. I wanted to know you. I was in awe of you at first, and you didn't like me immediately, justified or otherwise. That's why it means so fucking much that you chose me now.”

Harry squeezes his fingers as the Chosen One shudders, and Harry softly starts to say he's sorry, as if understanding something new.

Draco shushes him, refusing to hear it. “Stop. I was a fucking brat, and I know it, and I'm past it. I won't apologize for everything, and neither should you. It's done, Harry.”

Harry huffs, but shoots him a small smile of forgiveness and thanks.

Harry pulls their joined hands up, lips pressing to Draco's knuckles in a way that stirs his hormones into sluggish waking desire. “Draco, thank you for telling me all of this. I know it wasn't easy to do so, I know you hate having done it, but I really appreciate your honesty. It helped me understand you better, and my feelings for you aren't any less for it. If anything, they grew. I see you, okay?”

Draco nods, grateful and totally awestruck that Harry remembered, and wipes his face again with his free palm.

Sometimes Harry is just fucking perfectly aware, just like Granger herself said about Harry's insight occasionally being so damn amazing, and Draco loves seeing it in action.

It's like watching magic work for the first time as a child.

And as he goes back to listening to Harry read aloud from more letters, Potter draped over him now with the little book in his lap, Draco takes deep, relaxing breaths, and lets go of the past as much as he possibly can.

 

 

 

 

lxvii

 

 

 

“Teach me,” Draco says as he stands in the snow on the fifth day, covered in his custom black.

Harry raises his brows next to him, brushing hair from his eyes. “Teach you what, Draco?”

Draco glances over his shoulder, sees his mother at the back patio with her afternoon tea, and looks forward over the grounds again.

He rubs his gloves together despite the warming charm, annoyed to have to even say the sentence. “I don't know how to create a Patronus.”

At first Harry winces, and when Draco sees the hesitancy in the green eyes, he gets furious. “What, you don't think I can do it? You don't think I'm worthy enough?”

Harry holds his gloves up, shaking his head. “No, no. It's just...well, you need a specific type of memory.”

“So?”

“It has to be a strong memory of happiness. Kind of like going against a boggart, but even stronger. It cannot waver. It must be love, something deep and powerful.”

Draco's jaw tightens, and he sneers. “And you believe I possess no such memories, is that it?”

Harry stares, then exhales in the way Draco's come to know means he's trying to get a point across without being an arsehole. “No, I don't believe that. I just worried about you questioning everything too much possibly to hold it steady. Draco, this isn't basic magic. It's difficult. Teaching any of the D.A. this magic was difficult, and not everyone succeeded, especially right away. I don't want you disappointed in yourself if it takes time is all.”

He sneers, daring. “So fucking teach me, then, and we'll see, won't we.”

“Why are you angry at me?”

Draco sighs, kicks at the snow. “I'm not. I'm tired of....”

“Of?”

“You're so bloody accomplished, you know. I look like shit next to you at times, even still,” Draco grunts, looking at the tree line far away. “Everyone hates me too much to be impressed by the damn work I put into that noxious cabinet to get it working.”

A cold nose teases along his ear as Harry holds him from behind. “I couldn't even imagine how you got it fixed, Draco. That is impressive, in its own way. And I know you're damn good at Potions, far better than I've been at it. Hermione talks about your Transfiguration class all the time. She clearly thinks you're great at that, too.”

“Shut up. I don't need the validation. I want to prove to myself that I can make a Patronus,” Draco snaps, then closes his eyes to calm down. “If I ever need something, and you have the Map, it would be good to know, wouldn't it?”

Harry lets go, steps in front of him, and stands.

The green eyes are quite contrasting with his black winter robes and the falling white snow. Harry is stunning before him. “You know, that's a damn good point. I'd like getting your Patronus, even for no reason at all.”

“Stop it,” Draco says, blushing. “Are you going to teach me or not?”

“Yeah. I will.”

Draco stares his friend and lover down. “Really?”

Harry smiles eagerly. “Sure, Draco. Just believe in yourself.”

Draco smirks. “Fine. So show me.”

Harry moves a little bit away, wand in his hand.

Draco takes a second to admire the famous wand, captivated by its unique beauty it possesses the way every wand does. He sucks his cold, dry lower lip, as Harry concentrates, eyes shut briefly only to reopen firmly in front of him. He flicks his wand straight, shouting slightly as he calls out, “Expecto Patronum!”

White light erupts from the tip of his wand, surging out until it projects far enough to condense into the familiar shape of the large stag.

Harry smiles at it softly, and Draco smiles at him.

“Why a stag?” he asks quietly as it walks about them.

“Well. Long story, but...okay, you know the Map?”

“Yes?”

Harry snickers. “Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs, the ones who made the Marauder's Map...they were students, specifically Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black, and...my father, James Potter.”

Draco's jaw drops. “You're telling me that your fucking father made that ingenious thing.”

“Yeah.”

“Bloody hell,” Draco whispers, feeling like Ronald Weasley for a moment in his shock.

“So, the thing is...remember Hermione talking about werewolves that hated their curse? Lupin, he was one. Bit when he was young, and my father and his friends, Sirius and Peter, decided to become unregistered Animagi to help him. They'd keep him occupied and covered during transformations by luring him away from the school each month in animal form, and their animals became their nicknames.”

Draco just stares, eyes humongous. Never mind the bit about Lupin being a werewolf. James Potter was a fucking Animagus as a teenager?

Harry ruffles his hair, shaking some snow off. “Yeah, I know. It's insane, right? Anyway, Sirius was a black dog, Padfoot. Transforming is how he got out of Azkaban.”

“Genius.”

“Right? And Remus was Moony,” Harry adds, gesturing. His jaw tightens. “And Peter was Wormtail, and there never was a better description for a fucking rat.”

Draco swallows. “The one who was blown to bits by Sirius? But he...he was...a Death Eater, wasn't he? I've seen him.”

Harry whirls, angry at first, then calms down, confusing the hell out of Draco. “Yes. That pathetic excuse of a human being is the reason my parents were killed. He sold them out to Voldemort, Draco, and he hid as a literal rat when Voldemort's curse rebounded, hid in cowardice, all those years letting the world hold Sirius accountable for a fake murder.”

Draco waits, unsure what to say, but Harry blows out a warm stream of breath into the air, adding, “Sorry. Didn't mean to get so angry.”

“Don't blame you,” Draco says as the stag prances closer, sniffing at him. He reaches out, touches its snout and watches his fingers fade through the misty light particles. “And your father was Prongs, for a stag.”

“Yes,” Harry whispers.

“Your Patronus is a stag for him.”

“Yes.”

“So it can take the shape of a random animal, something important, or nothing at all, right?”

Harry nods. “Right. Nev's doesn't have a shape, but it's still bloody strong and requires high magical skill to pull off.”

Draco clicks his tongue. “I've seen Luna's, the tiny thing, and I'm sure Granger can do it.”

“Hers is an otter. I don't know why. She likes it, though.”

“And Weasel's?”

“A little dog.”

Draco snickers. “Hm. Think mine has a shape, Harry?”

Harry stares at him, comes closer, and the stag vanishes away. Draco frowns as Harry searches his face, then kisses him once. “I think I know what it is.”

“You do? How?”

“Just a hunch.”

“You and your Gryffindor hunches. You're not always right, you know.”

“Just a lot of the time.”

Draco chuckles. “Enough. Okay. A strong memory.”

“Yeah. Happiness. Remember, the original idea is to repel a Dementor, something that would naturally feed off the memory if you cannot over power the creature.”

Draco slips his wand from his pocket, rolls it in his fingers, and closes his eyes.

He thinks quietly, and he's not surprised when he has few genuinely happy memories.

Sure, he has some silly ones, some entertainingly humorous ones, but...real, intense happiness...those are very few without being corrupted in some way. Even his first kiss with Harry was corrupted by a misunderstanding and so is too shaky to use.

Draco bits his lip, deciding.

Grey eyes open and he tries, calling out the incantation. White light does appear, but it struggles against his fear of failing. He tries twice more, and Harry looks concerned beside him as he watches, making Draco all the more determined yet nervous.

“Draco,” Harry says when Draco nearly shouts in frustration. “Look at me.”

He does, agitated and angry that Harry's earlier warning was accurate.

“You can do this. You can. I believe in you. Just be confident and don't panic when the magic grows strong. Let it, relax into it instead, let it draw from you and don't back away.”

Ah. That was the problem, indeed.

Draco nods, thanks him quietly, and turns to try again.

His mind calls up the image of himself by the lake, sitting with Harry in the sun, their hands held between them as their eyes stare at one another, daring to look.

His heart knows a catalyst, and his mind knows it was one of his happiest moments without interference of doubt in any form.

And it works.

The white light appears and grows, and this time Draco doesn't back off in surprise but leans into the magic, pushing his energy into it and watches, wide eyed, as it grows out, bigger and bigger.

And when the form condenses nearby, he cries.

His Patronus is a thestral, a creature of death and danger, of misunderstanding and sorrow, of protection and potential love.

It's Nudger.

He knows because he sees the healed scar on the wing, the white of the magic tighter in that single, small spot.

She stands, flaps her smaller wings in this form, and steps closer.

Draco cries under his breath, the tears down his cheeks as Harry's jaw locks against his own tears next to him. He reaches, fingers brushing Nudger's snout and entering the magic the way they had against Harry's stag.

His Patronus greets him, and then it vanishes away silently.

Draco falls to his knees, face in his hands, and Harry bends next to him, holding him to his chest.

“She's beautiful, Draco. Just like I thought she'd be,” Harry whispers in his ear, lips grazing the skin sensitively. “You did so well. I'm proud of you.”

Draco shifts, wraps his arms around Harry's neck and holds on, eternally fucking grateful to the Boy-Who-Lived for more reasons than he can even count.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

lxviii

 

 

 

Draco walks Harry into the large sitting room on Christmas Eve after their surprisingly peaceful, enjoyable dinner with his mother. Narcissa seems very amused as Draco reassures Harry to take steps, keeping his hands covered over Potter's shut eyes.

“Draco, I'm going to break something expensive, I just know it.”

“You're fine, Harry. Good, one more step. Okay, you can sit here.”

Harry sighs, then blinks at the sudden light when Draco pulls his hands away.

Their tree is massive and enchanted, decorated in beautiful silver and crimson baubles and lit with soft white lights. The house elves went all out this year, with Harry Potter being a guest, and without Dobby, Blinkin has taken up the majority of the work of the normally two resident house elves. Draco hasn't met the new female house elf yet, though he's seen signs of her, for sure, in the way his laundry has been done lately with a newer, sweeter scent.

Harry stares at the tree in awe, then rounds his eyes at the huge pile of gorgeously wrapped presents. The house elves have grouped everything together, so Harry's gifts to Draco are down there, too.

Draco sits next to him, feels the eyes of his mother as he keeps his arm about Harry's shoulders and kisses down the side of his face, silently daring her to protest for doing so in front of her.

But she barely reacts, more focused on drinking her spiced wine.

Draco sorts the gifts with his wand, grinning like a fool as he slings several of them carefully to pile at Harry's feet. Harry just stares, reddened.

They'd already decided to exchange gifts tonight, as Harry would leave rather early in the morning for the Burrow.

“You'll have to forgive me, Mother, for not bringing a gift Harry's already given me. It was easier to leave at Hogwarts.”

His mother glances over the top of her glass curiously.

Draco sniffs, the classic image of a Pureblood in discussion. “A brand new Firebolt. Gorgeous, flies perfectly. I've never ridden anything better suited. And he even had it touched for me with my initials and such.”

Harry flushes handsomely next to him, elbowing his side. “I...you're happy when you fly, like I said. I like watching you, and I know how happy I am when I fly, too.”

“A very thoughtful gift, Mr. Potter,” Narcissa murmurs, considering Harry anew.

Harry swallows, nervous, but Draco kisses him once and gestures to the presents at his feet.

It's beyond entertaining to watch Harry open several packages Draco had ordered by owl—a set of gorgeous dress robes, a few cashmere jumpers in dark green, black, and red (as Harry seems quite fond of his own cashmere)—and of course, the items he'd purchased in Hogsmeade.

Harry stutters, obviously overwhelmed by the quality of all the clothing, even the practice robes. Draco watches him sniff the broom wax with a large smile, whispering how much he loves it. And then Harry opens the magicked leather strap and stares at Draco, entirely red.

“What?” Draco asks, confused.

Draco,” Harry gasps, then shoots a terrified look to his mother, watching the whole thing.

Narcissa knows what it's for, thankfully, as she simply nods in understanding, but poor Harry seems to have no clue and only gets redder and rosier and hisses, “You cannot buy me sex things to open in front of your mother!”

Draco cackles loudly, startling his mother across the room.

Harry,” Draco laughs, unable to stop, hand meekly falling to rest on Harry's embarrassed cheek. “It's...it's for....”

Narcissa coughs under her breath politely. “I believe, Mr. Potter, that is a strap to help young children balance upon brooms when they first learn to fly. It is in fact a quite thoughtful gift from Draco, is it not, considering your choice in career soon?”

Understanding dawns.

Harry's face looks painfully red now to the point Draco can feel the heat in the skin.

“Oh,” is all he says, staring at Draco. “That...that's very thoughtful! Wow, thank you!”

Draco laughs again, bites his lip, and takes pity on him. “I figured in case there are any new Longbottoms to be had in the future...well. You'd be able to aid them easier, the little dangers.”

“It's perfect,” Harry says, quite happy, and leans to hug him, imparting a kiss to his cheek in view of his mother and no more.

Draco rolls his eyes and yanks Harry in for a real kiss, smirking when Harry just blinks afterward, surprised.

They politely sit and watch Narcissa open gifts from Draco, her newest gorgeous white mink topped winter robes, some new crystal jewelry, and a book of her favorite poems at the top of the list.

And while he watches the small smile form on her lips, right there even for Harry to see, Draco whispers in Harry's ear, “If I buy us anything for the bedroom, that's where I'll give it to you, you idiot.”

Sorry. I feel seriously stupid enough as is.”

“It's fine, Harry, you poor thing,” Draco chuckles again, softly, and nods at his mother's thanks to him.

He tears into gifts from her next, more than pleased to find new gloves of his favorite leather, a new cloak, an apprentice-level Potions text, candies she's gotten him each year as tradition since childhood, and scented oil she's noticed he likes to use for polishing his boots, something he actually enjoys doing for himself—a bold cedar and rose mixture with a hint of moss.

The smell reminds him so much of his father, of good things with his father, and he knows she's very aware of it. He swallows tightly, rubbing a thumb over the bottle. “Two sugars, when no one looked.”

Narcissa nods once, much to Harry's sweet confusion.

“My father,” Draco murmurs, explaining. “When I was young, he pretended that so long as no one noticed, I could put two sugars in my tea, just like he did. It was just a silly little game to teach me to be observant of others in the room at all times. He was...so different...to me then.”

“He hadn't grown afraid, yet, Draco. And by the time he had, he had grown too addicted to the thrill,” his mother quietly states, surprising him entirely by speaking so in front of Harry.

Harry just takes his hand, concerned, while Draco sets the items down and wipes his face.

“I still...hope he's okay. I can't imagine he ever will be, and there's things I cannot forgive him for yet, but...he was my father, Harry,” Draco says sadly, grieving quietly inside.

Harry blinks gently. “I know, Draco. I'm sorry.”

Draco shrugs the feelings off, sniffing and looking to the tree. “What next?”

“Oh, wait!” Harry says, as if remembering something, and walks to the tree, searching until he finds a small box. He goes over and holds it out to Draco's mother, the anxiety visible in his face. “For you, for inviting me and for...everything, considering.”

Draco smiles, touched, as Narcissa accepts the thin box and nods at Harry, freeing Potter to stride back to his side and sit, taking his hand again.

He sees his mother carefully tear the edges with her sharp letter opener, then pop the box open.

Draco frowns, unable to tell what the object is, but Narcissa sharply looks over and stares at Harry intently.

“He doesn't know, no,” Harry explains, and Draco turns to him, silently demanding.

His mother, though, slowly lifts the carved, handsome silver frame out of the box and tilts it for Draco to see.

It's a photograph of him, from just a week ago flying on his broom, looping to a point of hovering with his eyes closed, smiling widely, looking relaxed in the air.

“It's a lovely portrait of you, Draco,” she says, and her dark eyes settle upon Harry again with warmth. “Thank you, Mr. Potter. It is extremely thoughtful of you.”

Harry smiles, relieved.

Draco punches his arm. “How the hell did you take that shot, Harry?”

“Ow! Draco!”

“Draco, that's not how you should treat your...boyfriend, now is it,” Narcissa states, shocking he and Harry so that both have open, gaping mouths. “Thank him, Draco, for being so considerate.”

“Thank you,” Draco says, genuinely thankful, but still stares in puzzlement. “How?”

Harry shrugs. “Have my ways.”

“Did you seriously fly with a camera after me?”

“Yeah. Borrowed it from a younger Gryffindor who's friendly with me and used to take my picture a lot. He was happy to help.”

“Huh.” Draco raises his brows, stunned.

Harry flings presents to Draco's legs, grinning. “Now, your turn.”

Draco rolls his eyes, but elbows Harry cheekily and reaches, opening the small pile.

He chuckles when he finds the same broom wax he'd bought Harry, now getting why Harry had smiled so before. He lifts up what appear to be muggle trousers of similar make to Harry's favorites, and he cocks a brow. “Really, Harry?”

“I think you'd look great in a pair of tight jeans. Try them on once, later.”

Narcissa hides her humored expression behind her glass while Draco just shakes his head, amused at Harry's desperate desire to clothe him in muggle objects.

Draco also unwraps a new, beautiful black raven's quill quite excitedly, already knowing it's going to be his favorite to use. “From the shop in Hogsmeade?” he asks, recalling Harry standing outside of the one.

“Yeah.” Harry looks and bites his lip when Draco holds a tiny box in his hand. “This one...it's special. I didn't buy it.”

“Okay....”

“Open it, and let me explain after.”

Draco shrugs, unable to imagine what Harry might have scrounged up for him, but when he unwraps the small box and opens it, his heart skips a beat.

There's a glass vial inside with a stopper.

Inside the vial are a few cut strands of coarse black hair.

And around the vial is beautiful transfigured black leather that reads Nudger's name.

“So...when Hagrid buried her, he asked if...if you'd like a few of her tail hairs to remember her by. And I got to thinking about how rare that is as a Potions ingredient, too, and...well. I asked him to cut a few, so he did,” Harry mentions, hands folded on his lap. “Hermione offered to transfigure the name with the black leather. It used to be twine, I think. I nicked the bottle from Snape's old empty stash, so it's...also something of his, too.”

Draco stares down at the vial, heart in his throat, unable to speak.

“It's also got a bit of attachment near the top for a necklace, if you want. That was Ron's idea. And Luna made the chain included under the padding. Neville put some protective herbs into a paint for the metal that Luna used in her own transfiguration.”

Draco closes his wet eyes.

Harry reaches, lays a hand over his thigh. “We just...we wanted...to do something for you. We hadn't known then what else to do to show you how worried we were, how much we cared.”

“Is this about the animal that passed away? Draco wrote of something like that.”

“Yes, Mrs. Malfoy.”

Draco had not told his mother about the fucking werewolf because he's a good Slytherin and wanted to survive the insanity that would no doubt cause.

Draco sets the box to his left and wraps around Harry, hugging him tightly for a long while. “Thank you,” he whispers, voice shaking.

“You're quite welcome, Draco,” Harry whispers back.

Draco huffs and grabs Harry's hair, jerking Potter's face for a hot, emotional kiss before lowering his brow to Harry's mouth.

“Happy Christmas, Draco,” Harry says, smiling against his skin.

Draco shudders, astounded that people he used to hate, people he used to distrust, people now his friends have cared so much about him to be so thoughtful.

But he knows it all came back to Harry. Every bit.

“Love you,” he whispers and kisses Harry again. “Happy Christmas, Harry.”

Out the corner of his vision, his mother closes her dark eyes, a smile on her lips.

 

 

 

 

lxix

 

 

 

Draco can't sleep well knowing Harry's going the next morning and that he will probably Floo back the afternoon after Christmas to Hogwarts alone.

He leaves Harry sleeping in bed and dresses warm enough to go back to the back patio.

He quietly, firmly, says the incantation, and his Patronus appears like a bright star in the dark, glowing brilliantly and safely.

Draco smiles and touches the wing, then simply stands and watches it walk about, the happiness in him at seeing it continuing to fuel it along.

His eyes follow Nudger's image as it prances about, free and curious, wings flapping now and then.

He stares, frowning, as something begins to build in his mind.

The Patronus steps around the center of a large part of the property, something that once was an old paddock and pen his grandfather had used.

And it looks back at him. And nods.

Draco blinks, his mind reeling as the thoughts click into place, as if his Patronus itself knew.

Just like that he watches it vanish, whispers his goodnight, and walks to his rooms, stripping back down and sliding into bed where Harry groans unhappily, muttering in his sleep about Draco's absence, and curls over him lovingly.

Draco lies awake still for another hour after, fingers stroking down Harry's bare skin, eyes upon the ceiling of his curtained bed frame, mind running laps with how to make his idea work.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

lxx

 

 

 

Draco washes his hands, glancing in the mirror.

His hair lays perfectly combed, his paleness a nice contrast with his black vest and silky white undershirt. He adjusts the buttons at his wrists, putting off the moment as long as he can.

It's painfully odd to know that he doesn't want Harry leaving.

And it's even more bizarre to know that he's gotten quite used to waking at Harry's nuzzling of him every morning.

At least this morning Harry had also climbed right atop him and reached for the almost empty vial near the bed without asking, turning him on all the more as he slowly woke with a smile. He hadn't said anything, just let Harry take what he needed, just watched Potter lose his blessed mind as he beautifully came apart and gripped Draco's fingers desperately when Draco did, too.

He knows he'll have to make some extra purchases soon, a filled vial at the top of the list.

Draco sighs and exits the bathroom, strides the two halls back toward the sitting room, and pauses just outside of it.

He stares, frozen, at the sight of Harry and his mother talking quietly about Harry's death in the woods. He hears Harry explain it in more detail to her. He watches the emotions flit through her eyes, hidden from Harry's understanding. He feels the pain in his own chest at Harry's soft confession that part of him had hoped to die fighting the Dark Lord.

He catches Harry's whispers of how Draco has helped him, how Draco has given him much to think about and consider and how he's grown as a result of Draco's own brave maturation. He sees Harry's soft smile when he admits that he's glad he didn't die again, now.

And he feels hope when his mother, very quietly, says that she is, too.

A week can work wonders, Draco believes, having seen Potter do the same damn thing to him so long ago.

Draco enters the room, interrupting the slightly awkward silence left over. The clock chimes eight, and he glances to the fireplace and back to Harry standing near it with his trunk.

Harry winces and looks to him in apology.

“Have a nice rest of your holiday, Mr. Potter,” his mother calls over her shoulder as she pats Draco's arm and leaves once Harry returns her sentiments softly.

“You're going back tomorrow?” Harry confirms, blinking rapidly.

Draco nods.

Harry bites his lip.

Draco rolls his eyes, betraying the very want in his own heart. “Stay with them, Harry. They're your family. I'll be fine, you clingy git.”

“I know. I'll leave in a couple of days, 'cause some time with you at Hogwarts alone sounds nice. I just....”

“Got used to it,” Draco finishes the sentence, totally aware. “I did, too, Harry.”

Harry smiles tightly.

“See you soon. Get going, lest I have Weasleys coming through the fire demanding you,” Draco teases and nudges Harry toward the fireplace. “Shoo, Harry.”

Harry chortles, tugs him for a quick kiss, a fast whisper of love, and says he'll be in touch to let him know when he's going back.

And then the flames are green, and Harry is gone.

And Draco stands alone, a bit sad, but quite fine.

He spends the rest of the afternoon with his mother, talking quietly and reading in the same room together. It's easy to see that Narcissa has greatly missed him, and that all these months she has been so alone despite the one or two regular callers she does have from the Purebloods still trying to stick together.

They discuss Greg and Greg's mum, how Rolinda Goyle seems to be getting stronger again after the shock and how Greg has been aiding her and managing to somehow, with an uncle, run the estate.

Draco just smiles, proud of his friend—thrilled for him, really.

He answers her questions about Blaise and Pansy when she asks.

And when she slyly comments on Harry's interesting new posture this morning, as if he seemed a touch sore from something rigorous, Draco perfectly sails through the test with a composed Malfoy look, daring to arch a brow at her own and saying nothing.

Right around five o'clock, Blinkin appears next to him in his study where he's already dug into the Potions book his mother had gotten him as a gift.

“Master, there be a guest.”

“Surely not,” he grunts. Who the bloody hell would it be, anyway?

Blinkin wrings his bony little fingers. “But, Master Draco, there is. That Harry Potter is back, and he demands you, he does. Demands you now. Blinkin says to Harry Potter that no one demands Master Draco's presence, but he says to me, 'Please, Blinkin, finds him for me,' and Blinkin says he's an odd human, but I does it.”

Draco sits up so fast he nearly throws the book. “He what? When?”

“Now, in the sittin' room with the Floo.”

Draco leaves behind a startled house elf that cracks his fingers and vanishes while he makes for the sitting room once more.

And sure enough, there's Harry, standing impatiently, fingers dragging through his hair.

“The bloody hell is wrong with you?” Draco asks, concerned at the more-than-normal level of dishevelment for Potter.

“Draco! Oh, thank God, um...so....”

“Spit it out, Potter.”

Harry sighs. “Molly wants you to come for dinner. It's in about thirty minutes, and I think she debated it all day, but she finally asked me.”

Draco laughs.

Harry stays nervous.

Draco laughs again. “You've lost your mind, Harry.”

“Please, Draco. Please just come for dinner.”

“Walking into the Weasel's den? With what, maybe even ten of them at once? I'll be eaten alive, like a bunch of ginger inferi coming at me,” Draco snorts and crosses his arms. “Seems a bit mad.”

“Look, Molly honestly feels rotten about the Howler, and Arthur asked about you, and even Ron says you should try his mum's cooking, and that's a fucking compliment to the both of you.”

Draco cocks his hip out, elegant as ever. “And what do you think is best, Harry?”

“I don't refuse Molly. It never ends well. You'll get dragged through anyway, fed until your stomach pops, and a jumper shoved over your clothes.”

Draco stares him down, blinking. “Harry, did you even hear what just came out of your lips?”

“Yeah, I know, but it's true, every word.”

Harry.”

“Draco, you were important enough for me to be here. Am I important enough for you to do this?” Harry asks, looking slightly hurt and entirely wicked.

His lips part, impressed at that Slytherin-like manipulation. “Cheeky bastard.”

“Draco, where are your manners? You've been invited to dinner, so go, and take a bottle of wine,” Narcissa tuts from the door way.

Really, Mother?” Not her, too.

His mother fights the smirk wanting to take over her mouth. “Show them, Draco. Show them a real Malfoy.”

Draco smirks for her, then, and turns to Harry. “Give me ten minutes, and I'll Floo.”

“Thank you, thank you,” Harry sighs in relief, kisses his cheek, and darts back into the green fire.

“I blame you if they eat me alive,” Draco mutters as he comes near Narcissa with her hand against one of the massive doors.

