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Bumpy Roads Ahead

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Harry grows up in a very repressed environment that Others anyone who isn't exactly to the Dursley's cookie-cutter prejudiced specifications. He learns this from the time he is young, still toddling around at Petunia's knee. He's surrounded by that kind of bigotry every day for eleven years and during the summer months. It leaves a toll on Harry, affecting him from the early age when he's still learning his behaviors by watching Petunia and Vernon for cues. The Dursleys already think Harry and wizard kind are freaks, so coming to terms with his sexuality is a bumpy journey for him.

It takes him such a long time to even admit to himself that what he feels when he looks at boys is not just him feeling admiration, jealousy, competitiveness, or some other mix of unnamable reactions, but attraction. It's not something he understands at all, and because the bisexual pride flag isn't even created until 1998 he doesn't have a word that's accessible to him for the odd mix of feelings around boys and girls for years yet between the repression at the Dursley household and the Hogwarts curriculum not teaching Muggle historical events. Without knowing someone who is also LGBT, Harry doesn't know that a community he's a part of even exists out there, one that dates back long before his birth. Long after he knows about himself, he thinks that maybe if things had been different, if he'd really been raised by Sirius instead of the Dursleys, that the journey might not have been as hard or as hindered.

At first, when he’s finally worked through some of his feelings after the war is over about what he’s been through, and about how his family raised him, he’s able to view his feelings towards boys more objectively. He can see now when he’s at dinner at the Burrow that it wasn’t just thinking Bill was cool, because his eyes linger too long on the shape of Bill’s jawline and the curve of the muscles in his arms. He’s finally able to admit to himself that it’s stirrings of attraction he feels when he sees some guys. But initially this confuses him worse than when he’d been suppressing it, because if he likes guys then he must be gay, right? He considers the girls he’s liked, dated, and thinks about how most were Quidditch players. There were others, he’d managed that Yule Ball date with Parvati Patil, though he’d been too preoccupied with Cho and Cedric. If he’s admitting he likes guys now, does that mean he doesn’t like girls anymore? His eyes drift over to Ginny and Fleur and he’s so confused because he still finds them to be beautiful, too.

Harry doesn’t know what any of it means until he’s out in Muggle London with Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and George spilling out of a club they’d gone to just to feel something. They’d come out of the club into what looked like a riot of color for some sort of gathering or parade. Harry looks all around at the revelry, at the people sporting rainbows. He recognises that and realises it’s a gay pride parade. There’s a new flag, though, that he sees as they walk through the crowd. Several people, both men and women, are wearing a combination of pink, purple and blue and holding up signs in big block letters: Bisexual. He sees a man sandwiched between another man and a woman, and Harry watches as he plants a kiss on both of them, and it’s then that it finally clicks for Harry. He likes both. He likes both.  It’s not about one or the other, there aren’t sides, he just--he likes both.

It gets easier to admit to himself, but he’s still not out to his friends. It’s enough, at first, to just know his own truth about things that have confused him--things he’s suppressed and shied away from for years . His life goes on, he helps out at George’s shop in between studying with Ron for Auror training. He dates girls from their course or that he meets at the pub. Boys catch his eye. Harry struggles with what it would mean if he were to kiss a boy, to date him, to hold his hand. He’s starting to understand what bisexuality means after going into a bookstore in London on his own to read about it. It doesn’t mean that he’s suddenly gay if he were to date a man, and straight again when dating a woman--he’s still bisexual, attracted to both, regardless of who he’s dating or if he’s dating at all. His partner has no bearing on Harry being bisexual. He’s just bi; he doesn’t need to be with anyone at all, or if he chooses a partner he’s still the same, still feels the same attraction towards more than one gender.

Once that starts to sink in, Harry feels like he understands himself better. He finally admits to Hermione and Ron, nearly biting his lip red and raw, his hands trembling as he blurts out that he likes boys too, that he’s bisexual. Ron simply claps him on the shoulder and pulls him into a strong, long-limbed hug that Hermione joins. They’re happy for him, and Harry laughs through relieved tears--he doesn’t know why he was afraid his best friends wouldn’t support him. He’s grateful for the reminder that the three of them are family, no matter what.

Harry still keeps it close to the chest, since the Prophet likes to run weekly stories on him. But he finally kisses a boy. And he loves it, is giddy with the memory of it hours after it happens. They’re at a house party at Grimmauld Place for a D.A. reunion of sorts and Harry’s gone to the kitchen for more beer. Seamus follows him in to help, only they get sidetracked talking and as they’re laughing Harry leans back against the counter and doesn’t stop Seamus when he steps closer, bringing his arms up to bracket Harry as he rests his hands on the counter on either side of him; Harry welcomes it, feeling as if he’s turning towards sunlight to seek warmth. They’re paired up often at work as Junior Aurors and they’ve grown closer as friends. Harry sometimes feels brave enough to edge their conversations closer to flirting. Harry’s noticed the cut of Seamus’ robes often, and now he’s got a lopsided smile on his face with his chest brushing Harry’s, and Harry is feeling that courage in that moment. Harry’s heart trips over itself in excitement like it’s his first kiss, his first time, all over again and tilts his head to meet Seamus in a kiss. Harry feels the endorphins and adrenaline coursing through his veins when his hands grip Seamus’ biceps--they’ve become nicely shaped after time spent in the Auror training gym from sparring--and when Seamus’ strong arms slide around his waist Harry feels like he’s floating above the kitchen from the rush. It’s amazing and Harry is ecstatic, his feelings brimming over. When they part, Seamus winks and returns to the party. Harry knows that even if he never got to kiss another boy that he was still bi no matter what, still attracted to men and women even if he’d only been with women, and if anything the kiss with Seamus has only solidified what he knows about his sexuality. He touches his lips and gathers the beers to go back into the fray of the party with a big smile on his face.

