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Only a Kiss

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Draco should have the house to himself.  It was the last semester of their last year at Everett Andrews University and he was the only one still taking early morning classes.  His day started much earlier than the rest, but that also meant he was out of class in time to have most of the afternoon and evening to do what he liked.  Right now, what he liked meant he could do his first homework assignment of the semester in peace.

He pulled the DVD out of his bag only seconds before Harry walked into the room.  

“Hey,” Harry said, stopping awkwardly in the middle of the room.

“Hi,” Draco said.

“Didn’t know you were here,” Harry admitted.  “Everyone else has classes for the next couple hours.”

“I’ve had the same schedule, more or less, for the entire five years we’ve been here.”

“Guess it’s a good thing I wasn’t walking around naked or playing the bongos in the kitchen then, yeah?” Harry said, laughing uncomfortably.

Draco and Harry, despite having lived in the same house on campus since they started university, rarely spent any time together and always in groups with their other roommates.  Although, house was a very modest word it. Hermione once called it the lovechild of a generic college dormitory and Grimmauld Place. She wasn’t wrong. Four floors and a basement split between several former Hogwarts students was enough space that you could avoid your roommates altogether if you wanted, not that Draco had actively avoided any of them in years.

“I’m sorry, did you need something?” Draco asked.

“Well, I don’t really know what to do with myself right now, so I was just going to get something to eat and watch a movie or something.  Looks like you beat me to it though,” Harry said, pointing to the DVD in Draco’s hands.

“It’s for class.  You can watch it with me if you won’t be too distracted by me taking notes and likely talking to the screen,” he said.

Harry smiled.  “Er, have you eaten?  I was going to put something together.  I could make extra.”

Draco wished any of their roommates would get home.  Any single one of them would have made this less awkward.  “You don’t have to. I’m fine.”

“Okay,” Harry said, taking a seat on the sofa.

“You’re not going to eat?”  Draco asked, popping the DVD in the player.

“I can wait,” Harry said, shrugging.

“If I changed my mind, would you grab us a snack?” Draco asked.  Without a word, Harry was on his way to the kitchen.

 

 

Several minutes later, Harry came back with a couple of plates.  Draco set his notebook aside and took a plate from Harry as he sat down.  

“What’s this?” Draco asked.

“A BBT.  We’re short on groceries.  Judging by the amount of money in the grocery fund jar, no one has done any real shopping since we got back,” Harry said.

“The hell is a BBT?”

Harry picked up his sandwich to let Draco see the ingredients, “It was gonna be a BLT, but the only green thing I could find was bok choy.  Bacon, bok choy, and tomato.”

Draco shook his head, but picked at the sandwich anyway.  

“Thanks,” Harry said between bites.

“Shit, sorry.  Thanks.” Please and thank you were not exactly staples in his vocabulary, though he was trying to be better about it.

“No, I mean thank you for real.  I’m starving,” Harry said.

“I’m more confused now than before you explained,” Draco said, making himself eat bok choy for presumably the first time.

“I don’t like being the only one eating.  I know it’s not the same, but I know what it’s like to be hungry while watching someone else eat,” Harry told him.

Draco knew they were stepping into personal information territory so he promptly gathered his notebook and the remote, “Have you seen Singing In the Rain before?”

“You’re watching a musical?”

“I’m taking a class on wizard influences on cinema, and Singing In the Rain is one of the best examples of wizards playing around in film,” Draco said.

Harry looked at him.  “You going to elaborate on that?”

“Well, muggle cinema was heavily influenced by wizard’s portraits and other paintings.  And when wizards weren’t able to take credit for the inspiration, they wrote it off as muggle garbage.  This film is full of little references to that. Did you know Debbie Reynolds is a witch? She did her research on this, too.  Her character says that film is beneath stage acting and that stage actors are more legitimate than film actors. That is pretty much how wizards look at it even now.  Wizards are notoriously low-tech with their entertainment, and that mindset comes from being petty. If they can’t take credit for it without breaking the Statutes of Secrecy, better call it garbage.”  When Draco looked over, Harry was grinning at him.

“You sure you need to watch the film?  Sounds like you could write a full essay on it without pressing play.”

Draco scowled at him, pointed the remote to the DVD player and started the movie.

 

 

For the next two hours, Draco and Harry talked over the entire film.  Very little of their conversation had to do with the essay Draco needed to write.

“It’s such a shame Pansy missed this.  She loves to look for polyamorous subtext, and even I would swear that Don, Kathy, and Cosmo were a thing.  The entire ‘Good Morning’ scene was nothing but tension and chemistry,” Draco added, once the film was over.  “I hate it for her. Poor thing never gets any movies with poly relationships. Muggles are so behind on a lot of things.  They’re just now catching up on really good gay stories. I hear they’re even releasing a film version of Rent later this year.”

Harry shook his head like he’d tasted something awful, “I hated Rent.”

“You’ve seen it?”

He nodded, “I was dating someone in the theatre department a couple years ago and they put it on.  She played Maureen. I hated her. The character, not my ex. Maureen was the pinnacle of negative bisexual stereotypes.  She was self-centered, manipulative, cheated on everyone while blaming it on other people being attracted to her. I hated every second of Maureen.”

“I never thought of that,” Draco said quietly.  He realized that he walked right into a conversation killer.

“I’m not implying anything about Pansy or the others.  Poly relationships are fine and good and everything. It’s not cheating.  Maureen’s cheating wasn’t polyamory; she was hurting people,” Harry said. “Sorry.  Didn’t mean to turn this into a soapbox rant.”

“Not a problem,” Draco said, still not sure where all this came from.  As he was putting the DVD back in the case, the front door opened.

“Ron!” Harry shouted. “Ron, we need to go grocery shopping.  The jar is full and the request list is a page long.”

“I’m back for two seconds, and you’ve got me running errands?” Ron said, dropping his bag on one of the other sofas.

“Oh, that’s nothing.  Wait until I ask you to help me make a ‘first day of last semester’ celebratory dinner for everyone.” Harry said.

“As long as ‘everyone’ means only the people who live here,” Ron said, reaching out to Draco for a fist bump.

“You coming shopping with us?” Ron asked Draco.  

“No, thanks.  I’ve an essay to write, but don’t leave until I can give you my portion of the grocery money,” Draco said.  He ran up to his room on the third floor to get money. He stood inside his bedroom door and took one last deep breath, preparing himself for the noise to follow.  If Ron was back, the rest of them wouldn’t be far behind.

 


 

 

Draco had his notes arranged into a reasonable outline and his essay started by the time Pansy draped herself against his doorway.  

“Hey, love," Pansy croaked, "You have to come down.  Ron made breakfast for dinner.  I think Harry helped, but we can’t miss this."

“Damn, are you still alive?  You sound terrible,” Draco said.

“Oh, piss off.  Some idiot in Potions fucked up and gassed us all first thing this morning.  About burned out my sinuses and killed my throat,” Pansy said like the words were just as toxic.

Draco scoffed.  “One of the home-schooled American wizards?”

“Close.  Ilvermorny.  You would think that they would know something by their last year, but no.  Still actively trying to kill a room full of people by throwing random minerals in acid baths.  Bitches. At least my taste buds aren’t suffering from it, because I swear I missed Ron’s cooking more than I missed any actual person in this house.” Pansy grabbed Draco’s wrist to pull him away from his desk.

“Hag,” he said with a smile.

“You know you did, too,” she said.

He didn’t argue but allowed himself to be pulled out of his room.  He could smell bacon and sausage. By the time he got down to the second floor, the smell of scones and cinnamon rolls were permeating the entire first floor.  Walking into the kitchen was ridiculous. There was too much food for too many people but there always seemed to be just enough room and very little food left over.  

