It all started with a flower. Harry watched the school owl drop a beautiful light pink flower in front of him. The type alluded him, it wasn’t one that his aunt Petunia used to grow. He was used to getting gifts from ‘admirers’—it was more annoying than anything else—but this? This was new. No one had ever sent him a flower before. It was… nice.
Harry knew that the owl was from the school, because he frequently visited the owlery—something that made it easier to deal with missing Hedwig. The bird was a deep russet brown with equally dark eyes, always watching his every move and never wanting treats when Harry fed the other birds.
With the knowledge that the owl had been sent by a student, Harry watched the bird closely as it flew away, hoping that the owl wouldn’t go straight back to the owlery. When the bird swooped down with a dramatic flourish, Harry let out a smile.
That is until the owl landed on Malfoy’s shoulder.
Harry furrowed his brows at the smirk on Malfoy’s face, he watched him take a sip of tea and wondered what kind of karma he’d face if he wished Malfoy would choke. They didn’t exactly get along, and sure, they still had arguments, but they were usually tame and more out of habit than anything. But a flower? Was this some kind of apology?
“Hi, Harry.” Neville’s voice had Harry turning to watch him sit down. Normally, Ron would sit with him, but Ron spent every morning flooing Hermione while she searched for her parents in Australia—it was something Harry didn’t want to intrude on.
“Hey, Neville,” Harry mumbled, eyes going back to the flower, trying to understand what was happening.
“So, I was thinking—” Neville cut off, causing Harry to peer up curiously. Neville’s eyes were narrowed on the flower, small frown marring his features. “Oh, how rude.”
“What?” Harry blinked a few times. “What’s rude? It’s just a flower. Strange, since Malfoy sent it to me. Do you think he was cursed? I mean, it’s not like him to be nice.”
Neville snorted, mouth twitching rapidly. “No, it’s not,” He agreed readily. “Malfoy sending this makes perfect sense though.”
“Erm, it does?” Another glance towards the Slytherin table showed Malfoy was watching him intently, annoying smirk still in place.
“This is a Japan Rose. There are many meanings throughout the world, it all depends on the origin and country you are in, but in this context, I believe Malfoy only has one in mind.”
The anticipation had Harry leaning forward, looking down at the flower. How could something so beautiful have a negative meaning?
“It means, Beauty is your only attraction.”
Harry dropped his mouth open before he threw his head back and laughed loudly. Everyday people treated him as someone to be admired, someone on a pedestal, and someone that shouldn’t be offended. This was priceless. No one would ever look at him and think he was just a pretty face, not after Voldemort’s death. It was almost refreshing to be treated as if things were normal. Fighting with Malfoy was a constant in his life—sure, flowers weren’t their typical medium, but that was alright.
When Harry looked at Malfoy, he noticed a mischievous glint to his eyes. Harry cocked his head to the side as Malfoy arched a challenging brow.
“Neville, you want to help me win a flower war?”
“Lewis told me that Melrose was told by Wilson that Lawson saw Malfoy’s owl deliver flowers to Potter.”
Whispers broke out down the hall as gossip traveled. Ron rolled his eyes as the story changed several times. Malfoy gave Harry flowers? Right. That was entirely plausible. He couldn’t contain another eye roll at the thought.
Hogwarts gossip sure was going downhill lately.
Draco sat next to Gregory, wishing that he hadn’t been forced by the Wizengamot to attend his final year. However, Hogwarts was preferable to Azkaban, most days.
“Draco,” Greg shoved his shoulder before pointing up at the same owl Draco liked to talk to when visiting the owlery.
Draco narrowed his eyes when the owl landed in front of him, dropping a small bouquet of flowers. An outraged noise left his mouth when he caught sight of Blue Bottled Centauries. Delicacy. How dare Potter think him delicate. He glanced up to the Gryffindor table to see Potter smirking smugly,
his school owl perched on the table and eyes sparkling.
“I’m going to kill him.”
“That wouldn’t be wise,” Greg spoke around a mouthful of bacon.
“Yes, I know. He’s the bloody savior.”
Greg hummed noncommittally. “That, and there are too many witnesses.”
Draco paused before shooting him a wicked smirk. “This is why you are my favorite friend.”
“I’m your only friend.”
Draco huffed, pointedly ignoring the stinging truth in favor of glaring at the bouquet. “He even got the ribbon right, too.” The ribbon tying the flowers together had been tied to the right, signifying the message was for the receiver. In all honesty, it was probably Longbottom that helped him.
“What are those ones supposed to mean?” Greg asked, nose wrinkling. “It’s hairy.”
“Borage. It means Rudeness.” The flowers were intriguing. Beautiful violet in colour but covered in bristles along the stem and leaves.
Draco watched Greg poke it tentatively. He thought about telling him that they were muggle flowers, and harmless, but this was more entertaining.
“Potter’s not wrong.”
The smirk on Greg’s face had Draco’s left eye twitching. “I have no idea why I put up with you.”
“What about the blue ones?” asked Greg, ignoring Draco’s previous statement. “What do they mean?”
Draco lifted his nose in the air. “It’s none of your business.”
“Probably something else that Potter got right,” Greg mumbled just loud enough for Draco to hear.
“I hate you.” Draco sighed heavily, ignoring the fact that they both knew the statement to be a lie.
