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Black Ink & Bad Promises

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Draco had always been an obsessive person. Before Hogwarts it had been Quidditch, and ravens, and the comics of the Three-Eyed Fates, and after…. well… after his obsession had taken human form. Harry fucking Potter.

Harry with his green eyes, and his nimbus 2000. Harry who all the teachers paid special attention to. Harry who everyone liked, and who popped up absolutely everywhere. In his classes, in all the Quidditch games, even in his fucking dreams. Harry with his stupid scar, and his pretty eyes, and that totally clueless look that was just a little bit adorable. Harry Potter, the center of the fucking universe.

From his part it definitely sprung from hate. He hated everything about him. He hated how easy it was for him to make friends, and do magic, and fly a broomstick, and get attention. He would snap his fingers and people would just crowd in on him. By the time they were in second year, he had a fucking fan club and a dumb mudblood crony walking in his shadows and snapping pictures of the back of his tasseled hair. And fuck had he never heard of a hairbrush? Did muggles not use them? Or was this some pathetic consequence of having grown up without a mother?

He had spent hours, days, weeks complaining about him to everyone who would listen. To Crabbe and Goyle, and Pansy, and every Slytherin who happened to be around. Harry Potter and his special privileges. Harry Potter the chosen one. Harry Potter the boy who lived, and who lived especially to torment him. And on, and on, and on it went.

At some point in third year Draco got a journal and began jotting things down every night. At the end of the school year, he read it over. Every single page said the name Potter somewhere, and the very word felt like venom on his tongue. Potter. Who had better grades than him, and was a better seeker, and somehow always managed to get away with shit. I mean, if anyone else pulled the things he did they would have gotten expelled in a heartbeat, but not Potter, not perfect Potter with his pretty green eyes.

Often, when everything felt like it was becoming too much he would just march into his room and scream into a pillow. He would punch things, and throw things and pretend he was hitting that face, that face he knew so well, and saw all day and still managed to dream about at night. Potter. His enemy. His enemy. His enemy.

Of course there were moments when he thought things over. Looked at them objectively. Starred at his journal with a frown. Or else caught Harry just looking too cute, and was unable to distract himself from the fact. There were signs all along. Signs right in front of his fucking nose. Signs that he chose willfully to disregard time and time again. Because where could they possibly lead?

Harry was the enemy. Him and his scruffy, poverty-stricken gang of misfits represented absolutely everything his family was against. They had no regard for class, no regard for history, no regard for magical decency. Besides he was infuriating, cocky, big-headed, just because he was good at catching a snitch, and not dying. What kind of talents were those? And there were other reasons too, private reasons, that even in his thought he barely allowed himself to acknowledge.

Harry was after all a boy. So, he shouldn’t ever look cute. And his eyes shouldn’t be pretty. And his skin shouldn’t look soft. And he should never ever have a desire to touch his hand as they passed each other in the hallway. That was not how Draco was supposed to feel about any boy, much less his mortal enemy. But then again, how much control do you have about what you feel?

It was the summer before fourth year that he owned up to it, and it was only because he found himself fucking missing him. Home seemed hot and miserable. And his father was just talking politics the whole time, and his mum wanted to coop him up like a baby, and even though his friends visited they never had anything interesting to say. And his journal was still full of Potter, and his dreams were still full of Potter, and there was only so much lying he could do to himself.

One night, when he couldn’t sleep he went up to one of the fancy parlors that his father used for his business meeting and he sat in front of a giant mirror and he said the words to himself because he would never, ever say them to anyone else:

“I have a crush on fucking Potter.”

Half of him expected his father to barge into the room that very second and curse the shit out of him, like that time when he was nine and had gotten hold of a muggle magazine. But nothing happened. He was still alone, in a dark room, staring at his own bland reflection and wishing inexplicably that he could see Harry at least for a couple minutes.

His wish was granted a few weeks later, but not in the way he would want it. The world cup was the kind of fiasco that he enjoyed. He liked the way chaos changed people, and it was nice to see his father do something for a change instead of just sitting at home and drinking red wine from crystal cups. Plus Harry looked good in his pajamas, and he seemed taller, and if he hadn’t been concentrating so hard on scaring them he might have found it hard to look away from him.

Yes, he had missed him. And he spent the following months with that confession hanging over his shoulders like his father’s black dragon hide coat. He used every distraction at his disposal. He snugged Pansy, and Dana, and Amber, and finally began leafing through those ‘special’ books his father had given him on his fourteenth birthday. And now when he wrote in his journal there was one word he wouldn’t allow himself to write. Not ever. Just like he didn’t allow himself to think about him, or dream about him…. But there he was often less than successful. Because Draco just didn’t seem able to control himself, and the girls didn’t help in the slightest.

They were just an over perfumed mass of neediness and desperation. Each one clinging to him, because of his father, and his name, and nothing else. And of course they said that they loved him, Pansy said it every day between sloppy kisses, but he knew better. Draco was many things, but he wasn’t stupid, he knew what kind of girls he attracted. In fact in a sick kind of way they each reminded him of his mother. Pretty, and attentive, and willing, but seeking something much bigger than a boyfriend. They wanted an anchor, something to elevate them to the elite circles that his father navigated through like a Prince. The circle that he had been born into, and was utterly bored by. They didn’t give a shit about him.

Sometimes, in the night, when he couldn’t sleep, and Crabbe and Goyle were snoring, he would get up out of bed and wonder to the window that washed the place in soothing blue light. Through it he could see the waters of the Black Lake, the skittering of little fish, and his own pale reflection against it. And he wondering (because he couldn’t help himself) how different would it be with Harry.

How different would it be to have someone that didn’t care what kind of family he came from, that didn’t give a shit about his mansion, or his money, or his father’s million connections. Someone who saw him just as he was now, skinny and pale with floppy blonde hair and a silent dread of the life he had been born into. Draco closed his eyes. Could Harry see him like that? For the person that he was and not the family he belonged to? Would he like him? As a friend? As…..

He let his mind trail off, not allowing himself to even go there. Instead, he walked back to bed and tried to find some comfort in the thought that tomorrow he and Pansy were going to a very remote region of the castle, alone. But that just made him anxious, and for hours he didn’t sleep.

It wasn’t long after that everything began to change.

It happened a few of weeks before the first Trial. He had spent the previous month in a vicious campaign to alienate Potter from everyone else. Using those ridiculous badges he could watch him quietly fall apart from across two tables. It was easy. Nothing to it. The hard part was dealing with the guilt afterward, dealing with that sense that he was hurting someone for all the wrong reasons. Because by then he was 100% sure about why he hated Potter so much. Why he acted so nasty when he was around. Why he could never control himself. It was pathetic really, but even with all that information, he didn’t seem able to change.

That afternoon he was slumped over in the library, half shielded by a massive stack of books and all by himself, because none of his friends would be caught dead in a library. Crabbe and Goyle were barely literate, and all Pansy ever wanted to do was sit on his lap and stick her tonged in his ear because for some fucked up reason she thought he liked that. He had been taking notes and barely noticed when someone came to sit in front of him with their own massive stack of books.
.

He barely took notice of them until the said person cleared their throat, and suddenly Draco felt his heart drop to his stomach because he recognized that voice. As subtly as he could he peaked over the wall of books that divided them, and there surely-enough was Harry, quill in hand. Draco was frozen in his seat. Harry Potter was sitting there, alone. No fucking Granger, no Weasleys, no crowds. Just the two of them, and fifty books.

His mind was going a million miles a moment, and couldn’t be settled. Impossible scenarios were entering uninvited into his mind, and it was bad because he was blushing, and wanting to just reach over and touch him, like he was Pansy or one of his Slytherin girls. And it was crazy, because he couldn’t lose his head, and he couldn’t do anything, but Merlin, he wanted to, he wanted to so bad. Even just to talk with him, they had never really talked before….