“D-Man and P-Zizzy in the house!” shouted Seamus.

Draco laughed.  Pansy shook her head and said, “No, darling, no.” She took the seat beside him anyway.

Dean and Seamus were already in their usual seats.  Hannah and Neville were moving plates of food around on the counters to make more room.  Padma and Lisa were in their own world giggling about Merlin-knows-what. Hermione and Harry were carrying platters of food to the table while Ron pulled the last pans from the oven.

Draco loved their group dinner nights.  He would never admit it, but this was one of the things that helped him most after the war and trials and everything else.  Draco’s trial was over before what they called their “eighth year” began, but it didn’t feel over until the school year had almost ended.  He completed the last year at Hogwarts with high marks but no direction. For months, he dabbled in one job after another but nothing felt real.  It wasn’t until the announcement of a new university that anything even held his attention.

Everett Andrews University opened in the fall of 1999 to any witch or wizard who could pass the entrance exams.  It was a five-year university and exactly what Draco needed. He did not hesitate to apply for on-campus housing almost welcoming the possibility that he might end up with new people or even other Hogwarts alumni.

The first semester was horribly lonely and a little awkward.  It did help, however, that Pansy was close. The two of them shared the east side of the third floor.  Some days, the only other person he saw in the house was Pansy. Due to conflicting schedules, it was not uncommon for him to go entire days without seeing her.  Eventually, she convinced him to come down to dinner with the rest of them.

Ron was a very good cook and could turn dinner into quite the event.  Initially taught by his family, he took a couple of cooking classes for the easy grade and became everyone’s favorite cook.  Draco timidly joined them in that first year, sometimes awkwardly offering to help or asking if there was enough for him to join.  Over time, these dinners felt more welcoming and conversations less strained. He loved it. It was everything he ever wanted. He may not be the center of attention, but he was part of something.  He wondered if this is what dinners at Hogwarts should have been.

Even now, there was noise and conversations that engaged the whole table.  Plates of cinnamon rolls levitated across the kitchen, mimosas refilled themselves, and it felt like home.  He would never admit it, but this was his favorite part of being here.

 

 

The night ticked by and his roommates wandered back into their own separate areas of the house until he found himself alone with Harry and Ron.  

Draco had his wand out to help with clean up.  He was grateful they hadn’t used the good dishes which could only be washed the muggle way.  Draco was humming the chorus of “Good Morning” for the hundredth time that day when Ron nudged his shoulder.

“And where are you?” Ron asked.

Draco shrugged.  

“Well, come back,” Ron said, Harry grabbing at him. “You’re missing out on—”

“Shut up, Ron,” Harry begged, pulling at Ron’s sleeve.

“On Harry’s sexual identity crisis,” Ron finished.

Draco did his best to hide a laugh, “His what?”

Harry covered his face in his hands.

“Maybe you can help us out.  Harry doesn’t think he’s bisexual enough,” Ron explained.

“Bisexual enough for what?  Afraid you’re out of the running for the Bi-est Bi Award?” Draco teased.

Harry groaned and fell into a seat at the table.  “No.”

“Oh, I’m sensing that this is an actual crisis,” Draco said, sitting at the table with him.  

Ron joined them and cast a quick Muffliato on the kitchen. “Okay, really Harry.  Why are you upset about this?”

“You seem so sure about it, though,” Harry said.

“Yeah, well being in a relationship with Hermione doesn’t mean I’m less attracted to men,”  Ron said.

“I don’t know if I’m the best person for the conversation,” Draco interrupted.

“Why not?  You’re my friend,” Ron said, “I’m dragging you into this to help me help my other friend.”

“No, I mean, I’m not the person to talk to about bisexuality.  I’m gay. All the way gay. Kissed a girl once and wondered if I should tell her about my lip exfoliation routine gay.”

“That makes you perfect,” Ron said, reaching over to pull Harry’s hands from his face.

“A great many things make me perfect,” Draco preened, crossing his arms and looking self-satisfied.

“Really though,” Ron laughed. “You knew you liked men before you got with one, yeah?”

“Of course,” Draco said. “What’s your point?”

“I’m gonna let Harry take that one,” he said, sweeping his hand in a wide arc like he was presenting Harry.

Harry sighed heavily and leaned back in his chair until he was staring at the ceiling.  It felt wrong to rush him, but Draco wasn’t known for his patience in situations like this.  Still, he waited. After another deep breath, Harry righted himself in his chair and explained, “I’ve never kissed a guy.  And well, it’s like you and Pansy or Lisa or Hermione. A lot of the girls, er, women. You tell them all the time that they’re gorgeous, or beautiful or that they look good in some outfit.  You know they are attractive.”

“They are,” Draco said.

“Yeah, that’s not the question.  You know they’re attractive, but you aren’t attracted to them.  What if I see and know that men are attractive, but I’m not actually attracted to them?” Harry asked.

“How can you not know you’re attracted to someone?” Draco asked.

Ron laughed.

Both Harry and Draco turned to look at him, expecting an explanation.  When one didn’t come, they continued their conversation.

“Maybe you’re picky.  Or maybe you have a strong preference for women,” Draco said.

“That’s even worse,” Harry said.

Ron looked confused. “Why’s that?”

“Would you date a bloke that preferred women?” Harry asked.

“Having a preference for women over men isn’t the same as having a preference for women over me.  As long as he liked being with me enough to not go looking for a woman, I don’t think that would bother me,” Ron said.

“What about you?” Harry said, looking to Draco.

“As long as we were both happy and committed to the relationship, I would be willing to work with any number of details,” Draco said.

Ron looked from Harry to Draco and back again.  He said, “You don’t look too reassured.”

“I guess I’m not.  I would feel like such a twat if I started dating someone and realized when I kissed him that I only like men in that theoretical fantasy way,” Harry said, slouching back in his chair again.  

“Here,” Ron said, “Kiss me then.  If the stubble is a deal breaker, then you know.”

“You’re kidding.”  Draco didn’t realize he’d spoken until they both looked at him.  

“It’s only a kiss,” Harry said.

“Yep,” Ron said.

“‘Mione?” Harry asked.

Ron said, “It’s you.  It’s fine.”

Harry leaned toward his friend, and Draco had the ridiculous urge to stop them.  His chest felt tight watching Ron’s fingers tilt Harry’s chin to help guide him. Their lips met for a fraction of a second before both of them burst into laughter.

“The fuck, mate?  You spit on my cheek,” Ron said, still giggling.

“Well, I think you laughed into my mouth,” Harry said once he could form a full sentence.

“Please tell me that’s the worst kiss either of you have ever had.  I don’t know if I could sleep at night knowing you two have ever endured something more horrible than that,” Draco said, finally joining the laughter, even if only because of the absurdity of the whole situation.

“It’s funny.  My mind was saying ‘this will be fine’ and all of a sudden my mind panicked and shouted ‘Ron!’ like it was in capslock with six exclamation points and I couldn’t help but laugh,” Harry said, pulling his glasses off his face to rub his eyes.

“That.  Yes,” Ron said, “Same thing.  It was like my subconscious mind caught up and vetoed everything.”

“You want to kiss me, too?” Draco asked.  “At least with me, it won’t be like kissing your brother.”

Ron and Harry exchanged a look of horror.  Draco immediately regretted the offer and was ready to play it off as a joke when Ron started talking.

“Bloody hell, that’s...of course he’s right.  It was like trying to kiss a brother. No wonder we both noped the fuck out of it,” Ron said.

