Actions

Work Header

Strawberries and Cigarettes [always taste like You]

Work Text:

Strawberries and Cigarettes

[always taste like You]

I.

Remember when we first met?
You said "light my cigarette"
So I lied to my mum and dad
I jumped the fence and I ran

    [Troye Sivan, ‘Strawberries and Cigarettes’]

My eyes follow white clouds across the sky. Fresh breeze ripples through leaves of an old oak tree and I shiver. I am cold in my thin T-shirt. Should've put a jumper on, but now I couldn't be bothered. I lay my head at the back of the garden bench, staring into the sky. This is what I mostly do these days. This and smoking. 

I drag at my cigarette, inhaling deeply, and my stomach aches. Maybe I should eat, after all, it is not healthy to live on nothing but fags. This is funny, I guess. Nothing's been healthy about my life for the past two years. I am unhealthy; should I give a fuck about a food intake? I don't. Mother will fret again how thin I've grown, how I'm killing myself. Let her. I am an adult, it is not as though I need her permission to do whatever I want. She says I'm depressed. Well, I fucking am. In my place who wouldn't be?  Wandering the Manor grounds, being useless, pretending I don't exist. I don't want food, I don't want company, I don't want to talk; hell, I don't event wank – it has lost all its appeal to me as well.

I look at the metal Ministry band around my wrist. It makes me a Squib for the time being. The band and the Dark Mark: results of my own stupidity, cruelty and delusions, both on my left forearm. 

I am not allowed to use magic in any form until the beginning of my 8th year. I am going to Hogwarts in two weeks, you see. To be a good boy and finish my education, and help with remnants of the school rebuilding. At Hogwarts I am to be restricted to  the spells that are required in my studying process. They will switch the band for another one on the 1st of September. I am not allowed to use any form of magic that may harm another person for two years. That means I wouldn't be able to defend myself if need arose. These are the terms of my probation, keeping me out of Azkaban. That, and paying reparations out of the Malfoy vaults. And three months of a community service that I'd finished recently. Which has gone all right, I suppose: cleaning Ministry toilets eight hours a day for three months straight is better than Azkaban. Cleaning them by hand, without magic, is still better than Azkaban, I'm sure. It is not as though I don't deserve it, after all. Whatever punishment I may serve to the community, my self-hatred is always my own.  They had put a Trace on me, too. Right after the trials, just in case. I am not allowed to leave England by any means for the term of my probation. I am not allowed to Apparate. I could have done far worse, though. Like my Father: 20 years in Azkaban. I don't want to think about Father. I don't want to think about a lot of things. Of what awaits me at Hogwarts, for instance.

I drag at the cigarette and blow out smoke through my nose. It is twilight, I'm freezing, should better go back to the Manor. I stand up.

A flash of silver light bursts to my right, making me jump, my heart beating erratically. Holy fuck!  Silvery Stag trots towards me, regal antlers and all. What the hell? It stops before me and...

"Hello, Malfoy," rings the voice - low and unmistakable - oh yeah, I'd recognise him anywhere.

"It's Harry. Potter, I mean. I'm by your gates right now, I need to speak to you," Patronus says, dissolving slowly.

What on earth Potter of all people, may want with me? I don't want to speak to Potter, now or ever. He is the last person I'd rather see. After everything that had passed between us, after his unexpected testimony on my behalf during the trials that landed me in my probation instead of Azkaban, I would feel a right shit in his presence. A shit, and a coward, and weak. I should ignore the message, it's not as though I am obligated to obey his summons or anything. And yet...  I haven't even thanked him personally. Of course, Mother wrote him a letter from us both, but whom am I kidding? I'm sure he knows - the coward I am - I have nothing to do with it. Right. I am already strolling across the lawn to the gates, evening dew in the grass soaking through my white canvas trainers, shit.

As I approach the gates, Potter is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps, tired of waiting, he's fucked off? No such luck. I see him just to the left: with his back to me, he is standing by a huge black Muggle motorbike. I start to unlock the gates by hand, and he turns to the sound.

It is the same Potter I knew, and yet, he is different. Though still thin, he is not that scrawny teenager he once used to be. He's wearing black jeans and a leather jacket over his T-shirt. He is sporting a haircut, which is not that bad on that mop of his hair, I must admit. He's broad in the shoulders and lean and looks like a man. Approaching him I see that we are almost of height. He’s barely an inch shorter than I now. Apparently, Potter has grown during the summer, while I haven't.

"Wow, Malfoy! You look like shit," he blurts.

Whatever I was prepared for, it wasn't this. I laugh, surprising myself. Well, he's not wrong. I feel like shit, too.

"Nice to see you, too, Potter," I say, "it's not as though you are a beauty."

I am exaggerating, of course, he is not badly looking. I’m fucked if I tell him this, though.

Now I stand close enough to see that he looks tired: there are shadows under his eyes, stubble on his jaw. His glasses are good though – square-framed and stylish.

“Really, Malfoy, when have you last eaten? Seems like not this summer.”

Now, this is surreal.

“What do you want, Potter?” I snap, “I’m really not happy to see you, you know?”

All my plans to earnestly thank him evaporate in a blink of an eye, because this is Potter, because he’s annoying as ever, because it's so easy to fall into the familiar pattern, rise to the bait, get a reaction out of him. It feels normal, familiar; it feels good.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude, okay?” He raises his palms in defence. “I’ve just dropped by to return your wand, that’s all.”

What? Why would he do that?

“My wand,” I repeat.

“Yes, your wand. Here.” He reaches into the inner pocket of his jacket, retrieving my old hawthorn wand.

“Why?” I ask.

I’m not sure I am glad to see it, to be honest. The memory of the last time holding it comes unbidden: aunt Bella’s insane cackle, Granger writhing on the floor, Father’s gleeful face, and what came next, when the Dark Lord returned to find Potter had escaped;  I still have nightmares about that day.

“What do you mean ‘why’? It’s yours, I should have returned it earlier.”

“No, I... I can’t,” I stammer, “I don’t want it.”

Familiar wave of panic rises in me, my breath catches, oh shit. I can’t fall apart right now, not in front of Potter. I press my palm to my chest, inhaling slowly through my nose; I feel erratic hammering of my heart against the ribcage.

“I’m not allowed to use magic now anyway,” I force out, trying to sound casual.

Potter’s eyes widen and narrow, he studies my face.“ You alright, Malfoy?”

“Yeah. I just... I need a cigarette.”

I retrieve the packet and the lighter from the back pocket of my jeans.

“Want one?” I offer.

I don’t really think he smokes, it’s more of a distraction on my part. So I am genuinely surprised when Potter says “Yeah, thanks,” and takes it.

I light my cigarette and drag deeply, feeling calmness settle over me. Later tonight I may actually break down, but it would be behind the blessedly closed door of my bedroom, far away from Potter.

“Light my cigarette?” Potter asks and steps closer, sticking it between his lips.

Why is he asking? He could have done it with a flick of his fingers; I don’t comment. I lean in and click the lighter. He smells faintly of aftershave - clean and masculine and actually quite nice, - the thought surprises me. Taking the cigarette between his fingers, he drags, and exhales, tilting his head back, jutting his lower lip forward and up.

“Thanks." He smiles.

It strikes me that it’s the first time I see Potter smile. I mean, of course I saw him smile before, but this is the first time it's directed at me. It’s a nice smile, easy; a smile of a person who is used to do it a lot, who has people in his life to smile at. I feel funny. I never liked Potter, I always found him an annoying boasting prat... and yet, I always sought his attention, trying to make him notice me, always strived to antagonise him, outdo him, prove myself to be stronger, cleverer, smarter, more than him. And now, receiving his smile, I feel like I proved something – to him and to myself - gained unexpectedly without any effort something I tried so hard to achieve, doing it the wrong way all along.

“No problem,” I say and step back.

Eyes narrowed, he studies me for a moment. He opens his mouth as if to say something, but then reconsiders and simply sticks my wand back into the inner pocket of his jacket. I have a feeling that Potter is not as simple as he seems. He’s changed. But then again – perhaps he is the same as he has always been, it’s just I never knew him in the first place, preferring to underestimate him all along.

“So, how are you doing?” He asks lightly.

I feel uncomfortable under his scrutiny, and the question narks me off.

“You said I look like shit, how do you think I’m doing, Potter?”

“Look, I’m sorry, okay? I just haven’t expected to see you so...” He trails off.

“So – what? Go on."

I’m angry and frustrated and I don’t know what, but I haven’t felt emotions that strong in months, and although I don’t feel great having this conversation with Potter, I actually feel good and more alive than in a very long time, if it makes any sense.

“I don’t know... Starved? Exhausted? Wearing jeans?” He elaborates.

“Jeans? Really, Potter?”

“And canvas shoes, come on! You are posh, Malfoy, a pureblood. You live in a Manor. I had no idea you even knew such things existed.”

“This conversation is ridiculous, Potter. You should probably go, it’s getting late,” I say and, oddly enough, I’m not at all eager for him to leave just yet. I haven’t spoken to anyone apart from my Mother and house-elves for weeks, and it actually feels not so bad to have someone for once to talk to, even if that someone is – surprisingly – Potter. Despite his awful manners and tact of an Erumpent, he isn’t mean or spiteful, he doesn’t try to gloat, and I appreciate that. In his place, I think, I would have done exactly the opposite. 

“Yes... yes, you are right. I should,” he says reluctantly, vanishing his cigarette bud.

It is dusk now, and shining bulbs of the garden lamps dot our grounds behind the gates. I should go back, too, I think, but don’t move for some reason, standing there, waiting I don’t know what for.

“You know...” he begins, “er...maybe...I mean – would you...”

“What is it, Potter?” Something in my stomach flutters strangely.

“Would you like to go for a ride?”

“What?”

“For a ride, on my motorbike. If you like?” He runs his hand through his hair. “I mean, you could use some fun, you know? And a motorbike is fun."

“I...don’t drive.”

I feel stupid, because I think I actually would like it, once he’s suggested it.

“Of course you don’t." Potter laughs. “I mean – I can give you a ride, you don’t need to drive.”

This is utterly surreal. Harry Potter invites me for a ride. I want to slap myself. I don’t.

Instead, I say: “Well, that’s fine. I could use some fresh air,” sounding flustered to my own ears, instead of casual I am aiming for. Potter was always able to pull the rug out from under me, so to speak.

“All right then.” Potter sounds eager and a bit surprised, as though he didn’t expect me to agree. “Come on.”

In one swift motion, he mounts the motorbike and turns, looking at me. I swallow and nod. For some reason my mouth is dry. It's because I’ve never ridden such a thing before – this is why, yes. I step closer and mount the thing, sitting down astride behind Potter. His broad leather clad back is uncomfortably close, so I shuffle my arse backwards a bit, putting more distance between us. I don’t know what to do with my hands, so I awkwardly place them onto my thighs. Potter turns his head, beginning to say something, when a loud crack! makes us both jump. Bibby, our elf, is holding a large tray laden with food, her ears flapping gently in the breeze.

“Master Draco, Mister Harry Potter-Sir." Her voice is solemn. “Bibby is apologise, but Mistress send Bibby find Master Draco, and bring him food, and make him eat. Mistress say Master Draco don’t eat his lunch, he don’t come for tea, he only eat a toast at breakfast today; Mistress is very unhappy. Master Draco, you is eat right now! Mister Harry Potter-Sir, you is welcome to join.”

“Malfoy?” Potter turns to me with a frown.

He is so close, I can see my own face in the lamplight, reflected in his glasses, the thin scar above his right eyebrow. His smell fills my senses, and I am a bit giddy with something I cannot name. I do want that ride and now, being interrupted, I realise how much.

“Thank you, Bibby. But now Mr. Potter and I are going for a ride. I will have a proper dinner when I return, I promise, go tell Mother.”

“Okay, Malfoy. Bibby will make sure you eat.” Potter gives me the once-over. “Actually... Bibby, give me this.”

He leans down and lifts a bowl of strawberries from the tray.

“I love strawberries." He grins, and I stare at his profile: his thick eyebrows, aquiline nose, square black-rimmed glasses, strong jaw.

Potter’s grown into his looks. I shake myself, since when do I admire Potter’s looks? 

“I’ll just shrink them and put some protective spells on."

He waves his hand in a complicated pattern, and my jaw drops. He’s doing wandless, wordless magic as if it were nothing – nothing at all! I suspect he doesn't use his wand most of the time, the bastard.

“Great, we’ll have them before our way back.” He stuffs the tiny package into his inner pocket. “Thank you, Bibby. Nice to meet you.”

“You may go, Bibby, thank you. Tell Mother I’ll be back soon,” I add.

With a crack! Bibby Disapparates,

“Okay, so,” Potter says, starting the engine, “first, Malfoy, move closer to me, you will have to hold onto me tightly. Second, don’t let go, okay?”

He turns to me again. “Do you understand?”

All I can do is nod stupidly, because, apparently, I have a difficulty with uttering a word right now for some reason. It’s the engine that unnerves me, I think.

“And... your T-shirt... it’s freezing up there. Here.” He waves a hand at me, and I am wrapped in bliss of Potter’s Warming Charm.

Then something strikes me. “Wait, what do you mean up there?"

He only laughs. “Surprise! Now, come on, move closer and put your arms around my waist.”

I can’t believe it's happening. The world has gone crazy. I shuffle forward a little, tentatively touching my palms to Potter’s sides.

“No, you’re going to fall down like that,” he says.

He reaches behind, taking my forearms, and tugs roughly, pulling me closer and closer, until to my utter horror I am – my whole body is – pressed flush against Potter. He closes my arms around his waist beneath the jacket. His body is firm and warm to the touch under the thin fabric of his T-shirt; my chest presses to his back, my thighs are hugging his legs from behind, my crotch is smashed against his arse, black hair at the back of his head is tickling my nose. I inhale the smell of his hair, holding my breath like a drowning man. I can’t move, I can’t think, I am hot and cold at once. I am shivering and afraid he may notice. We have been in this position before: among the roaring fire and smoke and death, the arch of his back beneath my chest, my hands gripping him madly. It all comes back to me in a rush. But it is not only that. It is Potter himself, right here, he is warm and alive and radiant, and I have no idea what’s going on, but I want this anyway. My fingers twist in the fabric of his T-shirt.

“Alright there, Malfoy?!” He says over the roaring engine.

All I can do is nod.

The motorbike starts moving, picking up speed, and in a moment trees are flashing past us in a blur. Now I see what he meant. I clutch at him violently, terrified of falling down. Now I am forgetting about the Fiendfire and death and war; now I am living this moment. This is absolutely mad, terrifying, brilliant and exhilarating. It feels almost like broom, but not quite; somehow it’s scarier. I haven’t ridden a broom since that day in the Room of Requirement; it is now I realise how I missed it. Adrenaline is coursing through my veins, I feel like flying.

“Alright there, Malfoy?!” Potter roars over the engine and I utter a cry: “Brilliant!”

Hold on!” He barks, and then something happens: motorbike soars in the air, higher, higher and higher still, aiming for the stars.

“Fuuuuuck!!!!” I scream. “Potter!!!”

“Malfoy!!!” He cries back.

Wind is gushing in my ears, knocking the breath out of me; there are thousands of stars in the endless black sky above us; far away beneath flickering lights of streetlamps and cars and houses mirro the sky pattern. I am wild with fear and joy. I grip him even tighter under the jacket and rest my chin on his shoulder, pressing my face to his neck.

“I’ll fucking kill you, Potter!!!” I scream into his ear.

He only laughs.

II. 

But we couldn't go very far
'Cause you locked your keys in your car
So you sat and stared at my lips
And I could already feel your kiss

   [Troye Sivan, ‘Strawberries and Cigarettes’]

I step out of the shower, towelling my hair vigorously. I am warm and tired and strangely energised; in fact, I feel better for the first time in ages.

After the ride with Potter, I returned ravenous and inhaled a huge supper of hot stew and roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, green salad and strawberry dessert Bibby brought to my room. I rather hope I'm not going to be sick. I've taken a long hot shower, and now here I am. 

I lower the towel and look at myself in the mirror. My wet hair sticks in all directions, giving me resemblance with a dandelion. I turn this way and that, scrutinising my body from every angle, trying to see myself as Potter saw me. My shoulders are broad enough, I suppose, and I am six feet tall. I turn my back to the mirror, observing my buttocks, which are not that bad I think, though I have nothing to compare to.

