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Guard Duty

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Normally Draco was never one to miss a meal, but last night’s Quidditch match between Slytherin and Gryffindor had left him feeling like someone had transfigured his stomach into a lively swarm of bees – a sensation that was wholly impossible to ignore. At breakfast, he simply waved off the fried bread and kippers as “quite unacceptable in quality” as justification to Goyle for his refusal to eat, and then excused himself from the table.

Three years at Hogwarts had given Draco plenty of experience with navigating the lesser-known pathways of the castle, and his feet carried him automatically down a deserted corridor to a long-abandoned staircase. Satisfied that he would not be disturbed here, he leaned against the wall and slid himself into a sitting position.

Draco allowed his thoughts to wander – while still pointedly avoiding thinking about the guilt he felt over the admittedly-stupid attempt at cheating that he and his team pulled at the Quidditch match.

He didn’t even notice when he began to drift off, his head drooping onto his chest.

 

“Malfoy..? What the hell are you doing?”

 

Draco’s eyes shot open at the sound of Harry Potter’s voice. Horrified that he had been discovered dozing on a back stairwell, and by Potter no less, he scrambled to his feet in a futile attempt at recovering his dignity.

Before he could even formulate a pride-salvagingly snarky response, the world spun and went black.

Warm.

He was so warm… Whatever he was leaning on – the wall? – was radiating heat.

He was pleasingly comfortable. Draco sighed and relaxed into the cozy warmth of the wall. The swarm of bees from this morning had left Draco’s stomach to take residence in his head, and it took quite a bit of concentration to shoo them away and focus his thoughts.

Why was the wall warm? And why was it so comfortable? That was where he’d fallen asleep, right?

Wrong, he realized with a start. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Potter had stumbled upon his hiding spot and woken him.

He snapped his eyes open, and the immediate confirmation of the source of the warmth had his face beet-red in an instant. He was on the floor, slumped against a dazed-looking – but very-much awake – Harry Potter. With a strangled gasp, Draco launched himself feebly backwards out of the grasp of Harry’s arms.

 

“Wha- What the hell, Potter??” he said with a croak.

 

His brain couldn’t seem to decide between the horror at having let his guard down, or fury at Potter for stumbling upon his hiding place. He was relieved to see a dusting of pink rising in Harry’s cheeks as well.

 

“You stood up too fast, I think. Y-you fainted…erm…straight into my arms,” Harry said, voice cracking awkwardly.

 

Draco’s eyebrows shot up.

 

“You know, if you wanted my attention, you didn’t have to go to such extremes,” Harry said airily, his weak attempt at bravado falling flat.

 

Draco’s eyebrows reached new heights.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

It was apparent the moment Harry’s brain caught up with his mouth. The previously light blush rapidly darkened, spreading down the boy’s neck and onto his ears. Harry’s excellent impression of a goldfish, his mouth opening and closing silently, was lost on Draco.

His thoughts were stuck looping between the memory of the confusingly pleasant warmth of Harry’s chest and the small flutter in his chest he’d felt at that last statement.

 

“What I… I mean - Oh fuck off, Malfoy,” Harry snapped, flustered. “It was just a joke!”

“Oh, really,” was all Draco could manage.

 

He looked away, trying to process his unexpected disappointment. Why did he find the idea of having Harry’s attention so desirable all of a sudden? It’s not like he’d ever sought it out before, right?

…Right?

Three years of memories flashed through his mind uninvited. The first time he approached Harry Potter upon arriving at Hogwarts, the time he stole Neville’s Remembrall and goaded Harry into chasing him, the endless heckling he directed at Harry during Quidditch matches, his recent dramatic “injury” from the hippogriff…

Fuck.

Even neck-deep in denial, Draco could now see how obvious it was what his feelings towards Harry were. Forcing himself to arrange his face in what he hoped looked like disinterest, Draco went to rise so he could get as far away from this hallway, Harry, and these newly discovered feelings as quickly as humanly possible.

 

“Wait,” Harry began, awkwardly. “Let me at least walk you to the infirmary so Madame Pomphrey can make sure you’re okay… I mean, it is sort of my fault that you fainted…” He trailed off.

“I- yeah, okay. That’d be fine, I guess.”

 

Before he had time to think better of it, Draco flashed a quick smile of reassurance. He could only assume that he’d hit his head when he fainted. There could be no other explanation for why he was being such a git around Harry today.

Now it was Harry’s turn to raise his eyebrows in surprise. Quick to recover, though, he shot a cautious smile back at Malfoy as they began the walk to the infirmary. The fluttering in Draco’s chest grew into what he felt certain was a heart attack. Since when had Harry Potter’s smile held such power over him?

Fuck am I screwed, Draco thought. …Or he thought he’d thought it, at least.

 

“What are you on about, Malfoy?” Harry snorted. “Worried it’ll hurt your image to be seen with a Gryffindor?”

“My image is quite fine, thank you.” Draco said snarkily, though he was having serious doubts about what impression people had of him where Harry was involved.

