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This Level of Obliviousness

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Harry looked around the Potions classroom and watched the different pairs working happily together, excited for the love potion that they were brewing today. He sighed nervously. He had been paired with Malfoy. While he didn’t mind being paired with Malfoy, he was extremely uncomfortable brewing a love potion with Malfoy.

Sure, things were much better now that the war was over and the wizarding world was rebuilding. With Lucius in Azkaban for life, Malfoy was no longer under pressure to act a certain way or live up to a certain standard. He seemed to be a totally different person. At the start of 8th year, he had been like a lost puppy. He kept to himself, always looked nervous and jumpy, and never seemed to trust anyone who tried to approach him. Over the next several months, he had relaxed. No one had hexed him yet, though not many were friendly toward him. But because Harry had spoken up for him at the trials and defended Malfoy’s actions (while also mentioning the times Malfoy had saved him), most people accepted that Malfoy wasn’t all that bad. Besides sitting with Pansy at meals, Malfoy seemed to keep to himself. Even Pansy had begun to mingle with students from other houses, easily making friends. Now that her fear of death or torture at the hands of Voldemort was gone, she was actually quite pleasant. She and Hermione had even become friends. Yet, Malfoy still stayed to himself, choosing not to make friends with anyone new.

Until Christmas. There had been an 8th year pre-holidays party that Hermione had hosted in the Room of Requirement. At first, people had said they would be reluctant to go. However, everyone did end up showing up. Malfoy had been sitting to the side of the room, alone. Everyone else seemed to be on the dance floor, having a good time. Harry had watched Malfoy from across the room, wondering if his friendship would be received. “It’s on me to make up for rejecting him our first year,” Harry thought, as he crossed the room.

He approached Malfoy slowly, not wanting to startle him. He stood awkwardly, about five feet away from Malfoy, waiting to be noticed. Malfoy’s eyes slowly drifted from the dance floor toward Harry. They locked eyes for a moment and Harry smiled shyly. A beat of silence followed.

“Are you intending to stand there silent all night long or would you like to pull up a chair and chat?” Malfoy had asked simply, as though they were already acquaintances and had nothing to apologize for, no reasons to feel awkward with one another. Harry breathed a sigh of relief, dragged a chair over, and sat down with a large, beaming smile on his face.

That had been two months ago. And while they weren’t exactly awkward around one another, they weren’t close either. Harry longed to be close to Malfoy. The more they interacted, the worse Harry’s crush got. It had always been there, right under the surface, but it had taken Harry a long time to realize exactly how he felt for the fit Slytherin. After their chat at the party, Harry’s feelings only deepened. The dreams and the staring and the pining only got worse. And now, here he was in Potions brewing a love potion with Malfoy just before Valentine’s Day. Harry cursed the new Potions teacher, Professor Green, for thinking this lesson was a good idea.

Although, to be fair to Professor Green, it might have been a good idea had Harry not been paired with the objection of his affection, who could never return his feelings. Harry knew that, in the back row, Hermione and Ron were blissfully happy that this potion had been assigned. A few other couples in the room, and even some non-couples who weren’t hopelessly in love with their partner, seemed content to be given this assignment as well. Only Harry seemed to be dreading the outcome of this potion.

“When your potion turns light lavender,” Professor Green instructed, “take a sip and your soulmate will be revealed to you. The potion will be steaming but it will not be hot. I promise, you will not burn your mouth.”

“Unless you brew it wrong, eh Seamus?” Dean Thomas joked from two tables back. A lot of the class chuckled. But Harry noticed that Malfoy did not. Either he was too focused on his potion or else he was also not enjoying this lesson. But why?

Was it possible the Malfoy’s soulmate had died in the war? Or was sent to Azkaban? While no underage wizards or witches had gone to Azkaban, several of those who had turned 17 before the final Battle of Hogwarts, had been. They were in a less restrictive area, with fewer dementors. But there were some people in Azkaban who were still very young. Too young, in Harry’s opinion. Could Malfoy’s soulmate be among them?

“Potter. Potter!” Harry felt an elbow jab his ribs lightly, just enough to get his attention.

“Yeah? What? Sorry!” Harry replied, shaking his head and bringing his attention back to Malfoy.

“It’s the right color,” Malfoy said quietly, pointing a long, slender finger at the potion. Harry’s eyes trailed from Malfoy’s face to his arm to his finger and, finally, to the potion. It was light lavender.

This was it. This was the moment of truth. They would both sip and their soulmates would be revealed and Harry would have to admit that he was hopelessly in love with Malfoy and Malfoy would admit that his soulmate was locked up in Azkaban and things would get awkward and whatever budding friendship they had begun would die out instantly. Harry felt queasy.

Malfoy picked up the potion and took a small sip. Once the liquid was swallowed, Malfoy chuckled and seemed to relax quite a bit. With a sly grin on his face, he handed the potion to Harry and waited.

Harry hesitantly put the cauldron to his lips and drank.

Nothing. He felt nothing. No change.

“Nothing happened,” he said dumbly, mostly to himself. From his left, he heard Malfoy chuckle again. “Did you brew it right, Draco?” Harry asked.

“I assure you that I did,” Draco responded, still smirking.

Harry sat there for several moments, waiting for something to happen. Nothing did. “You can’t have. Nothing happened,” Harry insisted.