For a half a second he considered simply grabbing his things and walking out of there like they hadn’t just spent half an hour in perfect harmony but he couldn’t. He just couldn’t. Instead, he found himself acting irrationally and for once exactly like he wanted to. He grabbed his quill, ripped off a piece of paper and wrote the following words:

D: I have a question for you.

With a wave of his wand he sent the piece of paper over the mountain of books. There was a moment of silence, and then he heard the scratch of the quill.

H: What?

His handwriting was god-awful!

D: You think you can be friends with anyone, regardless of their blood status, or social status, right?

The answer came back even quicker this time:

H: Of course.

D: What do you think is important for a friendship then?

H: Being a nice person. Having fun together.

D: That’s vague.

H: Well you’re writing anonymous notes to me, how much can I possibly share?

That made him grin, there was that cheek.

D: Touché. But how do you find people who are nice, or to have a good time with? What’s your criteria?

H: I don’t know.

D: But your friends with muggle-borns, and halflings, and people without a dime to their name, right?

H: Don’t insult my friends.

D: I’m not, that’s just who they are. But my point is that where someone comes from doesn’t matter to you as long as you like them as a person? Correct?

H: I suppose so.

Draco licked his lips. Here was a chance that he never thought he would ever get.

D: I’ve noticed you don’t have as many friends as you used to.

H: No comment.

D: Just an observation. I don’t have the kind of friends I’d want to have either.

H: Who are you?

D: You could have looked at the beginning but I’m rather glad you didn’t. I’m not the kind of person you would be friends with.

H: Why?

D: I’m a Slytherin to start.

H: Oh.

Part of him expected Harry to get up and just walk out of the library but nothing happened. He scrambled as he wrote a response and then scratched it out writing another one instead.

D: But I would like to be your friend. Because you’re the only person I know who doesn’t care about status, or money, or any of that. Hell, they say you’re even friends with House-elves.

H: I’m friend with anyone who’s nice.

D: I can be nice.

H: Can I please know who you are?

D: That would ruin it. I’m a Slytherin. I’m not supposed to want to be your friend.

H: I can’t trust a friend I can’t see.

D: And if you see me you will automatically reject me as your friend, not for the person I am, but for the people I’m around.

It took several minutes for an answer to come.

H: Why do you want to be my friend then?

D: Because, you’re not like anyone else. And you seem really lonely now, and I feel sorry for you.

H: I don’t need sympathy.

D: But you look like you could use a friend.

H: Not a friend I can’t see.

D: We could write. Just like this. If you don’t like it you stop. If I’m weird you stop. All I’m asking for is a chance.

Draco had no idea where the courage to write that had come from, but it bound out of him.

H: Why don’t you like the friends you have?

D: They don’t like me for who I am, just for what I have. Surely you must have people around you that only like you because of your fame.

H: Yes.

D: Can we please write like this? Without house prejudice and all that shit? Just like people?

H: I guess.

D: Okay. I know which one your owl is. She’s as conspicuous as you are. Can I leave a letter with her?

H: Are you a girl?

Draco felt something like shame wash over him. He didn’t want Harry to have any idea who he was.

D: Please don’t ask me anything about myself. I don’t like who I am at all. And I shouldn’t be saying that. Particularly to you.

H: The thing you said about House prejudice really hit me, I can’t even imagine being friends with a Slytherin.

D: But can we try it? Just to see if we can like each other as people? As an experiment.

H: Okay. But it’s not a fair one. You know everything about me.

D: And you know that I don’t like my friends, or myself and that I’m lonely.

H: My owl’s name is Hedwig.

D: Is that an agreement then? To write anonymously, until we figure out if we can be friends, even if we are a Slytherin and Gryffindor?

H: I guess so. But only because I’m lonely too.

D: Okay now get up and don’t look back.

And that’s just what he did. He grabbed a couple of the books and just walked down the aisle while Draco felt a sweet kind of relief wash over him. Finally here was his chance to get to know him. And hopefully, figure out if this was just a silly infatuation or something more. He sighed and ran his hands through his hair. What on earth was he getting himself into?

Chapter Text

Harry was always busy with something and it rarely had anything to do with schoolwork. He had Quidditch to play, and evil people to fight, house elves to liberate, and Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers to unmask. His whole academic life had been one thing after another, one mystery, one triumph, one tragedy and he had no idea where he even found the time to finish his homework.

And in the back of his mind, with that annoying little sneer was Draco Malfoy. He wasn’t obsessed with him, and he didn’t exactly hate him, but from their first meeting in Diagon Alley all those years ago Harry had gotten a strange feeling about him. It was a strong sense of antagonism, but there was something more beneath it, it was like he could tell right away that willingly or not Draco was going to be an important person in his life.

Once during a Christmas Holiday, he had picked up a novel that Hermione had been reading, he leafed over it casually until something caught his eye. The following sentence was underlined twice: “Who you choose as your enemy says more about you than anything else.”

That got him thinking. He started watching Draco, not just looking at him, but really watching him. He was slim and elegant, with effortlessly graceful gestures like a true aristocrat. But he rarely smiled. And his voice was soft when he wasn’t threatening people that is. On a broom he wasn’t as fast as Harry, he couldn’t swerve like he could, and dive like he could. For him every game was just a game, for Harry it was matter of life or death and he played like it. But then Harry couldn’t do what Draco did on a broom. His movements weren’t jutting, they weren’t dripping with adrenaline, they were smooth, they flowed like a dance, and when they weren’t playing against each other Harry found him completely hypnotic. He had never seen anyone else fly like that.

But that was the kind of thing he was obliged to keep to himself.

Hermione pointed it out once, in a Slytherin vs. Hufflepuff match where Slytherin was up a hundred points and Ron was busy jeering at the top of his lungs. “I don’t know much about Quidditch,” she said into his ear. “But Draco flies really well doesn’t he?”

“Beautifully,” Harry answered, not looking her in the eye.

The subject had never come up again, and if Hermione and her annoying intuition had gotten any idea about it she left it well alone. Outside of the Quidditch pitch, he tried to think about Draco as little as possible. He was a hindrance, and an annoyance, and one of the worst things about being a Hogwarts. But he didn’t hate him. Harry reserved his hate for the Dursleys and Snape, and Draco simply wasn’t on that level, he was small fish. Sure, small annoying fish, but like Hermione always said there was no need to give him any more attention than he already had because really that was all he craved.

Besides, he was always busy with other things. Chambers of Secrets, and maps, and werewolves, and now this fucking Triwizard Tournament that threatened to literally kill him. And everyone was going bananas. And Ron wasn’t speaking to him. And Hermione was too much to handle. And he always had this pounding headache, and no one to talk to about it. And on top of that, he had schoolwork. Schoolwork! What could be more ridiculous than trying to stay alive while fucking finishing essays, and doing readings, and mastering spells that he didn’t have any time for?

So, he was at the library, trying to catch up on his mountain of work. He had purposefully come while Hermione was in Ancient Ruins, just to have a little peace and quiet without her well-meaning but agonizing academic advice. He went to the library, grabbed every book he would need for the three essays he had to get started on and then levitated them over to a desk. He noticed there were already a lot of books there; he didn’t notice that there was someone behind them.

When the notes began coming, Harry kept thinking about Sirius. This was exactly the kind of sketchy shit that he had warned him against. But then he felt involved somehow. Because he was lonely, and this person was lonely, and maybe it was possible to be friends with someone just for who they were as a person, even when you didn’t know shit about them. Like having a pen pal in the Muggle world. Plus, he was exhausted from trying to pretend that everything was okay when it clearly wasn’t. And this person didn’t seem like the kind to pretend.