I face the mirror again. Several thin silvery scars cross my torso from the sternum to the hip. Potter's job. I don't want to think about it.

Ministry band is loose around my bony wrist and above it - ugly outline of the Mark. Potter didn't comment on it today. 

Malfoy, you look like shit.

I try to see what he saw, what he meant by those words. I am so fucking pale and scrawny. My hipbones jut sharply, my collarbones stand out. My ribcage is showing. A trail of sandy hair goes below my navel and down to my flaccid cock.

You look like shit.

He didn't see my body. I think he meant my face. I step closely to the mirror, looking my reflection in the face. I wear my hair short these days, cropped closely on the sides and back of the head, longish at the top. I saw the style in a Muggle magazine in a paper bin at the Ministry and quite liked it. I went to a Muggle barber in London next day. Since then, Bibby magically helps me maintain the haircut every few weeks. I resent growing my hair long, it reminds me of my Father.

I tilt my head back and to the side, studying the way tendons of my neck stand out, the swell of a vein going down. My face is all sharp lines and angles: cheekbones, eyebrows, nose, chin. I clench my jaw, trying to make it look determinedly square, like Potter's; it's nowhere near.

My hair is almost white, my eyebrows are pale. I look bleached, colourless, washed out. Dark circles under my eyes complete the image.

I don't like what I see.

You look like shit.

I don't know what Potter meant in particular, but overall he was right. 

**

"You should take care of yourself, Malfoy," he said, stuffing a strawberry in his mouth. It was huge, and juice dripped down his lower lip. He wiped it and sucked at his thumb. "Hey, you alright?" He waved a hand in front of my face, and I realised I'd been staring.

"Yeah." I cleared my throat. 

"I mean, really. It won't do to waste yourself away like that," he continued, chewing.

I picked a strawberry from the bowl, biting into it. We were sitting under a tree, facing each other with our legs crossed, the bowl between us. The strawberry was delicious on my tongue, sweet and refreshing. I reached for another one, he did as well, our fingers touched, and I don't know why I started. There was an odd look on his face.

"So." He cleared his throat. "You freaked out about the wand today because..." He gestured vaguely with his hand, as though encompassing everything the war and torture and horror included.

My heart gave a start, beginning to race. Here we go.

"Yes, because," I croaked, pressing the heel of my palm into my chest. 

"Do you have nightmares?" He was looking at the strawberry in his fingers, not seeing my rising panic.

Shit.

And I had actually begun enjoying the evening.

Shit, shit, shit. 

"Because I do. Can't sleep most of the time. I'm a wreck, to be honest. But it’s been worse." He lifted his head, looking me in the face. His eyes widened. "Malfoy?"

"Yeah, I do," I rasped, trying to breathe deeply, "nightmares and panic attacks, too."

I chocked on my breath, my hands shaking. I lowered myself down onto the ground, curling into a foetal position.

"Malfoy? What?!" Alarm in Potter's voice.

"Fuck! I'm sorry, Malfoy, I didn't think..."

Potter's arm wrapped around my shoulder, another one slid under my neck to cradle my head. I felt firm press of his body against my back, my legs.

"It's okay, I've got you. Breathe... I've got you," Potter's voice whispered in my ear.

It helped - something had unclenched in my chest, allowing me to inhale deeply. Potter's fingers were stroking through my hair, firm lock of his other arm across my collarbones. I didn't know how much time had passed until my heartbeat evened and I turned in his arms to look at him. 

"Alright?" He whispered, studying my face, his brows furrowed and his glasses askew.

I nodded and only then could find my voice. "Yeah. Sorry," I whispered back. I felt a steady rhythm of his heart where my body was pressed to his chest.

"I'm an idiot... I didn't think... I'm really sorry, Malfoy."

I carefully dislodged his arm and sat up. "We should go back."

"Yes." Potter stood swiftly, offering me his hand.

I took it and rose on my feet. He bent down, picking up the empty bowl, shrinking and putting it into his pocket. "Come on."

There was that awkwardness between us, uncertainty, when he mounted the motorbike and I fitted myself behind him. We didn’t speak. I gripped him around the waist and he started the engine.

We had barely rolled onto the clearing, when he said: "Hold on!" And the machine leaped up. And just like that: I felt all the awkwardness falling away, leaving only unabashed joy of the flight. I squeezed him tightly, relishing the feeling of his strong body beneath my palms, and rested my chin on his shoulder as I did before.

"I love this, Potter!!" I screamed over the wind, feeling a low rumble of his laughter vibrating in his back beneath my chest. 

Some half an hour later, we landed before the gates of the Manor. I disentangled myself from Potter and dismounted, feeling deprived of his warmth.

"So er..." He ruffled his hair. "Thanks."

"What for?"

"For... strawberries. And cigarettes." He smiled. "And company."

"Thank you for the ride, Potter. It's been fun." I shuffled my feet in the gravel, he was sitting on the motorbike.

"Oh, I forgot... here..." He retrieved and unshrinked the bowl, handing it to me. I reached and our fingers touched again. "Say thanks to Bibby for me...and do eat your meals, for fuck's sake!"

"Do you?.." I blurted at the same time as he said: "What if?.."

We gestured at each other in invitation to continue and laughed. I felt nervous for some reason.

"Okay, you were saying?" I asked.

"Er... I thought...what if I come tomorrow, maybe? Do you mind?" 

"No." Pulse was thrumming in my fingertips. "I don't mind."

"And you?"

"What?"

"What you were going to say?" Potter asked.

"I've... been meaning to ask whether you’d like some strawberries the other day? You know... we have plenty, and..." I mumbled, gesturing at the Manor.

"Yeah. I'd love some." He grinned. "So... I'll drop by tomorrow, perhaps? We may hang out?"

"Okay, feel free to... contact me," I finished lamely.

He nodded. "See you, Malfoy." He started the engine. 

I was grateful to the darkness, because my face was burning. He waved at me and soared into the sky. I stood there, watching tiny dots of his headlights disappearing in the distance, clutching the bowl with both hands.

III.

Long nights, daydreams
Sugar and smoke rings, I've been a fool
But strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you

   [Troye Sivan, 'Strawberries and Cigarettes’]

Potter comes the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, and every day of the week.

For the first three nights in a row, we go for a ride. I get used to hug and squeeze Potter without feeling awkward. It is a routine of sorts: we mount, I grip him firmly, pressing my cheek to the back of his neck, and we soar into the sky. He doesn't mind. Seems like he actually enjoys my company, which is a disconcerting realisation, to say the least.

On the fourth evening he comes without his motorbike - just Apparates to the gates - so I invite him in. It's an awkward situation for us both.

I gesture vaguely in the direction of the Manor. "Would you?.."

"No, I'd rather not," he says, and I can't blame him.

I still avoid certain areas of my home; better safe than sorry. So we are content with wandering the grounds. There is a lot of space on the lawns and secluded places in the park. Bibby brings us dinner which Potter shares awkwardly, and strawberries which Potter devours. As it turns out, he is not much of a smoker. Cigarettes help communication, he says, and mostly refuses a fag when I offer.

He is shy when my Mother comes to greet him.

"Call me Harry," he says, blushing and shaking her hand. She leaves us alone.

"Mr. Potter's company seems to be good for you, Draco," she says when I enter her room to say goodnight.

I shrug and mumble something. She is not wrong, though. I feel better, I began eating again, I resumed my broom flying, I jog in the mornings, I sleep better. I manage to keep my panic at bay. I smoke less, which is good, too. 

At first we barely talk, just hanging out, as he put it. Potter is surprisingly easy to be around, once it's not about fighting between us anymore. I think it's because we don't expect anything of each other, we just are.

Since the night I freaked out, he doesn't ask questions and neither do I. We begin to elaborate some information instead. He tells me that he broke up with Ginny Weasley ("It wasn't working, you know"). I nod solemnly but I am secretly glad for some reason. I tell him that I've never been in a relationship in the first place, so I hardly know anything on the matter.

"How so?" He is surprised. "But what about Parkinson?"

"What about her?"

"She was all over you in the 6th year, as far as I remember." 

As far as you remember?

"It was totally one-sided on her part, believe me. I didn't..."

I feel myself blushing at the memory of Pansy's hand squeezing my prick through the trousers, my utter humiliation at the total absence of erection.

I thought something was wrong with me then, that maybe I was ill, incapable in that department; or maybe that all the stress of that terrible year made me impotent. Never did a view of Pansy's tits manage to get me hard.

However, it took only a few strokes of my hand and the right mood to get myself as wooden as they come. The right mood, as I had discovered (leafing through Quidditch Weekly), included images of toned naked bodies, firm buttocks, broad shoulders, strong necks, movements of a hand stroking a hard length, stubbled jaws, falling open in pleasure. Pansy, or any girl, as it happened, had nothing to do with it.

I suspected I was different from the majority of boys around me. But I was 16 with no experience whatsoever, and very soon all that stuff didn't matter all the same.

Not unexpectedly at all, that night I start awake from an intense dream involving Potter. I gasp, rolling onto my stomach. I am achingly hard and I sleep naked. My cock drags against the sheets and I moan. I wiggle my pelvis, repeating the friction. Oh.... I lift my arse just so, bending one knee up, sliding my hand underneath to wrap my palm around my prick. This is a slightly awkward angle, but I am so turned on by this position that I'm not changing it. I thrust into my hand. Nngh, this is so good, but not enough. Turning my head to the side, I squeeze my eyes shut and begin stroking myself. I swallow a moan and reach behind with my other hand, to drag my fingers over the skin of my perineum. My breath catches, my hand on my cock picking up speed, my hips begin jerking, as the sensation is gathering maddeningly down in my cock. I imagine Potter, touching himself just like this: arse in the air, hand moving frantically, face contorted. My mouth falls open as I breathe noisily into the pillow. And I am coming, coming, coming.

**

Next day when I see Potter, I am already resigned to the knowledge that I want.

Want him.

Of course I do. This is what it was from the beginning when he’d appeared here for the first time, only I could be daft enough to mistake it for something else. It figures, I haven’t had much of a sex life, you know.

I have a rather vague idea, though, of what exactly it is I want from him. I don’t know, I’ve never done this before. I struggle to imagine us together in a scenario that could unravel due to my ‘want’. I am insanely aware of his body all the time. When I am close to him, I just want to press my face into his neck, inhaling deeply. To stare at his face as long as I want. To lick that place under his jaw, feeling his stubble catching at my tongue. I want to rub my cheek, like a cat, against the back of his head, feeling him leaning into the touch. I want his lips. I want him cupping my face, tilting my head up just so, leaning in to kiss me. I want to hug and squeeze him in my arms, to lie on top of him in the grass, feeling his whole body firm beneath me. The thought of seeing his cock, however, unnerves me. My wanking fantasies aside, the actual scenario involving us together doing something with our cocks seems a bit frightening, to be honest.

IV.

Remember when you taught me fate
Said it'd all be worth the wait
Like that night in the back of the cab
When your fingers walked in my hand

   [Troye Sivan, 'Strawberries and Cigarettes’]

“You know, Potter, I’ve never thanked you for your help at my trials,” I say.

I’ve been working up the nerve to start this conversation.

He opens his mouth to say something, but I cut him off. “So let me thank you, Potter. Your testimony changed the course of my miserable life, without a doubt, giving me a chance to make it less miserableband be of some use to the society. I am grateful. You didn’t have to do it, but I’m glad that you did anyway.” 

Potter props himself up on his elbows in the grass. “Okay...” he says, “I didn’t do it to invoke your gratitude, you know. I did it because it was the right thing to do. But if it’s important to you – to acknowledge the fact – I accept your ‘thank you’.”

He studies my face, and I shiver under the scrutiny of his bright eyes. I feel bold and frightened all at once. “Thank you for saving my life in the fire as well.”

He sits up, opening his mouth again, but I hold my hand up. “Just hear me out, okay?”

He nods.

“I apologise for breaking your nose, and for all the shit that I did to you in the past, and for being horrible to you all those years, and for being horrible not only to you, but horrible in general – for just being a horrible person.” There, I unloaded it from my chest.

“I apologise for nearly killing you in that bathroom, Malfoy, I am really sorry," Potter says, “and for being horrible to you, too. And thank you for covering up for me and my friends, and not handing me down to Voldemort.”

We stare at each other in silence. Then Potter holds out his hand, nods and smiles. I smile, nod and take it.

**

“You are leaving for Hogwarts in three days” he says, blowing out the stream of smoke, “I’ll be there, too.”

I know he will, though we didn’t talk about it. The Prophet in Mother’s parlour one day told me everything I needed to know. I am not looking forward to Hogwarts, not at all. These past two weeks have been the best thing that had happened to me for a long time. Whatever this is between me and Potter, I know it is ending. Potter has an odd look on his face, a flicker of something that had appeared not long ago, something I cannot fathom just yet. The look that he wouldn’t manage to hide if I turned abruptly and caught him off guard watching me. There is something like wonder in his eyes, as if he is holding his breath, waiting; then, in an instant, he would school his features into something neutral or smile easily. This is my wishful thinking, I know; I have reconciled with the idea that whatever it is I want from Potter – I cannot have it. I am hopeless and ridiculous. I’m going to miss him, the prat.

“What are you doing here, Potter?” I ask. I really want to know.

“What?”

“What are you really doing here?”

We are sitting side by side, our shoulders touching, our backs against the huge trunk of the oak-tree on top of the hill. I turn my head to him. Not looking at me, he stubs and vanishes his cigarette. There is the last big strawberry left in the bowl, he picks it up.

“I thought you like my company,” he says defensively, his eyebrows drawn together.

“I do. But that's not what I’m asking.”

“I don’t know,” he says quietly, “I didn’t have a plan, you know... it’s just – I like you, I feel like I am welcome here. I am here because I want to be, I suppose?”

The weight of bewilderment, excitement, of something else I cannot name drops in my stomach. I look at him. He holds the strawberry with his fingers by the base, his eyes searching my face. I feel blush spreading up my neck, no doubt he sees. I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing, but I bend down and bite, my lips grazing his fingertipe. I draw back, chewing, and look at him. His eyes are wide behind his glasses, his gaze on my lips. I swallow. He meets my eyes, putting the remnants of the strawberry into his mouth. He chews and swallows audibly, and I hold my breath. He opens his mouth as if to say something, but thinks better of it. He leans forward and stops, uncertain. I am petrified, I wouldn’t be able to move even if I wanted to. He is so close, I feel his breath on my face and the faint smell of his aftershave. He exhales and closes remaining inches between us, capturing my lips with his mouth.

Potter is kissing me; the world tilts on its axis.

His lips are soft and feel tender like the flesh of a strawberry. It is only a gentle pressure, but I cannot breathe. No matter how much I fantasised about this, I am completely unprepared. I exhale through my nose, kissing back. I am trembling, this is too much. Tentatively he opens his mouth under my lips. My heart is in my throat, and I am afraid he’d swallow it, if I as much as opened my mouth a little more. I feel the touch of his hand at the base of my throat, travelling up to my nape, his thumb caressing my jaw. I press my palm to his chest, he exhales shakily, drawing back. His eyes are giddy, his body trembling under my touch. Then he tilts my head up, crushing my lips in earnest, sliding his tongue into my mouth. He tastes of strawberries with a faint cigarette trace underneath, and I feel wild, absolutely wild. My tongue touches his and they slide together, hot and slick, and the sensation jolts straight to my cock. This is so dirty and arousing and I have no idea how to do this, I’ve never kissed like this before. He straddles my thighs, pressing me into the tree trunk. I twist my fingers in his hair, pulling lightly - this is what I wanted to do for days. He grinds down and we both start, because I find myself painfully hard, because he is hard as well, and his crotch is pressed to my groin. I am wildly embarrassed. Bewildered, we stare at each other, then Potter leans in and rests his forehead against mine.

“What are we doing, Potter?” I whisper, my hands lying on top of his denim clad legs.

“Harry. My name is Harry,” he whispers back.

“What are we doing, Harry?” I run my palms up and down his thighs.

“No idea,” he latches his lips to the spot beneath my ear and sucks.

Jerking, I hiss. The heat of his tongue, the burn of his stubble – this is too much.

