Harry was surprised at how easy it was to fall back into a kind of normalcy after the war.
Though there was still repairs going on around the school, it was mostly back to how it was before Snape’s reign. It was bright, warm, charming, and enchanting as ever. Their NEWT year was turning out a bit harder than he expected, and if he thought he was famous before… well. Other than that, everything was great.
No one was out trying to kill him. Ginny had finally let go of the idea that they would get back together. Ron and Hermione didn’t turn into an annoyingly-cute-and-gross couple Harry was worried they would. He even had a fighting chance most nights of dreaming about Quidditch or something equally average.
Hermione was a little worried about him, but, when wasn’t she? She kept insisting Harry talk to someone, always worrying his and Ron’s ear off about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She herself had appointments with a Mind-Healer every Saturday. Ron got away with not meeting with one by instead going to Madam Pomfrey and let her assess him. Which was fine, good on him.
But Harry? Harry was fine. Just a bit hungry at the moment.
"Slow down, there, mate," Ron laughed, pushing the bowl of mashed potatoes away from Harry. Harry had been lost in his thoughts and hadn’t realized he basically just plated himself half the bowl.
"Sorry," Harry shrugged, picking up his plate and dumping most of it back.
"Ew, that’s gross," Hermione complained.
"What?" Harry grinned. "It’s not like I licked my plate beforehand or something."
"Still," she crinkled her nose.
Conversation picked up around him again, and Harry found himself looking out onto the Hall like he usually did. No matter what his mind told him, his body was always on high alert. He preferred to sit with his back to the wall where he could survey whatever room he was in at the time. It appeased his nerves at any rate.
His eyes found Malfoy, more out of what somehow became a habit in sixth year that his eyes seemed determined to stay in. Malfoy was paler than usual, dark circles under his eyes and his hair not exactly styled, or on some days, even brushed. Goyle sat across from him, but they weren't speaking. In fact, Harry noticed Malfoy didn’t much talk to anyone these days. A lot of Slytherins didn’t return to Hogwarts, and those who did were far from his year.
Harry considered Malfoy a moment longer, eyes not leaving him as he took a big gulp of his drink. Oh, that was delicious. He frowned down at his cup. It was only ice water, really cool and soothing, but it was the best water he ever had. He must have been way thirstier than he thought.
He took three more healthy gulps before setting it back down and digging into his steamed vegetables, going back to what he was doing before.
Which was… that was right. He was considering Malfoy. He scanned the room again, searching for that blond hair as he didn’t quite remember where Malfoy had been sitting.
He found him easily, however. His hair always stood out. Well, so did Harry’s but that was because Harry’s was always a mess. Malfoy's looked good on him if he was honest. Before the war, he always kept it so straight and sleek, but now the sides and back were trimmed shorter than the rest, and the rest was a little wavy. Perfect, in a way. Especially now with the afternoon sun glowing down on it, making the white-blond look a bit more golden.
There had only been a few times he had seen Malfoy with his hair a total – uncontrolled – mess, but none of those circumstances were necessarily good one and usually came with a horrified looking Malfoy underneath.
Not like now. Malfoy’s face was smooth saved for a small frown, picking at his food and looking lost in thought. Harry wondered what combinations of circumstances Malfoy’s even been in that led to uncontrollable messy hair and positive expressions.
Say, a smile, playful, like they were playing Quidditch a bit too roughly, the wind and wrestle messing his hair. Both of them laughing, trying to pry the Snitch out of each other’s hands. Come to think of it, Harry didn’t think he had ever really seen Malfoy just smile and laugh, relaxed and comfortable, without anything malicious or hateful behind it.
Malfoy took a bite off his fork, and Harry watched his mouth close around it, how it moved a little as he chewed.
"Harry?" he heard. "What are you looking at?"
"Malfoy," Harry sighed. "He’s rather good-looking, don’t you think?"
If anyone gave an answer, Harry didn’t hear it, because now Malfoy was putting down his fork, pushing away his plate, and picking up his cup. He watched Malfoy’s adam’s apple move as he swallowed. He wondered if a drop could slip out of the corner of his mouth and slide down his throat.
"God, he’s so hot," Harry breathed.
