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Strawberries and Cigarettes [always taste like You]

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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 the leaves of an old oak tree and I shiver. I am cold in my thin T-shirt. Should've put a jumper on my way out but now I couldn't be bothered. I lay my head at the back of a garden bench staring into the sky. This is what I mostly do these days. That and smoking. 

I drag my cigarette inhaling deeply and my stomach aches. Maybe I should eat after all, it is not healthy to live on nothing but fags for days. 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 for doing whatever I want. She says I'm depressed. Well, I fucking am. Who wouldn't be in my place?  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 either.

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 spells that are required in the studying process. They will switch the band for another one on the 1st of September. For two years I am still not to be allowed any form of magic that may harm another person. That means I would not 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 Malfoy vaults. And three months of a community service that I've 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 might 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 take deep drag of a cigarette blowing out smoke through my nose. It is twilight already, I'm freezing, should better go back to the Manor. I stand up. The flash of silver light bursts to my right making me jump, my heart is 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 would 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 he's tired of waiting and 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 whilst I haven't.

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

Whatever I was prepared for, it wasn't this; I huff out a 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 yourself." I am exaggerating of course, he is not badly looking; I’m fucked if I tell him this though.

Now I'm standing close enough to see that he looks tired; there are shadows under his eyes, a 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 of earnestly thanking him evaporate in a second, because this is Potter, because he’s annoying as ever, because it is so easy to fall into our familiar pattern, rise to the bait, get the 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; the nightmares I’m still having 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 is rising in me, my breath catches, oh shit. I can’t fall apart right now, not in Potter’s presence. I press the 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 then narrow, he studies my face.

“You all right, Malfoy?”

“Yeah. I just... I need a cigarette.” I retrieve a packet and a 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 from a dangerous topic. So I am genuinely surprised when Potter says “Yeah, thanks,” and takes it. I light my cigarette and drag deeply, feeling calmness settling over me. Later tonight I might actually have a breakdown but it would be behind a 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 then exhales tilting his head back slightly, 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 is 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 when I’ve received his smile I feel like I’ve proven something – to him and myself, gained unexpectedly without any effort something that I tried so hard to achieve but had been doing it the wrong way.

“No problem,” I say and step back.

He studies me for a moment his eyes slightly narrowed. 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 the 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 the 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 however hard I might pretend otherwise. 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,” he finishes awkwardly.

“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 feel the urge 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 a 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 with anticipation. This is 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 place them awkwardly 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 are 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 and gives me concerned look. He is so close I can see my own face in the lamplight reflected in his glasses, thin scar above his right eyebrow, the smell of his skin 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 after I will have returned, 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 isn’t using his wand most of the time, the bastard. “Great, we’ll have them before our way back.” He stuffs a 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 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 this is 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 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 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 that 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 slowly picking up speed and in a second trees are flashing past us in a blur. Now I see what he meant; I clutch at him violently; I am 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 miss 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.

The 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 are mirroring 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 the side of 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 than in a very long time.  After the ride with Potter I returned ravenous and inhaled a huge supper of hot stew and roasted chicken and mashed potatoes and 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 either, though I have nothing to compare to. I face the mirror again. Several silvery-thin 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 had seen, 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 down below my navel to where my flaccid cock rests against wiry hair of my groin.

You look like shit.

He didn't see my body. He meant my face, I suppose. 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, I 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. Growing my hair long is too uncomfortable a reminder of my Father which I resent. 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 the 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 briefly and I don't know why I started. There was an odd look on his face.

"So," he cleared his throat, "Did you freak 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 actually had 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 began 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 slid under my neck to cradle my head, 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 lightly through my hair, a 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 dislodged his arm carefully and sat up, "We should go back."

"Yes." Potter stood swiftly offering me a 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 this 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 sensation of his strong body beneath my palms. I rested my chin on his shoulder as I'd done before and screamed: "I love this, Potter!!" over the wind, feeling a low rumble of his laughter vibrating in his back beneath my chest. 

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

"So er..." he ruffled his hair, "Thanks."

"What for?" I asked.

"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 goodness' 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’d come tomorrow, maybe? Do you mind?" 

"No. I don’t mind," the pulse was thrumming in my fingertips.

"And you?"

"What?"

"What did you want 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 you seemed to enjoy them."

"Yeah. I'd love some," he grinned, "So... I'd drop by tomorrow, perhaps? We could hang out?"

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

He nodded, "See you, Malfoy," he said, starting the engine. 