She had beautiful writing. Long and loopy and fancy, like the kind you would see in a calligraphy book. And maybe that was part of the reason that he agreed too. He liked the thought of getting to know a girl who wasn’t Hermione. Cause he loved Hermione, he really did, but he would never ever love her. They weren’t like that. And the only other girl he ever talked to was Ginny who was kinda like a little sister.

And then there was also the fact that he loved mysteries, even when they got him in trouble. And this girl, this Slytherin girl who was lonely among all her fake friends, she was a new type of mystery for him. When he got up from the table with his books he was tempted to look over at her, but he didn’t because he wanted to see where this went and for the rest of the day he felt kind of chipper.

“What happened to you,” said Hermione as they sat alone at the Gryffindor table during dinner.

Harry grinned at her. “Just got a lot of work done so I feel less stressed.”

Her eyes practically glowed with pride. “See, I told you it’s all about keeping a schedule.” And then she went off for half an hour on the subject while he smiled and nodded and agreed with her.

That night, he got his first letter. He was in his room, pretending to be alone although he could hear Ron breathing a few feet away from him. The curtains were drawn around his bed, and he was halfway through one of those annoying essays when he heard something rattling against the window. He peered through the curtains. Ron was reading his book fixedly, acting like he didn’t exist, and Hedwig, her white wings beating against an indigo sky was at the window, a letter in her beak.

Harry opened the window for her and touched her soft feathers as he took the letter. She nuzzled against him and perched herself on his nightstand as he read.

Dear Harry,

I’ve spent my evening with idiots and had to pretend to enjoy their company. But as soon as I could I went up to bed. I’ve been lying here for over an hour trying to think of things to tell you. I don’t know how interesting I am as a person, to be honest.

When I was a kid I had a lot of time to myself, and I was even lonelier than I am. I don’t get on with my father. And I feel sorry for my mother. And I’ve always had aunts and uncles, and great aunts and uncles, and second cousins, telling me what to do and think and how to dress. Maybe that sounds good to you cause you never had that, but it made me feel sick when I was little. I just wanted some space. Wanted to hang out with kids, not grown-ups.

But I guess my problems seem really dumb compared to yours.

I just want to say that I hope you take this seriously, and I really have no other intention that getting to know you.

Have a good night,

Lu.

Harry read the letter twice over and then began writing back to her in his blotchy, childish script:

Dear Lu,

I’m going to have a hard time trusting you because I shouldn’t. I’ve seen how things like this can go. And at this moment I have more enemies and problems than anything else. But at the same times, I just don’t get a bad feeling from you. Even if you are a Slytherin.

I think having a kind family is a privilege. One I don’t have, and I don’t think you have it either, even if you have relatives. For me the Weasleys have been the best family I could ever have. You should see them! It’s always noisy, and loud, and they don’t’ have anything fancy, but it’s the best place in the world. Everyone likes each other, and the atmosphere is so light, and their parents are so loving! They even love me. They treat me like one of their children.

I can’t describe to you how happy that has made me.

It was nice to hear from you,
Harry

He gave it to Hedwig and watched her swoop down into the night, till she looked like a little snowflake. He could feel Ron’s eyes on him but when he turned to look at him he didn’t say anything and Harry crawled back into his bed and shut his eyes. This was just a distraction. Nothing sinister. He didn’t want to become like Mad-eye Moody seeing dark magic and evil people everywhere.

 

-

 

The next day during breakfast he got a reply. Which he shielded from Hermione by saying it was just a letter from Hagrid asking them to come visit that afternoon. He wasn’t sure if she bought the lie but at least she didn’t ask any questions.

Dear Harry,

I know this is going to sound stupid, but for me, it’s hard to imagine being happy without money. I’m used to having nice things. And when I think about how the Weasley’s live I can’t comprehend how they put up with it. I guess that shows how little I understand cause they all sound a whole lot happier than I am.

But let’s talk about something less controversial. Do you read? Do you play any instruments? Do you like Muggle art?

Lu

The letter made him smile, and during his next free period, he replied.

Dear Lu,

Honestly, I don’t read much and when I do it’s about Quidditch. I guess I’m not much of an artistic person either. Can’t play any instruments, hardly listen to music, and I know nothing about art. I’ve been to a few Muggle museums on school trips through but I like the paintings at Hogwarts better, there like untrustworthy TV programs.

What about you?

By the way is Lu your real name?

By the following day at breakfast he got his response, and this time when Hermione asked who the letter was from he didn’t even answer, just shoved it into his pocket to read away from her prying eyes.

Dear Harry,

My mother grew up in a very old-fashioned family, and for her art is really important. I play the piano, and the harp, although I hide that from my friends cause it’s lame. But I like music a lot.

Lu isn’t my real name. It’s my middle name. But I’d really rather you not try to figure out who I am.

He wrote back at once.

Dear Lu,
I’m sorry but even if I wanted to I couldn’t stop trying to figure out who you might be. I like solving mysteries. And now every time I look at the Slytherin table I just keep wondering who you might be. I know you wouldn’t answer before but are you a girl? Are you in my year?

And then for six days, he heard nothing from them. Until one night when he was in the common room looking over books on dragons there came a tap on the window. And there was Hedwig with another letter consisting of a single sentence.

 Is it really important for you to know?

He pushed the question and the letter out of his mind and kept working because he couldn’t’ spent time or energy thinking about this when he’d be facing a dragon in a couple of weeks. But that night when he crawled into bed exhausted, and weary, and scared, he thought back it and ripping a page from one notebook he replied.

No. I’m sorry. I’ve really liked talking. Don’t stop.

And then he drifted off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Draco felt like a mugworm.  No.  He felt like the excrement of a mugworm.  He felt like the lowest, scummiest person who ever lived. He was spending his days making sure everyone at Hogwarts hated Harry and thought he was a cheater.  And spending his nights writing him stupid little notes, acting like a girl.  He sings his name Lu.  He was a disaster, a fiasco, a fraud.  What was he thinking, or doing or plotting?  What was the end plan to all of this?

 

But also, it was kind of nice.  At least Harry seemed to think so too. 

 

If you had told Draco that chemistry could exist through letters he could have told you “bullshit,” but that’s exactly what seemed to be happening.  There was something magnetic about writing to him, and before he knew it weeks had passed.  The dragon was defeated.  Harry had friends again, and in public he was bitter for it.  But in private he was ecstatic, because even with his new surge of popularity Harry still wrote to him

 

And he wasn’t asking any questions about what grade he was in or if he was a girl.  But hey talked about everything else.  About classes.  And Quidditch.  And how beautiful the Castle looked at dawn.  Harry told him all about what Hogwarts meant to him.  And Draco told about all the obligation he had for the purpose of upholding his family legacy.  He mentioned his father many times, as well as his ever-present fear of being a disappointment to him. 

 

In early December Harry asked him a couple of personal questions again but these were easier to answer:  Have you told anyone you’re talking to me?  And Do you know who you’re going with to the Yule Ball?

 

The last one had Draco feeling like an explosion had gone off in his stomach.  What was Harry hinting at?  If he were a girl would he ask her to be his partner?  He shut his eyes and wished for one insane moment that he knew a spell to switch genders.   He answered the letter as calmly as he could. 

 

Dear Harry,

 

I haven’t told anyone about you.  My friends know better than to ask questions.  Someone asked me to the Yule Ball already, do you have a partner?

 

And there he was again; giving more ammunition to the theory that he was a fucking girl.  Someone asked me already.  Which was mostly true, of course  Pansy hadn’t so much asked him, as demanded it while giving him a blowjob, but it still counted.  And he had agreed because officially she was his girlfriend, even if he did cheat on her occasionally.  Besides she was devoted to him, and his mum always said that was the most important quality in a romantic partner.  But of course what did his mom know really?  She had the worst marriage he had ever seen.  She just let Luscious walk all over her, and the next morning she’d be smiling like nothing at all had happened. 