Suddenly, the picture of play-wrestle with Malfoy began turning into a different kind of wrestle indeed. He could be the one to mess up Malfoy’s hair. Instead of a friendly smile, he pictured a look of pleasure, of rapture.
"Merlin, I just want to suck on his throat," he said, realizing just how true it was.
Heat spread through him like fire, giving him goosebumps and making him shudder. He thought he remembered Malfoy smelled a little bit like rain and citrus. Oh god, was that what Malfoy tasted like?
Malfoy pushed back from the table and stood, his body long, lean, robes fitted perfectly around him. What exactly laid underneath? Miles of pale skin. Skin that would taste of rain and citrus.
"Fuck, I’ve got to find out what he tastes like," he decided suddenly.
Malfoy was already out the door by the time Harry was struggling to quickly get up and follow him. For some reason, it was rather difficult, like hands were holding him back, but he managed.
He figured Malfoy was heading toward the dungeons, so he steered that direction in a run. He thought he heard someone yelling his name, but that didn’t matter. All that matter was Malfoy, Malfoy’s hair, Malfoy’s skin, Malfoy, Malfoy.
"Malfoy!" he called as he caught sight of him.
Malfoy turned around, looking surprised, then as his eyes darted over Harry’s shoulder, he took a step back and held out his hands.
Was he waiting on Harry?
Oh, Merlin, he was waiting for Harry.
"Yes," Harry moaned, slamming into Malfoy, hands immediately finding his hair and his mouth finding his jaw.
"What the fuck?!" he heard Malfoy yell, and he could feel Malfoy pushing at him. Like he wanted Harry to get off of him? That couldn’t be right though. So, it must be Harry’s clothes he was pushing at. Was he just as impatient at wanting to see Harry without clothes as Harry was for him?
"Smell so good," Harry mumbled, hands falling to Malfoy’s waist, trying to pull the robes out of the way.
He felt like several hands were on him like a force was trying to pull them apart. Like hell Harry was going to allow that, not when he finally had Malfoy in his arms. He let out probably the most possessive growl akin to a wolf a man could make, gripping Malfoy tight so that their bodies were firm against each other and sucking at a pulse point. "So good," he moaned to the skin. "Taste so good."
He really did. It was a little musky, and warm, and skin. He needed more. So much more. He didn’t understand why pawing at Malfoy’s clothes wasn’t working, wasn’t granting him more skin. He knew he needed to pull back to look, find out, but he couldn’t stop his mouth.
Not to mention the friction he found with his hip pressed again Malfoy’s. A million things that they could do flashed through his mind, and he latched onto the one that made his cock twitch. He bit gently at Malfoy’s ear and whispered into it, "Fuck me, Draco. I need you to fuck me. Want you inside me. Need you. Would you like that? Taking my virginity on a silver platter. Oh, it would be so good."
He could hear Malfoy talking, feel his voice rumbling against his chest. "Obviously," Malfoy was saying. He sounded nervous, which Harry thought was enduring. But he said obviously - obviously, it would be so good. Malfoy thought so too! Yes! "What the fuck should I do?"
Now he sounded nervous and annoyed. Typical Malfoy, and yet, still enduring. Harry didn’t quite know how to answer him, however. He was just going by feel. Which, in that case… He tugged at Malfoy’s shirt after ripping off his tie, "Off."
He could feel Malfoy talking again, feel words pushing out of Malfoy, past his lips. Why hadn’t he kissed Malfoy yet? He needed to fix that. He roughly kissed his way to Malfoy’s mouth. He could hear Malfoy’s voice and felt it being muffled by his own lips. He didn’t know what he was trying to say, didn’t much care, but…
Something was wrong. Malfoy wasn’t kissing back?
"Come on, baby," Harry moaned, pressing himself impossibly closer. "Need you," he repeated, kissing him again, biting his lip. Malfoy made grunt sound, and Harry rolled his hips to show him just how bad his need was.
Then finally, Malfoy’s hands were on him, firm and so hot on his hips, fingers digging in. His mouth moved with Harry’s, and Harry made another sound that probably couldn’t be described as human. His entire world became Malfoy now that Malfoy finally understood how badly he needed him.
"This way, Potter," Malfoy mumbled against his lips, pushing Harry a little sideways.
He was going to lead them somewhere. Smart. They needed a bed.