I was grateful for the darkness, for 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 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 become used to hug and squeeze Potter without feeling awkward. It is a routine of sorts: we mount, I grip him firmly, press 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.  Then on the fourth evening he comes without the 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. He is not much of a smoker as it turns out. Cigarettes contribute to a communication, he says, and mostly refuses a fag when I offer. He is shy when my Mother comes to greet him the first evening. "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 our interactions ceased to be about fighting. 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 has broken 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'd been all over you in the 6th year as far as I remember." As far as you remember?

"It's been 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, arched 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 pleasantly against the sheets and I moan softly. I wiggle my pelvis repeating the friction. Oh, how good it feels. I lift my arse just so bending the right knee up, sliding the hand underneath me to wrap the 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. I begin stroking myself slowly, turning my head to the side and squeezing my eyes shut. I swallow a moan and reach behind with my other hand, to drag my fingers lightly 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 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 miserable and be of some use to our 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 – acknowledging the fact – I accept your ‘thank you’.” He is studying my face and I shiver under the scrutiny of those 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 this 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 silence stretching between us. 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. There is no place for this at Hogwarts. Potter has an odd look on his face, a flicker of something that has appeared not long ago that 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 barely touching, our backs against the huge trunk of the oak-tree on top of the hill. I turn my head to him. He stubs and vanishes his cigarette, he’s not looking at me. 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 draw together.

“I do. But that is 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, we are friends, 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 a strawberry by the base with his fingers his eyes searching my face. I feel blush spreading up my neck, no doubt he noticed. I have no idea of what the fuck I’m doing but I bend down and bite, my lips grazing the tips of his fingers. 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 a 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 his smell is all around me, I feel his breath on my face. He exhales audibly and closes the 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 press but I cannot breathe. No matter how much I’ve been fantasising about this I am completely unprepared. I utter a ragged breath through my nose kissing back. I am trembling, this is too much. He opens his mouth tentatively under my lips, my heart is in my throat and I am afraid he’d swallow it if I’d as much as open my mouth a little more. I feel the touch of his palm at the base of my throat travelling up to the back of my neck his thumb caressing my jaw. I press my palm to his chest, he exhales shakily drawing back, his eyes are giddy, his body is trembling under my touch. Then he tilts my head slightly and crushes my lips in earnest sliding his tongue into my mouth. He tastes of strawberries with a faint cigarette trace underneath. I moan into his mouth, an undignified sound. 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. This feels like sex, I suppose. 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. We stare at each other in bewilderment for a second then Potter leans in resting 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 leans down latching his lips to the spot beneath my ear and sucks. I hiss and jerk, 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 slightly 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 angles his hips awkwardly away and shuffles backwards, sliding off my legs to the ground. Frankly, I am relieved to put some distance between our bodies.  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 immensely.

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

Disappointment is flooding 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, looking down as my spurting cock decorates the wall with spunk. I stroke myself slowly 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 think vaguely 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, planting my feet on the bed. I drag the foreskin down and circle the head of my prick with my thumb and two fingers. Precome is already glistening in the slit, I smear it over the head with my thumb. 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, squeeze my eyes shut breathing raggedly through the nose as the sensation is building, narrowing down to my cock and the feeling near my hole where finger is sliding. My arse begins to clench, I withdraw the finger and press my palm to my balls feeling tightness in them drawing up tighter still; I’m close. My hand is moving over my cock with a small slick sound, my quick breath is loud in a quiet room. I lift the arse off the bed, tingling in my toes indicating the beginnings of my orgasm. One last flick of the hand and my cock explodes, the sensation unravelling, hot and pulsing, washing over me as I arch my back thrusting into my palm, feeling my balls spasm under my fingers. The splash of come is hot all over my stomach as I stroke the remnants out of my spent cock. I collapse onto the bed and look down breathing heavily.  “Fuck,” I whisper, dragging my fingers through spunk on my sticky skin.

**

Potter isn’t coming today. I am resigned and bitter; this is it - I knew all along. 

His Stag appeared when I was 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 being at Hogwarts the next time will be only at Christmas, you know. I will see if I can come tomorrow. Anyway, meet you at Hogwarts soon." Resentment is rising in me. 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 he was ignoring Weasleys' invitations 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 in my face 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? For no way he is capable of going on as before despite what he said. No, as a good little Gryffindor he is he'll bring the thing up, put it between us and spoil all the easiness I've come to appreciate so much. Why the fuck had he to do this? I myself wouldn’t have dared make a move, he was in no danger.

I cross the entrance hall heading through the corridor to my bedroom. My steps are 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. As she waves her tiny hands in a complicated pattern, 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 are you feeling, 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’d be willing to acknowledge me at Hogwarts."

"But of course he would... Why, Draco? Did you two have a row?"