Draco got up from the table, moving to get his wand from the place he left it on the counter.  “As fun as this has been, I do need to get some sleep. I have early classes unlike most of you heathens.”  When he turned to leave, he nearly ran directly into Harry. “Fuck. I didn’t hear you get up.”

“Oh,” Harry mumbled, looking down at his socked feet.  “I didn’t realize you were joking.”

It took Draco a moment to follow Harry’s thoughts, “I wasn’t really.”

Harry looked up at Draco, seeming shorter than usual since he never wore shoes in the house.  “So, I guess the point is just to, er,” Harry struggled to say.

“I know.  To see if you like it.  So I guess I better try to make you like it, yeah?” He glanced down to Harry’s lips.  They were more full than his own, and Harry could definitely do with a good lip balm. Draco realized he was hesitating and leaned into Harry and kissed him.  He surprised himself with how nervous he felt. Harry’s lips pressed against his in a waiting game to see who would take control of the kiss. The unexpected feel of Harry’s hands on his face startled a noise out of him that, when pressed against Harry’s mouth, sounded very like a moan.

The sound flipped a switch in Harry.  He kissed Draco like a man who was used to being in control, taking what he wanted from those happy to let him.  Harry’s thumb pulled at Draco’s chin, prompting him to open his mouth, letting Harry in. He tasted like mimosas and sugar.  

Harry was demanding, stepping in until his body was touching Draco’s.  Harry slid his hands from Draco’s face into his hair, holding him tightly.  Draco took it as a challenge; he always did with Harry. He wrapped his arms around Harry’s waist, holding him as he refused to be a passive participant.  Matching Harry’s intensity was almost easy. Draco’s tongue slid against Harry’s; he caught Harry’s bottom lip between his teeth, sucking on it lightly before deepening the kiss with the advantage of his height over the other man.  By the time he let go of Harry, Draco was lightheaded and his mouth felt hot.

“Fuck!  Watching that, even my nipples are hard,” Ron said, running his hands over his chest.  

Draco tried not to think of what that implied about other body parts.  He was grateful for the distraction though, not at all ready to evaluate his feelings about something that should be inconsequential.

Harry laughed, not quite looking up at Draco.  “Well, if this is any indication, I think I will definitely get used to kissing guys.”

“Good to know Ron didn’t ruin it for you.  I would hate to think you’re missing out because he traumatized you,” Draco teased.  “As I said earlier, I do need to get some sleep. I’ll see you two tomorrow?” They both nodded and offered their goodnights.  

The walk up to the third floor felt longer than any corridor or staircase in Hogwarts.  Why did this have him so worked up? It was only Harry. It was only a kiss. Once he reached his bedroom, he left those thoughts in the hallway and went to bed.

 

 


 

 

Draco woke the next morning thinking nothing of the night before, except to wonder if there were any cheese scones left over.  He would have preferred another cinnamon roll, but Ron’s cinnamon rolls never lasted more than an hour or two in their house.

It wasn’t until he got back from his classes that Draco even thought about Harry.  Draco wondered briefly if Harry would be home again. Of course, he wasn’t actually looking for Harry when he stopped by the kitchen and living room before making his way up the stairs to his room.  

Draco opened his bag and grabbed his homework.  If he worked quickly enough, he could be finished before the others were back.  Business Law didn’t sound like it would be a favorite class of his, but Draco was particularly fond of it.  Only the second day into class, he was already tasked with finding a loophole in the law forbidding muggles from working in retail shops that carry magical items in their standard inventory.  If he opened the businesses he wanted, knowing his way through the loopholes would be invaluable.

Before Draco finished reading over the first page of the chapter, he heard a knock on his open door.  Harry was standing there in a wrinkled t-shirt and joggers.

“You look like you woke up five minutes ago,” Draco said.

Harry smiled, “No, I look like I need to have a nap for the next few hours.”

“Well, you’re not sleeping in here if that’s what you’re here to ask,” Draco said, turning the page of his textbook.

“Are you doing homework?” Harry asked.

Draco scoffed and spun in his chair, dragging the thick volume off his desk as he turned from the desk. “No, Potter, I read books like this for fun,” he said.

Harry rolled his eyes before stepping into Draco’s room just enough to lean back against the doorway.  “I understand you’re being sarcastic, but even you have been living with Hermione long enough to know that was a reasonable question.”

Draco laughed and nodded, “Yes, I’m doing homework.”

“Would you mind doing it with me?”

“That’s what she said.”

“I’ll never stop hating Seamus for teaching you that stupid joke,” Harry said.  

“Oh, come on, I hardly ever say it anymore.”

“It only took a year.  Would you really though?  It’s too quiet. I need to get some work done, but I can’t stay focused if I’m alone.”

Draco looked around his room.  He sat in the only chair, and he wasn’t about to ask Harry to do homework on his bed or the floor.  “Let me get my things.”

Harry smiled.  “Thanks. So, do you want to go down to the library or we could go to the kitchen table to work?”

Draco considered the library for a moment.  It was originally a bedroom on the main floor.  However, with no showers or tubs on the main floor, no one wanted it.  Hermione and Draco decided to turn it into a study room and over time it gathered enough used textbooks from previous semesters that others started leaving other used books as well.  A few mismatched pieces of furniture later, it became the house library. It occurred to Draco that it was strange to mention the kitchen at all, but remembering Harry being hungry after his classes yesterday, he assumed it was a hint in that direction.

Draco, despite knowing Harry wasn’t usually so indirect, said, “I’ll meet you in the kitchen.”

 

 

When Draco took the seat across from him, Harry slid a plate toward the middle of the table.  Today, instead of something as unusual as bacon and bok choy sandwiches, Harry was trying to share a plate of grapes and cheese.  He had taken the clementine off the plate before he slid it within Draco’s reach.

Draco took a few grapes and piece of cheese from the plate so Harry wouldn’t starve himself and settled into his book.  The whisper of Harry’s ballpoint pen against paper was a welcome background noise. Draco much preferred to study with company, so long as that company was not disruptive.  With some of his roommates, though, even that small request was too much to ask.

Draco had gotten through a page of notes before he heard Harry tap a finger on the table between them.  He looked up to see Harry with his eyes on his own work but holding out a segment of the clementine for Draco to take.  He took the fruit and watched Harry.

Harry peeled the fruit without looking and popped a segment in his mouth.  The next piece, he held out for Draco without looking up. Draco took it and watched Harry turn the page in his book, no doubt getting fruit on the paper.  Draco shrugged it off as another routine Harry and his friends had and went back to his chapter. This time, keeping a hint of attention on Harry just in case he offered again.  Harry continued this until the clementine was gone.

Draco finished around the time Harry started cleaning up his work as well.  He did not notice when Harry got more supplies out of his bag. One item grabbed his attention.  Draco picked up one of the crayons Harry was gathering back into the box.

“You’re taking art classes?”

Harry laughed.

“What’s so funny?”  Draco asked.

“In my field of study, you didn’t think crayons would come up?”  Harry teased.

It dawned on Draco that he honestly had no idea what Harry was studying.  Harry must have realized this because he answered.

“No, I’m writing a lesson plan and designing an exercise,” he said.

“Should I be embarrassed that I still don’t know what you’re talking about?” Draco asked.

“I guess not.  I’m in my practicum for early childhood education.  That’s why I’m taking earlier classes this semester.  I work with kids. I wanted to specialize in working with magical children from non-magic homes and children with problematic magical development,” Harry explained.  “I have been working on ways for kids to develop and express magic at earlier ages. A lot of people think that doing that will reduce chances of accidents and injuries.  Also, it will give kids a head start on the fundamental understanding of what magic is and how it works. The next generation could be so much more advanced than us if we will let them.”