 

But Draco wasn’t stupid.  He knew what his father did.  Bruises and breaks they were easy to fix. Take a potion, do a spell. His mother was very competent at healing magic, she never looking anything short of ethereal.  But he could still hear the screaming.  They bounced off the goddamn walls.  

 

During breakfast the following day he got a letter from Harry. 

 

Dear Lu,

 

No I don’t have a partner, and honestly I’m terrified to ask anyone out.  I’m getting really nervous about it, really in my head.  I almost wish I had to face a dragon again rather than go to this dumb dance.  Any advice?

 

He laughed as he read.  Such a Gryffindor!  And wrote the answer back directly. 

Dear H,

 

I’m sure I can think of a dozen girls who would want to go out with you.  All you have to do is ask one.  And don’t be nervous about it to.  Ask casually.  Like it doesn’t matter that much, but don’t be rude.  It’s really not hard at all. 

 

The next morning he got a reply while Pansy had her clumsy claws all over him, long pink nails sharp against his skin.  She really had no idea what he liked. 

 

“I gotta answer this,” he said before promptly shoving her out of her room with her shirt undone. 

 

Dear Lu,

 

The only reason you think it’s not a big deal is because you’ve never had to ask anyone out.  Believe me it’s mortifying.  I asked Cho Chang out and she’s already going with Cedric and I literally wanted to die standing there and hearing her say that.  And now the Dance is coming up really fast and I have no idea what I’m going to do. 

 

Cho Chang! Cho Chang?  Draco sat down on his bed and looked at the name over and over again.  Cho Chang?  Fuck.  Harry had terrible taste in girls.   That girl was a disaster.  A mediocre student.  A sloppy Quidditch player.  No focus.  No family.  She wasn’t even that pretty!  And she was exactly the kind of girl who expected to be treated like a Princess, and Draco didn’t take that from anybody. 

 

Dear Harry,

 

You are definitely better off without her.  Trust me, she’s a mess.  Don’t you like anyone else?

 

He answered within the hour.

 

Dear Lu,

 

I don’t know Cho very well but I think she’s pretty, and I have a bit of a crush on her.  I don’t like anyone else.  Or at least I try not to think about you like that cause I don’t know you.  For all I know your 11 years old, or two feet taller than me or something.  What about you? Who’s taking you to the dance?

 

Draco mulled over his answer the rest of the evening.  Writing it and rewriting it and considering what to do.  What would Harry say if he told him he was a boy?  His face flushed.  Or what if he pretended to be a girl?  And then maybe something else could start between them…. even if it was based on a lie. 

 

He wrote back at midnight. 

 

Dear Harry,

 

I’m flattered that you kind of like me.  But I’m going to be honest about something, and if that means you stop writing then well… I get it.  I like you too.  I’ve liked you for a while now.  But I’m not a girl.  I’m also not 11, or two feet taller than you.  But repeat I’m not a girl. 

 

He didn’t sleep that night.  And the next morning he felt dead all day.  Hardly listening in classes, or to whatever it was that Pansy was saying.  He just felt sick.  At dinner, she forced him to have something to eat, and after dinner he puked it all up in the toilet feeling disgusting.  There was no way Harry was going to write anymore.  There was just no way.  He should have pretended to be a girl.  Or just not said anything. 

 

He went to bed with a pounding headache.  And woke up feeling even worse. 

 

Sometimes when he was home for the holidays he would get drunk off his father Firewhisky reserves.  He liked the way it burned, and warmed, and made him fall asleep dreamless.  But the next morning was always rough, and somehow after sending that letter he got the same feeling.  The same sickness, and weakness, and disgust.  He didn’t eat anything at all that day, no matter how much Pansy insisted and that night when she crawled into his room with her pretty half smile and her dark eyes he told her to go away, just like you do a dog, and he didn’t care how hurt she looked. 

 

He didn’t care at all. 

 

Five days later, and just when he least expected it a letter came from Harry. 

 

Dear Lu,

 

I’m sorry too.  I shouldn’t ever have assumed that you were a girl.  But I’d rather not talk about that anymore, if it’s okay with you?

 

I asked someone out today.  Not someone I liked, but at least I got it over with.  Do you like the person who you’re taking to the dance?

 

Draco’s hand was shaking so bad he had to concentrate to write each letter. 

 

Dear Harry,

 

Thank you for writing back.  I really wasn’t expecting it. 

 

No.  I don’t like her very much.  But she’s my girlfriend, and she likes me.  So I just keep going. 

 

We don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to.  I’m so happy you still want to be my friend. 

 

The Yule Ball actually turned out to be the best evening Draco had ever spent.  The music was great, the place was beautiful and even Pansy seemed less annoying than usual.  Plus, it was pretty great, seeing Harry stumbling while he danced with one of the Patil twins, his robes and eyes the same color.  He really looked quite handsome.  Too bad he had no idea how to move his body. 

 

Draco had been in dancing lessons since he was little, because according to his mother it was important for socialization. He would have hated it, if he weren’t so good at it.  And Pansy was pretty good too, moving at the slights hint of his hand.   He felt, drunk and alive and good. Because even if Harry had no idea who he was, at least he wasn’t disgusted by what he was.  And they were still friends, and that was so much more than he could ever dreamed them to be. 

 

The night ended with a cold bed and a good thought:

 

Tomorrow I might get another letter from Harry. 

 

Chapter Text

Harry was now living with a persistent headache. An obnoxious pounding that kept him up at night and made it hard for him to focus on any of his schoolwork, no matter how much assistance Hermione offered.  It was no good.  There were only so many problems that he could deal with at once and the letters from no one had just become the cherry on top of a very messy Sunday. 

It was a bleak Monday during the Christmas break and he was stretched out on his bed sleepily, counting his problems like other people would golden coins.  He tried to focus on the big ones, like the golden egg that he hadn’t managed to solve or Rita Skeeter’s horrible articles, but his mind kept going back to the letters.  For weeks now, they had been his salvation; the only thing that could make him smile, laugh and empathize with another person. He had spent so many hours thinking about her, well him. He had imagined them meeting and many things beyond that.  In fact, whenever he had class with the Slytherin, he kept staring at the girls like he had never seen them before.

But he had been sure that none of them could be Lu.  Lu couldn’t be that insipid, or unoriginal.  She was open, witty, funny, or well, he was.  Harry still had to remind himself to think of the mysterious Lu as a boy.  He hadn’t adjusted yet and he still couldn’t quite picture it.  Was Lu in his year? Was he older? Younger?  Had he chosen the name Lu on purpose so that Harry thought he was a girl?  It all made his headache feel worse, so he got out of bed and got dressed, dragging his feet to the great hall. 

He stacked food on top of his plate and ate without interest, his eyes focused like a vulture on the Slytherin Table. A boy. It was still early and there were only a few students, none he knew by name, but he looked at them one at a time and then discarded them in turn. Surely Lu couldn’t be any of them. After eating, he made his way up to the owlery and sitting against a cold stonewall he wrote a message to him. 

Dear Lu

I had a terrible time at the dance. My friends fought, and I felt alone and awkward. I hope you had a good time with your girlfriend though. 

I have a million things I should be doing, both for the tournament and for school. But I don’t have the drive to do anything right now, so I’m just hiding away somewhere quiet. 

Harry

He sent the letter off with Hedwig after offering her a bit of toast and then he watched with pleasure as she outstretched her wings, disappearing into the cloudy backdrop of the sky.  He walked down the steps slowly and then spent the next hour wandering the Castle with his hands in his pockets.  At lunch he met up with Hermione and Ron who weren’t speaking to each other, then they spent the afternoon on homework.