"Ah... you smell so good," he breathes into my neck.

I throw my head back, baring my throat. He rises on his knees, looming over me, and I feel the press of his erection against my stomach.

Potter starts, glancing down. "Oh... sorry... I didn't mean..."

He awkwardly angles his hips away and shuffles backwards, sliding off my legs on the ground. Frankly, I am relieved to put some distance between us.  He is breathing heavily, and I, too, feel as though I've been running. The seam of my jeans is cutting into my erection, and I painfully want to adjust myself, I don't. 

I want some space, I want to be alone, I want to devour his lips again, clutching at him as a drowning man. He reaches for my hand, interlacing his fingers with mine. His skin is hot. 

"I... I've never done this with a boy," he says, looking down at our hands.

"Me neither."

Fuck, I've never done this at all. No, definitely not this. Our sloppy fumbling with Pansy doesn’t count.

"Do you regret it?" He asks.

"No. Do you?" I am terrified and uncomfortable, yes, but I don't regret it.

"No." He shakes his head. I nod, relieved.

"I just..." he continues, "I don't want..." he stops, takes a breath. "I don't want this to ruin our friendship."

Disappointment floods me. "I see..."

"No...look... I mean, I don't want you to ignore me at Hogwarts." His eyes are searching my face. "We are friends, aren't we?"

"Are we?" I don't know what we are; it doesn't look like friends any longer.

"Of course," he says. 

I want to kiss him again, but I don't know if I am allowed to. I rise to my feet, not letting go of his hand. He follows. We walk down the hill in silence. When the Manor comes into view, he releases my hand, and it’s fine, I suppose. We head in the direction of the gates, our shoulders brushing. I unlock the gates, and he follows me outside. 

"So..." He clears his throat. "See you."

I nod. He steps closer and presses his lips quickly to mine; steps back. He Disapparates in a swirl and I am alone.

V.

Next day, nothing on my phone
But I can still smell you on my clothes
Always hoping things would change
But we went right back to your games

   [Troye Sivan, 'Strawberries and Cigarettes’]

I wank myself raw in the shower. Gasping, pressing my forehead into the tiles, I watch as my spurting cock decorates the wall with spunk. Slowly I stroke myself through the aftershocks, wincing at almost painful sensation in my oversensitive flesh. I feel lightheaded and slightly disgusted with myself. I wonder if Potter is doing the same at the moment.

I lie awake in bed on my side for a long time, palming myself lazily, cupping my balls, reaching a bit further down to slide the tip of my finger back and forth between my arse-cheeks; my cock is half-hard. I vaguely think of wanking again, but my eyes are closing on their own accord, and I fall asleep with my hand still between my legs.

I wake at dawn to my morning wood and grip myself firmly. Just a few steady strokes and my breath speeds up. I kick off the blanket and spread my legs, drawing them up and planting my feet on the bed. I drag the foreskin down and circle the head of my prick with my fingers. I reach down, dipping one finger between my arse-cheeks, only just. I rub it in slow circles there, beginning to stroke my prick in earnest. I clench my teeth, squeezing my eyes shut as sensation is building up. My arse begins to clench, I withdraw my finger and press my palm to my balls, feeling tightness in them drawing up; I’m close. My hand is moving over my cock with a slick sound, my quick breath is loud in a quiet room. I lift my arse off the bed, tingling in my toes indicates the beginning of my orgasm. One last flick and my cock explodes, sensation unravelling. Hot and pulsing it shoots through me as I arch my back, thrusting into my palm, feeling my balls spasm under my fingers. The splash of come is hot over my stomach as I stroke the remnants out of my spent cock. Breathing heavily, I collapse onto the bed and look down.

“Fuck,” I whisper, dragging my fingers through spunk on my sticky skin.

**

Potter isn’t coming today. I am resigned and bitte. This is it. I knew all along. 

His Stag appears when I am retrieving the second broom from the shed, having butterflies in my stomach. I planned we’d go fly together, you see. Play Seeker's game and all.

"Draco, hey, how are you doing?" His voice is a bit strained.

I know what's coming.

"I'm sorry, I can't come today. The Weasleys want me at dinner, 'cause now with me leaving at Hogwarts the next time will be only at Christmas, you know. I'll see if I can come tomorrow. Anyway, meet you at Hogwarts soon."

Resentment rises in me. Fuck. He's freaking out, I'm not surprised. Deep down I expected something like this, it hurts anyway. He won't come tomorrow, I just know.

Damn you, Potter. You don't owe me anything, you are free to do whatever the fuck you want without explaining yourself - I am no one. If I were able to conjure a Patronus, I would, so it could spit those words into Potter's stupid face. I can send him an owl still; I won't bother, I don't owe him anything either. The thing is, he doesn't even bother to come up with an appropriate lie. I shake my head. He told me once, he was ignoring Weasleys' invitations  for a while, because he wasn’t in the mood. We were returning from the pitch, brooms over our shoulders. His words, the thought that he had preferred my company instead, filled me with such joy I think I was glowing.  Now he brings the Weasleys up as a feeble excuse for his unwillingness to face me, hoping I'll swallow it down.

Fuck him.

I hurl both brooms back into the shed, slamming the door shut. I stride across the pitch, cursing my own stupidity. Damn him to hell and back. We were fine! What was his problem?! Why the hell should he go and spoil everything? My pathetic crush aside, I was actually content with the situation. Whatever fantasies I might have had, I never really thought anything could happen between us. He's straight, for fuck's sake, this I never forgot!  It was alright to have him as a friend, it was good to have a friend; and the fact that it's Potter, and my stupid desires only added a bit of a thrill, an edge to the matter. Frankly, we could never kiss, and I'd wank myself quietly in my bedroom, him being none the wiser, and it would be just fine. But the thought of him backing out altogether, resenting my company over that stupid kiss, is what that really hurts.

Why is he such an idiot? No way he is capable of going on as before, despite what he says. No, as a good little Gryffindor, he'll bring the thing up, put it between us and spoil all the easiness I appreciated so much. Why the fuck did he have to do this? I myself wouldn’t have dared to make a move, he was in no danger.

I cross the entrance hall, heading through the corridor to my bedroom, y footsteps echoing angrily against the stone walls. 

"Is everything all right, my dear?" Mother is standing in the doorway of the parlour.

"Fine," I spit, brushing past her.

I enter my room, slamming the door shut, relishing a vicious satisfaction when the sound echoes down to the basement.

**

Next day I am in a foul mood. So is the weather. 

I ask Bibby to pack my things. Standing in the middle of my room, she waves her tiny hands and my school robes, shirts, ties and trousers are folding neatly in on themselves in the air, settling down into the trunk in smart stacks. I'm lounging in the window-seat, staring blankly at the storm outside. Water is sloshing down the glass, making everything blurry.

"Draco?" Mother enters the room. "Would you like some tea? I have got everything ready."

"Okay." I slide down from the windowsill and follow her to the parlour.

"How do you feel, dear?" She hands me a cup.

"Not great," I admit. I sip my tea and wince, scalding my tongue. I put the cup down. 

"It is Hogwarts," she says, "you are anxious."

"Yes."

Anxious to say the least. I am fucking terrified.

"It will be all right, dear. You will be busy with your studies, which is not a bad thing. And I am glad that you've found a friend in Mr. Potter, which no doubt will make you feel better, once you are out there."

"I... don't know," I utter, "I don't know if he is my friend. Or if he is going to acknowledge me at Hogwarts."

"But of course he is... why, Draco? Did you two have a row?"

"Yes." I stand up, I don't want to discuss it, I've already said enough.  "Excuse me, Mother."

I leave her at the table.

**

I am standing at the porch of the Manor in my school uniform: black brogues, black wool trousers, stiff white shirt under the dark-green waistcoat, Slytherin tie, cufflinks, black cloak folded over my arm, my freshly cropped hair styled neatly back and a bit to the side. I feel stiff and overdressed after the summer of T-shirts and jeans. Isn't it odd? I used to dress like this since I was three.

Bibby hovers on the steps near my trunk, twisting her small hands, eyeing me. Mother is by my side. It is the 1st of September, and I am leaving.

I open the left sleeve of my shirt and hold out my wrist. The Ministry official points his wand and the band clicks open. The man takes it off. I start, feeling magic thrumming through my body, filling my senses with a faint buzz - the sensation I've managed to forget during my time being a Squib. Another band already  slides in place, clicking shut. The feeling subdues, though doesn't vanish; the faintest trace of it I am still able to perceive,  until I'll have got used to it and cease noticing. I push the band higher, closing the sleeve around my wrist, and put the cufflink in.

"Mr. Malfoy, I am to escort you to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by means of Side-Along Apparition on the special order of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement of the Ministry of Magic." The man looks at me expectantly. I nod.

"Good. Follow me." He turns and briskly heads down the gravel path.

Mother links her arm through mine and we follow. Behind us Bibby levitates my trunk. Mother is seeing me off to the gates only, she is not allowed to Apparate either. Underneath the sleeve of her elegant grey dress she wears a band identical to the one that has just been removed from my wrist. Bibby, however, is not under any restrictions, apart from her Mistress' will. Oddly enough, they didn't forbid us to use the house-elves' help.  Bibby's assured me she would come at my summons to Hogwarts to help me with haircut.  Outside the gates I crouch down and hug Bibby, patting her back. She is no bigger than a two-year-old child and feels fragile in my arms.

"Good bye, Master Draco, Bibby is misses you." Her bulging eyes shine with tears. 

"It's alright, Bibby." I pat her awkwardly. "I will be home for Christmas. Thank you for your help."

I stand up and wrap my arms around my Mother. "Good bye," I whisper into the top of her head.

She squeezes me tightly and holds and then lets go.

The Ministry man clears his throat. "All right, Mr. Malfoy, when you are ready." He holds out his arm.

I put the cloak around my shoulders, fastening the buckle at the neck and grip the handle of my trunk with one hand, taking his arm with another. He nods, and we swirl into the darkness and away.

VI.

Headlights on me
Racing to 60, I've been a fool
But strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you

   [Troye Sivan, 'Strawberries and Cigarettes']

Hogwarts is quiet when I step into the Entrance Hall. It is midday, Hogwarts Express hasn't arrived yet. Everything is as I remember; they must have done a great job of rebuilding. Obviously, what remains for me to do is hidden in the background. I already feel small and miserable, and the mob of students hasn't even arrived yet. How am I supposed to face several hundred people, each and everyone hating me, wishing me harm? I swallow, my throat dry. This is better than Azkaban. Anything is.

The sound of footsteps is approaching and I turn to the staircase.

McGonnagal. 

"Good to see you, Mr. Malfoy."

"Good afternoon, Professor," I say. I feel ill.

"Now, let me show you the 8th-year quarters, we may exchange our pleasantries later."

Though polite, she doesn't try to be pleasant, she is not happy to see me, that much is obvious. I follow her, levitating my trunk behind me, thank Merlin for small blessings. My Mother's old wand is in my hand. She leads me up the stairs and down the corridor of the third floor to a heavy wooden door. 

"Here, Mr. Malfoy, is the Common Room of the 8th year students. There are not many of those who decided to return this year, which is understandable. Since there are only eight of you, the dormitories are individual. Feel free to take whichever one suits you best. Each student is responsible for their own privacy; your charms on your door or lack thereof are entirely up to you. There is no password on the main door, just enter. Now suit yourself, Mr. Malfoy, I have a lot to do. Tomorrow morning before breakfast you are to come to my office in order to discuss the terms of your probation. Now, off you go."

I nod and nod and nod. "Yes, Professor. Thank you, Professor."

She is off, leaving me standing in front of the door.

**

I open the door, levitating my trunk inside, and look around. The room is large and nice and cosy and… Potter.

My heart stops.

The first thing I see is Potter.

I don’t know why I thought I am the first to arrive.

He is on the sofa by the fireplace, grinning at something that Granger is saying. He doesn’t see me, thank Merlin. I missed him in those three days, but only now, seeing his face, I realise how much. Something squeezeab in my throat as I watch him adjusting his glasses with a gesture that has become so familiar to me.

Behind me something falls with a loud crash! I jump. My trunk. Fuck. I am yet to get used to have my magic back. My focus has slipped, once my thoughts turned elsewhere.

Potter turns, now he sees me. Granger looks over her shoulder. Only now I realise there are other people in the room: the Patil twins on the settee by the window; Goldstein in the armchair with a book on his lap; Finnigan and that black Gryffindor bloke whose name I always forgot over the game of chess at the desk. They must have had Apparated instead of boarding the train. Everyone is staring at me wide-eyed. I shove my wand up its sheath inside my sleeve and bend down to grip the handle of my traitorous trunk. I don’t trust myself to maintain the spell right now. Not looking at anyone, I head to the staircase, noisily dragging my trunk over the steps; it catches at the hem of my cloak, making me stumble and look even more of an idiot. Fuck. When I reach the landing, I hear hushed conversation resumes. They are discussing me, no doubt.

I look around. A railing is forming a balcony out of the landing surroundsing the Common Room below. There are wooden doors along the wall to both sides of the staircase. I let go of my trunk and come closer. There is a metal plank on each door with a sign on it.

“Thomas” I read. The next one is “Finnigan”, and then – “Potter”. The last one is empty.

I go back to the other side: “Granger”, “Patil”, “Patil”, “Goldstein”.

Okay, that much is clear. I return to the staircase where my trunk is standing and drag it to the farthest door without a sign. The one next to “Potter”. I open it and peer inside: a bed, a bedside table – empty, a desk by the window – empty, a chest of drawers, a wardrobe – open, empty. The room is uninhabited.

I turn to my trunk, glancing down over the railings. Potter is staring up at me from the sofa. Blood rushes to my face. Get a fucking grip. I turn away, drag my trunk inside and shut the door.

Once inside, I let out a breath and look around. The clock on the wall indicates barely 2 p.m. There is a smaller door just to the right of the entrance, I open it. The light flicks on, and I survey a bathroom with a glass shower stall, a sink and a loo. This is actually better than I expected. At least I don’t have to encounter anyone in the loo. I go back to the room. The walls are of cream colour, as well as the curtains and an armchair in the corner. A duvet on the bed is dark-blue. Which is good and overall has calming effect on me. This is definitely better than Azkaban. I can manage.

I spend the next hour unpacking my things. Then I remember what McGonnagal said and go outside. The sign ‘Malfoy’ has already appeared on the plank. I go back inside, casting locking and privacy spells on the door. Remembering that my room is adjacent to Potter’s, I cast privacy spells on the wall, too. I have a fag, leaning out of the window. The view is not spectacular: I can barely see the corner of the Lake and the Forest, the rest is concealed from me by the stone wall. I look down and see the briar bushes. Seems like no one ever comes here under my window. I am okay with it.

I take a shower and a good wank, definitely not thinking about certain annoying prat. I emerge from the bathroom relaxed and lazy. I crawl under the duvet and doze off. I wake to the sound of multiple doors opening and closing. I cast Lumos, the clock indicates a quarter to seven. There are lanterns on the wall and I light them with a flick of my wand. Hogwarts Express is about to arrive, I reckon; everyone is down there for the Welcoming Feast.

I don’t plan to go to the Great Hall sooner than absolutely necessary tomorrow morning. I get up and put on a T-shirt and jeans. I unward and open my door, peering cautiously outside. Everything is quiet, I step out of the room and lean on the railings, looking down. The Common Room is empty., fire crackling merrily in the grate. It is a nice room – vast and cosy and welcoming. There are two sofas by the fireplace, settees by numerous large windows, armchairs and desks and stools and carpets. Bookshelves line the walls. All this I’ve missed earlier, being busy, making a fool of myself.

I turn back, about to return to my room, when something draws me to Potter’s door. I put my hand on the handle and press – to my astonishment it gives. Trust Potter to leave his room unlocked. The room is identical to mine, mirroring it in the position of the bathroom and the window. Leaving the door ajar, I step inside and look around. I have no idea why the fuck I am doing this and what I expect to find. There are jeans and a T-shirt which he was wearing in the Common Room, thrown across the bed, the trainers on the carpet. He’s changed into his uniform for the Feast.

I take the T-shirt, bringing it to my face, inhaling deeply his familiar scent. Fuck.