Draco was amazed by the sudden switch in Harry.  It’s like he clicked into a side of himself that Draco did not often get to see.  His passion for this was undeniable. Draco nodded, hoping Harry would continue.

“Sorry, you probably find this incredibly boring,” Harry said, shrinking back into his seat.

“Not at all.  So, how are you trying to get pre-school age children to do magic?” Draco asked.

“I’m not trying to get them to actually do magic.  We’re trying to find ways for them to learn other skills that will naturally draw their magic out in safer ways.  Mine, er, my project is using art to express their feelings. If art therapy is a branch on a tree, then art-based magical development would be a branch on the same tree.  Kids have outbursts of magic when they have a highly emotional response to something. Like when I was little, I… Well, you know the kinds of things that can happen.”

Draco nodded, enchanted by this side of Harry.

“So, when you have kids intentionally focus their emotions on something, it will encourage their magic to manifest in the project instead of pop out at unfortunate times.  If you have a child draw a picture about feeling lonely after their older sibling goes off to Hogwarts or wherever, they might draw a picture using muted or neutral colors; I’ve seen a picture that was cold to the touch after being made with this method.  They are able to safely release the magic that builds up under those circumstances. My project focuses on preventative expression instead of reactionary. I don’t want to start helping these kids after something happens, I want to help before they need help, you know?  Like, if they’re able to get through an event in a safe and healthy way, then they won’t need help overcoming it.” Harry was practically glowing by this point.

“How did I not know this until now?  Has this been your focus all along?” Draco asked.

“Not really.  This field of study didn’t even exist until last year.  I always knew I wanted to teach, but when Andrews was founded, I didn’t feel like I was ready to apply for a position at Hogwarts or anything.  Once I was here, I tried to figure things out as I went along,” he said. “What are you doing?”

When Draco took too long to answer, Harry clarified, “I mean, what are you studying and do you know what you want to do with it?  That book looks pretty far removed from taking notes on Singing in the Rain .”

Draco said, “That was for an elective.  I’ve taken several classes in the Muggle Studies department only because I’ve enjoyed them.  I have been studying business finance and—”

“Gross,” Harry interrupted.  His smile kept Draco from taking his comment seriously.

“As I was saying, before you forgot how to interact in polite conversation, I’m studying business finance and marketing so I can be rich enough to do whatever the hell I want.  When your money makes money, you can do anything.”

Harry nodded.

“I can feel you judging me,” Draco said.

“No.  Not judging.  That is probably the most ‘Malfoy’ thing you have ever said to me, though,” Harry said while suppressing a smile.

“Now I know you’re judging me.”

Harry laughed.

“Think about it though.  If I own two or three of the most expensive and successful restaurants in a city, who and what will stop me from opening a cafe where people can come in and pay whatever they can to feed their family in a setting that doesn’t feel like a soup kitchen?”  Draco asked.

Draco couldn’t put a number on the amount of galleons he would pay to have a photo of Harry’s face right that second.  He couldn’t remember ever being the cause of such a look of surprise. Harry was wide-eyed and speechless and Draco was both proud and insulted.

“I mean, that’s only one of my ideas.  And I already have a very strong start to the financial overhead required for the moves I’ll be making,” Draco said.  “Let me guess. Not the kind of explanation you were expecting?”

“Well, now I feel like a dick,” Harry said.

Pansy laughed, walking into the kitchen. “Who is in here feeling dicks without me?”

“Hey, Princess,” Harry said, reaching out a hand to her.

She leaned in for a hug and squeezed Harry, saying, “Oh, sweetie, you know you don’t have to call me that.  ‘Your Highness’ will do.” She kissed her fingertips before reaching over the table and brushing them against Draco’s cheek.  

“I would love to stay and talk, but I’m going with Hermione, Padma, and Lisa.  They’re going to cause a scene in front the theatre department as a protest against Aida,” she said.

“What’s wrong with Aida?” Draco asked.

“Oh, nothing,” she said, “but they cast a white girl as Aida.”

Draco’s look of disgust was enough to let Harry know that this was a bad thing.  

“I’m not familiar with whatever you’re talking about,” Harry said.

Draco gestured to Pansy.  She started the conversation, he knew she should be the one to continue it.

“I didn’t either, really.  It’s a musical about a princess from Nubia named Aida.  The theatre department said they chose the actor best able to perform the role, but it really hurt Hermione that they took an opportunity for a Black woman to really shine in a role made for a Black woman,” she said.  “Of course, the first thing she did was make a sign and decide to cause a scene.”

“Good.  I’d be worried if she didn’t,” Harry said.

“You know how it goes, though.  If she went on her own, then she’s the ‘angry Black woman’.  If she goes with a crowd behind her, she’s a voice to be heard,” Pansy said.

When neither Draco or Harry responded, Pansy said, “I don’t mean that I agree with that thinking, but that’s often how people treat her.  When she got that way about House Elves, do you remember how many people laughed her off because they said she was trying to make it about herself?  To turn it into a Black slavery issue instead of an Elf slavery issue? People said horrible things to her and about her. If I stand with her and look angry too, they might listen to her more seriously.  No one is going to look at me, a white pureblood, and say that I’m being dramatic for no reason.”

“It’s only because they don’t know you,” Harry said.

Pansy laughed and swatted a hand at him as more of their housemates started filing into the house.   Seamus walked into the kitchen, and threw his hands up finding the source of their laughter.

“P-Zizzy!” he shouted.

“No, darling,” she said, smiling up at him.

“Everyone’s in here?” Dean asked.  “Are we doing another dinner night already?”

“Hate to disappoint you, love, but unless everyone is willing to have toasted cheese sandwiches with some condensed soup from a tin, most of us won’t have time before our impromptu protest,” Pansy said.

Dean pressed a kiss the top of her head, saying, “You know how much I love quick and easy.”

Pansy stabbed a finger into his ribs before getting up to help him throw a quick meal together.

“They really are disgusting,” Draco said, watching them as they started pulling ingredients from the pantry.

“I like toasted cheese alright,” Harry said, smiling across the table at him.

“You know damned well what I meant,” Draco said.  He glanced over again and smiled, watching as Pansy giggled over a pot of canned soup.


 

 

They fell into the routine of studying in the kitchen after class.  Draco stopped trying to study in his room at all by the second week.  Every day, Harry asked him to come down for a snack and study session.  Draco never told him no. Today was a bit different. Padma and Lisa were in the house earlier than usual due to a cancelled class.  

“Oh, look at you two!  You’re doing your homework,” Padma said.

“Yes, Padma, this is what it looks like to be a responsible student,” Draco said.  

“We’re not irresponsible,” Lisa said, signing quickly, “just not traditional.”

Harry laughed.  “Sorry,” he said, making sure to face Lisa, “that was too quick for me, but I have a feeling she sassed you right back, Draco.”

Lisa repeated herself a bit more slowly, mouthing the words as she went earning a wide grin from Harry.

“Do you mind more company?” Padma asked.

“Not at all,” Harry said, glancing over at Draco.  Draco shook his head.

“Fantastic,” she said before holding up the stereo in her hand.  “Oh, I forget to ask sometimes. Will it distract you too much if I played music while we work?”

Working through noise was never much of a problem for any of them.  Years of sharing a room with a minimum of four other people made it an easy compromise.  Padma gave a small hop of excitement.

“I don’t know why we don’t spend more time in here.  Oh, and I’ll share my snacks too,” Padma said, pulling a package of chocolate candies out of her own bag.  “Careful, the red foil ones have chili oil in them. You might think they’re spicy.”