But that night he couldn’t sleep. At three in the morning, he draped the invisibility cloak over himself and went out of the common room, moving through the passages through instinct and gazing out of windows at the beautiful night sky. At dawn, he made his way back to his dormitory and managed to sleep a couple of hours before rising and having breakfast between a sullen Hermione and a grumpy Ron. 

That day he got a letter from Lu:

Dear Harry,

I’m sorry you had a bad time, but you should have taken someone more fun, or at least more to your liking. My night was good. I found my girlfriend less annoying than usual and, actually, I love to dance. It was another one of the useless skills my mother felt that she had to teach me. 

Being alone in a crowd is the worst feeling I’ve ever had and I have it all the time.  I guess I have a talent for surrounding myself with idiots.  At least you seem to like your friends, most of the time anyway.  I can honestly say I don’t care for mine.  Sometimes, I think back to that first train ride to Hogwarts and am so angry at myself.  I sat with people I’d known all my life even though I didn’t like them much.  I didn’t even try to meet anyone new. 


And being in Slytherin is hard.  We’re all pureblood, or half-blood, and most of us have known each other since we were kids.  That’s one of the reasons I value our conversations so much. 

My Christmas break has been unusually cheerful.  I guess I’m grateful that you’re still talking to me and things are going relatively well.  Especially because I have escaped spending time with my parents and their delusions. Sometimes, when I think of them I am so angry I wish that they were dead, which is terrible because they love me. But I think I would be a better person without their influence. 

I know I’ve rambled on forever, but I’m going keep rambling cause I want to cheer you up a bit. 

Okay.  What do Hufflepuffs and butterbeer have in common?

It’s just foam on top. 

What do you call a Hufflepuff with one brain cell?

Gifted.                                                                                           

What do you call a Hufflepuff with two brain cells?

Pregnant. 

How many Hufflepuffs does it take to light a fire?

All of them.

How do you confuse a Hufflepuff?

No need to, they’re just born that way. 

Ha ha ha…I’ll quit it with the Hufflepuff hate but trust me, I have a million more.

A Ravenclaw walks into a bar. And a chair. And a table. Damn, they should put the book down.

What does a Ravenclaw do when they think about their favorite book? They touch their shelves. 

What do Gryffindor girls say after sex? Thanks guys!

Why don’t Gryffindor girls talk during sex? Because their mothers told them never to talk to strangers.

Why are all the Gryffindor chasers girls? Because they got a lot of practice riding wood and they like to score. 

Well, I hope that made you smile Harry. 

Harry laughed as he read over the jokes and then immediately began scribbling a reply.  

Those were hilarious! But since when do Gryffindors have a reputation for being sluts? It definitely did cheer me up a lot.  You always do, even when we’re talking about serious things, but that last letter was just pure gold.  Thank you. 

I wish I had some good Slytherin ones but I really don’t and I don’t have time to think of any.  But please write back soon, if you can. 

Harry

He watched Hedwig flutter through the window and then resigned himself to the massive amount of work that he had to get through that day, and tried to put Lu and his jokes out of his mind for good. 

Chapter Text

Weeks stretched by in insincerity.  He and Pansy broke up, then got back together, then broke up again, in their petty cycle of uneven affections. His father’s letters were growing more urgent.  Something is happening.  Don’t let your guard down.  The dark mark is returning.  Keep your loyalties. Keep your friends.  Do not show weakness.  Always the same thing, even though Draco had never once said anything against his father’s beliefs. No, he had always taken after his parents and done just as they would have. 

In the world outside his little mind, the Second Task was coming up quick and the whole school was talking about it incessantly. Draco kept himself quiet, refraining from talking about the Tournament unless he was writing letters to Harry. Those letters were steadily consuming his life. 

When he had first started writing it had just been to get to know him; to see what he was like up close, to people who weren’t his enemies. He had wanted to dispel some of the mystique and some of the glory too, be able to look at Harry like he might anyone else.  But that’s just not how things had gone, because, with each day and each letter, their connection was getting more intimate.  He had told Harry things he had never shared with any of his friends. He felt that Harry trusted him. There was something there for sure. 

They had never talked about affection again, or crushes, or the fact that they were both boys. It lingered in a subtle undertone throughout each of the letters. Neither of them had forgotten, that was a certainty Draco couldn’t make himself forget.  If he was a girl, Harry would like him. Maybe they would even be more than friends. That thought was exciting, but it also made him feel bitter. Why did he have to be a boy?  Why did he have to be a Slytherin? Why was writing anonymous letters the only way he could get close to Harry?  It was ludicrous. 

On the day before the Second Task, Draco watched Harry attentively.  He was pale and sleepless, whenever anyone spoke to him he looked he was somewhere else. There was something vulnerable about him these days, maybe that was fear, or maybe it was something else. Harry had been mentioning headaches a lot recently. It must be hard to be in constant pain. 

That evening in the common room, Draco caught Pansy’s eyes while Dana Snicket, a petite little third year sat on his lap and giggled while she told a stupid story.  In five seconds flat, Pansy had crossed the room, a hand clasped over her mouth to keep the sobs inaudible. That made him smile. Yes, it was cruel, he knew that, but with people like Pansy, he didn’t mind being cruel.  Besides, she was used to it. 

He kissed Dana lazily, his finger fidgeting with the long strands of her hair. She was a pliant little girl, dumb as a board and boring as Professor Bins.  There was absolutely nothing to like about her, except for the fact that she had spent the last three years idolizing him.  He was her god, her hero, her Prince, and it was nice to enjoy that kind of attention. This must be what Harry felt all the time from everyone. But, of course, people liked Harry because he had done great things. This girl only liked Draco because he looked good and he was rich and his father could do anything he pleased.  She had never made any effort to get to know him. 

After a while, he got bored and went up to his dormitory, stretching out on the bed.  He was almost drifting off when he heard a tap on the wall.  It was the owl flap, a tunnel that led down into the Slytherin dungeons for letters, usually emergency ones.  When he opened it Hedwig was there, beautiful as always, a letter tied to her foot.  Draco stretched out his arm for her, petting her soft feathers before reaching for the letter.  He had already learned that she was quite a temperamental creature and still had scabs on his fingers where she had bitten him.  

Harry hadn’t written to him in five days, probably because the Second Task was close and frankly, Draco hadn’t expected another letter until it was over.  He unfolded the page and tried to decipher the writing, which was even less legible than usual. 

Dear Lu,

I’m exhausted.  I’m so exhausted.  I have literally spent all my time in the library the last couple of weeks.  But I finally have it. Absolutely in the last minute, but at least I know what I’m doing tomorrow (or I hope so).  But now I know I won’t sleep.  And I missed hearing from you.  

I’m trying really hard not to think about what’s going to happen tomorrow.  To distract myself.  So I wanted to ask you something that I’ve been wondering about for some time.  Are you gay?  Sorry if that seems sudden, it’s just the only thing that’s going to get my attention of off tomorrow.

Harry

Draco offered the owl some crackers and put out a little bowl of water for her, as he thought about what he would write.  He hesitated and procrastinated for nearly an hour before beginning on the letter and even when he did it was difficult.  He scratched things out and tore out the page, then started again. At about 2 in the morning, he finished by the light of a single candle, then opened the tunnel slap to let Hedwig out again. 

Dear Harry,

I have never talked about this to anyone.  I don’t even allow myself to think about it.  But I knew I liked boys a long time ago, a really long time ago actually.  That’s how I first got interested in Quidditch, there was this one player for the Wingtown Wonderers and I just thought he was the most beautiful person in the world, and nothing would change my mind.  Of course, to my parents, my obsession with Quidditch just seemed like a normal thing.