"Yes," I stand up, I don't want to discuss it, I've said enough already, "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 dark-green waistcoat, Slytherin tie, cufflinks, black robe folded over my left forearm, my freshly cropped hair styled neatly back and a bit to the side. I feel overdressed after the summer of T-shirts and jeans. Isn't it odd? I used to dress like this since I was 3. Bibby is hovering 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 holding 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 faintest buzz - the sensation I've managed to forget during my time being a Squib. Another band is sliding already in place, clicking shut. The feeling subdues though doesn't vanish; the faintest trace of it I can perceive still, until I'll have got used to it and cease noticing. I push the band higher closing the sleeve around my wrist, putting the cufflink in.

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

"Good. Follow me," he turns and heads briskly 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. 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 will come at my summons to Hogwarts, to help me with a 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, then let go. The Ministry man clears his throat. "All right, Mr. Malfoy, when you are ready." He holds out his arm. I grip the handle of my trunk with one hand and take his arm with another. He nods and we are swirling into 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's remained for me to help with is hidden in the background. I feel small and miserable already and the mob of students hasn't even arrived yet. How am I supposed to face several hundred people, almost each and everyone hating me, wishing me harm? I swallow, my throat is 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 the 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 8 of you, the dormitories are individual. Feel free to take whichever one suit 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 and then resumes its maddening race. 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 3 days but only now seeing his profile I realise how much. Something is squeezing in my throat as I look as he adjusts his glasses with a gesture that has become so familiar to me. Behind me something falls with a loud crash! and 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. This is a make-worse situation. I shove my wand up its sheath in my sleeve then bend down and grip the handle of my traitorous trunk. I don’t trust myself to maintain the spell right now. I head to the staircase not looking at anyone, dragging my trunk noisily up over the steps. When I reach the landing I hear the hushed conversation resumes. They are discussing me, no doubt.

I look around. There is a railing forming a balcony out of the landing which surrounds 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 is “Finnigan”, and then – “Potter”. The last one is empty. I go back to the other side of the staircase: “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 is rushing 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 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. I lean on the railings looking down. The Common Room is empty. The fire is crackling merrily in the grate. It is a nice room – vast and cosy and welcoming. There are two sofas by the fireplace, the settees by numerous large windows, armchairs and desks and stools and carpets. The 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 window. I step inside leaving the door ajar and look around. I have no idea why the fuck I am doing this and what I suppose 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 familiar scent. Fuck. Memories of that intoxicating kiss assault me. There is an ache in me, lodged in my midriff, that blooms bright and sharp as I’m breathing in his smell. The longing for what I can never have. I am pathetic.

A movement catches the corner of my vision and I start. 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 20. 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 the Prophet near it opened on some article. I look down. My face is staring 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 crowded 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 this a wise decision indeed allowing a convicted criminal into 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 possibility of a friendship with Potter? I don’t deserve a friend, the scum that I am. Undoubtedly he has realised it by now.

There is a loud bang downstairs and voices in the Common Room. I curse myself. I creep to the door and slip outside closing it quietly, sliding along the wall towards my room. I open it noiselessly getting 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 at my door so quiet I think I’ve been dozing off and imagined it. But then it repeats. I don’t get up. I hear the footsteps retreating, the 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 physically cannot skip my meals forever. Right. I lift my chin gripping the strap of my satchel across my shoulder, striding determinedly 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 every last subject on my schedule; my Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. are to be dedicated to the rebuilding of remaining areas of the castle that are still in a need of repair. The task I will receive beforehand by owl. I can deal with it, I think.

I'm descending the main staircase and see the doors of the Great Hall thrown wide open. Buzz of multiple voices, laughter reach my ears. I feel the tremor 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 discovered it first but all the 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, I slip 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. The 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 know some rules, actually, that are 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 more substantial than tea or pumpkin juice.

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

"Thank you very much, Filly." He nods and leaves me to my meal. I pour some coffee and take a sip then start shovelling food in my mouth at record speed - eggs, bacon, sausages, beans disappear in 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. I gulp down remnants of coffee and stand dashing to the door, casting a cleaning spell at my teeth on the way.

I run up the stairs leaping three steps at a time, my satchel bouncing against my hip. I dash into the empty Entrance Hall, under the Hour Glass indicating House-points where schedules for each House are hanging. I scan it, 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 the stairs 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 dropping hurriedly 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 is looking 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 the satchel at my desk, sitting 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 is rolling 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 in the 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 skipped your meals."

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

"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 are staring at each other, I am holding my breath, air between us feels charged. 