Memories of that intoxicating kiss assault me. There is ache in me, lodged in my midriff, that blooms bright and sharpbas I breathe in his smell. Longing for what I can never have.

I am pathetic.

A movement catches the corner of my vision, and I start. A framed photograph at the bedside table: young couple swirling in each other’s embrace. A red-haired woman, a man with wild black hair and glasses. No, rather a girl and a boy, no older than twenty. I take the frame and look at the back. 1980 – it says. And then it strikes me: Potter’s parents. I put it down.

There’s a Prophet near it, opened on an article. I look down. My face starea back at me in black-and-white. This is the photograph from the trials. I remember that moment. Just after the verdict and the sentence had been pronounced. I was being led out of the courtroom by the guard; reporters were crowding in the doorway, photographers flashing their cameras. I turn and look directly into the camera and scowl, covering the side of my face with my hand.

'EX-DEATH EATER DRACO MALFOY IS TO CONTINUE HIS PROBATION AT HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY. Is it a wise decision indeed, allowing a convicted criminal into an educational facility for children?’  The headline reads.

The article that follows gives a full account of my past and present and the trials, including information on my Mother and Potter’s role in all this. I feel sick down to my bones. What an idiot I am to even think of a possibility of friendship with Potter? The scum that I am, I don’t deserve a friend. Undoubtedly he has realised it by now.

There is a loud bang downstairs and voices in the Common Room. I curse myself and creep to the door, slipping outside and closing it quietly, sliding along the wall towards my room. I open it and get inside, locking and warding it. My heart is beating erratically. I undress and lie down on the bed, pulling the duvet over my head.

Some time later, there is a knock on my door so quiet that I think dozing off I imagined it. But then it repeats. I don’t get up. I hear footsteps retreating, a door opens and closes.

I set an alarm on and sleep.

VII.

And even if I run away
Give my heart a holiday
Still strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you

   [Troye Sivan, 'Strawberries and Cigarettes']

"Now, Mr. Malfoy, off you go."

I am dismissed from McGonnagal's office.

I descend down the spiral staircase into the corridor. My stomach gives a loud rumble. I haven't eaten since yesterday morning. However I might dread the Great Hall with the entire school present, I cannot skip my meals forever. I wish I could.

Right. Gripping the strap of my satchel across my shoulder, I raise my chin and determinedly stride down the corridor. My appointment with McGonnagal has cleared the points of my presence at Hogwarts.

I am to behave; I am to focus on my studies aiming for the highest N.E.W.T. grades possible in each and every subject on my schedule; my Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. are to be dedicated to rebuilding of the remaining areas of the castle that are still in a need of repair. I will receive  the task by owl. Surely  I can deal with it.

Descending the main staircase, I see the double doors of the Great Hall thrown wide open. Buzz of multiple voices and laughter reach my ears. I feel tremors starting in my hands, it is suddenly hard to breathe. I stop. I can't go in there.

I can’t.

I see the Hufflepuff table just opposite the doorway; the thought occurs to me. I duck under the staircase heading to the basement. I don't know who had discovered it first, but all Slytherins knew the entrance to the kitchens next to the Hufflepuff Common Room.

I touch the biggest pear on the painting and it opens ajar, letting me inside.  The kitchens are the crazy buzz of activity: house-elves are everywhere, doing all kinds of things at once. I sit at the edge of the one of four long tables. 

"Mister Draco Malfoy-Sir, what is you want?" Squeals a tiny voice. An elf is before me.

"Hi. What is your name?" I ask.

Contrary to the common belief, unlike my Father, I've never been cruel to house-elves. I actually know some rules required to communicate with them.

"Filly, Sir."

"Alright, Filly. Would you be so kind and let me have some breakfast here?"

"Yes, Sir. You is welcome, Sir."

"Thank you. Can I have some coffee, too?"

Headache is blooming behind my eyes, I need something stronger than tea or pumpkin juice.

Filly snaps his fingers and full English and a coffee pot appear before me on the table. 

"Thank you very much, Filly."

The elf nods and leaves me to my meal. I pour some coffee and take a sip, then start shovelling food in my mouth at a record speed: eggs, bacon, sausages, beans disappear in a few seconds. I look at the clock above the mantel: five minutes to nine. Damn. And I don't even know my schedule yet; so much for the discipline. Down ing the remnants of my coffee, I stand up and dash to the door, casting a cleaning spell at my teeth on the way.

Leaping three steps at a time, I run up the stairs, my satchel bouncing against my hip. I dash into the empty Entrance Hall and stop, looking around. The schedules hang on the board  under the Hour Glass with House-points. I approach and scan the board, finding "8th year" in the top right corner.

"Double Potions" and "Free period [library strongly recommended]".

I run back under the staircase, dashing past the basement corridor, down, down, down to the Dungeons.

When I open the Potions classroom door, everyone is already seated. Slughorn is rummaging in the ingredients cupboard with his back to the door. I creep inside and hastily drop at the last empty desk nearest to the entrance, retrieving my things from the satchel as quietly as possible. I notice that Potter is absent. Granger stares at me over her shoulder from the desk before. Maintaining a neutral expression, I give her a nod; she turns away. I feel like shit, I don't know how to behave around her.

"Now, everyone." Slughorn turns to the class. "Today, the first lesson of the term, we are going to brew some stuff which you are already familiar with from the previous years - in order to refresh your knowledge and because some of those concoctions are to serve as ingredients for potions of the more advanced course of this year. The instructions for Felix Felicis are on the blackboard before you." He waves his wand. "As well as in your textbooks."

The door bursts open, revealing very flustered Potter. Every head in the class turns.

"Harry, my boy!" Slughorn spreads his hands. "Our hero is preoccupied with many things, eh? Do come in, do come in, my boy, take a seat."

Potter's face goes a deep shade of beetroot up to the hairline. He drops his satchel at my desk, sitting down next to me. He's breathing heavily, as though he's been running for his life. There is a folded piece of parchment in his hand. Granger rolls her eyes at him, mouthing something like "Honestly", indicating with her head in my direction, and turns away.

What the hell is this about? 

Potter clears his throat, stuffing the parchment into his bag, and begins retrieving his things. His arm brushes mine, and I can’t... All my senses flare alert, aware of his proximity. I stare ahead.

"Where have you been?" He whispers.

"None of your business."

"You've skipped your meals."

"What?" I hiss. "Are you mothering me, Potter?"

"We agreed I'm Harry."

"No, we didn't," I say just to contradict him. I stand up and head to the supply closet. "Come on, Potter, we have a potion to brew." He follows.

The space is small and narrow, and there is no room enough for two, and he is right behind me.

"Draco..."

"Sunflower petals, here they are."

I grab the jar from the shelf and turn to Potter, thrusting it into his hands. I look him square in the face for the first time in days. I look... and I am defenceless, laid bare for him to take. We stare at each other. I hold my breath, air charged between us.

"Harry, come on! Move your arse out of there, we don't have all day," Finnigan's voice says  by the door.

The spell is broken. Potter turns with a jar in his hands and exits, I hastily grab a few things and follow. Finnigan brushes past me, shoving me with his shoulder, I stumble. Packets of dried herbs spill from the box in my hands all over the floor. I crouch down and start picking them up.

"Look where you're going, Seamus!" Potter is down beside me, gathering the packets quickly into the box with his free hand. 

"Thanks," I mutter.

The rest of the class passes almost in silence at our desk. I am brewing, and he's handing me ingredients at my request. When Slughorn announces that our Felix Felicis is outstanding, I feel a quiet pride and satisfaction  blossom in my chest. This is what I am really good at, the skill is wholly and utterly mine and cannot be taken away, other things staining my name notwithstanding. As a reward, Slughorn allows me and Potter to take a little vial of Felix each. The same is going on at Granger and Goldstein's table.

"Wow, Draco..." Potter grins at me, looking with admiration between me and the vial of golden liquid in his hand. "Thanks."

I've managed to impress Potter. Wow, indeed.

When the class is dismissed and Granger approaches our desk, I hastily grab my things and leave.

**

I am on my way to the library when stinging pain bursts between my shoulder blades. I whirl around. 

"Death Eater scum!"

Another hex hits me right across the lips and blood spurts hot.

"Death Eater whore!"

There are four of them with wands drawn and someone behind. Faces are familiar, but I don't know the names. The shove from behind sends me falling face forward on the floor. Someone's shoe collides with my side, knocking the air out of me. Blows are falling from everywhere.

"If not for your Death Eater friends, my brother would have been alive." 

Blind with pain, I curl in on myself, trying to take as little space as possible.

A hand grabs my hair, turning my face to the side. "Fuck you, filth. Your place is in Azkaban."

"Get the fuck away from him!"

Hand suddenly releases my hair. A sound of a body hitting the floor, a heavy growl.

"What the fuck!" Potter's voice is brimming with rage, "I'm reporting this to Headmistress. Now fuck off!"

Silence; seems like no one moves.

“I said fuck off! All of you.”

There's a shuffle of feet, a fall of footsteps retreating; silence.

Hand on my shoulder. "Draco?"

Cold stone is soothing under my throbbing cheek. My eyes are closed, shame so heavy crushes me down that I can't breath. I don't want to face Potter like this. I have no choice. I roll on my back and open my eyes.

His face swims into view, he is kneeling on the floor. "Are you hurt badly? Can you sit up?"

I prop myself on my elbows and then on my hands and sit up. My head is throbbing and there is deep stifling ache in my ribs - might be broken.

"You are bleeding. Can you stand? We'll go to Pomfrey."

He stands upz offering me both hands. "Here, take my hands."

Obediently I reach out and do as he says; I am too exhausted to argue. He helps me on my feet and picks up my satchel from the floor. Slowly we head in the direction of the Hospital Wing.

**

"Why didn't you fight back?"

"I couldn't."

"What do you mean couldn't?"

"I am not able to use any spells that may harm another person, the Ministry saw to it." I indicate at my left wrist.

"What? But that means..."

"Yeah, that means if someone decided to kill me, I'd just as well as let them."

"I didn't know. They haven't told me!"

"Cool down, Potter. It's better than Azkaban."

We are walking from the Hospital Wing. Pomfrey healed my broken ribs and lip and bruises in no time, shaking her head when Potter told her what had happened. Potter, the stubborn bastard he is, insisted on escorting me all the way to the Common Room. I let him.

"Fucking animals. I'm going to McGonnagal now," he fumes.

I'd rather he wouldn't, because it's a hopeless case, though he doesn't seem to think so.

"Come on, Potter. I can't blame them, really. If the whole school means me harm, it must be actually something wrong with me, don't you think? It's not as though I don't deserve it."

"I don't think you deserve it."

"I'm a fucking Death Eater, have you forgotten?"

"No offence, but you made a pathetic Death Eater. And you serve your sentence. You don't deserve to be mobbed in the corridors."

We have reached the door of the Common Room. I stop and stare at him. He is so fucking decent, it breaks my heart.

"I ought to speak to Kingsley, too. This is insane that they'd forbid someone to defend themselves."

Oh sweet Merlin, Potter's going to tell the Minister off on my behalf? 

"I'm not your charity case, Potter, I don't want your pity." I open the door and go inside, leaving him in the corridor.

**

It's evening and I am returning from the kitchens. I'm quite content with how the situation with meals has turned out. I don't need to attend the Great Hall ever. Good riddance.

When I open the door to the Common Room, voices rising in argument reach my ears.

"... Of all people, Harry, you should be the last person to say that! Have you forgotten what he and his family tried to do to you?!”

I stop in my tracks in the doorway.

"He had paid enough for this! He's still paying. I won't stand aside and look how he's getting bullied for the things that have nothing to do with him. They could fucking kill him!"

"Paid enough? Are you kidding me? He should rot in fucking Azkaban, like his father. What had happened today is only the beginning, believe me."

"Seamus, I swear to god, if you dare something like that..."

"You don't tell me what to do Harry!"

Enough. I stride into the room.

Potter and Finnigan are on the opposite sides, red-faced. Granger is on the sofa looking down at her hands, with one of the Patil sisters beside her. Thomas is with his back to the room, staring out of the window.

"Leave it, Potter," I say, stopping near the staircase. Only then they notice me. "I told you, I'm not your charity case. And besides, he's not wrong." I go up the stairs to my room. 

I drop on the bed, staring at the ceiling. I'm so disgusted with this situation, with myself. It's been only the first day here, and I’ve already managed to get the shit beaten out of me. How much more?

I am tired and old and worthless.  And beneath all this, there's another thing that hurts and soothes me at once, the thing I am afraid of examining closer: despite what I’ve told Potter - that I'm not his charity case - deep down I know that I want to be. I want his help and protection. Because I am weak and tired and selfish. Because Potter is the one person who can actually make the difference. Because the thought of Potter defending me with that fiery passion in front of everyone makes my stomach swoop with giddy excitement, makes me feel something bright and golden blossom in my chest.

Because it must mean he cares, and oh how I wish him to.

VIII.

You always leave me wanting more
I can't shake my hunger for
Strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you

   [Troye Sivan, 'Strawberries and Cigarettes']

Saturday morning finds me heading to the seventh floor of the East wing. I am dressed in my jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt (yes, no need to parade my forearms around), my wand in my hand. I am to rebuild today.

The rest of the week has passed surprisingly quiet. Potter spoke to McGonnagal and to my astonishment it had proved effective. The word has spread around the school that those fuckers – all Gryffindors, 6th and 7th years - were sent down home to await the decision of the Board of Governors as to their further predicament. I doubt they’ll be expelled but anyway... I’ve been left blessedly alone, and no one pays me any attention; even Finnigan pretends I don’t exist when we are in the same room. I am totally okay with it.

Last night an owl knocked on my window. The letter was brief: “10.00 o’clock, 7th floor, East wing, the first corridor to the left. Fire damage. Task: thorough cleaning [before rebuilding]. M.McGonnagall, Headmistress.”

Approaching the seventh floor, I feel ill. Fire damage. My senses are screaming at me not to go in there. I have no choice, do I? I’ve stuffed myself with a dose of Calming Draught beforehand, I supposed it would help keep my panic at bay. Now I begin to doubt it. I grip the wand tighter and enter. The stench of smoke hits me hard, provoking a violent fit of coughing. I think of a Bubble-Head Charm, but my magic is feeble still, and I don’t remember complicated details anyway. At the far end of the corridor I see the entrance to what once had been the Room of Requirement. There’s no door, the gap is wide; everything is burnt black inside. I don’t want to go in there. I’ll start at the beginning of the corridor. I lift my wand and concentrate, casting a strong cleaning spell on the wall before me from floor to ceiling, then another, then another. The space clears of soot, revealing stone beneath. I cast and cast and move along the wall. When I almost approach the gaping entrance, I quickly turn on my heel, not looking there, and go back to the beginning, where I start repeating my work at the opposite wall. More and more of stones are clearing, the stench subsided and I guess I’m doing well. But as fewer and fewer feet of the wall remains, my hands begin to tremble, my focus slipping, the spells become weaker and less effective. My heart speeds up and I gulp the air only making things worse - I start coughing. I glance over my shoulder. The Room  is behind me.

No no don’t look, don’t look... but I am  already looking.

I am suffocating. I close my eyes, and I am there: flames lick my shoes, as I am scrambling up the mound of old trash, chairs, desks, pillows, books. I see Crabbe’s terrified face dissolving in agony into the fire beneath, and there are only Goyle and I remained. The heat is scorching my skin; I feel the stench of my hair catching the firw. I am screaming myself hoarse, but no sound is coming out.

I hit the floor and curl into a ball, dragging my knees up to my chin. Get a grip, this is only in my head, I am repeating to myself, but it doesn’t help. I am shaking. I need to get out of this place, away from the Room, the stench, the soot. I need...

“Draco...”

Fingers touch my temple and everything goes black.

**

I feel as though someone switched the light on in my head. As though there were nothing before and now I exist again. Blink. I open my eyes.

I’m in my bed, Potter is looking down at me, face concerned.

“What's happened?”

“I had to knock you out a bit, sorry. You were thrashing about, wouldn’t keep still; I couldn’t Levitate you in that state.”

“Are you telling me, Potter, that you put me into unconsciousness without my consent?”

“Er... yes?..” He smiles awkwardly. I prop myself on my elbows. This is not my bed.

“This is not my room,” I say, looking around.