Frankly, I don’t know if I can really answer that question at all.  I like how some boys look (like you for instance) but maybe I wouldn’t like kissing them or being with them. Because I’ve never done that.  The same thing happens with macaroons: I think they’re really pretty, but I don’t like the taste, it’s just bland sugar. 

As for girls, yeah I’ve had girlfriends and I’ve done stuff with them, but just like I have a knack for choosing friends I don’t like, I also have a talent for surrounding myself with girls I find insufferable.  So maybe I do like girls, just not the girls I know.  I think some girls are really pretty.

But for me, to be honest with you, being gay isn’t an option.  It would destroy my parents, especially my father, because I’m the last person with my name.  My father is an only child of an only child and to him, passing on the family name is the most important thing in the world.

Okay, I have a question for you now.  When you thought I was a girl you said you had a crush on me. Do you feel the same way now that you know I’m a boy?

Lu

P.S I’m sure you’ll do great tomorrow.  You were the best last time. 

 He lay back down in bed and tried to stay awake in the off chance that Harry would write another letter, but inevitably he drifted off to sleep.  Draco woke up just after dawn; he shuffled into his pillow and the parted the curtains around his four-poster.  There was another letter for him on top of his nightstand.  Draco grabbed it and opened it so quickly that he tore a gash in the sheet. 

Dear Lu,

I don’t really understand how you live surrounded people you don’t like. You need some new friends and certainly a new girlfriend. Also, I can’t believe you just compared liking boys to macaroons, that’s hilarious. But you know you shouldn’t just blindly do what your family expects of you if it’s not something you want. I mean, if in the future, after you’ve had a boyfriend, you realize you don’t like women, please don’t marry one. 

I understand that for some people, especially in Slytherin families, names are important, but you can’t just give up your life like that.  Anyhow, thanks for being so honest, like you always are.  Unlike you, I’m really fond of my friends, but we don’t talk about things like this. There are barriers, or maybe it’s just easier when you’re not looking directly into someone’s eyes. 

As to your question…it’s hard to answer because I really try not to think about you like that.  Even when I thought you were a girl I tried not to cause I didn’t know what you were like.  And now, even more so.  I guess you have a lot of qualities I like, and you’ve been a great friend to me these last months. But I’m not going to think about you like that until we meet. Cause I do suppose we will at some point. Won’t we?

Let’s hope I don’t die before then,

Harry

Draco dressed in a rush and then went out to the Great Hall, grateful to be on his own.  He ate without tasting the food, his mind absorbed by one thought.  Harry wanted to meet him.  To see him.  To see who had been writing to him all this time.  It made him feel kind of sick.  What was he going to say when he saw Draco? How was he going to act?  Draco felt the rest of the morning pass by without taking account of anything. 

Everyone was talking about the trial and by nine they were walking out to stands by the lake.  Draco was flagged by Crabbe and Goyle as usual, Dana kept trying to cut in between them, but he paid her no mind.  In the stands, Amber Sharp weaseled her way next to him with a flash of her dimpled smile.  “Have you bet on anyone?” she said. 

Amber was a sixth-year girl with short hair and a very pretty face.  She wasn’t nearly as dumb as Dana, or as pathetic as Pansy. In fact, she was almost interesting sometimes.  “Didn’t bother to,” he answered, deadpan. 

“I put my money on Diggory.”

“Uh.”

“What’s the matter with you,” she said, playfully jabbing her index finger between his ribs.  “I thought you and Pansy were broken up.”

“We are.”

“Then,” she leaned close to him, “why are being so grumpy?” He pushed her shoulder away and didn’t say anything. Harry and the other Champions were coming out.  Amber followed his eyes.  “I didn’t know you had such school spirit.”

“I don’t.”

“Then—" she leaned in closer to him and whispered in his ear.  “Let’s get out of here.”

He didn’t look at her and he didn’t say anything. 

“What, you don’t like me anymore?”

He looked at her straight in the face.  “I never did.”

And that was the truth.  Amber was pretty, she got good grades, she talked about important things.  She didn’t hang on to his every word like a puppy and she didn’t giggle.  But he had never really liked her.  She was just another empty distraction. 

She turned back to the trial and didn’t say anything for the remainder of the hour. 

Draco watched the lake and blotted out everything else. He saw Harry go into the water and pop back up for a moment before disappearing into the black depth and then nothing. Silence. There were announcements every so often, but they didn’t mean anything to him, he just wanted to see Harry again.  The Beauxbaton champion resurfaced, sobbing, and everyone made a big fuss about her. Next came Victor Krum, carrying a rather bewildered looking Hermione in his arms.  After then came Diggory and Cho Chang, who was looking at him with the same stupid, adoring look than Pansy had. Then, silence. 

Everyone was on edge. The hour was almost up and Draco could barely breathe.  He was bunching up the fabric of his robes into his hands staring ahead of him with such intensity that he was sure everyone could feel it.  His heart was beating out of his chest.  If somehow Harry didn’t survive he was going to be….

He didn’t have time to finish the thought because at that moment Harry resurfaced, pulling two useless people behind him.  Draco breathed a sigh of relief as the Slytherins around him groaned.  He was alive. He was alive and he wanted to meet him. 

 

Chapter Text

For four months Harry had managed to keep his pen pal secret.  Ron of course didn’t pay particular attention to what he was doing, but Hermione was unabashedly nosy.  Her eyes would always dart out when the letters arrived, or tried to scan over the page when he was writing, which is why he usually wrote to Lu from his dormitory.   But one morning, a couple weeks after the second trial she suddenly lunged across from him in the Gryffindor Common room and snatched a letter violently from his hands.

Dear Harry,

I had no idea your life with the muggles had been so miserable.  No one should be treated like that, particularly by their family.  I know it’s not the same at all, but my childhood was miserable too.  At least you solved your situation by making friends with the Weasleys, and like you said once you turn 17 you never have to go back. 

For me-

Harry finally managed to grab the letter from her.  “What is your problem?”

Hermione was frowning.  “Who are you writing to Harry?”

“None of your business,” he said folding up the letter and putting it in his robes. 

“Harry I’m worried, just tell me who are you talking to,” her voice was gentle but he did not trust it.  “I’ve asked before and you just brush me of, or lie to me, I know that’s not Sirius, and I know it’s not Hagrid, they don’t write like that.”

Suddenly Harry felt a deep fury in him and he leaned forward in his chair staring at her with hatred he had never felt before.  “Look Hermione we’re friends and all, but that does not give you the right to interfere in my life.  I get to make my own choices and-“

“But Harry I’m really worried about you.”

He rolled his eyes.  “That’s not even an excuse.”

“Then please,” she said in a whisper, “Just tell me I have nothing to worry about.”

Harry’s face dropped, as all the fears from the first few weeks came back to him.  This was exactly the kind of thing Sirius had warned him against. “I really can’t believe you did that,” he said. 

“Harry,” her voice was even quieter.  “I know this has been a hard year but you can talk to me.”

No, thought Harry, sometimes I really can’t.  That’s why I need Lu.  He got up and went to the dormitory to finish the letter, which he promptly answered although it felt strange.  For him those letters were sacred.  Something pure, and real, that he could pour himself into.  And he didn’t want Hermione pocking nose around it, or tainting it with her suspicions.  Harry knew who Lu was.  This wasn’t like Ginny and the diary, Lu was a person, a student, and Harry sometimes felt closer to him than any of his friends. 

The following day Hermione tried to talk to him every time Ron left them alone, but he would always cut her off.  After three days of tactfully avoiding her, she cornered him one morning while he was on his way to the owlery. 

“Harry,” she said as she came up behind him. 

“What are you doing here, it’s seven in the morning on a Saturday.”

“I just want to talk for a moment.”