Harry swung his body to keep himself firmly pressed against Malfoy as he began to stumble backward by Malfoy’s guidance. He tried deepening the kiss, but Malfoy’s lips seemed to shut hard. Harry made a disappointed noise – but that was fine.
The frustrating thing about their journey, though, was that Malfoy didn’t seem all that intent at getting themselves ready for when they reached the bed. Every time Harry tried to pull out his shirt, unbutton him, pulling on his belt, Malfoy would push his hands out of the way. He obviously wanted to wait, which made sense, Harry guessed. Taking them off when they could look at each other.
"Fine," Harry mumbled, disappointment etched into his voice. "But kiss me, Draco, please," he begged, hands now in Malfoy’s hair as he pressed his lips against Malfoy again, opening them, teasing his bottom lip with his tongue.
Malfoy made a sound of frustration, which made Harry want to roll his eyes. He wouldn’t be frustrated if he opened his damn mouth. That was just like Malfoy.
Malfoy, though, finally seemed to realize the same thing, thank Merlin! He opened his lips and let Harry’s tongue through. A long, filthy moan was pushed out of Harry by that and his hard prick twitched again. At that moment, Harry thought he had found perfection.
Draco’s tongue was hot, wet, and heavy where it tangled with Harry’s. Harry explored his mouth, caressed his tongue, twirled them together, in and out.
At some point they had stopped moving, so Harry tried with the clothes again. They’ve obviously made it to wherever Malfoy wanted them to go.
Malfoy made another frustrated sound, pushing Harry’s hands away and breaking the kiss and turning his head away.
"Fuck, hurry up!" Draco practically yelled.
"I’m trying, baby, I’m trying," Harry breathed, mouthing Draco’s neck again since his lips weren’t immediately there.
"No, no, uh, not you, Potter," Draco said, patting Harry on the shoulder blade from where Draco’s hands were on his back. "You, uh, you take your time. A lot of time. All the time in the world."
"But," Harry protested, rolling his hips against Draco and moaning at feeling that Draco was hard too. Was hard for Harry. Harry had done that to him.
"Don’t you, uh, fuck," Draco broke off, and Harry felt more than heard the tiniest moans of pleasure coming from him as Harry began sucking bruises into the skin. Harry wanted to make him scream, scream Harry’s name. He just needed the clothes off. "Don’t you want to take our time? Enjoy this?"
Harry finally got Draco’s shirt out all the way out from his trousers, and his hands immediately dove underneath it. "Skin," he moaned. Draco was smooth, hot, solid. "Fuck, you feel amazing," Harry began. He wanted to do other things with his mouth, but Draco had said he wanted to go slow. So, he began babbling as he sucked around Draco’s throat. "So beautiful. You’ve always been so beautiful. Always thought you’d look incredible without your fucking scowl. Wanted you. Wanted you for long." He licked up the front of Draco’s throat, rolling his hips into a good rhythm. Draco would just have to forgive him for rushing just a little. He needed friction now. "Bet you’re going to feel amazing, bollocks deep in me. Fuck, Draco," he moaned.
He needed Draco’s lips back, so he took them, thrusting his tongue in. He couldn’t stop his hips if he wanted to. It all felt so good.
Just when Harry was going to try with the clothes again, Draco pulled back enough to mumbled against his lips. "Potter, I, fuck. Stop. I need you to drink something for me, okay?"
"I’ll drink you," Harry promised, trying to get Draco to kiss him more. "I’ll drink you dry."
He felt Draco’s prick twitch through their clothes this time. It felt amazing. This, he knew now, was his life’s purpose. To fill Draco with pleasure.
"No, Potter, stop."
Harry stopped trying to kiss him, but he could barely stop his hips. Draco said stop. Why? Oh. Was he ready? He moaned and went for Draco’s belt, getting it open quickly.
"No! Wait, wait, wait, Potter. Potter, drink this first," Draco insisted, shoving a glass between them. "Drink this."
"What?" Harry shook his head, trying to clear it. "Why?"
"Just do it. Now."
"Later," Harry huffed. Draco was so annoying sometimes.
"No, now. Drink it now. Uh, for me?"
Harry groaned, mouthing Draco’s jaw as he unbuttoned his pants. "I’d do anything for you."
"Good, that’s good. Then drink this. Right now."