One last look towards Potter’s smug face had Draco knowing he had to try harder. No one was going to best him—especially those with no sense of style, messy hair and a debilitating hero’s complex.
“You are never going to believe what I just saw.”
“Tell me it wasn’t Peeves again, because I still can’t get the stain out of my tie from the last ink bomb he dropped.”
“Better than Peeves. Potter sent Malfoy flowers.”
Ginny snorted at the fourth years gossiping at the table next to her. She had spent the past few mornings in the library, making sure she would pass the upcoming transfiguration N.E.W.T., her hardest subject.
“Oh, how sweet. I thought it was odd that Malfoy was the only one doing it. Unity would have been nice; their fights were annoying, but this is better. Shows they can put their differences aside.”
“How come no one sends me flowers? Malfoy’s a prick and Potter sent him some.”
“Clearly Potter has no taste.”
Ginny arched her brows. Her first instinct was to write it all off as mindless gossip, but they seemed so sure of themselves.
“Oi!” Ginny called out to Ron as he walked towards the exit. “What’s this about Malfoy, Harry, and some flowers?”
Ron rolled his eyes. “I heard something about it yesterday. It’s just gossip. Weird gossip, too.”
Huh, Ginny thought. Maybe Luna would know something about it.
Harry didn’t like that he was impatiently waiting for whatever Malfoy would send him today. Belatedly, he realized that his heart was beating quicker, and he had to wonder why that was. Was it just the thrill of besting someone?
When the owl dropped a small bouquet, Harry wasted no time in pulling it closer.
“What is this?” Harry asked Neville, concentration causing a furrowing of brows. “It looks like wormwood. Why would he send me potion ingredients?” The cluster of connected leaves was definitely recognizable.
Neville winced, as if Harry’s question physically hurt him. “That is wormwood—well, common wormwood—but it still has a meaning behind it.”
Harry would’ve asked for more information, but Neville was frowning. “This one isn’t making much sense. Wormwood represents Absence. Usually, this would be paired with something else, like longing—but wormwood is also very bitter. The symbolism could be a number of things; bitter words, bitter morning or even bitter enemies. Or just plain ole’ bitter.”
Harry snorted. “He would call me bitter.” He glanced down at the other part of the bouquet and admired the white flowers extending off a long stem in a way leaves normally would. “What’s this one?”
“Almond plant. It means Heedlessness—he’s saying you are reckless.”
“Well, that’s just…” Harry trailed off at the way Neville arched a lone brow. “I mean, I’m not…” He bit his lip when another brow rose.
“Alright, I’ll give him that one,” Harry reluctantly admitted, arms folding petulantly. “But I am not bitter.”
Harry looked up catching Malfoy’s eyes and scowled at the victory he could see. It would seem he would have to kick it up a notch.
Draco ignored the way Greg was looking around for the delivery that they both knew would arrive. “Why are you so interested?”
“No one else gets under your skin like Potter. I want to see where this goes.” Greg shrugged his shoulders as he began eating his breakfast. “Besides, I like seeing you get insulted.”
“Thanks,” Draco snarked, a sigh escaping heavily. “I feel the love.”
Before Greg could respond, the school owl landed in front of him, flowers falling from their talons.
“That one looks painful to detach,” Greg remarked, finger pointing at a cluster of berries with thick spiky thorns protruding amongst the fruit.
“Blackthorn,” growled Draco, eyes narrowed in offense. “Means Difficult.”
“Well, you can be difficult sometimes.”
Draco pinched the bridge of his nose. “Who isn’t? There might be a small part of myself that can be difficult, but overall, I am generally pleasant.”
The lack of response was insulting, but Draco was going to be the bigger person and not comment. What did Gregory know anyway?
“What about this one? It’s pretty.”
Draco wished the definition was as pretty as the yellow flower and its soft petals. “Buttercup. Means Childness.”
When Greg opened his mouth, Draco held up a hand. “Don’t even say it. I do not behave like a child.”
Draco fumed silently, as he ran through dozens of flower definitions and even a few ways he could maim Potter without drawing any attention to himself.
This time, he didn’t bother looking up towards the Gryffindor table. Draco didn’t want to see a smug aura or pleased attitude.
Harry was trying to figure out whether he was actually following the Potions’ recipe or if he had accidentally made a new species of mold when Malfoy shoved him in the side.
“What was that for?”
When Malfoy rolled his eyes, Harry tried not to find them beautiful—were they always so expressive? Was the shade more silver and less grey, and more importantly, why did he care?
“For the pure slander against my name.”
Harry couldn’t stop the smug smirk if he tried. “Slander, you say? I think I sent you exactly what you are.”
Before Malfoy could begin a tirade that would no doubt bore him to tears, Harry continued. “Besides, you started all of this. Sure, I wouldn’t have gone with a passive-aggressive admiration if it had been me, but to each their own.”
“Excuse you?” Malfoy interrupted, hand in the air and furrowed brows knitted so intently Harry wondered if they were going to meld permanently. “There was no admiration involved.”
“Beauty is your only attraction,” Harry recalled with a twitch of his lips. “Sure, it might sting a little, but you are still telling me I am beautiful. That’s one positive to take away from the backhanded compliment.”
He watched Malfoy grapple for something to say. Harry knew that Malfoy had to either admit that he found him beautiful, or imply that only part of the meaning had been accurate, which would negate the whole thing.