 

They spent the rest of the walk to the infirmary in peaceable silence. When Harry insisted on waiting while Madame Pomphrey examined her patient, Draco could only add it to the list of things about this day that had left him utterly baffled.

Before he knew it, he found himself walking back to the Slytherin dormitory with Harry Potter in tow under strict orders to “make sure Mr. Malfoy goes right to bed…and stays there!” Despite Draco’s half-hearted attempts at dissuading his escort, Harry stubbornly stayed by his side the whole way back. Once there, he looked away only long enough for Draco to trade out his everyday robes for pyjamas.

 

“You aren’t seriously planning to watch me sleep, are you?” Draco asked incredulously.

“I mean, Madame Pomphrey did tell me to make sure you stayed in bed. So yeah, I guess I am.”

 

Draco gave up trying to understand what was going on anymore. He must have hit his head. Harry settled himself on a solitary armchair by the bed. It wasn’t the most comfortable, but it would serve the purpose. He fluffed the pillow begrudgingly offered up by Draco before tucking it behind him.

Like a cat trying to escape notice, Draco warily climbed into bed. He tugged the curtains into place, blocking out the morning light, and closed his eyes.

The first hour of Harry’s vigil was spent trying to compute the baffling circumstances of the day.

He couldn’t seem to wrap his head around Draco quite literally fainting into his arms. He’d always been strangely drawn to his Slytherin classmate, and as the years have passed, he’d given up on fooling himself into thinking it was all due to the bulwark of rivalry they’d build up between themselves.

Even if this wasn’t exactly his ideal method for getting closer to someone, he couldn’t help but be pleased at the opportunity presented by Draco’s sudden collapse. Of course, Draco certainly thought Harry was mental by now. He wasn’t exactly known for abiding by professors’ instructions – let alone when cooperating with Draco was concerned.

Perhaps it was the rhythmic loop in his train of thoughts.

Perhaps the armchair was just more comfortable than he’d first thought.

Perhaps it was that pillow Draco had given him.

Perhaps he was simply still worn out from the Quidditch game last night.

No matter what was accountable for it, Harry couldn’t help but doze off in the dim quiet of the unpopulated dormitory. The edges of his mind blurred, and he slipped away.

Draco didn’t remember what he dreamed while he slept, but when he woke his heart felt heady and warm from thoughts beyond his grasp. When he finally bothered to open his eyes, the bright light filtering through the curtains left him disoriented. He blinked sleep away, pulling aside the drapes to reach for a glass of water that someone – Harry? – had set on his bedside table.

Suddenly remembering that he wasn’t alone, he looked up. His eyes fell upon the slack form of Harry Potter, the fast asleep and curled up on his armchair. Some guard he’d turned out to be.

Apprehension hung heavy in his chest. Apprehension, yes, but something else, too. Something warm and fluttery. Hell.

There was nothing for it. He was screwed. Harry bleeding Potter had swept away his heart in the stupidest way he could even imagine, and there was nothing he could do to change that. If Draco was being honest, he wasn’t sure that he even wanted to change that…

Sighing sleepily, he swung his legs over the side of the bed, and approached Harry. He imagined and nixed half a dozen scenarios in which he woke the sleeping boy and came clean about his feelings. Draco huffed in frustration, and watched as the puff of air sent wiry tufts of disheveled hair falling into Harry’s face.

Hesitation.

One hand reached out slowly, and he leaned over, gently sweeping the hair back to reveal the relaxed face beneath. Come to think of it, when had he ever seen Potter relaxed? A frown had seemed to be permanently carved into his features. Even while laughing, the lines of worry and tension were always there.

When had he started noticing Harry’s face that much?

Draco was so lost in thought that he didn’t even notice Harry stirring into wakefulness beside him until he felt another hand cover the one he’d apparently left resting on Harry’s cheek. With a gasp so sharp it left his ribs aching, he just managed to stop himself from jumping up in surprise. Dread for whatever mocking comment he was in for had Draco’s blood running cold. He held his tongue, knowing there was no talking his way out of this.

 

“Some guard I am, eh, Malfoy?”

Draco snorted. “Well I’ve yet to die, so there are worse guards.”

 

Neither Draco nor Harry could seem to work up the courage to move. To move would be to acknowledge their current position. The seconds dragged on in complete stillness.

 

“I guess there’s no pretending this isn’t happening right now, huh,” Harry said, finally, with a sigh.

 

Draco couldn’t help the sheepish smile that snuck onto his face.

 

“I guess not… You’re still a prat.”

“Watch it, Malfoy.”

Harry’s nose crinkled as he matched Draco with a flash of his teeth and a flustered giggle. And with that, it was like a switch was flipped, and all of Draco’s hesitations fell away. Seeing Harry’s face light up like that because of him sent his stomach somersaulting, and his smile bloomed into a grin. Draco leaned in to close the dwindling distance between them, their noses brushing.

 

“Can I?” He whispered.

“Hell, Mal - Draco. Are you seriously going to make me say it out loud?”

 

Before Draco could process the reality of the response, Harry’s smiling mouth was on his in a wonderfully clumsy tangle of noses and hair. Perhaps letting his guard down wasn’t such a horrible thing after all.