Harry huffed again, grabbing the glass and tossing back the liquid. It burned a little but was otherwise fine. He tossed the glass over his shoulder, not even caring where it landed or if it broke, and pressed his lips against Draco’s again, hands sliding up to his warm skin.
He couldn’t wait until he was on his back, Draco between his legs, feeling Draco’s back muscles move underneath his hands as Draco hammered into him…
All at once, like being thrown into an icy lake, and Harry froze.
What the fuck was he doing?
Malfoy hummed then mumbled against Harry’s lips. "Yep. I think it worked."
Harry jumped back with a yelp, covering his mouth with both hands, feeling his eyes go so wide, it was a wonder they didn’t pop out of his skull.
There in front of him was Malfoy, leaning up against a desk, looking utterly disheveled. His hair was well and truly an uncontrolled mess now, sticking up every which way. His lips were swollen and red. His neck was covered in love bites, already deep red and bruising. His robes were nowhere to be seen, nor his tie, and his shirt up was out of his trouser and half unbuttoned. And god, his trousers – belt was undone, top button undone.
Harry licked his lips from behind his hands. He couldn’t believe what had just happened, but the taste on his own lips confirmed it.
"Welcome back," said a voice from his side. He turned slowly and stiffly. Hermione, Seamus, and Dean stood there. Hermione looked worried and scandalized, Seamus looked like he died yesterday and just found out about it, and Dean looked like he was doing his best not to laugh.
One quick look around the room told Harry they were in the potion’s room.
"Ron’s gone to grab what you were eating and drinking and take it to Slughorn, find out what happened," Hermione announced. "Harry? How are you feeling?"
"How do you think he’s feeling?" scoffed Malfoy, who was casually doing up his shirt, slowly hiding his pale skin. And about that, who the hell didn’t wear an undershirt? Draco sodding Malfoy, apparently.
Harry still just stood there, eyes wide, hands covering his mouth. He couldn’t help but keep glancing at Malfoy – more specifically, glancing down at the slight tent in the front of his pants. Merlin only knew what his looked like.
"I’m so sorry," he said, voice muffled. "I…"
Malfoy dismissed him with a hand, standing straight and tucking his shirt back in.
"I could have…"
"Trust me, Potter," Malfoy smirked, "I would have stopped you. Granger here was the one who kept me from hexing you, to begin with."
Slowly, Harry lowered his hands and looked around at them. "What… happened?" was all he could manage.
"Someone obviously tried to slip you a love potion or something," Hermione sighed. "This wouldn’t be the first time someone tried something." She shot Malfoy a very suspicious and nasty glare, which made Malfoy pause and his eyebrows to shoot up.
"You think I had anything to do with this?"
"Why else would Harry go after you?" Seamus asked.
"I don’t know," Malfoy said, looking outraged. "But I didn’t do this. Potter may be a decent kisser but having his tongue down my throat isn’t on my list to do’s, thank you very much."
"Yeah, aren’t you straight?" Dean asked.
Malfoy’s jaw twitched and was silent of moment before he answered slowly, "No, actually, I’m not. But I still didn’t do this."
Harry licked his lips, regarding Malfoy. He couldn’t take his eyes off him, really. There was some color to his usually pale face, unusually paler face these days. He said Harry was a decent kisser. He’s not straight. The urge to go back to what he was doing was so very strong.
"Er, guys, I don’t think it’s out of my system," he announced, eyes zeroing in on Malfoy’s lips.
"Fuck," Malfoy swore.
"Drink some more then," Seamus suggested. Hermione was already getting another glass and putting whatever potion that was on the table in it. Harry couldn’t move, though. He was frozen, biting his own lip while staring at Malfoy. Eyes going all over him. His face, his hair, his shoulders, his stomach, his thighs, his neck, the love bites that Harry put there.
His eyes landed on Malfoy’s crotch, and Harry had to close his eyes, feeling himself blush at the moan his throat let out without his permission.
"Here," Hermione’s said from beside him. Harry held out his hands, and she pushed the glass into it.
He tossed it back quickly and clenched his fist. Waiting.
Soon, the boiling heat in his stomach slowly started dying out. He opened his eyes again to find all four of them watching, expressions ranging from curious to frightened.
"Well?" Malfoy asked.