“Spicy chocolate?” Draco asked, signing as he spoke now that Lisa was beside him.

“Yes, they’re my favorite.  Is Panic at the Disco okay or would you prefer Fall Out Boy?  I have both with me,” she said, pulling both CD’s out of her bag.  Lisa tapped a finger on one before Harry picked it up.

“I bought this album, too.  Though I’m still not sure if it’s because I like the music or because I find myself irrationally attracted to Brendon Urie,” Harry said.

“Who?” Draco asked.

“The singer,” Padma clarified.  She pulled the booklet from the case and flipped a couple pages before she pointed out a photo.

Draco arched an eyebrow, letting Padma know how unimpressed he was.  

“Oh, why you gotta be a hater?” she teased.

“We could listen to the other one,” Draco said, not really wanting to listen to this pretty boy.  “I can’t imagine myself being interested in disco.”

Lisa tapped his arm; once he faced her she said, “That’s just the name.  It’s not disco.”

“So it’s settled.  Panic it is. If you find it too distracting, we can switch it to something else,” Padma said, putting the CD into the player.  

They soon settled back into their work.  Lisa rested her hand over one speaker as she began writing, only slightly muffling the sound.  The music wasn’t bad. Draco wasn’t quite sure why he was so reluctant to admit it was catchy. He glanced over at the stereo like that would answer his question.

“Too loud?” Padma asked, noticing him.

“No, just checked out there for a second.  It’s a pretty boring chapter,” he said.

“Well, if you need more of a break, I’ll do your law if you’ll do my calculus,” she said.

“Not a chance,” he said, before turning back to his work.

After a while, the music and Padma’s constant movement and fidgeting melted into the background and Draco fell into a comfortable work pace.  By the time he finished, he noticed Hannah and Neville coming to the table as well. Music as a background noise wasn’t such a bad idea if he hadn’t noticed the front door.  

Harry must have finished right before him.  He was picking up the foil wrappers littered across the table.

“So, Harry,” Hannah said, “Did you talk to Aaron today?”

“Who’s Aaron?” Padma asked.

“Someone in one of my classes,” Harry said.

Neville nodded, “He did.”

“Oh, you’re a legilimens now?” Hannah said.

“Look at him,” Neville said.  

Lisa tapped the table before asking, “What did you say to Harry?”

Hannah opened her mouth to answer before Harry snapped out of his silence.

“It’s just someone I know from class.  His name is Aaron, and he’s nice,” Harry said.  

“He’s not another creep trying to get with their celebrity crush is he?” Lisa asked, her face showing genuine concern.

“I don’t think so.  He’s American. He didn’t seem to recognize me in class.  Aaron asked if I wanted to get some lunch after class sometime,” Harry said.

Draco bristled at this.  He’d gotten used to Harry spending his early afternoons here with him.

“You should,” Hannah said.  “I mean, he’s attractive. He’s obviously into you.  You sit together in class all the time. If you took the conversation out of the classroom, you might have some fun together.”

Draco was uncomfortable with the turn of conversation.  He told himself it was because he didn’t know Aaron. Draco was not fond of making new friends or being around new people in social settings at all, for that matter.  By the time he started paying attention again, everyone was talking about putting bin of CD’s and an extra stereo in the kitchen.

It wasn’t long before more of their roommates arrived, others left, and the kitchen seemed to be a hub of movement.  They hadn’t always spent so much time in there, but they all found themselves in there more often. It was starting to feel more like a shared house and less like a set of distinctly separate rooms with a communal space or two.  

Draco excused himself from the kitchen, ignoring the nagging thoughts that this would be gone soon.  He would deal with that when it came.

 


 

 

Draco walked home from the main campus.  He could walk the trail in his sleep he’d done it so many times.  He looked at the buildings lining one side of the park. Draco’s eyes slid over the used bookstore and corner market without a second thought.  When he passed the little cafe his thoughts drifted. He wondered if Harry accepted Aaron’s invitation to lunch. He did not care either way. It was simple curiosity, he told himself as he arrived home.

Simple curiosity felt oddly similar to jealousy when he realized he was the only one in the house.  Draco did not like to admit that he was jealous. He didn’t have any claim on Harry’s time. Having a date with someone didn’t mean that Harry wasn’t Draco’s friend any more.  They did not have to spend every afternoon together, but Draco missed him anyway.

Draco tried to look on the bright side.  He had to watch another film for class, and this time, Harry wouldn’t be here to talk through the whole thing.  Draco had never seen this one before and would need to pay attention. Notebook and pen at the ready, Draco started the movie.

When given a list of film titles to choose from, he did not realize his choice was going to be an animated film for children.  The mermaids he knew were very different from the one on the cover picture. Though it was factually inaccurate, he did start to enjoy it.  

Several times during the film, he found himself taking notes in the margins he knew he couldn’t use in the essay.  His last essay had points deducted because he was too off topic. He couldn’t help himself though. He noted the racist caricatures and that most of the fat characters were depicted in evil or excessively comedic ways.  Draco was scribbling something about Ursula being portrayed as a potioneer and the long-standing prejudice relating potions and Dark Magic even after the development of potions for things as benign as hair care or cures for hiccoughs.  

“Do you think they meant for her to be using polyjuice?”

Not expecting the voice behind him, Draco nearly jumps out of his own skin, “Merlin’s titties!”

When Draco turns to face him, Harry is laughing so hard he’s fighting to keep himself standing.  “He said- he said titties!” Harry said, barely able to breathe.

“What the hell?!” Draco shouted, “When did you get here?”

“Merlin’s titties!” he squeaked, finally falling to his knees.

“Harry, it’s not that funny,” Draco said, sinking into the sofa.

“I’m, I’m sorry,” Harry said, dragging himself to the empty end of the sofa. “You didn’t hear me come in?”

“I suppose I was getting into the movie,” Draco said with a shrug.

“Yeah, I love this movie.  I watched it a couple years ago with Teddy,” Harry said.  “I always kinda thought that a lot of Ursula’s actions were based on potion making.  Like, love spells, polyjuice, turning Ariel into a human? Even though they don’t drink anything.”

“Would you like me to pause this so you can keep talking?” Draco asked.

Harry grinned, “Sorry.”

When they turned back to the movie, it was a wedding scene.  All the characters were trying to disrupt the wedding, except the bewitched prince and the priest that did not seem to give a fuck that sea creatures were attacking the bride.

“Binns,” Harry muttered.

“Hm?”

“The priest reminds me of Professor Binns,” Harry said.  This time when Harry laughed, Draco did too. The continued watching the film in relative silence until Harry spoke again.  “You know, if I had to shag one of the princes, he’s probably second on my list.”

“He’s a cartoon, you know,” Draco said.

“I’m telling everyone that you say ‘titties’ when you’re scared,” Harry said.

“Fine, I’ll bite.  Who’s first?”

“Li Shang.  And was that a fishing pun-metaphor combo?  So inappropriate. Didn’t Sebastian teach you anything?”

Draco swatted a hand in Harry’s direction.  He asked, “Li Shang?”

“From Mulan,” Harry said.  When Draco gave no indication that he recognized the character, Harry said, “You have to watch Mulan with me!  And you can take notes on all the evidence there is that Li Shang is bisexual. You’ll love it.”

“I’m not taking notes for my health, this is for class, and I’ve missed almost everything that’s happened since you came in here,” he snapped, turning back in time to see that idiot prince kill the villain.  

“Speaking of all the seafood, I went to that new sushi bar with Aaron.  I wouldn’t recommend it,” Harry said.