He spun around and looked at her.  “I don’t know what else I have to do, but please take a hint and leave me alone.”

“I don’t really like Viktor Krum,” she half screamed the words at him and Harry was so stunned it took him a full minute to answer. 

“What?”

She sighed.  “I don’t know why I didn’t tell you earlier.  I just-“ she shrugged.  “I guess we never talk about that.  But at first when I met him in the library, and he was always looking at me, or trying to talk to me I was really, really flattered.  And I liked going to the Dance with him but-“ she stopped.  “God, can you believe that I’m what’s most important to him? I mean-“ she raised her hands to her hair.  “I’ve known him for like three months.  I wouldn’t even say he’s my boyfriend.  And I mean,” she was blushing violently.  “We’ve kissed and stuff, but he shouldn’t like me that much.  I mean I don’t like him very much and I don’t know how to get out of it really.”

She had said all this rather quickly, stumbling over her words like a little kid confessing a crime.  “Okay, so just break up with him.”

“I’m not telling you this for advice, I just-“ she sighed.  “I just want you to know what’s happening in my head, because I want to be those kind of friends.   You know, I want be able to talk about things, even when they’re really embarrassing.”  She looked at him then and said, “Do you have a girlfriend Harry?”

Harry remained rooted to the spot trying to make a decision.  “No,” he said finally, and then he cleared his throat. “I’m writing to a boy.”

He was glad to see Hermione looked surprised.  It was really very girly writing.  “Oh.”

“Yeah,” he sighed.  “Come up to the Owlery with me and I’ll explain.”

Unlike her he didn’t rush through everything in 20 seconds, he spoke slowly starting from the very first day.  As he talked he realized that he was telling her more about how Lu made him feel than about what they said to each other.  He carefully excluded any mention of homosexuality, or crushes, or anything of the kind but he was sure that she understood because she was very quiet, very attentive.  

He finished telling her as they stood by a window in the Owlery, Hedwig perched on his arm.  “I know that I shouldn’t be doing this, but I really trust him.  And I have good instincts Hermione I really believe I can trust him.”

She was silent.  “That’s a lot to keep hidden all this time.”

“I know but I didn’t want you worrying.”

“Can I ask you one question though?”

He hesitated and then nodded his head. 

“Have you ever liked a boy before?”

“I haven’t really liked many people like that,” he said petting Hedwig’s feathers.  He was quiet for a moment leaning against the wall and trying not to feel the anxious burn of her eyes.  “When I was a kid-“ he started quietly.  “At the public school I went to, there was one boy who I kind of liked, but that might have only been because he was nice to me when no one else was.”

“But you also like Cho right?” she said in kind of tone he expected a Therapist to employ.

“Yeah, but I don’t really know her.  I think she’s beautiful though.”

“Okay,” she touched his arm.  “I’m really sorry about yesterday I just, I didn’t know what to expect, but thank you for talking to me.”

“You’re not going to go off and say that Lu is a Deatheater and that I should break off contact?”

“Even if I did I don’t think you’d stop writing to him,” she said quietly.  “But please, Harry don’t be stupid.  If you’re really set on meeting him, then please take me or Ron, or someone else with you in case-“

“We’re only mentioned it once and it was in passing.  I’m not even sure he’s ready to meet me yet.”

Hermione nodded.  “Still, please promise me.”

He looked at her and smiled.  “I promise.”

 - 

After that Hermione didn’t hassle him again, although sometimes when she saw him with a letter she would give him a particular kind of smile that was rather unnerving. Somehow even if he had never mentioned how much he liked Lu, she seemed to understand everything and now they were writing every day. 

Dear Harry,

Today my ex-girlfriend caught me alone, and professed her love for me while sobbing.  Thus, she’s now my girlfriend again and I feel like scum.  I treat this girl terribly and she still wants me and I don’t have any idea why.  And sometimes I just want to yell at her to have a little self respect but then again I like being wanted, and loved.  And it’s amazing to have someone that’s that devoted to you. 

I know I shouldn’t do it, but I can’t help myself.  I guess it must be obvious why I was sorted into Slytherin. 

Lu

Dear Lu,

This is really embarrassing but I’ve never had a first kiss.  And obviously I’ve never dated anyone.  So, I have zero experience but it doesn’t sound like you even enjoy her company so you really shouldn’t be together.  Can I ask you something?  Do you find her attractive?

Harry

Dear Harry,

That’s a hard question.  I have kissed a few girls and I think that they’re all pretty, but I don’t find them attractive.  If that makes sense.  Like I think a flower is pretty but I’m not attracted to it. 

I’m surprised to hear you’ve never kissed anyone.  I actually thought you would be really popular with girls cause you’re really cute, and friendly, and well super popular.  Do you want a girlfriend?

Lu

Dear Lu,

I’m really not trying to be modest or anything but you are actually the first person to ever call me cute.  I mean I think I look fine as far as human beings go but I can’t believe anyone finds me attractive.  I guess I would like to date someone, although lately I’ve been reevaluating some stuff.  I think I might be bisexual.   But then again I don’t have any experience to back that up….

What do you look like?

Harry

Dear Harry,

I’m gonna say this because I think you need to hear, you are really attractive. I think you are one of the best looking guys in the year.  I like your messy hair, and your eyes are stunning and you have super clear skin.  Seriously, I get distracted whenever I look at you, and I think every Gryffindor is an idiot if they don’t tell you that on a daily basis cause you warrant it. 

Honestly, I can’t really describe myself because I’m still really afraid of you finding out who I am but I say this, I’m at least two inches taller than you. 

Did you always like boys? Or are you just realizing that now?

Lu

Dear Lu,

I literally can’t comprehend that anyone would think all those things about me, so I’m just gonna ignore them and talk about something else.

Why are you scared of me finding out who you are?   I mean I already know you’re a Slytherin, I already know you’re a boy?  What’s the hold up?

I had actually blotted it out of my mind but when I was a kid there was a boy that I had a crush on.  I probably would never have thought back about it if it weren’t for you though.  Now, I’m looking at boys differently.  Particularly the ones from Slytherin.

Can I ask you one more thing about your appearance?  Are you better looking than Crabbe?

Harry

Dear Harry

Yes. I definitely am.  To be clear I don’t think I’m a bad looking person, I’m just afraid you won’t like me. 

I cheated on my girlfriend today.  Not for the first time I might add, but I’m starting to feel worse and worse about it.  The funny thing is that it’s with this older girl who’s prettier than my girlfriend and smarter than my girlfriend, and who treats me like I’m her equal, nor her superior.  She’s got a lot of qualities I like, but I don’t like her.  I don’t think about her in the same way I think about you. 

Lu

Dear Lu,

I got to ask you something, when did you start have feeling for me?  How long ago I mean?  Was it before we started writing? Cause a few times you’ve mentioned things that have made me think that.  Is that why you wrote to me in the library that day?

Harry

Dear Harry,

I don’t know when I started having feelings for you but it must have been a long time ago, years even.  And now that we write everyday those feeling are getting stronger and stronger.  I think I properly like you now, cause I actually know what you’re like.  I’m just afraid that you’ll hate me when we meet. 

Lu

Dear Lu,

When do you want to meet?

Lu

Dear Harry,

Not yet.

Lu

Dear Lu,

Okay, but it’s going to happen. Promise me that.

Harry

Dear Harry,

I promise.  Believe me it’s what I most want in the world. 

Lu

After that Harry kept that letter with him always.  Tracing those words with his fingers.  Thinking about them when he should have been focused on school, and the last trial, and everything in his dizzying world.  They were going to meet.  It was going to happen.  And the weeks melted by, and he realized with a start that that was what he most wanted to, more than anything.  There was so much mixed into it.  So much expectation, and excitement and doubt. 