“I despise you.”
The less than stellar insult had Harry grinning into Malfoy’s now scowling face. “Is that entirely true?” He batted his lashes theatrically. “You do find me beautiful after all.”
When Malfoy’s fingers clenched briefly, Harry knew he had to tread carefully. Baiting Malfoy much further could stop the flowers completely and revert back to dueling—something he was loath to do.
“Beautiful isn’t the only thing I find you.”
“Erm,” Harry shifted nervously as the turn in conversation completely threw him for a loop. “What?”
The way Malfoy stepped closer, eyes lit up with mischief and victory, had Harry regretting ever baiting him.
“Perhaps I need to make some changes to my tactics.”
Harry lifted a finger, question already on the tip of his tongue, but Malfoy hummed softly before leaning forward and whispering, “See you tomorrow, Potter.”
The sound of other people collecting their things signaled Malfoy’s departure. Harry gripped the edge of the desk, wondering what just happened. He had had the upper hand the whole time, and Malfoy just stole it back.
“Are you alright, Harry?” Ron’s voice startled him enough that he was thankful his grip on the desk was strong enough to keep him standing. “Malfoy didn’t start anything, did he?”
“No, well yes, but no.”
Ron’s brows arched before knitting in confusion. “Care to explain?”
Harry smiled slightly but shook his head. “I’ll explain later, right now I need to do some research on flowers.”
“Flowers?” Ron called out when Harry walked towards the door. “Are you telling me the rumors are true?”
Rumors? Harry wasn’t sure what Ron was talking about, but that could wait for later. Besides, the rumor mill in Hogwarts never held much truth to it.
When two separate bundled flowers and one leaf dropped in front of Harry, he nervously picked up a plant with bright golden yellow bulbs spread out on the top with four stacked layers of leaves underneath.
“Madder,” Neville informed, amusement in his tone. “It means Calumny—slander.”
Harry chuckled, wondering if there would always be a flower for everything. “What about this one? Why’s it only a leaf?” The shape of the leaf was close to a triangle, bottom edges curving slightly.
Neville picked up the leaf, eyes narrowed in thought. “The leaf is larger than it would be from a typical plant and by the shape of the leaf, I am fairly confident that it’s from a Black Poplar tree.”
There was a moment where Neville appeared to be unsure. “The meaning, however, doesn’t fit his pattern.”
“What does it mean?” Harry’s research had been limited and flowers were far harder to understand than he thought they would be.
“Courage. The meaning derives from muggle mythology—Hercules defeated Cacus in an area filled with Black Poplar trees. Some say that the meaning could represent strength just as much as courage. Some of the trees in the Forbidden Forest are Poplars.”
Harry sucked in a deep breath, the symbolism taking a deeper meaning. Was Malfoy saying he was similar to Hercules? Had Harry gone into the Forbidden Forest surrounded by Poplars, just as Hercules had done when facing Cacus? Or was it far simpler and Malfoy was just thinking him brave?
“Has something changed, Harry?” asked Neville quietly. “Are you two on better standing?”
Harry sighed heavily, eyes trying to find Malfoy. The Slytherin table didn’t hold many students after the war, so finding Malfoy wasn’t hard. Malfoy wasn’t looking up like he usually did, and his shoulders were tense.
“I don’t know, Neville. I’m not sure what’s going on anymore.” He looked down to the last flower, a deep purple colour, the leaves reminding him of a daisy. “Is this one positive too?”
The silence that met Harry had him realizing that this happened when Neville was thinking deeply. “This is one that might be positive, but I don’t think it is.”
“Even with the last one not being an insult?”
Neville nodded slowly, still clearly thinking it over. “It’s a Michaelmas Daisy, part of the Aster family. It means Afterthought. The original emblem was given because it blooms late in the year, when most other flowers have already gone. To give someone this, usually is a good thing when paired with other flowers. Malfoy sending this to you in its own bouquet, without touching the rest, suggests that he means you are an afterthought. This one is an insult.”
Relief. Harry was relieved that this one wasn’t a compliment. Part of him wasn’t sure how to handle the compliment that the Poplar leaf represented. Malfoy had said his tactic needed to be changed. At first, Harry wanted to write it off as a joke, but he knew that Malfoy meant it. Sure, the git probably had done it to fluster him, but that didn’t change that he still believed Harry matched the definition. Same as with the very first flower that had been sent.
“I didn’t think I would be happy to be insulted.”
It was supposed to be a joke, but when Neville regarded him intently, Harry realized that he meant it. He was enjoying himself, enjoyed the banter with Malfoy and liked sending the flowers.
Neville patted the top of Harry’s hand once and leveled him with a serious look. “Harry, after everything we have all been through, we deserve happiness in any capacity. If yours is this, then take it as it comes.”
Harry looked down briefly, thankful that Neville was his friend. “Do you think that you could help me find some… nicer… meanings?”
The smile that lit up Neville’s face had his own smile forming.
“Absolutely.” There was a pause before Neville continued. “But we can still insult him with some too, right?”
A surprised laugh escaped Harry as he stood up and pulled Neville with him. “I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop insulting Malfoy.”
But perhaps, compliments mingled in wouldn’t be so bad either.
“People think you and Potter are dating,” Greg grunted as soon as Draco sat down for breakfast.
Draco scoffed harshly. “Hogwarts has gone mental if that’s the best they can come up with.”