She merely shrugs, beautiful, and lets him by. “You're the Dragon, darling. Eat them if they dare try.”

 

 

 

lxxi

 

 

 

Deciding to stick with what he's dressed in so as not to be too showy (or rude, he doesn't know what the Weasleys being poorer might think if he came as Purebloods might expect), Draco grabs a bottle of his mother's favored spice wines imported from Romania and strides to the fireplace.

He takes the powder, calls for the Burrow, and feels his stomach drop as the flames go green expectantly.

Ugh.

But he takes a step, and then another, and then he is through the fire and staring at several sets of eyes and matching red hair right in front of him.

Bad idea. Such a bad idea, Potter, you idiot.

Harry had best love him to death.

He takes in the pleasantly raised brows of Arthur Weasley, the look of uncertain hesitance upon Ginny's face, the smirk on one George Weasley's mouth, and the two other faces he's never seen before, but both red haired, too, and entirely fucking gorgeous.

Draco just barely keeps his jaw shut.

“Young Malfoy,” Arthur calls, polite and kind and making him utterly nervous. “Happy Christmas.”

Draco nods and extends the bottle. “From Mother and I, for...the invitation and holiday.”

Arthur smiles as he takes it, whistling at the label. “My, my, that's quite the vintage! Seventy years of rare, magicked spice wine. Thank you very much!”

“Her favorite year. She bought several,” Draco murmurs, unsure of what the hell to do.

“Harry, Draco's here!” Ginny calls, finally taking some bloody pity on him.

Draco swallows, tempted to step backwards through the normal fire, but there's a ruckus of sound in the very lived-in, heavily decorated home, and Harry slides around the doorway, grinning.

Potter strides right over and pecks his cheek in relief. “You came. Thank you.”

Draco's eyes dart to the surprised looks on everyone but Ginny's face, for once.

“Ah, yes! Introductions, where are my manners?” Arthur laughs and gestures. “You know Ginny, Draco, and this is George, of course, and these are my eldest two, Bill and Charlie.”

Draco sees the scars down the side of Bill Weasley's handsome face that fade above his neck, partly hidden by longer hair, and somehow his gut just knows what did it. After all, he'd seen such marks on the thestrals well enough.

There is one Weasley that truly has his respect.

Bill steps forward, extends a hand, and Draco shakes it. “Bill. Welcome. Maybe Mum will finally shut up. She's been noisy all day over you joining us.”

“No need to be,” Draco says, uncomfortable.

“Eh, not like there's much to do to stop her once she gets going,” Charlie Weasley says, staring at him with warm blue eyes against the bold, square of his stubbly jaw the rest of the family seems to not share so much. He, too, offers a strong, masculine grip in his shake, more so than Bill had.

Draco smirks and looks away, a bit overwhelmed by the friendliness, and he lets Harry manhandle him. He views the several knickknacks with mild amusement, ducks out of the way of some magicked dusters, and nearly trips over some bits of discarded quidditch gear.

Harry drags him toward a very hot, very crowded, but very charming kitchen.

Draco seizes up when Molly Weasley herself pauses stirring a large spoon in a cauldron and stares at him wildly. She looks as he expects: long curly red hair mussed, body encased in knitted jumper and robes, a little smile on her lips.

Ron glances over, cracks half a grin, and says, “'Bout time you got here, Ferret Face.”

Ronald Weasley!” Molly snaps and cracks Ron on the arm with her free hand. “Do not be rude!”

Harry snickers, but Draco stares, surprised enough to not laugh when Ron grumbles, “Sheesh, Mum, it's just a nickname. He knows it.”

“Hello, Draco,” Molly sighs, looking as uncomfortable as he feels.

“Mrs. Weasley,” Draco says, not cold, but not entirely warm either.

Molly tilts her face, looking a bit despondent. “Please, call me Molly. Harry, why don't you help Ron round up everyone to sit. Dinner's ready. Hermione and Fleur can help wrangle them with you.”

“Sure,” Harry smiles, squeezes Draco's arm, and steps out with Ron elbowing him in his usual friendly, overbearing way.

Draco stands beautifully despite being a stark division in the room.

He is too perfect. He is not tousled enough, he is not worn enough visibly, he is not like them.

She seems to see it, too, because she straightens her posture, as if to be a halfway point, and she says softly, “I'm glad you accepted. I was...worried you may refuse, and you would have had the right to do so.”

He's in her territory, yet he's making her nervous.

You're the Dragon, darling, he hears his mother say in his head.

“I...heard what happened to you at school. Ron and Ginny both wrote me letters, upset at what I'd...contributed, and Harry, poor Harry, he was so angry. I thought he'd never speak to me again.”

Draco's jaw grinds his teeth together, his own anger clear in his face.

Molly Weasley looks genuinely apologetic when she whispers, “I am sorry, Draco. I was just so worried for Harry, and I didn't...I didn't consider you. I didn't consider you were a misled child in that moment perhaps trying to find your way. I was just angry, afraid of what you might do to Harry given all you've done before.”

He doesn't speak, and it clearly bothers her.

“I know I'm not Harry's mum, but I try to be one if he needs it. Having had so many children...I suppose I forgot the boundary for a moment.” Molly lets go of the spoon, her fingers grabbing for her wand to lower the flame level under all the pots in the room. “Ron's talked well of you, which is the biggest change for me. Ginny says little, though she has mentioned how...freer...Harry's been, and...well I suspect that was a reason I was angry at you, too. She's smiling more with Dean, but I know she's loved Harry for so long.”

“That does not mean she was the only one, and that does not grant her some impervious title of pity as a victim,” Draco snaps, voice very out of place in the warmth of the room with its chill. “I understand her pain, better than anyone else, and I may have sympathy, but not pity. We chose him, and in her case, she should have done what was best for herself, as I have had to.”

Molly doesn't seem affronted, but she does seem knocked off her thought process.

Draco exhales through his nose loudly. “I am not justifying anything I feel or anything that exists between Harry and myself to you. Trust his judgment, if you must feel entitled to something about it all, and know this—I am not the monster you hoped I was, no matter how different we are.”

Will alone keeps the shake from his limbs as her eyes tear up before him.

Draco's gaze doesn't soften.

He may not have blamed Ron or Ginny for the Howler that day, but he is still a bit peeved about it having existed. He can walk away from it, as he'd emotionally already had to do before, but he refuses to pretend it never mattered just to make a grown woman feel better about herself.

“I understand, Draco,” she replies, blinking her wet eyes dry. “I am happy you're here, and I know you probably don't believe that, and that's okay.”

“I believe you want to believe that,” Draco murmurs honestly, then straightens his shoulders. “I'm here for...for him. No one else. But...I can appreciate the thought behind this. Mother would be very angry with me if I didn't attempt to do so. Manners and all.”

Molly takes a moment to recover from the implications he's just lain at her feet. Shakily, she asks, “How is your mother, Draco?”

Draco crosses his arms comfortably. “Well. Her service has been demeaning at times to her as a person, but she is now aiding St. Mungo's, sorting files and such in private rooms. They seem to be respectful, so far.”

“Oh. I see.”

“Mm.”

“Well, let's get this going, shall we? Please, go on in the dining room and take a seat. I'll get this all carried in there.”

Draco eyeballs the several large cauldrons and dishes and gives her a clear look of uh-huh.

But Molly winks at him, waves her wand and floats platters around, dishing bits of everything out tastefully to follow her around the room, and Draco finally smiles a little in the Burrow.

He jolts a bit when he feels Harry's arm wrap around his waist, knows the lips upon the back of his throat as they press warmly.

Molly blushes, but smiles at Harry, clearly happy that he is.

Harry gently pulls Draco away, leading him into what is perhaps the most crowded, packed room he's ever seen in his life.

The walls are loaded with photographs and paintings, frames and baubles. The table is extended, several chairs surround it, and many of them are already filled with bodies waiting.

Draco catches Hermione's wave and nods to her, quite happy to take the seat to her right across from George Weasley. Harry sits to his right, Ron to Hermione's left, Ginny to Ron's, Arthur at one head's end, Bill and Fleur to his left to George, then Charlie and Percy Weasley and the open spot for Molly.

So many people.

Draco snickers to himself when Percy Weasley sneers at him down his stupid nose.

It's almost like a Weasley is trying to be a Malfoy, and how pathetic.

Draco doesn't sneer back, just gives him a knowingly condescending look that sets the prat off more and makes Draco laugh with glee inside.

Charlie sends a sharp elbow into Percy's side, grunting, “Chill it, Perce. I swear, you've been a brat since the day you popped out.”

“Not my favorite,” Bill chimes in, laughing.

“That's cause Fred and I always have been,” George grunts with a look at Percy.

Draco notes the brief pause while everyone in the room thinks of the missing Weasley.

Charlie laughs handsomely, breaking it. “You were great distractions for Mum to spare us, is all.”

Grateful for all of their diversion, Draco's eyes smile.

But Harry puts his arm along the back of Draco's chair and sends his own little glare of warning at Percy that silences everyone for a moment. Percy's eyes widen, and Arthur Weasley holds his breath audibly while Ron swallows somewhere to Draco's left.

Seems even the Weasleys don't know how to respond to a defensive Harry. Not that they've probably ever really been on the receiving end of his disappointment, save Molly with the Howler.

Draco feels the chill dampening the air around Harry, and he slides a hand on Harry's thigh, patting it to calm him, and it works. Harry relaxes back, saying nothing, and shifts his gaze from Percy Weasley to glance toward the kitchen.

“Have a good Christmas so far?” Hermione asks, trying to break the shocked atmosphere at the very clear message that had been in Potter's protective gaze.

“Yes,” Draco mumbles. “You?”

“It went better than I hoped with my parents.”

Draco taps his shoulder to hers. “Good.”

Ginny's brow cocks at the friendly gesture, and her lips curve just a little.

Bill presses a kiss to Fleur's cheek, and Draco finds himself remembering the French woman from her time at Hogwarts during the Triwizard Cup. She's certainly beautiful, but he doesn't remember much else about her.

He'd been, admittedly, more focused on watching Potter through the entire thing and supporting Diggory just to agitate Harry. Of course, when they'd used the illegal, illicit Cup as a portkey, then come back with a dead Cedric and screaming Harry, Draco had almost lost his mind in fear and fury, not knowing at the time what had been planned all along; it's one of the few things he won't forgive Lucius for letting happen, too.

“All right, everyone, here comes!” Molly shouts, and Draco leans back into Harry's arm as all the platters float across the middle of the table and slowly settle in prepared spots between the plates and settings.

Molly finally sits with a tired smile, arms waving generously. “Dig in! Guests first, of course.”

Draco glances around and finds all the eyes on him again.

Stupid Weasleys trying to make it more comfortable for him. It's so unnecessary, even if it is typical Pureblood etiquette.

He nods once and searches about the dishes, then, with every bit of class and manners his mother has instilled into him, spoons out potatoes, takes slices of ham, pours out gravy and such while his cup fills from a cold pitcher hovering nearby.

He finishes, sits back, and the rest dig into the food with far less presentation than he.

Harry removes his arm from Draco’s chair, but his body is angled close and solid.

Conversation finally picks up, and Draco tunes in and out of several.

Bill and Charlie tease George, who mutters that they'd both best watch which tarts they take since he might have slipped a special something in a few of them.

Thankful for that warning, Draco vows to avoid as much dessert as possible.

Arthur asks him questions about Hogwarts and his studies, and he answers politely, if a little distant still. Hermione takes up the mantle of it, sparing him more spotlight, and Draco bumps his knee to hers purposefully in gratitude that she shares by bumping back.

Dinner is, honestly, delicious.

Even Draco groans over the cuts of ham cured so well and glistening.

Molly Weasley might be a questionable person to him, but she is the cook everyone claims her to be.

When main dishes finally float out and desserts slide in, Draco watches the smirk bloom right over George Weasley's mouth and eyes, and he only eats from the pudding that Molly does, knowing damn well even George isn't that stupid.

George grins at him, the shit, fully aware he knows.

Draco bounces his brows and smirks back, eyes gracefully avoiding the ear-less loss of shape under George's hat.

When Harry goes for the treacle tart, Draco distracts him by spooning out some of the delicious pudding and says, “Try this.”

“I'm sure it's lovely, but the tarts are my favorite.”

“Harry, I insist,” Draco says, eyes demanding.

Harry blinks, hears the grunt of disappointment from across the table, and makes the connection. He leans forward, takes the bite and licks off the spoon, smiling at George Weasley's challenging scowl.

“It's on,” George hisses in good fun under his breath.

“Bring it, Weasley,” Draco whispers back.

Harry just groans next to him, muttering, “Shouldn't have done that, Draco. You're gonna pay for it.”

Draco shrugs, not too worried right then.

Turns out, though, that he should have been.

An hour later as he sits with Harry in a wide chair across from Granger, the Weasel and Ginny on a well-loved couch, he makes the mistake of drinking from a glass of his mother's gifted wine, not catching the person who'd brought the trays in and angled one toward him before ducking back out, thanks to Hermione demanding his attention with her rant on their last Transfiguration assignment.

He first notices the slightly different, softer taste to the wine.

Then he notices his head begins to feel strange.

And the Weasel asks, “So, you two get up to some stuff over break or what?”

And Draco answers, not knowing how or why but feeling he must, “We shagged most of it away in my room.”

Hermione's eyes seem to pop from her skull as she laughs and covers her mouth.

Ginny looks similar, but glances from him to Harry awkwardly.

Ron Weasley's mouth is practically resting on the floor.

And Harry is as red as Draco and staring at him, hand withdrawing from the small bowl of mixed nuts upon the little table. “Draco, what the fuck?”

“I-I don't know!” Draco panics, his own palm touching his brow for fever. “I feel...strange.

“Guess no one had better ask how it was,” George Weasley says behind him, leaning against the open entry way, grinning like a fucking villain. “But I will. Was it great, Malfoy?”

Draco is incensed, grey eyes like dangerous smoke, but the words break out of him unwillingly, sounding more akin to growls as he fights himself to stop and answers, brokenly, lips snarling, “It was...f-f-fantastic. Hot. H-He's...glorious. B-Best arse in the world, and...and a mouth...to d-die for.”

Harry chokes, hand at his neck, the bit of mixed nuts he'd tried to eat to distract his embarrassment now caught in his throat in the greatest irony Draco's ever witnessed.

Apparently he isn't the only one to think so.

George Weasley laughs so hard that he collapses, sliding against the wall, arms holding his painful gut, legs kicking out.

“What the fuck did you do to him?” Ron shouts, and thank Merlin someone demands to know.

“George!” Hermione scolds, rising to her feet. “I'm so telling your mum you drugged Draco!”

George gags, barely able to breathe through his laughter while Draco debates walking over and kicking the prick right in his held stomach. “Oh...oh, go ahead, that was so worth it. His...his face!”

Draco can feel how fucking red his face is, yes he can, and it's as red as Weasley hair.

He finally reaches over and smacks Harry on the back once, dislodging the offending nuts so Potter can fucking breathe again. Harry gasps, wheezing, firm fingers digging into Draco's leg as he pounds his other fist against his chest.

Ginny just stares, a bit blank, too in shock still while Ron bends down, nearly as red as Draco himself, and checks Harry over, hissing at his brother as he rushes to get Harry a glass of water.

Hermione kicks at George's foot while the bastard still cackles away, admitting through the laughs that he'd put a drop or two of Veritaserum in Draco's wine glass. Granger goes mental on George after that, screaming at him about how much trouble he's going to be in if Draco remotely jokes about this to anyone near the Ministry and demands to know where the hell he even got the potion.

“Nicked a bit of it ages ago. Fred and I...we held back on it for years, debating what to do with just a spoonful,” George says, his laughter dying suddenly, face falling.

And Draco gets it.

He fucking gets it.

It doesn't matter if George hadn't even meant the prank to be about his twin because it is now.

“I didn't kill him,” Draco says, icing the room over instantly, and the potion just keeps him talking truthfully in his anger, his understanding of the grief right there in George's eyes as he continues, “I fixed a cabinet at the threat of my own demise, and the lot of you fought willingly against them when they came through. I didn't kill your brother, myself.”

George Weasley closes his eyes and sits forward.

Hermione holds a hand upon the older Weasley's shoulder, watching Draco in concern.

And Harry takes Draco's hand and turns his terrifying gaze upon George. “Was that what this is about, George?”

“No. But you wouldn't understand, Harry.”

“You're right. I only died, too, and somehow forgave him,” Harry snaps, livid and making everyone flinch, scaring even Draco when he suddenly stands looking like living wrath. “I know it still hurts, and I cannot imagine your pain with Fred having been your twin, but an explosion killed him. Not Draco.”

George shudders, face in his palms, eyes visible through the fingers staring back at Harry. Then, to Draco's great surprise, George whispers, “I know, Harry. Wasn't...wasn't trying to hurt him, okay? Just having some fun. It wasn't about that at all.”

“Sure about that?” Harry asks, voice electrified.

“Harry,” Ginny shouts, catching their attention. “Leave him alone. It was a stupid prank, and he's going to be in loads of trouble with Mum. Back off.”

Harry spins, the anger sizzling in his eyes.

Draco rises and grabs his boyfriend by the shoulders and says, “Stop it. Now.”

“Draco, move,” Harry glares past him at no doubt an equally glaring Ginny.

“You don't have to protect him so much,” Ginny finally states.

And for once, Draco agrees with her, even if she hadn't meant it the same way. “Harry.”

Harry bows his head a bit. “I'm tired of people thinking treating you like that makes them somehow better than you. You're more than that, even if they can't see what I've seen, and I don't want to...to....”

“You won't lose me, Harry, not for people being selfish idiots,” Draco says, knowing entirely why Harry panics and protects him so much. “I don't care what they think. Only what you do.”

Draco knows Harry has lost and lost and guards what he has left like a possessive dragon, the behavior made even worse by the fact that he's a Gryffindor to begin with; the Prophet article and a werewolf have since quite stepped up Potter's sense of defense to jump at the first sign of Draco's discomfort.

It irks him, but he appreciates the source of it now more than he used to do.

Harry holds onto him, sighing deeply.

The room seems to exhale with him, and George and Hermione both are sending regretful, understanding looks to him over Harry's back.

Draco smirks, pushes Harry into the chair, and diverts the mood by bluffing George Weasley. “So, you want details, do you, Weasley?”

“Holy crap, no, please shut up,” George begs and laughs, hands hilariously covering his head, even the missing ear under his hat.

Hermione shakes her head and walks out as Ron enters with a glass of water, puzzled and asking a quick, “'Mione?”

“Go. Run while you can, Ron,” she advises as she leaves.

Draco grins, the Dragon out and proud as it rounds on George. “Coward. And I'm even compelled to answer if you ask what the sex is like.”

“I'M OUT,” Ron shouts and runs, spilling water, glass still in his fucking hand as he goes, setting off Harry's loud, aching laughter.

George starts singing loudly, horribly off tune, hands over his head. “La! La, la, la, la!”

“Hey, you wanted to know earlier.”

George chuckles, breaking up the la, la, la as it gets louder.

Draco laughs a little. “You're a terrible singer, Weasley.”

Harry takes his hand, smiling. “He's right, George. You're bloody awful.”

“So long as I don't hear about you lot's bum sex, I'm singing anyway!”

Ginny storms from the room, tears in her eyes that he hadn't noticed now catching his focus.

Draco stops laughing. Fucking hell.

Harry looks after her, and George stops singing and shakes his head.

“Well, that's gonna be a horrible conversation, Harry, but you'd best get on with it,” George says and pushes to his feet. “I know you've settled some crap. She mentioned that. But, um. Yeah. Yikes. Sorry 'bout that. Guess I'll tell her sorry later, when she won't hex me before I speak.”

Draco looks away.

He'd totally forgotten about her sitting there as he enjoyed the banter with her brother.

George playfully punches his shoulder. “Hey, she'll be fine. It's just...weird, I'm sure, and um...thanks for being a good sport and all. You're not so bad. Who knew a Malfoy could be so fun, eh?”

“Who knew,” Draco snorts, but smiles a little. “You aren't so bad, either, I suppose.”

Draco nods a goodbye as George leaves, respect on both sides. He sighs. “I didn't even think about her there. I know if...if things were reversed, well.”

“I'm not asking her to forgive me for doing what makes me happy,” Harry says, sounding exhausted. “I know it's weird, I know it's shocking, and I know she thinks she failed somehow. Has nothing to do with her personally at all.”

“Didn't you tell her this before? Did you explain that you like cock, for instance?”

Harry shrugs, glancing down. “I tried. We shouted a bit too much. She said I used her. I said she loved the idea of me. You know, classic arguments.”

Draco grimaces.

Harry rises up again, leans forward and kisses him softly. “She told me something you said. About snapping your fingers, remember? Reminding me you're there.”

Draco waits, silently cursing Harry's ex for being so fucking chatty.

“You're right. You're exactly right, Draco. It's why we work. I thought I just wanted acceptance, but I don't. I need challenge. I need you, I need the banter and the arguments and the reminders only you give me,” Harry explains and strokes his cheek. “I chose you because you chose me, too, that day in front of everyone. You didn't just stand there, hoping I'd pull some miracle out my arse like the rest. You ran past Voldemort and gave me your wand, and that was brave.”

“Thanks,” Draco says, voice rough, head finally clearing a bit of the potion. But he feels a bit too raw. Too uncomfortable knowing Harry's going to go speak with Ginny so intimately. “I need to go. I think I've dallied long enough, Potter.”

Harry winces. “I'm sorry. I didn't think George would go so far.”

“Was a little fun, I guess. Don't tell him, but I always thought he and his twin were clever.”

“I won't,” Harry smiles. Harry steps closer, hugs him tightly. “Don't worry. I'll tell Molly you were tired after George pranked you, and she'll totally understand. He's in such trouble, like you have no idea. You'll probably get homemade gifts for a year.”

“Unnecessary and unwanted. Thank her for dinner,” Draco adds and accepts Harry's insistent kiss. “Bye, Harry.”

Harry walks away, calling a quiet farewell over his shoulder, leaving Draco to immediately grab powder from the fireplace behind him and Floo back to the Manor in relief.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lxxii

 

 

 

“How are they eating if they're not hunting? Where's the meat coming from?” he curiously asks the half-giant through his bound up scarf two days later, leaned against the pen's fence, listening to sounds he knows so well now: the snap of powerful jaws, a cry from another for meat, a stamp of a hoof, and a flap of an impatient wing.

Draco blinks snowflakes from his lashes as he adds another warming charm over himself, pulls his fur hat down tighter, and bunches his Christmas cloak over his robes a little closer.

The cold, foul weather is worth braving today for one thing—being witness to the snow falling over the black animals, rendering them half-invisible against the backdrop of wind and flurry in unique patterns spotted over wings and rumps and necks.

They're so starkly beautiful, and that they go unseen by many both saddens and gladdens him.

Hagrid tosses another scrap, and they both laugh at the eagerness of the youngest foal grabbing for her little piece; she jumps for it, catches it, and promptly falls into a pile of snow, screeching in protest at the sudden depth of it.

“Well,” Hagrid begins, beard bobbing with his head movement like always, “I hunt fer it or get it from traders. Let 'em out of the spelled pen, now and then, and play with their instincts, carefully a'course. Shouldn't be much longer now 'fore they go back ter the Forest.”

“Suppose not,” Draco murmurs and quirks his mouth to the side as he thinks on it. “And they breed how often?”

“Oh, I've papers on it! Breeding stocks and pedigrees, the lot. On these'n, anyway.”

You breed them?”

“Aye. Have fer years, Malfoy.”

Draco rubs his arms for minor warmth, hesitant to speak. When Hagrid merely looks to him with a pleasant, clueless smile, Draco sighs. “They lost too many. How long will it take to get the numbers up again?”

“Well, righ' there are five breedin' pairs, now, and there's two others expectin' come spring.”

“What's the death rate of the young in the Forest? Aren't there predators besides werewolves that kill just about anything?”

Hagrid nods, washes his hands in a cold bucket with a bar of soap, and scratches his chin. “Yeah, 'course. Lots o' things in those woods.”

Draco reaches out, small smile changing his pout, as Sev passes. The thestral grunts and stands to be scratched. “And this lot...clearly are better around humans than others.”

“Aye. Practice in breedin' and good trainin' on my end. They like the carriages. Used ter even fly Dumbledore over the years he was Headmaster.” Hagrid beams at him. “Nice ter see this interest o' yers, Malfoy.”

“They saved my life.”

“Aye, they did,” Hagrid agrees, the big, emotional oaf clapping his back once as gently as possible. He's learned well enough that Draco is not meant for bone-crushing hugs and such nonsense. Why that one near Nudger's grave nearly broke his face, didn't it? Hagrid continues, smiling, “But they know who saved 'em. They know it.”

Draco gently rests his cheek to Sev's neck, hearing the heavy pulse. “Yeah.”

Hagrid exhales, one large hand covering an entire post's top as he rests upon it. “This'n is the healthiest breedin' male now. Even with the single good wing. Good age, good health and stock.”

“Sev, hear that? You've a duty to do, you poor sod,” Draco laughs, patting Sev's hide as the bony animal throws its head a little, stamping a foot as if he damn well knows it.

“Sev, huh. S'pose he is a wee bit moody as Snape. Doesn't like anyone but yerself, too.”

True. Draco's yet to see Sev respond at all to other students under Hagrid's professional lead outside of Luna or Harry, and even with them he isn't so familiar in his touch allowances.

The thought echoes across his mind again from the Manor, and quietly, seriously, he asks Hagrid, “How can he safely survive if he cannot fly away any longer?”

Hagrid's tight expression is answer enough.

Sev can't. Not with a barely healing broken bone in his wing and shredded, membrane skin so vital to the process of flight itself. He'd have to run. And he'd have to be left behind or put the herd at risk.

“Been debatin' what ter do fer him. It's not fair, a creature like that ter be stuck this way.”

“Not his fault a werewolf sliced through his wing when he fought it,” Draco agrees, fire in his gut again, nearly wishing he could kill that creature for a second time. “He was brave.”

“They're social, Malfoy. He'd be lonely stuck 'ere.”

“What if he had another place he could be? A safe one that females could be brought to for controlled breeding, too, so the herd grows stronger? And if he'd be tended to daily, as well, left to hunt smaller prey for himself in a safe woods and fed additionally? What...what about the other younger one over there, the one with the awkward leg still? They could go together, right? She's probably going to stay disabled, by the strut of her now.”

Hagrid looks taken aback by the sudden onslaught of questions, and Draco flushes, embarrassed that his desire to do something has gotten so visible, even to this oaf. There's a watery smile, like Hagrid is seeing something in him (what that is Draco has no idea), and Hagrid shrugs, “I dunno. He either risks death in the woods or death in a pen by bein' alone. Two together maybe would help, but not sure it'd be enough.”

Draco drops his head, closes his eyes against the irritation of his clearly unlikely idea.

But Sev sniffs him, blows hair into his face in an annoyed don't stop scratching me demand, and Draco stares up at the moody thestral, determined to save him.

 

 

 

lxxiii

 

 

 

The work is boring, but quite time consuming, and it doesn't take long for Draco to rival Granger in terms of being ahead in classes, for once.