“This is my room. Sorry, yours is warded. I thought it would be rude if I broke the spells?”

“Potter...” 

Is he fucking telling me he would easily break my intricate wards if he wanted to?

He raises his palms up in defence.  “Sorry, desperate measures, as I said.” He sits on the bed beside me with a serious look. “How do you feel?”

I sit up, propping myself against the headboard, eyeing my socked feet - he removed my trainers.

“I don’t know... fine, I suppose?” I turn my head to look at him.

He is facing me, sitting with one leg tucked beneath him, his hand resting on the headboard.

“I’ve sent Patronus to McGonnagal. She says you may rest today. Another task will be appointed next week considering your... specific conditions.”

“Thank you,” I say.

He nods and looks away. Then looks back at me, then down, then at me again. He looks like he’s considering something, debating with himself. Then he lets out a breath, reaches out and covers my hand with his. I look down. Though Potter is pale, his skin still looks darker than mine where our hands are joined. His palm is warm. I look up. His face is uncertain as though he is waiting for me to withdraw my hand or ask him what the fuck he is doing. I don’t. Seconds pass. His thumb starts gliding over the back of my hand in slow circles. His gaze travels to my lips, then to my eyes again.

“Can I kiss you?” He whispers.

Thudding of my heart is deafening in my ears, so when I say “Yes”, I am afraid he hasn’t heard. But he has.

He has.

Because he leans forward, cups my jaw with his hand and brings his lips to mine. And I am falling, falling like snowflakes on his lips. He exhales in my mouth, soft movement of his lips driving me insane. He is oh-so-gentle, as if afraid of bruising soft skin of a fruit. My desire burns hot, I want to take, to possess. Grabbing the side of his neck, I launch forward and crush his lips with such force that his head hits the headboard. He laughs. I throw my leg over his thighs, straddling him, and rise on my knees. I take his glasses off and put them on the bedside table. His hands slide up my back under my T-shirt. I drag my palms up the sides of his neck, feeling the movement of his throat as he swallows. His head falls back, neck arched in offering; I take it with both hands and bring my lips down under his jaw. His breath catches. I nuzzle my way down pressing my nose into the hollow at the base of his throat and breathe in his warm scent. I guess Amortentia would smell like his skin. I slide my tongue all the way up to the spot under his ear, and he jerks, sitting up to meet me, nudging my face with his, seeking my lips. My mouth opens over his and our tongues touch, which sends all the blood down to my cock. I catch his lower lip with my teeth and he hisses. I fight the urge to bite down, to taste blood. I won’t hurt him, won’t try to take what he is unwilling to give. He drags his hands up my arms, tugging me down on top of him. I feel the length of his cock presses to my stomach.

He starts and whispers “Sorry, I... sorry...”

“It’s okay,” I whisper back.

I look down. Feeling bold, I place my hand over the bulge in his jeans. He stills and looks at me. A second passes, then another. Then he wraps his fingers around the back of my neck, pulling me down into the kiss, his other hand sliding between my legs. We rub each other through our jeans; the sensation is dulled with denim, but I am mad with lust. He sits up, and I straddle him again. He withdraws his hand from my crotch, resting it on the belt buckle. I stop and look down, then look up meeting his eyes. He is as nervous as I am.

“Is this okay?” he whispers.

I am not prepared for this, I am terrified, I don't know whether it is okay, but I want this.

“Yes,” I answer, rising on my knees.

He unbuckles my belt, slowly pulling it through the loops. His fingers are trembling, metallic click-click of the buckle the only sound in the room. One by one, he pops the buttons of my flies open, parting the fabric - then looks up. My breath is shallow.

“Should I...” I indicate vaguely down with my hand.

“Yeah...” His smile is nervous.

I shuffle down the bed and stand up. I grip the hem of my T-shirt, pulling it over my head. I slide my jeans down my hips when he already shirtless he comes to stand before me and begins unbuckling his belt. We undress in silence, sliding our trousers down around our knees, sitting on the bed side by side, pulling the socks off and getting free of our jeans. We stand up, facing each other, shoving down and away our pants.

We are naked.

I look at his body. The first thing I see is his jutting cock. It is thick and dark, and there is a nest of black hair around its base. I stare. I’ve never seen another man’s cock – fully erect – like that, it is unsettling. He is staring, too. I am shy under his scrutiny, I want to hide, to cover myself, and yet I am as aroused as I’ve never been in my life. He steps closer to me, sliding his palms up my sides, pressing his body to mine. We look down: my cock prods his hip, his cock is pressed to my belly. Letting out a shaky breath, he gives me a look and wraps his arms around my back, pulling me closer. We are both trembling. He touches his forehead to my shoulder.

“I... I don’t... know what to do,” he says, “I just want to be with you.”

Relief I cannot describe floods me at these words. I am glad. We are together in this.

“Harry...” I whisper into his hair.

“Can I touch you?” He asks.

“Yes.”

He takes my cock in his hand, holding it for a moment, and then starts stroking it up and down; I hiss.

“Is this okay?” He asks again.

I close my eyes and nod, my mouth opens on its own accord.

“Lie down,” he says, releasing my cock.

Yes, better lie down. I sit back on the bed, shuffling backwards, lying down on my back. He climbs on and sits beside me, eyeing my body. I want to cross my limbs, to curl on my side, to protect myself from this scrutiny; lying here spread out like this is too much. He straddles my legs and looms over me, gliding his palms up my thighs, my hips, stomach and chest, over the collarbones, shoulders, and back down again. He bends forward and kisses the scars on my chest.

“You are beautiful,” he whispers.

He takes my cock and gives it a stroke, looking at me with his brow furrowed.

“Does it feel good?” he asks.

It feels good, it does; but not good enough. He squeezes too tight, he doesn't go fast enough.

I put my hand over his. “Wait... lie down on your back.”

He obeys, and our positions are reversed.  I lay on top of him, lodging my pelvis between his thighs. I grip his wrists, pinning them over his head. I bend to kiss him and grind down, we both gasp. I look down to where our bodies touch – our cocks are pressed flush. Black hair of his groin against mine sandy-pale. I grind again, pressing, dragging the friction back and forth, and he moans. Yes. I repeat, and he thrusts up to meet me, and the movement dislodges our cocks. I reach down with my hand between us, adjusting them into place.

“Lay still,” I say.

I begin again, moving faster and faster, bending my neck to bring our foreheads together. We slide back and forth, back and forth. Sensation is gathering, quickening our breaths. It blooms oh-so-sweet and mounts and mounts. There is sweat between our bellies where our hair is mingling. I feel drops roll down my spine. Almost... He arches his neck, turning his face away; I bend down to lick the tendon. He bites his lip, his hips begin jerking. He opens his mouth in a silent cry, and hot pulsing of his cock splashes between us. I move through the sensation of his come around my cock, rubbing it into our skin. A stroke, one more, I put my forehead to his sweaty temple, and my mouth drops open, I jerk and jerk as my orgasm washes over me.

**

He is warm, the length of his body pressed to mine under the blanket. We've dozed off. I feel his soft breath at the back of my neck, his chest against my back. It is dark in the room. I have no idea what time it is. I turn in his arms to face him. His thick eyebrows are outlined against the pale face in the dark. I trace them lightly with my fingertip – one, then another. I slide my finger down his nose, over the lips and then trace his lower lip from side to side. I am happy and content, and anxious and uncertain - all at once. I don’t want to think about it now; I don't know what it means to us, or how I should behave. I don't know what it means to him, but I'd sooner die than ask. 

There is a knock on the door and I nearly jump out of my skin.

“Harry!”

Granger.

I shake him by the shoulder, he starts awake.

“Harry! Are you coming for dinner?”

“Er... Hermione... No! I’m sleeping.”

“Oh, sorry! Sorry, Harry! I’ll go.” Her steps retreat.

He lights the bedside lamp.

“Have you locked the door after you dragged me in here?” I hiss.

He laughs softly. “Yes. Don’t worry.”

He leans in and kisses me, stroking my cheek with his fingers.

“Are you telling me, that you’ve planned this, Potter?” I try to sound cross.

Potter it is, eh?”

“Yes.” I am very cross indeed.

He grabs me around the waist, burying his face between my neck and shoulder.

“Call me Harry!” He bites down lightly., making me squirm. “Call me Harry, call me Harry.” He tickles my ribs.

“Harry... Harry, stop it!” I am breathless with laughter.

Harry, eh?” His eyes are dancing with mirth.

“Yes. Harry. I probably should go to my room, Harry.”

He takes my face in his hands and kisses me. “Stay."

I stay.

IX.

Blue eyes, black jeans
Lighters and candy, I've been a fool
But strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you

   [Troye Sivan, 'Strawberries and Cigarettes']

Harry and Granger are walking ahead of me down the corridor to the Transfigurations classroom. It is Friday, after lunch period. I am glad there are only two classes left, it brings me closer to the evening when he will come to my room. I feel a little smile blossoms on my lips, I duck my face down not to parade it around.

It had been going like this since that night almost a week ago: we meet in our rooms at night - he spelled the doorway in the wall so there is no need to sneak around. During the days, as before, I refuse to come to the Great Hall for meals, though he asked me to. We are mostly apart, heading our separate ways. Except for Potions. Slughorn had  paired everyone up that first day when we brew Felix Felicis. So we share a desk with Harry twice a week. There is charged silence between us as we exchange glances over the cauldron when our fingers touch as he passes me ingredients. Once he laughed out loud at something I said, which earned us Granger's curious gaze. I schooled my features into neutrality; we have to be more careful.

I have a feeling she watches me sometimes. I mostly avoid her, except for those moments when it's impossible. Like at Arithmancy classes, for instance, which only the two of us in the 8th year share with the 7th years. Vector had paired us up at the desk. She is awkward around me and neutrally polite. She isn't mean to me; I don't think she has it in her. For the past few days I've been working up the courage to speak to her. I owe her an apology at least, though I am under no delusion that it would make up for everything I did to her in the past, I doubt anything ever would. Harry would appreciate it, I am sure. I don't tell him beforehand in case I'll play a coward in the end and chicken out. I still might, I know myself. I'll find her tomorrow evening, upon returning from my rebuilding session (‘Greenhouses number 7, 8 and 9’, McGonnagal's note had said).

Harry glances at me over his shoulder, his eyes widen a fraction, then turns away. Happiness is bubbling in me, feeling my lungs like an air balloon. I can't remember what I was doing a week ago, not having this in my chest. Last Sunday morning, having spent the night in his bed, I woke up feeling a little embarrassed. I slipped out of the bed and went to the shower to give myself some space. Harry found me there five minutes later. He turned to the loo with his back to me and pissed. I was shocked, to be honest. I am a very private person, you see. I am not used to share such things with anyone. He slid the glass door of the shower-stall open and stepped inside, just like that, shutting us together in the small stifling hot space. He pressed me into the tiled wall and kissed me hot and hard. I don't know whether I was uncomfortable before, but I had ceased thinking altogether as soon as his hand had found my cock.

Later he suggested we'd spend the day outside, going for a ride.

"We are of age, we are not forbidden  to leave the grounds," he said, "no one would mind our absence."

McGonnagal would mind my absence, I'd say; but what she wouldn't know wouldn't harm her. We agreed that I'd meet him in an hour by the Gates. As I walked past him and Granger, heading to the kitchens for breakfast, I heard him saying he'd planned to spend the day 'at home' having ‘to sort some stuff out’. I brushed past them, relishing the feeling of slippery fabric in my pocket. Yes, he gave me his Invisibility Cloak. Can you believe it?

I was standing under the Cloak by the Gates, planning to sneak on him as he'd show up.

But he only laughed saying: "Come on, Draco, I see you."

Tucking a piece of parchment into the back pocket of his jeans, he began unlocking the Gates. What the hell? I reached out and snatched it, unfolding it in my hands. It was traced with lines and dots and circles. 'Draco Malfoy' it read, and near it - 'Harry Potter'.

It was a map, he told me. The fucking Map of Hogwarts grounds that indicated every last person within its boundaries. So this is how he always knew where exactly to find me. I often wondered. The Cloak and the Map - I was outraged.

"Are you stalking me, Harry?"

"No." He smiled sheepishly. "But... I used to in the 6th year."

Of course he used to, of course he did. This is what he was doing a week ago being late for Potions: running up to his room after breakfast to check the Map when I didn't show up. This is how he found me when I was beaten up and when I was having a fit at  the 7th floor.

"Look, don't be mad at me," he said, "it's not like that ... it's just... just to be sure you are not in trouble with no help, you know, after what had happened last week..."

"I'm not a baby, Harry. Stop mothering me," I fumed.

But secretly I felt all warm inside at the thought that he wanted to protect me, that he cared.

Once outside the Gates, he grabbed my hand under the Cloak and Apparated us to his house. The old House of Black that his godfather left him; a creepy place. He said he was planning to change everything.

We headed to the garage for his motorbike. He cast a Disillusionment Charm, and we soared into the sky. We flew over London, and I gripped him and pressed my lips to his neck, basking in a feeling of being allowed to. We flew over fields and woods, and landed in a clearing in the middle of nowhere. I summoned Bibby, and she brought us strawberries. Harry tried to teach me how to cast a Patronus. I haven't succeeded yet, but it's only a matter of time, I am sure, for the memories I have now are enough to light up the sun. We kissed in the grass and ate strawberries and kissed again. It felt like summer (‘Our summer' I think of it), only thousand times better. Late at night we returned to Hogwarts, parting our ways only to meet again in my room. And it went on like that.

Every night I wait for him to come and set my skin alight. He does, oh he does. Time passes in the blur... 'Lovemaking' - I think of it. I don't tell him. I am learning to know his body as I never imagined. He is beautiful - lean and strong - but what I remember the most if I think of it, is his warmth under my palms and his smell. Harry's easy ability for affection overwhelms me. I've never imagined such intimacy is possible.

Last night he surprised me, sliding down on his knees in the shower, taking the head of my cock between his lips. We'd never done this before.

"Let me?" He asked.

I let him.

He took more of my length into his mouth and sucked. It was new and intense and hot, as his mouth squeezed around my cock. He wrapped his hands around my thighs and bore down, and instantly gagged, jerking away. He dived for it again, keeping my cock in place with his hand. He bobbed his head and gagged again, withdrawing. Then resumed with a shallower friction. Up and down, up and down, again and again. It was good, it really was, but in the end I couldn't come, because as soon as I began feeling my orgasm mounting, each time he involuntarily gagged, releasing the pressure of his mouth, and sensation subsided. In the end I put my hand on his cheek stilling his movements.

"Wait," I said, "come here." I pulled him up on his feet. "Kiss me."

He kissed me - open mouthed and sloppy - musky taste on his tongue must have been my own scent. I took my cock, bringing myself off in a few rough strokes, coming over his stomach. I had ceased to be as shy as I’d once been of doing such a thing in front of him

This morning when he stirred beside me, I was already awake. I threw off the blanket and slid down the bed, eyeing his erection. I felt bold enough to touch my lips to the tip of his cock. 

"You don't have to..." He said above me.

"Do you mind?" 

"No."

I not only wanted to bring him pleasure, I was determined to know how it would feel having a cock in my mouth. It felt - big, I hadn’t expected that big. I wrapped my lips around the head, pressing my tongue to its underside. He hissed. Emboldened, I slid further down and instantly my throat contracted, bringing tears up to my eyes, I withdrew. Alright, no way would I be able to aim for the whole length. I wrapped my hand around the base and tried again. I took him in my mouth and sucked, bobbing my head, trying to move my hand up and down in accord. The head of his cock seemed to swell even larger inside my mouth, making me gag again. Fuck. It was not as easy as it looked. I stroked him with my hand, bringing my mouth down. I sucked at the head, sliding my tongue along the underside; I repeated the motion again and again, moving my hand along the length. It wasn’t easy to maintain the rhythm. The crane in my neck was uncomfortable, and my jaw began to ache. Now I saw why he couldn't make me come. I even contemplated the thought of jerking him off by hand, when he moaned, his thighs beginning to tremble.

"Don’t stop," he breathed out.

I went faster, he arched, and I felt the cock pulsing in my grip as the splash of his come hit my throat. Although I expected this, it had caught me off guard. I gulped, coughed, spluttered, withdrew, swallowing, wiping my mouth with my hand. Bitter aftertaste was strong, weird and not at all pleasant, stinging at the base of my tongue. But I felt smug and accomplished.