When Greg didn’t immediately start eating, Draco shifted a little nervously. “The last flowers you sent were different. Why is that?”
“How would you know? You don’t even know the meanings to them.”
“No,” Greg agreed easily. “But I do know you, and you were embarrassed.”
Draco bit his lip, pointedly looking away.
“It’s alright to have a change of heart, Draco.”
“Is it?” Draco asked, trying not to think of his father. “We’ve spent our whole lives learning the world from a limited perspective. We were taking a viewpoint of society that was shrouded in miserable and desolate shades while everyone else saw the beauty of real colours.” He paused to run his fingers through his hair in frustration.
“Being wrong is hard. Not only in matters of what society sees, but also personally. Everything I am is wrong, Greg. Learning how to ignore my past beliefs isn’t a one-time thing. To be a better person I have to work every single day at actively repressing the part of me that used to be so vile. Changing so much of myself is taxing, but a necessity. Potter was always the one thing that I could focus on. The one thing that had no effect on my upbringing. I chose to hold a useless grudge against Potter, and letting that go is hard.”
“But you want to let it go,” mumbled Greg, hand lifting in the air briefly as if he was going to comfort him.
Draco covered his eyes momentarily with a hand before sighing heavily and squinting at Greg. “Yes.” Fuck. Draco hated it all. “I need to be better than who I was. I can’t move on if I am living in the past. I need to do it for me. It’s not even about Potter, not really—it never was.”
“And the flowers?” Greg questioned, eyes roaming Draco’s face. “What was the point?”
Draco bit his lip, part of him wishing that Greg was still the silent boy that used to listen to him blindly.
“I just—I wanted a way to talk to him without duels or anger. I didn’t think he would enjoy it or turn it into something else.”
“Something else?” Greg prompted, eyes traveling towards the direction of the Gryffindor table. “Is that what you are having a hard time with?”
Draco knew that this wasn’t the best place to hold this conversation, but he knew that if given the chance to postpone it, he wouldn’t ever talk about it again. “Am I allowed to want something so pure when I’m going to poison it anyway?”
“Draco, I’m not the right person to ask.” Greg paused, face morphing into unease. They didn’t do heartfelt emotions, that wasn’t what their friendship was about. “I’m not a good person either. Last year was… well… a disaster. I hurt people, a lot of people.”
The Carrows was a discussion Draco didn’t want to have, but he knew that there was no stopping the emotions now that he opened the door for them.
“No matter how much I miss Vincent, I think that I should have been in the fire with him.”
Draco shook his head quickly as he heard the sound of something rustling next to him, he ignored that in favor of looking at Greg.
“Greg, you can’t think like that.” Draco missed Vincent too, perhaps not as much as Greg, but they had been a trio since they were children. “Death shouldn’t be a punishment. One doesn’t learn in the afterlife. Repenting your actions should be something you are allowed to do while alive. Vincent’s death wasn’t something that happened to him because he deserved it. That wasn’t what that was.”
“I don’t know how to be a good person,” Greg whispered, voice barely reaching Draco.
Draco closed his eyes tightly. “Neither do I, but I’m learning—I’m trying, and it might not be enough, but it’s all I can do.” He took a deep breath before taking Greg’s hand. “Our own redemption won’t be easy. There will be people who won’t want to give us second chances, and that’s fine—but we need to forgive ourselves first.”
“How do we do that?”
“I don’t know,” Draco admitted, voice just as quiet. “But we will learn. We can become better people together, if you want.”
Greg smiled softly before nodding curtly.
“And,” Draco began hesitantly, eyes shifting nervously. “I’m going to be a better friend to you. One that you deserve.”
A gasp escaped Draco when Greg pulled him into a strong hug. “You already are.”
Draco could count on one hand the number of times he had been hugged. Part of him hated that he held onto Greg just as tightly. “I’m so sorry.” He knew that he should elaborate, explain that their friendship had been toxic and how much he regretted ever treating him the way he had, but Draco wasn’t sure the words could come.
The relief of Greg’s words had Draco sagging further into the hug. It was forgiveness in the only way Greg knew how, and that was enough for Draco.
“Look at us,” Draco said as he pulled away and straightened his robes. “We are a bunch of sappy idiots.”
Greg grunted, but said nothing as he began piling food onto his plate. This alone, had Draco knowing they would be alright. “You’ve got flowers.”
Draco looked at the table and realized that the owl must have delivered them during their heart to heart and he hadn’t even noticed.
His attention was diverted to a cluster of Hydrangea, beautiful shrub of clustered pink flowers in a sphere shape. Draco sighed, attempting to sound annoyed, but even to his own ears it came out as fond.
“What’s that one mean?”
“Boaster.” He paused to narrow his eyes. “Don’t even say it.”
Greg smirked around his fork, as he raised his free hand in a placating manner. “I wasn’t going to.”
Draco wasn’t entirely sure he believed him. He turned back to his flowers and picked up another shrub, only this time, “Lavender. Means Assiduity.” He paused to run his fingers across the vibrant purple plant.
There was impatience when Greg next spoke. “And that means?”
“Close attention. Lavender was something that was used to cover up the scent of other smells, and therefore also held the definition of deceiving. Either it’s his way of saying he’s paying close attention to me, or I can be deceiving.”
“Why not both?”
Draco bit his lip. “Why not both,” He agreed readily. Why not?