Draco patiently works on rolls of parchments with the gorgeous raven quill from Harry, reads and rereads the most difficult assignments in preparation, and even practices his latest requirements for Transfiguration.

He's fine being alone to do so.

Even with Goyle and Crabbe most often around him in the past, he was still alone a lot, too, while the pair often went out, sneaking food and being general nuisances. But he admits to himself now that somewhere inside he is lonelier than he'd expected to be.

He misses Harry's countless intrusions into his days and longs, even more so, for waking to him.

He imagines Luna's smiles, even Weasley's snickers and jabs late at night when he cannot sleep.

Being mostly alone in the dungeons does have an advantage, however, in allowing him to continue to create his Patronus until it feels natural to cast, normal to see, and inherently existing, like a part of himself walking about, strutting just as proudly. And it's a good thing, as he's been readying to try something very special for the entire five days that he's been back.

Thus, when he gets the owl'ed note from Harry, he keeps his wand close and watches the clock upon the Slytherin common room's dark mantle.

George is in serious trouble with his mum. Floo'ing in near six. Missed you. Love, Harry stares up at him from his lap where it lays.

Draco's kept the other parchments in his pockets the entire time of this relationship, but with Harry himself around, he's become less needing of them. Less aware. And why not when he has the real thing demanding his attention most of the time?

But he stares at the writing now, that green scratch still determined as it reflects the light of the fire. Draco thinks of the first time he held the original parchment, of at one point how angry he'd been at it so long ago, furious with Potter.

And he speaks aloud, the words slipping quietly from his lips into the solitary air.

“I need this,” he says, staring at the paper.

“I need you,” he corrects, thinking of them together.

“I love you, you sentimental sod,” he sighs, knowing he's lost to it.

The green brightens in some odd trick of the light, and Draco smirks, folds and pockets the parchment with the rest as the clock strikes six.

Grinning now, he stands, looks to the door, and casts the spell.

The Patronus appears in all its wondrous, haunting glory.

“Bring him,” he whispers.

It stamps a foot, turns, and vanishes through the door without a sound.

Draco blows breath through his teeth, pockets his wand, and waits all of ten minutes before he sees the misty white magic come back through the door in the form of a stag.

His heart is bursting with the silliness of it, of the romance he so often denies himself. But for once he'll indulge and ignore the self-reprimanding thoughts in the back of his head.

Draco strides to the door, opens it long enough for Harry to step in grinning madly while muttering about how sexy it is to get a Patronus summons, and then his fingers are in Potter's hair as he slams him against the shut, heavy wood, taking control of the greeting kiss.

It talks between them, each slight movement a phrase—a grip of hair here meaning I missed you, a slip of tongue there conveying me, too, the fall to one of the lounge couches teasing stay here with me...and hands sliding down trousers to touch whispering I want you, now.

Hours later Draco strokes down Harry's bare arm, naked in his bed, lying over Harry's warm body.

They've fucked, gone to grab dinner in the kitchens and returned overflowing with snacks thanks to the house elves of Hogwarts totally loving Harry Potter for some reason. Not that he minded when he stuffed himself full, curled up with Harry for an hour or two, and woke up on his stomach with Harry licking his way down Draco's spine to have sex again.

But they lay there now, Draco's fingers teasing in a pattern of familiarity, and Draco can't help himself. “So...did you finish what needed to be done, or am I to deal with her anger forever?”

Harry grunts, snapping further awake after being lulled sleepy by Draco's touches. “I finished it. Long...horribly awkward talk, but it's done, yeah. She actually said to, um...tell you hello.”

“Shocking.”

“Ginny's rough sometimes, but it's because she's so damn strong and independent. She cares about people, wants to help them and help them to help themselves...protect them.”

Draco just keeps slipping his fingers up and down the soft skin, silent.

Harry sighs and kisses a spot on the top of his head. “Draco, I told her that I love you and that that isn't changing. I told her I was sorry for hurting her, that I had no idea I honestly...really felt like this. Wanna know what she said?”

“Not really.”

“You sure? 'Cause I think it'll interest you a lot.”

Draco rolls his eyes. Manipulative twat. “Fine, tell me, then.”

Harry chuckles and rests a hand on Draco's back. “She said after thinking about it all that it doesn't surprise her I went after you. In fact, she said it made perfect sense and wondered why it hadn't happened sooner. Something about me never shutting up about you, to start with, and that she always figured there was something else behind you continually picking on me.”

The smile is full of relief, but Draco hides it against Harry's bare chest. “Mm.”

“Yep.” Harry pokes his back purposefully. “When did you start actually finding me attractive?”

“I always had a crush on you, idiot,” Draco chides, rubbing his nose against the clove and rain scent.

Harry's fingers grip his back slightly. “Really?”

“You were a cute and bravely foolish child, but...I suppose I could admit to...fancying you in third year. Bloody chicken. You looked so hot riding that thing.” Draco glances up when Harry doesn't reply and grins at the redness across Potter's cheeks. It's quite lovely. “And the Cup. Watching you fly around that dragon...witnessing you come soaring out of the lake half naked and wet.”

“But...you were awful to me during fourth year. You supported Diggory over me.”

Draco rests his chin upon Harry's sternum, giving him a duh look. “Of course. Couldn't very well support you, now could I? Harry, anyone with a brain knew if you were rigged into it that you were meant to win it, and people would have been suspicious had I not supported Diggory over you with two Hogwarts champions. I kind of wanted to see you lose your temper, too. It's fun to toy with, and you paid attention to me if I did.”

“Arsehole,” Harry grunts, flicking the back of his neck.

“Yes, yes, I'm rotten, we've established this.”

“Still a truth.”

Draco snorts, digs his chin a little intentionally and watches Harry's eyes narrow above him. “Regardless, you were still quite nice to watch. You and Diggory both. Cedric was gorgeous and well-rounded for being a Hufflepuff. And that jaw of his. And his hair. I think that lovely wave to it was all natural.”

Harry's mouth tightens.

Draco's eyes light up. “What?”

Harry grits his teeth. “Didn't say anything.”

Draco smirks at the obvious clod. “Didn't have to, Potter, your face is talking loads. Merlin, are you jealous right now?”

“Shut up.”

“You are.” Draco laughs, astounded. Not that he doesn't like Harry getting jealous, but it's rather pointless in this situation, and he knows it. “Here I am in bed with you, and he's dead, and you're upset that I fancied you both and supported him. You're so ridiculous sometimes.”

Silence.

When Harry doesn't speak, just lies there looking chastised, Draco titters at him, giving in and telling the truth. “Harry, I did support you. Silently. Just couldn't have anyone else knowing.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. I mean, Diggory was a pretty face, but you...well. You're you. He never stood a chance, even against you in my dreams,” Draco confesses, glancing away shyly, feeling stupid. “I...ugh.”

Harry's all smiles now, the prick. “Tell me.”

“No.”

“C'mon. It looks promising with you refusing to meet my eyes.

“Harry.”

Please.”

Merlin, if there ever was a terrible idea, it is this. Draco shuts his eyes and lowly whispers, “I...a few times, I...you know. To you.

Draco watches Harry thinking above him. Waits for the dawn of recognition. And when it comes, Harry's entire face flushes, the green eyes widen, and the thin soft lips part in surprise.

Oh. You did...that?”

“Don't you say another word,” Draco warns and buries face to Harry's chest in embarrassment.

“But...but Draco. That's...wow. Wow. I, um. Hm. Wow.”

“That was several words, you genius. Not listening to me as usual, I see.”

Harry softly mutters an apology, but he's still smiling. “It's...kinda hot to know, though.”

Draco groans against skin. “Please be quiet.

“What? I can't be turned on by the fact that you used to w—”

Draco reaches up quickly, slaps a blind hand over Harry's mouth, and grunts, “Shut up.”

Harry kisses his palm. “Fine, fine.”

“Never telling you anything ever again. Merlin, Harry, you're so self-obsessed you can't handle one little piece of information.”

“C'mon, if you found out I'd done that to you years ago, you'd be self-obsessed, too,” Harry teases, one arm wrapping over him, free hand pressing to Draco's hair. “If it helps to know.... Before you and I...before we became this, back when I first kissed your cheek, I did, too.”

Draco's face grows warm, imagination running rampant with images of Harry and Harry's hand around himself, moaning Draco's name. The blooming smile he fights manages to win and emerges, taking over his mouth. He can't even articulate a thought, still lost in the visions. “Hm.

“So were you doing it during fourth year?”

“Yeah. Just a few times when I felt hidden enough and less angry at you.”

Harry sighs. “Just tell me you didn't to Cedric around then, too.”

“No. Handsome fellow, but.... There were emotions attached to you, negative or otherwise.” Draco winces, presses his lips to Harry's chest softly. “That was all before the final challenge. When...when you disappeared, I didn't understand what had happened. And when you came back with his body, I was horrified. Scared for you.”

Harry swallows harshly above him. The arm around him grows more secure. “It was horrible.”

“What happened? I heard from Father and overheard Death Eaters talking later, but....”

“They needed my blood to bring him back in a ritual. Cedric was just an unlucky person in a wrong place, wrong time sort of thing. He tried to help me, and he was hit with a Killing Curse right away,” Harry tells him quietly as the fire crackles once. “I watched him die, Draco. That's why I was a mess. If I hadn't helped him survive the maze, we wouldn't have touched the Cup together. He'd maybe have been safe still. I don't know.”

“Don't do this,” Draco commands, face rising for him to stare Harry down. Long, pale fingers grip the side of Potter's head. “Don't do it, Harry. Don't go there. Stop.”

“I'm not. I won't.”

“Good.”

The clock chimes.

Harry suddenly sits up, causing Draco to fall sideways and glare at him. And then Harry is beaming and yanking him up by his chin, and snogging the hell out of him through the twelve chimes across the dorm room.

“Happy New Year,” Harry murmurs against his lips.

“Happy New Year,” Draco whispers back.

Harry falls to the bed again, pulling Draco tightly over him, fingers wrapped through his silky hair. Draco breathes into Harry's neck, and after several quiet moments, begins to fall asleep.

“I promise to prove to you how serious I am about us,” Harry vows in the night to the new year itself.

Draco sighs, waking again, nerves twitching. “Don't make promises, Harry. Not about the future.”

“But—”

“—no.” Draco nuzzles Harry's shoulder and rests his cheek. “I prefer to live right now, in the moment. In the present. Like I told you months ago, anything could change tomorrow. So don't promise me anything. Don't trap yourself or me.”

Harry exhales, and Draco can feel his boyfriend's frustration through his very skin.

But it's true.

Draco has no idea what each day brings.

Since the Dark Lord returned, he counted life not by expectations, not by the next week, but by the next day, the next hour, the next minute of success, of still being alive.

He doesn't know how to hope without fear, how to wish without resentment, how to bare himself fully without lashing out at either himself or someone else.

Draco does want Harry's words. He does. He believes Harry's emotions to be genuine, the feeling behind the promise to be true.

Lying there, though, he wonders if Harry ever spoke any similar vows to Ginny Weasley.

The thought leaves him cold inside, and he blinks against Harry's skin, shuts his eyes tightly.

He decides that he'd rather never know.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lxxiv

 

 

It's quite like they've become autumn leaves in the winter wind, dancing and bumping together, teasing sweetly until they bash and crack and share their broken pieces and scent to mingle in the air.

They're rarely apart for the remainder of the holiday, whether it's both spending time in the library working together on separate assignments or taking walks to see the thestrals or even just lying in either dorm, resting and relaxing peacefully.

Draco is happy.

Draco is comfortable.

Draco is content.

And that scares the fuck out of him.

If one is happy, one has something to lose.

If one is happy, one is more miserable when one is not.

If one keeps trying, one has as likely a chance to fail as to succeed in staying happy.

The idea breaks him when he is alone, when Harry is elsewhere for the briefest of times.

His mother writes to ask how the rest of his holiday is going, how that Mr. Potter is doing, and he answers her honestly, figuring it pointless to dance now. He tells her Harry is by his side, as if sensing that Draco is getting anxious and as cautious as a startled wild horse ready to run since New Year's Eve. He asks his mother if this is normal, or if he is simply broken and always will be, unable to accept any form of happiness because of shame of his former greediness, former entitlement, former ego that led him into darkness and death.

Draco sits in the Gryffindor common room, writing the letter as Harry naps away upon his lap, face burrowed against his thighs. He pauses to view the dark beauty of Potter's profile, the curls of hair blending over Draco's black trousers, the glasses held in the loose grip of fingers, the enchanting green eyes shut, and the lips he loves slightly parted in sleep.

It aches within him. Burns his chest, stoking the constant embers back into full flame.

He feels the tug, feels that balance Luna has named.

Draco bends slightly and kisses Harry's temple, the tip of his nose brushing it after.

In the end he tells his mother that though he is still young, he knows what he wants.

Knows exactly what he wants.

But he is far fairer than Harry knows, more empathetic than anyone could guess, and having gotten less stuck in his own ego, now refuses to force forever on someone else, even if that person wants it, too. It's unrealistic, it's childishly naive, it's pointless to demand forever even if he does dream of them sharing meals, waking to one another, going to events as a couple well into their twenties and beyond.

Because he is who he is, and he will fuck up somehow, will be left bereft in some cosmic punishment, he's sure. He bends, but he is still somewhat proud and so one day will break.

Because he knows who Potter is, and Harry will hurt him somehow, will cause his infamous chaos, will be in agony over it, but will have done it thoughtlessly anyway in a show of emotion or misunderstanding.

Because, simply, they are who they are: two sides of a coin that make the whole object, thus left in an eternal struggle of needing the other for completion, but still never fully seeing the coin unless it stands perfectly still for them to do so.

Draco knows it has been standing perfectly still for a while, and he knows gravity will change it somehow. Naturally, it must, right? The stars are always pulling away and tugging closer simultaneously, after all.

There's barely five months left of term for those taking N.E.W.T.s.

And Draco will take it, day by day, savoring it until there is nothing left, and only then will he truly hope for the rest to come, will he truly wish for Harry to keep that vow.

 

 

 

 

lxxv

 

 

 


“Can't believe you're choosing Hermione over me.”

“Potter, some of us actually have things to do besides fly.”

“So. You're my boyfriend.”

Draco smirks and kisses Harry's temple before rising to grab another blank roll of parchment across their table in the library. “I cannot help that she is my Potions partner and that we have a serious project to do before full preparations begin.”

Harry sits, sulking like an adorable child who's just been told he cannot have his sweets before his dinner. There's even a slight pout to his lips.

“Didn't get enough of me over holiday?” Draco asks, teasing, but honestly curious.

They'd managed to avoid McGonagall the entire time, sleeping in both dorms, relentlessly touching when they could get away with it.

“It's not that I can't be without you, Draco. It's that I'd rather not be, if given the choice. I like being around you, even if it's just this...you working, me daydreaming, just sitting nearby.”

Draco smiles, watching Harry lean back in his chair with a sigh. “I know. You're still so needy, though. Never would have thought that in the past. Always would have figured anyone you dated would have had to beg to keep up and get your attention.”

Harry pauses, chair one foot off the ground, hand catching the table for balance. The green eyes are serious, quite serious, upon him, before he returns his gaze to the nearby window. “Maybe anyone else. Not you. I know I bury myself in thought and don't pay the greatest attention to things, but I want to notice you, and you'll just yell at me until I do, anyway.”

Quite true.

Draco chuckles to himself and dips his quill again.

Hermione walks over at a nice, even, but hurried pace. She's out of breath when she drops her bags upon the table, books and parchments slightly rolling out of them.

“Sorry for being late. Ron was panicking over his Charms work. Something about a requirement with Auror training later on.”

“Needs to pass his N.E.W.T.s first,” Draco says, rolling his eyes. “Stupid to worry over that now. Tell the Weasel to focus.”

“Yes, well, he's taking these N.E.W.T.s for that career, so,” Granger explains, pulling out a chair quietly and plopping down.

Draco shrugs.

Harry leans forward in his seat, crosses his arms on the table, and rests his chin upon them like a sad dog. How ridiculous, even if it is cute as hell.

Draco kicks his leg. “Get going. You're starting to look pathetic.”

Harry looks up at him with big, round, glittering green eyes of amusement. “Am I?”

“Beyond it. Shoo. We've work to do.”

“He's not wrong, Harry. This will take a lot of concentration. We're supposed to be writing on the possible merits of potions over spells in areas of mental health therapy. I picked the topic.”

“Of course you did,” Harry murmurs, getting a wad of ruined parchment flung at his head from Granger and giving Draco a look of complete sympathy.

Draco snorts under his breath, entirely entertained. “Surely you've things to do for your own class or Hooch.”

“Done it.”

“Harry, I've barely seen you work that much at all.”

Harry looks away, and the sudden change over his face creates a warning deep in Draco's gut. His grey eyes widen in concern, and he sees Granger look to him similarly worried.

Harry pushes his chair back. “I do the work. Doesn't take me long, and why should it? Who's going to fail me in Defense Against the Dark Arts? Who's going to grade me fairly at all? I read the sections, I argue points in my work, and I turn it in. I sit in class, silent, because no one wants to ask me the questions they have. And that's that.”

“Harry,” Granger gasps, large brown eyes full and open. “Harry, have you talked with McGonagall about this?”

“No,” Harry grunts.

Draco grinds his teeth. “Maybe you should.”

“Later. I will later. Gonna go find Neville, see what he's up to.”

“Harry,” Draco sighs.

Harry smiles, but it doesn't reach his eyes entirely. Draco lifts his jaw, receives the expectant kiss to his mouth and the brush to his skin from Harry's fingers.

“Love you,” Harry whispers in his ear. “Don't worry.”

“You, too,” Draco returns, shaking his head. If Harry doesn't want him to worry, then he supposes he shouldn't...not when months ago he'd given Harry the lecture about respecting autonomy, himself.

Granger bites her lip, pretending to look down at her book to give them a moment.

Draco exhales, grabs Harry for a fast, hotter kiss, and lets a somewhat stunned Potter go. “Go on, Potter. You're making me look soft.”

“So sorry,” Harry grins, pecks his cheek, and waves to Hermione before walking out, robes swishing away.

Draco waits.

Granger lasts all of fifteen miserable seconds.

“Something's really wrong. He's hiding it, like always.”

“You don't say, Granger.”

“What will you do?”

Draco swallows, eyes on the shelves Harry's gone down. “I don't know. Wait, I suppose. I don't want to push too much...not when I hate it done to me.”

“Yes, but...ugh. Harry. Why is he always like this?”

“Why are you still his friend if it upsets you this much?”

“The same reason you're his boyfriend. I care about him, even if he is quite stubborn at times.”

Draco nods and shifts his book to see it easier with Harry not taking up space.

It's quiet again for another minute or two.

And then Granger whispers, “He really does love you, you know. I've never seen him like this with anything but one of our insane adventures, if one must call them that.”

Draco's blood solidifies, or so it feels.

He senses his face pale.

He sees Hermione panic as she takes in what she's just said.

“No! No, I didn't mean he's only thinking of you as some thing to do, to obsess over like that,” Hermione swears. She even hesitantly reaches across the table to pat his hand once, not daring to do it more than that, thankfully. “What I meant was that he is taking this as something that important to him. It's not a thing of using you to fill a hole in him. It's...more than all that.”

Draco blinks, thinks on the words as he stares at pages of his book and the lettering there jumbles into just artistic nonsense. Eventually he turns the page, pretending to have absorbed any of the information, and just tells her to come on, then, because they've loads to do with her bloody topic of choice.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lxxvi

 

 

 

Even Draco gets annoyed by the looks Granger continually sends Harry over the next two weeks in her concern as Harry slouches over breakfast and lunch, barely eats dinner, and looks quite stressed. Luna keeps a close eye on Harry when Draco cannot, sliding him notes in Transfiguration or in passing halls about how Neville caught Harry looking distraught upon leaving for D.A.D.A., about how Ron Weasley himself sits in the same class, watching Harry like a hawk and seeing nothing but pain in Potter's face as the topic turns to curses.

It infuriates Draco, and perhaps months ago he'd have already snapped at Harry, telling him to quit being fucking stupid.

But he's learned. He's grown. And he knows Harry much, much better.

Rather than take the nag approach, Draco is silently gauging Harry's moods, able to tell when the optimism is real or completely false for others' benefit. He knows when Harry smiles, really, and when he's merely moving his mouth in what seems like one but isn't. And Harry is smart enough to know he's not fooling Draco, even if Draco only tightens his expression when he's caught.

One day after Transfiguration, Draco spots Harry finishing a discussion with Hooch outside of the school. He throws his cloak around his shoulders and walks out a bit, then sends his Patronus.

It stands next to a very startled Hooch and a genuinely smiling Harry only to look toward where Draco is waiting, and Harry follows its gaze to him.

He looks like he's slept. Looks fresh in the wind.

But Harry always does when he's around anything broom related.

Draco knows what to do as he steps outside and meets Harry halfway, smiling as his Patronus vanishes and Madam Hooch stares at him, mystified that he'd conjured that gorgeous thestral.

“Come with me,” Draco murmurs and jerks his head.

He doesn't hold Harry's hand in front of a professor, even if it is only Hooch.

Harry follows obligingly toward the broom storage, and Draco unlocks a private locker where his broom has been stored carefully. He checks it over for cracks, for loose bristles, but it seems to be in great condition for a fly on the calm, cold day. Quickly he slips on gripping gloves and nothing else.

Draco hears Harry dashing for his own broom, and the smile grows.

Such a little thing. Such a simple thing. The difference is astounding.

Draco casts strong warming charms on the both of them, knowing that while on the ground the breeze isn't so bad, but up where they're about to be it could freeze them outright.

And then he grins, shoves Harry harshly, and takes off with a silent dare of come get me.

Harry shouts, then kicks off after him, but Draco's already cackling as he flies faster away, curling tightly through two spins and up above Harry as Potter tries to swoop from below and close in on him.

Draco laughs at him, calls out tauntingly while curving sharply under Harry, fingers lifting to drag along Potter's leg as he passes quickly.

This, Draco believes, is a dance.

It's how Harry knows to dance.

It's how Harry knows to communicate what he feels he cannot.

Draco takes off around the stands, and the memories kick in of them smashing each others' sides going for the snitch all those years ago. Harry darts down above him, green eyes bright with the same memory as he leans in and bashes against Draco playfully.

Draco kicks out, shoves Harry off, and jerks back up and out above the benches, veins singing alive with the thrill of being chased; he can hear how close Harry is behind him, and the shiver down his back makes him grin as he jerks up and manages a harsh stop.

He laughs maniacally as Harry zooms past, screaming at him with empty fingers that had almost gotten his cloak.

He waits, hovering there, loving the power of the broom humming under him and in his hands.

Harry flips, curves, and comes to a stop right next to him, also hovering very high in the air.

Both of them have rosy, wind-kissed cheeks, wide wet eyes from the elevation, and matching idiotic smiles.

Merlin, I love watching you fly,” Harry sighs loudly.

“Me? Should see yourself. I knew you'd be a good fuck just because of how you handle that broom between your legs,” Draco drawls, one brow cocking high as he straightens his posture a bit.

Harry flushes more and chews on his lip. “Guess that means the same for you, too. You're a natural with your timing.”

“My timing, hm?”

“And your...grip.”

“Ah. And what of my hip movements? Control?”

“Fantastic.”

Draco pulls a little closer, the magic almost vibrating around them with its strength between the two powerful brooms. He reaches out, taking Harry's extended fingers, the roughness of their gloves rubbing together.

“You can talk to me, Harry,” Draco calls over the rush of air. “You know this, right?”

Harry's expression sours into guilt, but Draco has a tight grip on him and his broom and holds perfectly still, balanced way up high. “Yeah.”

“So?”

Harry tightens his hold, pulling Draco and his broom closer with those intense green eyes demanding. “What about you?”

“What about me, Harry?” Draco asks, confused.

“You've been different since what I said on the New Year Eve.”

Draco frowns. He's not pushed Harry away at all, despite his more reserved, despondent thoughts on relationships and futures. “Have I been?”

Harry looks miserable for a brief second as he nods.

Draco shifts until their legs brush from opposite directions. He lets go of Harry's hand and grabs Harry by the front of his robes, making those green eyes pop.

He's not intending to distance himself.

He's just stressed as well and worried about lots of things revolving around Harry.

Draco leans in and kisses Harry with a warm mouth against the cold, then bumps his forehead to Potter's own, to the hidden scar behind that dark hair. “Lots on my mind, Harry. I'm not going anywhere.”

“You're not upset with me?”

“No.”

“Oh. Oh, good,” Harry says, and Draco notices his boyfriend relax in a way he hasn't for a while.

Shit, he thinks, and asks, “Is that part of the reason you've been scaring everyone?”

Harry's brows draw together. “Scaring?”

“Merlin, Potter, you're terrifying everyone with your intensity, and you don't even know it.”

“Well...hadn't meant to.”

“I accept it as part of being near you, the experience of Harry Potter,” Draco teases and brushes their noses together.

Harry blinks behind his signature glasses, gaze soft. “Yeah, it's been part of it. Just...didn't want to lose you by pressuring you or anything.”

“You're not. I just can't afford to hope or wish or plan like you. I'm not the Golden Boy, I'm not the Chosen One, and I have to be realistic with my options, is all.”

“You think I want to be any of that?” Harry snaps and pulls away, furious.

Draco keeps hold of the robes and glares. “No, Harry, I don't. But you are them, nonetheless, and you already know what you want to do. I don't. I've had ideas, but each seems to just fuck up, and it's driving me mad.”

Harry adjusts on his broom, the fury falling away instantly. “What ideas?”

“You'll laugh.”

“Try me, Draco.”

Draco shivers a little as the cold finally seeps through his charm. “I want to help Sev and some of the other thestrals, but each idea I've had seems unhelpful somehow.”

“Have you spoken with Hagrid?”

“Of course, Harry, that's how I know things don't work.”

“Ah.” Harry floats closer, one hand on his broom, the other cupping Draco's jaw. “You'll figure it out, Draco. You're brilliant. If anyone can contribute to and keep up on a project with Hermione like you did, then you can do this. You'll figure out what to do for yourself.”

“Just frustrates me. I feel like I'm looking at a puzzle and missing something.”

“Might be a piece you've not seen yet, like how Ron often knocks one on the floor when he tries anything beyond chess.”

Draco stares.

Hell, maybe Harry's right.

Appreciative, he angles and kisses Harry, slides his tongue into that warm mouth, and moans.

Harry's eyes are closed when he retreats.

Draco smirks, lets go of Harry's robes, and takes off madly for the lockers.

Harry swerves after him, calling out how unfair that dirty trick was.

They're neck and neck as they close in on the building, both aiming to pull up around the same moment. But the wind knocks into them unexpectedly, and they smash together as they shift, bodies tumbling off brooms to the ground.

Draco lands upon Harry's chest with a loud oof

Harry groans beneath him.

Ow! Fuck, you're heavy,” Harry grumbles as Draco rises up, shaking his head to clear the mild moment of vertigo the fall had induced.

“Sorry,” Draco murmurs and helps Harry to his feet.

They go for their brooms, mutually sighing in relief when neither shows damage, then rush inside to care for them before stowing the expensive items away.

