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Blue Roses and Other Impossible Things

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The heat had been scorching as Harry flew from the Room of Requirement that night. He’d felt the flames lick at his ankles to the point where he still had a scar on his left one to show for it. The heat had been all around him though, engulfing him unlike anything he’d ever felt. The air had been so hot Harry had tried not to breathe, for fear of his insides melting away. When they had finally crashed into the cold corridor outside the room Harry had been too disoriented to land properly, his feet had hit the ground, Malfoy had crashed into his back and they had fallen. The momentum of their escape hurtled them a few feet across the corridor, making them crash into each other several times before they finally stilled. Harry had been too relieved by the fact that they were both still alive to think much about the body on top of his own, that was, until he opened his eyes. Harry was suddenly convinced he hadn’t escaped the Fiendfyre after all, because he could feel the heat consuming him all over again. It looked as if Malfoy had consumed the fiery passion of the cursed flames, and it was all there in his eyes, eyes locked with Harry’s own. The moment Harry noticed, he felt his skin burning wherever Malfoys body was pressed against his own. The fire in those grey eyes threatened to consume him, body and soul, and Harry had wanted it more than anything. He couldn’t remember how long he had been lost in those eyes, unable to break their eye-contact. Unwilling to. Neither of them had made a sound, or even blinked, until Malfoy had shifted his weight the tiniest bit and made Harry gasp. It had broken then, whatever had been happening between them. Malfoy had stumbled to his feet, leaving Harry feeling oddly lost on the floor.

It hadn’t been a problem after that, because Harry had decided not to think about it. He had a war to fight after all, so finding distractions had been easy. Then, when the war had ended there had been funerals, trials and a lot of sleep. Harry hadn’t thought about it, not even when he had testified at Malfoy and his mother’s trial. Not when he’d returned Malfoy’s wand. He’d buried it so deep in his mind that he’d only thought of the incident once, a week after he and Ginny had finally called it off. That was all about to change though.

“All first years, welcome to Hogwarts!” McGonagall said from her new place at the middle of the staff table. “And to everyone else, welcome back. It warms my heart to see so many of you have returned, even those of you who should have graduated. Let us have a moment of silence for those we have lost, who will never return here again.”

Harry bowed his head respectfully. There had been countless moments of silence since the war had ended, and he was honestly a bit tired of them all. It was different here though, in the great hall where they had kept the dead. The very walls where they had lived and fought, and won. Harry noticed the location affecting his friends more than usual too. Ron had his eyes closed, and Harry remembered seeing him do the very same thing as he had sat beside Fred’s body only feet from where they were sitting now. Ron had told him that when he closed his eyes he could still see those final moments, when his brother had been laughing. Hermione was clutching onto her boyfriend’s arm, as much for her own comfort as his. She had a napkin in her other hand, dabbing at the tears that were now rolling off her face.

Ginny was sitting further down the table, wearing a stony expression, and staring at the spot on the floor where Fred had laid. Parvati looked lost without her best friend, and Harry’s heart broke every time she turned to her side with a smile only to have it fall away when there was no-one there. It was easier, Harry found, to focus on everybody else. Because if he thought about how Parkinson looked terrified, or that no Ravenclaw girls had returned for their eight year and that both Hufflepuff girls who had were at a table not their own, then Harry didn’t have to think about his own losses. He didn’t want to think about Remus on the cold floor beneath his feet, arm almost touching Tonks’. Both dead because they’d wanted to make the world safe for their child. He didn’t want to think about Fred, or how broken Harry’s surrogate family had been that summer. He didn’t want to think about Molly and George who hadn’t left their beds all summer, except when they’d go to check on each other. No, Harry didn’t want to think about any of it. Instead he thought of Neville who was sitting next to Hannah Abbot, whispering something in her ear. He thought about Dean and Luna, and how they seemed to find comfort in each-others friendship after months locked in Malfoy’s cellar. Harry thought about his friends’ losses, scars and pain, and he felt that instead of his own. Because Harry’s own pain was too big, too dark, and he couldn’t let himself be weak. So he locked his pain away deep down too.

“This year,” McGonagall said, breaking the pressing silence in the room, “I’ve hired counsellors that are available to you all. If you should need someone to talk to, know that they are available to you, just as all your teachers are. Still, we should all make an effort to take care of each other in this difficult time.”

The hall was filled with people nodding, giving each other warm looks and hugging. At least none of them were alone in their pain, Harry thought, it was a comforting thought as much as it was a depressing one.

“Now, some practical information.” McGonagall said. Harry zoned out as the headmistress explained what had already been in the letter he’d got over the summer. Hogwarts had decided to extend an invitation to the students who should have graduated the previous year, to come back for an eight year and sit their NEWTs. Harry hadn’t wanted to go at first, scared that Hogwarts would no longer feel like home after the final battle. Strangely, what had convinced him to come back was the fact that the ministry had sent him a letter inviting him to join Auror training without his final exams. Harry wasn’t sure he still wanted to be an Auror, but he knew he didn’t want to be one because of special treatment. So, he’d come back to get properly qualified, or at least buy himself some time to figure out what he wanted to do if he didn’t want to go into Auror training after all.
“.. and seeing as how the number of students is higher this year, while our staff is the same size, eight years will be required to do a lot of independent studying,” McGonagall was saying as Harry’s focus returned on her. She was looking into the Great Hall with a stern look, as if threatening severe consequences on whoever failed to live up to this responsibility.

“Because there is limited space in your common rooms, and the eight years are all above standard Hogwarts age, I have decided that they will live in a newly constructed common room.”

Harry heard the younger people in the room react to the news. Most of them looked surprised, he thought. It appeared that the very youngest in the room were relieved to have the ‘scary old people’ out of their common room, though. The fourth years and above looked either jealous or disappointed. Everyone returning for their eight year had already known, of course. Neville, in particular, had been very glad for the news that he’d be sharing with his girlfriend.
“After the feast, the fist years will wait here for the prefects to escort them to their common rooms. The eight years will meet me by the Transfigurations classroom, where I will show you to your new living quarters,” McGonagall said.

As soon as McGonagall sat down, the previously empty tables were piled with all kinds of desserts. The sound of people talking and eating soon filled the hall, and it took Harry a while to realise that one of the voices was speaking to him.

“Looks like most of the Slytherins have returned,” Ron said, chewing on a piece of cake.

“Well, of course they have,” Hermione said, only speaking after she’d chewed and swallowed.

“I wasn’t really expecting them to,” Harry admitted. “If anything, I’d expected more Ravenclaws. It hardly looks like any of them returned.”

“I know, right?” Ron said, pointing his fork at Harry before placing it in his mouth without realising the cake had dropped off it. “Ravenclaws are the nerds around here, why haven’t they returned for their last years.”

“Oh, don’t be so stereotypical,” Hermione said. “The Ravenclaws love learning, yes, but that doesn’t mean they love school. Just look at Luna and Cho, neither of them like studying for class that much.”

Harry thought that was true. Luna loved learning about obscure creatures and theories; some were so obscure Harry was quite certain they didn’t really exist at all, but that was beside the point.

“Yeah, alright,” Ron said, “but what the bloody hell are so many Slytherins doing back here?”

“Where else should they go?” Hermione asked. “People don’t look too kindly at Slytherins these days, because they think they’re all Death Eater sympathisers.”

“Well, aren’t they?” Ron said, glaring over at the far table. “It’s not like they did anything to help us win the war.”

“Malfoy did,” Harry found himself saying, staring at the blonde who was having a conversation with Parkinson. He hadn’t noticed Harry and his friends staring, actually, Harry thought Malfoy hadn’t looked their way since the feast started.

“No, he bloody didn’t. What are you on about?” Ron demanded.

Harry felt suddenly awkward. He’d spoken at Malfoys trial, but he’d spoken at so many trials that mentioning that particular one to his friends hadn’t seemed important. He hadn’t really meant to say anything about it now.

“When the snitchers got us, he said he didn’t recognize us,” Harry said. “I don’t believe that for a second.”

“Your head was all swollen though,” Ron replied, but he looked unsure though. As if he wasn’t really believing his own argument.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Yeah, and he’d just forgotten how you and Hermione looked. He had to have known it was us.”

“I think you’re right,” Hermione offered, “but that doesn’t really make up for all the shit he’d done either.”

“The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters,” Harry said, repeating the words Sirius had once told him.

“Malfoy is a bloody Death Eater,” Ron said. “He let them into our school, he helped get my brother clawed up by a werewolf, and I didn’t see him helping us when my other brother got killed doing the right thing.”

Harry understood where Ron was coming from, he understood how his friend wanted to blame someone for all the terrible things that had happened to him. That someone had to be responsible for everything he had lost. Harry understood that, but he was so tired of the hate. He hadn’t fought a war for justice and against discrimination just to have Slytherins becoming the ones discriminated against. “Just because he’s got the mark doesn’t mean he’s evil,” Harry said.

“No, but the prejudice he’s spit at us all for as long as we’ve known him does,” Hermione said, placing a calming hand on her boyfriend.

“I’m not saying he’s Christ reborn or something,” Harry said. “Just – we were all placed in impossible situations, and I don’t think it’s fair to brand him as evil just because he was a dick to us in school.”

“What, so you’re just going to forgive and forget?” Ron said, glaring at Harry.

“Not forget,” Harry disagreed, “but I’ve had enough hate for a lifetime. And like I said, he didn’t turn us in, I don’t think he wanted Voldemort to win.”

“Sure it seemed like that when he found us in the Room of Requirement and started throwing around AK’s and Fiendfyre,” Ron said, slamming his glass back down to the table.

“He was terrified,” Harry said, surprising himself by how sure he felt of that. “He just wanted the war to be over, just like we did.”

“Harry,” Hermione said, giving him her most sympathetic stare. The one she gave him when she thought he’d gone quite insane. “I’m all for forgiveness and acceptance. You know that, but I’m not sure Malfoy deserves it.”

Harry snorted at that. He wanted to argue further, that acceptance wasn’t something people went around deserving. The people who needed acceptance were always the ones who didn’t get it, the ones deemed undeserving. Voldemort hadn’t thought Muggleborns deserved to be accepted into the Wizarding World, wizards didn’t think house-elves or goblins deserved acceptance, racists didn’t accept anything but white people, and homophobes didn’t accept gay people. He was tired of arguing though, tired of fighting.

“Whatever,” Harry said, feeling guilty. He figured he could always bring the subject back later though, when emotions weren’t as raw.

Ron and Hermione both seemed willing to write Harry’s opinions up as temporary insanity, and the rest of the feast passed in a discussion of Quidditch.

“I wonder where our new dorms will be,” Hermione said, as they waited for McGonagall outside the Transfiguration classroom. “Hopefully it’s closer to the library than Gryffindor. I lost twenty minutes of study time every night to make it back before curfew.”

“Of course that’s what you’d worry about,” Ron snorted. “I just hope it’s closer to the kitchens.”

Harry didn’t know what he hoped for their new rooms, but he didn’t have to consider it long before McGonagall arrived. She led them to the end of the hallway, and up a staircase Harry could have sworn hadn’t been there their previous years. At the top of the stairs there was a painting of a huge tree. It didn’t move, unlike most of the paintings Harry had seen at Hogwarts, but something about it seemed incredibly magical either way. The tree in the painting stood tall, with branches full of green leaves. The branches were so long they reached the ground and intertwined with the roots of the tree, forming a circle around it.

“I am from Scotland,” McGonagall told the tree, and the painting swung back. The common room behind it reminded Harry of the one in Gryffindor tower, and he was glad. The room was dressed in warm earthy tones, managing to incorporate all their houses colours without looking strange.

“That’s a Celtic tree of life,” Hermione said, surprising no one with her knowledge.

“Indeed Ms Granger. To access your common rooms, all you need to do is tell the tree something true about yourself.”

At first, the thought scared Harry, because the truth was a powerful thing. He realised though, that he could just tell the tree the last thing he’d eaten and it would suffice as a truth, at least so he hoped.

“Welcome to your new dorm,” McGonagall said. “As you can see, you have a common room for studying and socializing as you are used to. However, the bedrooms here are smaller, and so you will now share with only one other student. The rooms are already assigned, and I will make no changes. A list is on your notice board with your new roommate, as well as some new rules. As you are older than the students Hogwarts usually accommodate, not to mention survivors of a war, we have decided to give you more freedom here. That does, however come with more responsibilities. I expect you all to act your best.” With that she stepped aside, letting the eight years pass her before walking off.

Harry and the others all crowded around the notice board, desperate to see who they’d be sleeping next to for the next year. Harry found himself standing towards the back of the group, and he was too short to see over the crowd in front of him. He had to wait patiently, just listening to the sounds of outrage and disappointment his year-mates were making.

“No bloody way!” Ron shouted, making the people around him rub their ears.

“Ey, I’m not that bad!” Terry said, looking put out.

“No, you’re fine,” Ron said, “but look who Harry’s paired with!”

Harry pushed through the crowd, and could finally see the list in front of him.

Ronald Weasley and Terry Boot room 1.
Dean Thomas and Justin Finch-Fletchley room 2.
Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy room 3.
Seamus Finnigan and Blaise Zabini room 4.
Neville Longbottom and Theodore Nott room 5.
Michael Corner and Ernie Macmillan room 6.
Hermione Granger and Daphne Greengrass room 7.
Parvati Patil and Hannah Abbot room 8.
Eloise Midgen and Millicent Bulstrode room 9.
Pansy Parkinson and Susan Bones room 10.

Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, he thought. Right. That was – well, pretty terrible. Sure, Harry didn’t think Malfoy was evil, but he knew for a fact the other man was a right git. They didn’t get along, never had and probably never would. Harry wasn’t about to make a scene about it in the common room though, not after he’d seen how badly his friends had thought of Malfoy. Not after seeing how the other people roomed with Slytherins were staring at him with angry faces, apparently ready to follow his lead in their ‘battle’ against the snakes.

Harry looked around the room and found Malfoy looking at him, actually meeting his eyes for the first time since that night, the one Harry didn’t think about. Malfoys eyes were cold, almost emotionless except what Harry suspected was a flicker of worry.

“Alright Malfoy,” Harry said, trying to make his voice sound neutral. “I’ll take the bed closest to the window, if there is one.” Malfoy blinked at him, but didn’t offer a reply.

Seamus looked at Harry as if he’d been betrayed. Harry glanced at the list and saw that he was roomed with Zabini in the room next to his own. “You’re not mad?” he asked.

“Nah,” Harry said, even though he was, a bit. “I’ll miss rooming with you guys of course, but Malfoy can’t possibly snore as loudly as you do.”

“I don’t snore that loud,” Seamus said, crossing his arms.

“Yeah, mate, you really do,” Dean said.

“Hope your silencing charms are strong Zabini,” Neville said, grinning at Harry. Apparently, Harry wasn’t the only one who didn’t want a war between the Slytherins and the rest of the houses. Neville also seemed to think it was time to forgive and, if not forget, at least move on. Harry sent him a grateful smile.

“You’re one to talk,” Dean said, rolling his eyes at Neville.

“At least I admit to it,” Neville said. “I put up my own silencing charms Nott, don’t worry.”

“Are you kidding me?” Ron demanded, staring bewildered between Harry and Neville. “Since when are you lads, buddies with the snakes?”

“Since the war ended and I decided to grow up,” Neville said, standing tall despite Ron’s glare.

“What does it matter if we’re friends or not?” Harry said. “I didn’t even know you when we started rooming together in first year.”

“At least you didn’t have to worry about being murdered in your sleep,” Ron said, fuming.

“Oh, come off it Ron, Malfoy’s not going to murder me in my sleep. Or while I’m awake for that matter,” Harry said. “Nobody’s going to murder anyone, the war is over. Let’s just – let it be over.”

“Hear, hear,” Neville said, and Harry noticed Dean and a couple of others nodding.

The anger in the room seemed to have died down too, and Harry was glad. He’d hated it at first, when he realised people looked up to him now that the war was over. People would thank him, and he could deal with that. It had been harder when he noticed the people looking at him to figure out what to do next though, because Harry had no idea. At least that time around something good came out of it.

“I’m knackered,” Harry said. And he really was, coming back to Hogwarts had been more emotionally exhausting than he’d thought it would. “I’m off to bed.”

The bedroom was nice, Harry thought. It was decorated in the same neutral tones as their new common room, except the curtains around their beds that were a deep purple colour. Harry figured it would do a better job at keeping the light out than his old crimson ones had. The room did have a window, and Harry was relieved. He liked windows, because they let him know he wasn’t trapped anywhere. If he could feel the breeze or see the light from the moon, he didn’t have to wake up worried he was still in the cupboard beneath the stairs. It wasn’t a rational fear, he knew, but in the state between sleep and awake it was still there.

Harry claimed the bed beneath the window for himself, and started unpacking his trunk into the dresser situated at the foot of the bed. He brought his toiletries into the bathroom, and was glad to notice that they had their own shower stall and toilet in there. It really was a luxury, only sharing with one person.

Harry jumped when he excited the bathroom and nearly walked straight into Malfoy. The blonde had laid his suitcase by the spare bed, and Harry was glad he hadn’t decided to start a fight over the window thing.

“Thank you,” Malfoy said, not meeting Harry’s eyes. The words came out short, like Malfoy really didn’t want to say them.

“What for?” Harry asked, although he thought he knew what Malfoy was talking about.

“Pretending you’re not bothered by sharing with me,” Malfoy answered, still not meeting Harry’s eyes.

Harry wanted to shake the man in front of him, not because he really missed the sarcastic insults, but because it just seemed wrong for Malfoy to be so - meek.

“I’m just tired of fighting,” Harry admitted, not arguing the fact that it did bother him. Harry had wanted to share with Ron, Dean, Seamus and Neville, like he always had. He had wanted to just come back to Hogwarts and be himself, instead of having to be some sort of role model, leading by example.

“Nobody else put up a fight about it after you left,” Malfoy said. “I think before you and Longbottom spoke up half of them were ready to curse their Slytherin roommates.”

Harry couldn’t get over Malfoy’s voice, how neutral it was. He didn’t show any emotion, not even when speaking of his friends getting cursed.

“I’m glad they didn’t,” Harry said, and found he really did mean it.

“Some of us probably deserve it,” Malfoy said.

“Maybe,” Harry admitted, “but there’s been enough hate. I’m sick of it. So let’s just agree to be civil, yeah?”

“I won’t bother you if you don’t bother me,” Malfoy said, finally meeting Harry’s eyes. They were still mostly emotionless, but Harry thought there might be a challenge there as well. To what, he didn’t know.

“Perfect,” Harry said, offering his hand for a shake. Only after he held it out did he remember the time Malfoy had offered his hand to Harry, and Harry had rejected it. The hate had definitely lasted for too long. It seemed Malfoy remembered that too, because he stared at the hand for several tense seconds before taking it.

Chapter Text

Heat. Heat everywhere, all around, choking him. Eyes burning from the smoke, lungs screaming in protest. A warm body behind him, holding on for dear life. Escape finally, then falling, rolling and rolling. The world stops spinning and the heat is back again, but different this time. It’s burning Harry from within, making him feel the most intense sensations. And there it is, the stare. Malfoy looks down at him with fire in his eyes, but the fire jumps out, leaving him cold. The flames hit Harry and he burns, burns, burns.

Harry woke up choking back a scream. His sheets had tangled around him at some point during the night, and he panicked for a second in the struggle to get them off. He was too warm, and he couldn’t breathe. The window was still slightly open, the way Harry left it before falling asleep. He opened it further, put his head out and pulled in huge gulps of air. It had been a while since he had his last nightmare, but being in a new place must have brought them back again. Not that Harry was really sure it was a nightmare. It had been intense, but not really all that scary. His nightmares usually involved the dead blaming him for not having saved them.

Harry sat for a while with his head out the window, leaning on the windowsill and just trying to calm his breathing. The dream had been about Malfoy, he realised, and the moment after Harry had pulled him from the Fiendfyre. Harry risked a glance across the room, relieved to see the blonde is still asleep in his own bed. Why had he given Harry a look like that, Harry wondered. And what kind of a look had it even been? Harry couldn’t tell, except the fact that it was so intense just remembering it made him feel hot all over.

Harry’s breathing slowly returned to normal, and he cast a tempus. He didn’t know if he was relieved that it was only 3 am, and that he could go back to sleep or if he just wanted to get out of bed and get on with the day. He laid back in bed though, and fell asleep only minutes after his head hit the pillow.

Harry was already second guessing his decision to continue with taking Herbology. Of course, he wasn’t really, because he needed it to become an Auror. Still, the sight of the boil-covered plant that smelled suspiciously of piss was hard on his tired senses. Thankfully it was the last class of the day, and Harry was even more thankful by the end of the class, after he’d spent an hour watering the plants. Although, watering was a generous term to use seeing as the plants would only grow if one watered them with goblin piss. Harry had been careful not to spill any of it on himself, but he still smelled of it, and he was desperate to get back to his room and have a shower. The rest of the class had already left, but Harry’s plant had more boils than any of the others, and Professor Sprout had said no-one was allowed to leave before every single boil was glistening with piss.

Harry cursed the ugly boil plant, goblin piss, Professor Sprout and Herbology in general all the way back to the new common room.

“I smell of goblin piss,” he told the Celtic tree, waiting for it to open. It didn’t. Maybe the bloody tree didn’t have a sense of smell, Harry thought. “I had chicken for lunch,” he tried instead, but the door still wouldn’t open. Harry was tempted to get his wand out and curse the bloody tree off the wall. He wanted to take a shower, for fucks sake. He didn’t have to consider it long though, before Malfoy came walking up beside him.

“Merlin Potter, you smell of piss,” he said, instead of a greeting.

“Yes, thank you,” Harry said, sourly, “I know.” Harry thought Malfoy was about to take the piss, it was a good opportunity to do so. When Harry really looked at him though, it didn’t look like Malfoy cared at all. His expression was so neutral Harry couldn’t even see his nose wrinkling at the horrible smell Harry was giving off.

“Why haven’t you opened the door?” Malfoy asked. He didn’t even sound curious, more like he was just being polite. It pissed Harry off even more, because something was obviously wrong with Malfoy.

“It won’t fucking let me in,” Harry said, directing his anger at the door instead. “My name is Harry James Potter,” he told the door, which remained shut.

“I have blonde hair,” Malfoy told the door, and it opened immediately. Harry stormed through it without another word to the blonde git, and headed straight for the shower.

The dream of the flames and fiery looks came back that night, and Harry once again, woke up gasping. The memory of that look seemed even farther off now that Malfoy was being so cold. Harry didn’t like this cold, neutral and polite version of Malfoy, it was unsettling. He wanted, well Harry didn’t know what he wanted, because he didn’t really want the discriminating and rude dickhead back. He just wanted some sort of indication that Malfoy was really in there, Harry thought, a sign that the other man wasn’t gone.

“You look tired,” Hermione said the next morning, giving Harry a piercing gaze.

“I am tired,” Harry said, not bothering to hide the fact. At least it was Friday, and Harry had been glad to learn that he only had two classes on Fridays, and that the last two were set aside for homework and revising. After spending the past week waking to dreams of Malfoy’s burning gaze, Harry was really hoping to use his revision hours for a good long nap.

Ron was busy spreading jam on his French toast, but he stopped to look up at Harry when he heard the conversation. “You do look tired mate, have the nightmares started up again?”

Harry wanted to point out that he wasn’t the only one who looked tired. Ron had dark circles under his eyes, and Harry knew his friend had been suffering from insomnia since the war ended. Unlike Harry, Ron never had nightmares, instead he had a lot of trouble falling asleep. Harry didn’t want to talk about his nightmare, or whatever it had been. It had felt less like a nightmare this time, and just more – Harry didn’t know.