"Harry, come on! Move your arse out of there, we don't have all day," Finnigan's voice by the door. The spell is broken. Potter turns with a jar in his hands and exits, I hastily grab few things and follow. Finnigan brushes past me shoving me rudely with his shoulder, I stumble. Packets of dried herbs spill from the box in my hands all over the floor. I crouch 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 blossoming 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 is grinning 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 grab my things hurriedly 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 across the lips and blood spurts hot.

"Death Eater whore!"

There are four of them with wands drawn and someone behind. The faces are familiar but I don't know the names. The shove from behind is so hard that I fall face forward on the floor. Someone's shoe collides with my side knocking the breath out of me. Blows are falling from everywhere. "If not for your Death Eater friends, my brother would be alive." 

I am blind with pain. I am curling in on myself trying to take as little space as possible. A hand grabs me by the hair turning my face to the side. "Fuck you, filth. Your place is in Azkaban."

 "Get the fuck away from him!" A hand releases my hair suddenly, the sound of the body hitting the floor, a heavy growl.

"What the fuck!" Potter's voice is full with rage I never thought him capable of, "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 the feet, the fall of footsteps retreating; silence.

A hand on my shoulder, "Draco?" Cold stone is soothing under my throbbing cheek; my eyes are closed; shame is a weight so heavy it crushes me down; I don't want to face Potter like this - I have no choice. I roll onto 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 the elbows, then on the hands and sit. My head is throbbing and there is deep ache in my ribs stifling my breath - might be broken.

"You are bleeding. Can you stand? We'll go to Pomfrey." He stands, offering me both hands, "Here, take my hands." I reach obediently 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, and we head slowly in the direction of the Hospital Wing.

**

"Why didn't you fight back?"

"I couldn't."

"What do you mean couldn't?"

"I can't 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 still 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 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 are serving your sentence. You don't deserve to be mobbed in the corridors." We 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 about the 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, the voices rising in an 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's 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."

"Paid enough? Are you kidding me? He should rot in fucking Azkaban like his father. What 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, 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 now 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 blossoming 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), 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 proved effective. The word 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.

Yesterday 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 possible 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, suppose it would help keep the panic at bay. Now I’m starting 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 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 the fewer and fewer feet of the wall remains, my hands begin to tremble, my focus is slipping, the spells are becoming weaker and less effective. My heart speeds up and I gulp the air which makes things worse for I start to cough. I look around, there’s the Room behind me, no no don’t look, don’t look; but I am looking already. And I’m 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 flame. 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 violently. 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 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’ve magically 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’d have broken 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 defeat, “Sorry, desperate measures, as I said.” He sits on the bed beside me with a serious look. “How are you feeling?”

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 slightly 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 himself 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 is travelling 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. I am melting in his breath.  He exhales in my mouth, soft movement of his lips driving me insane. He is oh-so-gentle, as if afraid of bruising a soft skin of a fruit. My desire burns hot, I want to take, to possess. I launch forward grabbing the side of his neck, crushing his lips with such force that his head hits the headboard. He laughs against my lips. I throw my leg over his thighs straddling him, rising on my knees. I take his glasses off putting them on the bedside table. His hands slide under the hem of the T-shirt up my back. 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, I feel 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 over the back of my neck pulling me down into the kiss, his other hand sliding between my legs. We are rubbing each other through our jeans; the sensation is dulled with denim but I am mad with lust. He sits up and I’m straddling 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, but it is okay.

“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 is the only sound in the room. He pops the buttons of my flies open one by one opening the fabric - then looks up. My breath is shallow. “Should I...” I indicate vaguely down with my hand. He smiles nervously, “Yeah...”

I shuffle down the bed standing up. I grip the hem of my T-shirt pulling it over my head. I am sliding jeans down my hips when he comes to stand before me, already shirtless, 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 notice is his jutting cock. It is thick and dark and there is a nest of black hair around its base. I am staring; 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 aroused as I’ve never been in my life. He steps close to me sliding his palms up my sides, pressing his body to mine. We look down: my cock is prodding his hip, his cock is pressed to my belly. He looks at me letting out a shaky breath then 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 is flooding me at these words. I am glad. He is as nervous as I am. 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 then starts stroking it up and down slowly; 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, 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 my face in concentration. “Does it feel good?” he asks. It feels good, it does; but not good enough. He is squeezing too tight, he is going not 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 hands pinning them over his head. I bend to kiss him and grind down, we both gasp. I look down to where our bodies are touching – 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 the friction and he thrusts up to meet me and the movement dislodges our cocks. I reach with my hand between us adjusting them into place. “Lay still,” I say. I begin again moving faster, faster and faster, bending my neck to bring our foreheads together. We are not kissing but rather breathing into each other’s mouth. Back and forth, back and forth. Sensation is gathering, quickening our breaths. It blooms oh-so-sweet and mounts and mounts and mounts. There is sweat between our bellies, where our hair is mingling. I feel drops are rolling down my spine. My balls are drawing up. Almost... He arches his neck turning his face to the side; I bend down to lick the tendon. He is biting his lip, I feel his hips are beginning to jerk. He opens his mouth in a silent cry and hot pulsing of his cock is splashing 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 and jerk as my orgasm is washing over me.