Even so, they still don't leave the storage room for another ten minutes after that, and when they do, it's with mussy hair, tousled robes, Harry looking quite relaxed, and Draco contentedly licking his lips clean before wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

 

 

 

 

lxxvii

 

 

“Harry! Harry!”

Draco and Harry both glance upward as Granger slides into breakfast a few days later, big brown eyes lit up with something Draco's come to know as the telltale 'Hermine's had an idea' expression.

Draco sips his tea and goes back to reading his latest letter from his mother, choosing to ignore the conversation next to him.

But he hears his name, sighs, and rolls the parchment. “What, now?”

“I said, I discovered who spoke out about your relationship!”

“Who?” Harry demands, instantly hot and furious. “Who was it, Hermione?”

Hermione leans across the table. “It's more complicated than just who, Harry. It's the why and how that matter most, okay?”

Harry sneers, and Draco's heart jumps happily at it.

Merlin, of all things to get turned on by.

Draco rubs his shoulder to Harry's in support. “I agree with that look.”

Hermione rolls her eyes. “Promise you won't get up angry right away? Either of you.”

“If we must,” Draco grunts before Harry can even fire off his retort at the ready.

“All right, well...Harry, it's someone who'd never do anything to hurt you. That's why the why and how are vital. We know how disgusting that Skeeter woman is, and we both know she's capable of anything to get what she wants to know.”

“And? What are you trying to say, 'Mione? Just spit it out,” Harry demands over his cup of juice.

Draco glares until Granger just sighs and whispers, “Susan Bones came to me this morning.”

Harry immediately stiffens, angry, while Draco blinks, trying to even remember the girl. He knows the name. And then an image appears, and he sees the Hufflepuff tie, and there it is.

He wrinkles his nose. “A Hufflepuff?”

“Why?” Harry asks, hand sitting his cup down harshly.

“Because Skeeter had apparently been using her Animagus disguise around again. She tried chatting with a few other students, but Susan's rather polite and didn't just scream at her face to get her to go away. Susan said she barely even remembered telling Skeeter anything until she saw a similar looking beetle around the plants in Herbology and panicked without knowing why.”

Draco's brows narrow in distrust. “How would she just forget, Granger?”

“The same way you told us all about how 'glorious' Harry is in bed, Draco.”

Cheeks red, grey eyes darting about to make certain no one heard Granger's sassy point, Draco glares heavily.

Harry pats his leg, but doesn't look away from Hermione. “So she was drugged. How?”

“She said she remembered perfume and a beetle.”

“Perfume. You think Rita Skeeter put something in the perfume that she inhaled? Maybe sprayed extra then?”

“Yes, Harry, I do. Susan was horrified when she recounted what she could barely remember, and she begged me to make you understand that she had not meant to tell that awful witch what she'd seen in a hallway once,” Hermione explains, sympathetic as both Draco and Harry rest their elbows on the table, annoyed at being unable to just tear someone up over it. “Look, I think Skeeter hadn't known about it at all, had probably been fishing for anything in general about you, got that tidbit, and then went on the prowl in her Animagus form to get a photo.”

Draco's hands shake with the need to throttle that reporting wretched excuse of a person to death. People could say what they wanted about him, but he never stooped so low as that behavior in his past.

Harry's steaming quietly next to him, fingers in the ends of his unkempt hair. “Damn her. Tell...tell Susan I won't out her to the school, okay? I just...I want to get Skeeter.”

“She thinks she can get away with anything tactless simply by calling it 'for the press.' I've news for her. Mother wants her fucking head,” Draco growls, already gleefully imagining Narcissa's face when she reads about this.

Hermione snickers, and it's the most evil sound Granger's probably ever made around him outside of that grunt she'd given when she'd socked him in the face so long ago. “I say let her. Maybe your mum could arrange an interview at your home and trap her in a jar for fun.”

“I like this side of you, Granger,” Draco says, Slytherin smile out and proud.

“Not surprising,” she teases back.

They both glance to Harry, catch him still looking dark as he has somewhat since that outburst in the library. Potter hasn't even taken a breath since his last words.

It's disconcerting.

Draco shifts until their legs are touching, their heads bumping for him to whisper, “Breathe, Harry.”

Harry snaps up, jerking clear out of his thoughts. “What? Sorry. Just...angry. Not only did she do what she did to us, but she also illegally used magic on Susan, too.”

“That's how we get her,” Hermione declares and yanks some parchment from her pocket to slap onto the table's surface. “I've been making a timeline and researching which potions might result in memory interference and manipulation. Which might work best ingested through the mouth or through the nose and capillaries. She may not have used Veritaserum like George did on Draco, but she may have used something to put Susan in a dreamlike state and make her suggestible. Ask her if she'd seen anything interesting lately, the like.”

“Would Susan volunteer memories that she does get back or clear up?”

“Yes, Harry. Already has.”

Draco watches Harry make the decision right there in his eyes alone. “Do it. Make your case. We'll take it to McGonagall, and she can deal with the Ministry.”

Hermione grins. “I will. It'll be tough trying to squeeze it in on top of all my work, but I will. She needs to know there are consequences for the horrible things she does. You were far too kind to her in the past, Harry. Should have squished her that day.”

Draco stares at Hermione, wondering if the Gryffindor in her knows she's just advocated murder.

“I thought about it,” Harry mutters, clearly unhappy with his prior choice of apparently sparing Skeeter once.

Draco shakes his head, downs the last of his tea, and wonders how terrifying Hermione Granger would have been had she been sorted into Slytherin all along.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

lxxviii

 

 

 

It's stupid.

He's stupid.

Merlin, it's atrocious.

Why is he doing this again?

Ah. Yes.

Because it will make Harry stop frowning, as he's been doing nonstop for weeks now.

Draco glances around the bathroom, rolling his eyes at himself.

All his glares in the hall have made damn sure there will be no surprise love potions this holiday aimed at Harry Potter. None. Anyone daring would meet with severe repercussions of hexes from himself and any one of his and Potter's friends that he could drag into it. Possibly even Pansy for fun, because she, too, has needed a smile lately, and hexing some ridiculous girls would make her year.

Draco eyes the cot he's transfigured into a smaller version of a nice, comfortable, familiar bed.

He's dragged it around the other side of the center sinks, out of sight. He hopes his charm over the door will keep anyone but Harry thinking the door is merely a walled alcove. After all, he'd rather not have an audience tonight.

The awful romance holiday has fallen upon a weekend, and Draco is only grateful for that fact.

He lights candles with his wand. Grimaces.

What the fuck is he doing?

Trying to make a bathroom sexy? Really?

To be fair, it's not like they could go anywhere else with Blaise in his dorm and an entire group of Gryffindors in Harry's, all of them desperate for some little spot of their own.

“Ugh, you'll have to do,” Draco grunts and walks back toward the front of the room, exhaling.

He's changed into a white shirt with half the buttons done up and those blasted muggle trousers Harry had gotten him for Christmas. He's uncomfortable with how tight they are. Sure, his arse looks fantastic in the mirror, and it shows his lean shape well, but the material feels sucked to his skin.

How has Harry ever been comfortable wearing these?

Draco's eyes narrow in thought, wand to his chin. That arsehole. Potter's muggle trousers aren't this tight. He'd know after staring at Harry's bum enough since they've been together.

Draco makes a point for naughty punishment in his mental list of the night's planned events, and he waits, stomach tight, until Harry enters, not even looking around, just shutting the door and bracing his face against it with a groan.

“Do you know how many times I've heard 'I can't believe he's really with Malfoy, how am I ever supposed to ask him out' in the last two hours alone?”

“I hope plenty, the jealous cunts.”

Harry laughs tiredly. Draco comes up behind him and slides hands over his eyes.

“Okay. What's with this, now?”

“Something to woo you, you bastard. Hush and walk.”

“Like Christmas? You knock me into a sink, and I'll slam my foot on your toes.”

Draco tsks his tongue to the back of his teeth. “You act like that, you won't get any of what I have planned. Now move. Left. Keep going straight. Watch it, there. Hand out, sink to the right. Okay, left again, now right...turn.... Good.”

He stops Harry in front of the transfigured bed he's worked so fucking hard on all afternoon to get the details perfect, and he slowly slides his hands away from Harry's eyes.

“Look,” he whispers in Harry's ear.

Harry gasps in shock. “It's your bed, Draco!”

Draco grins. “It's the cot. But it does prove I should be able to do well on my Transfiguration N.E.W.T., I think.”

“It's so real like it, though,” Harry murmurs, reaching out to touch the once cotton and now silk. “Wow!”

“Harry?”

“Yeah?”

“Turn around.”

Harry obeys, turning quickly with a smile, and then his jaw drops.

Draco watches, in deep masculine satisfaction, as Harry continues to stare dumbfounded at him. Harry's trousers are tenting right then.

Draco angles his weight to his right leg, hip posed. “So, I assume you approve.”

Draco.”

“They're awfully bloody tight, you prat. Did you even buy my size?”

“Yeah. I did.”

“But your muggle trousers aren't this tight.”

“Nope.”

Draco bites his lip. “Naughty, perverted Chosen One you are.”

Harry's jaw slowly comes back up, and he smiles wantonly and reaches, dragging Draco into a steamy kiss. Possessive fingers slide down his arms, over the bare parts of his chest and around his ribs, down his back, and finally settle over his bum, gripping tightly and yanking his front to Harry harder.

Draco bites and sucks the lobe of Harry's ear. “Now, now.”

Fuck, Draco. Did you even look at yourself earlier?”

“Sure. It's attractive. I feel like every step might rip the bloody things, though.”

“They're sturdier than they look.”

“Best be. Otherwise what a waste of money. How'd you even get them, anyway?”

“Had 'Mione get them when she was shopping for her parents.”

Draco gapes. “Harry, that is so weird.

“She thought they were for me, Draco, for me to wear normally. All I did was tell her the size.”

“Hm.”

“Though I could tear the sodding things from you right now,” Harry moans in his ear, lips to his jaw, hands still palming his arse. “Get them off.”

“So demanding. You bought them.”

“Don't care. I want them off, now.”

“Think I'll keep them on, actually. Maybe they'll stretch a bit more.”

It's fun watching the thin bit of patience Harry possesses slowly peel apart like fibers in a strand of yarn. Draco raises a brow, waiting, and before he takes his next breath, Harry picks him up and turns, dumping him right upon the bed.

“Hussy,” Draco laughs, shaking his head. “Have you any self-control?”

“Not when it involves you. Never have.”

Draco chuckles, hands sliding over his face as Harry crawls over him. “Never?”

Harry nods. “Never. You've always pushed me past it, whether it was irritating me, making me suspicious, or making me hot for you.”

Draco smirks, happy. “Excellent.”

Harry unties his dress shoes and slides them off.

Draco sucks his lower lip, beyond turned on as Harry rubs one pale foot, thumb brushing the arch kindly. He grunts as Harry lets go and slides hands over the buttons of his now even tighter trousers; he hears the zipper, a triumphant ha from Harry himself, and then proceeds to laugh so hard he folds up to hold his stomach when Harry can barely get the bloody trousers past his hips.

“How...did you even get into these?”

“I honestly don't know,” Draco admits, chest heaving with laughter, palm over his forehead and fingers in his hair. “Best of luck, Potter. You'll need it.”

“I think they're caught on your bum. Lift up.”

“For fuck's sake.”

He does, though, and Harry drags the material half-off his arse and yanks, manages by some fucking miracle to get them down to his thighs.

Draco sucks in a breath of relief. “Wow, those were tighter than I thought.”

“They looked tantalizing, though,” Harry confesses, smirking, as he shrugs the rest of the material down Draco's long legs, thankfully leaving his black, now comfortable again pants behind to keep him covered.

Grey eyes watch Harry gaze over him seductively.

Harry bites his lip. “Unbutton your shirt all the way.”

Draco arches his left brow, but does as Harry requests and leaves the shirt parted over his bare stomach. “Satisfied?”

Harry stares at him oddly, eyes on his chest.

Draco knows it's the scars because usually it is when Harry gets quiet looking at his chest like that. And he remembers well that he'd worn a similar styled shirt the night Harry had used that awful spell on him in here.

“Have to forgive yourself sometime, Harry,” he says softly.

Draco sits forward and takes Harry's hand, pulling him to kneel over Draco upon the bed. He nuzzles along Harry's throat with his nose, licks up the slightly salty skin. He lets his actions speak his questions with his hands comfortingly stroking Harry's shoulders, one leg rubbing up to rest over the back of Harry's thigh.

Harry swallows and relaxes, resting his full weight to Draco's body with a deep sigh.

Honestly, it's a little amazing how natural this has gotten to be.

To touch one another is as reflexive as breathing. To kiss is as automatic as blinking. To lie together when possible, just absorbing each other is, Draco's growing to find, one of the most underappreciated things one can do with a partner.

“I could do this all night, but I'm getting cool. At least let me under the covers if you plan to keep me so bare,” Draco teases, kissing Harry's hair and brow.

“Sorry. Just...lost in thought.”

“And this is me snapping my fingers. Gently snapping them.”

Harry tilts his face, staring up with sad, sad eyes.

Confused, Draco pushes at him until he can sit up. “What the hell is wrong?”

“Sorry. You're gorgeous, and I want to do this tonight. Just have some stupid stuff on my mind I can't shake, apparently.”

“Harry, that's been apparent since January.”

Harry runs a hand through waves and curled tips of his hair, and Draco notes Granger's attempts to trim the sides and bottom of the style a bit to keep it managed. His boyfriend looks ragged, more so than he even has the last while.

And Draco, sitting there in nothing but his underpants and an open shirt, has had enough.

“Talk. I'm done playing the waiting game. What the fuck is going on with you?”

“I'm stressed is all.”

“About what?”

Harry looks away, shuddering. “We're covering curses and counter-curses in Defense Against the Dark Arts that'll be on the N.E.W.T.s. I got into an argument with the professor. He seems to want to keep the students limited to vocabulary over practical knowledge. I know that Voldemort's gone and most of the Death Eaters have been rounded up or killed, but you never know, you know? Aurors exist for a fucking reason. That's why I created Dumbledore's Army in the first place—I wanted everyone to actually be able to defend themselves. Lupin was amazing for how he taught us.”

“Why are you even in that class? I know you mentioned just doing it for the hell of it at this point, maybe consulting for Aurors if you felt it justified, but Harry, really, what is it doing for you?”

“Because.”

“Don't you do that to me, Harry. Don't get all sullen because I ask a valid question.”

Harry scowls at the sinks nearby. “Because I'm good at nothing else besides killing and protecting people, Draco. Because all I know how to do is fight dark magic and sacrifice myself like that lamb you called me once. Because everyone wants me to be a fucking Auror so one day I can take Head Auror and lull them into this false sense of fucking safety, when that's Ron's dream and should be. Because.”

Draco stares, anger rising. He sits up more, drawing his legs to bend at the knees cross-legged. “Harry...fuck all that. You're not just good at one thing, and I've told you that before. You're a talented person. You want to teach the first years to fly, remember?”

“And I get told almost daily how big a waste of a future that is for me to do.”

Fuck whoever is telling you that load of tripe.”

“Everyone is, Draco, everyone in charge of my education, everyone I'm supposed to look to and consider this last year. They tell me to go Auror, to use my name to get into the Ministry.”

Draco seethes, hands bunching in the silk. “Why are you listening to them, then?”

Harry laughs, and it is empty. Dead. “Because they're right, aren't they? It is a waste. Most of my life has been just throwing myself at anything dangerous until it became a duty and an addiction and then too much entirely. I need it, but I hate it. I'm good at it! I cannot help that I get these hunches and the need to follow them through, have the bravery to enter such situations where others may not. But I am tired of death and sorrow.”

“Why are you justifying any of this to me? Are you listening to yourself? You're fucking miserable in there!” Draco shouts, unable to hold back. “Drop it, Harry! Get the fuck out of that class. It's doing nothing but draining you! You're beyond qualified; let them give you a fucking honorary N.E.W.T. for it, if you must have it.”

The glare Harry sends him isn't arousing. It's painful and hurting and fucking furious.

Draco glares back, ready. “I know you, Harry. I know you'll throw yourself at this even if you think it might kill a part of you. You're so fucking Gryffindor you can't stand it, and even that piece of you wars with the fact that you didn't know yourself, didn't know anything about your own life until you came to Hogwarts. You're still understanding your identity, what makes you you and always has and not just what makes you Harry Potter according to our world.”

That stubborn jaw locks.

Harry shakes as he looks away.

Draco shoves past him off the bed, yanking the fucking horribly tight trousers back on with the mood clearly long since past being possible.

“I don't know when you'll finally stop, Harry, for your own sake.”

“You're the only one telling me this. The others think I'd be great. That I'd find some purpose again, feel less lost.”

“You haven't even had the chance to try teaching, Harry! And, yes, I'm telling you these things because I'm your fucking boyfriend, your partner. I know you most and best, and I love you, you fucking prick!”

Draco shakes, too, gripping the sink behind him after he finally buttons the trousers and curses the muggle who designed them. Harry sits forward off the bed, hands on either side of his knees, glower burning an invisible hole into the floor.

“Does that make my opinion worth considering, Harry? Does it?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Then here's what I think you should do,” Draco says and stands firm before Harry's hesitating anger. He bends a little, shirt still open and hanging. “Give up. Let it go. Fucking think of yourself, for once. Be selfish. Live while you can. And forget about them. You've given them everything. You owe them nothing. So just give up and leave that fucking class, even now at this point of term.”

Harry rises to his feet quicker than Draco expects, and he rocks back on his heels to steady himself at the sudden movement.

And suddenly Harry is gone.

Harry has become entirely Potter again.

And Potter stands before him with rage he hasn't seen in a long time.

“Of course you want me to give up. Of course you, a fucking selfish Slytherin, wouldn't understand the why of it all, the reasons why I don't think I should or can even if part of me wants to do so, and you'd just run and flee to save yourself and want me to do the same.”

Draco's mouth parts. The love in him struggles against the ice sliding into his skin.

“You think you know me so well? You're the one always saying I help people only because of my own fucking ego.”

“I said you sometimes do, and you know that's fucking true. Even Granger could point to times you let being Potter get to your head.”

Harry steps closer, looking so dark, so unlike what he's come to know and more like the Harry that squared off with him right here in this fucking room. “So what? I am Harry Potter. I have to deal with that. That's my life.”

“Your life was defined for you, but you let them keep control instead of redefining it for yourself. That's your fault. So stop being stupid. Do you want them to tell you what to do forever? Is that what you need, Potter? Can you survive not being the Hero for a fucking year? Is your ego that fucking desperate for validation?”

“Shut the fuck up, Malfoy! You don't get it! Quitting that class now is stupid. It's giving up close to the end for nothing but not wanting to finish it. That's just laziness when others are trying so hard in there, and I'd just drop it without a care and without consequence because of my name being what it is!”

Draco crosses his arms, sneering, feeling like he's reverted as well. “Yes, Potter, because your permanent scowl and depression lately has been laziness. My mistake. You're just a lazy fucker and bored to death. My sincerest apology for ever thinking otherwise.”

“You seem to know everything tonight. So why is it that you supposedly cared for me yet bowed to the masses and your father and treated me like shit for years, huh? You love me now? Tell me why.”

His arms fall. His brows furrow. His grey eyes harden into steel. “I could ask you the same fucking thing, couldn't I? I've given you every answer to that since we began dating, Potter. Don't insult me.”

“Right, my bad. You get to insult me all you want, and I just have to take it. That's the dynamic, isn't it.”

He's only ever insulted Harry since dating if he's hurt or upset. The rest, Potter fucking knows, has been teasing. Teasing that even Harry has gone along with, enjoys, and throws back.

So, yeah. A fucking dynamic, all right.

Draco's nose wrinkles, his lip curls, and his heart is screaming. “Fuck you. You know better.”

“Whatever,” Potter snaps back, shaking his head.

“Way to take your anger out on the wrong person, you piece of shit.”

“And another insult. Keep it coming, Malfoy.”

“Merlin, that class has turned you into a bastard. Being around such darkness just eats you, doesn't it? Or maybe this is just you, and I've just been seeing this false image of you this entire time.” Draco crosses his arms again, feels his armor sliding up protectively. “I cannot believe you.”

Potter's eyes are hot and wet and dark. “You, either. Wanting me to just abandon something important.”

“For your own health!”

“I'm fine! You're just jealous. You've always been jealous because I am who I am.”

Draco stares.

He's so hurt that he can't even process it.

He's so angry that he could punch Harry right in the face, break his nose all over again and leave him on another fucking train.

“So that's how you really think of me,” he whispers, voice breaking against his will. “You think I'm nothing but a bully, nothing but a Slytherin jealous of you and attaching myself to you for the fucking side glory I can get?”

Potter's anger falters.

“You think I'd bare myself, my fucking body, my soul, to you for that? You think I'd endure being even more hated, being a laughing stock in the Great Hall for that?”

Draco sees Potter fall away.

Sees his Harry come back.

Sees the guilt, the shame, the sorry in the eyes.

Harry knows he's made a mistake, that he's caused the chaos without thinking.

But Draco is done.

Draco stalks past Harry and grabs his wand from the bed where it had fallen out of his ridiculously tight pocket. He points it at the door. “Get the fuck out, you selfish arsehole!”

“Draco, I didn't...I swear, I just....” Harry tries to explain, hands out, palms up, eyes desperate.

Draco's nostrils flare, his breath is coming quick, the panic attack ready to erupt.

“Draco, please,” Harry begs, and actual tears stream down his face.

“Get the fuck out, Potter!” Draco screams, the pain bursting past his control, blooming into a horrific flower against his face, his soul. He points his wand directly at Harry, fighting his inner self's desire to drop it and hold Harry and just forget the past twenty minutes or so, but he can't. He just can't get Potter's words out of his head. “You've said exactly what you think of me. So go.”

Harry breaks, a sob escaping him. “Draco, I'm so sorry, please, just...just let me explain. It's not what I think of you! I'm just angry, and I know that's a stupid excuse. I know you only want what's good for me, but that's what they think they're doing, too, and I just...I don't know! I don't know what's right! I'm tired of it, okay? I've been having nightmares of Voldemort again lately with it all, and I'm just run the fuck down. I hate feeling caged by everyone!”

It's too late. Draco is upon his proverbial edge. He feels the tears burning out the corners of his eyes that haven't blinked in nearly a full minute. “You manipulative fuck. You weren't the only one at the Dark Lord's mercy, at the Prophet's mercy! Get out, Potter, and never speak to me again!”

“Draco!”

Draco slings a hex that Harry ducks, shouting in shock. Draco casts another hex, breaking the bed he spent so much fucking hard work on transfiguring. He casts and casts until he has managed to maneuver Harry Potter to the door.

He remembers his words from before, that never again feeling after Diagon Alley shopping, and he lowers his wand enough as Harry stands there, crying.

Draco tries to save himself from it, from giving in, and shouts, “I hate you, Potter! Get out!”

Harry chokes, rips the door open and leaves, slamming it behind him.

The sound echoes.

Draco collapses to the floor, screaming until he thinks his throat might bleed.

He's a mess, curled together there, all alone.

Because he is right.

The stars are too fucking close and destructive.

The goddamn eclipse is back.

And the fucking coin has fallen over, just like he thought it would.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lxxix

 

 

 

The first thing he does after pulling himself together in the bathroom is transfigure the cot back to some version of its original self. He cannot stand looking at that bed and what it could have been, what the real version of it meant already.

Draco dresses properly, throws his robes over the ridiculous muggle trousers, and marches all the way to the Slytherin dorms, half expecting to find Potter waiting around a corner.

He thankfully does not.

Draco stalks through the common room, startling everyone with the hatred on his face.

They whisper, wondering what the fuck is going on.

He slams his dorm door behind him, sits upon his bed, and thinks about how fucking stupid he is, has been, and will continue to be with his heart aching so badly for someone not fucking worth it.

He didn't mean it, his emotions whisper. Harry's been so fucking overwhelmed.

But intention doesn't absolve him, his brain argues back. Harry's not the only one.

Draco stalks to the fireplace, heart in his throat, eyes dry from crying so fucking hard for hours in that goddamn bathroom alone.

He yanks the parchments from his robe pockets. Stares at how worn they are, how beloved and cared for.

Draco's chin quivers, his lip trembles, and he rips the papers in half, then throws them into the flames. Immediately he regrets it, wishes he could just put the fire out without ruining the parchments more, even considers sticking his hand in quickly to grab just one, but they've already curled into the flames and sizzled too much.

Draco runs for the loo and vomits.

Thirty minutes later he forces himself back to bed.

He doesn't sleep that night.

Blaise says nothing when he comes in, no doubt having heard about the storming into the common room from earlier. But Zabini walks past his bed, reaches through the curtains briefly, and pats his leg once before walking away.

Draco manages to find more quiet tears in the dark of the bed curtains as he silently thanks Blaise for the rare show of real affection.

 

 

 

 

lxxx

 

 

 

He barely speaks. Barely eats. Refuses to even look at the Gryffindor table.

Draco sits with his back to it right next to Pansy, who protectively keeps her hand on his shoulder or leans against him, distracting him with gossip that's mind numbing. Blaise glares over his shoulder, picking it back up with each new meal and day, like a beautiful dark sentinel across from him.

The school whispers wanting to know.

They'd been so inseparable.

Fucking stars. He hates astronomy now.

Draco walks down halls and ignores questions hissed behind his back.

He sits somewhere else in classes if he can, avoids Luna's big sad eyes, and he doesn't speak to Granger when she tries to get him to talk.

“Harry's not sleeping. Please, tell me what happened. He won't say a word, Draco, and I'm scared.”

Draco's lip arches in his most emotional sneer. “Focus on the fucking stirring, Granger, before you burn the potion and fail us both.”

Hermione stares at him, hurt, shocked, lashed from the words and tone she's not heard in a long time. She says nothing after that, clearly seeing something isn't just affecting Harry.

When she tries to follow him after class, he glares at her. “Get away from me.”

“Draco, please talk to me,” she begs. “You're my friend, too. What's going on? What can I do to help you?”

“You can leave me alone and forget any of this ever happened, Granger.”

“But! But, Draco!”

He strides away, black robes whirling, refusing to stop at her pleas.

Draco goes down to the thestrals to visit Sev. Pets the animal, rests his aching head to its side, begs it to silently make the pain stop. 

He does his usual early afternoon sentence work, this time losing his mind to the thoughtless task of aiding Hagrid in cleaning other critters' pens, the normal sneer at the smell and idea of such duties beneath him vacant as the rest of his mind just to survive.

Eventually he returns to his dorm from another horrific dinner. Forces himself to spurn thoughts of Harry, his other friends, and his lost relationship. The lost trust and connection he'd wanted to last.

He makes himself get some form of sleep through sheer exhaustion.

He slowly builds his wall up the way he rebuilt Hogwarts itself.

And he repeats the cycle each day until he is cold, until he is back in familiar territory that he once wanted to be entirely rid of and now is just so grateful for something to wear, a mask to carry, a new talisman of protection.

His exams are in the beginning of May. All the N.E.W.T. takers end before the rest of the regular students in term. Draco throws everything he has left at the thought of preparing.

He has a little over three months to get through, and then he can get the fuck out of here forever, can go home, can do whatever, so long as it is far away and never near Harry Fucking Potter again.