“Yeah, I guess. How have you been sleeping?” Harry asked, noticing Ron looked more tired than he had before they came back to school.

“I haven’t really,” Ron admitted. Harry hated the look of shame on his friend’s face. It was only natural that they would have scars after the war, Harry could see them everywhere he looked. Some were more obvious than others. Like the scars that littered Neville’s arms and face after he’d refused to torture others, or the ones spiralling up Ron’s arm after their failed apparition. Others weren’t so easy to see; like the way Ron didn’t sleep or how Dean couldn’t be in a room without looking around, panic stricken, for the exit.

Harry wanted to tell his friend that it was alright, that they all struggled. That there wasn’t anything to be ashamed of. “That sucks mate,” he said instead, feeling afraid that it would be too much if he said anything else.

“I got all my homework done though,” Ron said, earning a proud smile from Hermione. “So, at least that’s something.”

“Terry doesn’t mind if you have the lights on all night?” Hermione asked.

“Nah, he’s not too fond of the dark these days,” Ron said, smiling sadly. “Guess we’re a good match in that regard.”

“That’s good,” Harry said. He shuddered at the thought of his friend sitting sleepless in the dark because of his new roommate, and felt glad that wasn’t the case.

“Speaking of roommates,” Hermione said, glancing at Harry. “How are things working out with Malfoy?”

Well, I’m convinced something is terribly wrong with him because he’s all emotionless and polite all the time, Harry thought. What he said though, was, “He’s been very polite and he doesn’t snore. How are things with Greengrass?”

“I think that’s going to work out well, actually,” Hermione said, smiling. “She lent me this really interesting book about pre-Latin spellwork.”

“That’s all it takes to win you over,” Ron grinned, “a really interesting book.”

Hermione just rolled her eyes at him, but she couldn’t hide the fond smile that accompanied the exasperated look. She turned back to Harry. “I think you and Neville were right,” she said, surprising Harry. “I mean, I don’t like Malfoy or Parkinson, or most of the Slytherins in our year really, but you were right. If we treat them like they’re worthless, then everyone else will too, and not just the ones we have a bad history with, but all the Slytherins.”

Harry had suspected Hermione would come to that realisation eventually, but he was surprised it had happened so fast. When she felt she was right about something, it usually took ages and a lot of effort to change her mind.

“What made you change your mind?” Harry asked.

“Well, I saw how angry everyone was when they were paired with a Slytherin roommate. And I’ve seen how excluded they all are now. Even the first years are being talked down too,” Hermione said, glancing at the Slytherin table. “And even though I don’t think Malfoy have deserved our forgiveness, it’s not really up to me to decide what he does deserve.”

“Not you too, Hermione” Ron protested, groaning into his toast. “I’ve already had this argument with Harry and Neville both.”

Hermione sniffed. “Maybe it’s time to change your opinion then, or at least listen to our reasons.”

Harry tuned out the unavoidable argument between his friends, seeking out Malfoy instead. The blonde was sitting at the Slytherin table, apparently having a conversation with Pansy. From the look of it, the conversation was about the qualities of paint drying, Harry thought. Malfoy’s face was just as blank as it was when he spoke with Harry.

When Harry woke up breathless again that night, something was different. HeHe didn’t notice what it was at first, too busy gasping for air. When his heartbeat finally calmed down though, Harry realised he was hard. It wasn’t the first time he’d woken up like that, of course. However, it was the first time after one of his dreams. Something had to change, Harry decided. Clearly, something was terribly wrong with Malfoy, and clearly it was affecting Harry in strange ways. It couldn’t go on.

Maybe, if Harry could just see that look on Malfoy’s face while awake, the dreams would stop, Harry thought. That must be it, he decided. All he needed was a way to provoke that look, or at least a look with some sort of emotion behind it. He just needed to know that Malfoy was really in there somewhere. Harry needed a plan and it was obvious, really; he would be the most annoying prat of a roommate that ever existed. He had, after all, been excellent at getting angry reactions from Malfoy before.

That’s how Harry found himself curled up in bed with a book he was only pretending to read. His attention was really on the dirty sock he’d left on Malfoy’s side of the room. The side Malfoy kept immaculate. He was almost smiling, imagining the look of frustration that would surely cross Malfoy’s face when he returned to their room only to find the stinky sock there.

Harry held his breath when he heard the door open, and pretended to focus on his book. When he didn’t hear a sigh of frustration, or any other indication Malfoy had found the sock though, Harry looked up. The blonde had his wand out, face completely empty of emotion, and simply levitated the sock into Harry’s overfilled laundry basket. Harry decided a dirty sock couldn’t have been enough, so the next day he left both his socks and a dirty t-shirt on Malfoy side of the room, even closer to the stone-faced boy’s bed. Malfoy’s reaction didn’t change though, and Harry wanted to scream when he heard his clothes land in the laundry basket. Apparently, he had to step it up.

Harry spent that Sunday being very active to make sure his socks would reach maximum smelling potential. He also started studying Malfoy more closely, hoping he might show more emotion when surrounded by his friends. That was a disappointment though, because as far as he could see Malfoy was just as blank when his friends were around. At least when they were in public.

That evening Harry placed his nasty sock on Malfoy’s pillow. He was probably taking it too far, but he wasn’t a patient person, and wanted a reaction. He listened closely as Malfoy entered the room, and heard as the other boy paused. He must have seen the sock by then. In his peripheral vision Harry could see it floating across the room, landing in his laundry basket. Then he heard a whispered cleaning spell, followed by the unmistakable sent of soap. Harry was about to resign to the fact that he could probably leave a dead animal in Malfoy’s bed without getting any reaction from him when he realised the blonde was approaching him.

“Did I do something wrong?” Malfoy asked, voice flat as ever.

“Nope,” Harry grinned, hoping he’d finally broken through the wall of indifference.

“Alright,” Malfoy said. He turned away from Harry and entered the bathroom without another word. And more importantly, Harry thought, without showing a speck of emotion.

Harry threw his book across the room, and watched in satisfaction as it hit the wall with a soft thud.

Malfoy was talking with Zabini now. Maybe he was telling him about Harry’s ridiculous attempts to make him angry, Harry thought. There really was no way to tell from across the Great Hall. Especially when Malfoy insisted on making his face so flat. Zabini might have looked a bit angry though, Harry supposed. He himself was close to losing his mind at that point, both from lack of sleep and from the daily frustration of failing to make Malfoy angry. The night before, Harry had turned all of Malfoy’s furniture upside down, and dyed it all Gryffindor red. Malfoy, the git, had just fixed it and gone to sleep.

“Bloody hell, Harry. It’s like sixth year all over again,” Ron said, distracting Harry from his thoughts.

“What is?” he asked, eyes still fixed on Malfoy.

Ron elbowed Harry in the side. “You’re obsessing over Malfoy again!”

“No, I’m not,” Harry protested, although at that point he was pretty sure it had turned into full on obsession. “And I wasn’t then either. He was up to something!”

“You think he’s up to something now?” Hermione asked, looking sceptical.

Harry shook his head. “No, not now. I think something’s wrong with him.”

“And why do we care?” Ron asked, rolling his eyes.

Harry ignored that question, because he had no idea why he cared. Not besides the dreams, and he was not telling Ron and Hermione about those. Over the past month, they had only grown more intense, and Harry woke up hard more times than not now. If he could find out what was wrong with Malfoy, then maybe he could find out what was wrong with himself as well.

“Have you seen him angry once since school started?” Harry demanded, “Or happy, or sad or showing any emotion at all?”

“I’ve hardly seen the git at all,” Ron said, “because unlike you I don’t stare at him all the time.”

“What about you, Hermione?” Harry asked. The cat was out of the bag now either way, so he might as well get some information. “You have Arithmancy together, right?”

Hermione sighed. “He’s the same in that class as he is in all the others,” she said.

“Speaking of class,” Ron said, yawning, “are the two of you done with that defence essay?”

Harry had completely forgotten about the essay. “What’s it about again?” he asked, just as Hermione said, “Yes, of course I am.”

“You haven’t started?” Hermione asked, looking horrified.

“Nope,” Harry admitted, smiling sheepishly.

Hermione spent most of the walk back to their common room telling Harry how unbelievably irresponsible it was to skive off his homework until the last possible minute. Harry spent most of the walk nodding along, while ignoring her completely. He tried exchanging one of his and Ron’s ‘Hermione, right?’ glances, but his friend was apparently still sulking about the Malfoy thing.

“Purple is one of my favourite colours,” Harry told the portrait tree, eager to start his bloody paper. At least, that way, Hermione would stop going on about it. The door remained stubbornly shut though. “Fuck, not again,” Harry groaned.

“I forgot about my homework,” he tried again with no effect. “One of you open it,” he said, turning to his friends.

“Why didn’t it open?” Ron asked. “You didn’t lie, right?”

Harry rolled his eyes. “My eyes are green, and my hair is black,” he told the door, unsurprised when nothing happened.

“It’s happened before?” Hermione demanded, eyes sparkling with the promise of an academic mystery.

“Yeah,” Harry admitted. “First time was at the end of the first week I think, then it’s happened every once in a while.”

“Oh, that’s really interesting,” Hermione said. “And you have no idea why? Did something in particular happen right before? Were you alone, or with someone? Was -”

Harry interrupted the barrage of questions, “Will one of you let us in already?”

Harry yawned, and rolled up his essay. The sodding thing was most likely crap, but he wasn’t too motivated to write papers about the theory behind unforgivable spells when he’d experienced all of them and used two himself. He looked around the common room, and realised he was almost alone there. It wasn’t too late, but apparently everyone else had gone to bed already.

A woman was laughing inside his room, Harry realised. He paused outside, trying to decide who the voice belonged to, but he couldn’t place it. Harry opened the door, and wanted to do a victory lap when he saw Malfoy inside, smiling. The smile vanished as soon as Malfoy saw him, but it had definitely been there. The bloody git still had emotions after all! The laugh apparently belonged to Parkinson, but she’d stopped as soon as she’d heard the door open. Harry had been going about it all wrong, with the socks and the upside-down furniture. It was so obvious now, all he had to do was become Malfoy’s friend.

Chapter Text

They barely make it out of the fire in the room, falling over each other in their need to escape. Harry feels the weight on top of him, and braces himself for the return of the fire. It doesn’t come though, instead he looks up and sees Malfoy there, smiling warmly, a glint of humour in his eyes.

Harry groaned into his pillow when his alarm went off. These dreams will be the death of me, he thought, reaching blindly out to turn the alarm off. The dreams didn’t even reflect the real memory anymore, instead showing him the open and happy expression Harry had glimpsed when he’d seen Malfoy with Parkinson. Harry wanted to see that expression again. Sure, it wasn’t the fiery intensity of the look he’d really got that one time, but Harry was sure it was a step towards seeing that again. His attempts to befriend the blonde had been hopelessly futile so far though, resulting only in shrugs or polite declines.

The alarm clock started up it’s horrible ringing again, making Harry jump. “For fucks sake, I’m up,” he told the thing, considering for what felt like the millionth time to just vanish it. An alarm clock that wouldn’t turn off until you got out of bed, Hermione really gave the worst gifts.

“Apologies,” Malfoy said from across the room. “Was I making too much noise?”

“Nah,” Harry said, reluctantly getting out of bed. “I’m just – er – talking to my alarm.”

Harry could see Malfoy’s shrug across the room, despite the fact he still hadn’t put his glasses on. “Right,” the blonde said.

“I’m sorry,” Harry blurted without thinking. He’d never apologized to Malfoy before, he thought, not even after almost killing him in that bathroom. Maybe that would shock Malfoy out of this polite thing. “I was a dick for the first few weeks. With the pranks and everything.”

Malfoy actually stopped to look at him now, so that was a development Harry thought. “It’s alright,” Malfoy said. And Harry could almost hear the ‘I deserved it’ that followed in Malfoy’s head.

“No, it’s not!” Harry said, determined. “I was a dick, and you didn’t deserve that.”

Something twitched on Malfoy’s face, and Harry immediately reached for his glasses. He needed to see the man, to know if his efforts to break through those walls were finally going somewhere.

“I didn’t deserve it?” Malfoy asked. With his glasses on, Harry could see that, for the first time since the war, Malfoy was looking at him with something other than apparent indifference. Harry thought he might prefer the indifference to the pain he saw in that moment though. “Of course I deserved it. That and worse. You know that Potter.”

“Why?” Harry asked, taken back. “Why would you say something like that?”

“Because it’s true. I was on the wrong side of the war, honestly I expected a lot worse.”

“You thought I’d be cruel?” Harry asked.

“I don’t know what I expected, really. But the worst thing being a dirty sock on my pillow after rooming with you for over two months certainly wasn’t it,” Draco said.

“I really am sorry about that,” Harry said again.

“Like I said, it’s fine,” Draco said, turning away.

Harry didn’t want the man to turn away, he wanted to keep talking. He wanted to – well he didn’t quite know what he wanted, but it wasn’t to leave it like that. “Bullshit Malfoy,” he said. “Maybe you think you deserve being treated like crap, but that’s a bullshit feeling. You don’t deserve it.”

Malfoy turned back to Harry, and Harry knew from the indifferent stare that Malfoy was angry. “Really? Well, if you don’t think I deserved it – why did you do it?” Malfoy said.

Harry froze. How the fuck was he going to explain why he’d done it, when he didn’t fully understand it himself? “Uhm, well,” he said, rubbing his neck. “It’s er – kinda stupid.”

Malfoy just continued to stare. Not prompting Harry to explain further, but not turning away again either.

Fuck it, Harry decided. “The truth is, I just wanted a reaction. You’re so closed off since we’ve been back. I could always get a rise out of you by being an annoying git before. Now I can’t get one no matter what I do, and it’s just so frustrating.”

“Are you really telling me,” Malfoy said, speaking slow, “that my attempting to be polite and mature is pissing you off?”

“I told you it was stupid!” Harry argued. “Besides, you’re not just polite and mature. You’re just – I don’t know – cold, or something.”

“And that bothers you?” Malfoy asked, looking at Harry sideways.

“Yes!” Harry admitted.

“Why?” Malfoy asked, puzzled.

“I don’t know, alright? It just feels wrong,” Harry said, tearing at his hair. This conversation was not at all going the way he had wanted it to. Why did it have to be so hard to befriend the blonde, why did he have to fight Harry every step of the way. “Why did you suddenly decide to act like a robot anyway?”

“A robot? What’s that?” Malfoy asked.

Harry thought the man didn’t look so much like one anymore though, and he breathed a sigh of relief. It was so much easier to have a conversation with someone who actually responded in more than blank faces and polite phrases.

“Muggle thing,” Harry said, “acts all cold and perfect and polite.”

“Oh,” Malfoy said. “Well, it’s just easier. People don’t see me as a threat as much, and I can have my privacy.”

“You’ve changed,” Harry said. The realisation wasn’t much of a surprise, but it was a relief. Part of him had been scared Malfoy had been so closed off because he was bitter Voldemort had lost the war.

“War will do that to you,” Malfoy said, looking down at his feet.

“Don’t do it anymore,” Harry said, before thinking about what he was asking. “The robot thing. At least not in here, I – I’d like to get to know you.”

“You know you’re absolutely barking, right?” Malfoy asked, but he gave Harry a tentative smile. Harry counted that as a victory.

The friendship developed slowly and awkwardly. For the first week Malfoy seemed surprised every time Harry wished him a good morning, or greeted him in the hallway. Halfway through the second week though, Malfoy sat down next to Harry in class. They got some strange looks, but nobody dared to comment. It probably had something to do with the murderous glare Harry sent at whoever stared too long.

Harry was busy staring at the Slytherin table, wondering if he should sit there for dinner sometime, when Hermione sat down next to him, dropping a heavy-looking book on the table. “I think I figured out why the common room door won’t let you in sometimes,” she said.

“Really?” Harry asked. The door had refused to let him enter with increasing frequency, and it was starting to become a real problem.

“Well, the door has a Celtic tree of life on it, right? And that symbolises harmony and balance, and then someone has weaved truth magic into that of the tree.” Hermione said, looking excited to have solved the puzzle. “I think that combination is picking up on something inside you being out of balance.”

“Huh?” Harry said dumbly. He wasn’t out of balance.

“Basically Harry, you’re lying to yourself about something fundamental. Something so important not recognising it is making you disharmonised and unbalanced, and so the tree won’t accept what you say as truth.” Hermione fixed Harry with a gaze so piercing he felt sure for a moment that she must have learned it from Dumbledore himself.

“I’m not lying to myself about anything,” Harry said. Sure, there were things he couldn’t bear to think about for too long, like the faces of the dead lying in that very hall. Not thinking too much about that wasn’t self-deception though, it was just self-preservation.

“It’s really the only thing that makes sense,” Hermione insisted.

Harry caught sight of blonde hair from across the room, and remembered the feeling he always had when he woke up after dreaming. He remembered other dreams too, the ones he hadn’t thought about because he shouldn’t have dreams like that. Besides, thinking about how he’d woken up from dreams of a hard, masculine body against his own, to a wet spot in his trousers hadn’t been conductive to fighting off a dark lord. Harry suddenly didn’t want the food he’d placed on his plate anymore. He wasn’t lying to himself, he was just – and besides, everyone had thoughts like that, right?

“I’m going to bed,” Harry said, standing abruptly.

“Mate, it’s like 5 pm,” Ron said, giving Harry a concerned look. Harry noticed his friend didn’t look as tired these days, and he hoped Ron was sleeping better.

“I’m tired,” Harry said, “nightmares.”

It’s nothing, Harry told himself as he walked towards the dormitories. It was normal to wonder about things, and that’s all it was. Harry wasn’t – like that. Just thinking statistically, it was too unlikely. Besides, every teenager had those dreams. It had been impossible not to notice, in a dorm full of boys. Sure, Harry couldn’t know what the other boys had dreamed about, and maybe he’d been the only one to have reactions upon hearing the other boys getting lost in dream passion and -. Harry forcibly stopped his thoughts. It’s nothing, he told himself firmly. It wasn’t like he thought about boys when he wanked, truthfully Harry didn’t think of anything except the sensations. Only because if you let yourself imagine anyone, they’ll end up having a dick, a treacherous voice said in his head, making Harry want to squeeze his eyes shut and slam his head against the wall.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief as he reached the door to the dormitories. If he could just get inside he could knock himself out with a fucking stupefy to shut down his brain. “I’m not gay,” he told the door. It remained shut. “Oh, fuck you!” Harry screamed, kicking at the evil tree pictured there. The pain that resulted in his foot made him curse.

“Just let me in! I want – I don’t know what I want ok? But I need to get the fuck inside!” Harry was horrified to realise his eyes were watering. He was not crying over those thoughts, because they weren’t true.

“Potter,” a voice behind him said, and it couldn’t have been a worse time for Malfoy to show up. “Door giving you problems again?”

Harry hurried to wipe his eyes before Malfoy got close enough to notice the tears that had almost spilled over. “Yeah,” he muttered, not wanting to speak too loudly in case his voice betrayed him, just like his eyes and thoughts had.

“I’ll just -” Malfoy said, breaking off when he stepped closer, “Potter, are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Harry lied, “I’m just tired and this shit tree won’t let me in.”

Malfoy shot Harry a sceptical look, but opened the door so they could both enter. Safely inside Harry was about to head up to their room when he realised he didn’t want to be alone, not when his thoughts were acting so cruel.

“Will you help me with my potions homework?” Harry asked, knowing it was a weak excuse. That homework wasn’t due for another week, and Harry never did anything the same day it had been assigned. Malfoy was good at potions though.

Malfoy gave Harry a considerate look. “Sure, we’ll work on it together,” he said, granting Harry a small smile.

This has to be the day Hell freezes over, Harry thought. He’d been working on his Potions homework for almost an hour with Draco Malfoy, and he was enjoying it. It wasn’t so much the potions assignment he was enjoying though, as it was the way Malfoy was helping him. He explained the impossible subject in a way that made Harry feel as if he might actually have a chance at understanding. The sarcastic comments Malfoy threw into their conversation for fun were just the cherry on the cake in Harry’s opinion.

“No, Potter. The correct ingredients are sunflower leaves, not seeds,” Malfoy said, pointing out the mistake Harry had made in his essay. He opened his mouth again, no doubt to explain why it wasn’t sunflower seeds, when Harry interrupted him.

“It’s Harry,” he said without meeting Malfoy’s eyes. Harry didn’t like being called ‘Potter’, it just felt too impersonal. He’d wanted to ask Malfoy to call him Harry ever since they’d become sort-of-friends, but the moment had never felt right.

“Alright, Harry,” Malfoy said, frowning as he said the name. “Merlin that feels strange.”

Harry frowned. “It’s just my name,” he said, “nothing strange about it.”

“You try calling me Draco then, see how that feels,” Malfoy demanded. He didn’t sound angry, Harry noticed. A year back he probably would have thought so, but then he noticed the almost playful undertone in the challenge.

“No problem, Draco,” Harry said, feeling strange, “It doesn’t feel strange at all.”

“Liar,” Mal-Draco muttered with a look so put out that Harry felt reminded of how his cousin would look when he didn’t get his way.

“Oh, alright, it’s a bit odd,” Harry laughed. “You’ll have to get used to it though. Only teaches call me Potter.” He didn’t mention how the word would remind him of how Vernon had spat the words ‘that Potter boy’ like it was the worst insult imaginable, or how it made Harry feel like Malfoy – Draco, still hated him.

Something about his thoughts must have shown on his face, Harry thought, because Malfoy’s expression softened. “Ugh, fine Harry,” he said, “but if I’m calling you Harry you’re calling me Draco.”

“Deal,” Harry said, grinning.

“Now, the sunflower seeds won’t work in this potion because..” Draco said, jumping back into his lecture.

The heat is different this time, warm, instead of scorching. Draco is on top of him, but he isn’t the source of the heat, not of all of it at least. He still has fire in his eyes, but it’s Harry who’s on fire. Every fibre in his body is burning with pleasure as Draco moves on top of him.

Harry woke up to the sound of his own moans and realised he already had his hand down his pants. He whimpered both in pleasure and terror at the thought that he’d been wanking in his sleep. Wanking over Draco Malfoy laying on top of him. He decided he should remove his hand, but the friction of doing so felt so good he kept moving it instead. Turning to his side, Harry buried his head in the pillows to quiet his moans as he pushed himself closer and closer to the edge. Flashes of blonde hair, fiery eyes and a hot, hard body against his own played on repeat in his mind, and Harry was too far gone to stop them. At that point he just wanted, wanted release, wanted Draco. Harry bit into the pillow hard as he came faster and harder than he could remember doing in ages. The whispered tempus spell showed him it was only about four in the morning, and he embraced sleep gratefully. If he was asleep he wouldn’t have to think about what he’d just done.

The morning after was awkward, Harry found himself unable to look at his roommate without remembering what he’d done the previous evening. Remembering was horrible, because although Harry’s mind was horrified and scared about what had happened, his body was just – excited. He stayed in bed while Malf-Draco got ready for the day, and he remained put even after the blonde left. Harry didn’t want to think, but his body and brain both felt too tired to get out of bed and find a distraction. Instead, Harry stared blankly at the wall, thinking so many things at once that none of them made sense to him.

He was so focused on his staring that he didn’t notice Ron coming into his room until the freckled man was standing right next to the bed. “Fuck Ron, you scared me,” Harry said, sitting up a little straighter in bed.