**

He is warm as the length of his body presses to mine under the blanket. We 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 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; tomorrow we’ll talk. One thing I know for certain: Harry holds my heart in his hands – to cherish it or to shatter is entirely up to him; it is a frightening thought.

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’ve been sleeping.”

“Oh, sorry! Sorry, Harry! I’ll go.” Her steps are retreating. He lights a little lamp by the bed.

“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 softly, stroking my cheek with his fingers.

“Are you telling me, that you’ve planned this, Potter?” I’m trying to sound cross but cannot help grinning.

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. “Call me Harry, call me Harry.” He begins tickling 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,” he says.

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 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 blossoming on my lips on its own accord, I duck my face not to parade it around.

It went 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 paired everyone up that first day when we brew Felix Felicis. So we share a desk with Harry twice a week. There is a companionable silence between us as we exchange glances over the cauldron as our fingers touch when 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. But I have a feeling she is watching me sometimes. I mostly avoid her except for those moments when it's impossible to. Like at Arithmancy classes for instance, which only the two of us of the 8th year share with the 7th years. Vector paired us up to share a desk. She is awkward around me and neutrally polite. She isn't mean to me; I don't think she has it in her. I've been working up the courage to speak to her for the past few days. 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 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've been doing a week ago not having this in my chest. Last Sunday morning after I stayed the night in his bed I woke up feeling a little embarrassed. I slipped out of bed and went to the shower, to have some space and clear my thoughts. 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, I am not used to sharing 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 found my cock.

Later he suggested we'd spend the day outside, going for a ride. "We are of age, we are not forbidden leaving the grounds any longer," 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 on spending 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 on sneaking 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 and 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 that 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 was used to in the 6th year." Of course he was used to, of course he was. This is what he'd been 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'd found me when I was being 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, he said; a creepy place, I thought; he said he was planning on changing 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 the 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'm having 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 secretly call 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 of pleasure so intense it’s overwhelming. '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, he is intensely tactile. I've never imagined such an intimacy of sharing another's body in taking and giving pleasure.

Last night he surprised me sliding down on his knees in the shower, taking the head of my cock between his lips. We've 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 wetly around the head of 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 again. In the end I put my hand on his cheek stilling his movements. "Wait," I said, "Come here," and dragged him up on his feet, "Kiss me." And 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 all over his stomach. I ceased to be as shy as I’ve 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?" I asked.

"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 was beginning 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, I felt the cock pulsing in my grip and 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 said bending to kiss him. He took my face in both hands and opened his lips sharing his own bitter taste from my tongue.

I wonder whether it was the same to him with Weasley girl. I don't dare 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, he says, but it’s getting better. 

"I didn't know... I thought..." I say, and he laughs, "I know what you thought," he says, "That it was all glory and bliss for the Saviour." I actually did, to be honest.

"I've been a mess, didn't know what to do with myself after all those funerals. 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 aim 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 agree more; I haven’t figured out yet what to do but I'm not going into 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 with both hands.

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 of leaving. Though his caress draws sparks out of me every night, it is not what is 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 to 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. I look - Granger's unmistakable hair. She is sitting by the window with someone whom I don’t see, their heads are close in a conversation. Damn. Now, I have two options: backing out and trying later, or waiting 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 retrieving my quills and 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 you Sunday...Ron."

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

"...Slughorn has paired up with," Granger says. I am moving along the bookshelves carefully, peering at them through the rows of books.

"...okay in Potions, actually," Harry replies. I stop opposite them. 

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

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

Granger looks at him, pursing 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 arms on the back of the chair.

"It's funny... I thought..." she trails off.

"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 is flat.  Something heavy drops in my stomach. I see

Nothing. It is as though someone switched all the lights off. The scrape of the chair - Harry is standing up. He says something to Granger but I don't listen. I head to my desk, grabbing my satchel, stuffing my things inside. My hands are shaking and the parchment crumbles; I don’t manage to fit the box of quills neatly and it falls on the floor, the 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 am striding out of the alcove and down the aisle my bag bouncing against my calves for 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 on the bench by the Lake in the dark. Of course he fucking does.

"Draco?"

I don't answer.