 

  

 

 

lxxxi

 

 

 

“Hello, Draco. Thank you for coming.”

Draco stares the Headmistress down.

As if he had a fucking choice when he was summoned to her office.

She asks him to sit across from her, and he does, nearly falling into the comfortable chair in his exhaustion. McGonagall looks to him with such sadness that it's obvious she's heard something.

“Why am I here?” he bluntly asks, arms crossed.

“I'm concerned for you.”

“Am I failing my two classes?”

“No, Mr. Malfoy.”

“Then you've no reason to be concerned. That's all that matters.”

Her spectacles catch the light, her head tilting worriedly. “Draco, your friends are very frightened for your well being.”

He snorts. No way Blaise or Pansy ran to her. “What friends?”

McGonagall blinks. Folds her hands upon her desk. “Miss Granger, for one. Miss Lovegood, as well, and Mr. Longbottom. Even Mr. Weasley has expressed concern.”

“For?”

“They say you've become very reserved and quite unlike yourself. They worry something terrible may happen.”

“I'm being myself,” he retorts, sneer in place, and can't stop the snark he wants to still keep throwing Harry's way from erupting in front of her. “Apparently this is what I really am.”

Her wise eyes narrow. “And what says your progress is not really you, either?”

He doesn't respond.

“Are you and Harry Potter no longer involved, Mr. Malfoy?”

“No,” he answers tightly. “We are not.”

McGonagall does something strange. She leans back in her chair, sighs, and holds her brow. “He seemed to...think otherwise, despite how quiet he was when I spoke with him. I had so hoped...the two of you seemed to heal one another so well. I know it is strange for you all to be here, and I've wanted to keep it a home for you if you want it, but war ages children. It changes people. It's why I've overlooked many school infractions between the two of you.”

Harry still thought they were a thing after all that? Was he fucking mad?

And McGonagall knowing anything just disturbs him more.

Draco looks away, ignoring the staring from the portraits of Severus and Dumbledore to his right. “I don't need him. I never have. I don't need his thoughtlessness, his chaos, his pain. Let him suffer in the pit he wants.”

“As you are doing, yourself,” McGonagall counters, sharp again. “Wallowing just as much.”

Draco pushes to sit up right. “Is this appointment finished?”

“Do you remember what I told you a while ago, Mr. Malfoy? About becoming the willow?”

“Yes.”

“Did you see how far you'd come to doing so?” she asks, her authoritarian voice soft.

Draco closes his eyes, answers tiredly. “Yes.”

“And you're going back to the oak. Because you are in pain.”

“Because I cannot change the type of tree I am, clearly.”

McGonagall tuts at him. “You can always choose, Draco. You do not have to follow each of your father's steps, any expectations of you by anyone.”

Draco stands abruptly, gut heated. “That includes you, Headmistress. Don't talk about my father like you know him. He's in Azkaban, probably going mad as we speak. I feel more in common with him now than I have in a long while.”

“Please just consider speaking with your friends, then. They are quite worried.”

Draco just shrugs.

He finally looks once to Severus's painting.

The echo of the man his mother had bound in magical promise stares at him openly for the first time in memory. And he is both proud and disappointed.

Draco leaves the office, paintings, and McGonagall herself without another word.

 

 

 

 

 

lxxxii

 

 

 

March arrives.

The snow thaws, but the air is still cold.

Sev's wing has not healed any more. Two other thestrals are kept from the main herd as the rest are let back into the Forbidden Forest.

Draco keeps them company once a day, finding the most solace there.

He still avoids Granger's now silent pleas with her eyes.

He pretends Luna Lovegood's sadness doesn't exist.

But his routine, his silence, after weeks is grating even Blaise and Pansy.

They bicker at dinner, argue in the common room, each with ideas as to how to handle Draco's apparently non-stopping grief in his denial. Pansy wants to go after Harry personally. Blaise wants Draco to show Harry how he's better than him and doesn't need him.

Draco finally snaps, tells them to both get the fuck out of his business, and starts ignoring them, too, sitting even farther away by himself at the Slytherin table.

He never goes past that bathroom. He pretends it doesn't exist.

But he can't stop hearing Harry begging him in his dreams, seeing Harry cry in front of that bed.

At the start of the second week of March, Draco finally hits the situation he's tried so hard to avoid.

Harry just happens to be coming from a probable meeting with Hooch up the stairs as he's going down them outside to the thestrals. Draco immediately tries to look away and keep going, tries to pretend Harry Potter doesn't even exist, too, but he can't stop himself.

They stare at one another, frozen.

Draco's heart hits his stomach and rolls to the point of nausea.

Harry's green eyes moisten.

Draco sees how awful Potter looks, how hollow cheeked and circle eyed and thinner framed he is, and he knows damn well they match in every aspect in that regard. He snaps together when Harry takes a single step towards him; his feet resume moving, his head turns away, and he makes for the grass.

“Draco!” Harry calls, pleading, voice cracking.

Draco refuses to turn, striding onward.

“Draco, please!”

He can't answer it. If he does, he's done for. Every stone in his wall will crumble, every defense he has will fall, and he'll be entirely vulnerable again to Harry Potter.

It's not safe. It's not safe at all.

He ignores Harry's third call of his name, pace increasing toward the pen until he hears nothing more.

 

 

 

 

 

lxxxiii

 

 

 

 

Harry has apparently taken their encounter as a sign.

He begins trying to get Draco's attention, not unlike his stunt with the plates months ago.

Draco faces him in halls, passes him to go outside, even walks right in front of Potter to get into the Great Hall to eat alone at the Slytherin table while Harry stares after him, broken, and Blaise and Pansy watch like protective parents that pause bickering long enough to bind back together.

Luna is the one who finally manages to put a crack in his superior wall.

This does not surprise him in the least.

She finds him quivering on the floor in a lone corridor after yet another encounter with Harry, hearing Potter asking after him with that soft, pleading, All right there, Malfoy? as if the familiar phrase will fix it, will make him stop and speak.

He considers running, but he knows she'll follow him this time.

Luna bends to a knee in front of him.

Draco stares up at her for the first time in weeks.

And when all she does is open her arms around him, hold his cheek to her throat and chest, Draco breaks a little and grips, holds onto her as he cries silently against her, begging her with his tight fingers to not tell anyone, please don't tell them he's weak. Trying to endure Harry's attempts has nearly destroyed him inside.

Draco has no idea how long she holds him.

He's fairly sure they've both missed Transfiguration for it.

But he doesn't care for once.

He can't believe how much he's missed her, his friend.

When he finally pulls back and wipes his face, she looks at him. Into him. Through him.

“You need to talk to him,” she whispers.

Draco trembles. “I can't.”

He can't even go back to harassing Harry like he always has to get Potter off of his back. It doesn't feel the same anymore, not when he's fallen in love with the prick. Avoidance is his best weapon, and it works even better because if he did try and snipe at Potter as if the last months hadn't occurred, Harry would have likely taken it as a good thing and become even more relentless.

Luna smiles sadly and strokes hair from his eyes. “Your star misses his as much as his misses yours, Draco. You belong together.”

“You don't know what he said, Lovegood. He only thinks of me as some jealous, selfish Slytherin because I wanted him to drop that class and help himself.”

“I know. He told me. He won't talk to anyone else, but he finally came to me.” Luna bites her lip, then sighs. “I was very angry. I think I even yelled at him. But sometimes you have to with Harry. Sometimes you have to....”

Draco gives her the ghost of a dead smile. “Snap your fingers in front of his face?”

Luna nods.

“It's not worth it,” he tells her. “I thought he was, but he's not. He's everything I once considered him to be—an egoistical, selfish person who lies to himself because he doesn't even know what's real about himself. He's a fucking prick expecting people to forgive him constantly for being Harry Potter.”

Luna leans forward and hugs her arms around his neck, on both knees now.

She just holds him again. And then she lets go, saying, “It's odd. He said almost the exact same thing about you.”

Draco glares silently.

Luna pats his covered arm. “But he added something else, too.”

“I don't want to know,” he counters and rises to stand.

“Well, you will. He said he loved you regardless. He said that he loved you for being Draco Malfoy, with everything that entails. He said he wouldn't have you any other way but yourself, whether that's the more open you that you'd grown comfortable into being...or this.”

Draco laughs darkly. “Not the tune he was singing the night he said the other to me.”

Luna shrugs as he starts to turn away. “Like you said once, Harry sometimes doesn't see the effects he has on people. He's so used to being alone, then used to being surrounded, and because of how he's been treated since he discovered his identity, he's never felt like he has boundaries. Personal boundaries, yes? His boundaries must always move to include other people, even if just for a moment. He couldn't have a private sense of self so easily. He had to be everything else at once.”

“He didn't have to do anything.”

“I suppose not. But even you know he did. Or you would have fought Voldemort yourself with your own wand, wouldn't you?”

Draco freezes, back to Luna.

And he remains standing just like that long after she's stepped up on her toes, pecked him sweetly upon his cheek, and gone the other way.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lxxxiv

 

 

 

Sometime toward the end of March, the first day the sun really fights the clouds and the last of the snow and the incoming rain for attention, Draco drags his exhausted self back to the Slytherin common room from the library.

He passes the windows, sees the sun, and turns away.

Fuck the sun. It's arrogant and bright and bloody awful. Who cares.

Draco ignores the people that have begun to ignore him, too, and crosses the common room's floor quickly. He stumbles down the stairs to his dorm, walks inside with his eyes barely open, and falls upon his bed without glancing around the room.

“Good, you're here,” Blaise says behind him.

“Going to sleep before I die,” he replies, eyes shut. “So be quiet, will you?”

“Just so long as you stay in here,” Blaise cryptically murmurs, and then he hears the heavy door shut, as if Blaise has just left the room.

Draco frowns, bothered by the very brief exchange.

A second later he hears the door seal magically with a spell, and he jerks aware, rising up fast enough to make himself dizzy a moment.

He pushes off the bed, back to the room, and bangs on the door. “What the fuck, Blaise?”

“Your arse is staying in there until you two get this shit sorted. For everyone's fucking sake.”

Draco jerks, fist still against the door, and finally looks over his shoulder, actually focusing on the other person he hadn't even known was in the room in his exhaustion.

Harry Potter sits upon the empty third bed in the far corner looking absolutely miserable.

Draco recoils into the door itself, turns, and bangs even harder. “Open up, you fuck!”

“No! Grow the hell up, both of you. It's bad enough that Granger came to me with this fucking idea, and Pansy and I both agreed. Now talk it out, Draco,” Blaise growls back through the door, very firm. Very Slytherin. Very caring in his weird way.

Draco bangs his forehead once to it and drops his fist.

He feels those green eyes upon his back and remembers a time when it was intoxicating. Now he just wants to throw up again.

“Draco,” Harry whispers behind him.

“Shut up,” Draco says, knowing they're his first two words to Potter since.

Harry goes silent. Draco finally relaxes away from the door and begins to pace, trying to think of way to get Blaise to open the door and let him out without dealing with Harry.

He could fake illness, perhaps. He feels sick enough.

He could injure himself and risk the wrath of Blaise, Granger, and Pomfrey.

Draco finally just gives up and throws himself back on his bed, determined to ignore Potter out of existence and try to forcibly sleep anyway.

After a few minutes, Draco hears movement across the room.

A grey eye cracks open, he jerks his wand out of his robes, and he points it. “Don't you fucking come near me.”

Harry pauses, literally, one foot in the air with his hands raised in surrender.

It would be comical if it weren't so serious.

Regretful green eyes drink him in as if he's the only thing that could quench their thirst.

Draco looks him over, too, irritated with himself for feeling worry in his gut at how rough Harry really does look. He's sure he's still just as bad or worse, himself.

“Can we please talk?”

“No.”

“They'll leave us in here all night, Draco. 'Mione body bound me and brought me here. Left food in that container there.”

Draco cocks a brow. “I can't believe she did that.”

“Me either. It wasn't...pleasant. She didn't break my nose, thankfully,” Harry says, and Draco can tell by the expression that it's an attempt at a joke to lighten the mood, but it only angers him further.

Draco sneers, relying on his old anger to fuel him more. “Maybe she should have.”

That silences Harry again. Potter drops his hands finally to hang low at his sides. His head looks heavy as it lolls about his neck.

Draco refuses to care. “You just...just stay over there. They'll have to open the door eventually, and when they do, I'm binding Blaise and anyone in my way and then I'm reporting them to McGonagall herself. I'll request a private room, if I must, to finish my fucking exams.”

Harry closes his eyes sadly.

Draco looks away, lowers his wand, and rests his head upon his pillow again.

“It's nice to hear you speak...even if it is just you angry with me still.”

“Shut up, Potter.”

Draco's fingers grip into his blankets, almost tearing the heavy material. He tries to pretend the memories of Harry so close, of Harry inside him on this very bed aren't real. Or, at the very least, mean nothing to him.

But they mean so much, even still.

He doesn't know he's crying until he hears Harry move again, closer. Draco snaps his wand back up, feeling the tears down his face now and hating each and every one equally.

Harry pauses again. Hands up like before. But he's much closer.

“Back off,” Draco warns darkly. “Go over there again.”

“No,” Harry murmurs, standing still.

“I said get away from me.”

“You have every right to hate me, Draco. You really do.”

Draco leans up, chest aching as it heaves. “No shit, Potter.”

Harry blinks some wetness out of his eyes. Takes deep breaths and says, “But I don't think of you the way you think I do. I didn't mean it. Maybe in that moment, in that heated second, but over all...I don't. You're so much more than a selfish, flat person.”

Draco stares, distrusting.

Harry drops his hands again. Very slowly. Draco doesn't lower his wand this time.

“The truth comes out when we're really angry, apparently,” Draco hisses like a bloody snake. “Your truth did.”

Harry shivers, chews his lip. “No, Draco. What came out was insecurity. Fear.”

“Of what, Potter? You have everything in front of you if you want to take it. Your friends, your Weasley family, your future career or nothing at all. It's all right there.”

“That's not what...yes, you're right, I have those things. I can choose to keep them, rather than staying stuck forever in the orphaned life I know.”

Draco closes his eyes to exhale sharply. Hears Harry touch one of the curtains of the bed. Snaps his eyes back open and aims the wand right at Potter's chest. “Back. Off.”

“Draco, I knew you were right. You've been right about a lot of things. Some of the crap I deal with is about ego, but so is yours. We just process it differently. I like to feel needed because I was nothing, just unwanted for most of my childhood. You like to feel strong, valuable, a being of power that people can look to if they want. But you also like to be alone, too, like I get sometimes. You've grown and changed with everything, and I think that's a good thing. I have, too,” Harry says, barely breathing between each word as he grips the bit of bed curtain in one hand and holds the post with the other. “You have changed me, for the better. You make me see things I've ignored or argued with Hermione about for years.”

The wand slowly lowers just the slightest bit.

Draco feels the wall shake and holds to it tightly inside, refusing to let go so easily.

Harry breathes heavily, swallowing back audible tears. “I know some of it's because of you when I feel lost without you. When I feel...broken in a way I didn't before, even when I died.”

“Stop,” Draco demands, shaking. His voice is soft, but firm. “Just stop.”

But Harry doesn't listen.

He just keeps going, adding, “You were just trying to help. Trying to protect me by making me stand up for myself against the masses in a way I normally don't. And I felt overwhelmed between the opposing views and just having any aimed at me at all, and I snapped. I'd felt sick and burdened for weeks, and I know everyone noticed it, but I couldn't just raise my hand in class and demand the professor stop teaching because I damn well didn't want to hear about effects of the curses I'd seen...of the curses I'd lived through or used. So I took it, silently, multiple times a week, and clung to you to not drown.”

Harry trembles visibly for Draco to catch.

The wall cracks a little more.

“I was insecure that what I wanted to do...what you recommended I do...didn't match with what the rest of them were saying. Usually, I'd just do whatever I felt was right for me, but since the Battle here...I've not known what that is. I've kind of felt...useless now, sometimes, so I was afraid that all this meant I was stupid, or that you were just....”

“A selfish Slytherin.”

“Yes.”

“Whatever, Potter.”

“But that wasn't why I was afraid. I know you were there for me, but Draco, even if you were there physically and trying to be there emotionally...I've felt this thing between us for a while, and I've not understood what it is. It scared me. I thought it meant I'd wake up one day, and you'd just end things for no reason.”

Draco clenches his jaw.

That, he supposes, is rather fair, even if he'd assured Harry before that he wouldn't. He understands anxiety well now.

But Draco exhales, so very tiredly. “I knew it wouldn't last. I knew I wanted something that wasn't possible to last too long. We're us. We never could.”

“I think we were doing damn well, actually,” Harry counters, fingers tight in the curtain. “I think we were happy. I think we were great. I think you got scared and were waiting for the chance to run on me.”

Draco grabs his pillow and throws it, just angry. Harry easily bats it away, and Draco grabs another, throwing it, too, shouting, “I planned to take every second I could get with you, you fucking prick, and no more! I'm not stupid, Harry! The end of term would have been the end of it, anyway.”

“Says who?”

“Says rationality, Potter.”

Harry holds the second pillow awkwardly, staring at him with open, bared eyes. “Draco, I told you it was real to me. I told you I loved you. That it was serious. I made that vow in this room to prove to you how serious I was. And you told me no. You did that. You pushed it away, for rationality's sake or whatever you want to call it. You did that, not me.”

“Only to beat you to it!” Draco cries out, feeling that wall crumble a bit off the top. “I wasn't about to keep trying to do this past term, going into something where we just hoped to communicate now and then with you teaching, me doing Merlin knows what, and probably just breaking it off awkwardly later when one of us finally had the balls to do it!”

Harry's jaw locks. Draco watches him glance away a second.

“You really think I wouldn't try to see you? To do anything else to keep it going?”

“I don't know, Harry! I've never done this! I've never had something like this, had someone like you, loved someone. And we're too...too us! Rivals, remember!”

And that's fucking true, damn it.

“So what? That's what makes us work. You balance me. I balance you.”

Also fucking true.

Those goddamn stars.

Draco buries his face in his palms, wand pressed to his cheek. The wall is cracking harder, the falling bits of rock almost audible in his mind.

“I love you,” Harry whispers and slowly begins walking around the side of the bed toward him.

Draco flinches at the steps, jerks backward away, face still hidden as he shakes.

When he feels the weight on the bed, feels Harry start kneeling next to his leg, Draco debates how fast he could roll off his side to get away, then bind Harry, blow the door open with a serious curse, and fucking walk out.

“Draco,” his voice is soft and so close, so close when it's been so far away for so long.

He tries, valiantly, to throw the rock back at the wall, to keep it sticking together.

He needs to try.

Because if he doesn't, Harry will win. Draco will crumble, he will give in, he will snog the fuck out of this bloke he still loves, and he'll be possibly happy and able to lose it again.

Draco shudders into his hands, feeling like he's right back in that bathroom, like it's still five days after the deaths, like it's day six and he finds his wand and a note that he's since burned in a fit of vengeful rage and regret.

Draco gasps when he feels the lips touch his cheek, the warm arms come around him, even if they, too, tremble as he does.

He feels the wall rumble, like a quake is shaking its very foundation.

And then Harry holds him tightly, tells him so softly that he loves him, he loves him so fucking much, that he needs him, just him, only him, and Draco hears and feels that inner wall come apart in an explosion.

He reaches blindly, wand falling, arms wrapping around a neck, face pressing against another, with tears so hot they burn his skin.

“I'm here, love. I won't leave you. I promise,” Harry soothingly murmurs in his ear.

Hands he's resented and missed stroke his back over and over. Lips he's longed for and hated caress over his cheekbone.

Draco just cries, and he fucking hates it. He forces himself to stop, but chokes on the left over energy and digs his fingers into Harry's hair a bit too tightly.

“You don't have to forgive me,” his love tells him quietly, genuinely. “I would understand, Draco. But I do hope you can at least know I didn't mean to hurt you the way I did, that I hate myself for lashing out at the one person who does care about me and what I want and not what he thinks is just best for me.”

Draco rocks, brow to Harry's warm temple, lips touching the skin of a cheek unintentionally.

“You and I just...we just...we're it. I know we're young still, but Draco, I can't imagine anyone who could replace you.”

He laughs at that absurd statement, heart crying out in relief at hearing it nonetheless.

Draco takes deep breaths to center himself, focuses with his closed eyes as Harry's strong fingers continue their stroking over his back while Harry's body shifts to hold him across his lap and rock just slightly.

It's goddamn pathetic.

It's fucking sentimental as fuck.

And Draco needs it.

He needs Harry because even if he can survive without him, it feels empty.

He wants Harry because even if he can go on alone, he'd rather touch and taste him.

He loves Harry because even if he tries to do the right thing, tries to spare Harry what he fears will be a burden, a thing to tire of, another boundary Luna mentioned, tries to spare himself the potential loss, Harry proves to him that it doesn't matter.

Not when Harry needs and wants and loves him, too, for all the same reasons.

“I was so angry,” Draco whispers, heart opening. “I don't think I've ever hated you so much.”

Harry swallows against his face. “I felt it. Every day. It killed me. Each day you kept your back to me, each day you passed like I wasn't there.”

He presses their heads together harder as he confesses. “I'm not sorry.”

“Not saying you should be, Draco.”

“How can I trust you won't do this again, Harry? How can I know you mean it?”

Harry turns his head, and Draco notes the brush of lips to his forehead and temple while Harry adjusts his hold around his body. “Because I learned, and I want to do better.”

“How can you prove that?” Draco asks, wanting to give in the last final bit, but is still afraid.

“I dropped the class.”

Draco jerks back so fast he knocks into Harry's jaw and nearly makes Harry bite through his fucking tongue. He winces, murmurs an apology as Harry rubs his mouth. Draco stares at Harry so near, closer than he has in weeks.

There's honesty in the green eyes. But why?

“You said you wouldn't quit because it would be lazy. Because you were so close to exams.”

Harry smiles a little. Just enough to see. “I spoke with McGonagall. Like I should have a while ago.”

Draco holds his breath. “When?”

“A few days ago. After she'd already cornered me with concerns.”

“Why'd you do it, Harry?” he asks because he has to know.

He has to know it's real and not a manipulation to just be near him again.

He has to know Harry means it, means this.

Harry reaches out slowly, giving him time to slap the hand away. Draco doesn't, but he doesn't move for it, either, just lets it grab his stiff, cold fingers and fold them together. He feels stronger immediately as a result, and that astonishes him.

“I told her how the class made me feel the entire time. I told her that I felt I was in it for all the wrong reasons. I told her I was going to go for Madam Hooch's position because it was what I wanted to do, because I'm happier when I fly and I love helping people, and helping kids fly or become better at it sounds perfectly challenging and quiet.”

Draco stares, surprised.

“And I told her what you said—that I needed to be selfish, for once. Take care of myself, first. And she agreed wholeheartedly,” Harry sighs and squeezes their fingers. “I mentioned your dig at how I should get an honorary N.E.W.T. in Defense Against the Dark Arts. She also agreed to that. She said given my past grades and my contributions over the years, let alone killing Voldemort, would sort it right out. She doubted there'd be a single complaint against it. And when I said I didn't want to get something unfairly while others are working so hard for it still, like Ron, she told me I'd already died for it. Not much I could say back, you know? So McGonagall took me out of the class. Now all I need to do is learn from Hooch still and prepare myself for next year.”

Draco bites his lip, closes his eyes, and exhales softly.

He's proud. He's so, so proud of Harry.

Harry raises their held hands. Kisses Draco's knuckles and makes him roll his eyes at it when he opens them again to see it.

Draco glances away to the curtains. “I'm glad you stood up for yourself.”

“Me, too. It was like a huge weight went off my back instantly...though I still had a bigger one with you avoiding me.” When he gives no response, Harry just holds their hands to his mouth, resting his lips gently there. “'Mione said you've been outpacing her in class. She said you're going to soar through your N.E.W.T.s without a problem.”

He snorts. She's probably not wrong, not with all the effort and work he's put into those two classes in the last month.

“I'm proud of you for working so hard, even when you hated everything and felt so awful.”

Grey and green hesitantly meet and hold their stares.

Draco feels so anxious, so nervous, so on edge. And even in the hell they look like, Draco still sees the handsome cut to Harry's jaw, still takes in the messy, endearing hair, and the powerful love right there in Harry's open, matching exhausted gaze.

His free hand touches Harry's face as he lets himself reconnect with his other half.

Draco's eyes search Harry's while Harry does the same, while he thinks about just how special Harry Potter really is.

Harry's a Hero.

Harry's a Savior.

Harry's a prophecy survivor.

He's also an abused child, grown and forgiving so many who have hurt him.

He's a seriously misunderstood individual carrying the world on his shoulders.

He's so beautifully caring and protective and wanting to be needed and loved because he never was. He, ironically, never was in the world he'd known while he'd been adored and never seen in this one.

And despite all that, Harry has chosen him. Above all else. Above everything.

Draco moves, wraps an arm around Harry's neck, pulls him close.

Their mouths meet for the first time in a month, and Draco holds on, opens his lips, lets Harry explore with his tongue.

He'd told Harry in the Forbidden Forest after the attack that he wouldn't be afraid if Harry wasn't. Draco had meant being afraid of being cursed or unlucky then. But now, now he knows it needs to mean to not be afraid of this, of the future just because of how they can be and what could possibly happen.

He knows they'll argue. He knows they'll bicker.

He just hopes they'll always kiss like this afterward.

When they part for breath, Draco presses his brow to that hidden scar on Harry's forehead. He soaks in Harry's soft, needful expression.

Draco crawls forward until he's astride Harry's lap, kneeling.

He presses as tightly as possible. Feels Harry's response to it and moans.

“Fix it, Harry,” he requests against Harry's cheek.

Harry groans and palms his face for a hotter kiss, then gently rolls him over to his back.

They keep kissing, keep touching in soft grabs and strokes.

Harry slowly undoes Draco's trousers and slides them and his pants down just to the bottom of his thighs. Draco lies, groin bare and hard, desperate. Harry strokes him twice, and Draco's eyes roll to the back of his head as the arousal fights his tiredness.

Draco tries to help Harry undo his own trousers, sucking his lower lip as Harry adjusts his the clothes to a similar level so he's free, too; he's just as hard, just as desperate, and Draco reaches for him, relief shooting through his body at feeling that familiar hardness, at touching that intimate part of Harry that no one else can.

Harry whimpers and thrusts tiredly into his palm.

And with that Draco knows they don't have long before they'll both pass out at this rate.

He points with his hand toward the drawer where the new, half-touched vial of lubrication hides, and Harry goes for it, balancing awkwardly over him as he reaches.

Draco rolls to his stomach, not wanting to move any more.

When he feels Harry's slick fingers slide inside of him gently, taking care of him after so long, Draco arches his back slightly and sighs his soft moan out.

Harry's lips are upon his, the tip of his ear, the back of his neck, the crown of his hair.

And then he is ready, and Harry shifts.

Draco hears Harry pop the vial's topper again and closes his eyes against the blankets, groaning in peace and relief when Harry situates himself and pushes forward.

His left hand reaches out for something solid, and Harry's hand is there, gripping his fingers and interlacing them together while he slowly rocks in and out, warm and thick and exactly where he should be.

Draco breathes out stress and isolation and breathes in Harry's cloves and rainy woods.