“Sorry mate, you looked lost in thought,” Ron said. He pushed Harry’s feet to the side and sat down at the bottom of the bed, giving Harry a searching look. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

Harry wanted to argue that nothing was wrong, but he wasn’t sure he could pull it off in his current state. Besides, maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to talk to someone. Maybe if he got the thoughts out, they wouldn’t be so intrusive inside his head anymore.

“I’m not really sure. Just – the things I didn’t think about because there was a war on, they’re all coming back,” Harry said.

Ron sighed. “It’s about Malfoy, isn’t it?” he asked.

“I – yeah,” Harry said, surprised Ron knew as much. “Most of it anyway.”

Ron looked uncomfortable and Harry didn’t blame him. They didn’t have that much serious talk about feelings ever. “Is it like – a gay thing?” Ron asked, staring at his hands.

“No!” Harry said, so forcefully he made his friend jump. “I mean – I don’t, er, it’s not.. I don’t want it to be.” Harry was horrified at the words that had escaped his mouth, but he realised as he said them that it was all true. It was a gay thing, and not the happy kind. What could be happy about having confused gay feelings for your roommate?

“Why not?” Ron asked. “Because it’s Malfoy? Or because he’s a bloke?”

Harry was confused. He’d half-expected Ron to leave or start yelling, and he’d been convinced his friend would at least have jumped horrified off his potentially gay friend’s bed. “I can’t be like that,” Harry admitted. “I don’t want to be. It’s wrong.” The last words were said in a whisper, quiet enough that Ron had to lean in closer to hear.

Harry felt exposed, like he was naked and on display. He had just admitted to being gay, or at least confused about it. The secret he had kept so well he hadn’t even let himself think of it before Draco had entered his life and mucked it all up. Harry wanted to blame the dreams, or that one heated moment after the Room of Requirement. He knew he couldn’t do that anymore though, not when the mental wall he had built had come crashing down. Suddenly he was thinking about how he liked to watch Draco study, because he would wrinkle his nose in the most adorable way. Or how he’d catch himself wondering if the blonde hair would feel as soft as it looked.

It took Ron placing his hand on Harry’s ankle to break his train of thought. “Wrong?” Ron asked. “There’s nothing wrong with you, Harry.” Something about the tone in his voice made Harry finally look up and meet his friend’s eyes. Once he’d done so he found it impossible to look away. Ron looked so sincere, like he really, truly believed there wasn’t anything wrong with him. Harry desperately wanted to believe him.

“You don’t think I’m gay?” Harry asked, biting at his bottom lip. He jumped when Ron laughed kindly in response.

“No, I’m pretty sure you are, actually. I mean there still isn’t anything wrong with you,” Ron explained.

Harry had been seven or eight the first time he’d heard the word gay. He’d been walking back from the shop with his Aunt Petunia. She’d let him come along to carry the groceries, and he’d been trailing behind her, mindful not to drop anything. He’d almost walked straight into her and Dudley when she’d stopped in her tracks, staring at a couple across the street. Dudley had asked why there were two men kissing, and Petunia had said it was because they were freaks of nature. That something was wrong with them. The next time Dudley had caught Harry crying at school he’d called him gay, and the word had caught on. By the time Harry got his invitation to Hogwarts the whole school had been convinced he was gay, and they had hated him for it. Harry had pushed it to the back of his mind when he learned about magic, deciding it wasn’t worth thinking about because it wasn’t true. Except it was.

“How can you say that?” Harry asked, searching Ron’s face for the hate he expected to see there. He couldn’t find it though. Instead he found a kind smile, and a friend who was skipping class just to sit at the foot of Harry’s bed, comforting him.

“Because it’s true,” Ron said. “You’re still you, and it doesn’t matter who you like. I mean, Charlie doesn’t like anyone, and George likes birds and blokes both. Do you think they’re wrong?”

Harry thought about that, and found he didn’t think it was wrong. Not when it was someone else. “Everybody in primary school hated me for it,” he admitted, “and back then I didn’t even think it was true.”

“Yeah, I guess people will always be hateful over something,” Ron said, frowning. “I mean, there will probably be people who don’t approve in the Wizarding World too, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Hell, we just fought a war over people thinking it was wrong to be a Muggleborn.”

“You really don’t think it’s wrong?” Harry asked. He wanted the Dursleys to be wrong about it, like they had been wrong about magic.

“I don’t,” Ron said firmly, “neither will Hermione or my family. Dean and Seamus definitely won’t mind, seeing as they’ve been sleeping with each other for two weeks now.”

“What?” Harry said, interrupting his friend. “Dean and Seamus?”

Ron grinned, “Yeah. Apparently Dean’s roommate, Justin, is being a dick about it. Blaise doesn’t mind though, so they’ve both been sleeping in there for about a week.”

Harry was so relieved he felt like he might float off the bed. He wasn’t the only one, not even close. And if Dean, Seamus and George all liked blokes then it couldn’t be wrong, could it? Suddenly though, an entirely new problem presented itself to Harry, making him groan. “Merlin, I’m gay for Draco Malfoy,” he said, feeling the reality of the situation sinking in.

“Yeah, I did not see that coming,” Ron said with a slight grimace. “Hermione probably did though. Strange how someone who hates divination so much seems to know everything.”

“I fucking hate my life sometimes,” Harry said. “First I have to stick out like a sore thumb because I’m destined to kill Voldemort. Then I have to be gay for a straight bloke, who just happens to be Draco Malfoy. Can’t I ever just be normal?”

Ron laughed at that, throwing his head back and gasping for breath. “Mate, you’d be bored out of your mind with normal.”

Chapter Text

Everything changed after Harry’s realisation that he wasn’t just curious about Draco, but he was attracted to him. Of course, to everyone else everything looked exactly the same. How could they know that when Harry was reaching out to give Draco a friendly pat on the back, he wanted to leave his hand there? How could they know Harry still dreamed about that look? Thankfully though, the dreams were of the metaphorical kind now. After admitting to himself and Ron that he fancied Draco the dreams had stopped, mostly.

The warm colours of autumn slowly faded away as November turned to December. The heat of frustration in Harry only seemed to grow as the weather grew colder though. The more he learned about Draco, the more he wanted to know.

He had also started feeling ashamed that he hadn’t told anyone about his sexuality, a shame that rivalled what he felt over being gay in the first place. He still had flashes of thinking it was wrong, or sudden spikes of anxiety that everyone would turn on him if they knew. Mostly though, he was unwilling to deal with the staring and whispering the news would bring. People at school had finally stopped staring at him in awe when he walked past. As soon as he left the relative safety of Hogwarts though, he was surrounded by people wanting to thank him or tell him about the people they’d lost. For this reason, Harry dreaded going to Hogsmeade. The day they got the first snow though, Harry knew he had to go. Christmas break was only a couple of weeks away, and he had presents to buy.

Harry spent most of the Saturday morning alternating between moping about the upcoming shopping trip and watching Draco write some sort of essay. It was probably an essay Harry should be writing as well, but he couldn’t be bothered.

“Want to tell me what you’re brooding over?” Draco asked, not moving his eyes from his paper.

“I’m not brooding,” Harry protested, “I’m just not looking forward to going to Hogsmeade later.”

Draco scoffed, “Why? Scared people will fall to their knees in worship?” Draco turned to Harry just in time for Harry to see the eye-roll that accompanied the words.

Harry wanted to come up with a sarcastic reply of his own, but he found himself too distracted by the grey eyes that fixed him to the spot. “Yeah, kinda. I hate all the attention,” he said.

Something in Draco’s expression changed then. “Better than the alternative though,” he said, turning back to his homework.

“What, not being stared at everywhere I go?” Harry asked, wondering what the change in Draco was about. The other man’s shoulders stiffened at his words, and Harry knew he’d screwed up somehow.

“I was talking about being hated instead of loved, actually,” Draco said. “Last time I left the school someone spat me in the face.”

Harry was shocked. He stupidly hadn’t considered that even though the Ministry had pardoned Draco, that didn’t mean the public had. “What the fuck, Draco. That’s terrible!” he said, feeling furious with people. Why did they always have to find something or someone to hate? Harry had fought a war to stop that very thing.

“We’ve had this conversation already,” Draco sighed, “I understand why they all hate me.” He rubbed at his arm, the place Harry knew the Dark Mark was located beneath Draco’s jumper.

“They have no right!” Harry insisted, frowning. “You were pardoned.”

Draco gave a bark of bitter laugh at that. “I was pardoned because you spoke at my trial, not because I was innocent. I used an unforgivable on Madam Rosmerta, and ended up getting Weasley poisoned and Bell cursed,” Draco said. He pulled at his hair, messing up the flawless look it always had. Harry quite appreciated the more dishevelled look though. “I’m not a good person Harry, and I don’t understand why you insist on making me out to be one.”

Harry felt a sudden need to go over to Draco, and place a comforting hand on his shoulder. Or maybe embrace the other man. The distance of being on opposite sides of the small room was suddenly too much. He didn’t move though, not sure how it would be received.

“I’m not saying you’re innocent. You did do terrible things, but it wasn’t because you’re an evil person. I’m not trying to forget about the things you did, or say they don’t matter. I’m saying everyone deserves a second chance,” Harry said.

“If I’m not an evil person why do I have this?” Draco demanded, pulling back his jumper to show Harry the Dark Mark there. It was the first time Harry had seen it since the trial, when Draco had been forced to show it as part of the evidence against him. Harry had hoped the mark would fade after Voldemort’s death, but it was black as ever against Draco’s pale skin.

Harry studied Draco’s exposed forearm with what he hoped to be a neutral gaze. In truth, the mark was bringing out too many feelings for him to be sure what they were. Harry was so lost in thought he didn’t notice he’d got off his bed and walked towards Draco, not until he was standing right in front of the blonde.

“I’m a Death Eater,” Draco said. Harry noticed he was looking anywhere but to his own arm.

“You did it for your family,” Harry said. The words felt weak on his tongue though.

Draco scoffed. “No, I didn’t. I did it because I believed in all of it, I was so proud to take the fucking mark. Then, when I realised it was a horrible mistake, I did whatever I had to in order to stay alive.”

Harry wanted to protest, because it would all be so much easier if Draco had never believed in the Death Eater cause. It would be easier if they could blame everything on things like protecting his family or not having another option. The world wasn’t easy though, and it was never just black and white. Sirius had told him the world wasn’t split into good people or Death Eaters. Harry thought he’d meant that people could be evil without being Death Eaters, but it also meant that you didn’t have to be evil to be one.

“You said you believed in what Voldemort stood for back then. What do you believe in now?” Harry asked.

Draco shrugged, letting his arm hang back down against his side. “I feel like I was an idiot for believing in it in the first place. I believed it so much I didn’t want to be open to the option that it was wrong. After I got the mark though, I saw how fucked up the Dark – Voldemort was, and after that it was so easy to see how wrong I’d been. It was like someone cast a Lumos on my brain and I was able to see that Muggleborns were people too, just like anyone else.”

Harry reached out and grabbed Draco’s wrist, lifting his arm to show the Dark Mark there. “This doesn’t define you,” he said, brushing a thumb over the black mark. “Maybe it did, when we were sixteen, but you grew up Draco. This isn’t you anymore, we’re always changing, don’t let this one thing influence the rest of your life.”

Harry could tell Draco was uncomfortable, but he didn’t let go of his wrist. The contact felt good, and Harry wanted the words to really sink in. Judging by the deep breath Draco took, and the way he closed his eyes tight, Harry thought something must have gotten through to the man.

“What we think about it won’t affect public opinion though, so I don’t really see why it matters,” Draco said, eyes still closed.

Harry let go of Draco’s wrist, despite the feeling he had of wanting to hold on forever. “What you think of yourself always matters. If you can forgive yourself the public will follow,” he said. Harry sat down on Draco’s bed, feeling awkward now, just standing there beside him when Draco was sitting down.

“And if they don’t?” Draco asked, “you’ll smite them in your mission for justice and equality?”

Harry laughed, trying to imagine how he’d even go about that. A better idea popped into his mind soon enough though. “Hopefully I’m done smiting, but I figure we can show them all how you’ve changed,” he said, grinning at Draco.

“How?” Draco asked, rolling his eyes again.

“Well, you’ve got to stop hiding in here. And by that, I mean get out of this room, and stop with the robot shit. More specifically though,” Harry paused, feeling suddenly nervous. He took a deep breath before continuing, “Come with me to Hogsmeade?”

It really was a brilliant plan, Harry thought. If he could convince Draco to come along, not only would it help show the world that Draco wasn’t a devoted Death Eater anymore, but Harry would have expert help in buying Christmas presents.

“I suppose I do still need a gift for mother,” Draco said, instantly erasing Harry’s nervousness and lightening the mood.

“At least I don’t have to deal with that,” Harry said, trying to feel relieved about it.

“You don’t?” Draco asked, puzzled.

“Draco, my parents are dead,” Harry said in a deadpan.

“Yes, Harry, I’m aware. I simply thought the Weasley mother had taken you in as one of her own.”

“Oh, Merlin!” Harry said, horrified. “Fuck!”

“Did you only just realise you should get her a present?” Draco grinned

“I have to learn how to knit!” Harry said, panicked. How had he not thought about Molly? “Can you knit?”

Draco blushed then, shocking Harry to the point where he wanted to rub his eyes and double check. “You do know how to knit!” he said gleefully. It was perfect, because the only other person he knew, besides Molly, who could knit was Hermione. And although Harry would never say so to her face, Hermione’s knitting was absolutely terrible.

“I might,” Draco admitted begrudgingly.

“Teach me,” Harry begged, “pleeease.”

The walk to Hogsmeade passed mostly in silence, and not the comfortable kind Harry and Draco would share in their room. Harry supposed they were both nervous about the reactions of whatever people they might meet. He tried several times to break the silence, and even got as far as to open his mouth before he realised he didn’t have anything to say.

It was Draco in the end, who broke the oppressive silence, asking why Harry wanted to knit something for Molly instead of just buying her a gift. Harry was relieved when he could fall into the easy topic of Molly’s knitting. They were both laughing by the time they reached the small town.

Harry hadn’t intended to go to the Three Broomsticks when he decided to go shopping, but after walking around various shops with Draco, for over three hours, he was starving. He was pleased with his haul though. With a lot of help from Draco he’d bought yarn and knitting needles to make Molly something. He’d also managed to buy presents for Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Arthur and George. In some way they felt inadequate, because of everything they’d been through in the past year. Somehow the mostly trivial gifts felt right though, a step in the right direction to making things normal.

“You want to stop for a bite?” Harry asked, pointing over at the Three Broomsticks with some difficulty as he was carrying too many bags.

Draco hesitated, eyes moving between the pub and Harry a few times. Harry understood it wasn’t as easy as stopping for a bite or not. So far, they’d got a few stares and strange looks, but nobody had actually approached them. It would be easier for people to do so when they were sitting down. Harry also knew the Three Broomsticks was where Rosmerta worked, and that Draco hadn’t seen her since his trial.

“Yeah, alright,” Draco said, looking much like Harry imagined a deer would when caught in headlights.

“If it’s terrible we’ll just leave,” Harry offered, feeling a little apprehensive himself.

Harry wanted to take himself up on the offer to leave as soon as they walked through the doors and every head in the pub turned towards them. He felt Draco freeze beside him though, and figured he had to be the brave one in this scenario. He was the Gryffindor after all. He spotted an empty table towards the back of the room, and grabbed Draco’s wrist for the second time that day to guide him over to it. They had only managed to set their bags down and take off their winter robes before Madam Rosmerta showed up.

Harry barely had time to worry she’d kick them out before she asked. “What are you having?”

“Madam,” Draco said, not giving Harry the opportunity to answer. “I am so sorry for what I did to you, it was truly horrendous, and I would understand completely if you don’t want me in your establishment.”

Harry noticed the wetness in Draco’s eyes, and the sincerity in his words. He hoped Rosmerta did as well.

“I’m not going to say it’s alright, because it wasn’t. I thank you for apologizing though,” Rosmerta said. “Now what can I get you boys?”

“You’re letting me stay?” Draco asked, surprise written all over his face.

“It’s not up to me to decide your punishment for what happened in the war. You’ve apologized for what you did to me, so I recon we’re sorted. Besides, you’re only boys,” she said, looking between Harry and Draco, “both of you.”

Harry wanted to let the two continue with their moment of apologizing and forgiving, but his stomach decided to ruin the moment by giving off a loud, displeased noise.

“We need to get some food in you boy,” Rosmerta said, giving Harry a look that could rival Molly’s. “Whatever you want. It’s on the house.”

“I’ll have the shepherd’s pie please,” Harry said, smiling sheepishly. “I’d rather pay like everyone else though, if that’s alright.”

Their food arrived before any of the people who’d already been there when they arrived were served, and Harry suspected the kitchen had put all the other orders on hold to finish his. He was too hungry to be upset by it though, and dug into his pie with fever instead of dishing out a righteous anger.

Harry noticed Draco ate his food as neatly as he always did, even though he had to be just as hungry as Harry was. “Do you ever put manners aside in favour of comfort?” Harry asked around the pie he’d just put in his mouth.

“Do you ever consider swallowing before speaking?” Draco countered. “Or chewing before you swallow?”

Harry deliberately chewed and swallowed before answering. “Can’t say that I do,” he said, grinning.

“You eat like the food will be stolen from under your nose,” Draco said. The classic eye roll accompanied the words, and Harry thought he wanted to see those eyes roll with something other than exasperation.

“Force of habit,” Harry said. “Anyway, you eat like someone’s taking photos the whole time.”

Draco gave Harry a puzzled look. “They are taking our picture, didn’t you notice?” he said, using his fork to point over at the man who was trying, and failing, to hide a camera behind his menu.

“Oh, I guess I stopped looking,” Harry said. “Or maybe I’m just as oblivious as Hermione likes to tell me I am.”

Draco laughed at that. “Probably a bit of both,” he said. “What did you mean by force of habit though?”

Harry froze for a moment. He’d forgotten Draco didn’t know about his history with the Dursleys. “Right. Er, well. The people who raised me weren’t all that fond of giving me food,” he admitted.

“They what?” Draco whispered sharply.

“They never starved me or anything,” Harry hurried to reassure, “they just made sure I was hungry a lot.”

“You just gave me the definition of starving someone Harry! Why didn’t anyone move you away from them?” Draco asked. The look of shock and outrage on his face made Harry want to crawl beneath the table and hide. He’d never received a reaction that strong after telling anyone.

“I had to stay there to be safe from Voldemort, something about blood protection,” Harry said. He regretted ever making the stupid comment in the first place.

“That’s bullshit,” Draco said, and Harry suspected it was the first time the blonde ever used that particular word. “Sure, blood protection is strong, but so is the Fidelius charm and a variety of other protection spells.”

Harry felt the anger towards Dumbledore bubble up in him again. The anger he always pushed away, because it was stupid to feel angry about what had happened. There hadn’t been other options, Harry had to be the one to kill Voldemort. Besides, there wasn’t a point to being mad at a dead man.

“If that manipulative old man wasn’t already dead I’d curse him so bad he wouldn’t know where his beard stopped and his pubic hair began,” Draco said.

Harry gave a bark of laughter, never having heard a more ridiculous threat. It felt good though, to see that he wasn’t the only one harbouring a bitter feeling towards Dumbledore. Ron and Hermione both worshiped him still, and while Harry understood why he’d done what he had, he couldn’t help but feel bitter at how much he’d been used and manipulated.

“Thank you,” Harry said. He was grateful to Draco both for lightening the conversation, and for not thinking that Dumbledore could do no wrong. He realised he didn’t mind talking to Draco about the things from his past he preferred not to think about, but the Three Broomsticks wasn’t really the place to do that. Not with a reporter taking their photo a few tables over.

They let their conversation glide over into easier topics, like quidditch and schoolwork while they finished their food. A few people tried approaching their table, but with the ‘Saviour’ and a ‘Death Eater’ both giving them death glares they were quickly deterred. After they’d finished their meal, Draco pulled out a small tin box from his robes. When he opened it, Harry detected a faint smell of strawberry. Draco proceeded to coat his lips with the balm, and Harry couldn’t help his stare. The balm itself was pink, but it didn’t tint Draco’s lips. Instead they just looked softer than ever, and Harry couldn’t keep himself from wondering how those lips would taste. I’m so fucked, he thought, never moving his eyes off the glistening lips in front of him.

Chapter Text

It’s the dream again. Draco is on top of him, eyes full of fire. This time they’re not on the floor though, they’re in a bed. Draco smells of strawberries, and when he shifts his weight the moment doesn’t break. Instead they both groan, and keep moving. Harry pushes his hips up, wanting more friction because it feels so good. Draco pushes down at the same time, and Harry’s aching cock meets Draco’s equally hard one. Harry gasps at the feeling of a hard cock against his own, he wants more, he needs more.

Harry woke, and felt confused for a second about where Draco had gone, before he remembered that it was just a dream. A wave of disappointment rushed over him, but he pushed it to the side, allowing desperate need to take its place. Harry pulled himself off without even opening his eyes, moaning softly into his pillow.

When he did open his eyes, he realised it was much later than he’d originally thought. Sunlight was seeping through his drapes, and being December in Scotland that meant it was at least 9 am. Harry closed his eyes again in panic. If the sun was up, so was Draco. What if he’d heard? How loud had Harry been in his sleep? And had he been quiet enough after waking up?

Only one way to know, Harry thought, and opened the drapes to his bed. At least he’d thought to close them the night before. His worst fears were confirmed when he found himself face to face with Draco, who was on his own bed with an open book in his lap. He wasn’t reading it, but Harry suspected he’d only just put it down.

“Morning,” Draco grinned, “sounds like you’re having a particularly good one.”

“Fuck,” Harry moaned. Burying his face in his hands.

“Yes, that’s what you were saying before too,” Draco said with a wicked grin.

Harry wanted to pull the drapes closed, and never leave bed again. “Excuse me while I die of mortification,” he said.

“If Voldemort failed to kill you, I hardly think a little embarrassment will,” Draco laughed.

It might, Harry thought. He suddenly wondered if Draco had reacted to hearing him like Harry had hag sometimes listening to his old roommates wanking. The damn book was in Harry’s line of sight though, so it was impossible to tell. Besides, Draco sounded more amused than anything, really.

“Breathe Harry, we all do it,” Draco said. The mocking tone was out of his voice now, as if he’d realised how embarrassed Harry really was. Harry’s mind was still stuck on the mental image of Draco ‘doing it’, and he shook his head to clear it.

“I thought it was the middle of the night,” Harry admitted, “I figured you’d be asleep still. Sorry.”

“Merlin, don’t apologize. Like I said, we all do it.” Draco said. Harry’s brain once more flooded with images of a wanking Draco, moaning desperately as his hand moved over his cock with increasing speed. Harry’s spent prick twitched again and he hurriedly pushed the images out, not wanting to be hard while having that conversation.

“Yeah, well, I don’t know. It’s still awkward,” Harry mumbled.

“Who’s the lucky girl you’re wanking over then?” Draco asked, smirking.

Harry was suddenly cold. Sure, he didn’t want Draco to know who he’d been thinking about, but it felt like a punch to the stomach that he thought it was a girl. It was a completely irrational feeling, he knew, but he couldn’t shake it. He doubted Draco would be so accepting of Harry’s wanking if he knew he thought of dicks instead of vaginas.

“Nobody,” Harry said, unable to keep the coldness out of his voice. He knew he probably sounded angry, but he couldn’t help it. It hurt to come out of a fantasy where he had Draco, and back to a world where he was supposed to be straight. He stood up and headed to their shared bathroom without another word, thankful that he’d pushed his pyjama pants down before having it off, so he didn’t have to worry about a wet spot.