"Sorry," he said, "come here."

"It's okay." I bent down to kiss him.

He took my face in both hands and opened his lips, sharing his own taste from my tongue.

I wonder, whether it was the same to him with the Weasley girl. I don't dare to ask but I am dying to know. I push those thoughts away. It’s no good to be jealous of the past; I still cannot help it. He told me they had had sex once, back in May. He was too aroused, he said, and came too soon, and she didn't, and it was over as soon as it had barely begun.

They broke up in June. It was never the same to him, he said, after the war. He wished it were, he wanted someone to come to, to care of; but everything faded, he was depressed and fucked up, he still is, but it’s getting better. 

"I didn't know... I thought..." I trailed off.

He laughed. "I know what you thought. That it was all glory and bliss for the Saviour."

I actually did, to be honest.

"I was a mess after the funerals, didn't know what to do with myself. I used to hang out in Muggle pubs, drinking myself stupid. Then there was a moment I realised I couldn't go on like that. Unless I aimed ending up in the gutter, I should pull my shit together. That's why I decided to come back to Hogwarts, to recuperate. Back in the 6th year, we thought we'd join the Aurors with Ron. But after the war, he said he'd had enough of that shit for a lifetime and went into the joke-shop business with his brother. And I couldn't blame him. I haven’t figured out what to do yet, but I'm not going into the Aurors for sure. When I came to return you wand, I didn't expect to find you in such a state, to be honest. You were so... lifeless, I wanted to shake you. You've changed this past month, you know...and you've filled out nicely..." With a feral grin he grabbed my bare arse.

He said he had never fancied boys before. And I told him how I'd found out about me being into boys.

"Actually, I don't know if this is about boys for me," he said, "more like it's about you." Those words filled me with sweetness.

I don't know how I lived without this, I don't even remember. I feel cherished and worthy, as I never did before. When I look at myself in the mirror, I try to imagine me through his eyes. I want to find out what he sees in me - so I would know and cherish it like a flower, and enhance and give it to him, so he'd never consider to leave me. Although his caress draws sparks out of me every night, it is not what's the most important to me. I think if we never made love at all, I would be content all the same. Just to be near him would be enough. He is my best friend, the best person I've ever known. I don't know if it's the same for him. It is all too soon and too much. I suppose, it is impossible to have what we have and not feel like I do. 

I never ask him and he never tells.

**

I enter the library, feeling ill at ease. Should have taken a sip of Felix, comes the afterthought. I'm not turning back. I walk down the aisle, looking to the right and left, surely she must be here somewhere. If not, I'm done for today, I decide. I'll try tomorrow.

I hear soft murmur of voices further down the aisle and see Granger's unmistakable hair. She is sitting by the window with someone whom I can’t see, their heads close in conversation. Damn. Now I have two options: back out and try later, or wait here until she's alone. Fine. Since I am already here, may as well catch up with my Arithmancy essay. Of course I've brought my bag with me; it looks suspicious to wander the library empty-handed. I duck into the alcove next to where Granger is sitting, the bookshelves separating us. I'll wait here until whoever it is fucks off and then come forward with my carefully rehearsed speech. I sit at the desk and retrieve quills, parchment and Arithmancy textbook out of my bag.

"...go home again ... stuff to sort out..." Harry's voice reaches me.

I bolt up straight in my chair.

"...appreciate... 'Mione... waste your Sunday... Ron."

I peer through the bookshelves: Harry is facing Granger, sitting astride his chair with his chin on his forearms. I stand up and tiptoe around the desk further to the window, closer to where they are sitting.

"...Slughorn has paired up with," Granger says.

Carefully I move along the bookshelves, peering at them through the rows of books.

"...okay in Potions, actually," Harry replies.

I stop opposite them. 

"Surprisingly enough, since you'd been paired up with Malfoy."

Harry laughs. "You know, I'm not complaining."

Granger purses her lips. "Harry... I wondered... what's going on between you and Malfoy?"

I go cold, then hot.

"Nothing," Harry replies too quickly, looking down at his forearms at the back of the chair.

"It's funny... I thought-"

"What you thought?"

He sounds defensive, and I don't like his tone. Don't like it at all.

"I thought I saw something the other day... but-"

"There's nothing between me and Malfoy," he cuts her off, his voice flat.

Something heavy drops in my stomach.

I see

Nothing. 

It is as though someone has switched all the lights off.

Scrape of a chair - Harry stands up. He says something to Granger, but I don't listen. I head to my desk and grab my satchel, stuffing my things inside. My hands are shaking, and the parchment crumbles. Fuck. I don’t manage to neatly fit the box of quills, and it falls on the floor, quills scattering around. Damn it. I crouch down and begin picking them up, shoving them back into the box. Finally I stuff the box into the bag and leave. 

I stride out of the alcove and down the aisle, my bag bouncing against my calves - I carry it by the strap. Vicious rhythm of my brogues against the flagstones is echoing all the way down the library, so that Potter turns to look over his shoulder on his way ahead of me. He stops, his features alight with surprise. I set my jaw, brushing past him without slowing down. In a few seconds I hear his quick footsteps break into the run, but I have already reached the door. I slam it shut and  turn the corner, striding ahead, then turn to the right, then to the left, down the stairs, I don't know where I am going; I don't care.

He finds me in the dark on the bench by the Lake.

Of course he fucking does.

"Draco?"

I don't reply.

"Draco, what's the matter? What is this all about?"

I stare ahead.

"What's wrong with you?"

I turn my head to look at him. In the moonlight his face is bewildered, he is holding the Map. If I haven't known better, I would have easily thought that he genuinely cares.

"Nothing's wrong with me. According to you, anyway. Because I am nothing," I spit.

"What?"

"There's nothing between us, as you informed Granger. Oh, it's been enlightening for me as well. So I don't see why you care. Now do kindly fuck off and stop stalking me with your fucking Map." I turn away.

"I didn't... I didn't mean it like that..."

I whirl around. "What did you mean, Harry? I get it you didn't tell her we are fucking, but - oh I don't know - let's see, maybe you should have at least acknowledged that we are friends?"

He doesn't find what to say. I stand up and move to the next bench farther ahead. He doesn't follow.

**

I drag my feet heavily over the steps up the Common Room staircase. I feel sick down to my bones.

When I unward and open the door of my room - Potter is there on the bed, propped against the headboard. I slam the door shut, turn and lean my back against it. Minutes pass. It's not as though I have anywhere else to go. I turn back, grab the handle and enter, banging the door shut. Potter is there. I wrench the satchel off my shoulder, throwing it on the bed - it lands on Potter's legs. I turn my back to him and unbutton my cardigan, throwing it back over my shoulder with force. When I turn, it lands onto Potter's head. He tugs it off, knocking his glasses down with it, he puts them back on. I unbutton my shirt, pulling it down my shoulders and throw it in his direction. It covers his face. He tugs it off, knocking the glasses again. Setting his jaw, he puts them back on and crosses his arms on his chest.

I turn on my heels and stride to the bathroom, slamming the door shut. I turn the tap on and splash my face with cold water. I piss and wash my hands. I open the bathroom's door with a bang. Potter is here, exactly as I've left him. I sit at the foot of the bed with my back to him and bend down, beginning to unlace my shoes with jerky movements. 

"Draco."

I take the shoes off.

"Look, I am sorry. We should talk."

I pull the socks off and stand to face him.

"Talk." I wave my hand at him.

"I didn't mean it like that. When Hermione asked me, she had caught me off guard, I blurted it on impulse, okay? I am sorry it sounded to you like that."

"Yet still, the first thing that hasdoccurred to you was to deny any association with me. A lot is going on between us, Harry. And I don't only mean fucking, I understand you don’t want to discuss your sex life with her. But you could have said that we are friends, you could have at least acknowledged that we get along, or maybe that you don't think of me as a waste of space anymore?" My voice rises. "Or that we speak to each other, that we actually talk about things like friends do? I bet Granger doesn't have a clue you'd spent every single day of the last two weeks of August in the Manor with me, does she? That you came because you wanted to, I didn't make you? That you ignored the Weasleys' invitations when it suited you to spend the evenings with me? You are fucking ashamed to even acknowledge me in public. You are okay with us fucking every night but you don't have the guts to be associated with me, and that’s what is killing me!"

I am worn out; I don't want to have this conversation.

"It's not fucking, what we are doing" he says, "I never thought of it as merely fucking."

I laugh. "It's funny how of all the things I've said, 'fucking' is the one that catches your attention."

I sit heavily on the bed with my back to him. All the fight has gone out of me.

"It doesn't matter what you think of it,” I say tiredly, “as long as you treat me as your dirty little secret, it doesn't matter what you think. I know Granger hates me, and she has no idea that I might not be the same person she knew, and whether I've changed or not - it doesn't erase the past. But you cannot have it both ways, Harry, something has to give."

He says nothing, and we sit in silence for a while.

"Go to your room, Harry. I need to sleep."

I am defeated. Silence stretches between us. Then I feel the bed dips down under his weight as he stands, the sound of the door handle, and another as it clicks shut.

Angry tears are welling up in my eyes. I wipe them away.

**

I lay awake and toss and turn and toil half the night. A thought occurs to me. I set alarm on and close my eyes and alarm flares immediately. I struggle to open my eyes, my eyelids are leaden. Shiny bright-blue sign is pulsing in the air: 6:00. I drag myself out of bed and stand under the shower for an eternity. I put on jeans and the red jumper. When I emerge out of my room, it is 7:30 in the morning. Everything is silent. I descend the steps. It is Sunday and the Common Room is empty at this hour. I sit in the armchair facing the staircase and wait.

As I grasped from the conversation in the library, Granger is visiting Weasley today. I have no idea when exactly she plans to do that, but I guess she might leave straight out of the Great Hall after breakfast. The breakfast is served from eight to ten on Saturdays. If I want to intercept her before she leaves, I should do it early in the morning. So here I am, waiting for her. Unlike yesterday, I feel no fear, no anxiety, only determination. I hadn't taken Felix on purpose. The potion wouldn’t make my problems disappear. So no potions, I’m on my own. What I'd realised last night, is that Harry, in spite of everything, turned out to be a coward. And I am done with being a coward. I am fed up.

Granger walks down the stairs precisely at 8:00. I approach the staircase. She is rummaging in her bag and doesn't notice me. She is wearing jeans and a green cardigan. Her curly hair is pulled back into a loose braid over her shoulder. I am surprised to realise that she is quite pretty.

"Granger," I say and she starts, "Hermione.”

“Malfoy?” She eyes me wearily.

“Sorry to bother you, but do you have a minute?” I ask. I aim for polite, but it comes out strained. My heart speeds up, and all my calmness evaporates. “I need to speak to you privately if you don’t mind.”

“Oh... okay." She heads to the fireplace and I follow.

She seats down on the sofa, and I sit on the other one facing her. We awkwardly  mirror each other’s position: backs straight, hands folded on the lap. She gives me a look and slightly raises her eyebrows when I don’t speak. I take a breath. I don’t remember a word of the speech I have carefully composed for this situation. I am suddenly terrified that she’ll tell me to stuff my apologies up my arse and fuck off, and rightly so.

“What is it?” She asks, nudging me to proceed.

“I’m sorry,” I blurt, “I want to apologise for the things that I did to you in the past, for what my family did.”

Her eyes widen, she listens.

“For being such a shit, for being a bully, for calling you names. For becoming a Death Eater, for taking the Mark."

I cannot look her in the face, instead I stare down at my fingers fiddling with the sleeve of my jumper.

"I regret many things I’d done. I realise that no matter what I say, my words would not erase the past... And that actually it matters more to me than to you to unload this off my chest. You have every right to tell me to fuck off and hex me for good. My mistakes cannot be undone, but I wanted you to know that I hope to learn from my mistakes, it is not easy but I’m trying.”

I look up at her; she is staring at me, wide-eyed.

“You know, I’ve been preparing myself for this conversation for days,” I say, “I’ve actually composed a fucking speech to impress you. Some shit about forgiveness and second choices. I have also been considering  to dose myself with Felix Felicis this morning. But I’d forgotten the speech and hdn’t taken the potion, that is why I’m stammering and sound pathetic. Thank you for hearing me out.”

She is visibly uncomfortable. “That was...unexpected. But I appreciate your effort. It is a good thing,” she says, placing every word carefully, “I don’t think we would ever be friends, but we can move on. We can try to communicate civilly and be decent to each other. I... accept your apology.” She holds her hand out.

I can’t believe it. I take it and squeeze.

She stands up. “Alright, I have to go. Have a good day.” As she heads to the door, I look up and see Potter staring down at me from the landing. He hastily backs off, and I hear the sound of a closing door. 

X.

Long nights, daydreams
With that sugar and smoke rings
Always taste like you

   [Troye Sivan, ‘Strawberries and Cigarettes]

Next two weeks pass in a blur. The world is grey. I drag myself about: kitchens – classes – kitchens – classes – library – kitchens – my room – shower – bed – repeat. Saturdays bring some difference into my routine. Although no doubt she is aware of the situation with my meals, McGonnagal has never brought up the issue of my absence from the Great Hall; I am grateful. I don’t notice what I do or eat or wear; I talk to no one, I am invisible. I just go on and smoke, smoke, smoke.

We don’t speak with Harry and don’t see each other, except for classes. At Potions we sit as far from each other as possible at the opposite sides of the desk, his heavy sadness and my resentment between us. Unhappiness settles heavily over my whole being. The door between our rooms stays closed as though it has never been open. He didn’t spell it back into the wall, and neither did I. But it’s his doing, isn’t it? He is the one to act.

Every now and then my panic begins rising again for no reason. The thought, the sound - and my heartbeat strives to choke me. How weird to still feel a heartbeat, for I don’t have a heart, you see. Harry smashed it against stone.

Mother's letters arrive once a week. She ask how I’m doing, and I reply that I work hard on my studies, and my grades are satisfactorily high. I love my Mother, but I've never been used to share my private thoughts with her. I am not about to discuss my feelings for Potter.

I try to hate him, I cannot. I look at him in classes when he isn't watching. They sit far ahead with Granger. I look at his profile when he turns his head to tell her something. I want to touch my lips to his temple, to take his glasses off and kiss his eyes; I remember how it feels. Sometimes I wish I'd never brought it all up - so I'd still be allowed to touch him. Other times I despise myself for this weakness. But I feel as though a huge chunk of me has been ripped out. Is this Love? I don't know, and does it really matter? However I name it - it still hurts so much I cannot breathe.

Sometimes I am aware of him watching me at the edges of my vision. Does he feel the same? I cannot tell.

Granger is polite to me, and we call each other by our given names. Recently I've noticed, she looks at me oddly. Once I walked into the Common Room to find her and Potter on the sofa in whispered argument. They fell silent as soon as they saw me. It looked like Granger was scolding him or something.

Another week passes, and I begin to feel a bit better. I am settled in the finality of it all. I get used to the pain, so it dulls to a bearable degree. It is a good thing, I suppose.

**

It's Sunday morning and I am about to turn to the basement when I duck under the main staircase, bumping into Potter.

"Hi!"

"Hi." I try to walk past him, but he moves to the side, blocking my way. I try to step around - he doesn't let me.

"Get out of the way, Harry."

He grips me by the elbow instead.

I wrench my arm. "Let go."

He doesn't. He pushes into my chest with his other hand, trying to walk me backwards.

"What the hell, Potter!?"

He digs his fingers under my armpit, turning me around and dragging me into the Entrance Hall.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing?" I try to wrench free; unsuccessfully.

"We are going to have breakfast," he snaps, pulling me in the direction of the Great Hall.

I dig my heels, struggling to stay in place, the bastard is stronger than I. Slowly but steadily I am being dragged to the open door of the Great Hall. In the doorway he abruptly stops and drops my arm. He takes my hand in a clutch, crushing my fingers, making me wince, and pulls me through the entrance into the noise and buzz and clinking of dishes of a few hundred students.

"We are having breakfast. Now. Together. I am not ashamed to be seen with you."

The noise around us dies down, and I look up. Everyone - everyone - is staring at the two of us holding hands in the doorway. Potter tugs at my hand, beginning to walk, and I follow. In shocked silence we move down the aisle.  