Draco lets his muscles relax for the first time in so long, yet feels his insides clench a little as Harry picks up speed and angles to hit precisely where he wants to feel him without him asking.

Draco gasps when Harry's other hand reaches under Draco's arched stomach to touch him, too.

This is different.

It's more like their first times than it is anything past Christmas. This isn't fun and fucking and sex to explore. It's that overly romantic notion of making love.

And as silly as the idea seems, and pathetic and romantic as it is, Draco simply chooses to embrace it for the moment, moaning slightly louder under Harry as he draws close between Harry's now harsh, fast, shallow movements and the fingers stroking him so wonderfully.

“He'll...hear...you,” Harry grunts between thrusts.

Draco opens his eyes, mid-moan.

Oh. Wow.

He'd totally forgotten Blaise out there.

Harry hits that spot again, rubs him just right, and Draco cries out louder.

Fuck him, that prick,” Draco hisses quite happily. “Just don't stop.”

“I won't, Draco.”

And he doesn't. Harry's touch and fingers and lips upon his turned face bring him closer and closer, Draco hears that primal slap of flesh to flesh repeating, and then it all synchronizes.

Draco comes, feeling like it's drawing from his fucking soul as he pours himself out onto the blanket beneath his stomach, sac still tightening for more as Harry pummels into him and lets go of his cock and grips his bum with his now freed hand.

Grey eyes shift open over his shoulder.

He sees Harry's emotional, wet face.

He takes in Harry's bit of uncertainty still there.

And he kisses Harry's knuckles in their held hands.

“Love you,” Draco groans, still enjoying the feeling of Harry's thick cock sliding in and out deeper now, faster now, harder now. “Mm, Harry. I missed you.”

Harry chokes on a cry, clenches his fingers into Draco's right bum cheek, and comes inside him, head thrown back, chest jerking with emotion and spending energy.

When Harry's head falls slowly back down, the green eyes hazy upon him, Draco smiles over his shoulder. Harry smiles, too, and carefully slides out of him, getting one last soft, fucking exhausted moan.

Draco barely remembers to yank his pants and trousers up after reaching for his wand and casting the usual cleaning spells. He hears Harry zipping his own trousers behind him.

And then Harry shifts a moment, and a pillow nudges Draco's cheek.

He lifts up enough for Harry to slide it under his head. His eyes stay closed.

Draco senses Harry rest on the other pillow behind him as he spoons Draco's barely conscious form.

“Get some sleep,” Harry seems to speak in his dreams.

He does so, passing out deeply. And it's the most peaceful rest he's had since Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lxxxv

 

 

“Bloody hell, it's about fucking time,” Ron Weasley sighs, loudly relieved when they enter the Great Hall for dinner together.

Draco winces, knowing the Weasel's voice has attracted every bit of attention that wasn't already on them there. Harry keeps a firm hand on Draco's shoulder and steers him to the Gryffindor table, ignoring everyone as if they were but chattering paintings.

He sits between Luna and Harry on the bench, staring at the table, uncomfortable with the eyes.

It's a shame he doesn't have Blaise to glare over here with him—not when Zabini's sitting quite happily at the Slytherin table next to a smirking Pansy, absolutely fucking pleased with himself to a degree Draco's not seen since he'd been marched to the Gryffindor dorms, that cheeky fuck.

Draco ignores everything but Luna's head pressing to his upper arm sweetly. He pats her hand between them on the bench, sees her smile below him with her eyes closed.

He won't say it aloud, but he secretly adores how much she's missed him.

“Good to see you, Draco,” Neville greets him across the table, smiling.

Draco's genuinely happy to see him, too. Merlin, how weird.

Draco nods, still a little shaken. It's been a month since he'd spoken to most of these faces, and he'd avoided them so well that he'd barely seen them, either. It's strange. It's awkward. He actually feels a little guilty.

Harry slides a warm palm over his thigh, rubbing with his thumb to relax him. It works, slowly, and Draco thaws bit by bit, sandwiched between he and Luna.

Ron smirks at him before turning to Granger. “Told you my idea would work, 'Mione.”

“Your idea?” Draco asks, brow cocking.

“Yeah, mine, Ferret Face. You and Harry were so annoying. So I told her to just lock the two of you in a room until you either made up or killed each other.”

“Glad to see you were hoping for optimism,” Harry grunts, rubs the side of his face, and stares Hermione down. “Doesn't excuse your trick.”

Draco glances to Granger, finding her blushing for once. “What trick?”

Hermione shrugs, stretches her arms against the table, and laughs. “I might've lied to Harry to get him out of the dorm so I could bind him easier. No way I could have gotten him down the stairs had I done the spell there, even with magic. I'd have knocked his head on everything.”

“She told me you were in the common room, that you wanted to talk things out,” Harry explains, glaring Granger's way. “She said you were demanding to see me.”

Draco raises both brows at her. “Very rude, but clever.”

“I felt horrible doing it. Like, you cannot imagine how horrible. But it worked. He came running down the stairs so fast I thought he was going to trip himself, and when he entered the common room I...I cast the spell before he could ask why you weren't sitting there. Thankfully he hit one of the chairs when he went back like a stone.”

Draco smiles to himself at the visual of Harry running down that spiral stone staircase, the poor sod, only to be cornered by one determined, terrifying Granger.

Ron grins, leans closer and pecks Hermione's cheek. “She's an evil genius when she wants to be.”

“No kidding,” Harry says, still quite put out.

Hermione sighs. “Please forgive me? It worked, Harry. I am sorry I did that trick, and I'm also sorry for knocking your leg on the stone when I turned you down the one hall.”

Draco snorts and bites his lip against Harry's elbow to his ribs. “So, what, the spell wore off when she left?”

“Basically.”

“Surprised you asked Blaise for help,” Draco murmurs, watching Granger for signs of antagonism at Blaise's name. He's surprised when he finds none at all.

“Well, I did sort of show up outside the dorm with Harry floating there with his stiff, pouting face. I think Zabini laughed too hard to be annoyed with me, and when I told him what I wanted to try, he was entirely for it. Said you'd been driving him mad lately. And Parkinson egged him to do it, too, but only if I floated Harry through the common room as some strange punishment, I suppose.”

Draco rolls his eyes in sync with Harry. They smirk at one another. Their friends are mad, Harry's thinking, and it's right there in the green eyes.

They both stop, though, when Ginny speaks up next to a quieter Dean Thomas. “Are things fixed enough, or are you going to deal with this again?”

Draco stares, unsure of just how to take that question from her.

But Harry holds his arm and keeps him level, saying softly, “It'll be okay, Ginny. Thank you.”

“She was worried, like us, about how bad Harry got,” Luna says to him, startling everyone.

Ginny nods, her eyes telling him that it's the truth, even if Luna's little statement for his benefit is a tad embarrassing for Ginny herself to hear. Nonetheless, it takes a while before Draco and Ginny Weasley both relax, each staring occasionally across the table in their own measuring methods.

After a lighter dinner than he's had in weeks, Draco stands outside in the corridor with Harry.

If he's honest with himself, going back alone to his dorm feels weird.

He wants some space to process everything, but he doesn't want the routine feeling of the last month to override anything if he leaves Harry standing here, looking at him so longingly again.

Harry rubs an eye behind his glasses, exhausted regardless of their sleep earlier. “I...I would like...um. I guess it's silly if I want to sleep by you again so soon, isn't it? I don't mean to...to smother you, but it's been weeks, and this afternoon isn't enough. Does that make sense?”

“Yes, Harry. I'll come and send a Patronus,” Draco whispers, bending slightly down to kiss Harry's cheek.

Harry relaxes visibly. Draco watches him swallow. “Thank you.”

Draco nods, leaves Harry there, and returns to his dorm. Blaise walks in as he's throwing clothes for the next day, Sunday thankfully, in a small bag. He doesn't grab for the vial he'd tossed back in the drawer; too many Gryffindors in that dorm to even try, Ron Weasley would kill him, and he's beyond tired, still.

“Going to have a pleasant evening, Draco?” Blaise asks as he leans against his own bed.

Draco shoots him a mixture of glare and smile. “You shit. Don't think I've forgiven you for locking me in here, even if it turned out.”

Blaise shrugs. “Well, something had to be done. You were in misery. I'm all for knocking people around, you know, but even I couldn't jab at you when you looked that depressed. I don't get it, but clearly Potter does something good for you.”

“Thanks, I suppose,” Draco sighs and waves at Zabini as he exits the dorm, stopping through the bathrooms to get his toothbrush.

His Patronus runs through the Fat Lady's painting, and she is not happy about it. Draco's expression dares her to say anything, and she huffs in turn, screeching when her door is suddenly flung open to reveal a smiling Harry.

Quickly, quietly, they pace through the common room that's empty for the moment and take the stairs.

Dean Thomas is the only one readying for bed. Longbottom and Weasley are both absent from the room when Draco walks in behind Harry and rests his bag against Harry's trunk.

Draco observes how quiet Dean seems and how cutely oblivious Harry is, too caught up in his own presence in the room to notice. Draco shrugs out of his robes. “Harry, mind finding something to drink?”

“What would you like? I think 'Mione's left some cider downstairs.”

“Sounds fine. Thanks.”

Harry pecks his lips and walks out, almost bouncing in his steps.

Draco smiles at it, again at how something so simple works so well, then sits against Harry's bed, facing Thomas fully. “Speak. At the rate he's walking, we've only got a few moments.”

Dean snickers, blinking gratefully at him. “Just, um...I'm glad you're back around. Harry's been a mess.”

“Justifiably so.”

“I figured.” Dean sits upon his bed and stares down at the blankets. “Harry's...he's...I guess what happened proved to me that he's past Ginny.”

Draco can't help it. He laughs. “Thomas, he's been past her for a long time.”

Dean laughs, too. “Well, I kinda hoped so, with you being a bloke and all.”

“Precisely. Even so, there's more to it than just my gender.”

Dean cringes, but nods all the same. “Right, sorry. She's over him, by the way. Not that she wasn't, but...more like she just didn't understand it all at first. When she told me last week how worried she was getting for Harry, I honestly could tell she meant it only as a friend. It's weird—it's like watching him go mad at whatever upset the two of you made her completely let go of any last questions she had as to why she wasn't good enough when you tossing Harry your wand was.”

Draco glances to the floor, counting the seconds for Harry's return in his mild annoyance. “I understand why she'd have confusion, but she made it about her when it wasn't. Never was. My relationship has nothing to do with her, and unintended consequences are Potter's forte, you know, even if he does mean well and generally goes about as Gryffindor as you please. They've had their talk, and I'm over it.”

Dean nods, silently understanding. “Yeah. I try my best with it. Lately if she talks about either of you, it's with concern for your well being, so I listen and let her get it out. And I go to every game she plays to support her, too.”

“I actually miss Harry playing Seeker,” Draco adds with a yawn.

Dean grins. “Would you go to support him? Even if you weren't dating him?”

Draco's lips twist, humored. “Even if. Bastard's excellent to watch in quidditch.”

“I like you around, you know. It's weird, but cool and all, and not just because you're dating Harry.”

Steps are bounding and echoing up the stairs as Draco nods Dean's way, and Thomas relaxes back into his pillow.

Harry appears with two glasses of cider, hands him one and looks between he and Dean.

Draco nudges Harry's leg with a foot. “Mind crashing early? Don't think I can stay up much longer.”

“Sounds great,” Harry says, distracted as desired.

They down the cider, change and use the loo, and climb into Harry's bed, curtains mostly drawn for privacy.

Draco curls behind Harry, nose brushing the back of the dark hair, arm under Harry's over his boyfriend's waist. He scoots even closer to the warm body, chilled by regrets and lingering sadness. Harry feels it and squeezes his hand against the abdomen it's resting upon.

He's missed this. He's missed this so much.

But the regret and the guilt he does feel eat him alive despite it.

“I burned them,” Draco admits in the quiet of the dark with Thomas sleeping silently and Longbottom and Weasley still missing in the early evening.

“Burned what?” Harry asks in a whisper.

Draco fights the lump in his throat. “Your notes. I...I'd kept them. Every one, even the first parchment you left with my wand. They stayed in my pockets, always, until...until I was.... I regretted it instantly, Harry, but I couldn't save them fast enough. I was an idiot, a fucking idiot.”

Harry lies quietly long enough for Draco's stomach to start rolling the contents of his dinner. And then, sleepily, gently, Harry says, “I'll just have to write more, then, won't I?”

And Draco smiles, in love and grateful, against Harry's considerate head and kisses it goodnight.

 

 

 

lxxxvi

 

 

Over the next week he finds them everywhere, little bits of folded parchment tucked randomly in his books or resting where he sits in class, or even the one left with a rock on the fence post where Sev is still staying.

Draco can't believe Harry.

It's so ridiculously precious. Juvenile and adoring.

And he loves it entirely, keeping the now growing stack in his robe pockets safely.

They each have the same green scratch writing on them, but say drastically different things.

For instance, the one at the thestral pen says I've faith in you, and so does he, even if he tried to bite me when I left this. Bad Sev, very bad of him.

Or the one he found stuffed in his broom's locker where Harry had clearly dabbled with magic to break his seal, reading Never a day I wouldn't watch you fly just to see you at peace that makes Draco glance around the empty storage before smiling at it.

There's even one under his breakfast plate when Harry's gone for a meeting with Hooch and McGonagall, telling him I dreamed of you last night, woke to an empty bed, and wished you were there. I wonder if you do, too. Draco cannot help but wholeheartedly agree.

The one he finds under his pillow makes his heart swell most, though.

It says with stronger letters, as if Harry's boldness and longing went right into the ink itself: This is still only us beginning. I promise you that, Draco. Have faith in me. Love, Harry.

It's nice to feel the stars balancing again.

It's nice to see the entire coin standing perfectly once more.

It's nice to start bending as the willow McGonagall thinks he could be, as the willow he's more and more considering he might honestly have been all along underneath the stiff bark he'd inherited and groomed under the careful watch of his father.

And when he sighs like a lovesick fool with the pile of them half-folded upon the bed and that last note held to read and reread behind partial bed curtains, a new talisman all its own, Blaise merely grunts from his own bed, telling Draco that if he must swoon over Potter's love notes to go and do it properly in the fucking loo.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lxxxvii

 

 

 

He's sleeping better. He's eating a lot more.

He gets snogged every chance Potter has by that greedy, loving Chosen One grabbing him all the time, smiling when he dares to stick a hand in Draco's robe pockets to check for the stack of notes.

And he knows that while their talk that day has cleared up much of his doubts and the mistakes they've both made, Draco tries not to subconsciously hold his breath...tries to remain unafraid as things pick back up and begin to stay well once more.

It's a new, awkward kind of peace with one another. They aren't pretending the month didn't happen, but they're not quite acknowledging much since they made up, either.

Honestly, he just wants to get on with things.

As such, there are times they look at one another despite those new notes in his pockets, and Draco sees the worry still there in Harry's eyes, as if Harry thinks he might vanish again. And when he notices it, he holds Potter's hand tighter, no matter where they are, until the concern is replaced by warmth.

He knows something about it all still eats at Harry particularly, but he's not entirely sure what. And he's not the only one curious, apparently, as she starts in the second he gets into Potions.

Fucking Granger.

“I know it's not my business, but I just wanted to know something, if I could.”

Such nosiness.

Draco sighs expectantly and double checks his ingredient list in Potions before going to the stock room to get them. “Whatever it is, no.”

“Well, we all wondered, but....”

“Granger, I'll hex you silent.”

Hermione exhales and holds her fingers against the edges of their table. “I guess I wanted to know if everything did get resolved between you two. I mean, it was bad enough for you to stop doing everything—talking to Harry, to all of us.”

“It's fine. And I'd like to fucking forget it and move on, if you don't mind.”

“Look, I'll be honest, Draco. I did sort of expect any terrible things between you two to, um.”

Draco drops his raven quill and glares. “Be my fault? Yes, of course you did.”

Granger looks away, slight shame in her face. “Yes.”

“Well, it wasn't,” Draco snaps, voice low enough to not draw attention from Slughorn speaking with a student nearby.

When she follows him into the storage, he rolls his grey eyes and tries to hurry as fast as he can while grabbing the items, muttering under his breath at the list as she, naturally, continues to ramble on behind him.

“Of course it wasn't. Harry wouldn't have looked like a lost puppy for a month if it was your fault.”

“So I'm to feel vindicated by that? To feel grateful that you clearly have some guilt from your prior assumption?” he asks and elbows her none-too-gently in the side as he passes back out to the room.

He ignores the glances from some Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs nearby, and the one quick look from Blaise at the other end.

Granger double checks their glasses for cracks as she talks away. “I'm sorry. Harry just wouldn't tell me. I want to be sure you're okay now, since you avoided me, too.”

Draco stares into the empty cauldron on their table, as if begging it to suddenly create a potion to make Hermione Granger never inquisitive again.

Alas, if he doesn't answer, she'll just keep on, won't she, even if it is because she cares. She's her own silly star wanting a bit of balance, he supposes.

Draco examines the stirring glass stick, nodding satisfied at its condition. “I'm fine, Granger. You won't be much longer if you don't shut up.”

“Okay, then. I'm glad, I mean, that you're okay.”

“Morning, class!” Slughorn calls from the front, taking their attention.

But her big brown eyes are still staring up at him even twenty minutes later as Draco is desperately trying to keep count of the amount of times he's stirred clockwise.

Losing his patience, Draco finishes out the timing and checks the next step. “Wait five minutes for boil.”

“Should turn out fine,” Hermione says.

She coughs politely under her breath once. Just like she has off and on since the start of class.

Draco cracks, but he sneers at her with a little playful kick to her shin. “Fine, I'll tell you something if you'll stop that little annoying gag of yours.”

Granger breathes out with a little whoosh. “Oh, oh, good. Thank you.”

“So long as it isn't because you need to know everything, Know-It-All.”

“It's not. I promise. Ron, um.” Granger smiles a little as she glances into the smoky cauldron at their potion. “Ron wanted to know which of you he had to 'knock 'round' or so he said. Something about promising you in the past.”

Now that might be worth telling for.

Draco snickers and sits upon one of their stools, arms crossed. “I told Potter to drop his class. I told him to give up on it for his own health. He spoke in turn, and I kicked his arse out of the room and my life.”

“Oh, Harry. Must have been something really awful, then. I'm sorry,” Hermione whispers, looking authentically concerned and apologetic on his behalf. “I've been around for some similar moments between he and Ron.”

Her genuine reaction is enough to get him talking more, despite the draining feeling that accompanies it. Draco settles himself with a comfortable sneer. “The usual Potter tripe. Think back, and I'm sure you can find a similar conversation—you know, how terrible Slytherin are, how selfish I am, how I couldn't know anything decent ever, that vein of thought.”

Granger glares into the cauldron. “He didn't.”

Draco closes his eyes a moment before meeting hers very seriously. “I suppose I asked for it by telling him to give up, didn't I? Must be like magic words to set off that stupid self-righteous sense of his.”

The hand covering her face is unnecessary, but appreciated by him all the same. “For pity's sake. Harry. I will wring him.”

“I think you got him enough with that evil trick of yours.”

There's a soft blush. “If anything proved to me how much you meant to him, it was that.”

Draco glances away, hiding his pleased smile to himself. “Yes, well, he's stuck to my side since, like a bloody burr. I can't get rid of him now if I try.”

“You remember in the Burrow, when you said you only cared about his opinion of you? I imagine that goes both ways, don't you think?”

Granger doesn't hide her smile from him, but she does keep checking the potion.

And later that night, as Draco walks to dinner, he reflects over that talk and how odd it is that he feels some relief at just saying anything about it at all. It had hurt to speak with Luna before they'd made up, but discussing it with Granger after the fact helped somehow.

Because he understands that look in Harry's eyes better.

It's not that Harry's clingy normally or would be now. It's that something's still wrong on Harry's end, inside of him, and Draco's presence indicates a good opinion of him, just like Granger said.

His foot pauses in his next step.

He is stunned to hear Harry's soft voice arguing with Weasley in an adjacent stairwell near the Great Hall. Draco stands, silent, feet refusing to move another stretch lest he show himself to them so close.

“Ron, he and I have dealt with it. We're getting back to where we were. We both have regrets.”

“But come the fuck on, Harry, he only wanted you to do the right thing for you, and I fucking agreed with him. With him.”

“Yeah, well I dropped it. That's that.”

“Even so. I'm a bit shocked at you.”

“You think I don't still hate myself for things I said?”

There it is. Fuck, there it is.

Draco sighs to himself, knowing they really can't move forward until Harry lets go of it.

Even Weasley seems to agree as he grumbles, “You'd better get over that, too, else it comes back out later. S'why I talked to 'Mione more about me walkin' out on you two after things settled. I hated how I felt about it.”

“I know, but I don't want to upset him again. I...I can't...I can't lose him like that again, okay?”

Draco barely swallows, unsure how to feel as he hears a rustle of robes and a heavy pat of Weasley no doubt tapping Harry on the shoulder.

He's saddened. He's frustrated. He wants Harry to tell him, regardless. To trust him enough to do so.

“Well, mate, you're in way deeper than I thought. It's a bit scary, really. Guess from now on I'd better remember two places at dinner anytime we go anywhere, huh.”

“Yeah.”

“But, Harry?”

“Yes?”

Draco holds his breath. Blinks once.

And then he hears something he never thought he would hear.

Ron Weasley threatens Harry Potter by saying softly, with Draco imagining those icy blues of an angry Weasel, “You ever talk to him like that again when you know bloody well he was tryin' to help you, and you and I will have a go at the Burrow. Even he didn't deserve that. You're my best mate, but I told him, didn't I? I told him I'd knock either of you 'round if I got to like him well enough, and he knew all along, knew back then—he said you could hurt him just as much, and you did.”

Silence, enough that Draco jumps at the ghost that suddenly breezes past, not hearing its complaint at him about eavesdropping.

Harry sounds rough when he finally grunts, “Yeah I did. Okay, Ron, I'm good with that.”

“Good, Harry. Let's go eat. I'm starving.”

Draco backs up, pretending to be going toward the Great Hall as Harry and Weasley come rounding down the stairs.

Ron simply nods at him, cuffs his shoulder, and continues past.

But Harry stares because Harry damn well knows he heard just by the look that's settling in both their eyes.

“I'm still sorry,” Harry whispers to him, stepping softly closer.

“I know,” Draco replies and reaches. Hands hang between them, the grip tightening as Draco quietly murmurs, “But it's done.”

When Harry closes his eyes, pained, Draco grunts and jerks their hands.

“We're doing well, and I'm not going to sit in that mire anymore. So stop it. Let it go for the both of us. Hate yourself if you ever talk to me like that again, but stop doing it now. Look at me, Harry. I'm snapping my fingers.”

He does so, literally, cracking his thumb and forefinger of his free hand right in front of Harry's nose.

There's a pause, and then a smile and a kiss as Harry leans, looking lighter. Brighter.

More like a sun.

“Draco?”

“Yeah, Harry?”

“Just...don't stop snapping your fingers, okay?”

“I won't. I'll wear the bloody joints out, if I must. And I mean it, Harry. Stop hating yourself, you twit. You've better things to spend that energy on—like me.

Harry laughs, complies with another kiss, and they walk into the Great Hall.

Draco notes the two Gryffindors watching them carefully and smiling at one another like pleasant accomplices.

And he decides with great magnanimity not to roll his eyes for once.

 

 

 

lxxxviii

 

 

By the end of March, most of the class projects have come to fruition.

Draco finds he can barely get the rest his body needs between his two classes entering actual exam preparations—mock exams and orals and the like—and his additional tasks he still does in the afternoons off and on throughout the week at McGonagall's direction.

Merlin knows there's a few students in his Potions class that work horribly under pressure when Slughorn passes through to watch, and thankfully he is not one of them. Neither is Granger, but that's just because she works under pressure constantly and so has adapted in a way Draco suspects is like a mouse constantly running around a cat just to grab the cheese tied to the cat's tail. It's mildly entertaining to watch her juggling books and parchments around the library, the classes, or even the Great Hall.

Draco spends the little free time he has with Harry, even if it means reading for class while with Harry, his head in Potter's lap with his legs stretched over a common room couch or sitting in a chair, book and parchments in hand to check something while Harry rests between his feet, head to one of his knees.

They've not gone back to the bathroom yet.

Draco feels the silent mutual agreement to not try, simply because despite its good memories, he knows it's also now doubly full of bad ones. That, and he didn't clean at all since that night, and it will quite look as if the fight never ended.

Eventually they will have to, though, because it's getting difficult.

Between tighter schedules, heavy preparations, and sheer exhaustion, Draco's libido has still managed to be quite aware of itself and inspire Harry's own to be as eager.

Draco's finding himself pressing Harry into empty hallways for a fast snog and feel, hand in Potter's trousers getting pulled away at the slightest sound of any movement coming. They take to even using that special Marauder's Map, and it helps, as long as one of them pays any bloody attention to it, in case of McGonagall, students, or the fear of Skeeter's name.

Thankfully it was Pansy who'd stepped past them the time they'd both forgotten to glance down again at it, and all she did was huff, tell Draco to at least try not looking so obvious when he spins around at her voice, eyes wide, shirt half-tucked, button open on his trousers with Harry clenching his embarrassed eyes shut in the hall.

It even gets bad enough that Dean Thomas, alone while Ginny practices quidditch, takes pity on them and gives them privacy by staying out of the Gryffindor dorm for an hour on Saturday nights while the Weasel is usually out with Granger and Longbottom with Luna.

Blaise Zabini, of course, is not so considerate and tells them to go closet hunting in the dungeons if they mustAnd despite what Zabini no doubt imagines they're up to doing, they mostly just snog the hell out of each other, grope, and lie still, taking comfort.

Draco has to laugh. Has to smile like a madman. Because not long ago he'd felt he'd lost Harry forever, felt he'd lost this connection in their anger, and he's feeling much stronger now, even more connected to Harry than before somehow.

Dean Thomas forgets to mention the new routine to Ron Weasley during the rare event of Weasley needing something from his trunk, the one time they actually dare a shag in the dorms there, and the results are nothing short of satisfying.

After all, there's nothing so Slytherin, he thinks, as sneaking into the Gryffindor dorms to fuck Harry Potter over his own bed with Ron coming up only to run back downstairs, screaming in shock and pretending later that he hadn't heard his best mate losing his ever loving mind through the Muffliato spelled door when anyone asks why he looks so red.

Needless to say, they don't try there again, not with Ron sneering at them for an entire week.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

lxxxix

 

 

“Ride 'im yet?” Hagrid asks, snapping Draco out of very inappropriate day dreaming thoughts of Harry Potter, a single broom, and both of them flying together upon it.

Draco blinks the blush away and gazes over where Sev stands next to the two others—the female with the injured leg, and a young male that refused to go back into the woods. Sev lifts his head, bobs it toward him, and goes back to eating meat Hagrid has provided.

“Hadn't thought about it,” Draco admits.

He's long wondered what flying on a thestral is like, especially since Harry admits to having done so before. The only one he'd have even considered attempting that with was Nudger, and Sev can't fly despite all the efforts spent healing him. The bottom of his left wing is too torn through and not healing like her little scar had. A bone fused funnily at the top of it as well, as if Sev had folded his wing in defense and posturing, and the werewolf had swiped down, causing all the damage in a single hit.