The Prophet Sunday special arrived in the Great Hall just as Harry did. He spotted the front page when he walked by a second year unwrapping her paper, and stopped in his tracks. The entire front page was covered by a picture of Harry and Draco at the Three Broomsticks. Harry immediately wanted to burn every single copy of the paper. In the picture, Draco was closing the lid to his lip balm, and Harry was staring at his lips. Harry’s eyes didn’t move from them for the entire five seconds the picture had captured. Harry turned on the spot and left the hall before he’d even managed to sit down for breakfast.

He was heading for the common room, but he realised he didn’t want to be trapped outside again, and the door was still giving him trouble. Instead he entered the empty transfigurations classroom, and sat down on one of the chairs. He cursed to himself, and buried his face in his folded arms on the desk. He really was fucked, because not only was he attracted to Draco, but he had feelings for the man. Feelings that were all over his face in the photo plastered all over the Prophet.

Harry jumped at the sound of the door behind him opening, but relaxed when he saw it was Ron and Hermione. He smiled gratefully at his friends when he saw Hermione carrying a plate of food.

“Are you ready to talk about this now?” Hermione asked after placing the plate of food in front of him.

“What this?” Harry asked, playing dumb to buy himself time. He didn’t want to talk about any of it, he wanted to forget all about it.

Hermione produced the paper from one of her pockets, laying it next to his food. Harry noticed the headline this time, and was glad that it didn’t point out the hopelessly lost look on his face; ‘Saviour saves known Death Eater?’ it said.

“This,” Hermione said simply. “You and Draco.”

Harry didn’t want to look at his friends or at the paper, so he focused his attention on his food. The sliced apple on his plate would be good, probably, if his mouth didn’t feel like it was already full of sawdust.

“I talked about it already,” Harry said, gesturing to Ron.

Hermione looked genuinely surprised. “You did?” She asked, looking at both Harry and her boyfriend for conformation.

“You didn’t tell her?” Harry asked Ron. He’d just assumed Ron would tell his girlfriend whatever they talked about, especially since Harry hadn’t asked him to keep it quiet.

Ron shook his head, “I figured it was your thing to tell people when you were ready to,” he said.

“Oh, er, thanks,” Harry said, feeling like it was a completely inadequate response, especially given how much he appreciated that Ron hadn’t told anyone. He turned to Hermione instead of dwelling on it though. “So, it turns out I’m gay for Draco. Or gay, and falling for Draco. I don’t really know the right way of putting it.”

Hermione’s eyes widened to the point where it would have been comical if Harry hadn’t been so scared of how she’d take the news. “I was not expecting that,” she said, after several tense seconds of silence.

“Oh, right,” said Harry. She didn’t approve then, he thought.

“I don’t mind,” Hermione said hurriedly, “I’m just not used to being surprised, that’s all.”

“You didn’t know he’s gay?” Ron asked, sounding surprised.

“How would I?” Hermione said.

“Ron guessed like a month ago,” Harry said, giving his friends a tentative smile.

Ron snorted. “Mate, I’ve known for a couple of years. I only asked you last month,” he said.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Harry and Hermione both asked at the same time, making all three friends break out in laughter.

“Honestly,” said Ron, in a tone so similar to the one Hermione would use that Harry, who’d only just managed to stop laughing, started again.

“Seriously though, I thought I was supposed to be the oblivious one. How did neither of you realise? Especially you Hermione,” Ron said.

“Yeah, I thought you knew already too,” Harry admitted. “Especially with how you were going on about me repressing important parts of myself and all that.”

Hermione had the look of disappointment she only had after getting a question wrong on a test. It wasn’t a look Harry had seen much. “I was talking about how you refuse to deal with all the trauma you’ve been through, actually,” she said. “I guess it just never occurred to me as an option that you could be gay.”

“Ah, yes,” said Ron, “the curse of heteronormativity.”

“What’s that?” Harry asked.

“It’s something Fred used to say,” Ron said. “It means something like everyone assumes you’re straight until proven otherwise. I think.”

Harry saw a glint of the ‘I have to go to the library’ look in Hermione’s eyes. “Hermione, you are not going to research my sexuality in the library,” he said, “I’m forbidding it.”

“Oh fine,” she conceded. “Now, tell me about Draco!”

Harry figured he’d start at the beginning, and so he told them about the look he’d seen in Draco’s eyes after they’d made it out of the Room of Requirement. He told them how he’d pushed it out of his mind after that, and how wrong it had felt to see Draco acting so cold when they started school again. He didn’t tell them about how the dreams had turned sexual, or how he’d been caught wanking by Draco that very morning. He did tell them he was attracted to the other man though, and after a deep breath he admitted it was more.

His friends were as supportive as ever, leaving Harry with a warm and glowing feeling in his belly. Until, at least, he remembered he was falling for a straight man who had no interest in him past being friends.

“What makes you so sure?” Hermione asked, after Harry had admitted the reason for his brooding.

“Sure that he doesn’t like me?” Harry asked. “He’s never given any indication to it.”

“And you’ve given plenty of indications that you want him then?” asked Hermione. She grabbed hold of Ron’s hand, and smiled fondly at her boyfriend. “I mean, it took me and Ron ages to realise we reciprocated each other feelings, because we never talked about it.”

Harry thought back to the flock of birds Hermione had conjured with a shudder. “Yes, thank you. I remember.”

Ron laughed at the expression on Harry’s face. Then, apparently remembering back to the times of mutual pining himself, he groaned. “That was terrible, wasn’t it? You should tell Draco how you feel, sort it all out before he sets a flock of birds on you,” he said.

Just the thought of doing so made Harry uncomfortable, their friendship still felt like a fragile thing. Like it would fall apart if one of them breathed wrong, and it terrified Harry that he might lose Draco completely. He looked at his friends though, sitting so comfortably next to each other with their fingers intertwined, and he wanted. He wanted to hold hands with Draco, sappy as it sounded. He wanted to bring him over to the Burrow for Sunday brunch, properly introduce him to his family. He wanted to spend lazy days laid in bed, he wanted to do other things in bed too.

“I know it’s hard,” Hermione said, “but it’s not like you have to be super direct about it. Have you tried – you know, flirting?”

The thought appealed to Harry. If he flirted he wouldn’t have to talk about his feelings outright, he could just – hint. If Draco didn’t like it he could just play it off as easy banter or something. He could do flirting, probably. Except, maybe he couldn’t?

“Right. How does one go about flirting then?” he asked, knowing full well the question was a ridiculous one.

In the end, Ron and Hermione didn’t have many useful tips on flirting. Not that Harry was sure he would trust their insights if some were offered. After all, they had both been terrible at flirting with each other.

Things spiralled out of control way too easily in Harry’s opinion. He was in the back of the library, looking through dusty boxes of old magazines. Harry sneezed, and cursed to himself. Really, it was all Ginny’s fault. After a few hours of stressing out about how to flirt with Draco, Harry remembered that Ginny had suddenly become quite good at it in her fifth year. He had approached her, asking for tips on how to flirt and she’d told him about some old magazine she’d read. So there Harry was, rifling through old copies of a magazine he’d never even knew existed; Witchling.

Harry cried out in triumph when he found what had to be the right magazine. Right there on the front page boasted the title: How to flirt with the guy you like; 10 easy tips. Harry opened the magazine and found the right page. He didn’t want to lend the magazine, and deal with the downright scary librarian. He wasn’t sure he dared tear the pages out of the magazine either though. In the end, he sat down at the most secluded table in the library and started copying the tips down onto a spare piece of parchment.

1. Lips, lips, lips
It’s all about the lips girls! Get close to your potential man, and break eye-contact only long enough to gaze down at his lips. That way he can tell you’re thinking about them, and it shows you want to kiss him.

2. Lush Lips
Make sure to draw his attention to your lips as well! Carry around chap sticks or a lip-gloss and make sure to apply it while he’s watching.

3. All about the eyes
Eye contact is so important! If you don’t meet his eyes you’ll seem uninterested, or worse, uninteresting. Remember how we said to break eye contact to look at his lips? That means there has to be eye contact in the first place! Always follow it up with a coy smile, or a glance at his lips. Don’t look too much though, or you’ll appear creepy.

4. Make him work for it
Just like the title says girls, don’t give your crush too much attention. Make him work for it a little. Greet his friends before him, pretend to forget his name, ignore some of the questions he asks.

5. Show you’re interested
Show him you’re interested! Listen to what he tells you, bring it up at another time. Guys love a girl who will give him compliments, so make sure you do so!

6. Touch him
One of the best ways to make a guy want you is to touch him. Make sure you touch him every now and then during your conversations. A hand on his knee, arm or shoulder or brushing hair out of his eyes will give you amazing results!

7. Tease him
Always aim to make your man feel nice, but teasing him jokingly or putting him down on rare occasions will make him work that much harder for you. This category also includes things like changing in front of him, hinting at sex or touching him in a more intimate way. Such as placing a hand on his thigh or lower back.

8. Let him look
Yes girls, you read that right. Once you’ve got your potential man’s attention do things like “accidentally” dropping something, bend down slow and make sure he gets a good look at your “assets”. You can always draw attention to parts of yourself by asking questions too, like “is this dress too short?” or “How do these jeans make my butt look?”

9. Smile, laugh and be happy
This is an easy one. Nothing draws a man in like a girl who’s always happy and smiling. Make sure you laugh at his jokes, even if they aren’t all that funny.

10. Be girly
Let him be the man! Make sure he feels needed by asking him to lift heavy things or fix something broken. Be a little helpless, and let him feel like he’s protecting you, and let him take the lead.


Harry dutifully copied the list down, feeling a mix of amusement and dejection at the last tip. He’d massively failed at that one already, he thought, being a boy and all. He supposed he could act more helpless though. He wasn’t too sure about tip number 4, he didn’t want to ignore Draco, he liked Draco. Besides, Harry figured he was the one that had to work for it at this point, he just wanted to make Draco interested.

The point about the lips was interesting though. Draco had done that, hadn’t he? With the lip-balm. Of course, Draco had probably done it to keep his lips soft, not to make Harry look. Harry of course, couldn’t help looking. At least that wasn’t a bad thing, not according to this list. He thought he had the touching part down as well, as he found it difficult to keep his hands off of Draco when they were talking.

He supposed he should work on being more helpless then, and happy. And he should ask Draco about his arse. He wasn’t sure he was quite up for the teasing yet.

Harry realised something was off as soon as he walked into his and Draco’s shared room. Draco was sitting by his small desk, but he wasn’t writing. Actually, he wasn’t moving at all, and Harry worried that he wasn’t breathing. Upon closer inspection, he realised Draco was breathing, just not very deeply. His chest was rapidly moving up and down in shallow breaths, and Harry thought he might be hyperventilating.

“Hey,” Harry said softly. He suspected Draco was having a panic attack. It looked similar to how Harry suspected he’d looked on the few occasions he’d had one himself. “What’s wrong?”

In answer Draco tossed the crumpled-up paper he’d been gripping onto towards Harry. It was today’s edition, Harry realised. The one with the picture of them on it. Draco must have realised about Harry’s feelings, and now he was panicking about the whole world realising the same.

“I’m sorry,” Harry said, realising he was having some trouble breathing himself.

“You’re sorry?” Draco said with a choked laugh. “Being seen with me has tarnished your reputation, and you’re sorry?”

“My reputation?” Harry asked, feeling confused. Why would Draco give a shit about his reputation?

“Did you even read what they’re writing?” Draco asked, and Harry was relieved to notice he didn’t sound as breathless anymore. “They’re saying you must be damaged in the head after the war, or stupid enough to let me slip you a potion. Because that’s the only way they have of explaining why we were seen together.”

“That’s what you’re worried about?” Harry asked, feeling incredible relief. “I don’t give a shit about that. I’m sorry for whatever crap they’ve written about you though.”

Draco fixed Harry with a sceptical stare. “You ran from the Hall the moment you saw the paper,” he said.

“Yeah, I didn’t want people staring at me,” Harry lied. He wasn’t ready to tell Draco it was because he was terrified his feelings would be painfully obvious to anyone with eyes. “I don’t give a shit what they’re writing though, they’re always pulling something out of their arses to put in the papers.”

“You really don’t care?” Draco asked. He looked vulnerable, more so than Harry had seen him before, and the urge to pull him in close was strong. He remembered the part about touch in the article, but he wasn’t sure this was the time to push boundries.

“I really don’t,” Harry smiled, “I am worried as fuck about how to knit a bloody jumper for Molly though.”

Harry kept the article’s suggestions fresh in his mind over the next week. Acting helpless turned out to be easier than anticipated once once started his project to knit a jumper for Molly. Draco had helped him start the knit work, and had even knitted the first few rounds to show Harry how to do it. For two days, Harry spent most of his classes knitting, to the frustration of his professors. He’d also spent most of his evenings either knitting, or trying to be a ‘happy, fun person’ as per the article. Knitting being happy didn’t go well together for Harry though. He had spent another three hours painstakingly knitting another four rounds on the jumper that evening, only to realise he’d somehow made it so tight that it wouldn’t even fit a child. Draco returned from the library to find Harry lighting the intended jumper on fire in pure frustration.

“Fuck Draco, what am I going to do?” Harry asked, frowning at the smouldering heap on the floor.

“Well, not burning your next attempt will be a good start,” Draco suggested with a poorly concealed laugh.

“Knitting is so much harder than I thought it would be!” Harry said. “Can’t you teach me one of those knitting spells that makes the jumper knit itself?”

Draco vanished the smoking mess on the floor, and fetched a new piece of yarn. “Those spells only work when you’re so comfortable with knitting you can visualise the work you need the needles to do,” Draco explained.

“Christmas break is in like, a week,” Harry said, “I’ll never finish a jumper in time! Fuck!”

Harry tore at his hair in frustration, and then remembered the stupid flirting list telling him he needed to be happy and laughing, and instantly felt even less happy.

Draco made a small knitted circle on the needles Harry had just been using, and handed it to him. “Here, you do one of the arms, and I’ll get you started on the torso part.”

Harry wanted to cry with gratitude that he wouldn’t have to do the whole jumper himself. “Thank you!” he said. Then, remembering the part about touching he gave Draco a hug. The feeling of Draco’s hard body against his own was a powerful one, and Harry had to pull back after a few seconds in fear of growing hard against the other man.

“This jumper means a lot to you, doesn’t it?” Draco asked, summoning another set of knitting needles for himself.

“Yeah. Molly made one for me my first year, it was the first Christmas present I ever received. Well apart from like, old socks and things,” Harry said. He noticed Draco’s lips tightening at the mention of how he was brought up, and was grateful that he didn’t ask further. “And she’s made one every year since, she makes one for all her kids – and me I guess.”

“I think it’s safe to say she considers you one of her own at this point,” Draco said. He’d made a larger circle on the knitting needles he had, and Harry marvelled at the speed his hands moved once he begun knitting.

“Where did you learn how to do that?” Harry asked, staring in fascination at the way Draco’s hands moved.

Draco smiled fondly, and Harry thought he must be thinking back to a happy memory. “Mother taught me,” he said, “I was bored a lot, as a child, and restless. So she taught me so I could have something to do with my hands.”

Harry forgot all about his own knitting as he watched Draco’s delicate fingers moving at an amazing speed. He couldn’t help but wonder how it would feel to have those hands on him, instead of on the jumper.

Chapter Text

Harry’s in the room again, but it’s a nightmare this time. This time the flames are too hot, the smoke is too choking, and the screams are too loud. Harry grabs hold of Draco’s hand, desperate to get him out of the flames. Draco isn’t reaching for him though. Instead he’s reaching out for Crabbe, trying to save his friend. “No,” Harry shouts, and his voice is so horse he can hardly hear it himself. “He dies! He’s already dead.” He desperately reaches out for Draco, holding on to the man as they both watch Crabbe falling into the flames he’d created. “Why didn’t you save him?” Draco asks, giving Harry a look of utter disgust. “Why couldn’t you save anyone?” Harry wants to argue that he did save Draco, but before he can say anything he looks into the flames and sees all the people he failed to save. Tonks, Remus, Sirius, Fred, Lavender, Colin, Cedric, Dobby, Hedwig. Their bodies are lying still and broken in the fire, slowly being consumed and becoming nothing but ash on the floor. “You failed, Harry,” Draco says. “You can’t save anyone at all.” Draco rips himself free of Harry’s grip and jumps off the broom, straight into the fire. “Not even yourself,” a cold voice whispers in his ear, Voldemort’s voice Harry realises, before the broom disappears beneath him and he’s falling, falling, falling.

In the morning Harry was relieved that he thought to put up silencing charms before going to bed. He’d put it up in case he had another one of the randy dreams, but it worked for terrified shouts as well as pleasure moans, he supposed. He sat up in bed and put his glasses on, mentally preparing for the last week of classes. He suspected what he needed to prepare for was going to the Burrow for Christmas though. He hadn’t had a nightmare that bad since coming to Hogwarts, but now, a week before leaving, they were back.

Harry had thought the nightmares might be worse at school, that everything would. He thought he’d walk the halls and only see the places where dead people had laid. He did sometimes, like when he had been walking from class and found himself in the very spot he’d seen Collin’s dead body. Mostly though, it had just been Hogwarts, just home. It was the Burrow that scared him.

He knew he wasn’t alone with his worries. The circles beneath Ron’s eyes were slowly returning, and Ginny, as Quidditch captain, had made her team practice so hard they’d all ended up boycotting her latest practice.

Harry had no idea what he could expect back at the Burrow, but he was determined not to think about it too much. At least the second attempt at a jumper for Molly was coming along nicely. Well, the torso bit at least. Harry suspected it was because he hadn’t gone near it, opting to let Draco do the work. Harry was busy making the arms, or something similar to arms at least. If he failed too massively Molly would be getting a vest for Christmas. A vest knitted by Draco Malfoy at that. The thought made Harry smile, and then frown.

What if Molly and Arthur didn’t approve of his friendship with Draco? The friendship Harry wanted to turn into something more. They hadn’t received any owls carrying reactions after their picture had been in the paper, and Harry strongly suspected it was more a case of strong wards than an accepting public.

Harry rather hated Mondays, he decided, trying to put his finished Potions essay into his bag without scrunching it up too bad. He’d got out of bed, and managed a quick shower before Draco even woke up. While Draco showered Harry cursed the coming day, while packing his things. Whoever decided Mondays should start off with a double Potions lesson really was a right tosser.

Of course, Potions class had been a lot better in the past month. Harry would have liked to pretend it had nothing to do with Draco sitting next to him, but really it was the only reason for it. Draco would explain and help Harry with his brewing, making sure he hadn’t exploded or imploded a single potion. Slughorn had completely ignored Draco’s efforts, but he was ecstatic about Harry’s progress. Or ‘return to your normal self’ as he’d named it, not knowing Harry had cheated all through his sixth year.

Harry and Draco had eaten breakfast together that morning, and after getting caught up in a conversation about desserts, of all things, they were running a bit late. They only just managed to enter the classroom and take their seats before Slughorn strode in, looking far too cheerful for Harry’s liking.

“Good morning class!” he said, smiling down at Harry, Hermione and a select few he still wanted in his club. “Today we will be revisiting a potion you first saw in your sixth year. However, today you will be brewing it yourselves.”

Slughorn flicked his wand, and the recipe for Amortentia appeared on the blackboard. A collective groan resulted from the class, and Harry suspected his was one of the louder ones. He hated love potions with a passion, especially since people were always trying to sneak some into his food or drink.

They were to brew the potion in pairs, so Harry went to collect whatever ingredients they needed from the front of the room, letting Draco set up their workspace. It was a routine they’d developed rather quickly once Draco realised Harry hadn’t even known you were supposed to use different setups.

“I fucking hate love potions,” Harry said. He let the ingredients he’d collected drop to the desk, and sat down with a frown on his face. “Not only is it potions, but it’s a bloody love potion to boot. Something’s out to get me today.”

“I’m sure you’ll survive,” Draco said, sorting through the ingredients Harry had got them.

“Purely because of you,” Harry said. Doing the compliment thing the article had suggested wasn’t so hard, really. “You’re so great with potions, and teaching for that matter.”

A soft blush crept it’s way up Draco’s cheeks and Harry grinned. He loved seeing a blush on the blonde, both because it let him know what Harry said affected him, and also because Draco looked edible whenever he got one.

“Flattery won’t get you anywhere,” Draco said. He’d finished sorting through the ingredients, and he tossed a bouquet of dried roses towards Harry.
Harry took the flowers and grinned. Maybe it was time for some light teasing too? “It must be getting me somewhere considering you’re gifting me flowers.” Harry lifted the dried roses to his nose and sniffed them, admittedly they did mostly smell of dust, but Harry pretended it was wonderful. “Thank you dear, they’re lovely,” he said, grinning at Draco.

Draco’s blush, that had almost disappeared returned in full vigour. “If I knew you wanted flowers so badly I would have given you some that haven’t been lying next to the rat-tails for weeks,” he said.

Harry pushed the flowers away from his face with such intensity most of them landed on the floor. “Fuck, that’s disgusting!” he said, wiping at his chin, “please tell me you’re joking?”

Draco’s grin only widened as he poured water and some skeletal looking thing into the caldron. “They sort the ingredients alphabetically,” he said, “so rat-tail and roses will at least have been close.”

“Ugh,” Harry groaned. “Next time you can give me some that aren’t dead and reeking of rat-tail then.”

Draco gave him a curious look, “I’ll keep that in mind.”

Harry picked up the flowers and started separating off thorns and petals, as they needed to go into the potion at different times. It was easy working with Draco. They didn’t bump into each other, or end up doing the same thing at once like Harry and Ron would when they partnered up. Somehow they were able to work in silence without messing it all up.

Draco worked on crushing something green up, Harry thought it might be nettles, and Harry worked on the roses. Before doing anything Harry would check the recipe on the board, and then look at Draco for conformation that he had the right ingredient and the right time. Their potion turned a bright yellow, like it was supposed to when Harry added the rose petals, and after he stirred anti clockwise a couple of times the colour turned to a soft pastel, just as the recipe described.

“See,” Harry said, grinning at the potion. “I’m able to not mess things up completely these days. And it’s all because of your brilliant potions mastery.”

Draco dumped his nettles into the potion and stirred a few times, but he grinned at Harry. “I’m thinking you’re the one who should be buying me flowers if I’m really as good as you say.”

“Do you like roses then?” Harry asked, and feeling brave continued, “What colour would be appropriate?”

Harry knew roses had lots of meanings, all depending on their colour. He didn’t know too much, but he thought Petunia had once said something about red being love and yellow being friendship.

“Roses are far too obvious,” Draco said. Harry thought he looked strangely nervous. “I’d much rather have white carnations, maybe with a few purple anemones in the bouquet.”

Harry of course had no idea what those flowers represented, if anything. He wasn’t even sure how they looked if he was honest. “Yeah, those are pretty,” he said.

Draco snorted. “You have absolutely no idea what flowers I’m talking about, do you?”

“Nope,” Harry admitted just as the timer they’d set for their potion went off. It was time to add the thorns Harry thought, and he counted out seven off them before glancing at Draco for approval. After receiving a nod Harry tossed them into the potion and let Draco stir until the whole potion was a soft pink colour. While Draco stirred. Harry scribbled the names of the flowers he’d mentioned down in his book.

Their potion came out perfect, as far as Harry could tell. It was shining softly, shifting in colour between white and a very light pink. The steam coming off it was spiralling, just as he remembered seeing it do in his sixth year. When he leaned in to smell it though he realised something must be wrong. It didn’t smell of anything at all. The only thing he could smell was the hint of smoke coming from the fire beneath all the cauldrons in the room and the apple scented shampoo Draco always used.