“That’s not really an insult.”
The observation had Draco’s lips twitching. “No. No, it’s not.” His lips stretched into a small smile when the final flower was picked up.
“Beauty is your only attraction,” Draco looked at the familiar flower as he shook his head in bemusement.
“Why would he send you that? You sent him that one first, didn’t you?”
A flush spread on Draco’s cheeks as he recalled their conversation in the classroom. “It’s his way of saying that he finds me beautiful too.”
Draco waited patiently—it would only be a few more seconds before—
“Oh.” There was a slight pause as he waited for Greg to properly think about it. “This would be the something else.”
A laugh left Draco as he looked at Greg, a smile growing wider. He really was grateful that they were friends.
When Draco looked up to see Potter staring at him intently, face unreadable, and brows furrowed, he cocked his head to the side—allowing Potter to stare openly. He arched his brows in response, smirk forming when Potter looked down quickly, clearly flustered.
“It’s something alright.” All he had to do was figure out what exactly that entailed.
Harry was fucked. There was no eloquent way around it. His heart had been erratically thumping at each new emotion from Malfoy he could see from his side of the Great Hall. The conversation eluded him, there weren’t any guesses as to what Goyle and Malfoy could have been discussing—but Harry was enthralled. Common sense would dictate that Malfoy could possess softer emotions, but the physical proof was something else entirely.
The range of emotions and facial expressions were new for Harry—seeing Malfoy do anything but sneer was new. Smile—Malfoy smiled. He wasn’t sure why Malfoy smiling was so significant, but his racing pulse was adamant that it was.
“Harry are you alright?”
“He smiled, Neville, he smiled.”
When Neville lifted his hands and shrugged once, Harry was frustrated that this new element was being glossed over. Didn’t Neville realize how important this was? “He’s not allowed to do that.”
Neville covered his mouth with a fist as his shoulders shook. “Why isn’t Malfoy allowed to smile?”
Harry didn’t appreciate being Neville’s source of amusement. “He’s just not!”
“What’s going on?” Ginny asked, pulling Luna with her as they both sat down across from Harry and Neville.
“Harry can’t handle Malfoy smiling,” Neville answered traitorously. “Makes him feel things.”
Harry opened his mouth to refute the completely false statement, but Ginny spoke up.
“He should feel things.” A mischievous glint in her eyes had Harry bracing himself. “Since they are dating and all.”
“Dating?” Spluttered Harry, face heating as he valiantly refused to look towards the Slytherin table. “Who said that?”
“Everyone.” All three answered in unison.
Luna smiled warmly as she pulled out an Ancient Runes textbook and began reading it upside down. “Courting in the form of flowers is very sweet if one ignores the flying miseriaes.”
“Courting?” Harry ducked his head, not allowing anyone to see how flustered it was making him. They weren’t courting each other. It was banter, jesting and a new way to get under each other’s skin. It was a silent battle with flowers—a flower war.
“It’s okay, Harry,” Ginny soothed, amusement clearly palpable. “You dating Malfoy came as a surprise, sure—” A squawk of surprise left Harry’s mouth. “But it’s not completely out there and oh—look, Malfoy’s smiling again.”
Harry’s head snapped up quickly before wincing at his own eagerness. He half expected Ginny to have been lying, but no, Malfoy was smiling. It was small, barely there, but enough of a smile that it had his stomach jolting.
“I am feeling things,” Harry admitted, misery colouring his tone as he placed his chin in his palm and stared openly at Malfoy.
“So is he,” Luna spoke up, before Ginny or Neville could tease Harry. “And that’s all that matters.”
That might have been the most helpful but still vague thing Luna has told him yet to date. One last look to Malfoy’s quirked lips had Harry sighing heavily.
Yeah, he was truly fucked.
Harry was sitting in the library, trying to focus on his Transfiguration homework, but Ron’s complaints and his own wandering mind were making that difficult.
“I swear this is in another language,” Ron continued his whinging as he slumped over several books and empty parchments.
Before Harry could decide if he was going to ignore that, or attempt to soothe Ron’s ire, a clearing throat had them both startling.
Malfoy was awkwardly looking between them as he shifted restlessly on the soles of his feet, a plant in his hands. Harry could tell it was aloe by the spiky green rosette of leafless stems.
Harry held out his hands, gingerly accepting the plant. “Thank you.” He wasn’t entirely sure if it was an insult or not, but with it being hand delivered, Harry was positive that it wasn’t.
“You don’t even know what it means.” The censure in Malfoy’s tone didn’t quite hit the mark—it sounded far too fond.
“Why don’t you tell me and then we’ll both know.”
Malfoy let out a resigned sigh but explained anyway. “Aloe means Acute Sorrow.” A flash of white before Malfoy worried his lip between his teeth. “The effects of aloe in the body can be bitter and painful.” The ‘like me’ was left out but heard nonetheless.
“Aloe is given as an apology?”
“It can be,” whispered Malfoy, eyes not meeting anyone. “I’m not good with words, Potter. I know a plant isn’t going to do much.”
“It’s a start.” Harry tentatively held the plant closer to his chest. It wasn’t pretty, but it was heartfelt, despite the lack of words.
When Malfoy’s eyes flickered toward him, Harry offered a small smile. “When the words do come, I’ll be here. Until then, aloe is enough for me.”