“Does Aaron have black hair?” Draco asked.

“Er, yeah, did you meet him?” Harry asked.

“No, I’m noticing your type,” Draco said.  When Harry denied having a type, Draco said, “The singer, the cartoon, and now him.”

“Oh,” Harry said, “I guess it’s been a trend.  Definitely not a type though. I’ve been thinking that I might ask Ron if Aaron can come over for one of our dinner nights.  He might still be angry about Padma’s friend coming over and catching the place on fire after challenging Pansy and Seamus to a game of beer pong.  What do you think?”

“I think it’s later than I realized and I forgot I have plans to go out tonight,” Draco said.  “Sorry to cut this short.” He stood from the sofa and stopped the DVD before the movie ended. He went up to his room where he stayed all night.


 

 

Draco saw very little of Harry over the next week.  He assumed he was spending more time with Aaron. Draco did not ask.  He did not want to know if Harry was going out with him every day or if they left class together.  Draco did not want to think about Harry kissing him. It was no use pretending that his feelings were not there.  Draco knew his unrequited feelings for Harry were coming back. After years of being able to ignore them, it was still unpleasant to have it come rushing back.

This time, he wasn’t only ignoring the physical attraction or Harry’s ridiculous way of owning every situation he stumbled into, strutting about like he was always on a mission.  Harry’s messy hair was not as distracting as it used to be, and Draco had gotten used to the sight of him running around the house in nothing but joggers and worn out t-shirts that left nothing to the imagination.  

This time, he was also shoving aside the way he felt when Harry started talking about his classes, the way he sings along with the movies they watch.  Draco very nearly had to sit on his hands to keep from reaching out to touch Harry when they watched Moulin Rouge. Harry singing to every one of Christian’s parts twisted knots in Draco’s chest.  He was not a remarkable singer, but Harry was nothing if not passionate. It certainly did not help that Draco spent the duration of the film projecting his feelings onto the characters' forbidden love.

Now they were friends, real friends.  Draco wanted this for as long as he had known Harry.  He loved spending time with him, loved how Harry always shared his food with him.  He loved that Harry teased him and would return Draco’s snark with his own sass. It could have been enough.  It would have been perfect if not for that kiss. It was only a kiss, but it changed something.

It was only a kiss, but Draco was still staring at his ceiling in the predawn hours wondering why Harry would not even have the courtesy of staying out of his dreams.  Even after a wank, he still could not go back to sleep. He wondered if Harry was in his room. He wouldn’t ask. Draco did not want to imagine Aaron touching Harry the way he dreamt of touching him.  

A Tempus told him it was barely after four.  Resigning himself to his early start, Draco kicked off his blankets and pulled on enough clothing to leave his room.  With a sigh, started down to the basement.

The house was quiet thanks to both the charms and inactivity of the residents.  It wasn’t until he got to the lowest floor that he heard that he wasn’t the only one awake.  Draco rounded the corner to the laundry area seeing Hermione dance while folding a basket clothes.  Her books were piled on a table and her computer played music loudly enough that the sounds of the machines did not drown it out.  

Even with all the noise from the machines and the music she sang along with, Hermione gave a quick wave in his direction.  Not wanting to disturb her, Draco started pulling open the dryers one after another.

Once the song ended, Hermione paused her music, “Sorry.  One does not simply interrupt Beyonce.”

“If I’d known you were in the middle of a performance, I would have waited on the stairs,” he said, smiling at her.

“Well, you know.  I’ve found that the best thing you can do if you’re caught singing is to keep singing.  Can’t laugh at confidence. Forget where you left your clothes?” she asked.

“No,” he admitted.  “I didn’t expect to see anyone down here this early.”

“Early?  Shit, what time is it?” she asked.

“After four,” Draco said.

She shrugged, “Eh, well.  I still have some time to sleep before we leave.  Ron and I are spending the weekend at the Burrow. What are you doing really?  You okay?”

Draco didn’t bother trying to come up with an excuse.  “I’m down here to steal one of Harry’s shirts or something obviously his.  Then I’m going to use it as an excuse to go up to his room. I plan to lie and say it must have been left behind in a machine and it got mixed in with my things.  All because I’ve redeveloped a ridiculous crush on him and have been avoiding him too much lately”

“Well, I’m not going to tell on you.  I steal Ron’s shirts all the time,” she said pointing to her head.  “Or at least, the ones that he doesn’t wear anymore.”

Looking at the knot on the top of her head, he would never have guessed it was an entire t-shirt.  She had it twisted tightly into what looked like a flower. “I guess I am excused for the theft. Now I have to find an excuse for the lie and possibly ruining his new relationship.”

“Aaron?” she asked, like the name tasted sour, “That won’t last long.”

“Why?” Draco asked, worried that Harry decided he didn’t like men after all.

“He’s fake as hell.  I can’t tell what he’s hiding, but he’s hiding something.  I’m going to see if Harry picks up on it. I’ve gotten pretty good at reading people, and there’s something off about him.  He wasn’t rude to me when we met, but it was very obvious that he tried to get Harry alone pretty quickly.”

“So you’re not going to say anything about…”

Hermione looked at him putting the last of her folded laundry in her basket.  “What, your feelings for Harry? No. I have long since stopped being surprised by anything involving the two of you. And it’s none of my business.  Same reason I haven’t told him to leave Aaron alone.”

“You sound more like Pansy all the time,” he said.

“Funny.  I was thinking she started to sound more like me,” Hermione said.  “Oh, and he left some clothes in the third dryer.”

“Hermione,” Draco said sweetly.  “I thought you weren’t going to get involved.”

“You would have found them anyway,” she said.  She winked at him before leaving him to his plan.

He watched her leave with a cluster of levitated baskets and books trailing after her.  Then he went for the third dryer and took the first item he laid his hand on. Now all he had to do was take it upstairs in a couple hours.

This is stupid, he thought.  He knew it would make more sense to give him the shirt during their after-class time.  Though, he was not around much lately. Then it may come up that he could have left the shirt in the laundry room like all the other lost or misplaced items.  There was always the risk that he would see Aaron when he took the shirt up there. That would not do at all.

Deciding his idea was garbage, he threw the shirt back in the dryer.  Draco climbed staircase after staircase until he reached his room. He could think of no better plan than to hide in his room all weekend.  Maybe trying for another couple hours of sleep was a good way to start.

 

 

Self-imposed isolation was boring and Draco quickly grew tired of it.  Seeking out the company of his roommates did not help. Draco remembered too late that everyone had plans to leave for the weekend or attend one of the events on campus.  Of course, he would be the only one to sit at home on a Saturday afternoon.

Draco wandered around the house until he found himself in the kitchen.  The room was usually so full of noise that it seemed hollow now. He considered the stereo sitting in the corner.  There had to be something in that bin of CD’s worth listening to, and at this point, anything to cover the silence was good enough.  

He took the bin off the shelf and started pulling the discs out.  He didn’t recognize most of them. Beyonce must have been Hermione’s or maybe Hannah’s.  Padma’s copies of Panic at the Disco and Fall Out Boy were still there. Draco rolled his eyes remembering Harry’s comment about the singer.  He kept looking. Dean’s name was scribbled on Gorillaz and Missy Elliott. Some of the bands’ names made him cringe. Misspelling ‘paramour’ didn’t make it any less unappealing.  My Chemical Romance sounded like a drug addiction.

Draco gave up and grabbed one at random from deeper down into the bin and put it in the player without looking at the album cover.  He knew it was the only to make himself choose one.  It was noise. That’s all he needed really. Anything to drown out his thoughts. He mostly ignored the first song as he stared numbly into the pantry, more bored than hungry.  He took down a box of tea when the second song started.