Fuck.

When I accused him of not acknowledging me in public - in my wildest dreams I never imagined to be paraded in front of the whole school like this. Trust Potter to do just that.

He leads me along the dais, where teachers are staring at us, around the Hufflepuff table, and to where Gryffindor is seated. Not looking at anyone, he drops onto the bench opposite Granger at the very end of the table, pulling me down with him. It is only when I seat next to him with my back to the rest of the Hall, he releases my hand. Slowly whispers begin to roll here and there, conversations resume, and the Great Hall is buzzing, discussing us. The Gryffindor table is silent. I feel their stares, but I don't dare to turn and look. I stare down at my plate, heat creeping up my neck and face; I’m sure I am the colour of a boiled lobster now.

"Hi, Draco," Granger says, and I look up.

"Hi," I manage.

Potter clears his throat beside me, his shoulder brushing mine; I cannot bring myself to look at him. He grabs a jar of pumpkin juice, filling my glass. I reach for it and take a sip.  I take a toast from the platter and bite into it. Potter reaches for the treacle tart. We chew in silence.  In any other situation - in the middle of the Great Hall among all these people - I would have freaked out in panic by now, but Potter's stunt has pulled the rug out from under me; I am shocked and don't focus on my other fears.

"Er... Draco," Granger says, "would you like to go to the match?"

"The match?" I repeat stupidly.

"There's a Quidditch match this morning. Gryffindor-Ravenclaw. Harry is playing, so maybe we can go together?"

Only then I become aware that Potter is indeed in his red-and-black Quidditch uniform.

"Yeah. Excellent idea, Hermione," Potter utters stiffly and turns to me. "So?"

"You are not on the team," I say, as though it's the main point.

"No, I'm not. But it's a friendly match for fun - not for the Cup. So?"

"Okay," I say.

"Great. Meet you there, Hermione." Potter stands and tugs at my arm. "Come on."

"What?"

"We need to talk." He grabs my hand again, trying to pull me up. I stand.

"Stop fucking manhandling me, Potter," I hiss but follow him.

Silence falls around us again as we walk out of the Great Hall hand in hand.

He leads me outdoors and around the castle, in the direction of the Quidditch pitch. We reach the Lake when he stops and releases my hand. 

"Look, Draco... I am sorry. I... you are right, I've been a coward... and a shit... and I hurt your feelings." He runs his palm over his face. "I just... want to be with you. Will you forgive me?"

I stare at him.

"These past weeks have been utter shit, you know..."

"I know," I say, "I know."

He launches forward, wrapping his arms around me. "Oh fuck...I'm so sorry," he breathes into my neck, making me shiver, "I missed you."

"I missed you, too." I wind my hands around his waist, pressing my forehead to his temple, tremors beginning in my fingers.

It is as though enormous weight that was crushing me down is unloaded off my shoulders. My heart is exploding.

"What the others will say?" I mumble into his temple.

"I don't know, I don't give a fuck." He squeezes me in his arms. "We can do whatever we want."

I press myself to him and breathe him in, letting myself feel.

**

We approach the Gryffindor stands where Granger is waiting. We are not holding hands, but people stare

"So... see you." Harry briefly touches my hand with a sheepish smile.

I nod. He turns, heading to the locker rooms, leaving us with Granger.

"Come on," she says, turning to the steps, and I follow.

When we emerge at the top of the stands, every head turns in our direction. 

"Harry had told me about... you and him, and what had happened," she says once we take our seats.

I know he had, but I am embarrassed, I am sure my face is red. I don't find what to say, so I nod.

On the whistle the players kick off the ground. I see Harry, soaring high far above the rest of the team. Flying past our stands, he waves, and people cheer in response. The game proceeds, but I really can't concentrate on what's going on. I simply follow his movements in the sky. I feel lightheaded and anxious and alive again.

He catches the Snitch, and the stands erupt in applause. He holds it high above his head for everyone to see. He directs his broom downwards, catching up with the rest of the team, shaking hands with the Ravenclaw Seeker in the air. He hands the snitch to Madam Hooch and soars high again, heading right to our stands. We are standing by the railings with Granger, watching him flying at us with a grin on his face. He hovers above the stands and hops off his broom. When he approaches, my heart speeds up in anticipation of I don't know what. People around us are staring, conversations die down.

He reaches for me, and it's only a second before I realise in shock what he is about to do.

He cups my face in his hands, kissing me in front of the entire stadium.

**

He is asleep, and I am not, and I watch his face.

After Quidditch there was lunch and I sat beside him at the Gryffindor table. He laughed and joked and talked to Granger across the table, and I was silent and happy.

"Let's get out of here," he said, and we went for a ride.

When we entered the Common Room late in the evening, he took my hand and determinedly led me up the staircase under the stares of Finnigan, Thomas and Goldstein.

We clutched at each other and talked and talked. We didn't make love, it felt too much.

I lean forward and place a kiss on his closed eyelids.

XI.

Headlights, on me (and even if I run away)
Racing to 60, I've been a fool (and give my heart a holiday)
Still, strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like
Blue eyes, black jeans (you always leave me wanting more)
Lighters and candy, I've been a fool (I can't shake my hunger for)
Strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you

   [Troye Sivan, 'Strawberries and Cigarettes']

'HARRY POTTER : THE GAY WHO LIVED ONLY TO FALL FOR THE CRIMINAL. Or how a wily Death Eater on probation Draco Malfoy found his way around the Saviour.'

I hurl the Prophet onto the desk, Harry picks it up. My mother's note that was attached to it falls on the floor.

'Draco, my dear, can you explain the meaning of this?' it says.

For a week since that Quidditch match we've been an ‘item' (as Thomas put it). Now this. I shouldn't be surprised, what did I expect?

Although no one dares to say a word to Harry Potter, common disapproval is palpable.  When Harry takes my hand in the halls, people around us act as though we are invisible. I don't know whether it's a 'Gay-thing' or a 'Death-Eater-thing' that pisses them off the most.

In classes, except for Potions, we sit separately as before: he and Granger at the front, I - alone at the back of the classroom. No need to distract each other.  We take our meals at the Gryffindor table. There's no separate one for the 8th year students, and we can sit wherever we like; but 5 of them are Gryffindors anyway favouring their old table; Goldstein and the second Patil sister are here as well. I said, maybe we’d better visit the kitchens instead? No need to make it look as though we are hiding or ashamed, he said. 

Harry refuses to discuss it with anyone. He came out to Granger back then, when we weren't on speaking terms, and told her everything about me. He had spoken to Weasley the next day after the Quidditch match. He returned, fuming.

"It didn't go well," he told me.

Oh, come on.

I know very well it was a disaster. I bet Weasley hadn't seen it coming even in his worst nightmares. I don't know about the 'gay-part', but the 'Me-part' of it neither Weasley nor his family will ever accept. 

"I'm afraid I'll ruin all the friendships you have," I said to him.

"My friends don't own me, whatever they may think," he set his jaw, "it's not like I tell them what to do with their lives. If they are my friends, they would respect my choices and shut up. Me being with you has nothing to do with them."

I want to tell him that in my case it has everything to do with them; I don't. I am not going to deny myself what we have for Weasley's sake either.

"Shit...sick fuckers." He slams the paper on the desk. “Which one of them ran to the Prophet?

There are few hundred students in this school, anyone could. There’s no point in guessing. We are in the library ,and Madam Pince peers around the corner at the sound of his voice, shaking her head in disapproval.

"We should write to your Mother," he says, "explain things."

'I am happy to accept whomever makes you happy, my dear,' Mother writes back, 'Be it a man or a lady. The fact that it happens to be Mr. Potter only assures me that you are in a company of the best and the most decent person possible, and I am happy for you both.' 

If I didn't know better, I would have assumed she saw it coming, wouldn't I? Though you can never tell with my Mother.

**

Harry pours Firewhisky in two glasses and flops down beside me on the sofa, tucking one foot under himself. I accept the glass and take a sip, smoky burn of the liquid spreading down my throat. 

"So, what do you think?" He asks.

"I think it's great."

"At first I thought I should never change anything, preserve it exactly as Sirius had left it, you know, in a memory of him. But I began suffocating here after the war, and anyway, Sirius always hated this place, he told me."

Harry had invited Thomas to his house, asking for an advice. Thomas, known for his drawing skills, made him a design-project that would transform this dark creepy place into something clean and light and liveable. As little as I know about these things, even I can see Thomas has done an excellent job.

It is Saturday night, and we are at Grimmauld Place.

"What do you think of going out tonight?" He asked me this morning, when I was leaving for the rebuilding session. "We can hang out late and stay the night at Grimmauld."

We've spent the evening in London, wandering about, having dinner at a Muggle pub, and returned to Grimmauld well past midnight.

Harry takes my glass and puts it down on the coffee-table. He wraps his hand around the back of my neck and kisses me - steadily, insistently. Anticipation is mingling in me with warmth of Firewhisky, I am trembling and I want. I lean into him, kissing back. Although we didn't talk about it, we both know what this is all about. We've never done this before, and I don't know why staying here means what it means to us, but tonight is different. He is trembling beneath my hand, he is nervous, too.

Harry unfolds his legs, rising from the sofa, taking my hand, and I follow. He leads me up the stairs and to the left, down the corridor, opening his bedroom. He waves his hand, and the soft light floods the room. Unlike the rest of the house, it's not grim or dingy. It reminds me our rooms at Hogwarts.

We approach the bed and stop. Not saying a word, we begin undressing, mirroring each other's movements: buttons, shirts, belts, shoes, socks, trousers, pants – off.

Our cocks already jut out. Harry takes a step forward, bringing his hands to my chest, gliding them down my body. He takes me by the hips, kneeling down, pressing his lips to my stomach, nuzzling the trail of hair below my navel. I run my fingers over the sides of his head, his temples and then reach for his glasses, taking them off.

"Come on," I say, and he rises on his feet.

I turn to the bed and put the glasses onto the bedside drawer. I pull the duvet off, dropping it on the floor and climb on the bed, propping myself by the elbows. I see he is uncertain how to approach this, too. We talked about it vaguely some time ago, like something we might try some day, but never defined anything. I don't know if I would like it, if it hurts? If it does - how much? The only way of finding out. After all, we always can stop.

"Come here," I say, and he comes.

He covers my body with his, winding his legs with mine, and dives to kiss me. I roll us over, so I loom over him, and grind my hips into his. I straddle him, taking his cock, circling the tip with my thumb, he thrusts into my palm. With my other hand I take my own cock and do the same.

"Fuck, Draco..." he breathes, watching the movements of my thumbs. 

"Do you have lube?" I ask.

Yes, I've read some stuff and know things, I'm not totally lame.

"In the drawer," he says.

I lean over him, rummaging there, and retrieve the vial.

He follows my movements with hooded eyes. "There are spells," he says. 

"Do you know them?" I ask, 'cause I don't.

"Yeah."

"Okay," I climb off him, leaning head down off the bed, "where is your wand?" I rummage through the heap of our clothes, ah, here they are - I retrieve both and sit up.

"You'd better cast them with your own wand, I'll show you," he says, and my breath stops.

What?

"Do you want to - bottom?"

I said I know stuff, didn't I?

"Er... I don't know... I might this first time...unless you..." 

"No, it's okay," I manage.

When I thought about it, somehow I always imagined that it is I who would be on the receiving end in this situation. Not because I actively wanted it, but rather because I thought he wouldn't want to do it. I cannot tell that I don't want it either, mainly I'm freaking nervous and unsure of what I should or shouldn't do. I hate to admit it but I am relieved.

I clear my throat. "So...the spells?"

He rolls over and reaches for the drawer, retrieving a bright magazine. He takes his glasses, putting them on, and leafs through the pages. I see the images move.

"Here." He turns it for me to see.

And - Holy Fuck!  - the moving photograph shows a man on his hands and knees, another man is right behind him, spreading his arse-cheeks wide, pounding his arsehole with an enormous cock back and forth, back and forth.

I can’t take my eyes of the sight of the thick dick disappearing into the hole all the way up to its root, then reappearing back again all the way so even its swollen head shows a little.

Fuck, all the blood in my body rushes down to my already hard cock and it bobs. Harry grins. When I said I read things... Well, they didn't contain photographs that can give you a heart attack.

Harry points at the next page.

‘Handy spells to ensure your anal pleasure,’ it reads, and there are spells written down with descriptions of their pronunciation and wand-patterns and application areas.

Oh Merlin, I love education.

"These ones." He points.

It turns out there are three of them: two cleaning spells and one for protection. They are not difficult to master. I point the wand at Harry's lower belly and cast, he winces. 

"What?" I ask.

"It's worked, I suppose, feels really weird." He takes the glasses off, rolling on his stomach. "Go on."

I put the tip of my wand between his arse-cheeks and cast one after another. He jerks. 

"Are you alright?"

"It's okay," he says.

How Muggles are supposed to do this without spells? I wonder.

I put my hand on his shoulder, rolling him over on his back. I kiss his chest, his stomach, all the way down to the base of his cock among wiry black hair. His erection has half-wilted down. I give it a stroke with and take the head in my mouth and suck, moving my tongue along the underside, feeling it swell up again. I release his cock, sit back and reach for the vial of lube. Harry watches me.

"Should I?" I ask, lifting the vial. He nods.

Oh Merlin.

I am about to do the thing I was always anxious about. I uncork the vial and pour thick liquid onto my fingers. What if I won't manage to do it right? What if he won't like it? If the look on his face is anything to go by, he's thinking exactly the same.

"Okay," he says and pulls his legs up, spreading them and planting his feet on the bed.

"Okay," I say.

I cup his balls, rolling them in my palm, and then slide my finger further down and inside, reaching between his arse-cheeks until my fingertip grazes flesh different to the touch. Watching his face, I begin stroking it in slow circles as I'd do to myself. He swallows and lets out a breath. I touched myself there a few times and it was... not bad and maybe even interesting. But I always shied away from exploring this further, from dipping my fingers inside and see what would happen. I had never imagined letting anyone touch me there or do this to another person, but then again, until very recently I've never imagined a lot of things. Circling his hole with my finger, experimentally I dip the fingertip inside, trying to push past the tight ring of muscle. It is so small and tightly closed - how on earth even two fingers would fit in there, let alone cock? I push further up to the first knuckle. He is silent.

"Are you alright?" I ask, "you'd better tell me, I don't know what I'm doing."

He props himself on the elbows. “It’s... fine, I suppose, you can go further."

Slowly I move my finger all the way up to the root, the feeling of slightly ridged inner walls weird to the touch. I move my finger back and forth in a slow steady rhythm. I don't look down there, I watch his face. He spreads his legs wider and lies back, staring at the ceiling, as though he's trying to figure out whether he likes it or not.

"How does it feel?" I ask.

"Weird... but not bad, it doesn't hurt as such, but..." 

My finger stops mid-movement. "But what?"

"I don't know... I've never stuck anything up my arse before." He laughs. "Go on... add another." 

Add another - for some reason these words make my prick that has wilted a bit swell up again. I add another one. Perhaps, emboldened, I slide two fingers all the way up too quickly because he jerks, wincing. 

"Sorry! Should I better go with one?"

I am already withdrawing when he says: "No, it's fine. Just go slowly."

I go slowly with two. Slightly spreading them with each withdrawing movement. Seems it goes easier. I read that if you crook your fingers up just so, there is that spot that would make you see stars. I crook them upwards and prod and find nothing, if his reaction is anything to go by.

"Try three," he says.

When I try three, he hisses: "Wait."

I wait.

"Okay, slooooowly", he says.

I try slowly, but it's still not okay.

"Try this way." He rolls onto his stomach, wiggling his arse up. He grabs one of the pillows, sliding it down under his hips. "Might be easier."

Fuck. I swallow and straddle his calves, sliding my hands up his legs, relishing the feeling of coarse little hairs on his upper thighs against my palms; up, up the curving globes of his arse where the skin is smooth. I grab handfuls of those arse-cheeks and squeeze, and a surge of lust goes through me. I spread them lightly and see his secret place for the first time.

"Oh god, that's embarrassing," he lets out a nervous laugh pressing his face into the pillow.