“Smells nice,” Draco said, smiling softly at the potion.

Harry frowned at him. “Doesn’t smell like anything to me,” he said, feeling somewhat cheated.

“Sure it does,” Draco insisted. “Just give it a minute.”

Harry did, and after a while he noticed the soft scent of his broomstick. It had been so long since Harry’d flown he almost didn’t recognise it. Then came the scent of strawberries, witch Harry thought rather odd since he didn’t really love them more than any other fruit or berry. All the cauldrons in the room were being put out now, but Harry could still smell the slight smoke. It reminded him of the homey feel of the Burrow or his old common room when he’d be snuggled in front of the fireplace. Harry barely noticed Draco packing up their spare ingredients and getting up in order to return them to the storeroom, he was so engrossed in his smelling. He did notice however, that even though Draco had left Harry could still smell the sweet green apple shampoo. It was coming of the potion after all.

When Harry thought about it the strawberry smell was probably for Draco as well, what with his lip balm and all. He kept putting it on a couple of times a day, and it was making Harry way more randy than he wanted to admit. Amortentia was supposed to smell like the things you love though, and Harry thought he surely couldn’t love Draco. Not yet.

Except, maybe he did a little. It would explain why he wanted to be around him all the time, and why he was researching things like flirting, or worrying over how Draco’s first Christmas without his father would be like. Harry hated Lucius, and yet he felt bad that the man was in prison, because now Draco would have to deal with his life without his father in it. Harry knew how hard it could be to rebel against a father that wasn’t there, and he knew Draco wanted to rebel. That he wanted to be angry about the things he’d been raised to believe in, but being angry at an imprisoned man was difficult. Maybe love could explain why Harry wanted to bring Draco to the Burrow for Christmas, and have him be accepted there. Maybe it would make sense of how whenever Harry tried to picture his future outside Hogwarts he couldn’t see it without Draco there, not anymore.

“Did you get a scent of it?” Draco asked, returning with a bottle to put their potion in for grading.

“Yeah,” Harry said. “My broomstick, a fireplace and er- strawberries.”

After dinner Harry decided to go for a walk to clear his head. The December air outside the castle was colder than he had expected, but he found he appreciated the cooling effect. He’d been feeling too warm, too wound up. He let out a smoky breath and started his walk towards the pitch. He’d spent all of his classes after potions in a sort of daze, trying to work out how he’d fallen in love with Draco Malfoy. There were so many reasons going against it, first of all, Harry was still mostly convinced Draco was straight. Sure, Harry thought, sometimes it kinda looked like he was flirting, but it was probably all wishful thinking on Harry’s side.

And then there was the fact that Draco had been a Death Eater. Harry knew he’d been young and scared, and that he’d grown immensely since then, but still. The man he was in love with had been a Death Eater, he’d had so much hate inside of him that as a child he’d said he wanted people dead. Harry didn’t really believe twelve-year old Draco had meant it when he talked about death though. Either way it didn’t seem to matter, because Harry just couldn’t find it in him to care that Draco took the mark. The past was the past, and they’d both grown a lot. The war had forced them to, after all.

Harry made it to the pitch without even realising. The stands were all covered in a thick layer of white snow, and he supposed it was good that Quidditch season was over for the semester. He wished he’d brought his broom along. He wanted to be up in the sky despite the coldness of the air. Everything made so much sense up there.

A voice coming from the other side of the pitch, somewhere behind the broom shed, pulled Harry from his thoughts. “Andrew, let me go!” the voice shouted, and Harry thought the boy sounded scared. He started towards the shed, listening intently for more voices.

“What, are you scared Alex?” said another voice, and Harry didn’t like the tone at all.

“I think he is,” said a third voice gleefully. Harry sped up, wanting to get behind that shed and stop whatever was happening. Andrew and Alex were both Gryffindor third years, if Harry remembered correctly. He wasn’t too sure he did.

“Look at the little poof, quivering in his pants. Actually, maybe he isn’t scared. He probably likes being pushed up against the wall,” the second voice said just as Harry rounded the corner.

He’d been right that they were Gryffindors, at least judging by their ties. Andrew was pushing Alex against the wall of the broom shed, brown hair blowing in the wind, while the third boy, a Ravenclaw, stood by and watched. Alex twisted, and Harry noticed his nose was bleeding.

“What the fuck is going on here?” Harry shouted, raising his wand at the boys.

“Hi Harry,” Andrew said easily, not releasing his grip on Alex. He didn’t even look a little ashamed at what he was doing, or worried about having been caught. “We’re just teaching this little poofter where his place is.”

Harry was too angry to speak, so he cast a strong Depulso that threw Andrew off Alex and into the snow. Alex sank into the snow too, hiding his face in his hands.

Andrew recovered quickly, standing with the help of his friend, and giving Harry a furious look. “What the hell?” he asked.

“I fought a war,” Harry snarled, reminding himself that these boys were fourteen at most, trying his very best to solve this using his words. “I fought a bloody war, I killed people, all so that people wouldn’t be discriminated against. And I walk around my own fucking school and find you doing this shit?”

The two boys looked a bit worried now at least, and Harry suspected it had as much to do with the fact that his magic was strong in the air around them, feeling a bit like static electricity as it had to do with his words.

“We weren’t doing it because he’s a Muggleborn though,” the Ravenclaw said, “it’s just that he’s queer.”

“Do I look like I care why you were doing it?” Harry shouted, he was to bloody angry to control his voice. “You have no right to hurt anyone, ever! What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“We just wanted to teach him a lesson,” Andrew said. This time though, Harry was pleased to notice his words weren’t so self-assured.

“And what gave you little shits the right to teach anyone anything? What makes you so much better?” Harry demanded.

The boys looked uncomfortable now. “Well, we’re straight. He isn’t. So, I mean – er,” the Ravenclaw boy started, breaking off midway. Harry hoped it was due to realising that he was a fucking idiot for thinking himself better than someone else because he was straight.

“There is nothing bloody wrong with being gay,” Harry said, and it felt like letting a weight off his shoulders. Standing here, defending Alex, it felt alright to finally really believe the words. “The only thing wrong here is you two hating someone for just being themselves. You do realise that’s how Voldemort started out, right? Only for him it was Muggle-borns instead of gay people.”

Something about being compared to Voldemort must have reached the boys, and they both started apologizing to Harry. He told them to go straight to McGonagall and tell her what happened, and threatened that he would know if they didn’t. Harry thought that if he had to face the boys for another second he might jinx them both, and that wouldn’t look too good. He knew they were children, that he could have, and probably should have explained it all better. The sight of Alex and the words they’d been saying had reminded Harry of his own childhood, and that had intensified his feelings.

After sending the homophobic boys off, Harry cast a warming charm on Alex, and sat down beside the boy. “Hi,” he said softly. “I’m Harry, mind if I take a look at your nose?”

Alex looked up at Harry with wide teary eyes, and fuck, his nose didn’t look great. “I think your nose might be broken,” Harry said. “Let me take you to the hospital wing.”

“I’m not going back in there,” Alex whispered, pointing at the castle. “They’ll all hate me now that they know.”

“Know what?” Harry asked. He was pretty sure he knew, but he wanted to give Alex the chance to say for himself.

“That I’m a poofter and a stupid gay boy,” Alex said, clearly repeating back the slurs that had been thrown at him. “I thought Phillip was my friend, but when I told him he ran off to Andrew and now they’re going to tell everyone.”

Harry thought the Ravenclaw boy must be Phillip then. “I understand why it’s scary that people will find out,” Harry told the boy, “I’ve learned that not everybody hates it though. Most people don’t actually.”

“How would you know?” Alex asked, frowning at him, and Harry knew that feeling so well, of being thirteen and knowing the world is against you and that nobody can possibly understand how you’re feeling.

Harry took a deep breath, steeling himself. He hadn’t lied when he told Alex it was scary. “I’m not too straight myself.”

“You’re queer?” Alex asked, staring in awe. His nose was already swelling a fair bit, Harry noticed.

“Yeah, I am,” Harry said. He didn’t expect Alex’s face to fall.

“You’re ashamed too, aren’t you? That’s why you’ve never said,” Alex sniffed.

“I was for a bit, yeah,” Harry admitted. “But it’s mostly because I only just realised. I guess I’m not as smart as you, to realise so soon. I’m not ashamed anymore. There isn’t anything wrong with us.”

“So, you’ll tell people?” Alex asked. “Only, it would be a lot easier to be gay if you are too.”

Harry thought on that for a second. He wasn’t totally comfortable being open yet, but if it could help Alex and blokes like him, maybe it was time? “I’ll make you a deal,” Harry said. “Come with me back to the castle and let Pomfrey have a look at that nose. Then I’ll go to the papers during the hols and tell them I’m gay.”

Harry realised the look of relief and gratitude on Alex’s face as they waved goodbye in the hospital wing made it worth the uncomfortable knot of anxiety his promise had created in his stomach.

Chapter Text

After the incident with Alex, Harry sent a letter to the prophet telling them he would do an exclusive interview with them on the condition that he got to read through the article and veto the worst parts. The response came so fast Harry was still in the middle of his first lesson that day. McGonagall looked severely displeased as Dean opened the window only to have a large barn owl fly through and drop a letter on Harry’s desk. Harry tried shooing the bird off, but it refused to leave. It had been told to wait for a reply then, he thought, and opened the letter.

Dear Mr. Potter

We are both delighted and excited to meet your request and demands. Please reply with when we can sit down to do the interview, preferably at your earliest convenience.

Nicola Edwards
The Prophet

Harry scribbled a quick reply on the side of his parchment, with the date of the day after his return to the Burrow, saying he’d be in her office at 10 am. Then he tore the piece of parchment off and tied it to the owl’s leg. Hopefully McGonagall would have forgotten all about Harry interrupting her lesson after the school break. He didn’t think she’d look kindly upon him if he took out his knitting after the whole owl thing though, so Harry resigned himself to loosing precious time to work on his gift.

Harry had finished the first sleeve of the jumper a couple of days before, and was working desperately to finish the second one. Draco had already finished the entire torso part, but Harry wanted to make at least part of the gift himself, so he hadn’t asked for help on finishing the second sleeve. It was the day before leaving for Christmas though, and he was feeling a bit panicked. He had to finish so Draco could help attach the sleeves to the jumper, or there wouldn’t be a point to having knitted them at all. He managed to knit a bit during Charms, but he still had quite a bit to go.

“You don’t have a time turner by chance?” Harry asked Hermione. They were walking from Charms to the Great Hall for lunch, but Harry was seriously considering skipping food in favour of knitting.

Hermione let out a stressed sounding huff. “I really wish I did, I really should have started to revise for NEWT’s ages ago.”

“Oh, come off it,” Ron said, “it’s not even Christmas yet!”

Hermione brightened at that. “You’re right! I’ll have lots of time to get started over the hols! Why do you need a time-turner Harry?”

“I’ll never finish my bloody knitting in time!” Harry said, frowning at his feet.

“Speaking of your knitting,” Ron said, grinning so hard Harry could hear it in his voice, “how are things with Malfoy?”

Harry found himself blushing, without really having any reason to, besides the fact that he’d been wanking rather furiously over the man in the shower that morning.

“It’s not really going anywhere,” he said. “I mean, I’ve done most of the stuff from the article, but I can’t tell if he even noticed.”

“If I know you, you’ve done all the stuff that’s also entirely possible for friends to do,” Ron said, rolling his eyes.

Harry stopped walking to let a running first year pass him without crashing. “What do you mean?” he asked after catching up to his friends.

“Well, I mean. He already likes you, he already knows you like him. What have you done to show him you like him – er sexually?” Ron said, hesitating over the last word.

Harry slowed his walk, hoping his friends would follow his lead. He was not up for having that conversation in the middle of lunch. “I don’t know?” he said, feeling stupid. “I mean, I’m trying to smile a lot, and touch his shoulder and shit.”

“So you’re treating him as a good friend then?” Hermione asked, smiling softly.

Harry was beginning to feel irrationally angry with his friends. It was really easy for them to stand there pointing metaphorical fingers at him and his terrible flirting, but he didn’t think they’d been any better at it themselves. “What am I supposed to do then?”

“Well, I mean, I don’t touch Hermione’s shoulder much. I hold her hand, or touch her lower back, or thigh,” Ron said, scratching his head.

“And you should tease him a bit!” Hermione added. “I do it with Ron all the time.”

Ron turned to his girlfriend. “No you don’t,” he said.

“Yes, I do! Like when I suggest there might be some dessert waiting for you after homework’s finished. Or when I ask you how my shirt makes my tits look. That kind of thing.”

Right, Harry thought. He suddenly had two tasks to finish before leaving for the Burrow; finish the jumper and strongly hint that he wanted Draco. Wanted him so bad he couldn’t think of much else if he was honest. He couldn’t stop himself wondering how Draco would taste, how he would look if Harry sat down on his knees in front of him and licked his, probably, gorgeous cock. Harry had even started to wonder how it would feel to have something, someone, inside him. He’d never even put a finger up his own arse before, but in the shower that morning he’d been strongly tempted. Only the fact that he didn’t have much time, and that Draco technically could return to the dormitories at any moment to use the toilets had stopped him. Harry shook his head. Walking to lunch really wasn’t the time to entertain those kind of thoughts.

Harry was stressed and exhausted as he made his way down to the carriages that would take them to the train station in Hogsmeade. He’d stayed up late trying to finish knitting the sleeve of the sweater, but he’d had to give in when his cursing woke Draco and the other man had told Harry to go to bed. Harry would have to finish the sleeve on the train, with enough time to spare so that Draco could put it all together.

Draco was going to France with Pansy and his mother he’d said, and Harry was a little disappointed. Part of him had hoped he’d be able to see Draco over Christmas, but with him off in another country that wasn’t about to happen. And then there was the fact that Harry wanted to tell Draco he was gay before the interview he was doing the day after. In a way, Harry was glad to have the jumper to stress about. That way there was no time at all left over to worry about how it would be to be back at the Burrow, or how everyone would take the news of his sexuality. There was no time to think about how that was the first Christmas after the war, the first one without Fred, Remus and Tonks. It was definitively easier to worry about the jumper, Harry decided.

“Come on Harry, we’ve saved you a spot!” Ron called out from one of the carriages waiting outside the school. Harry tried and failed to avoid looking at the Thestrals, they only served as reminders of how terribly he’d failed in his fifth year.

The carriage was fuller than Harry had expected, and he had to look twice to realise Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Luna were in fact sharing a carriage with Draco, Parkinson and Zabini.

“Oh – er hi, Draco. Parkinson, Blaise,” Harry said. He wasn’t sure how to greet Draco’s friends, because although Harry and Draco had become close he still hadn’t had a single conversation with the other two Slytherins.

The four seats towards the front of the carriage were all taken by Ron, Ginny, Hermione and Luna. The ones towards the back housed the three Slytherins, and Harry noticed, the only free seat left. Thankfully it was between Draco and the window, not one of his friends.

“Potter,” Zabini said, and offered Harry a nod. Parkinson didn’t say anything, but she smiled at Harry. She was a bit strained, but Harry supposed that made sense considering their past.

Harry went to sit down next to Draco, still confused about what had prompted everyone in the carriage to share one. Draco scooted closer to Parkinson to make more room for him.

“So, Granger and Pansy had an idea,” Draco said. Harry was amazed at how little it took for his entire focus to turn on the blonde man. All he had to do was speak, and the rest of the carriage just melted away. Sitting that close Harry could smell the faint strawberry chap stick Draco must have used earlier.

“An idea?” Harry asked, trying to keep focused on the conversation instead of staring at Draco like a lovesick puppy.

“Yes, apparently we’ve been selfish about our friendship.” Draco explained. He was turned to the side now so he could properly look at Harry, and Harry tried not getting too lost in those grey eyes. Fuck, he was really going to miss Draco over Christmas.

“Selfish?” Harry asked, realising that he was just repeating words back at Draco.

“Yes, they thought it was rather rude that we’ve never introduced each other to our friends,” said Draco.

“But you all know each other though,” Harry said, finally tearing his eyes off Draco to look over at his friends opposite him.

Ron snorted. “Mate, I know ‘Malfoy the git we argued with all the bloody time’, not this Draco bloke you’ve got to know.”

“Yes, and I know ‘Potter the Gryffindork’ and ‘the Saviour’ not Harry. And I’m sure you know me as the bint who tried to toss you to the Dark Lord before the battle,” Parkinson said, looking uncertain. “I like to think there’s more to me than that.”

Harry supposed they had a point. His friends didn’t know Draco, not the one Harry knew. And he had to admit he knew close to nothing about Draco’s friends. It had just felt safe somehow, to have Draco all to himself.

“Right then,” Harry said and stood up again so he could reach a hand out to Parkinson. “I’m Harry. I like Quidditch, defence and pancakes. I’m shite at Potions, and er – sometimes I struggle with nightmares.” He wasn’t sure about adding the last part, but he figured he should offer up something everyone didn’t already know. Something personal.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief when Parkinson took his hand. “Nice to meet you Harry, I’m Pansy. I like nail polish, Muggle science fiction books and Charms. Don’t tell my family about the Muggle books though,” she said, and then hesitated. “I have trouble being in crowded rooms, after what I said about giving you up. I can’t shake the feeling that everyone’s staring at me. I’m sorry I said it, I’m sorry every single day.”

Harry had no idea how to respond. He appreciated that she’d reciprocated his honesty, and he didn’t blame her for wanting to give him up. They had all been scared to shit, and it had just been math, hadn’t it? His life for everyone else’s. If he thought it might have worked Harry would have gone willingly the moment it was suggested. Just as Harry opened his mouth to respond the carriage started moving, causing Harry to lose his footing and fall straight onto Pansy’s lap.

“Shit, sorry!” he said, trying to get his balance back without placing his hands all over Pansy. To Harry’s relief she was laughing along with the rest of the carriage, not slapping him for accidentally grabbing her tit as he was trying not to fall.

“Here,” Draco said, grabbing Harry and doing some sort of twist that had Harry halfway back in his seat and halfway on top of Draco instead of Pansy.

Harry sat properly back in his seat and buried his face in his hands. “Thanks. Did I mention I’m a klutz both socially and physically? Sorry Zabini, I’d shake your hand as well, but I suspect you’d rather avoid having me in your lap.”

Harry’s comment earned him a laugh from Zabini and Pansy both, and Harry realised he really wanted them to like him, to approve of him. He never wanted to put Draco in a situation where he would have to choose between his friends and him, and Harry wanted them all to be able to hang out.

“I’ll settle for a nice wave,” Zabini said and gave Harry and the people sitting opposite him a little wave. “I’m Blaise. I like autumn a lot, I think it’s because of the colours and the way it smells. My mom has married so many men I’ve started calling them all John because there really isn’t a point in learning their names.”

Harry wasn’t sure if he should find that funny or sad, so he opted to just wave awkwardly back.

“Oh, and the war,” Blaise continued just as Luna was opening her mouth, presumably to re-introduce herself. “I’m half-blood. My dad was a Muggle, and he had a pretty shit life because of racism. I tend to avoid the Muggle world, and I’m wary of Muggle-borns. Not because of all that dirty blood shit, but because they tend to be rather racist. During the war though, I was the one doing the discrimination, I’ll never forgive myself for that.”

“Don’t you dare say you didn’t do anything!” Pansy said firmly, placing a hand on Blaise’s thigh. “When things went to shit in seventh year you were the one who got the Slytherin Muggle-borns out of the caste to safety.”

“You did?” Hermione and Draco both asked. Hermione looked pleasantly surprised, but Harry thought Draco looked sad. He was hiding it too well for Harry to be sure though.

Blaise seemed to see it too, because he gave Draco a kind look. “Yeah, I did. I’m sorry I never told you, but back then – well, you know how things were.” Something unspoken seemed to pass between the two Slytherins, something Harry suspected had been learned through years of friendship and growing up in a house where you couldn’t always say what you were thinking.

“Talk of the war always attracts Nargles,” Luna said, “I don’t like Nargles much. I do like painting though, and friends. I’m Luna.”

By the time their carriage had reached the station they’d all introduced themselves, and Harry had decided to just start calling Pansy and Blaise by their first names. It really was a good way to get closer to someone. They didn’t push their newfound not-quite-friendship by sitting together in the train though. Dean, Seamus and Neville had saved a compartment for themselves, Harry, Luna, Ginny, Ron and Hermione. Draco and his friends left to find one for themselves, but only after Draco promised to help Harry assemble the jumper once he’d finished the sleeve he was working on. Harry gave him the finished sleeve, so Draco could attach that while Harry finished the second.

It took Harry most of the trip to finish his knitting, and by the time he found Draco to give him the sleeve, the train was only ten minutes from arriving in London. “I’m so sorry I’m so late!” Harry said, throwing the sleeve at Draco. “Fuck, this jumper will be the death of me.”

“Harry, breathe,” Draco said, after grabbing the sleeve with Seeker reflexes. “I’ll finish the jumper. You go relax or something. Use the loo, change out of your school robes.”

“I can’t ask you to do the work all by yourself,” Harry said. His bladder protested though, since he hadn’t allowed himself bathroom breaks in his desperation to finish knitting.

Draco laughed. “You’re not asking. Now go, breathe. I’ll find you on the platform and give you the jumper.”

As it turned out, there wasn’t much time for breathing. Harry used the loo, and returned to his compartment to change into muggle clothes for the trip to the Burrow. When he’d finished, the train was already slowing down.

The platform was overflowing with people as usual, and Harry had only stepped off the train when he was swarmed with parents and older siblings wanting to thank him, or talk to him, or shake his hand. Harry tried to push past them, searching the crowd for someone with white-blonde hair. He found it was faster to let people shake his hand than it was to try and push past them, and he made his way halfway across the platform like that, smiling, shaking hands and looking for Draco.

Harry jumped as someone placed a hand on his shoulder, and he turned to tell whoever it was to sod off. When he saw Draco though, his fake smile turned genuine. Draco was holding onto a brown paper bag with one hand, and he still had the other one on Harry’s shoulder. Harry thought he saw the flash of a camera, but once again, his focus was on Draco.

“I finished,” Draco said, holding out the bag for Harry.

“Thank you so much! I’m so happy I could kiss you!” Harry said, and regretted it immediately. Well, he’d let the cat out of the bag now, at least. He supposed he could be feeling relieved about it, but he was too busy trying to breathe through the sudden lump in his throat.

“What?” Draco asked. The blonde stood frozen to the spot, still holding tightly to the bag.

Harry wanted to run away or take it all back, but it was about time he used some of his Gryffindor courage and said something about how he was feeling. “I – er, I could kiss you, I mean – I,” he said, forcing his mouth shut before he went on rambling.

Draco was still staring at Harry, but he didn’t look horrified, like Harry had been scared he would. “Really?” he asked, and Harry could have sworn he saw a flicker of fire in Draco’s eyes. A hint of the flames he’d seen after the Room of Requirement.

“Yes,” Harry said. He was about to ask if Draco would hate it if he did kiss him sometime, because the look in Draco’s eyes told Harry he might actually like it a bit. Before he had the chance though, Pansy pushed her way through the crowd.

“Draco, we really have to go,” she said, pulling on Draco’s arm.

Draco looked between Harry and Pansy a few times. “I just need a minute,” he said, eyes landing on Harry.

“We don’t have a minute,” Pansy insisted. “We’re already running late and if we don’t go find your mother right now we’ll miss our Portkey.”

“Go,” Harry said. Draco looked almost as if he was in pain with the indecision. “Go, but write me, yeah?”