"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. His face is bewildered in the moonlight; he is holding the Map. If I hadn'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've 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. 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 throwing it in his direction. It covers his face. He tugs it off, knocking the glasses again. He puts them back on and crosses his arms over his chest setting his jaw.

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 left him. I sit at the foot of the bed with my back to him and bend down, beginning unlacing 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 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 has occurred 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 are getting along, or maybe that you don't think of me as a waste of space anymore?" my voice is rising, "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 spent every single day of the last two weeks 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 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 seen 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 out loud, "It's funny how of all the things that I've told '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 as,” 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 like this 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.

**

I lay awake and toss and turn and toil half the night. The thought occurs to me. I set the alarm on and close my eyes and alarm flares immediately. What the fuck? 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. I stand under the shower for an eternity. I put on jeans and red jumper. When I emerge from 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've grasped from the conversation in the library, Granger is visiting Weasley today. I have no idea when exactly she is planning to do it but I guess she might leave straight out of the Great Hall after breakfast. The breakfast is being served at eight. 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 didn’t take Felix on purpose. A potion wouldn’t make the issues I have to deal with disappear. So no potions, I’m on my own. The thing I've 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 am aiming 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 sofa and I follow. She seats on the sofa and I sit on the other one facing her. We mirror each other’s position awkwardly: back straight, hands folded on the lap. She gives me a look and raises her eyebrows slightly 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 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 also I've been considering dosing myself with Felix Felicis this morning. But I’ve forgotten the speech and hadn’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 you 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 communicating civilly and be decent to each other. I... accept your apology.” She holds her hand out. I can’t believe it. I take her hand 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 on the landing staring down at me. He backs off hastily 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 the 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 am doing, or eating or wearing; 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 at the opposite sides of the desk as far from each other as possible, his heavy sadness and my resentment between us. Unhappiness has settled heavily over my whole being inside and out. 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.

My panic begins rising again every now and then 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 the stone.

Mother's letters arrive once a week. She is asking how I’m doing and I reply that I am working 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 a whispered argument. They fell silent once they'd noticed 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’m getting used to the pain so it dulls to a bearable degree. It is a good thing, I suppose.

**

It is 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 the 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 am trying to wrench free; unsuccessfully.

"We are going to have breakfast," he is pulling me in the direction of the Great Hall. I am digging my heels struggling to stay still, the bastard is stronger than me. Slowly but steadily I am being dragged to the open door of the Great Hall. In the doorway he stops abruptly releasing my arm. He takes my hand in a deadly clutch pulling me through the entrance into the noise and buzz and clinking of dishes of a few hundred students. "We are having breakfast. Together. I am not ashamed to be seen with you."

The noise around us is dying 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 are moving down the aisle.  Fuck. When I blamed him that he doesn't acknowledge 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 on the bench opposite Granger 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 once more; they are discussing us. The Gryffindor table is silent. I feel their stares but I don't dare to turn and look. I am staring down at my plate, heat creeping up my neck and face; I’m sure I am the colour of a boiled lobster by now.

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

"Hi," I manage. Potter clears his throat beside me, his shoulder is brushing mine; I cannot bring myself to look at him. He grabs a jar of pumpkin juice, filling my glass. I reach for it automatically 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, being 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 from under me; I am shocked and don't focus on 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 is 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, 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 the 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 and I shiver, "I missed you."

"I missed you, too," I wind my hands around his waist pressing my forehead to his temple, "What the others will say?"

"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 touches my hand briefly 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 told me about... you and him and what happened," she says once we’ve taken our seats.

I know he did but I feel embarrassment washing over me, I am sure my face is red. I don't find what to say so I nod.

At the whistle the players kick off of the ground. I see Harry soaring high far above the rest of the team. Flying past our stands he waves and people are cheering in response. The game is proceeding 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 is holding it high above his head for everyone to see. He directs his broom down 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 looking, all the conversations have died down. He reaches for me and it's only a second before I realise in shock what he is about to do. He takes my face in both hands kissing me in front of the entire stadium.

**

He is asleep and I am not and I’m watching 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 determinedly and led me up the stairs under the eyes of Finnigan and Thomas and Goldstein.

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

 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 one 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. 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 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 refused 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! Whom is he kidding? I know very well it's been a disaster. I bet Weasley even in his worst nightmares hasn't seen it coming. 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 had run 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 disapprovingly.

"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 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 beside me onto 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 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 for the house 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 an evening in London wandering about, having dinner at a Muggle pub. We've returned to Grimmauld well past midnight.