The stubborn creature still tries to flap his wings a little during his moods, regardless, humorously acting the dominant male now in his own tiny herd.

Hagrid whistles and pats the fence until the thestrals come to investigate. Draco reaches out, letting them all smell his hand, and Sev bumps the other two out of the way, claiming Draco's fingers for his neck to be scratched as usual.

“Cheeky,” Draco chides, smiling all the while. “I like you.”

“Should give it a try, Malfoy. He needs a good stretch out 'ere. Been too cooped up.”

Draco looks up at Sev's dark eye, curious.

He's read enough of Luna's notes and listened to she and Hagrid both to know that these creatures are very smart. And it's not Sev's fault that Draco's not been that fond of critters or anything hippogriff-sized since that awful chicken swiped at him.

“What do you think, Sev? Want a quick run?”

Sev stamps his front left hoof sharply. Bobs his head again.

Draco grins as Hagrid claps his hands together and moves to the gate. “Come 'ere, boy, over 'ere!”

Sev trots, wings stretching a little stiffly as he rounds to the gate excitedly.

Draco is nervous and looking at Sev too much to notice Hagrid step around behind him, and then the half-giant's massive hands are grabbing him by the waist and hauling him up into the air as if he's a sack of feed.

Draco handles this with the maturity one would expect of him over the years—with screams, flapping arms, smacking fingers that end up clenching Hagrid's sleeves, and panicked breaths as he shouts, “What are you doing? Put me down, now! No! No, no, no! Listen to me, you deaf brute!”

“Jus' gettin' ya settled, now,” Hagrid says, as if this will calm him down.

Like hell.

Draco struggles as he's gently sat down upon Sev's back, legs in front of the wing joints, fingers shifting from Hagrid's coat sleeves to grip Sev's mane tightly.

“Bloody oaf,” he snipes in an attempt to regain some dignity.

But Hagrid just beams at him, unfazed. “Good, good! Now jus' tell 'im where you want ter go.”

Draco shudders above Sev, too shocked he's even on the animal, and then remembers that Harry leaves a class of first years and Hooch about this time of day, usually to come meet him here now.

“That way,” he points past Sev's face so the thestral can see. “Find Harry.”

There's a haunting call, a rearing up that makes him shout and grip harder in fright, and then Sev is taking off, running beautifully against the ground, wings folded close to Draco.

Draco's grey eyes are huge as the wind tears through his hair and blows his robes.

He's breathing heavily, still concerned about being upon the tall creature, but Sev glances once back at him and slows the slightest bit, and Draco relaxes into the trust they've built between one another all this time.

His nails scratch along the side of Sev's neck, and he laughs when the thestral leaps over a large rock, closing in upon the first years' class. Draco grins when he sees Harry hovering on a broom, Potter's eyes massive behind the glasses even at this distance.

Harry takes off after them as Sev keeps going, getting some mild screams from a few first years who can see the thestral and some from those Draco imagines are just seeing him hovering upon nothing in the air, moving so fast.

Draco begins the loop back toward the pen by using his knees and words to guide Sev, ducking when Harry gets close enough to brush fingers over his hair and chuckle over the wind.

Sev snaps his jaws protectively and jumps somewhat, causing Harry to pull up with a whoops expression and wave, flying back toward the first years for safety.

When Draco gets Sev to slow and pace near the pen, he sees Hagrid wiping his eyes.

Draco frowns at it.

Surely him riding a thestral isn't a thing to weep over.

It's just a winged horse of death and doom, after all, and he's gotten quite used to them.

But somehow it must be as Hagrid's eyes are still wet when Sev finally stops.

Draco tries to awkwardly climb off of Sev before Hagrid can grab him with those huge hands again, and he lands, hand out over Sev's wing to balance himself.

He sees his fingers covering the torn skin, like webbing, closing over the gaps in spots.

And just like that, the puzzle piece Harry predicted shows itself, much to his own awe.

 

 

 

 

xc

 

 

 

 

“You want us to try...what?”

“I want to transfigure this into skin.”

“You want to take something organic, like plant flesh, and make into actual animal based skin, why?” Granger asks, staring at him before the start of their Potions class the next day.

Draco looks away. “Does it matter? Are you up to the challenge or not?”

Hermione sighs, considering the piece of inner thin, stretched plant pulp he'd managed to get a sample of from Neville that morning.

Draco knows how insane it sounds, but it's all he could think about, dream about, seeing the skin knit over and meld to that wing, at least giving Sev the partial ability if the bone could be reset somehow in the wing, itself.

What he doesn't know is why it's so fucking important to do this, why the sight of his Patronus at the Manor is still dancing behind his lids at night, or why this feels like a choice McGonagall seemed to hint about in their talk.

It's all he can do to sit here and not just leave, walk down to the pen, and try something.

There's this energy, this burning energy in him to do, to make, to prove. To help. And it's desperate if he's asking her.

“Well, we'd need a sample of...of whatever skin you're wishing to transfigure it into.”

“No, I'm not cutting into him for that. And it wouldn't need...yes, but...onto, it needs to go onto the skin—transfigure this into matching skin and blend it, Granger. Use that fucking brain of yours now, and figure this out.”

“Draco...that's...advanced, for one. I mean, muggles have this type of procedure called grafting, and they use it for burn victims and the like, but this is a bit different from that as it starts as skin,” Granger slowly smiles, and Draco groans knowing she's damn well figured it out now. “But we should keep our options open. Consider non-organic transfigurations as well. Anything, really, so long as we're careful of Sev's care.”

He rolls his eyes and stays silent through the class, paying close attention to the plant pulp as he holds it in his hands, glancing at all the little marks that look like veins, the texture of it; his brain argues that it could work with it already looking like skin enough as is. But he doesn't want to harm Sev if it doesn't function properly. Or if it even struggles to stay functional.

“What do you mean, non-organic? It's his wing, Granger," he says between pauses in the lecture.

Granger risks a look at Slughorn and quickly draws out a crude version of Sev's wing with the ripped bottom part. She colors in the gaps lightly and taps the last one with the tip of her quill. “Thin leather transfigured to look and function with the wing. Maybe we could seal it within the gaps and, um, 'plug the holes,' so to speak.”

Draco watches her slide the sketch back under her textbook when Slughorn finishes speaking at the table next to theirs. “Something more basic than flesh transfiguration could hold? I don't want to repeat the procedure often or at all, if possible.”

“I think we could do it. And it would be a thousand times easier, since neither of us have the anatomical or healing knowledge required. Speak to Hagrid. Maybe he'll have some advice. In the meantime, I'll see what I can find out,” she whispers to him after Slughorn passes, approving their potion.

Draco coasts through the rest of class, nearly falling asleep and jerking aware to a simultaneous elbow from Granger and a pat on the hand from Slughorn himself, and he scowls at them both.

Hermione follows him to lunch, chatting him up the entire way with ideas as she, too, is now holding the pulp carefully for examination, muttering about needing thin but firm material that won't be too brittle and could catch wind securely enough.

Harry runs at them excitedly, startling them both outside the Great Hall. “Hey! I've news. Oh, I've news.”

“Calm down, Harry, and tell us,” Hermione chastises, smiling as Draco shifts his right arm and Harry slides under it, leaning into his side between them.

“Okay, so, McGongall just spoke with me about Susan's memories. They're still not entirely clear, but she believes there's enough evidence of outside tampering to warrant suspicion with the circumstances. If Susan's willing, she wants to speak with someone at the Ministry about it and start action against Skeeter.”

Draco bends a brow. “This has been progressing?”

“It...happened while we weren't speaking,” Harry explains, arm around Draco's waist rubbing him gently. “Hermione took everything to McGonagall, and the Headmistress was furious at the insinuations we had.”

Hermione chuckles, quite cheerful. “Oh, beyond furious. It was lovely to watch.”

“You really hate this Skeeter woman,” Draco observes, but shrugs all the same. He does, too.

Harry snickers beside him. “I still say our best bet is to capture her in Animagus form if she ever comes 'round again. We tell her we'll keep her in a jar with holes until she's willing to tell the truth, and if she breaks that oath, we keep her stuck in a body bind for McGonagall.”

“It's terrible. I agree.”

Draco just laughs. “I thought you two were Gryffindors. You're sounding Slytherin. Or, at the least, like a Ravenclaw who's been set off.”

Granger giggles while Harry winks.

As they sit to lunch at the Gryffindor table together with a starving Ron Weasley (who's finally forgiven them, it seems), Draco is startled by a sudden owl flying in and dropping a wrapped package above his head. The poor creature looks ruffled and just a bit crazed.

“Oh, no. That's from Mum,” Ron hisses.

Hermione covers her mouth, clearly knowing something about the item with the way it's been wrapped in the brown paper. Even Harry is biting his lip in sympathy.

Draco holds it up and away. “Well, that can't be good then if you lot are giving me those looks.”

“Open it. It's all right,” Hermione encourages, patting Ron's hand.

Ron just snorts. “Guess this really means you're one of us for sure, now.”

“Ron,” Harry grunts, shooting him narrowed eyes for a second before he turns to Draco. “Go on.”

Draco exhales, preparing himself for something monstrous as he rips the brown paper open and breaks the twine holding it in place. When all he sees is a bit of green, his brow arches and he glances upward. “A jumper has you all acting ridiculous?”

“No, no, open it up and out,” Ron says, waving his hand.

He does so, pulling the green knitted thing out to lay against his chest.

It's then he gets it.

There's a large, silver D right in the middle of it.

“Even your letter's nicer,” Harry grumbles, eyeing the jumper in an oddly covetous way.

The words are out and playful before he can stop them. Draco slyly whispers, “Why, Potter, it sounds like you're admiring my D here an awful lot.”

Ron chokes very loudly on his drink. Granger chortles, smacking Ron's back.

“Oh, hey, look she sent a note,” Harry murmurs, entirely rosy and trying to distract everyone as he pulls a piece of parchment out of the wrappings. “Says, 'Dear Draco, I had hoped to get this to you sooner as a token of apology from Arthur and I for our son George's horrible behavior to you, but I wasn't sure of your size, and I finally wrote to your mum about it. She took some time to write back, not sure why, but she did give it to me a little while ago. Hope you like. And forgive George; he's silly, really, and seems to be quite sorry.'  Signed, Molly Weasley.”

Ron cackles. “Ah, George. Mum was so angry after you left, Malfoy. Wow. Haven't seen her that irate in ages.”

Draco turns the jumper to look right at it.

It's definitely not the cashmere quality he's used to wearing, but there is something oddly charming, he supposes, at the hand knitting of a gift for him in his House colors.

He sees Harry smiling softly to himself. “You have one, too?”

“Oh, yeah. Got one first year here. She's made some new ones as I got bigger.”

“And you?” Draco asks Granger, who just nods, lips pressed together so she won't just burst out laughing at his quite lost expression.

“Just write her a thank you. You don't, she'll send more, worried you don't like it or it doesn't fit,” Ron advises, smirking around half a roll, chewing loudly. “Welcome to it, Ferret Face. You're an Honorary Weasley, now.”

Draco's face falls as the awkwardness sets in alongside some strange sense of pleasure. “Oh, Merlin.”

Harry pets his back. “You'll get used to it.”

“She knows I'm me, right, Weasel? She's not gone senile yet?”

“Yep. I dunno what you said to her, but she said you had a talk. Must've done something right,” Ron admits, shrugging.

Granger bites into a muffin, seeming curious, but thankfully doesn't ask.

“Oh,” Draco hums.

It damn well didn't feel like he'd done anything special that day. He'd just stood his ground, coldly, even, to Molly Weasley in her own kitchen. A Dragon his mother had been proud of when he'd recounted it to her.

“S'that, Draco?” Harry asks, picking up the plant pulp nearby on the table and holding it up.

“Careful with that. You break it, I'll ignore you for another week,” Draco threatens, and Harry immediately hands it back over, not risking it even in joke form. Draco notes Granger eye him over the remains of her muffin, waiting, and he sneers at her before sighing. “It's...a project starting point. For Sev.”

Weasley frowns. “Sev?”

“The one thestral,” Harry says, eyes lighting up wonderfully green. “Draco, you figured it out. I told you you would!”

“You and your puzzle piece insight,” Draco agrees. He glances quickly about the half-filled hall, finds barely any eyes their way for once, and leans, pressing his mouth firmly to Harry's cheek.

“That best be all you do right now,” Ron playfully warns across the table.

Harry blushes, amusing Draco.

Hermione shoves at Weasley, eyes exaggeratedly rolling. “Ron, do get over yourself.”

“Hey! That's not fair. You didn't hear what I did.”

“You're right, I didn't. I don't even know what you're talking about, Ron.”

Weasley pauses and glares at he and Harry, making them both laugh horribly to themselves.

If Ron tells Hermione, Granger will give them an earful about rules, appropriate times and places for that type of stuff. But she'll also give Ron one, too, for his treatment of them since, even if it was humorous.

Weasley's face sours in defeat. “Nothing. Heard nothing. You hear something? I don't.”

“Ron.”

“'Mione.”

Draco gleefully grins and holds Harry's hand between them. He waits until Granger bids them farewell and runs for the library to say, “Such balls, Weasel. My, my.”

“Shut it, Ferret Face.”

Harry rubs his temples. “Ron, c'mon. We've not done anything like that before or since there.”

“Good. Keep it the hell away from me.”

“Phobic ginger prat,” Draco says, slinging an elbow around Harry's neck, yanking him closer for a brief peck just to heckle the other Gryffindor.

Ron's cheeks bloom a lovely burgundy color. “I'm not. You two are more public than even Hermione and I are, and it's weird.”

“Yes, well, we were outed, so why the fuck not at this point?”

Harry sits forward, and Draco raises his brows at that on the prowl look Potter always had in the past. “Oh, but Ron, I had to deal with you and Lavender. Remember, Won-Won? 'Cause I remember.”

“Please...please say that again,” Draco bursts, laughter erupting loudly. “Aw, look, Won-Won doesn't like it. Something wrong, Weasley? Does Granger call you even worse nonsense?”

“No! And don't remind me. I'd rather vomit slugs again,” Ron says, wrinkling his nose. His expression shifts, prematurely triumphant as he retorts with, “Least I wasn't playing 'round in the bloody dorms with Lavender.”

“Weasley, if you think Harry sounds like that when I simply touch him, I'd shudder to think how you believe he sounds when we shag,” Draco teases, embarrassing both Ron and Harry to death right then.

“No, no, I refuse to think I heard that in there.”

“So sorry, Weasley.”

Ron gapes. “Harry. Tell me that's not what I heard you doing.”

Harry's eyes are closed, his lip is caught in his teeth, and his cheeks are pink. “Um. Didn't...intend for it to go that far when it started?”

“Ugh, you two,” Weasley says, shakes his head, and stands. He goes to speak again to Harry, finger pointing as Harry stares up, still embarrassed, but Ron instead shuts his mouth, and walks away, muttering under his breath about rules and breaking them and how it's all that damn Slytherin's fault.

“It is,” Harry agrees, big green eyes happy. “We wouldn't have even tried it in there if you hadn't...you know.”

Draco's features slip into an expression of seduction that he knows works wonders on Potter. “You bent over so nicely to pick up your tie that I couldn't resist shoving you over your bed for a grind. And now we know you like it really rough.”

Harry gulps, eyes darting about to be sure no one's heard that.

“Even surprised me a bit,” Draco says, smirk proudly displayed. “But I quite like it.”

“Merlin, Draco,” Harry just grumbles, face in his hands, shoulders heaving with silent laughter.

Draco sighs and holds the jumper up again. “So, Harry. How terrible would I look in this thing?”

“Nightmarish.”

“Thought so.”

“Honestly, though, that's one of the nicest ones I've seen her make. You should be happy.”

Draco simply folds the garment, wondering exactly what his mother must have thought when she'd gotten Molly Weasley's haphazard owl.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

xci

 

 

 

On the rainy Sunday in mid April, Draco sits with a bored Harry Potter at a late breakfast.

He glances through his Transfiguration notes for the final mock test, taking a break from thinking of Sev's dilemma, but Harry as always is quite distracting no matter his reason for concentration.

Potter sits angled toward him in his preferred muggle jumper and trousers that aren't sealed to his thighs in tightness, tousled black hair dangling into one of his green eyes behind the round glasses as he stares at Draco, smile growing slightly, consistently wider with each passing page of his notes. Draco bites the inside of his cheek, striving to ignore the sod so he can finish this read through.

He knows what Harry wants.

Harry wants what he always wants.

And Draco is not flying today with the lightning crackling even in the enchanted ceiling above them as it does muted outside. Well, he would maybe at least try to see if Potter would attempt to convince him beyond the silly looks, but this is far more entertaining to do.

“No,” he hisses, shaking his head at the continued look aimed his way.

Harry still sits quietly, but scoots a little closer to stroke the edge of his finger down Draco's sleeve.

Draco pointedly moves his arm closer to the parchments and book.

His boyfriend naturally does not give up.

There's a grunt as he twists awkwardly, a shuffle of clothing to his right, and then a whispered, “Accio notes.”

Draco gapes dramatically as his notes go whizzing from his left hand and the table over his arm into Harry's waiting fingers. He glares in spite of his amusement. “Merlin, Potter. Do get over yourself.”

“Draco.”

“I'm not going for a fly. I'm not risking my broom out there, no matter how much you like to wank to me at night with the visual of me dripping wet flying upon it.”

Harry blushes, but is not deterred. “You've been studying all morning.”

“Yes, well, unlike you I need to do so. I don't get to just shadow Hooch and enjoy myself. Must be nice, Harry,” Draco teases with a small smirk and grabs for his parchments.

Harry, of course, pulls back just enough to be out of reach.

Draco arches his brows. “Really?”

Potter grins, the terrible git.

“Try me, Potter. See what happens,” he warns, smirk spreading, stomach heating and pants tightening at that sexy glare thrown his way.

Harry shifts on the bench.

Draco stares, uncertain, glancing about as the few people still in for breakfast watch across the other House tables while Harry moves forward slowly.

And then lips bump his brow, Harry knocks him backward with a palm to his chest and forces him to catch the table to stop his fall; Potter is gone, running out with the notes, trainers slapping the stone floor as if mocking him.

Draco laughs as he slings his book under his arm and takes off after Harry, then catches a group of Hufflepuff younger year girls giggling behind their hands, whispering how cute it is. That gets a scowl and a huff for his dignity sent their way, and they gasp as he runs out of the Great Hall, listening for the echoes of Harry.

His heart slams against his rib cage as he catches up, his feet taking a path he hasn't in a while.

Draco stops in front of the open bathroom door, mirth entirely gone.

Harry stands inside, staring at the semi-broken cot, the damage from Draco's missed hexes around the room cracking some of the porcelain and stone.

Well, fuck.

Draco closes his lids, inhales and exhales deeply, and enters the room he's avoided since that stupid, terrible night. He looks about at the emptiness, the coldness, yet also the sadness, as if the room itself somehow has missed the two of them just as much and is all the warmer for their presence in it now.

Harry looks to the floor, to the notes in his grip. Then the Savior turns and sets them upon a sink. Draco stands in shock, letting Harry take the book in his hands from him without a fight to also set it with the relocated notes.

He waits, breaths catching fast, heart erratic with the grey eyes searching back and forth.

Tan skin. Green wet, yet familiarly determined eyes.

The sun has woken fully to the damages, and it desires to heal with its warmth again.

Draco sucks in audible air as Harry waves a hand and the door slams shut behind them, locking all without Potter moving for his wand.

It's not common for Harry to use wandless magic. But that power display is fucking hot.

Draco licks his dry lips, feeling the atmosphere zapping with electricity.

Harry gently takes his wrist and pulls him to the barely stable cot. He backs Draco against it, eyes no longer wet. And he gives a second firm palm to Draco's chest that day and shoves him upon the bedding behind him.

“Harry,” he gasps barely a second later as Potter is instantly atop him, kissing his jaw and cheek. “What...what are you...have you lost your mind, you nutter?”

“Nope,” Harry sighs, licks Draco's throat, and gently presses a single kiss to his parted lips.

There's a brilliant smile.

There's an unspoken apology.

And then there's understanding.

Draco's arms wrap around Harry tightly, left leg lifting, as Harry whispers, “I'm fixing it, Draco. I wanted that night with you.”

“Oh, fuck, Potter,” Draco groans, feeling tighter and wound as Harry's erection drags against his through their trousers.

“I know we've been avoiding this room. I think it's time we quit. Give it a new feeling, yeah?”

Draco presses his face close to Harry's, swallowing back the discord in his throat coming up from a healing heart. Leave it to Harry to render him speechless.

But then Harry adds with a thrust of his hips, “And I'm really getting tired of constantly risking things. I just wanna be able to do this again.”

Aha. Logic Draco can fully appreciate without emotional entanglement.

“Mm. Yet here I am, Harry, short one pair of stupidly tight muggle trousers.”

“True. Merlin, those were nice. But I remember you being partly naked, actually,” Harry teases, smirking as he leans back and tugs at Draco's vest.

Draco lifts up, and the garment goes flying to the floor.

Their eyes meet, lock, and Draco makes his decision. His strong slender grip guides Harry's fingers to his shirt buttons, and one by one feels Harry undo them until the silk parts and leaves his chest partially bare.

The scars haven't always bothered Harry, because at times around Christmas Harry was far too gone to even consider much outside of satiation. But this room has inspired a bit of vulnerability in both of them the way it has inspired courage.

“If...this,” Draco begins, single fingertip tapping Harry's lighting bolt behind his hair, “isn't entirely you for me, then these aren't all I am to you, are they?”

Harry closes his eyes, cutting Draco out for just a moment.

And then the green flashes open anew, bold and brilliant and enticing.

Draco smiles as he waits, nerves tingling down his legs and arms, and Harry doesn't disappoint. Gently his boyfriend parts his shirt open entirely, and Harry bends his face, cool tip of his nose trailing over Draco's flesh and making it sensitive.

His head softly falls as the warm tongue laps the scars. Moans slip from him, gasps drawn into long breaths and sighs as fingers chase the wet muscle's path, and Draco ascends into something he's not quite felt before.

It's there as Harry kisses over his ribs and swirls his hot tongue over a pale, pink nipple.

It's humming through his body when his clothes are removed as if in ritual, as if preparing him for something wondrous.

It overtakes him when their skin touches without barrier, without cloth, without interruption.

Draco holds Harry's head, angling him with each successive kiss; his mouth is demanding, his emotions ruling his nerves and limbs.

He wonders if there's anything more beautiful than Harry's face when he touches him, when Harry's mouth opens so perfectly, his eyes clenching against the masculine groan.

The cot grumbles beneath them loudly enough that they both freeze.

The sound settles.

Draco stares at Harry, unsure.

Harry shrugs, adventurous as always, and resumes sucking the spot on Draco's neck.

Draco drags his nails down Harry's back while Potter arches into it with a hiss. He lets his teeth graze Harry's ear as he speaks, firmly, “If this thing breaks while we're using it, I'm blaming you.”

“You broke it originally.”

“Yes, well...sorry about that,” Draco says, teeth catching the lobe now. He leans back and holds Potter tightly to him, rubbing their hair and brows together. “You said those things, but I...they were stupid hexes, nothing serious, but I did....”

Harry's nose bumps his. “I knew that then, Draco. I'm not mad.”

Draco's grey gaze glitters. “No?”

“Nope. Ron and I've done some similar hex slinging before.” His gracious love kisses him once. “Besides, I trusted you not to really hurt me, even if part of me wanted you to.”

“Ah. I...see. Harry?”

“Hm?”

“While I appreciate your words, please don't ever mention the Weasel again when we're both naked, and I'm fucking aroused. It's just weird.”

Harry chuckles, his chest vibrating with it against Draco's skin and into him. “Okay.”

Draco's legs move up against Harry's as much as possible, his feet teasing the calves slightly. He licks a broad swipe over Harry's lower lip and sucks it briefly. “You didn't happen to bring something important with you, when you no doubt concocted this scheme of yours earlier, did you?”

Harry winces above him. “Oh. No. Crap.”

“There's a spell, supposedly, one could try. I guess we'll have to make do.”

“Is it always necessary?”

“The family friend from France had done it...raw, before. He said whilst it was fun, a heat-of-the-moment thing, it was not so smooth of a ride for a bit of it, so yes, it does help. I like the scent of that vial, anyway.”

Harry thunks his head heavily to Draco's collarbone. “Damn it.”

Draco snickers and has Harry adjust enough to grasp for his trousers, digging in the pile until he finds his wand. He murmurs the incantation he remembers being said, and something similar to his vial's contents comes out the tip of his wand in a rather uncomfortable visual metaphor.

Even Harry bites his lip not to laugh when Draco grunts, “Oh, shut up.”

He slicks Harry's cock and drops his wand.

Harry rises to his knees, warm rough hands sliding over Draco's leg upon his chest.

And Draco breathes out a shuddering sigh as Harry pushes when Draco pulls at his hips, not even caring about any sort of routine foreplay.

He just wants it now.

Draco watches Harry burning above him, the green fire of Harry's eyes consuming his soul as he is entrapped by its fierce, loving gaze.

He palms himself as Harry pushes all the way in, withdraws, and goes faster, shallower for a moment. Draco blinks longingly once with the firmness inside of him.

It always feels so damn good.

“This...will...always be...our room, won't it?” Harry asks, hands on Draco's hips.

“Mm,” Draco grunts, unable to even form fucking words with the rocking motions into his body.

The cot trembles again, creaking louder, and there's a small snap.

Harry quits moving.

Draco whines.

There's a crack below them.

“Oh, that can't be good,” Harry whispers, eyes round behind his glasses.

Draco's almost beside himself in frustration, one hand gripping his own hair.

Harry slides out, and Draco groans. Already he feels emptier inside, void without that cock that's gotten so familiar.

He watches Harry climb off the cot, and he swipes for his hand grumpily, bum and groin both aching for more. His mind's too glazed with the desire to even care as the cot actually crumbles with a broken support beam and falls lopsidedly to the floor as they step away.

Harry laughs. “That was close.”

Draco's doesn't laugh because Draco has had it.

Fed up and aroused beyond belief, he leads Harry over to the large mirror.

They stare at their nude reflections curiously.

And Draco takes hold of the porcelain, bending just enough forward for their height difference. Grey eyes snap to the mirror, commanding silently as Harry stands behind him, looking mildly surprised.

But firm hands take his hips. Harry presses against him, kissing across his neck and back. And then he rubs his still hard, still heated slick length over Draco's bum.

Draco arches, eyes open on himself in the mirror as he looks wild and untamed. Stunning, even. And wholly without fear.

Harry exhales once, and Draco feels him push forward again, moaning loudly while he grips the sinks as tightly as possible.

The rocking begins again, harsher, deeper as he leans more, letting Harry grip his back and hip and slam into him.

Draco can barely think, though, as he looks at their reflections.

His mirror self is in mid-rapture, lips open, cheeks warming rosy with the flush. And Harry's vision behind him alternates with closed and open eyes, with gritting teeth and open jaw, as Potter slowly loses control.

It's hot.

Draco can't help but wonder why the fuck they've not done this before.

Watching Harry moving behind him accelerates the indescribable feeling from earlier, some strange sense of rightness, of being exactly where he should be, and he moans, loudly, proudly, smirking at his own likeness in the glass.