“Yeah, alright,” Draco said, and allowed Pansy to drag him off towards the other end of the station.

Chapter Text

Harry didn’t have a chance to look at the finished jumper until right before bedtime the day he got back to the Burrow. Molly and Arthur had both greeted Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione at the Kings Cross station. They had been a bit too cheerful, Harry thought, and they’d insisted on having all their ‘kids’ in the living room for the entire evening. In some ways, Harry thought, their overdone cheerfulness was worse than their quiet grieving during summer. If nothing else, that had at least been real. And back then it had all been new, so nobody had felt like they were wrong to be broken. Now though, everyone had taped and glued themselves back together as much as they could because the time for being broken had passed. Time doesn’t care that some wounds can never be fully healed, time just keeps on going.

Time didn’t seem to give a fuck that Harry was nervous about his interview the next day either, because it made the day pass faster than it felt like it should. Harry looked around the room he’d be staying in over Christmas. For the first time, he wasn’t staying with Ron in his room, but he’d got the one Bill and Charlie had used to share. Bill and Fleur would be coming over for Christmas Day, but they’d decided to stay at their own home for the rest of the Holliday since Fleur was pregnant. Charlie had refused to return home from Romania. Harry wished he would have followed their lead and insisted on remaining at Hogwarts or returning Grimmauld Place. He supposed the Burrow needed the noise though as it felt way too quiet without Fred and George running about.

The jumper, Harry realised, was mostly horrible. The parts Draco had made looked just as flawless as Molly’s own knitting, but the arms – sweet Merlin, the arms were a mess. One was significantly longer than the other, and the shorter one tried to make up for it by being wider. Harry felt suddenly doubtful that he could even give Molly the thing without seeming rude. He’d never given anyone a home-made gift before, except that one time he’d tried to bring something home for Petunia from his sewing class at school. She’d thrown the pillowcase he’d given her straight into the fireplace. Harry decided he’d buy Molly something in London the next day, so he’d at least have something that didn’t look like a five-year-old made it.

London right before Christmas was a complete mess. Harry had Apparated close to the city, but he’d decided taking the tube into the very centre was safer than risk Apparating straight into a Muggle. The tube was cramped, but if anything, the road outside was worse, and Harry had to push his way through last minute shoppers in a desperate attempt to make it to his appointment in time. He realised he probably should have Flooed, but he hadn’t felt much like being covered in sot for his interview, and he still hadn’t managed using the Floo without getting ridiculously dirty.

Halfway between the tube-stop and the entrance to the Prophet office Harry stopped in his tracks as he saw an advertisement outside one of the Muggle shops. The perfect gift for any overworked mother. Harry figured if any mother was overworked it would be Molly, and there was a pleasant smell drifting from the shop and out onto the street, so Harry decided to enter. Fifteen minutes later he left the shop carrying not only the spa set for Molly, but also various lip balms for Draco, a shampoo that would apparently work wonders on curly hair for Hermione, a brilliant smelling hand cream for Ginny, something called a bath-bomb for George and two bottles of lavender scented spray the woman had told Harry was good for sleep, one for himself and one for Ron. Mostly for the fun of it he’d also got Arthur a rubber duck.

Harry was about twenty minutes late whnen he arrived at the Prophet office, but he found he didn’t give a shit when they started taking his picture the second he walked through the doors. Every single reporter in the room seemed to have stood up from their desks to take a photo or try to get a question in, and Harry found it difficult to breathe with all the bodies pressing against him. Rationally he knew they weren’t pushing so hard he physically couldn’t breathe, but he felt trapped, closed in a small space.

“Mr Potter, what a pleasure to see you,” a female voice said from behind the crowd, “not that I can actually see you what with all my reporters crowding you like crazed fans.” This seemed to deter the reporters, and they fell back enough for Harry to see the woman speaking.

“Everyone get back to your seats now, really, acting like crazed paparazzi in our own newsroom is hardly necessary,” the woman continued, giving the other reporters a look Harry thought could rival McGonagall’s. “Let’s try this again, shall we, Mr Potter?” she asked, holding her hand out for Harry. “I’m Nicola Edwards, editor-in-chief here at the Prophet.”

Harry took her hand and shook it. “Call me Harry,” he said, “and if you’re editor-in-chief I suppose I have you to thank for that horrid article your paper posted when I had some food with a friend from school?”

“Horrid?” she asked, full of false pretence. “I simply strive to offer the public the truth.”

“Naturally,” Harry said, surprised at how cold his voice sounded. “Then maybe the next time you decide to call one of my friends a Death Eater you should remember that he was only sixteen at the time when he got the mark, and that the war is long gone. It’s time to forgive at this point.”

“Forgive and forget, is that it?” Edwards asked.

Harry shook his head, and was suddenly very aware of every eye in the room being on him. “I don’t think we ever can forget. We all lost a lot in the war. Friends, children, parents, siblings, health and innocence,” Harry said, pausing to draw a shaking breath. “But we decide if we’re going to let it take away our compassion and humanity as well. I’ve decided I’m not letting the war take anything more from me.”

“I might quote you on that!” Edwards said, gesturing to the right where a bright purple quill was rapidly taking notes of everything being said.

Harry sighed. “Just remember you agreed to give me final say on the article,” he said, “and I would really prefer if we could go somewhere more private.”

To Harry’s horror, the interview took about two full hours. After he’d finished, he spent about an hour more going through the notes the magic Quill had written down while he spoke. He crossed out some of the more horrifying observations and quotes with vigour, stuff like ‘our hero’s eyes tear up at the mention of his abusive and homophobic family’ or ‘When asked if he has a special someone at the moment a terrible blush flushed Harry’s face’. He was still dreading the release of the article which, Edwards assured him, would be released in a Christmas special edition of the paper in a few days.

On Christmas day Harry still hadn’t told anyone but Ron and Hermione about him being gay, so when the Prophet arrived baring a huge picture of Harry with a rainbow flag in the background he wasn’t too surprised to see all eyes in the room turn to him in shock. Even Ron and Hermione were surprised, because Harry hadn’t told them he was doing an interview at all. Honestly, he’d been scared they’d try to talk him out of it, because he knew they would have succeeded if they tried.

Harry fond he was the most nervous about Molly’s reaction, but after staring at Harry in shock she just turned back to the paper, opening it at the pages that held the article. Harry leaned over to grab Hermione’s copy of the paper and opened it himself.

Harry James Potter, perhaps better known simply as The Saviour or The Boy who Lived, visited the Prophet offices earlier this week to reveal a shocking truth. This news will surly break the hearts of every girl in Britain! Our beloved bachelor is GAY. In this exclusive interview, you’ll receive private information from The Saviour himself about the challenge of growing up different.

“Mate, you did an interview?” Ron, who was reading over Molly’s shoulder, asked.

Harry was about to answer when the first owl flew through the window and almost crashed into his head. It dropped the letter it was carrying and barely made it out the window before the next owl entered with another letter.

“Oh dear, not again,” Arthur said, looking at the window in horror.

“Again?” Ginny asked. She gave up on her attempt to read the paper upside down and turned to her father instead.

Arthur sighed, but he offered Harry a small smile, Harry hoped that meant he wasn’t too disgusted. “When Harry was seen having lunch with the young Malfoy we had a rather large pile of letters arrive here,” he said.

Harry sighed, he’d hoped the public had given up on trying to contact him when their owl’s returned unsuccessful from Hogwarts, but apparently that hadn’t been the case. “They don’t ever give up, do they?” he asked.

“I don’t suppose they do, no,” Arthur agreed. He spelled the window shut so no more owls could enter through it, forcing them to drop their letters outside or down the chimney before flying off. Some of the owls refused to do even that though, and sat down on top of Arthur’s shed.

Harry looked to Molly nervously, because she still hadn’t said a word since seeing the paper. She hadn’t even looked at him, he realised, and it looked like she was still reading the article. In an attempt to distract himself from worrying about her reaction, Harry grabbed the first letter he’d received and opened it. He was prepared for anything from a simple fuck you to a long letter about just how he had pissed whatever person sent the letter off. Instead though the letter had only two words; thank you!

Harry reached out for the second letter, not knowing what to expect this time. This letter too, was a short one. Harry supposed that’s why they were the first to arrive.

Fucking finally mate!
- Dean
Ps. Seamus says thanks and hi

Harry looked up and realised Ron and Hermione had opened a letter each, and they were both frowning. He supposed that meant they’d opened the ones from the people who were disgusted or pissed off, or maybe just disappointed.

“Wanker,” Ron muttered, casting a spell to set the letter he’d read on fire.

Her son cursing seemed to finally have torn Molly’s attention away from the paper, and she looked sharply at Ron. “Language,” she said sternly.

“You should have seen the language in the letter, and you’d be glad I only called them a wanker,” Ron said, still frowning. “What’s in the ones you read Harry?”

Harry tried smiling at Ron, but he was too caught up in looking at Molly, hoping for some sign she was alright with it. He opted for just handing his letters to Ron, and noticed Hermione setting the letter she’d been reading on fire.

When Molly finally turned to look at him, Harry noticed she was crying. He considered Disapparating right then and there, but he remembered how sure Ron had been that she’d be fine with it. Maybe he just had to sit the storm out?

“Oh Harry!” Molly cried, getting up from her seat at the table and practically pulling Harry into standing so she could hug him. “Oh, I can’t believe it.”

Harry tried to relax into the hug, but he found it hard. He could feel his heart beating so hard he was sure Molly had to feel it too. “I’m sorry,” he said, without being sure what it was he was apologizing for.

Molly hugged him closer, and Harry wanted desperately to find comfort in the gesture. He wasn’t used to hugs though, and he was beginning to feel a bit trapped. “Is it true?” Molly asked, finally pulling back to look him in the eyes.

“Er-,” Harry hesitated, “what part?”

“That you had to grow up thinking it was wrong? That you were wrong?” Molly asked. Her voice sounded like she was holding back sobs, and Harry was grateful that she was holding back, he wasn’t sure he could deal with reducing Molly to a sobbing mess.

“Yeah, I mean – I guess.” Harry said. He wondered if he should have taken that part out, but he felt like it was too important for the story.

Molly went from sad to enraged so fast Harry missed the change. “If I ever get my hands on those horrible Muggles I’ll curse them so badly they won’t be able to spell their own names,” she said.

“Now, now Molly,” said Arthur. He stood and walked over to where Harry and Molly were standing to place a calming arm on Molly’s shoulder.

Harry thought for a second that Molly would shake his hand off, but instead she leaned into her husband. “I’ll not let anyone hurt my children Arthur, I won’t!”

“I know Molly, dear. Harry’s safe with us now though, he never has to see the Dursleys again.”

Harry watched the exchange, and he dared to feel hopeful that Molly’s rage and tears meant she thought it was alright, that she didn’t mind. Part of his brain knew it was irrational to worry even after Ron’s reassurances and the lack of anger or disgust directed at him. The other part of his brain though was still screaming that everyone hated him and that he’d made a terrible mistake.

“Oh, for the love of -,” Ginny said. “Will you just reassure him that you’re fine with him being gay already? He’s shaking like a bloody leaf and if he doesn’t breathe soon I think he’ll pass out.”

Ginny’s words caused a rush of everyone assuring Harry they didn’t think any less of him, and although it was all a bit much, Harry made a mental note to thank Ginny later.

“I, being bisexual myself obviously have a massive problem with you being queer,” George said. It was the first time he’d spoken that day, as far as Harry knew. The smile that accompanied the words was the first one Harry had seen from George since the final battle. Since Fred died.

Harry was about to respond, but was distracted when the fireplace turned green and let Bill and a very pregnant Fleur through.

“Good morning, heterosexual brother of mine,” George said, smiling at Bill. It appeared Harry wasn’t the only one to be surprised to receive a smile from George, because Bill looked a bit taken aback before managing a reply.

“Morning to you too, brother bi,” Bill laughed. “Any particular reason we’re adding our sexual orientations to the Christmas greeting?”

In response Harry just held up the paper, showing Bill the front page with the ridiculous photo.

“Merlin,” Bill said, grinning at Harry, “you don’t do anything half-way, do you?”

“Not that I know,” Ron said, “but Harry – much as I love you, we have to finish this conversation because it’s Christmas day and I want to open presents!”

That evening Harry sat down to write Draco a letter for the first time since the holidays started.

First of all – thank you so much for helping me make that jumper for Molly! She really loved it, even though the sleeves were all wonky and uneven. She actually started crying, and she hasn’t taken it off since opening the present. Second – if you’ve written me a letter, or if you do write one, I might not be able to read it. People have gone a bit crazy with writing me since the article had been published. I spent half the day sorting through and reading the letters, but I’ve hardly made a dent in the pile. Some of them are rude and angry, but quite a lot are supportive. There are even some people saying thanks, and that I’ve helped them accept themselves. Hopefully you’re alright with it, sorry I never said anything before doing the interview. Bill says it’s because I never do anything halfway, but I think it’s just easier to tell everyone at once. I hope you’re enjoying your holiday! It’s a bit nice not to have school all the time, but I miss seeing you. I’m attaching a late Christmas gift, just something that reminded me of you.

Happy Christmas

Harry attached the small present to the letter and tied it all to Ginny’s new owl, before letting it fly off. He tried not to worry too much about Draco’s reaction to him being gay, after all, he was almost sure that Draco had been flirting back. Had wanted Harry to kiss him at the station.

Harry wondered what it would have felt like, to have his lips pressed up against Draco’s. Or to have Draco pressed up against him, their bodies flush as their lips moved together. He imagined Draco would pull back, eyes full of fire to look at him, before leaning in for another passionate kiss.

The images on the inside of Harry’s eyelids was already making him hard, and he pressed down on his erection with his hand, imagining it was pushing up against Draco’s thigh. In his mind, Draco begun to undress them. Harry pushed his own jeans down, taking his pants with them. He was glad for the privacy of the room, because he had no intention of holding back. He was horny as hell imagining the things he wanted Draco to do to him.

Harry cast a hurried Silencio at the door, and then locked it. He didn’t want anyone hearing him or walking in. He wanted to wank to the image of Draco laying naked on top of him and grinding his own groin into Harry’s. Harry imagined Draco grabbing his arse, massaging it and pulling him closer. Then, feeling brave, Harry ran a hand down the cleft of his arse, over his hole. He imagined it was Draco’s hand, and shivered. It felt good, and it urged him to stroke himself a little more firmly on the next go. He’d never realised he was so sensitive back there, but after moving his hand up and down a few times he started circling his hole with his fingers, and the feeling was amazing. He’d been curious for a while about how it would feel to be penetrated, because the thought of Draco doing that had become one of Harry’s favourite fantasies.

He tried pushing a finger through the rim, but found too much resistance, so he cast a lube charm on his hand and tried again. This time his finger slipped into his arse without trouble. As soon as the tip was in though, Harry clenched, and he couldn’t move it further. It felt strange, not a bad strange, but not immediately good either. Harry forced himself to relax, and pushed his finger in a little more. He imagined Draco was behind him, working him slowly open. Pushing and pulling the finger in and out until the whole finger fit. Harry enjoyed the feeling of the finger more and more, but it wasn’t enough. He needed more. He pulled his finger out and started working in another as he imagined Draco doing it, whispering in his ear. Harry’s cock was already leaking by the time he grabbed it with his free hand, turning to his side on the bed to be able to both wank and finger his arse. When he was turning his fingers moved inside him and he touched something that made him see stars. He moaned, twisting so he could smother the sound in his pillow before remembering he’d silenced the room and nobody would hear him. He bent his fingers, trying to get at that spot again while his other hand sped up on his cock.

Harry felt filthy working himself over like that, both hands working furiously to bring him off. He found he liked the feeling though, and instead of imagining Draco’s hands on him he imagined how Draco would look if he was simply watching Harry do this to himself. He imagined Draco’s eyes would burn hotly, unable to tear themselves off him. He imagined Draco reaching for his own cock and wanking to the sight of Harry bringing himself off.

Harry came with a shout of Draco’s name, and he collapsed on the bed, panting. He felt strangely empty now that he didn’t have his fingers in his arse anymore, and he wanted more than anything for Draco to fill that emptiness. Christmas couldn’t end fast enough, Harry thought.

Chapter Text

The holidays didn’t drag on too much, especially with Harry putting off all his homework to the last possible minute. Homework at least, made the time pass faster. Harry had given up on searching through the ever-increasing pile of letters after the day the article had been posted, so he didn’t know if Draco had ever replied to his letter or not. He really ought to find a way to sort his post, so he could receive letters from those he knew and not from random strangers.

The platform was somehow even more crowded now than when they had returned home for Christmas, at least that’s how it felt to Harry. He’d wanted to have a look around for Draco, but the moment he’d stepped through the secret wall and onto the platform people had crowded him from all directions. For the first time since the war ended the crowd wasn’t all happy and adoring, and while Harry didn’t care much what they were saying, he found it sad that so many people would be so openly homophobic.

“Ey, Potter. Why don’t you take my daughter out for a date? I’m sure she’ll set you straight,” a tall, brown haired man shouted from further back in the crowd that surrounded him. Harry didn’t know who his daughter was, and he found he really didn’t care. He was about to reply to the man, but he broke out laughing instead when the man’s hair grew to reach his waist and turned a shocking pink.

Harry looked around to see who might have cast the spell, and he caught Ginny’s eye. The ginger girl grinned and winked at Harry before waving him over. Harry began pushing through the crowd to reach the train and Ginny. Hopefully Ron and Hermione had made their way to the train as well, because otherwise he suspected they’d be surrounded by their own crowd. Just as Harry reached the train he heard an enraged outcry, the large man must have noticed his hair then, Harry thought grinning.

“Come on,” Ginny said, grabbing Harry and pulling him and his luggage aboard the train. “We’ve found a compartment right over here.”

‘We’ turned out to be Hermione, Ron, Seamus, Dean, Neville, Hannah and Luna and Harry was relieved. They’d all made new friends over the last year, but it felt good to have his regular group back together. The only one missing now was Draco, because at some point Harry had started seeing the blonde as one of his closest.

“Did any of you see Draco out there?” he asked the group, gesturing at the window.

“Nah mate, but it was pretty crowded. I’m sure he’ll turn up soon,” Ron said, sitting comfortably next to Hermione. Harry looked from them to how close Dean and Seamus were sitting, and then at Neville and Hannah kissing softly, and he wanted Draco there more than ever.

“Ugh, you’re all so bloody romantic or something,” Harry said, gesturing at the couples. “At least I’m not the only one single here,” he added, turning to Ginny and Luna.

The guilty expression on Ginny’s face made Harry stop. “Well, actually,” she said, turning to Luna.

“Merlin’s saggy tits, am I the only one in our family who’s straight,” Ron said, but he was grinning at his sister.

Ginny laughed. “There’s always Bill and Percy.”

Harry laughed as Ron grimaced and protested that he was not ever in the same category as Percy.

“Speaking of single though, what’s up with you and Malfoy?” Ginny asked, turning to Harry.

“Well,” Harry said, glancing towards the cabin door. It was slightly ajar, and he didn’t want random first-years hearing him. The hallway outside looked empty though. ”I’m testing this theory that he’s secretly in love with me.”

“Oh, so it’s a theory now?” said Ginny with a laugh. Probably at Harry’s hopelessness, he thought.

“Yeah, see – he had this look. After I saved him from the Fiendfyre. And I’ve been doing all this shit to figure it out, and nothing worked, but then before Christmas I flirted with him. Like – proper flirting, and he got a look in his eyes that was kinda similar.”

Ginny frowned. “What look?”

“I’m not sure how to describe it, except maybe – burning?” Harry said, feeling awkward at the admission.

“And if your theory proves to be right, what then?” Ginny asked.

“Blackmail,” Harry deadpanned. The cabin door slammed shut, and made Harry jump. “What was that?” he asked.

“Wait, what? Blackmail?” Dean asked, looking a mix of shocked and disappointed.

Seamus put a calming hand on his boyfriend’s thigh, making Harry instantly jealous. He wanted to touch Draco like that. “He’s only joking Dean,” he said, looking at Harry, “right?”

“Yeah,” Harry sighed. “I’ve fallen arse over tit for the git.”

The train ride back to the castle was a lot more pleasant now that Harry didn’t have his knitting to worry about. He played a game of chess with Ron, and predictably lost terribly. Then he played Exploding Snap with Neville and Luna, and lost terribly at that too. He wanted to go find Draco, but he didn’t really have a good excuse for finding him, and Harry was a bit nervous about seeing Draco again after that whole ‘I could kiss you’ thing.

Returning to the castle felt strange, because Harry knew it would be his last time returning there after Christmas. Next year he’d be off doing who-knows-what, probably far away from the caste. Draco was absent from dinner that evening, and Harry tried looking for him after, with no success. He did find a seventh year Slytherin who swore he’d seen Draco in one of the Thestral carriages though, so at least he was somewhere in the castle.

Harry didn’t find Draco until he gave up looking somewhere around midnight and returned to their shared dorm room. There, he caught a quick flash of blonde hair before he was pushed against the wall next to the door. Moments later Draco’s mouth was on Harry’s, and Harry froze for a second before reacting. His mouth caught up to what was happening before his brain did, and he was kissing Draco back. Draco had his whole body pushed up against him, and Harry was caught between the hardness of the wall and the pure warmth and pleasure that was Draco. Just as suddenly as he’d started the kiss Draco pulled back, and Harry couldn’t hold back a whimper.

“Is this what you wanted?” Draco asked, and he suddenly felt cold to the touch. Harry wanted to back away, but there was no room to move from his position against the wall.

“Yes, no I -, Draco what?” Harry stuttered, feeling confused. The kiss had been so sudden, and so good, but something about how cold Draco was looking at him now made Harry wish they’d never done it in the first place.

Draco leaned in to kiss him again, but Harry stood frozen because the kiss just felt so – mechanical. Like Draco was turning into the robot Harry had hated so much, the kiss felt so cold and calculated it froze Harry to the bone.

“The flirting, the terrible innuendos. It’s because you wanted this, right?” Draco said, gesturing between them. “And what the Saviour wants he shall get.”

“Fuck, no. Draco I – what’s this about?” Harry said, pushing Draco off him. He didn’t want it like this, never like this.

“So, it’s true then?” Draco asked, face cold as ever.

“What’s true? Draco, what’s going on here?” Harry demanded.

“Don’t play dumb Potter,” Draco said. And Harry thought his last name had never sounded so much like an insult before.

“Draco, I don’t understand.”

“Oh, do shut up. I overheard you telling your friends all about your intentions towards me,” Draco said, some emotion finally returning to his voice and face. Harry thought he’d rather have the cold Draco to the disgusted one standing in front of him right then.

“You disgust me Potter” he said, stepping back so he was no longer in contact with Harry and leaving their room. Harry stood frozen where he’d been pushed against the wall. He’d been wrong. He’d been so terribly wrong about what Draco wanted, and now Draco was disgusted with him.

Part of Harry wanted to be furious that the man he’d fallen for had gone from believing in Voldemort to being a homophobic git, but he couldn’t muster it. More than anything he was just cold, so cold in fact he found he was shaking where he stood. He forced his feet to move and get into his bed, then crawled underneath the covers in an attempt to get warm. He kept on shaking though, and he realised that he was in fact shaking with quiet sobs.

Rejection was one thing, but being called disgusting by the man he loved was something rather different, Harry thought. And it hurt. It hurt more than he was able to deal with, and so he tried to push it to the back of his mind, the place where he held all the thoughts and feelings that he just couldn’t deal with. The place where he’d kept his thoughts of Draco Malfoy locked away for years, the place where he should have kept them instead of acting on them like a fool.