Harry takes my glass, putting it down onto the coffee-table, wraps his hand around the back of my neck and kisses me - steadily, softly, 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 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 are already jutting 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, then reach for his glasses taking them off. "Come on," I say and he rises on his feet. I put the glasses onto the bedside table. I come to the bed and pull the duvet off, dropping it on the floor. I 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 defining 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 am looming 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 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 retrieving 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 ask, rummaging 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 be penetrated. 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 leafs through the pages and 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 a thick dick disappearing in 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 a description 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 learn. 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 rolls on his stomach, "Go on."

I put the tip of the wand slightly 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 the Spells? I wonder.

I put my hand on his shoulder rolling him over onto his back. I kiss his chest, his stomach, all the way down to the base of his cock among wiry black hair. His erection half-wilted down. I give it a stroke with my hand then take the head in my mouth and suck moving my tongue along the underside, feeling it's already swelling up again to full hardness. 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've always been anxious about. I uncork the vial and pour thick liquid onto my fingers. What if I won't manage doing 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 slightly, planting his feet on the bed. "Okay," I say.

I cup his balls, rolling them lightly, then slide my finger further down and inside, reaching between his arse-cheeks until my fingertip grazes flesh different to the touch. I begin to stroke it in slow circles as I'd do for myself and watch his face; he swallows and lets out a breath. I touched myself there a few times and it was - not bad and maybe interesting even. But I always shied away from exploring this further, from dipping my fingers inside and see what would happen. Letting anyone touch me there or do this to another person - I'd never imagined possible; but then again, until very recently, I've never imagined a lot of things. Circling his hole with my finger, I dip a fingertip inside experimentally, 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," he says. I move my finger slowly all the way up to the root; the feeling of slightly ridged inner walls is weird to the touch. I move the 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 in his hole 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. Spreading them slightly, then wider with each withdrawing movement. It seems it goes easier. I've read that if you'd 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 and says, "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, lifting it up slightly. He grabs one of the pillows sliding it down under his hips. "Might be easier," he says, and I swallow. I straddle his calves and slide my hands up his legs, relishing the feeling of coarse little hairs of 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. And I cannot blame him; doing this to him is one thing, but I'm not sure I'd bear revealing my own hole like that. I spread one cheek to the side, holding it in place, and prod his hole with my forefinger, then stroke it as if I were touching tiny head of a bird. He lets out a long breath into the pillow and wiggles his arse 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 few times and then fully withdraw, pushing two fingers with the second slide. I thrust them wholly in and move back, widening them, stretching the rim. 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 are disappearing 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, sheen of sweat marking his hairline. "I reckon I'm ready," he says, then turns away laying his cheek on the pillow, closes his eyes and waits.

I pull my fingers out carefully, wiping them on the sheets. 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, then 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 with his rim. 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 against the hole. 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 then 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 are going like that for some time - 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 into his arse. 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."

I pull out a bit tentatively and push back, the sensation is maddening, in my mind I came already thousand times. "Does it hurt?" I ask.

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

I begin to thrust shallowly in place, not pushing too deep, not withdrawing too far. And already my balls are 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 the lower lip.

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

He takes his cock and begins stroking it slowly, “Move,” he says. I begin thrusting to a rhythm his shoulder makes as he is stroking himself. He’s propped 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 is moving in his hole with a filthy slurping sound. Harry’s shallows breath is quickening as does his hand on his cock. Fuck, I want to bring him off but I’m not going to make it. Next second I’m coming silently in a bout of uncontrollable shuddering. And Harry doesn’t.

The slide of my cock inside him is becoming sloppy as it drags through my come. I feel a 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; he drops down onto the bed with a sigh.

“Sorry,” I say, my breathing is evening, “I couldn’t hold it back. Give me a second, I’ll jerk 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 went better by the end and helping with my hand I would have actually been able to come I think.” I take my half-wilted prick and begin to stroke it. Harry’s cock bobs in front of him. He leans back on his elbows, grinning, spreading his legs wide. There is a dribble of come trickling out of the dark place beneath his balls. Fuck. I jerk myself roughly feeling the swelling of my prick in my grip. In no time I am as hard as they come again.

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

I roll my eyes, “Come on.” He rolls onto his stomach bringing 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 a hot grip but it’s hardly possible to come twice in ten minutes so I don’t worry, just allow myself to relish the feeling.

“How does it feel?” I ask.

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

I move. Not stopping this time 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 find his cock. He bats my hand away, “I said stay still, just – stay.”  He rocks few times wiggling his arse, adjusting himself, 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. I am watching, transfixed, at the slide of my prick in and out of the rim; he is dragging himself off almost completely so that the crown of glans becomes visible, then impales himself back to the point where my pubic hair touches his arse. 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, “That!” he yelps.