Fear began taking over. What if Harry didn’t have a soulmate? What if being a horcrux had rendered him unable to share a soul with anyone else? What if being The Chosen One had meant that no one else could ever understand all that he had been through? What if he was unable to be loved? What if mindless admiration and hero worship were the best he could ever hope for? Was he doomed to be alone? What that the burden of being The Chosen One?

Harry slumped back in his seat, dejected. “I’m telling you, Draco, you must have messed it up,” Harry mumbled weakly, fighting back tears.

“Impossible!” Draco replied. “Even Granger couldn’t reach my level of accuracy with potions!” Draco sat on the bench next to Harry and tutted, offended by the insinuation that he could ever mess up a potion.

In an effort to not have to look at Draco, Harry looked around the room. Hermione and Ron were, of course, snuggled up to one another. Dean and Seamus were kissing and Pansy was clapping with glee, probably having bet big money on the boys getting together around Valentine’s Day. All around the room, people had dopey grins on their faces or were busily writing love letters to their soulmates. Everyone seemed blissfully enthralled. Everyone… except for Harry and Draco.

“Everyone else got their love potions to work and I don’t feel any different. You must be off your game, Draco,” Harry turned to look at the blond next to him. Draco was still grinning knowingly.

“Oh, for the love of Merlin!” Pansy shouted. Harry’s attention snapped to Pansy in time to see her throw her hands into the air and shake her head. She looked pointedly at Harry, who gazed back bewildered.

After a minute or so, Harry felt uncomfortable. He really didn’t understand what was going on. Yet both Draco and Pansy were looking at him like there was something he should know. “Pansy, do you and Draco know something that I don’t? Because I’m entirely lost here but you two seem to be… well, acting strangely.”

“That’s four times now,” Draco muttered under his breath.

“What’s four times?” Harry inquired, turning to face Draco.

“That’s four times now that you’ve called me Draco without realizing that was the change. That was the signifier. That was what should’ve clued you in that your bloody soulmate was sitting right next to you this entire time and that he did not, indeed, brew the potion incorrectly.”

“But, Draco, I…” Harry trailed off, realization slowly dawning. He laughed out loud, barely able to believe his luck. “I didn’t say Malfoy, I said Draco! Five times!”

“Six now,” Draco interjected.

“And it started right after the potion!” Harry exclaimed.

“If I have to put up with this level of obliviousness for the rest of our lives, I’m going to need a calming draught at the ready at all times,” Draco teased.

For the rest of our lives. At those words, Harry’s eyes went wide. Draco had realized it instantly. He had known. And yet it had taken Harry nearly ten minutes to figure it out. His cheeks blazed red, both with embarrassment at being so dense and elation at being able to admit his feelings for Draco.

“It’s not that I didn’t get it,” Harry tried to backpedal and save face. “It’s just that I couldn’t, in my wildest dreams, ever believe that it could be true!”

Draco’s face fell. His mouth hung open in shock. Harry’s eyebrows knitted together in confusion, not understanding Draco’s reaction. “Oh,” Draco whispered and turned away, looking devastated. “I should’ve known I wasn’t good enough for Saint Potter,” Draco commented haughtily, sounding an awful lot like his younger self.

“Now who’s the dense one?” Harry chuckled. Draco turned back, anger flaring up.

“You don’t have to rub it in, Potter!” Draco snapped.

“Draco,” Harry said calmly, grabbing Draco’s hand and lacing their fingers together. “I meant that I could never believe it could be true because it was too much to hope for. Too good to be true. And I only called you dense because I thought my feelings were written all over my face. I’m rubbish at occlumency, everyone knows that.”

“I thought…” Draco mumbled, staring down at their joined hands, “ I thought you were rejecting me.”

Harry slowly brought their hands up to his lips and paused, a question in his eyes. Upon Draco’s nod, he kissed each of Draco’s fingertips before lowering their joined hands and putting his other hand to Draco’s cheek. “Listen carefully, Draco,” Harry’s voice was barely above a whisper. “I have been in love with you for years. It took me a long time to realize that it was love and not rivalry or jealousy. I have dreamed of this moment for a very long time. But it was only ever possible in dreams. I never imagined you would ever return my feelings, let alone that we could be soulmates. This is, without a doubt, the best day of my life.”

Before Harry could continue to explain, Draco closed the gap between them and pressed his lips firmly to Harry’s.Harry immediately opened up to let Draco in.

“That’s TWICE I was right!!!” Pansy yelled from behind them. “Pay up, Granger!”

Harry and Draco broke apart and looked around the room. People were either clapping for them or exchanging money from the bets they’d made. As Hermione handed over her payment to Pansy, she commented, “This shouldn’t count, you know. It would’ve happened in June had we not brewed a love potion.”

“It counts!” Pansy retorted, laughing at Hermione’s almost-pouting.

As Harry’s eyes continued to scan the room, he looked back at Ron. Ron gave him a thumbs up. Upon Harry’s questioning expression, Ron nodded. “He’s all right, mate,” Ron shouted up to Harry. Harry chuckled.

“I won’t allow your raving compliments to go to my head, Weasel,” Draco’s tone was light.

“Eh, sod off, Malfoy,” Ron joked back.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief. It seemed as though his dream really did come true: Draco loved him and his friends were fine with it. All was well.