Draco recognized it immediately.  Everyone knew this song, and somehow it fit.  Sure, it was about being cheated on, and Harry certainly wasn’t cheating on him.  It still made him feel that sinking jealousy every time he thought of Harry and Aaron together.  This was not the first time he projected onto a song, and it wouldn’t be the last. Before he started his tea, Draco pressed the repeat button on the stereo.  

On the second play through, Draco turned up the volume.  He felt ridiculous, but thought of Hermione singing in the laundry the night before.  By the third play through, he was singing along. Dignity was occasionally overrated.

The universe decided to test his resolve in that moment.  Even over the sound of the stereo, he heard the sound of the door open.  He knew for a fact that whoever it was just heard him shout “cause I’m Mr Brightside.”  His thoughts went back to Hermione.  As she said, keep singing. You can’t laugh at confidence.

Fuck it, he thought, then belted, “Coming out of my cage and I’ve been doing just fine.” When he saw Harry step into the kitchen he almost stopped.  Then Harry, being Harry, started singing with him. Draco looked away before he got to the line ‘it was only a kiss’. He was already being more open than he was used to, he didn’t need any more truth coming out.  

They finished the song, dancing through the kitchen and grinning like mad.  When Harry turned off the music. Draco knew something was wrong.

“Draco,” Harry said, looking at the floor between them for a second before he looked up again.  “Are we okay?”

“Why wouldn’t we be?” Draco asked.

“You’re not mad at me?” Harry asked, looking back at the floor.

“No,” Draco said.  “Harry, what’s wrong.”

“We’re friends, yeah?” Harry asked.

The question caught Draco completely off guard.  He started thinking of Harry as a friend a long time ago, but there was something about hearing Harry say it that made him feel different . “Yeah, we’re friends.”

“I really—” Harry said, interrupted by a hitch in his breath.  “I really need one of my friends right now.”

Before Draco could answer, Harry crossed the kitchen to him and pulled him into a tight hold.  Draco froze for only a second. This is what Harry needed. Harry held his friends sometimes. Draco had seen it on more than one occasion for a number of reasons.  Not really used to this kind of support, Draco rested his hands on Harry’s back and waited. Harry’s face was hidden against Draco’s shoulder, he wondered if Harry could breathe at all or if it was intentional.  The last thing Draco wanted was for him to hyperventilate.

After a minute or two, Draco was more comfortable.  He rested his cheek against Harry’s head and rubbed his hair the same way Narcissa would do when he was younger.  Draco didn’t think it was possible to be this close to Harry without sending his mind right into the gutter, but seeing Harry like this only made Draco want to hide him from the world until he was ready to tackle whatever it was head on.  

“He lied to me.”

Draco barely heard Harry say the words against his chest.  He waited for Harry to continue.

“I really thought this could have been something.  He was so nice. He was funny. He was pretty,” he said pulling away from Draco.  “Don’t give me that look.  There’s nothing wrong with a pretty man.”

“I’m sorry,” Draco said. “First fights are hard.”

“Only,” Harry insisted.  “There won’t be another one.  I can’t be what he wanted.” He stepped back until he was able to drop into one of the chairs.  Draco joined him at the table.

“We left after class together; we’ve been doing that every day.  I’m sorry I just ditched you like that for him. I’ve missed you.  I really have,” Harry said. “We went to the cafe on the other side of campus and we were just sitting there.  He said he had something he wanted to talk about, and I thought he was either going to say he wasn’t interested in me romantically or he wanted to have like, an official thing or whatever.”

Draco nodded to show he was listening but did not want to dismantle the conversation.  

“He said that he really liked me and wanted to take it a bit further,” he said. He looked down at his hands in his lap.  “Then his girlfriend sat down with us.”

“Oh, hell,” Draco whispered.

“I know, right?  He just pops up with a girlfriend and they go on to tell me how I seem like the perfect addition to their relationship.  That they wanted someone that they could trust to be a good side piece for both of them. I mean, they didn’t use those exact words, but essentially, they wanted to bring me in but only as an accessory.  She told me I couldn’t date other people, but they also wouldn’t claim me as their boyfriend or some garbage,” he said. His anger started simmering in place of that lost and hurt look he had minutes earlier.  Harry looked back at the clock, “Can we go upstairs? I don’t really want a full audience for this.”

“Okay.”  Draco followed him and wasn’t particularly surprised when they stopped on the third floor.  He unlocked the charm on his door and led Harry in. Draco sat on the bed, leaving the chair for Harry.  Harry passed up the chair and climbed onto the bed, sitting with his back against the headboard. Draco moved to sit next to him and waited for Harry to continue.  

“I don’t think I would have been so hurt if I didn’t just follow him like a puppy for weeks.  If he told me at the start that he was looking to add to a really emotionally-stunted poly relationship then I could have told him it wasn’t my thing,” Harry said.  He was quiet for a moment before he laughed, “That hag had the audacity to ask me what was wrong with me. Like because I’m a man that means I should be thankful that two people wanted to fuck me.  I don’t want that. I’m bisexual, not polyamorous. It’s fucking possible to be one without being the other.”

Draco wished he knew what to say to make things better, but everything felt too small.  Instead, he leaned over and gave Harry’s shoulder a gentle bump with his own.

Harry took another shaky breath, “I’m so fucking angry.  She just seemed like such a shit person. Before we even got to that point, she was asking me questions like ‘what kind of mixed are you?’”

“What?” Draco asked, unable to keep his confusion to himself.

“She meant my race,” Harry said. “She said she liked ‘brown boys’ but needed to know what kind of brown I was.”

“That’s pretty invasive,” Draco said, “and a very ignorant way to word it.”

“Is it really so much to ask for? For someone to like me?  I am so tired of people who are interested in me because I’m Harry fucking Potter or because I have enough money that not even you can call me poor,” he said.

“I could call you poor if it would make you feel better,” Draco said.  

Harry laughed.  Thank Merlin, he laughed.  Then he leaned against Draco, resting his head on his shoulder.

“I thought this would be it.  He didn’t know me. He didn’t know about my history or my money.  He didn’t know about my parents or damn near anything about the war.  Evidently, American education is lacking in international affairs,” Harry said, trying to add a joke, too.  “I thought he liked me for me. I was just Harry.”

Draco rested a hand on Harry’s forearm, wishing he could do something to fix things for him.  

“And then there is the added insult that they didn’t want to fully include me in their relationship.  I was supposed to be an extra cock and they expected another person to be okay with that arrangement. Even if she wasn’t a horrible person and Aaron didn’t just spend the past three weeks leading me on, how should I have felt about that?  I don’t want to be the extra while they get to have all the other aspects of a relationship. I want someone to love me,” he said.

That last bit nearly broke his heart.  Draco could tell by the sound of his voice that this wasn’t the first time that thought had crossed Harry’s mind.  This was probably the first time in the fourteen years he’d known Harry that it was so clear. Harry’s friendships always burned so brightly that anyone could see their intensity.  Draco understood now that it was because they had to be intense. Without them, he would probably be one of the loneliest people Draco ever met.

“That’s not stupid is it?  I feel like I’m being so dramatic,” Harry said.

“Look who you’re talking to,” Draco said.

Harry laughed and said, “Pots and kettles, then.  I shouldn’t be so weird about it. I don’t expect to have someone walk up to me and say ‘hi, I love you, what’s your name’ or anything so cinematic.  It would be nice to have a chance to fall in love though.”