The small smile that was given in return had Harry’s mouth parting slightly. Merlin, he was screwed.
Harry watched Malfoy leave, an urge to ask him to stay on the tip of his tongue. Now wasn’t the time, but it would come—soon.
A sigh left Harry, more besotted than put out, as he tightened his hold on the plant.
“What the bloody hell was that about?”
Harry squirmed at Ron’s narrowed eyes. “An apology.”
“I can see that.” Ron tapped his finger on the table impatiently. “You know, I had hoped the rumors were wrong. They didn’t make sense to begin with. I mean, no one would think that you and Malfoy would be sending each other flowers.”
Ron leaned forward, eyes searching Harry’s face. “Just tell me that you are okay. I won’t even try to understand the appeal, because it won’t ever make sense, but I need to know that you are comfortable with it all.”
Relief coursed through Harry as he slumped in his seat. He hadn’t been afraid of Ron’s reaction, but he had been wary. “I’m confused, frustrated, intrigued, enthralled... but not uncomfortable. I don’t know what’s happening with Malfoy, but I want to find out. I want whatever mess this is.”
“Alright.” Ron sat back, amusement now taking over the previous concern. “I’ve never seen either of you behave so strangely before.”
Harry lowered his head, face already burning.
“You might be alright with a plant as an apology,” Ron continued, amusement still prominent. “But I’m not. Malfoy better write me sonnets, Harry. Sonnets.”
A surprised snort left Harry as he smiled at Ron. The easy acceptance was everything to him.
He really did have the best friends possible.
“Why flowers?” Greg asked, tone suggesting he didn’t really care about the answer. “They are boring. Why not poisons? I’m sure there are many messages there.”
“Yeah, death.” Draco rolled his eyes. “Flowers are sophisticated, regal and hold significance. There is a flower for every social circumstance and hundreds of private settings.”
Draco tilted his head up, snubbing Greg completely. “Shows what you know.”
When the familiar owl delivered three flowers, Draco ignored any response Greg might have come up with.
Front and center was a flower that had his fingers trembling. Four linear leaves curved upward, with two racemes of purple flowers. “Hyacinth,” Draco whispered. “Means ‘Forgive me; clean slate’.” The ribbon tied to the left, showed that the message applied to the sender and not the receiver—this meant that Potter wasn’t asking for forgiveness but was giving it. A clean slate.
A glance towards the other side of the Great Hall showed Potter watching him with a small smile. When Potter nodded once, as if to reaffirm his silent statement, Draco felt years lighter.
Draco placed the Hyacinth to the side, wanting to keep this one safe. A single yellow flower had him humming curiously. “It’s a Yellow Daylily, means ‘Coquetry—flirtatious.’”
“Flirtatious?” The amusement in Greg’s tone wasn’t appreciated.
Ignoring Greg was the best plan of action. Draco forced himself not to look up at Potter, wasn’t entirely sure it wasn’t a joke. Were they flirting? Is that something they did now? The first flower he sent Potter hadn’t intentionally been a compliment. Of course, Potter would have taken it as such, since he was a deranged simpleton.
The last flower startled Draco into laughing as he picked it up. It would seem that flirting was something they did.
A stunning red and white Variegated Tulip with patches of natural designs had his cheeks pinking up slightly. “Beautiful eyes.” If it hadn’t already been established that they were sending flowers with definitions they believed in, Draco might have wondered if Potter meant it.
“Disgusting,” Greg sneered around a mouthful of oatmeal. “You two are absolutely revolting.”
The intended insult fell flat for Draco as it made him grin. “Does this mean you don’t want to help me find a flower worth returning?”
“Absolutely not. If I ever express an interest in flowers, feel free to hex me.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” Draco warned, eyes falling back to the flower as a warm feeling bubbled up inside him.
Now all he had to do was win this flower war, if not with insults, then with flattery and seduction.
“Tell me your favorite memory?”
Draco jumped in surprise as Potter materialized before him. “I always knew you must’ve had some kind of invisibility cloak.” He ignored the smug smirk and instead focused on the question.
“Why do you care?”
Potter shrugged as if that was supposed to be a sufficient answer.
“Talking. Is this something we do now?” Draco knew that things were going to change even further after Potter’s last flowers, but he didn’t think it would be so sudden. Potter must have searched the castle for him, it was past curfew after all.
“It can be,” Potter offered sitting next to Draco before tilting his head up towards the sky as his shoulders touched the wall of the astronomy tower. “If you’d like.”
Draco bit his lip, trying to think of dozens of reasons why this was a bad idea. Surely, there were many--too many to count. But as he watched Potter’s eyes search the night sky, the only thing Draco could summon was desire. The desire to live, experiment, and just exist. The desire to be someone else, someone who worked hard at life—someone who knew how to be better. The desire to put himself out there despite the fear that kept him grounded. The desire to let others in, even though his heart guarded itself at the mere thought. The desire to get to know Potter, not only on the surface level, but everything underneath as well.
“My favorite memory,” Draco began hesitantly, aware that Potter’s head snapped towards him instantly. “Is when I found out that my name wasn’t just a constellation but also meant dragon in Latin.”