Harry closed his eyes and tried to push the image of Draco with that disgusted look on his face to the very back of his brain, but to his horror it wouldn’t go away. Instead his face was joined by Remus and Sirius, wearing accusing looks. They died because of me, Harry thought, shaking his head to rid himself of the images. Everyone he loved died. His parents, Sirius, Remus, even Dobby. Everyone who was supposed to love him died too, or thought him disgusting and unnatural, like the Dursleys and Draco. Harry reached out for the pillow, and bit into it to try to quiet his sobs as he came to the realisation that he really was unlovable. It would only be a matter of time before Hermione, Ron and the rest of the Weasley family realised it too. Harry stayed under his blankets, shivering and crying until he eventually fell asleep.

When he woke up the next day Hogwarts was different. Not in a way that anyone would notice, but different to him. All the memories of broken down walls, tortured screams and dead bodies he had pushed to the side since the beginning of the year were back in full, and he was no longer able to walk anywhere without seeing the destruction that had once been there. If he didn’t see destruction and death, he saw Draco. The hallway outside the Potions classroom was where they’d fought so hard someone had cursed Hermione’s teeth to grow longer. The inside of the potions classroom was where Harry and Draco had sat next to each other for months, and where Harry now sat next to Terry Boot. He tried sneaking glances at Draco all throughout the lesson, but Draco sat next to Blaise and didn’t look Harry’s way once.

On his way to Herbology Harry saw Lavender laying on the ground, face bloody after Greyback attacked her. Not far from her he saw Dumbledore lying bent and broken in all the wrong ways, his silver hair blowing slightly in the wind. All around him people were talking loudly, laughing among themselves and complaining about homework, then suddenly they weren’t. Suddenly they were screaming in pain and terror as Voldemort walked across the courtyard towards them. Harry turned, and saw Fred lying dead on the ground next to him. Someone touched Harry’s shoulder then, and he turned in panic, grabbed his wand, and cast the first spell that came to mind, Expelliarmus.

Ron’s wand flew out of his grip, and suddenly the world was back to normal. Their classmates were dressed in clean school robes, not tattered clothing from battle. The courtyard wasn’t filled with the bodies of the dead, but with snow. Harry gasped for air, feeling terrified, both by what he’d seen and by the fact that he’d seen it. The wall inside his head where he hid everything had disappeared, and now his memories felt as if they were happening all over again.

It was all Harry could do to remain upright and keep breathing, but he noticed Hermione telling their classmates to keep going, and he noticed someone handing Ron his wand. In a daze, he let Ron and Hermione lead him back into the castle. He wanted to protest when he saw the hospital wing. There were so many memories there. His memories seemed content to be memories now though, instead of acting as the present, so he allowed Ron to lead him inside while Hermione ran ahead.

Ron had just installed Harry on a bed when Hermione came out of Madam Pomfrey’s office, the healer close behind her.

“Mr Potter, drink this,” Madam Pomfrey said firmly. She handed Harry a vial of soft blue liquid and he drank it down without question. Only seconds after Harry could feel his heart slow down, and only then realised it had been racing. His breath evened out too, and he no longer felt the need to gasp for air.

“Better?” she asked, taking the vial back.

Harry nodded at her, and he suddenly felt very tired, like he’d just flown for hours.

“It’s a calming draught, it won’t make you tired, but I assume you’re feeling rather exhausted after your attack,” the older woman said, studying Harry.

“Attack?” he managed to ask, his body starting to freak out again before the calming draught did its work to relax him again.

“From what Miss Granger tells me it sounds like you’ve had an anxiety attack, or a flashback. I’m not any sort of mind healer or counsellor though, but I’ll contact the one McGonagall hired,” she said, reaching for her wand as if to call for the counsellor right away.

“No,” Harry managed, and yawned. “I’m just really tired.”

“He has nightmares,” Ron offered. Harry frowned, he didn’t want anyone to know about his nightmares. If it got him a Dreamless Sleep though, he’d take it.

Pomfrey summoned another vial, and Harry drank it down gratefully. If he could just sleep a little, the whole thing would be over when he woke up. It had to be.

When Harry woke up next it was early morning, judging by the light seeping in from the window. He looked around the room, and noticed Ron and Hermione fast asleep on the bed next to him. He must have slept through the rest of the day and the entire night, and his two friends must have stayed there with him.

Harry was happy to notice his head worked again, that his memories were just memories, even though it hurt to think about them. His heart still ached with the loss of Draco, and he still missed all the people he’d lost to Voldemort, but it was manageable. He thought back to the previous day, and found it hard to remember it in any other way than fragments. He remembered feeling like he was back in the war. Remembered feeling like his memories had come to life, surrounding him wherever he went. He remembered feeling guilty, like the war had been his fault. And he remembered the cold and crushing feeling of being unlovable. The feelings were still there, in a way, but weak enough now that Harry knew they were irrational. He knew Ron and Hermione loved him, it was so clear by the way they’d cared for him the day before, and in how they were both still there. He knew Molly and Arthur had taken him in like a son, knew they loved him like one. The proof was right there in the watch he always wore, slightly dented and several years old when he’d got it, a family heirloom. It didn’t run anymore, after the war, but Harry still wore it.

Harry wasn’t surprised when Ron woke, he’d been having issues with his insomnia again, being back at the Burrow. He was surprised though, when he untangled himself from Hermione’s arms, and padded across the floor to get into bed with Harry. They hadn’t shared a bed like that since second year.

“How are you feeling mate?” Ron whispered, nudging Harry a bit to get more room on the bed.

Harry scooted back and turned to his side, so he was facing Ron. “Like my head’s working again. Sorry I cast that spell on you.”

“You only disarmed me, so no worries,” Ron said.

“I wasn’t thinking though, I didn’t know it was you. I could have cast something a lot worse,” Harry whispered, voicing his fears. “What if I’m going crazy?”

Ron shook his head as much as was possible when lying on one’s side in a bed. “I think you’re just finally having a reaction to the war, really,” he said.

Harry thought about that, remembering Hermione’s theory that he was repressing things, lying to himself. He supposed that was what he’d been doing with the whole pushing things into the back of his mind strategy.

“I mean, we’re all a little fucked up now. But you never really let yourself react to any of it, because you were so busy making sure everyone else was alright. I mean – Merlin’s balls you bloody died,” Ron said.

“Yeah, I guess that could be it,” Harry said, hoping that really was the case. He really didn’t want to be losing his mind.

“Did something happen though, to set it off?” Ron asked, “I tried asking you yesterday but you were kinda – off, the entire day.”

Harry’s eyes watered at the memory of Draco’s disgusted expression, the cold kisses and the ‘you disgust me Potter’. Yes, his brain was working today, but his heart really wasn’t. “Draco found out how I feel,” he whispered, fearing his voice would break if he spoke louder.

“What happened?” Ron asked, sitting half up in bed as if he was ready to run off and curse Draco himself.

“He kissed me,” Harry said, and Ron looked relieved for a second, before noticing the expression on Harry’s face. “Then he said he knew that’s what I wanted, and that I -,” Harry paused, closing his eyes in an attempt to stop the tears. “He said I disgust him.”

“He bloody what?” Ron shouted, making Harry jump. He glanced over at Hermione, but she just turned in her sleep.

Harry opened his mouth to repeat himself, but found he couldn’t stand it. “Please don’t make me say it again,” he whispered.

“But I thought, I mean – it looked like he was flirting back,” Ron said.

“Yeah, I thought so too. I guess he was just, I don’t know, being friendly or something,” Harry said. The tears were falling now, and he reached up to wipe them off.

Ron shuffled closer and pulled Harry in close, holding him in the safety of his arms. “Say the word and I’ll turn him back into the ferret he is,” he said, stroking small circles on Harry’s back.

The councillor Madam Pomfrey had contacted arrived after Harry had shared a breakfast in bed with Ron and Hermione. He was a younger bloke, and Harry thought he might have found the man attractive if he wasn’t so hung up on Draco. He told Harry about panic attacks and flashbacks, and agreed with Ron’s theory that it was because of the trauma Harry had experienced in the war, and his refusal to deal with it. He also said that it might be a one-time thing, but that it could also be a symptom of some sort of disorder. Harry really hoped for the one-time thing, but he took the offered vials of calming draught if he should need them. He also took the peppermint oil that was supposed to ground him to the present because of its smell.

Harry was just leaving for class when the man stopped him. “Just talk to someone Harry. It doesn’t have to be me if you don’t want to, but it’s important that you talk to someone.”

Harry gave a noncommittal shrug before half running towards his defence class.

Chapter Text

Life after Draco started hating him again was both easier and harder than Harry had expected. It took him about a week before he got used to having Ron or Hermione sit with him in classes, instead of expecting Draco there. That was one of the harder parts, the easier part was that Ron and Hermione always made sure one of them sat with Harry, even though they’d been sitting with each other all year. It took Harry longer to get used to having their bedroom become his room, but after two weeks of not seeing Draco or any of his belongings in it, Harry realised it had in fact become just his room. Draco, apparently, had taken the bed Dean had abandoned when he moved in with Seamus and Blaise because Justin had been a homophobic turd. The easier part was that once his friends realised he was alone in the room, Ron, Hermione, Dean, Seamus and Neville would take turns sleeping in Draco’s old bed. That way someone was always there when Harry woke up from a nightmare, or just wanted someone to talk to.

The flashback – anxiety thing hadn’t happened again, at least not as bad as the first time. Harry still found he had memories and feelings to deal with, but he also realised that when they didn’t all hit him at once he could deal with them. That was a bit easier than he’d expected, and Harry knew for a fact that he was finally dealing with everything because the door to the common room hadn’t denied him entry once.

One of the things Harry hadn’t expected to be as hard as it turned out to be, was potions. Every lesson, and every homework assignment reminded Harry of Draco. Sometimes just because it was potions, and Draco was good at potions, and sometimes because a specific ingredient would remind him of a conversation they’d had. Even Harry’s notebook was filled with things Draco had said that he’d scribbled down, little helpful hints about the potions or ingredients that weren’t in the textbook. For three weeks since things had ended, if you could say that about something that never really began, Harry had avoided looking at that notebook. His potions grades were falling drastically though, and he had an essay due the next day about the uses of roses as ingredients.

Roses reminded Harry of the conversation he and Draco had had about flowers, and he knew he’d written down some notes on the subject, so he leafed through his book until he found the relevant page. He spent another half hour adding the information there to his essay, before he decided to call it quits. The library would be closing soon anyway. Just as he was about to close his book Harry noticed the names of flowers he’d scribbled on the margin. The ones Draco said he would have liked to receive from Harry. White carnations and purple anemones.

Suddenly, Harry had an overwhelming urge to find out what the flowers meant, because surely, they had some sort of meaning to them. He raced over to the Herbology section of the library, leafing through various books without really knowing what he was looking for. He didn’t know what types of flower carnations or anemones even were, and he had no idea where to start looking. Before he’d found anything useful, Madam Pince came to throw him out with an angry whisper.

Harry made his way back to his dormitories, told the door he’d just been writing an essay, and was let through. He tried not to stop outside his room, tried not to hope Draco would be there, and failed like he always did. When he entered Neville was sprawled across Draco’s old bed, leafing through a magazine with a strange plant-like thing on the cover.

“Neville, you know plants,” Harry said, dropping his bag to fish out his potions notebook.

“A bit, at least,” Neville said, closing his magazine and sitting up to look at Harry.

“Do you know anything about, er,” Harry said, opening his book to the right pages, “purple anemones and white carnations?”

“Well if it’s the purple anemone then it’s probably the anemone coronaria, because that’s really-,” Neville said, before Harry cut him off.

“No, er, sorry. I meant like, their meanings. As gifts,” Harry said.

Neville’s face fell. “Oh, I don’t really know anything about that.”

They sat in silence for a while before Neville grinned. “I have a book on it, I think! Hang on,” he said, before dashing out of the room.

He returned moments later with a white book, holding it up so Harry could see the title. Flowers and their meanings. Give a magical gift – every time.

“Ok, so anemones,” Neville muttered, leafing through the book. “Anemones can mean anything from fairies, to the death of a loved one to anticipating something good. Looks like the purple and blue ones usually mean anticipating though.”

“And the white carnations?” Harry asked, feeling oddly hopeful.

Neville leafed through the book again, before reading through the right page. “Looks like it can mean a few things, but the most common one is love or pure love,” he said, smiling at Harry. “Why do you ask?”

Harry didn’t answer, too lost in thought. The flowers Draco had said he wanted from Harry meant anticipation and love? But if Draco had wanted those things from Harry, why had he been so disgusted when Harry wanted to give it? Of course, it was always a possibility that Draco just thought the flowers were pretty, and that he didn’t know what they meant.

“Can I see that book?” Harry asked, feeling the need to read the words himself.

Neville handed the book over, and Harry read the parts about the anemones and the carnations first. It really did seem like their meanings were love and anticipation. Maybe Harry could give Draco a flower, something that meant I love you or I miss you. If Draco really knew flower meanings he’d get it, and maybe he’d come back. If he didn’t then, well, Harry didn’t really have anything of Draco left to lose, did he?

He spent half the night leafing through the book, and stopped when he reached the roses. There he read; Blue roses: Blue roses are perfect, and always elusive. They aren’t found naturally, and Muggles have no way of growing them. Because of this, they represent the unattainable and impossible. They are the perfect gift to give to someone if what you want to say is “I know I can’t have you, but I can’t stop thinking about you.” It was a popular flower for young witches and wizards to give each other if one or both parts of a couple was promised to someone else.

A blue rose, Harry thought, would tell Draco just what he couldn’t say with words himself. Maybe he’d even pair it off with Daisies, a flower that meant love and commitment according to the book. Part of Harry’s brain was shouting that it was a terrible idea, that he was only setting himself up to be hurt. Another part though, didn’t want to believe Draco was homophobic, it wanted to believe it was all some sort of crazy misunderstanding. Harry knew with absolute certainty that he had to try, or he’d always wonder.

Growing blue roses turned out to be close to impossible for wizards as well as Muggles, Harry learned. The first thing he’d done the morning after realising he had to try something was contact the flower shop in Diagon Alley, but they told him they didn’t sell blue roses because it wasn’t very cost effective. Next, he’d consulted Hermione who hadn’t known anything about how to do it, and then Neville who’d disappeared off to wherever he went for most of the afternoon before returning with a plan.

That’s how Harry found himself in Hogsmeade the next weekend, looking for supplies. He would have to grow the flowers himself, and to do so he’d need not only everything it would take to grow a normal white rose, but also a ridiculous amount of ingredients for a potion he would have to water the plant with every day for two weeks while it grew. Among the ingredients what he’d have to add to the potion was a blue diamond, sapphires, blueberries, forget-me-not flowers and sea water. He suddenly understood more than ever why blue roses were said to be impossible to optain. The potions ingredients shop had most of what he needed, to Harry’s relief. They didn’t sell gemstones, but they directed him to a jewellery shop on the outskirts of the town that Harry hadn’t ever seen before. There he purchased a blue diamond and four sapphires, and thanked Merlin for the size of his vaults.

The final stop he went to was the Herbology one, where he bought soil, a pot, fertiliser and cuttings for white roses. Neville had said cuttings would be faster than seeds, and that they could get the flower to bloom in only about a week or so. Harry knew the potion would have to be applied every day for two weeks for it to work properly, but he also knew he didn’t have time to wait for the rose to grow the Muggle way.

He was on his way back to Hogwarts, his purchases shrunk and placed inside a single bag so they’d be easier to carry, when he almost ran into Draco. Harry immediately regretted his decision to go alone, when he looked up and saw disgust and anger on Draco, Blaise and Pansy’s faces. Harry opened his mouth to say something, anything, but the group had passed before Harry found the courage to form words.

Harry was deep in thought for the rest of his walk to the castle. Blaise had never had a problem with Dean and Seamus being together, so why would he look so angry and disgusted at Harry? There must be something else, something Harry had done. Of course, they could be mad in support of Draco, or because Harry had kept his feelings hidden for so long. He had to talk to Draco, but he couldn’t talk because he didn’t know what to say, how to fix things. The roses would have to do.

Harry was grateful for his friends as he handed the gardening supplies over to Neville while Hermione helped him brew the potion to make the roses turn blue. He knew that if he’d been alone with that he’d never have got further than putting some seeds in soil and hoping for the best. To his surprise, the potion was an easy brew. It mostly involved adding the ingredients in the right order, and letting it simmer over the flame for about an hour. The planting part was harder, Harry thought. He watched as Neville put the rose clippings into the soil he’d mixed with fertiliser, and poured water over them. Then he cast several complicated looking charms over the pot, assuring Harry that they would start growing over-night, and be ready for the first dose of the potion in the morning.

“You really think this is easier than just trying to talk to him?” Hermione asked, after they had done everything they could for the plants and the potion.

Harry shook his head. “Not really easer, but I don’t know. I just have no idea what to say to him.”

“Or you’re just afraid of being rejected,” Hermione said with a knowing glint in her eyes.

“Yeah, that too I guess. I just feel like I’m missing something, like I’ve got this all wrong or something, but I don’t know how to ask him about it,” Harry said. “At least with the roses if he hates them, hates me, I don’t have to see the reaction up close.”

“Talking to him would be a quicker way to go about things though,” Hermione said, “but I suppose if nothing else, this way is more romantic.”

Harry remembered the choking feeling he’d had earlier when he ran into Draco, the inability to get words out of his mouth. “I ran into him earlier today, and I did try to say something, but I just couldn’t,” he told Hermione. “Besides, it was pretty clear he didn’t want to hear anything I had to say.”

Growing the blue flowers turned out to be easier than expected, if not more tedious. Harry had to add a small amount of the potion to the plants every eight hours, which meant he added it in the morning and before bed, and that he had to rush back to his room to add it between his last class and dinner. He didn’t have to do any complicated spell work, or assessing of whether or not the plants needed water though, and he rather thought those were the hardest bits of Herbology.

The two weeks it took him to make the flowers bloom in a brilliant blue Harry spent trying to not get used to Draco missing from his life. He’d decided he didn’t want to get used to not having Draco in his room, or not sitting with him for meals or classes. He didn’t want receiving glares from his Slytherin classmates to go back to being the norm. He’d asked his friends to stop sleeping in Draco’s bed, because he wanted the bed to be available to Draco, should he want it back.

Two weeks into caring for the roses Harry woke up to find they had bloomed over-night, all of them bright blue. He used one of the school owls to send a request for daisies from the flower shop in Diagon, and waited until dinner for them to arrive. Then he cut the blooming roses and made a bouquet of daises and blue roses. While everyone else was off eating their dinner, Harry snuck into the room Draco was currently staying in and left the roses on his bed there.

Harry returned to his own room, heart beating so hard in his chest he could feel it all throughout his body. It was the moment of truth, he’d find out if Draco really hated him for being gay or if he had it all wrong. He’d find out if Draco had meant that he wanted love and anticipation from Harry, or if he just thought anemones and carnations were pretty.

Harry tried focusing on his homework to make himself busy while he waited for Draco to return to his room and find the flowers there, but he found he was way too distracted to focus on anything except Draco’s dot on the Marauders Map. He had returned to their common room now, but he’d yet to go into his room. Harry sat staring at the map for a full hour before the Draco-dot finally moved towards the dormitories. Harry hurried to close the map, and grabbed a random textbook in an attempt to look somewhat casual.

Minutes later the door to his room banged open, admitting a very furious Draco.

“What the fuck are these?” He asked, throwing the flowers to the floor. Harry winced, he’d put a lot of effort into those flowers, and it hurt to see them tossed like that.

“They’re blue roses and daisies,” Harry offered, leaning down to carefully pick the flowers off the floor.

“They are from you then?” Draco demanded. He sounded angry, but Harry was hopeful, because the disgust and coldness he’d seen there before was gone.

“Yeah, they are,” Harry said. He laid the flowers carefully on his bedside table and stood to face Draco.

“What sick game are you playing Potter?” Draco asked. “Why are you giving me blue roses? Where the fuck did you even get blue roses?”

Harry felt the tightness of his throat return, and he had to struggle to get the next words out. “I’m not playing a game. I mean what they say,” he said, not meeting Draco’s eyes. “And I grew them. Took bloody forever though.”

“You,” Draco said, anger gone from his voice now, “you grew blue roses, for me?”

“Yes,” Harry said, trying and failing to figure out what was going through Draco’s mind.

“Why?” Draco asked, and that was the question wasn’t it. The words Harry was too afraid to speak because of his fear that Draco would reject him again.

“Because,” Harry said, picking up the flowers again and pulling out a blue rose, “I know I can’t have you, but I can’t stop thinking about you.” He pulled out a daisy next. “And because I -, because I love you.”

He could hear his heart beating once he’d got the words out, and he found it impossible to look up and face Draco. He’d done it. He’d put everything on the table, revealed everything he was feeling. It was all up to Draco now.

“No, you don’t,” Draco said. “What could I possibly have that you want this bad?”

Harry shook his head, confused by Draco’s words. “It’s not something you have that I want, it’s just you.”

“Oh, for fucks sake, you can stop the act. I heard you on the train,” Draco said, and suddenly it all made ridiculous sense to Harry. The door slamming shut on the train, it had been Draco. He must have heard Harry joking about blackmailing him.

“I know this is just some sick theory you’re trying to prove, with the socks and then the friendship and then the fucking flirting,” Draco said.

Harry couldn’t help it, he laughed. He was so relieved that it was all a misunderstanding, this was something he could fix, something he could explain and make right again. Draco seemed to take his laughter the wrong way though, because he started walking off.

“Fuck you, Potter,” he said, hand already on the door to let himself out. Harry had to stop him, but he couldn’t explain the whole misunderstanding in the time it would take Draco to leave.

“Ok,” Harry said, hoping that would shock Draco into staying.

Draco froze, hand still on the doorknob. “What?” he whispered, slowly turning to look at Harry.

“Ok, fuck me,” Harry said. “I want you to, I want you. You didn’t hear everything on the train, I swear.”

Draco let go of the door and took a step closer to Harry, for a second Harry thought he looked scared, like Harry might lash out and hurt him at any second. “What?” he asked again.

“I told everyone in that compartment I’ve fallen arse over tit for you,” Harry said. A small glimmer of hope had started growing in him that maybe Draco felt the same way after all. “You can ask them, if you like. Or take me to the truth door and I’ll tell it I love you, it will open.” Harry knew it would open, because he’d already done it by accident while talking to Ron.

“You – but,” Draco said, and Harry wanted nothing more than to reach out to the man.

“You don’t have to feel the same way,” Harry said, “but I can’t stand you hating me. I thought you found me disgusting for being gay, but then I looked up the meanings of the flowers you said you’d want from me, and I thought maybe I was wrong. I just -”

“You thought I was mad because you came out as gay?” Draco demanded, suddenly fierce again. Harry just nodded, not sure how his voice would sound if he tried to speak. Much as he tried, being judged for being gay was still a sore-spot with him.

“You idiot,” Draco said, taking a step closer to Harry. He was close enough to touch now, but Harry didn’t dare reach out. “I’ve been flirting with you for months, and you think I’m some homophobe?”

Harry’s heart sored at the admission. Draco had been flirting with him. He couldn’t hold back his smile as he looked up at Draco. “I wasn’t sure – I think I was scared to hope.”

Harry’s breath stopped when his eyes reached Draco’s. They were burning, just like they had after Harry had pulled him from the fire in the Room of Requirement, and just like it had then, time slowed down. Everything around them seemed to disappear and it was just Harry and Draco, and wave upon wave of desire.

“I’ve been hot on you since sixth year, you idiot,” Draco said. “I’m the fucking Death Eater, I’m the one who didn’t dare to hope.”