“What?!” I think he’s hurt himself.

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

I thrust and he gasps, “Fuck! Come on, move,” he grips his cock. I am thrusting steadily, “A bit faster,” he says over a ragged breath. I go faster and he moans brokenly. I am ploughing into him with relentless rhythm, my fingers are digging into his hipbones. He rests his forehead onto the bed and begins moaning, his hand is frantic over his cock, “I’m close...” His hips begin jerking and I feel his rim contracting as he cries out. He is coming, clenching his arse around my cock, his whole body curling in on itself. I am thrusting into him slowly as he is riding 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 out carefully 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?” he asks.

“No, it’s okay.” My cock is beginning 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 roll 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. I press my face into the pillow trying not to bolt out. 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 on him - from that handy magazine. If we are going all the way now I'll be in a need of some healing too, I suppose. What Muggles do in such cases without spells? 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 feel good," he says, "Roll over." I roll onto 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 into the crease of my arse. He sinks one finger in and it goes easily. He pulls back and then two fingers are trying to breach me but my rim doesn't let them. He circles it slowly, dipping one fingertip inside. This actually feels nice. Little shocks of sensation tingling, arousing me. My cock is bobbing over my stomach, I want to touch it. When Harry begins pushing with two fingers again I grip my cock, circling swollen head with a thumb, bringing it to the slit, repeating the motion. Ahhh. When his fingers breach me I distract myself pleasuring the head of my cock; it helps. Harry moves the fingers in and out, fully to the root and back; when he scissors 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 survived? Feeling determined I grip my cock firmly, "Try three," I say. He is surprised but doesn't argue. I begin to stroke 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 to jerk myself off in earnest, "Go on," I say. I feel three fingers stretching painfully my rim but the burn is dulled by the sensation sparkling over the head of my cock as I am stroking myself with a slapping sound. He moves them and widens them inside me, stretching, stretching me and it burns. He dips three fingers further and suddenly crooks them upward, prodding my wall at different angle and something bursts, the shock of sensation exploding inside me at this little touch. I cry out. 

"This is it?" he asks; he looks impossibly smug.

"Yes," I breathe, "Do that again.” He does. I arch and made some horrible yelp. When he moves his fingers I feel loosening of the rim. I feel elated.

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

Harry slicks his cock up with lube. He takes me under the knees and draws them up spreading them wide, placing my feet on his shoulders. I feel the press of the head at my rim. I take my cock beginning to stroke it. 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'd 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. I lower my head down onto the bed and offer 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 the cheeks wide and wider still until I have no secrets left. He dips his thumbs into the hole, massaging, tickling the ring of muscle. Then starts to widen my hole with both thumbs. I am trying to imagine how it looks and it makes my cock jerk. The thumbs withdraw and now three fingers at once are ploughing thickly inside. 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 press of wide head at my rim, and - fuck – it is tearing me; it is so fucking huge and it hurts so much, all the breath is knocked out of me.

"Stop!" I cry out. He stops.

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

I stay still for some time adjusting to the sensation splitting me in two. "Stay still,” I say and push back experimentally. Intrusion hurts but not that much like the head did. I remember Harry rocking back and forth on all fours and imitate the movement gingerly. Is this how I look right now? Oh, god. I rock back and forth impaling myself on his cock. He is so huge, he’s enormous. 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 and thick and hard it feels in me. I don't know if I like it still. 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, which I've forgotten pursuing my own pleasure, or rather the absence of pain. 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 and I gasp. I lift myself up on my knees beginning to ride him shallowly, afraid of sinking down too far, his cock all the way touching the Spot, sending through me sparks of pleasure so intense it is almost unbearable - right to my cock that is slapping against my stomach dribbling precome, right to my balls that are drawing up, right inside me to the place I didn’t know was there. "Hold me by the hips," I whimper grabbing my cock. He takes me by the hips steadying me, "Come on," he whispers, as I'm stroking my prick roughly, impaling myself on him. The feeling is gathering, gathering, until it bursts without warning...my eyes open wide and I am crying out again and again as my cock is pulsing with waves of pleasure, my rim contracting as something 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 poking my leg, 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, balls slapping against the back of my thighs. I am so worn out I can barely stand and all I can do is take it. It is bordering on pain and I am relieved that it doesn't take him too long. I feel him pulsing 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.

I turn to the Lake closing my eyes, taking a deep breath. "Do you have a memory?" he asked me when we've been heading 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 am carrying 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 is 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 are watching as shimmering silvery Dragon soars high into the winter sun.

 

*** The End ***

 

'Strawberries and Cigarettes' [Troye Sivan]

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

 

***