The confusion on Potter’s face had Draco smiling softly. “It showed that I’m not singular. My mother was the one to choose my name. Most of her family shares namesakes with the stars. It’s a connection that I can’t shake. Something that was destined for me the moment I was conceived. But it wasn’t until I learned that my name also meant dragon that I realized that I have other options. I don’t have to be the person they want me to be. There’s more to me than what others define me as. I can choose my own meaning—can choose who I want to be.”
“And that’s not the constellation?”
Draco rolled his head to the side to fully see Potter’s face. “No, it’s not.”
Potter’s smile started out slow—something Draco was distracted by—but quickly morphed into a grin. “Dragons are ferocious, dangerous and even cruel when pushed.”
Before Draco could try to figure out if Potter was trying to compare that description to him, Potter continued.
“But they care for their own kind, love their young, and live as freely as they choose. There will be those that want to vilify dragons for the danger they present to society, people who will judge what they don’t understand. But there will be those who get it. There will always be more to a definition, something the majority of people miss.”
“Would that make you the minority or the majority?” Draco wondered, breath held on an inhale.
Potter sighed, something that wasn’t quite heavy but not relaxed either. “I used to be the majority. Not seeing more to the story—never seeing the hidden picture, despite wishing that others could when looking at me. People don’t see me when they look, not the real me, never what I want to be seen. Sometimes, I get so into my own head that I forget that others want the same thing. The majority is where I unintentionally put myself, and it’s only now that I’m beginning to see everyone else.”
The exhale held nothing but relief. Draco settled more firmly against the stone wall, eyes still looking at Potter. “And you? What’s your favorite memory?”
Potter hummed in thought. “I don’t know if I have one. I have hundreds of happy moments with my friends, and I love those, but I don’t want to think of a memory. They are in the past, something I don’t want to live in. I want new memories, new favorites. I want a favorite memory to only last a few moments before I make a new one.”
“That’s intriguing,” Draco admitted, eyes finally closing as he let his mind wander. “Living in the moment, but different. I like it.” I like you, his mind supplied.
“I think—” Potter paused, hesitation colouring his tone. “I think all of the flowers are my current favorite memory.”
Draco forced himself to open his eyes slowly. “Yeah?” His heart was beating fast, too erratic to be normal. “Maybe we can create more favorite memories outside of flowers?”
“I’d like that,” Potter whispered, head coming closer. “And maybe we can find many new definitions for your name?”
The chance of proving himself, that was what Potter was offering. Not only that, but a chance to do it together. Draco nodded quickly, not trusting his voice.
When Potter leaned forward, resting his head on Draco’s shoulder, and asked quietly, “Is this okay?” Draco melted.
Draco wanted to tell him it was more than fine, perfect even, but settled for a simple, “Yes.”
After finally being on an understanding with Potter, he expected long conversations and meaningful, though painful, things to be brought up. Draco was pleasantly surprised to find that it was just easy to be next to Potter, talking about absolutely nothing. Discovering Potter had a sense of humor was just as surprising as the realization that they had a lot more in common than he originally believed. They sat against the wall immersed in silly meaningless discussions for hours.
Despite the lack of sleep either of them would be receiving, Draco knew he wouldn’t want to spend the night any other way. It was perfect in the way that neither of them were.
When Harry sat down at the Slytherin table for breakfast, the only people surprised were Malfoy and Goyle. It was interesting that everyone else had already accepted them being something more than past enemies.
“What are you doing?” The suspicious quality of Malfoy’s tone only served to amuse Harry.
“Making new memories.”
Grey eyes softened in a way Harry hadn’t expected them to, and it had him looking down at the table as he tried not to become flustered.
“Revolting,” Goyle muttered as he stabbed a sausage link viciously.
“Ignore him, I usually do.”
Harry looked between them, fascinated by their dynamics. “Goyle.” He nodded his head politely, only to sigh when Goyle arched a brow.
He wasn’t too sure what to make of Goyle just yet. The only thing he knew was that Malfoy was friends with him, and that was reason enough to get to know the burly Slytherin.
The sound of someone running had Harry lifting his head up curiously. When Neville flung himself down on the bench, Harry wanted to hug him tightly and never let go. Merlin, he really did have the best friends possible.
“A little warning would have been nice,” Neville chided with a grin that belayed the censure entirely. “I almost thought you slept in, but then remembered that you left the dorm first.”
Before Harry could apologize and explain that he hadn’t been sure Neville would want to sit at the Slytherin table, Goyle spoke up.
Neville smiled warmly, far more warmly than Harry was used to seeing. “Gregory.”
Harry shared a confused look with Malfoy before he narrowed his eyes suspiciously. Something else was going on here.
“How did your last Herbology test go?”
“I got an acceptable.”
Neville’s smile grew into a pleased grin and that was the last straw for Harry.
“What’s going on?”
When Neville’s fingers tapped against the table restlessly, Harry was beginning to understand. “I’ve been helping Gregory with Herbology. He loves plants and flowers, just needs a little help to fully appreciate them.”
Malfoy blinked rapidly. “Oh, you do, do you?” The drawling tone was filled with malice, but it wasn’t directed at them—it was sent towards Goyle. “You love flowers. Mind telling me when this began?”
Goyle openly stepped on Malfoy’s foot, it was clear by the way Malfoy gasped. “I’ve always loved flowers. I find them fascinating.”
When Malfoy arched both of his brows, Harry wondered if he should take Neville and leave.
“Really? I was always under the impression you found them… boring.”