Harry leaned in to kiss Draco before he’d made the conscious decision of doing so. Draco’s lips were soft, and smelled faintly of strawberries. Draco didn’t respond at first, and Harry was about to pull back when he felt hands moving into his hair and pulling his head closer. The kiss was so different from the cold, angry ones they’d shared after Christmas. This time it was all warmth and pleasure, and it was all moving straight to Harry’s cock.

Draco took a step closer, pressing their bodies flush against each other and Harry broke the kiss with a gasp when his half hard cock pressed against Draco’s thigh. He put his hands on Draco’s hips and pulled him closer, and then he had to gasp again at the feeling of Draco’s cock pressing against his hip.

“I want this, I want you,” Harry said, leaning in for another kiss.

Draco tried to take another step closer, but there wasn’t any room between them, so instead he ended up pushing Harry backwards. Harry stumbled and fell onto his bed, pulling Draco down with him. Harry found quickly that he enjoyed their new position, and he pushed himself further up the bed so he was lying properly with Draco draped on top of him.

They were as close as they could physically get, but Harry wanted more. Needed more. He moved his hands from Draco’s hips up underneath his shirt, feeling the warm skin there. “Off,” he muttered, pulling at the shirt.

Draco sat up, and pulled the shirt over his head. Harry’s eyes travelled from his neck, down his pink nipples, over his pale and hard stomach and to the faint line of hair starting at his belly-button and growing thicker the closer it got to his groin. Harry was glad to see that the curse he’d thrown at Draco their sixth year hadn’t scarred. He noticed Draco did have a few scars though, just like Harry did himself.

“Fuck,” Harry muttered, not able to take his eyes off Draco’s exposed chest. He reached out with one of his hands to touch one of the pink nipples, and smiled in satisfaction when his move earned him a moan from Draco.

“Your turn now,” Draco said, pulling at Harry’s shirt. Harry sat up as much as he could while Draco was still straddling him. It wasn’t much, but it was enough that Draco managed to pull his t-shirt off. Harry felt himself blush as Draco’s eyes raked over his half naked body, and he pulled Draco down for a kiss to distract him.

“Fuck, you’re beautiful like this,” Draco gasped after pulling back for air. His lips were red and swollen, and his eyes were dark with lust. Harry imagined he looked much the same.

“You should see yourself then,” Harry countered. His cock was hard and aching against his jeans now, and he couldn’t help lifting his hips to grind it against Draco’s. They both moaned at the contact, and Draco pushed down do meet Harry’s thrusts.

Harry reached down and begun fumbling with the button and zipper of his jeans. The friction of Draco’s cock against his even with two pairs of pants and trousers between them was amazing, and Harry wanted to know how it would feel without them.

Draco seemed to get the idea, because he sat back up and opened his own trousers, he had to roll off Harry to get them off properly, and Harry whined at the loss. He forgot completely about the loss and his own jeans though, when Draco pulled down both his pants and trousers in one move, and Harry got a full view of Draco’s cock.

How Harry ever thought he was straight he didn’t know, because he didn’t think he’d ever seen anything as mouth-watering as Draco’s thick cock. It was both thicker and longer than his, which was pretty much average from what he’d seen in Quidditch showers. It was nestled in trimmed hair, darker than what Draco had on his head, but still light enough to be considered blonde. Harry wanted to touch it, taste it. He wanted to feel it rub up against his own cock, or against the puckered entrance off his arse.

“Like what you see?” Draco asked, and Harry thought that to anyone else he’d sound purely cocky. To Harry though, he sounded a bit nervous. It only made Harry want him more.

“Fuck yes,” he said, tearing his eyes off Draco’s beautiful prick to look him in the eyes.

Something on Harry’s face must have shown Draco how much he meant the words, because Draco was on him in a second, kissing fiercely and working at Harry’s forgotten jeans.

Draco made quick work of getting Harry naked, and he didn’t waste any time in reaching out and closing his fist around Harry’s cock. Harry had no way of stopping the horse shout he let out at that. Fuck, it felt so good!

Draco moved his mouth away from Harry’s and started kissing and biting down Harry’s neck, all the while moving his hand up and down Harry’s aching hardness.

“Fuck, Draco. That’s – ahh, I’m gonna,” Harry moaned, clutching hard to Draco and craning his neck to give him better access.

It took Harry an embarrassingly short time to come all over Draco’s hand and his own belly. Waves of pleasure rolled through him, as he curled his toes and grabbed hard at Draco’s shoulders. Draco continued to stroke him until he was so sensitive he pulled Draco’s hand off his prick and leaned in for a kiss.

Harry spent a couple of minutes kissing Draco slowly, getting his bearings back. He noticed Draco’s hand had moved down to his own cock, and that he was wanking himself against Harry’s hip. Harry put a hand on Draco’s to stop him, looking down at the beads of pre-come rolling down the pink cock.

“Can I?” he asked, not really sure what he was asking, but knowing he wanted everything and anything from Draco.

“Yeah,” Draco whispered, turning so he was laying on his back and spreading his legs, giving Harry full access.

Harry crawled over Draco so he could sit between his legs, and he reached out carefully to wrap his fingers around the other man’s cock. The soft moan Draco let out spurred him on, and Harry tightened his fingers and began moving his hand up and down. He hoped he was doing it right, because the only one he’d ever touched like that was himself. He tried doing what he liked, twisting his wrist a bit on the way up, and rubbing a thumb over the head. Draco moaned and gasped, thrusting his hips up, so Harry thought he must be doing something right.

Another drop of pre-come leaked out from Draco’s cock, and Harry leaned down to lick it off. Draco shouted at that, opening his eyes to stare at Harry with wild eyes. Harry had no idea how to describe the taste. In one way it was bitter, but Harry had never liked bitter things. He couldn’t get enough of the taste that was so purely Draco though. He leaned in to lick again, letting his tongue circle the head.

“Fuck! That’s – Merlin,” Draco said, making Harry grin. Draco liked it. Feeling brave, Harry opened his mouth and wrapped his lips around Draco’s head before sucking. Draco’s hips buckled, and he pushed more of his cock into Harry’s mouth.

Harry tried covering his teeth with his lips, and then he moved to take as much of Draco into his mouth as he could. Draco’s thrust his hips again and Harry gaged, pulling off to cough and feeling both terribly unsexy and unbearably horny. He was growing hard again already, and he hoped Draco would be up for another round after that.

“Fuck, sorry,” Draco said, sitting up to give Harry a concerned look.

“Don’t worry,” Harry said, surprised to hear how horse his voice sounded, “I er – kinda liked it.” He blushed as he realised the truth of the words, not only did he like sucking Draco’s cock, he liked choking on it.

Draco seemed to find the thought hot, because he moaned and pushed his hips up towards Harry’s face. “Please,” he said, and Harry had his mouth back on Draco before he could finish the word.

He went in a bit more confident this time, pressing his tongue against Draco’s cock to make the pressure of his mouth tighter. He used his hands to steady Draco’s hips and started bobbing his head, moving further down every time. Harry found it harder and harder to breathe through his nose the further down he took Draco, but he was enjoying himself way too much to care about the lack of oxygen.

Eventually Draco’s cock hit the back of Harry’s throat, and he gagged again. Instead of pulling off though, he held Draco and himself very still and swallowed around the cock, taking small breaths through his nose as he tried to get used to the feeling. Just as Harry was thinking that he really shouldn’t be finding the feeling of chocking on a cock so bloody satisfying, Draco reached out and pulled softly at his hair.

“Fuck, I’m gonna – aah Harry, I’m gonna come,” he moaned, and Harry thought he at least wasn’t alone in enjoying it. He moved his head up and down a bit, trying to tell Draco that it was alright. That he could come like that, that Harry wanted to taste.

Draco either got the idea, or he just couldn’t hold back anymore, because seconds later Harry’s mouth was filling with warm, salty and a little bitter liquid. Harry continued sucking Draco through his orgasm, like Draco had wanked Harry through his. He could feel come and spit leaking from his mouth around Draco’s cock, and when he finally pulled off he wiped his chin with a finger and sucked it off. Draco really did have a pleasant taste.

He looked up at Draco who was looking down at him in awe. “Fuck Harry, do you have any idea what you do to me?”

Harry gestured to his own cock, hard once again and bouncing up against his stomach. “I’ve got a pretty good idea what you do to me, at least,” he said grinning.

The come on Harry’s belly was starting to dry, and he reached out for his wand to cast cleaning spells on them both before laying back down next to Draco.

Draco put his arm across Harry’s chest, and his leg over Harry’s, effectively spooning him. They lay breathing like that for a while before Draco started laughing.

“What?” Harry said, laughing himself even though he didn’t know what was so funny.

“It’s just us,” Draco laughed. “In one way we’re both so bloody thick it’s a miracle we managed to get here in the first place, but then it’s also so fucking ridiculous it took us this long.”

“Yeah, I guess it wouldn’t be us if it all went down smoothly with dates and all,” Harry said grinning. He found he didn’t care about how difficult it had been for them to get there, as long as they had. Maybe part of the reason it felt so amazing was that it had been so unlikely, so impossible.

“Did you mean what you said, before?” Draco asked sounding nervous.

“That I love you?” Harry asked, “Yeah, I meant that. I do mean that.”

Draco gave Harry a warm smile. “Well that’s good, seeing as I love you too.”

Harry leaned in to kiss Draco again, thinking he’d never get enough of the wonderful feeling that was Draco’s lips.

“Did you mean the other thing too?” Draco asked once they pulled away from the kiss.

“What thing?” Harry asked.

“Uhm, well, the thing where you wanted me to fuck you?” Draco said nervously.

Harry felt all at once very nervous and very excited. “I, yeah. I mean, I’ve never done it before, but yeah.”

“You’ve never done any of this before, have you?” Draco asked, running his hands softly through Harry’s hair.

Harry’s heart fell. He’d hoped he’d been alright at what they were doing, but it must have been obvious that he was completely inexperienced.

“Don’t worry, you were amazing. It’s just that you had this amazed look the whole time, like everything was new and exciting.”
Harry smiled at that. “Yeah, I’ve never really gone past kissing before. I want to though, with you.”

Draco’s hand moved from Harry’s hair down to his chest. He let it rest there, and let his thumb stroke over Harry’s nipples in a way that sent shivers down Harry’s entire body. “I don’t mind taking things slower, if you want,” Draco said.

“I know,” Harry said. He imagined Draco’s fingers in him, working him open and reaching that bundle of nerves that had felt so good much better than Harry ever could on his own. He imagined Draco filling him up, claiming him. “But I want it. I want you to fuck me.”

Draco let out a guttural sound, kissing Harry hard. “Turn over,” he said, “it’s easier that way.”

Harry turned, and abidingly lifted his hips so Draco could place a pillow beneath him. He bent his knees, when Draco pushed at them, until he was lying down with his arse up. He listened as Draco conjured lube, and as he spread it over his fingers, feeling nervous and excited and exposed, and also like he wanted this more than anything.

“Can you reach back, and hold yourself open for me?” Draco asked, sitting down between Harry’s legs. Harry thought he’d felt exposed before, but it was nothing compared to the feeling of reaching his hands back behind him and pulling his cheeks apart. Draco let out a huff of breath as Harry did as he’d said, and seconds later Harry felt a warm, slick hand cupping his balls from behind.

Harry pushed back into Draco’s hand, already forgetting all about how exposed he was. He just wanted more. Draco ran his hand up Harry’s cleft, fingers catching slightly on the puckered rim of Harry’s arse. He ran his hand back down, stopping over Harry’s rim.

“You sure?” Draco asked, pausing with one finger pressed against Harry’s entrance.

Harry whimpered and pushed back. “Yes,” he said, trying to put as much conviction behind the word as he could. He’d never been surer of anything.

Draco slowly eased his finger into Harry in small thrusts, pulling it out to apply more lube once he’d fit the whole thing inside. Harry took slow breaths, focusing on staying relaxed. It didn’t hurt, but it was a strange sensation. At least until Draco started moving his finger in and out at a faster pace, brushing up against Harry’s prostate every few thrusts. After that the feeling of strangeness disappeared, and it was all white hot pleasure.

“Fuck, Draco, more,” Harry demanded when he knew he couldn’t take the teasing finger for another moment. Draco pulled out, and started pushing back in with two fingers. It hurt for a second, and Harry tensed. Draco paused, stroking small circles on the lower part of Harry’s back with his free hand until Harry relaxed. With two fingers Draco managed hitting Harry’s prostate with more accuracy and force, and Harry’s entire body shivered with pleasure and need every time.

Harry was rutting against the bed, trying to get some friction for his neglected cock, and trying to push back on Draco’s fingers at the same time. His mouth was begging for more before Harry even was aware of opening it.

Draco pushed in with three fingers next, and Harry was so relaxed and loose they slid in with ease. He let Draco fuck him with his fingers, while moaning into the bed and desperately holding his arse open for the blonde.

“Fuck, Draco stop,” Harry gasped, feeling relieved and disappointed both when the fingers disappeared from his arse.

“What’s wrong?” Draco asked, sounding genuinely worried.

“I was about to come,” Harry said, laughing. “I don’t want to come without you in me.”

Harry turned his head as much as he could from his position to look at Draco, his face was flushed and he was breathing hard. Harry thought it was more from want than exhaustion. “I’m ready,” he said, hoping Draco understood.

Draco searched his face for a while, and he must have found what he was looking for because he nodded, conjured more lube and coated his cock with it. Sighing in pleasure as he moved his hand over it in a soft fist.

Harry let go of his arse and got up on his knees, supporting his weight on his elbows. He wanted to be able to really push back against Draco. Harry felt Draco place a steadying hand on his hip, while used the other to run his cock up and down Harry’s cleft, foreskin catching on Harry’s rim with every pass. Harry pushed back to show that he was ready, that he wanted that, and Draco stopped moving up and down, pausing with the head of his cock flush against Harry’s entrance.

He paused there for a while, giving Harry time to change his mind, but Harry just whined. He wanted to feel Draco inside him. Draco thrust forward, and the head of his cock slipped past Harry’s rim before Harry clenched. Fuck, Draco’s cock was so much bigger than his fingers. It hurt, but not in a bad way, Harry thought. He took deep breaths forcing himself to relax.

“Do you want me to stop?” Draco asked, holding Harry’s hips tightly and rubbing his thumbs in soothing circles.

Harry didn’t reply, but pushed back a little on Draco’s cock, letting it sink further into his arse. Yes, it hurt, but as long as he managed to stay relaxed it was a good hurt. Draco seemed to take the hint, and he slowly worked Harry open in small careful thrusts. When he bottomed out they both moaned, and Draco paused while Harry got used to the feeling of being so full he couldn’t tell where he ended and Draco began. It wasn’t long before Harry felt a desperate need for Draco to move, and he rocked his hips experimentally, moaning loudly at the sensations.

Draco started moving too, pulling out a little before thrusting back in again softly. It was so good, and so much, and so intense. Harry clenched his fists and rocked back to meet Draco’s thrusts.

“Harder,” Harry gasped, when the sensation of pushing back against Draco’s soft thrusts wasn’t enough. “Fuck me like you mean it, Draco.”

Draco pulled out almost all the way before slamming back in, hitting Harry’s prostate hard. Harry screamed, pushing back against Draco as he completely lost control of what his mouth was saying.

“Yes, fuck, Draco, fuck-fuck-fuck, Merlin that’s – aah,” he moaned while Draco pounded into his arse. Draco let go of Harry’s hip with one hand, reaching around to close a fist around Harry’s aching, leaking cock.

“Shit, I’m – aah, Draco fuck I’m gonna..” Harry said, breaking off as he came for the second time that night. He could feel his entire body trembling with the pleasure, and he could feel the inside of his arse clenching and unclenching on Draco’s cock as Draco fucked him through his orgasm.

Harry’s arms collapsed under him, and he let his chest and face fall to the bed, arse still up in the air as Draco’s hands found their way back to his hips so he could fuck into Harry with hard, erratic thrusts.

“Fuck, Harry – so close. Fuck, you look amazing with my cock in your arse,” Draco said, panting hard.

Harry gave a content hum, clenching his arse experimentally around Draco’s cock.

“You’re so tight, fuck I fucking love you!” Draco said, pushing into Harry one last time and then pausing as he came.

Harry could feel Draco’s come coating the inside of his arse, and he thought that if he wasn’t so fucking sated already he’d be up for another round just because of that feeling. Draco pulled his softening cock out of Harry, and Harry couldn’t help the sound of protest that escaped him.

“You alright?” Draco asked, and Harry felt the sensation of a cleaning charm rush over his skin.

“Yeah, I’m brilliant,” Harry yawned, feeling suddenly tired. “Just empty, I liked having you in me.”

“Merlin Harry,” Draco said, laying down next to him and pulling the covers over them, “you’re going to be the death of me.”

Harry laughed at that, trying to fight off the sleepiness.
“It’s no laughing matter, we’ll surly fuck ourselves to death if you continue being so utterly fuckable,” Draco laughed. His laughter was cut off by a yawn and he put his arm over Harry’s chest again, intertwining their legs.

“Seems like a good way to go,” Harry said, turning his head so he could smell Draco’s hair.

“You do realise you’re mine now, right? I don’t do one offs,” Draco said, using that cocky sounding insecure tone of his.

“Draco, I love you. I’m yours for as long as you’ll have me,” Harry smiled, Draco’s hair tickling his nose.

“Then you’re stuck with me, I’m not letting go now that I’ve got you,” Draco whispered, tightening his grip on Harry.

Harry yawned, loving the feeling of having Draco pressed up against him. “That sounds bloody perfect.”

Chapter Text

It felt strange, Harry thought, not to be on the Hogwarts express on September first. He supposed it was even stranger, no longer being a student. Draco of course, had started healer training that August. Hermione was off studying something with politics that Harry could never remember the name off, Neville was doing a Herbology course. Harry hadn’t wanted any more school though, he was just finished with it. He wanted to do something where he could use his hands for something other than writing essays.

In a lot of ways September first always marked a new beginning. For years it had been the day he escaped the Dursleys for Hogwarts, and now it was the day he and Draco would take over their new flat. They’d decided to live together at the end of the school year, but it had taken them ages to find a flat that suited both their needs.

Draco wanted to be close to the hospital where he would be studying, and then working for years. Harry wanted somewhere with a garden, or anything green really. Most city flats made him feel a bit claustrophobic. They both wanted somewhere private, so they wouldn’t be bothered by curious strangers wanting a piece of them. They both hated Apparating, so they wanted a flat with a fireplace they could connect to the Floo network. Their real-estate agent had been running herself ragged, trying to find the perfect flat for them both. She’d shown up the day after Harry’s birthday with a grin similar to the one Crookshanks got after catching a mouse.

The grin had been deserved though. What she’d showed them had been less of a flat, and more of a penthouse. The entire top floor of the building made into a huge flat with a garden outside. Part of the garden was built as a greenhouse, so there would be plants growing all year round. It would be the perfect place for Harry to keep his blue roses. He’d found the plant kept producing flowers, even after the original ones he’d given to Draco. The flat was close enough to St. Mungo’s so Draco could walk to work, and it was high enough off the ground that they could fly straight off the roof with only a Disillusionment charm to keep them from being seen. Once they set up wards to keep strangers away, they would have all the privacy they needed, despite all the windows.

The not-really-flat came at a ridiculous price, of course, but Harry and Draco both had inherited enough money that price hadn’t really been an issue. The important part, and the one that made Harry’s heart soar was that they wanted a place where they could live together for years and years.

Harry was on his way to pick up the keys for the flat alone, a bit sad that Draco hadn’t been able to come with him. He’d started a new rotation at the hospital the day before and his supervisor hadn’t been in a mood to give him the day off. Harry told himself it was alright though, and he looked around at the various restaurants and café’s he passed on the way, trying to decide what takeout he’d surprise Draco with when he was done with work.

Half a block away from their new flat Harry’s attention was caught by a rainbow flag waiving in the soft wind, outside what looked to be a café. He noticed the sign saying they’d be closing down in a week. His curiosity got the better of him and he entered the café, figuring he could afford a few minutes before going to get his new key.

“You bought a what?” Draco asked laughing. They were sat on their new couch in their new flat, empty boxes of Indian takeout littering the floor around them.

“I bought a LGBT café slash bookshop slash sex-shop,” Harry said again, feeling more ridiculous repeating it.

“I didn’t even know those existed,” Draco laughed.

“In my defence, when I bought it I didn’t know about the sex-shop in the basement,” Harry grumbled.

The café had been so nice, and the woman working behind the counter had been welcoming. Harry felt like it would be a safe spot for him and Draco to go out for drinks or a bit of food. He’d seen friends and couples of all ages chatting happily while sipping their drinks, and the first question he’d thought to ask was why the place was closing down. Apparently, the owner had died, and the daughter had no interest in running a queer safe space, as the woman behind the counter had said. She’d been trying to sell it off, and the current highest bidder had been a shoe shop. Harry had done the only thing that made sense at the time, and bought the place himself to keep it from closing down.

“Well, it’s yours now,” Draco grinned. “You can get rid of the sex dungeon if you like.”

“I could,” Harry smirked. “Or I could keep the sex shop, and take products home for quality control every once in a while.”

Draco’s eyes lit up with fiery desire. “Yeah, that sounds like the better idea,” he said. “Do you really want to do this though, run a café, slash book and sex shop.”

Harry hadn’t thought about it much, but he found that he very much did. It sounded tempting, to spend his days making coffee or baking small pastries, talking to people about whatever. Maybe he’d even expand the kitchen to offer a few hot meals. He’d always enjoyed cooking. When he thought about it, he figured he might even like working down in the sex shop, helping people discover how wonderful one could feel.

“Yeah, I really think I do,” Harry said, smiling.

“Then why are you saying you bought it like it’s a bad thing? If you’ve found something you want to do that’s fucking amazing!” Draco said, grinning and pulling Harry in for a kiss.

Draco’s happiness was infectious, and it made Harry grin. He’d been a bit lost, after he got his NEWTs. Everyone had started studying or working right away, and he had just been drifting, not really feeling inspired to do much of anything except be with Draco. It felt good, finding something he wanted to do. He’d have to hire someone to do accounting, of course, and he should see if he could get a floo connection to the back room to attract Wizarding customers.

“I can literally see your brain working,” Draco laughed, laying down so his head was in Harry’s lap. Harry could see the slight worry there, and he knew it was because of Harry’s tendency to get a bit stuck in the past.

He hadn’t had another episode as bad as the one where he’d felt like he was back in the war, but he’d had some where he got close after leaving Hogwarts. The councillor had said it was natural after a big life change, and Draco had been a wonderful support. Harry found his nightmares came a lot less frequently if he was sharing a bed with Draco too, so that was just another plus of having the man of his dreams.

“Yeah, my brain got a bit excited there. It’s focused on the future though, so it’s all good,” Harry said, smiling.

“I think I know the perfect way to make you excited right now,” Draco smirked, running his hand up Harry’s thigh. “After all, we have to break in our new flat, don’t we?”

Harry grinned. “I thought we did that earlier, when you fucked me up against our brand-new kitchen table?” He wasn’t really complaining though, in fact his cock was already taking interest in what Draco was saying, and the hand getting steadily closer.

“Yes, but that was only the kitchen. We still have all three bedrooms, both bathrooms, the living room, the green house, the garden, the hallway, and the study to break in,” Draco smirked, counting the rooms off on his fingers.

Harry laughed, bending down to kiss Draco’s soft lips, lips that smelled like strawberries, just like always. “I guess we’d better get started then,” he said.