***

When Harry’s crossed paths with Draco Malfoy again, he’s left the Auror force after five years of service to pursue broom design.

Draco is sat across from Harry in Gringotts looking over Harry’s petition for his new business venture and Harry’s struck by the ways he looks different and the same. He thinks back to all the times in Hogwarts he’d been drawn to Draco, followed him with the excuse of suspicion and Harry suddenly wants to laugh at himself because he sees it now: he finds Draco Malfoy attractive.

He’s too lost in the sharp angles of Draco’s face that are softer now that he’s grown up and his face has filled in more and the breadth of his shoulders when an impatient word from Draco snaps Harry out of his thoughts. Draco’s looking at him with a raised brow and Harry is flushing, caught out. His petition is approved; with a flick of his wrist Draco’s stamp is pressing into Harry’s paperwork to pave the way for his dreams to unfold, for his future to unfurl.

The first thing Harry says instead of thank you is, “Can I take you out for a drink?”

Draco blinks at him, quite taken aback, but he agrees anyway.

So Harry takes Draco Malfoy out for a drink. And when he can’t get him out of his head, he shows up at his office again and asks him to lunch. And then dinner when lunch runs over. At dinner they eye each other in the low lighting and Harry is captivated by the way Draco’s eyes gleam when the light catches his eye.

It continues to happen until Harry begins to invite Draco over to his place and has to spell his sketches and notes for broom designs away from his coffee table while Draco looks on, lips sliding into a ghost of a smirk. They start off at opposite ends of the sofa, but when Harry pours a third tumbler of whisky for them both he notices that they’ve shifted to the middle, thighs pressed together. The firelight’s dancing on the side of Draco’s face and Harry watches the way his throat bobs as Draco swallows a sip of his drink.

"Can I kiss you?" Harry asks at last, after days and weeks of struggling with the desire to. His stomach swoops when Draco’s lips slowly curl into a pleased smile.

With their glasses placed on the table, Draco props his head against his fist, his arm perched on the back of the sofa and gives Harry an expectant, challenging look.

“Well? I thought you wanted to kiss me, Potter,” Draco says.

Harry nods, and Draco makes a sweeping gesture that says come on, then.

Harry feels like time slows and suspends when he moves in, watching Draco watch him until Draco’s long lashes flutter and his eyes close; their lips meet. Harry forgets everything but the slide of his mouth against Draco’s and the electric feeling of Draco tracing his fingertips up Harry’s side to hold onto his shoulder with a strong grip, squeezing when Harry deepens the kiss.

It starts like that, but Harry still doesn’t find the right time to tell Draco.

They’ve been dating for months, Harry has released his first line of brooms, and still he hasn’t come out to Draco.

It’s nearly a year later when they’re having tea and toast on a Sunday, hair mussed from sleep and Draco’s bare feet burrowing under Harry’s thigh to steal the warmth of his flannel pyjama bottoms that Harry suddenly needs to tell him. Only a select number of people that are important to Harry know and he realises that Draco is important to him, so he has to know, too.

Harry says it quick, like ripping off a plaster. Even though he’s nervous each time he tells someone, he’s no longer afraid of his label. It’s just his truth, the same as his eyes are green. Draco doesn’t miss a beat stirring his tea, as if Harry’s just told him Quidditch scores rather than something deeply personal about himself.

“I’m gay. Pass me the sugar,” Draco says with a wry expression, not adding anything else for a few moments. It’s a different reaction than he expected, after coming out to his best friends and Molly and Arthur. Harry's not quite sure what he thought would happen, or how Draco would take it, but Harry imagined he'd have more to say. He hands over the sugar and Draco turns to assess him with a look. After several long beats: “Are you still Harry Potter?”

“Yes?” Harry answers in a dazed tone, bracing himself for any number of possibilities that could follow that question.

Draco shrugs and returns to his tea. “Lovely. Then you’re still the same tosser whether you like to lick fanny or dicks.”

Harry opens his mouth, but nothing comes out. He supposes that’s support, in Draco’s own roundabout way. He’s relieved he doesn’t have to explain that he doesn’t like men over women or women over men, that some days it changes and other days it’s alarmingly overwhelming because men and women are both attractive to him. He's heard from others, now that he knows others, how difficult it can be to come out to a partner. Harry's heard terrible stories of first reactions of partners including accusations of cheating, requests for threesomes, and in some cases even questions of a desire for an established relationship to end in the face of coming out. Harry's glad he hasn't had to face any of that and his muscles begin to loosen into a relaxed sprawl. His lips tug into a lopsided smile and he leans closer to wrap an arm around Draco’s shoulders. He pulls him closer, ignoring Draco’s squawk about not spilling his tea, and kisses Draco’s cheek.

“Thanks,” Harry says. Draco turns to him and kisses him properly, tasting of tea and smelling like Harry’s sheets, like them. Harry loves the feel of Draco’s morning stubble against his cheek and he can feel toast crumbs at the corner of Draco’s mouth. He repeats his thanks when they part, leaving only enough space for their breaths to pass between them in warm puffs. Draco hums in acknowledgement.

Their tea is forgotten until much later, when it’s long been cold.