Another unsubtle stomp towards Malfoy’s foot had Malfoy nearly snarling. “I swear to Merlin if you do that one more time, I am going to kill you.”
“They are only boring when you use them to seduce Potter.”
Despite the jab, Harry watched delightedly as Malfoy’s cheeks flushed.
Harry watched them bicker back and forth in fascination. They certainly had a unique friendship. Harry turned his body towards Neville and watched the way he tried to pretend not to see the action.
“You know I wouldn’t have minded.” Especially after everything Neville had helped him with.
Neville picked at his nails, still not meeting Harry’s eyes. “I know. Harry, you are the best friend I could ask for. We weren’t that close before, but now, you really are my best friend. I just wasn’t sure of my own thoughts, let alone what was going on.”
Harry placed his hand on top of Neville’s and smiled softly at the way nervous eyes glanced upward. “I get it,” he whispered. “Believe me, I get it.”
When Harry looked up, Malfoy and Goyle had stopped bickering and were watching the both of them intently.
“I see you are done arguing,” Harry said, gesturing between the two, amused when both of them glared at him.
“Longbottom.” Goyle shifted slightly, something Harry hadn’t seen before. “I’ve been studying on my own, and wanted to know if you’d like to go over it with me?”
Neville bit his lip in a clear attempt at hiding a smile, but it failed after a few seconds. “I’d love to.”
“Now that is revolting,” Malfoy repeated Goyle’s words, smirking when all three of them glared.
Before anyone could retort back, a shout drew their attention. “Hey!” The sound of Ron’s voice had Harry tensing slightly. He probably should have warned Ron at some point.
“The one day I can actually have breakfast with you and you aren’t even at the table,” Ron complained as he dramatically slumped down to Harry’s left side. “Is this something we do? Trade tables? I’ve always wanted to see what the Great Hall looks like from over here.”
Harry grinned, ever grateful that Ron had chosen to sit with him on the train all those years ago.
“Merlin, it’s depressing over here,” Ron noted as he looked around the table, winking at a first-year who looked horrified. “I think brighter colors would spruce up the atmosphere. Red would do nicely.”
“That’s not happening,” Malfoy informed him, head shaking rapidly as Goyle nodded along. “If we wanted to clash with everything in sight, we would be Gryffindors.”
“What about blue?” Luna asked, voice more singing than talking as she sat next to Malfoy with Ginny’s arm around her own. “I find that green and blue look remarkably well together.”
“I—what is this? An invasion of the unwelcome?” asked Malfoy, horror taking root.
Harry reached out a hand, palm upward. “They might be unwelcome, but what about me?” He ignored the indignant cries his friends made in favor of watching Malfoy bite his lip.
When Malfoy smiled slowly, hand reaching out to curl softly around Harry’s wrist, he knew he had long ago passed the point of no return. “You, Potter, are always welcome.”
Harry ignored the way Luna cooed, Ron gagged, Goyle repeated his disgust, and Neville and Ginny cheered. His eyes were glued to Malfoy’s smile as the warmth of their entwined hands matched the tumbling butterflies in his stomach.
“No, but seriously? Red would look nice over the table,” Ron continued, uncaring that the rest of the Slytherins were glaring.
Draco walked towards the Great Hall a little confused as to where Harry was. Usually, they walked down to breakfast together. It wasn’t like his boyfriend to be absent without sending an owl.
As he walked through the open doors, mind distracted with the possibility that perhaps Harry had overslept, he almost missed the eerie silence of the room.
Draco noticed that all eyes were on him, and that was ominous enough to have him turning around immediately and choosing to go back to bed. He wasn’t sure what was going on, but he was positive that he didn’t want to find out.
The sight of Harry standing in the entrance-way had Draco’s breath leaving him. It wasn’t exactly Harry’s presence that was the cause, but more of the single flower in his hands.
“Jonquil,” Draco whispered breathlessly as he approached Harry. “It’s a part of the Narcissus family.”
“Means desire.” Harry’s voice was just as quiet, but still carried.
Draco shook his head in rebuttal. “Means more than that. Jonquil means deep desire, the desire for affections returned and the desire of love. It means ‘love me’.
When Harry’s gentle expression didn’t waver, Draco’s already shaky breath left him again. “You knew that.”
He didn’t need Harry’s nod of affirmation to know the answer. Draco cupped Harry’s cheeks, allowing the flower to remain in Harry’s hands. “I do love you.”
When Harry kissed Draco softly, they both had to tune out the sound of students clapping, and he was pretty sure the Weaslette was whooping somewhere.
Draco’s hands moved to Harry’s neck and pulled them closer. Months of being together hadn’t dimmed the newness or the wonder that they got to do this, got to be a couple.
The kiss turned into more smiles than anything, but that was alright, Draco wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think I won the flower war,” Harry mumbled against his lips.
The only thing keeping Draco’s scoff from melting into a smile was his pure inability to let his stubborn streak go. “No, you won the battle. The war itself might last a lifetime. Are you up for the challenge?”
Harry sighed besottedly, something that had Draco’s heart skipping a beat. “Against you? Bring it on Malfoy.”
They never would be able to stop challenging each other. Whether it was simple bets, being better than who they once were, or even one-upping each other in flowers.
There is no victor when it comes to war. Not in violence or in love. But for Harry and Draco, they both would declare the other the winner—for the prize was each other. Neither wanted a different outcome.