I cannot blame him. Doing this to him is one thing, but I'm not sure I'd bear to expose myself like that. I prod his hole with my forefinger and stroke it as if I were touching a tiny head of a bird. He lets out a long breath into the pillow and wiggles his arse up, pushing tentatively into my touch. I release his arse, pouring more lube from the vial onto my fingers, then spread one cheek and dip my forefinger slowly down to the root in one steady movement. I move it back and forth several times and then fully withdraw, pushing two fingers in one slide. I thrust them wholly in and move back. I repeat again, again and again, and he moans into the pillow, hiding his face, offering his arse. I pull my fingers all the way out, and when I bring three and push - it gives. I slow down, waiting for his reaction, it doesn't come. Carefully, I slide the fingers all the way in and back - all the way out, watching, fascinated, as they disappear into his body. This is the deepest we've gone so far; we are going further still.

"Ungh". His back tenses, lean muscles rippling under the taught skin of his shoulders as he grips the pillow.

He glances over his shoulder, his face is red and blotchy where he's been pressing it into the pillow, the sheen of sweat marking his hairline.

"I reckon I'm ready," he says and turns away, laying his cheek on the pillow, closes his eyes and waits.

Carefully I pull my fingers out. His rim looks slightly swollen but so tiny still. I open the vial and pour lube directly onto my cock, thick substance coats it, dripping onto the blanket. I take my cock, smearing lube all over and add a small amount onto the head for good measure and leave it at that. I take his arse-cheeks, spreading them wide.

"You will tell me if it hurts, if I should stop."

"I will."

"Or if I should slow down."

"Yes."

I wind my arm under his waist, pulling him up on his knees, and take my cock, lining it up. He is lying face-down on his forearms, arse in the air. I am so aroused, I might explode.

I remember they said in that article... "Breathe in deeply," I say, pressing the head of my cock to his entrance. He breathes, and I am pushing the tip past the rim.

He cries out. I stop dead. The head is already in, squeezed so that my mind goes blank.

"Pull out?" I manage.

"N-no... maybe...just - wait." His voice is strained. "Fuck."

"I'll pull out."

"No, wait, wait...just - don't move, okay?"

We stay still, until he says: "Go on, very slowly."

I push, and...  "Fuuuck, that hurts," he chokes out.

"Okay, we are not doing this." I begin pulling out, and he hisses.

"Stop. Now push in a bit," he says.

I barely push when he says: "Okay, now back - and then in a little more."

I obey.

We go like this for a while: I push, I pull back a bit, I push a little further - until finally, finally I see in astonishment as my pubic hair touches his arse-cheeks. This is a miracle, I am fully lodged. I am inside. He is as tight as small his rim looked, impenetrable, before he knew me. Now I cannot look away from the place where our bodies are connected: his rim snug around my cock. I feel the tremor in his thighs, hear his heavy breathing.

"Are you alright?" I ask, stroking his arse.

"Yeah... move," he says, "careful."

Tentatively I pull out a bit and push back, the sensation is maddening, in my mind I already came thousand times.

"Does it hurt?" I ask.

"A bit...but...go on, just...not too hard." 

I begin thrusting shallowly in place, not pushing too deep, not withdrawing too far. My balls are already drawing up; I've been aroused for far too long. I slow down not to come this instant.

"Do you like it?" I utter.

He turns his head to the side. “I...yes – I don’t know...kind of...but – not quite...it’s weird." Wincing, he digs his teeth into his lower lip.

“Touch yourself,” I say, “take your cock.”

He takes his cock and begins stroking it.

“Move,” he says.

I begin thrusting to a rhythm of his shoulder as he strokes himself. He props himself on the left elbow, resting his forehead onto the bed, his back shines slick with sweat. I want to hold back, to drag this out a little longer, but I am already close. I look down to where my cock moves in and out. Harry’s shallows breath quickens, and so does his hand on his cock. Fuck, I want to bring him off but I’m not going to make it. Next moment I come in a silent bout of shuddering. And Harry doesn't.

The slide of my cock through my come inside him becomes sloppy. I feel warm wetness dribbling along my thigh and look down to see my own come leaking out of his rim stretched around my softening prick. I pull out and Harry hisses. I sit back on my legs. With a sigh, he drops down onto the bed

“Sorry,” I say, evening my breath, “I couldn’t hold it back. Give me a second, I’ll suck you off.”

He sits up and turns to me. Honestly, he looks worn out. His cock is jutting out fully erect.

“No...actually – if you were hard again, I’d rather finish like this,” he says. 

Oh.

“Did you like it? I thought...you said...”

“It got better by the end, and I would have probably been able to come, I think.”

I take my half-wilted prick and begin stroking it. Harry’s cock bobs in front of him. Grinning, he leans back on his elbows and spreads his legs wide. There is dribble of come trickling out of the dark place beneath his balls. Fuck. I jerk myself roughly, feeling the swell of my prick in my grip. I am hard again.

“Do you mind?” He asks, wiggling his eyebrows.

I roll my eyes. “Come on.”

He rolls on his stomach and brings himself up on all fours. I coat my cock with lube again and put my hands on his arse.

“Just go slowly, okay?"

“Okay.”

And I am pushing, pushing again into that tight place. This time it’s far easier, and the head sinks past the rim.

“Ungh...” He lets out. “Yes...go on. Carefully.”

I push forward; it is still impossibly tight as it takes my cock in hot grip, but it’s hardly possible to come twice in ten minutes, so I don’t worry, allowing myself to relish the feeling.

“How does it feel?” I ask.

“Er... tolerable... might get better. Move.”

I move. In one long maddening slide all the way to the hilt.

Harry breathes out shakily, and I realise he’s been holding his breath.

“Alright?” I ask.

“Yeah... move.” He takes his cock.

I withdraw and slide back in and repeat.

“No...no, stop. Just...stay still,” he says.

I stay still holding him by the hips.

He rocks forward, sliding off my cock, and backward, impaling himself again.

“Don’t move,” he says.

I don’t move, but reach down with my hand, trying to grip his cock.

He bats my hand away. “I said stay still, just – stay.” 

He rocks a few times, wiggling his arse, adjusting himself, and then begins rocking steadily on all fours, each time revealing more of my cock sliding out, more of it going deeper inside, until he picks up a slow rhythm. Transfixed I watch at the slide of my prick in and out. He takes his cock and his arm begins moving.

“Yeah...” He exhales softly.

He lowers himself down on his elbow, dipping his lower back to maintain the amplitude, his hand working relentlessly on his prick. Suddenly he jerks, faltering, his hand stops.

“What?!” I think he’s hurt himself.

“There... just... would you...just - thrust...” He lowers himself further down, lifting his arse up.

I thrust, and he breathes out.

“Come on, move." He grips his cock.

I am thrusting steadily.

“A bit faster,” he says over the ragged breath.

I go faster and he moans. I am ploughing into him with relentless rhythm, my fingers digging into his hipbones. He rests his forehead onto the bed and begins moaning, his hand frantic over his cock.

“I’m close...”

His hips begin jerking, and I feel his rim contracts as he cries out. Clenching his arse around my cock, he comes hard, his whole body curling in on itself. I thrust slowly while he rides out his orgasm, until he grabs my leg, urging me to stop. I stop. Finally he gasps, jerks one last time and stills. I pull carefully out and he collapses onto the bed.

Oh. My. God,” he utters.

I lie down beside him, and he turns his head to look at me. “You didn’t come?”

“No, it’s okay.” My cock begins to wilt down. I yawn, my whole body aches with exertion.

“Fuck...” He laughs. “This was...” 

“Yeah,” I agree.

Sweat is cooling on my skin, and I am cold. I yank the blanket from under myself, and he does the same. He waves his hand and the light goes out, leaving only streaks of moonlight across the floor. We cover ourselves and turn on our sides to face each other, pulling the blanket up to our chins. We twine our legs and I place my hand on his waist under the blanket. I am warm. I love him. My eyes are closing.

“I’m shagged out,” he says.

We sleep.

**

Harry slides a finger inside me and my arse clenches. Trying not to bolt out, I press my face into the pillow. After everything we'd done last night, I shouldn't be that embarrassed. I am. The feeling is actually not bad, but the intrusion feels too clinical for my liking. I doubt it's Harry's fault; it's just me, I suppose.

"How does it feel?" He asks.

This morning he sat up in bed and winced, then limped to the loo. When I asked him, he said his arse ached like fuck. I cast the healing spells from that handy magazine on him. If go all the way now, I think I'll be in the need of some healing too. What Muggles do without spells in such cases? I asked him.

"Nothing. Hang around with sore arses for days, poor fuckers," he said. 

"Weird - like you said," I say into the pillow.

"Okay, let's try to make it good," he says, "roll over."

I roll on my back. He sits between my thighs, spreading them wide (I squirm), drawing my knees up. 

"Can I try two?" He asks.

"Try," I say.

He slicks his fingers again and reaches beneath my balls. He sinks one finger in, and it goes easily. He pulls back, and then two fingers try to breach me but my rim doesn't let them. He circles it slowly, dipping one fingertip inside. This actually feels nice. My cock bobs over my stomach, I want to touch it. When Harry begins pushing with two fingers again, I grip my cock, circling swollen head with my thumb. Ahhh. When his fingers breach me, I start stroking my cock; it helps. Harry moves his fingers in and out, fully to the root and back. When he widens them, I feel already stretched to the breaking point, but there's the third one to go and then - the cock? How on earth had he managed to do it and survive?

Feeling determined, I grip my cock. "Try three," I say.

He is surprised but doesn't argue. I begin stroking myself, and when the third comes as a blow - I still.

"Fuck...it's impossible," I choke out but spread my legs wider and begin jerk ingmyself off in earnest. "Go on."

I feel three fingers stretch me. He moves and widens them inside, stretching, stretching me, and it burns. He dips his fingers further and suddenly turns them upward, prodding my wall at a different angle, touching something that feels different and prickles good, turning not-quite-pain into almost-pleasure, sensation growing with each slide of his finger. 

"This is it?" He asks, not ceasing his movements.

"Yes," I breathe, "don't stop.”

He doesn't. This is it. I feel elated.

"Come on, try with your cock, I'm okay."

Harry slicks his cock up with lube. He takes my legs under the knees and draws them up, spreading them wide, placing my feet on his shoulders. He lines up and I feel his pressure at my rim. I begin stroking my cock. He looks me in the eyes and nods. And pushes and - oh fuck - this is merciless, he's tearing me to blood. I push at his chest with my foot to still his movement. 

"No, I can't," I say.

He nods, carefully pulling his cock out, I wince.

"Maybe you should try on your hands and knees - like I did? It's easier that way, if you control the movements," he says.

"Okay," I say, but I am almost sure it won't work, considering how difficult it was for him to adjust; and his cock is thicker than mine, by the way.

I bring myself on my elbows and knees and lower my head down onto the bed, offering my arse in the air. No time for shame. I feel cool touch of lube pouring directly onto my hole. He is smearing it with his thumb, dipping it in. Then he brings both hands spreading my arsecheeks wide and wider until I have no secrets left. He dips his thumb inside, massaging, tickling the ring of muscle. I try to imagine how it looks. The thumb withdraws to be replaced with fingers. There's no burn, only stretch this time.

"Alright, I'll push it inside just a bit, and you'll take the rest," he says.

"Okay".

I feel the pressure of wide head at my rim, and - fuck – it is so fucking huge and it hurts so much...

"Stop!" I cry out. He stops.

"The head is in," he says, "the widest part. The rest is easier.”

I stay still for a while, adjusting to the sensation splitting me in two.

"Stay still,” I say and push back experimentally.

Intrusion hurts, but not as much as head did. I remember Harry rocking back and forth on all fours and imitate the movement. Is this how I look right now? Oh, god. I rock back and forth, impaling myself on his cock. He is so thick. I still have no idea how it’s managed to fit inside. I take full length in, pressing snugly back into his groin and stop. The feeling is indescribable. I am full to bursting, I can't breathe; it seems as though his cock punctured my lungs, so deep inside it is lodged, so wide it stretches me. I still don't know if I like it. I am afraid it might damage something in me.

"Draco..." he breathes, "fuck... you are so tight."

And I realise that for him it's all new and unknown as well. He grips me around the waist, lifting me up so that my arse is on his lap. When I arch my back to sit straight, his cock presses directly into that spot inside me. I rise myself up on my knees and begin riding him shallowly, afraid of sinking down too far. His cock brushes the spot on the way in and out, sending tingles of pleasure inside me.

"Hold me by the hips," I whimper, grabbing my cock.

He takes me by the hips, steadying me. "Come on," he whispers, as I roughly stroke my prick, impaling myself on him.

The feeling is gathering, gathering, until it bursts without warning... my eyes open wide, and I cry out again and again as my cock pulses with waves of pleasure, my rim contracting. Ssomething explodes inside me into million tiny sparks of delight.

I fall forward, breathing heavily, I feel as though I am not me but someone else. Harry presses his lips to my neck. His cock pokes my leg, and I realise he is still hard. I scramble on all fours, looking over my shoulder. He comes up behind on his knees and pushes his cock in, it slides so easily. He begins thrusting, snapping his hips in steady rhythm. I am so worn out I can barely stand, and all I can do is take it. It borders on pain, and I am relieved that it doesn't take him too long. I feel him pulse inside me, hips jerking, moving through his orgasm, until he hisses and stops. We stay joined for a while, then he pulls out and we collapse.

XII. 

Strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you

"...and in the end you move it like this," he says, waving his wand. I mirror the movement.

"Good, now concentrate. It has to be really strong memory to fuel the spell." He steps back.

Closing my eyes, I turn to the Lake and take a deep breath. "Do you have a memory?" He asked me when we headed here.

I do. Of course I do. Though I wouldn't call it a Memory. I don’t have to try to remember this feeling I carry with me all the time. Which is everything Harry and I and all in-between. 

I draw my wand and picture his radiant smile: each one of them and all them together at once; silvery moonlight pattern across his sleeping face; “I Love strawberries” he says; snitch in his hand held high; his breath at the back of my neck as he whispers "I love you", gathering me in his arms at dawn; wind gushing in my face as I cling to him when we’re are among the stars - pick any and you’ll light up the sky.

"Expecto Patronum!" I cry, and it bursts from the tip of my wand - huge and graceful.

It makes sense, I suppose... although deep down I still expected it would be a Stag... They say there's something not right about identical Patronuses - so maybe it's for the best.

He is right behind me, he comes up closer, shielding me from the wind. I turn to look at him - he plants a kiss on my nose, his jade winter scarf matching his eyes. His breath smells of strawberries Bibby brought us today from the Manor greenhouses. He wraps his arm around me, gloved hand sliding under the fold of my coat, and presses his temple to mine.

"You've done it," he says.

And we watch as shimmering silvery Dragon soars high into the winter sun.

 

***** The End *****

I am on Tumblr: big-draco-energy

 

 [Troye Sivan, 'Strawberries & Cigarettes']

Remember when we first met?
You said "light my cigarette"
So I lied to my mum and dad
I jumped the fence and I ran

 
But we couldn't go very far
'Cause you locked your keys in your car
So you sat and stared at my lips
And I could already feel your kiss

Long nights, daydreams
Sugar and smoke rings, I've been a fool
But strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you


Headlights, on me
Racing to 60, I've been a fool
But strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like


Blue eyes, black jeans
Lighters and candy, I've been a fool
But strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you

Remember when you taught me fate
Said it'd all be worth the wait
Like that night in the back of the cab
When your fingers walked in my hand


Next day, nothing on my phone
But I can still smell you on my clothes
Always hoping things would change
But we went right back to your games

Long nights, daydreams
Sugar and smoke rings, I've been a fool
But strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you


Headlights, on me
Racing to 60, I've been a fool
But strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like


Blue eyes, black jeans
Lighters and candy, I've been a fool
But strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you

And even if I run away
Give my heart a holiday
Still strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you


You always leave me wanting more
I can't shake my hunger for
Strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you


Yeah, they always taste like you
You


Long nights, daydreams
With that sugar and smoke rings
Always taste like you

Headlights, on me (and even if I run away)
Racing to 60, I've been a fool (and give my heart a holiday)
Still, strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like


Blue eyes, black jeans (you always leave me wanting more)
Lighters and candy, I've been a fool (I can't shake my hunger for)
Strawberries and cigarettes

always taste like you

 

***