I love you, Harry.  Draco almost let the words spill from his mouth.  He didn’t even know those feeling were back until he thought those words.  That phrase hadn’t echoed in his mind in years. However, one thing was certain.  This was the ultimate bad time to bring up those feelings. It would be wrong to take advantage of Harry when he was so upset.  Draco swallowed the feelings back down, crushed them back into the box he kept them in for so long.

“I’m sorry, Draco,” Harry said, looking up at Draco. “I’m sure I crossed your threshold for tolerance of other people’s personal issues.”

Draco was lost.  He could lean in and kiss him again.  Harry was so close. Then he wasn’t.

Harry sat up, pulling away from Draco, “I guess it’s for the best.” Harry smiled, “I should have known it wasn’t meant to be when he kissed me.”

Merlin, Draco did not want these details.  He wanted to change the subject, but instead, he raised an eyebrow giving him a silent prompt to continue.  

“Well, on a scale of Ron to you, he was somewhere in the middle,” Harry said.

Draco was grateful that Harry looked away.  It was only a kiss. Neither of them meant it, did they?  Yes, it was good, but Draco wished he could push Harry down onto the bed and kiss every inch of skin he could reach and show him just how much better he could do.

“That’s one way of looking at it,” Draco said, keeping a smile on his face to cover his growing desperation.  Now was not the time. This was not the place.

“You know.  Sometimes I wish I could go back.  I was so scared of my own sexuality that I feel like I lost my chance,” Harry said.

“For what?”

“Well, while I was trying to get my shit together, you got over me.  You got over me years ago and I still wonder ‘what if’, you know?” Harry said.

Draco felt like the earth was pulled from beneath him.  Pulling on whatever composure he had remaining, he said, “I didn’t realize you knew.”

“I’m not as oblivious as everyone seems to think.  It didn’t seem relevant at the time and you never said anything either, so I thought that’s as far as you wanted it to go,” Harry said, still not meeting Draco’s eyes.

Harry slid off the bed and took a deep breath.  “I realized something. You didn’t get to drink your tea.”

“What tea?”

Harry gestured in the general direction of the kitchen, “You were making tea when I stole you away and made you listen to me whine.”

“Oh, no, if only there were some sort of magic wand I could wave that would make my tea hot again.  It’s such a shame,” Draco said.

Harry laughed again, this time sounding more like himself.  Draco followed him down to the kitchen with a new question in his mind.  What if?


 

 

Harry did not mention Aaron again.  After hesitantly rejoining Draco for their study sessions after their talk, they went right back to their routine of sharing food and doing homework.  Draco knew he missed Harry when he stopped coming back to the house early. Having him back made it more obvious just how much he missed him.

Several days passed and Draco was getting a tighter grip on his feelings.  He was finally able to look Harry in the face without wanting to snog him senseless.  He had to consider that progress. He tried to keep his eyes on his homework, but a mock business plan was so much less engaging than watching Harry sucking on his spoon well after he finished his yogurt cup. Draco wanted to regret kissing Harry before he had the sense to savor it.  He found himself wondering if Harry would be as demanding in bed as he had been kissing.

Sighing heavily, Draco shifted in his seat.  He pulled out a new sheet of paper and started scribbling something about target demographic.

“Hey,” Harry said.

“Hm?”

“I need your opinion,” Harry said, setting aside the pen and spoon.  “I think I’m in the clear, but how long do you think I should wait so I won’t be accused of being on the rebound?”

“I guess it depends on what you’re waiting for,” Draco said.

“Anything,” he said dismissively, “I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be accused of making decisions based on something that’s done and over with.”

“I’m sure you’re fine,” Draco said.  

“Good,” Harry said.  “In that case, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that night you kissed me.”

“Oh?” Draco said, unsure of where he was going with this.

“I keep thinking about it, telling myself that I’m being stupid.  I keep finding myself wanting to do it again, and I ask myself, ‘how did it end up like this?’ It was only a kiss, but I can’t stop wanting you.  I’m so happy when I’m with you. I love watching movies with you, talking about things that happen in our classes. I’m proud of you. I’m excited for you opening businesses that will help people.  I love the way I feel when you listen to me talk about things that don’t matter. I notice when you always leave me all the cherries when we share fruit plates even though I know you like them, too.  Being your friend has been brilliant. Fantastic,” he said.

Draco could feel his own heart beating.  His pulse jumped in every inch of his body.

“But if you say you want me, too, I’ll blow you right here in the kitchen,” Harry said.  

Time stopped.  Everything stopped.  Draco sat wondering how Harry could look so timid after the words he said seconds before.  He didn’t remember deciding to get up and circle around to Harry’s side of the table. He just knew he was pulling Harry to his feet.

Harry took Draco’s face in his trembling hands.  “Oh my god, Draco. I thought you were going to leave,” Harry whispered.

Draco kissed Harry, not ignoring or hiding how much he wanted him this time.  He pulled at Harry, knowing that no matter what he did, he would still want him closer.  Draco kissed him roughly, knowing Harry would return everything he gave. He rolled his hips forward causing Harry to groan.  If the sounds Harry gave him weren’t enough, his arousal became obvious to Draco. He pulled away enough to get his hands between them and pulled open the button of Harry’s jeans.  Draco slid his hand under the fabric, savoring the way Harry gasped at the touch.

“I want you, Harry,” Draco said, pressing a kiss high on Harry’s cheekbone. “Of course, I want you.”

Harry moaned at Draco’s continued touch and pulled at Draco’s clothes.  Sliding a hand up the back of Draco’s shirt, he pulled Draco back in for another kiss. He pulled Draco’s bottom lip into his mouth gently in contrast to the eager way he pulled at Draco’s trousers.  Before he could navigate the multiple buttons, a sound at the other end of the kitchen brought them crashing back to the realization that they were in a common area of their house.

Ron stood in the kitchen doorway, shoulder resting against the door frame, eating a bag of crisps.  “Oh, don’t stop, I’m into it,” he said, winking at the two of them.

Righting his clothes, Harry hid his face against Draco’s chest, “Please tell me you were only there for a single second.”

Ron laughed, “Maybe two.  I’d say get a room, but you have to help me make Padma’s pre-birthday dinner.  Without some help, that shit’s gonna take hours. If you want to slip away after cake, that’s fine.  Any earlier than that and I’ll announce to everyone that you’re running off for a shag. Okay, I’m going to leave for about sixty seconds, have your emotional moment and I’ll walk back in and pretend I didn’t get a raging hard-on watching Draco melt you into a puddle.”

“Piss off,” Harry said as Ron left.

A few of their limited seconds ticked by before Harry looked up at Draco.  “Did you mean it?”

“Yes,” Draco said without hesitation.

“You know what I want, though,” Harry said, “I’m not asking you to promise me ‘forever’ or anything, but I want this to mean something.  To both of us.”

“I know,” Draco said.  He buried the urge to say I love you, Harry .  Draco has kept that phrase a secret for so long that waiting for a better moment would not be a problem at all.

“Is now a stupid time to tell you I think I’m falling for you?  That I think I’m falling in love with you?” Harry asked.

“Yes,” Draco said.

Harry grinned at him, shoving Draco.

“I didn’t say that made it any less perfect,” Draco teased.  “When you’re sure, when you know you’re in love with me, I would recommend better timing.  Maybe not moments after I’ve had your bits in my hand.”

“Shut it,” he said.

“I’d like to pick up where we left off when we can be alone,” Draco said.  “If you want that.”

“I want anything you’ll give me,” Harry whispered.

“Harry,” Draco said, looking into Harry’s eyes, “I’m ready to give you everything.”