Harry smiles behind him, watching, and thrusts harder with a moan. “Draco, you...this is....”

“I know, Harry. Just fuck me,” Draco groans low. “Merlin, look at you.”

Harry slides his arms under Draco and lifts his torso up more, tip of his tongue darting out to carve sweet little paths across Draco's shoulder.

He risks letting his right hand off the sink, breath rushing from him as he touches himself to Harry's even more invigorated thrusting; his legs tighten from the angle, and his muscles all wake excitedly to the pounding and the thickness marking him from the inside out. His left knee gives slightly with a calf twitch as he gasps Harry's name in the simultaneous awareness of touch and sight.

Draco can't hold back. He jerks and empties against his hand, against the bottom of the sink as he gasps, eyes still on the mirror watching himself come so strongly, watching Harry seeing him do so, too.

Harry whispers Draco's name, locks his arms about him, and comes, staring at them both in the mirror with a look of sexual confidence that is branded forever in memory, one that's come so far from their first nervous touches.

Draco rocks with the aftershocks, entirely almost orgasmic high.

Even his brain seems far away, thoughts floating out of reach.

“That was fucking incredible,” Harry says, trembling.

The room seems alive with the panting between them.

“Never thought I'd be able to look at myself during and not laugh,” Draco admits, smiling at Harry in the mirror. “You?”

Harry grins. “Me either.”

Draco sighs, both hands on the sink as Harry gently slips out and steadies his hips. “Wow.”

“All right there, Draco?”

Their reflections smile knowingly at one another as he answers, “Fantastic, Potter.”

Harry looks wondrous in the mirror, beautiful enough to compel Draco to revolve and view him without the glass. He's fucking gorgeous, all disheveled, fresh from sex with half-lidded eyes.

Draco steps forward, hand cupping Harry's jaw. Lips tease and give in, parting warmly. Draco slides his fingers down Harry's chest, toying momentarily with the bit of hair before turning for his wand to clean up.

“I did not imagine you to be...well, hairy, Harry,” he teases, bending for his discarded wand on the floor and cleaning them. “Makes you so...so manly. Suppose you had to grow into it someday with the rest of your personality already absurdly cavalier and heroic, mm?”

Harry laughs and smacks his arse, jolting the hell out of him. “And you, smooth as your bum.”

“Shove off. You love my bum. You're still groping it.”

“Yep.”

“Harry, I can't get my pants on with your hand there. Okay, now I can't move at all with you pressing so close, you git.”

“Nope.”

“Potter, I can't shag in here all fucking day, even if I want to. I've things to do besides you.”

A dramatic sigh that for once isn't his. “Bloody N.E.W.T.s. Can't wait for you to graduate.”

Draco finally turns around, sliding his clothes on one layer at a time while Potter stands, still quite nude, smirking. He cups Harry's groin, winking. “Well. Something to look forward to?”

“Lots to look forward to,” Harry corrects with a kiss.

Draco leaves the bathroom with Harry after they try to fix the cot and clean the room. He feels renewed in a way and quite appreciative, silently of course, of that persistent, inevitable nagging of Harry's when it does turn out right.

Fingers grip loosely between them, faces flushing when they bump into Luna in another hall.

When all she does is murmur about how bright the stars are shining today, Draco blushes and Harry stares after her, muttering, “Bless her, she is such a special kind of strange.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

xcii

 

 

 

While he and Granger take turns reading some rather restricted material from the library in order to attempt to help Sev if they can, Draco receives another owl.

This time it is from his mother and, unsurprisingly, bears no knitted jumpers. But it does bring a letter, and that letter contains a question.

It's a simple question at first glance, but it's a tipping point in truth.

Will you see your father, Draco? his mother wonders, saying she has visited the prison a few times now, trying to save any semblance of her once proud marriage.

Will he? Could he? Should he?

It's not like he hasn't considered trying to arrange something before, but shame, regret, and a large uncomfortable mixture of disappointment, wishful thinking and fear have kept that idea at bay for so long that it's nearly novel to consider it all over again.

Harry finds Draco by the lake on the warmest, nicest newly spring day yet and sits down next to him, folding his arms around his knees the same way Draco has done, staring off at the water, too.

He doesn't ask, and Draco is grateful because he wouldn't even know how to say it, to convey how terrified, how nervous, how confused he feels over his mother's question.

It should be simple.

He should want to see Lucius, and he should just do so. At least once. After all, it's not him with the sentence in Azkaban, all alone, losing his mind even with Dementors no longer haunting it.

The thoughts get deep, far too deep for his liking, and he stretches while Harry rests his legs down, accommodating Draco's heavy head into his lap and stroking the pale hair.

“Whatever it is, you'll figure it out.”

“You mean, I'll 'do the right thing,' do you? Harry, we both know I may well not.”

Harry yawns, free arm coming up to cover his mouth. “Not sure about that since I don't know what it even is. But I know you'll make a choice. You always do, no matter how hard you struggle with something—you always move, Draco.”

Draco blinks, staring up at the sky and Harry's bent face. “Do I?” he wonders aloud.

Harry nods softly, green eyes faithful. “You took my hand in the Room of Requirement to fly away. You threw me your wand. You helped with Hogwarts before your sentence. You came back to me in the Great Hall that day with the article. You moved past our fight, still succeeding in classes, alone. You held me when I was afraid you would never do so again. You do, Draco. Even if that direction isn't necessarily 'right' in others' eyes, you at least move forward, move somewhere. I don't think you like anything to be stagnant, even in happiness. S'why you push me, always have, and why I push you back.”

“I'd rather never fall into complacency,” Draco agrees with a sigh, fingers reaching up to stroke Harry's jaw. Bless that special Potter insight. “Harry?”

“Yeah?”

“When we weren't speaking...did you ever give up? Did you ever...ever think, if you wanted to speak to me again, that you weren't sure you could? Should?”

The immediate sadness in Harry's face bothers him, but Harry shakes it off, palm brushing over Draco's brow and back through his silky hair in a new route.

“I was scared. Probably more scared than I'd been for a lot of things in my life, honestly. But I wanted to talk to you, yeah, even when I wasn't sure I should at first...even when you wouldn't listen. I knew that, in the off chance you would listen, I should say what I needed to, even if...even if it was to say goodbye entirely.”

And just like that Draco knows his answer to his mother's question.

It's amazing how Harry does this without ever knowing it, how Harry always manages to help even without his awareness in doing it. And, at least for certain in such moments, Draco knows it is pure. It has nothing to do with Potter being Potter, but everything to do with Harry being authentic in honesty, with true altruism untainted by ego.

Harry breathes out, sounding as if he's trying to force down the melancholy the memories bring. “But you know something?”

“What, Harry?” Draco quietly asks, grey eyes open and focused.

He watches Harry lick his lip and sigh. “I knew I couldn't give up when I found the mirror again.”

“Which mirror?”

“The Mirror of Erised,” Harry says, free hand gesturing out above him. “This giant mirror in a gold frame. Dumbledore once told me how dangerous it was when I used it against Quirrell and kept going to it later. Draco...it shows you what you want most in your heart.”

Draco's lips part as he waits, knowing he must be patient when Harry looks like that above him. When Harry looks on the verge of something.

“I always saw my parents as I imagined they'd be now, older, smiling with me,” Harry continues, then bends down as much as possible, bringing their gazes so close together. “But when I found it again after you refused to speak to me...well, at first I was hoping I'd see my parents again, if only for comfort that it might bring me. I didn't see them, though. I saw you.”

Draco feels the ache in his chest and throat being soothed as fast as it comes by the hand still brushing his hair.

Harry smiles, and it is the saddest smile he's ever shown Draco. “I saw you, standing there with me. You were happy, smiling at me, looking so peaceful. And I knew then that I'd moved on, even in my grief over family I never got to know. I'd left the past behind, and I'd moved on to you—to the future, to a life I wanted with someone I love.”

Damn it.

Draco closes his eyes as the tears moisten them, but do not fall. “You started...trying, then, didn't you? You started trying to provoke a response from me.”

“Yes. And each day you didn't speak, I went back to that mirror to keep myself encouraged. Dumbledore warned me once that a person could go mad looking into it, lost to the desire and wish inside. All it did for me was give me hope to try again the next day.”

He leans up, eyes barely open, and presses his mouth to Harry's, opening his lips just enough to sweeten the moment. They hold the kiss with Harry's fingers in his hair and Draco's over Harry's jaw, and slowly, quite slowly, their lips part with a small noise.

“Wonder what I'd see,” Draco whispers.

Harry shrugs. “Only one way to find out.”

“You're...sure?”

He barely blinks before Harry has pulled him to his feet, taken him by the hand, and led him to the school. Draco tries to remember the path Harry takes through the corridors, up some stairs, past some paintings that gawk and gasp at their hands and some students that snicker just as much.

Draco closes his eyes as his boyfriend requests before he is marched into a room, Harry's voice guiding him in a slightly kinky turn of past events.

Harry walks away from him; he hears the steps echo on the stone floor.

And then Harry says, calmly, “Look, Draco. Look.”

And Draco's eyes snap open, his heart pounding at those words, at those words from his dreams, at those words from his nightmare.

For an elongated minute, he is terrified to look straight ahead at what he knows is the Mirror of Erised. His heart races a little with the memories of the void dream, and then the dream of he and Harry standing, balanced, before the bathroom mirror. A dream he has seen come into reality so wonderfully.

It is that mental image he holds up as protection when he looks straight ahead.

Draco's mouth opens silently.

Harry stirs to the right of the mirror, not looking around it. Just looking at Draco.

Draco closes his eyes, reopens them, and the image is still there.

It's a door. Just a door. A large, black door with a knocker.

He has no idea what it means until he starts to see it open just enough, and behind it Harry and himself stand through the visible crack, speaking silent words while throwing on scarves, as if going somewhere.

There's maturity in them.

In the mirror, he and Harry are slightly older, wiser, and still so close as they smile and Draco watches himself accept what looks like a habitual kiss from the older Harry.

Draco knows even if that were to happen somehow that it wouldn't be a smooth flight of a broom, but rather like the bumpy, exhilarating ride on Sev with its tight turns and jumps, its speeding up and slowing down. As the mirror keeps showing them, though, he also wonders if maybe they've been on that ride already for a while now and not known it, getting closer to that door maybe, that idea of one, without having the slightest clue.

The black door shuts right as he finally pulls his eyes from the glass to look to Harry—nervous Harry who stands there, hands wrapped tightly in his sleeves, shifting his weight.

“Come here,” he says, extending a hand.

There's relief in Harry's face, his grip is bittersweet, and Draco pulls him into a hug. Harry rises up quick, one hand grabbing Draco's skull and yanking him into a steamy kiss that quickly progresses to moving fingers, tasting tongues, and grinding groins.

“Must've really seen something,” Harry teases when he finally catches his breath.

“Mirror or no mirror,” Draco murmurs, chest so heated with emotion, “I've always seen you, glasses, scar and all, Potter. Everything, even if I didn't want to at times.”

He is not surprised when Harry knocks him against a wall, kissing the wind out of him.

But he is mildly startled when he distractedly glances back to the mirror once and sees their somewhat older selves staring at them through that cracked open black door again.

They only smirk at him, just as he imagines they would.

 

 

 

xciii

 

 

 

It has been some time since Draco has felt wary of McGonagall.

He feared her while he fixed the cabinet and occasionally before, well before, always enjoying Potter triggering her wrath. But he is watchful of her now for her ability in this single moment to make a decision for him perhaps against his will.

She sits properly supported in her desk's chair, hat drawn down, stern eyes behind her glasses softening as she considers his request.

Draco glances once to Severus's portrait, sees the nod from it, and turns forward again. “I need to do this, Headmistress.”

“Quite understandable, Mr. Malfoy. I merely worry about your safety in doing so. Azkaban, Dementors or not, is...a terrible, terrible place. I do not wish to see you harmed by it nor anyone inside of it with their judgments or worse,” McGonagall says, voice littered with concern; he wonders how often Harry has heard this tone over his years here, how gentle she has been with the school's biggest adventuring troublemaker.

“I can withstand it. I have to. This is my Father.”

“Yes, he is. And I wouldn't restrict any student from seeing a parent unless safety was a concern.”

Draco breathes out firmly, grey eyes honed in upon the elderly witch. “Then? You'll give me a portkey?”

McGonagall glances to Severus's painted self and that of Dumbledore, both nodding in their own worrying approval of the decision, before she resigns herself and agrees quietly.

“I have terms,” Draco adds.

One of her spindly brows arch. “Terms, Mr. Malfoy?”

Draco swallows. He knows this part of the request will be the most challenging for her to complete, but it must be so. Hands upon his knees, he quietly says, “Don't tell anyone. It's my business, and...and we both know what he'll do if he finds out before I return.”

“I see. I suppose I wouldn't want an anxious Mr. Potter running off after you, no.”

“Nor would I.”

McGonagall gives him a small smile of warm approval and consideration. “Very well, Draco. You'll have your portkey, so long as the date and time does not interfere with any classes. We can suspend or rearrange your service duties to give you ample hours.”

Draco sighs in relief under his breath, relaxing back into his chair. “Thank you.”

“You've noticed a reduction on your service hours for a while now, haven't you?”

“Yes, actually, but I thought I'd rather enjoy it than point it out in case of error.”

The Headmistress chuckles to herself, sending him a look she'd wielded well in the past as his Transfiguration professor. “As expected from someone your age and with your personality, let alone a student under the pressure of studying for N.E.W.T.s. However, I will admit...keeping Mr. Potter busy and entertained has, in a way, been a service of its own. We owe him much here at Hogwarts.”

For a moment he's disgusted.

Rightly so, too, because fuck that thought.

“I'm not with him for that,” Draco says, voice sharp. “I'm not with Harry to serve my sentence.”

“I did not mean it that way, Draco, I assure you. It is a happy consequence of your relationship, I suppose. But if you'd rather dust more, I can surely find spaces needing it.”

A tiny smirk dances in his eyes. “Maybe a room. Just so you know I'm not using him.”

McGonagall smiles openly, then, finger tapping her desk. “And so it shall be done.”

She dismisses him quietly, and Draco rises to leave her office, but pauses, hand against the door, and looks back over his shoulder.

“Yes?” she asks curiously.

He wants to ask about Sev, Sev's future and the other two thestrals no longer part of the main herd. He wants to know what will be done, if they'll be located elsewhere, if McGonagall would even let him near Sev with his idea.

But there is no one more qualified to ask for aid, and he knows it.

Draco turns and sits again, surprising her and making her rest her quill back down. “Granger and I are working on a project to aid the thestral with the ripped wing.”

McGonagall leans back. “And this is?”

“I've thought to transfigure plant or plant pieces into flesh to...knit the wing, so to speak. But each sample of plant pulp I've tried on my own has withered upon transfiguration, and Longbottom can't keep getting cuts for me.”

“Your issue is a basic Transfiguration rule. Once it has been cut off, it is then dying, is it not? And at some point it becomes dried out, dead residue. What can Transfiguration not do, Mr. Malfoy?”

Draco groans and covers his brow with fingers that rub at the headache building behind his left eye. “One cannot transfigure the dying or the dead. Magic cannot resurrect in that way. Because I'm trying to keep it alive in the transfiguration, it's failing.”

“Yes.”

“Well, I am not about to try that barbaric muggle practice Granger mentioned where they skin pieces from the individual and graft them elsewhere,” Draco grunts, tired and hoping the right choice will present itself. “She mentioned trying non-organic transfiguration to fix the holes in the wing as an easier solution, but I'm uncertain if it will hold as well. Granger's looking into material types and sealing spells.”

McGonagall sits forward to stand behind the large, old massive desk, proud. “That you considered the problem and solution so deeply and that you've asked for her aid speak volumes, Draco. You have done well.”

“I don't feel like I've done well. I feel like a foolish failure.”

“On the contrary. Not many would have considered the flesh idea immediately for hopes of a complete result. Some advice, if I may, Draco. Firstly, you must accept that there may not be a true, perfect solution that you seek,” she warns, angling her face with her hat drawing more. “And secondly, yes, Granger's idea has merit as your own had, just with results you're more likely to obtain with your level of study. I feel this is within your grasp, so long as you have Hagrid's approval.”

Draco stands as well. “I'll speak with him, then. I wanted...I wanted a solid concept before doing so. I'd rather him not weep on me for the thought alone.”

“He might anyway,” she says, smiling with her eyes. “ And if this doesn't work the way you hope, you must let it go. Magic cannot repair everything.”

“Fine, but what of the three thestrals outside of this idea? Will they be forever stuck in that small pen?”

McGonagall sighs and crosses her arms in her thick robes. “Hagrid and I are discussing possible outcomes for them, one being a magical boundary for them within the woods or grounds, safe. That will take much time to create and support. Unfortunately, he's mentioned that they should be moved soon, with other creatures needing the space for class and manageable care.”

Draco bites his lip, unsure if he should speak his original idea. He does so nervously, but his voice is strong, coming off as if it's just a random thought that meant little. “We've a large area at the Manor with its own private woods, magicked to keep muggles away, and with smaller game they could hunt. If I speak with Mother, perhaps I could arrange fixing of grandfather's stables for them as well.”

“These are not pets, no matter how friendly any of them have been.”

“I know. This could at least give them a semblance of their normal life with minimal intrusion from anyone to check their health and give additional care for needs,” Draco argues, annoyed that his intention isn't enough. Merlin knows it would be for Harry. “It's not forever, just until Hagrid institutes a new solution. I don't want pets or such responsibilities, never have, and I am done having blood on my conscience.”

“You've given all of this much thought for some time,” McGonagall infers correctly, eyes sharper as they assess him and his silent motives.

Draco straightens his posture elegantly, feeling his mother's calm and father's cool mask come over him together. “Mother might be overseeing things until May, but as the current Malfoy head of the Manor, I'm respectfully offering services and gold I have to aid them however temporarily. And I'll do it quietly and privately, also like a Malfoy, as I'm to run the ledgers when I leave Hogwarts. We can discuss it at length then, should you wish. Until that time, I'd appreciate you keeping it between the three of us. I do have a reputation to...protect and endure.”

When the Headmistress merely observes him, for several moments while the portraits snore away on the wall, Draco's fingers twitch as he longs for her to just throw his words back into his face if they are so farcical.

“You astound me, Draco. Must be that incessant influence of Potter's that I keep hearing is so close to you now,” Severus calls from his portrait, getting both of their heads to snap to look at him. “Though the manner of it is honestly unsurprising, if a bit demented and disturbing.”

Draco blushes. Painting or not, Severus's voice is still distinct and instantly puts him back in memories of firm hands upon his shoulders in guidance, grunts of disappointment, and sighs of displeasure or humor.

Snape adjusts within the frame, the inky black hair resting better against his robes. He focuses upon McGonagall. “Though I do not share Draco's enthusiasm for the creatures outside of their hairs' uses, I fail to see how this solution would be any worse than the present circumstance they face. At the very least, it gives the boy something more to do with this service requirement, does it not? Perhaps...even...stretched to a three year term, as the Ministry demanded he serve entirely?”

“He's only serving the one year here, Severus,” McGonagall corrects. “As long as his term.”

Draco smirks as even the portrait of Severus Snape rolls his eyes. “Yes, Minerva, and I see no reason why it could not continue and fulfill his punishment, if there is reason enough for you to argue with the Ministry and Draco agrees. Surely you don't still favor Gryffindors over Slytherin trying to do their best, mm? Or is Potter to forever rule this school? Though...I suspect even in this, with their...bond, you will have a demanding arrogant brat in your office soon should you refuse Draco.”

Minerva McGonagall shakes her head, spectacles gleaming in the light brightening the amusement in her gaze. “Clever as always in your reasoning, Severus. It will be considered with Hagrid's opinion in mind.”

Draco turns from her, seeing the brief smirk from Snape's painting. He grins to himself as he exits, missing the man all the more as he steps down the staircase.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

xciv

 

 

 

The breeze dances through his hair as he lies, stretched outside in the sun.

His back rests to Harry's stomach and chest, his arms draped across and over the muscled, muggle trouser clad thighs and bent knees upon the steps he's come to claim as theirs since before term started. Draco stretches like a king against his lover, and he's fully enjoying that fact, with some of his friends gathered around his legs like a council.

Quite a nice bunch of stars they can be, too, he thinks as Harry nuzzles the crown of his head.

“Professor Sprout's happy you're going non-organic now,” Neville says, mouth twisting in mild embarrassment as he holds Luna's hand near Draco's feet. “She caught that I'd been taking samples.”

“Oh, Neville. I hope we didn't get you into trouble.”

Longbottom dispels Granger's worry. “Oh, no. Just got nosy, you know.”

Granger hums, flipping through the stack of notes she has taken upon herself for this project. Draco has his own down there somewhere that she's kept, returned, and asked for repeatedly all week.

“Hagrid's likely to already have leather bits. Find one. Simple,” Harry grunts behind him, yawning afterward.

Draco rolls his eyes and taps the back of a calf with his fingers. “We're going down to do so, Harry. I'm taking her to Sev shortly to examine him and speak with Hagrid.”

Harry flicks his neck with a quiet little chuckle, and they all briefly glance as some students maneuver on the edge of the stairs and out to the grounds, eyeballing them like they're weird.

Granger taps her quill. “We are sort of in the way here, aren't we?”

“Granger, if you think I'm moving when I'm comfortable for their sake, you've clearly not known me much at all,” Draco drawls, smirking as she rolls her eyes jokingly at him in turn.

“I suppose your living chair must be quite comfy,” she retorts, dark eyes dazzling in the sun.

Draco's brows bounce. “Always is,” he teases and rubs the back of his head to Harry's sternum, feeling the rumbling, low snicker there.

“What about the sealing?” Harry asks, running a hand through Draco's hair in a rather lovely way that makes his eyes drift with his calm mind.

Granger yanks up a different sheet of notes and waves it. “I'm prepared. Ferula to fix the upper part of his wing again, if plausible, and I want to try a possibly softer version of the...well, the Velura Sanetur maybe to seal it as a healing spell since they are gashes. Thus, a...heal and seal? It should latch to the transfigured material as the other side of the gash, in theory. I'm going to attempt a small experiment before we try it on Sev, of course.”

“I think it's possible. While magic is dependent on incantation at times, it is also greatly drawn from one's will, and you've both wondrous pools of it,” Luna agrees softly, eyes showing her deep thinking. “Thank you for considering safety so much. They trust us not to hurt them.”

Just like that, his calm is gone. Draco pales as they speak, stomach churning his recently swallowed lunch as those two magical words of the healing spell slam into him harshly. He's lost for a moment, lost to the sound of thestral screams and Nudger's cries and blood, and he thinks of that fucking spell now and how he is a failure for not remembering it then.

Harry must sense his stiffening because he leans down and wraps his arms around Draco's torso, shaking him gently. “Hey, all right there, Draco?”

The sadness on his face is visible before he can hide it from them all.

“Draco?” Luna asks, turning to face him with her soft worry. “What's wrong?”

“That...that was it. I couldn't...couldn't recall it, then, and Nudger...died. I couldn't hear the words in my head from...from Severus,” he whispers, eyes shut tight.

Draco wishes he were anywhere else for a moment, just to get them to stop looking at him like they were before he clenched his lids—with confusion, with concern, with deep friendly sympathy. Even now he hates feeling vulnerable in front of so many, despite not fully equating the emotion with weakness the way he used to do.

Harry goes still behind him when he finally opens his eyes again, and he leans forward a little in Harry's now limp hold. The rest slowly rise up to give them space. Draco nods to Longbottom and Luna as they leave, and Granger starts off for Hagrid's, whispering that she'll meet him there.

Velura Sanetur saved your life,” Harry whispers. “If...if I'd known, I'd have used it right then on you, I swear it, before he could.”

Draco turns from Harry's grasp to view him, pulling Potter to his feet as well. He stands on a lower step, so he and Harry are eye-to-eye, and he sighs. “Harry, you can't know everything. And I understand. Believe me, I do. Nudger was...my fault, so.”

“Well...it should work on Sev with this, right?”

“I think so, the way she spoke of it.” Draco bumps their foreheads together, calmer again as he finds a way out of the emotional intensity to spare them both. “Admit it. You're jealous she thought of it. You always want to be the one with the answer, don't you, Potter?”

Harry snickers at him, ignoring the sounds around. “You're lucky I know when you're teasing now.”

Draco looks around once, finds the scuffle of people has mostly gone past, and kisses Harry gratefully and hotly for a moment. He turns, feet angling toward Hagrid's hut after letting go, the playful smirk dancing from his lips to his eyes. “I'm always lucky with the Chosen One, Potter.”

“Draco! I can't even say you're wrong, you berk.” Harry laughs and straightens his robes slowly as he walks away to the left, waving as he goes off to meet with Madam Hooch. “Have fun. See you at dinner.”

“See you,” Draco calls, but he can't help what follows; it's far too natural to do at this point in their lives, and he does it often. He stares, biting his lower lip as Harry's curvy behind disappears behind the black robes as they adjust.

“I know you're staring!” Harry calls over his shoulder, not looking back.

Grey eyes widen, caught.

“Potter,” Draco scoffs.

He grins quite horribly, jerks his wand out of his pockets, and sends a little tease of a hex Harry's way; Draco watches, laughing in glee, as his boyfriend leaps to avoid it and curses him in that Malfoy! way that makes his chest ache just a little bit for their old rivalry days.

Granger is waiting for him near the pen when he arrives a few minutes later, and Draco is surprised to find moisture in her eyes that she wipes away with her thumb.

“What?” he asks, rather confused, glancing around for something that might have upset her.

“I...I know. Not just about Nudger, but...Harry told me about...about the Sectumsempra in more detail once when he couldn't sleep while we were traveling. I'm so sorry it happened, Draco. I really, really am.”

Draco stares, honestly surprised at her getting worked up over him this way.

This must be what friendship does with them. After all, he was hopeful for her situation with her parents when he never would have been in the past—having seen people at their lowest, having been at his own lowest and now with what feels like a broken family, he can muster sympathy. Perhaps this continued change is a good thing, despite how sweetly awkward it makes him feel right now.

He elbows her while whistling for Sev's attention. “It's fine. Pansy went after him back then, and now it's sorted. He's given me many an apology for it. So let's...get on with this, mm? Show me up like usual, Hermione, with that brain of yours.”

Hermione Granger grins. “I will, Malfoy.”

Draco reaches with his leg and knocks his foot to hers. The corner of his mouth lifts. “What? It's not so bad having a friend that's a Know-It-All. Sometimes.”

Granger tries to sneer like him, and it's quite hilarious and silly enough that she can barely hold her lips twisted that way. She gives up, laughing, as Sev trots over excitedly.

Draco reaches out with his fingers, and the thestral chimes his soft call of demand, standing for a scratch. He manages to distract the creature long enough for Hermione to move down the fence and climb up to take a closer look.

“Four slashes, and the bit of bone at the top. You were right. The worst slash on the bottom there is...quite wide. No wonder you were worried. We'll need a larger piece for that, and it'll be the key to getting him flying at all.”

“So long as we do it.”

“Well, nice ter see you two down 'ere visitin' the thestrals,” Hagrid's warm, pliant voice e