Chapter Text

“Draco?” Pansy was lying next to him in bed, her head on his shoulder.  He grunted at her, his eyes not moving from the book he was reading. 

“You’ve been really quiet lately, is anything wrong?”

“Everything’s fine,” he answered automatically flipping the page. 

“Vince and Greg are worried too,” she said quietly. 

He shot her a look of annoyance that she knew was a warning.  Stay silent or leave.  He continued his reading, but in truth, his mind was somewhere else entirely.  His father’s last letter had shaken him to the core.  The dark mark was growing clearer in his arm and he was certain that the Dark Lord would rise and again, and very soon.  He had cautioned Draco now more than ever to stick with his friends and to be vigilant something would be happening very soon. 

Any other that would have frightened him.  He had heard from his father’s lips all the things he had had to do for the Dark Lord the last time he had power.  But now, there was a new fear within him.  What would happen to Harry? To his friends? To the replaying, and blood traitors, and everyone else that hung around him?  What would happen to the school? To Dumbledore? To the whole frail little world that they belonged to?  Could it really go back to how things were? Could there really be another war, so soon after the last when everyone had lost so much?

Next to him Pansy had fallen asleep and at last, he put the book down and closed his eyes, and fell into an uneasy dream. 

-

It was June in the Castle, a beautiful June, with blue skies, and green fields in every direction.  He had taken to walking around during the sunset with Pansy, watching the lake turn violent colors against the setting sun.  They were really lucky to be somewhere so beautiful. 

When he was little he remembered hearing all his relative’s stories about Hogwarts.  They had made it seem like the best place in the world, and yet that didn’t even begin to describe it.  He heard their stories of classes, and detentions and accidents, and had come to realize when he was still quite young that for most people Hogwarts was the best part of their lives.  He had tried to appreciate it more these last months, but for him, there was also something wrong about it, probably to do with the company he kept. 

He could only imagine how amazing it would be to look at the lake, and the Castle, and the Forrest with someone he really loved.  To be able to share with them how lucky they were to have all this when in the real world people’s lives were usually charmless and miserable.  And besides who knew what would happen in the future, Hogwarts might not always remain Hogwarts.  As far as he could see the future was bleak and daunting. 

With Harry that was the only topic that was off the table.  He didn’t need him to know the things his family had been responsible for.  But other than that they talked about everything, especially about meeting.  That was the focus of their discussion at the moment.  Draco had come up with every excuse he could think of not to meet and he was sure that Harry was growing frustrated by it.  But what was he supposed to do? He had spent the last four years being terrible to him.  They were enemies and rivals, and what was Harry going to say when he realized that Draco had liked him for so long. 

Would he understand?

Or would they just go back to being like they used to be?

One week before the last Task, Harry sent him a letter:

Dear Lu,

I don’t want to wait anymore.  I remember before the Second Task, I kept thinking, what if I die and never meet you.  I don’t want that to happen.  I don’t want to leave anything unfinished.  I hope I don’t die but in case I do I really need to see you.  Will you meet me tomorrow?

Harry

Draco read the letter eight times throughout the day and wrote various responses all of which he threw out.  He saw Harry in class, he seemed fine, like his usual self, just taking notes and talking to his friends like always.  How could he be so calm if he actually thought he might die?  Draco was terrified of dying.  He was terrified of a lot of things.  In the evening he finally got the courage together to respond, but even when he had said yes, a part of him wanted to not show up. 

Harry’s response came twenty minutes later. 

Dear Lu,

Thank you.  Meet me at the entrance of the School at seven o’clock tomorrow.

The next day Draco threw up his breakfast, and his lunch, and his midday coffee.  Pansy went to Madame Pomfrey and got him a special position to ease his nausea, which was kind of her but it didn’t help with the nerves.  And it seemed that the day was passing too quickly one moment he was waking up and then their classes were over and instead of going to dinner with everyone else he was moving automatically towards the entrance to the school with legs like jelly. 

He was actually going to do it.  He could have turned back.  Could have run.  But it was like his whole body was on autopilot, carrying him to their meeting place.  He got there five minutes early and leaned against the doorway of the school feeling stupid.  His eyes fixed on the ground.  He could hear the clamor of the crowd gathering at the Great Hall, and then to his left a single set of footsteps. 

He looked up to see Harry moving towards him with eyes like saucers. “Hey,” he muttered weakly because it sounded cool in his head. 

“What are you doing here?” said Harry. 

“It’s short for Luscious,” answered Draco, looking at his shoes because he couldn’t meet his eyes.  “That’s my middle name,” he added quietly, as if it was an afterthought. 

“You can’t be serious,” said Harry. 

At last Draco looked up at his face. He really did look quite angry.  “Why not?”

“Because-“ Harry was shaking his head.  “That’s too- no-“ Suddenly something else flashed in his eyes.  Was it fear? Or surprise? Or horror? Draco wasn’t sure, he had never really seen him this close before.  “Was this a joke?”

“No,” he answered at once.  “No, I-“ he stopped, their voices were echoing. “Let’s get out of here,” he said taking a step through the opened door and down a couple of steps.  “Let’s take a walk.”

Harry was staring him like he had just suggested a suicide pack.  “I’m not going anywhere with you.”

“Harry-“ he said the word so softly it almost hurt.  “I really meant everything I said,” he muttered.

“Yeah, I’m sure you also meant it when you called Hermione a Mudblood, or got terrible articles printed about me in the Prophet.  When your father-“

“Don’t bring my father into this!” Draco had raised his voice again. 

“Why the hell shouldn’t I?”

“Didn’t you listen to any of the things I told you,” he was putting all his effort into not yelling.  “I hate my parents, okay? I love them but I can’t stand them, and I’m not my father, I’m not responsible for the things he’s done.”

“Well what about the things you’ve done,” said Harry.  “The way you treat people?  The way you torment Neville?  Or Hagrid? Or the way you have tried for years to make life impossible for me?” Harry hadn’t moved from his place in the doorway and he looked angrier than Draco had ever seen him.  “And it actually makes sense you know?  With all your whining? Of course you’re Malfoy? Who else would you be?” he laughed and the sound was terrible.  “Of course you cheat on your girlfriend and hate your friends, and have a crush on your enemy.  Of course.  No one else would be so fucked up or heatless.”

Draco blinked with surprised, and then by instinct, he stuck a hand into his robes and pulled out his wand.  Harry had turned pale.

“What you’re going to curse me? Because I know you better than anyone?”

He hadn’t pulled out his wand, he was just staring down at him with such loathing that Draco felt like his eyes alone might disembowel him. 

“You can’t even say anything, can you?  Cause you know how right I am,” said Harry.  “Go to hell Malfoy,” he said before turning around and walking calmly down the hallways until he disappeared from sight. 

Draco watched the sunset alone as he walked around the lake.  It was a warm night, and eventually, he plopped down in the grass and sat for a long time watching the sky darken and the stars blink in.  He found that he wasn’t angry, or sad, he just felt numb and although he hadn’t managed to keep something down all day, he threw up again. 

He walked back to the dormitory, and fell into bed, without speaking a word.  He shut his eyes tight.  And replayed the scene in his mind, time and time again.  The worst part about it was that Harry had said nothing wrong, nothing untrue.  He was a terrible person.  A fucked up person. He was his father’s son.  And he had taken pride in doing things that were cruel, particularly to people like Longbottom who made themselves targets.  Harry didn’t even know the half of it. 

But none of that could change the fact that he loved him.  Yes, he had realized it that very day, watching him insult him.  This wasn’t a crush; it wasn’t just affection, or want even.  He loved him.  He really fucking loved him.  More than he’d ever loved anything in his life. 

He lay awake a long while, and then for the first time in living memory Draco Malfoy cried himself to sleep.