Harry regarded him again. "I don’t know," Harry sighed. Either it was whatever did this to him, or Harry really was realizing for the first time how attractive Malfoy was.
"Come on," Hermione said, taking the glass from him. "Let’s get you to Slughorn."
"Good luck with that," Malfoy mumbled.
The four of them left and went in the same direction until they got to the point where Malfoy picked up his tie and robes. Then Malfoy turned to go back the other direction, and Harry's stomach lurched.
"Where you are going?" he asked, humiliated at the sound of slight panic in his voice.
"What?" Malfoy asked, frowning.
"Where you are going?"
"Uh… Slytherin common room?" Malfoy answered hesitantly, confused.
"Can I come?" Harry asked before he really thought about it. He shook his head hard, "Fuck. What?"
Dean sniggered. "We really need to get you to Slughorn."
"Yeah," Harry agreed, but he couldn’t move just yet. He stood staring at Malfoy while Malfoy stared back, his expression a mix among confusion, worry, and a hint of amusement. Finally, Harry sighed and asked, "Malfoy, please come with us?"
Malfoy sighed dramatically, rolling his eyes. "Really, Potter?"
Harry just nodded, hoping Malfoy would make this easier on him. For some reason, his body really did not like the idea of Malfoy being too far away. "Please?" He hated how small his voice sounded, especially with it being Malfoy right there, but he supposed he was lucky it did the trick. Malfoy’s cold eyes softened a little, and he nodded, gesturing for them to lead the way. It didn’t stop him from complaining and swearing under his breath, though.
It wasn’t a long walk to Slughorn’s office, and yet, Harry still found himself having gravitated to be close to Malfoy without meaning to or realizing it. When they knocked, Ron answered. He took one look at Harry and visibly relaxed with relief. "Thank Merlin," he smiled. "Snogging Malfoy, of all people. Hell of a curse, mate."
Malfoy made a noise beside him but otherwise remained quiet.
"Come in, come in," Slughorn called. They entered his office to find him studying over Harry’s lunch from earlier. "Just a couple more tests and I should figure out what this is. Sit, sit, won’t be long now."
Malfoy sat first, picking a spot furthest from anyone on one of the couches, and before he could help himself, Harry followed, sitting too close next to him so that they touched, shoulder, hip, and thigh.
Malfoy swore under his breath but allowed it.
"It’s not completely worn off," Hermione informed Slughorn and Ron.
"Yeah," Seamus agreed. "Harry can’t even be away from him."
"Hmm," Slughorn frowned at the pair of them. "Interesting, interesting." He went over to his bookcase, pulling out a couple of books and flipping through them. Meanwhile, Harry found himself leaning toward Malfoy, his body seeking more warmth.
"Aha!" Slughorn said sometime later. "That’s it!" He shut the book then turned to Harry. "You, my boy, was spiked with Libidine Particeps."
"What is that?" Harry asked.
"It stands for lust and companionship. The drinker of the potion will have his or her longings and desires amplified so high, it becomes all-consuming at first. Quite frankly, I’m surprised Mr. Malfoy was able to get you off him long enough to take a counter-potion."
Harry shifted a little uncomfortable. How humiliating.
"Why Malfoy, though?" Hermione asked, shooting Malfoy another glare.
"Ah, that’s the thing with this potion. Whoever tried to drug Mr. Potter with it probably thought it worked like most love potions – that you would go after the creator or someone the creator picked. This potion, however, only amplifies existing desires."
Both Harry and Malfoy stiffened. After a beat, everyone in the room asked, "What?"
Slughorn nodded, looking amused. "This particular potion affects different people in different ways, but the root cause is the same. Mr. Potter would not only have to already find Mr. Malfoy attractive and desire him physically in some way, but he would have to have a desire to know him, as well. To be a companion. To have him in his life. The potion feeds off feelings of friendship and intimacy, the two prime things needed for a successful romantic relationship - which was why it was created, in cases of arranged marriages."
"Wait…" Malfoy began, frowning in obvious disbelief. "Potter has a crush on me?"
Slughorn sniggered. "Probably not. The fact that it was Mr. Potter’s lust that came out suggests more of a physical attraction than a romantic kind. However, whichever his feelings, romantic or platonic, somewhere in Mr. Potter, he desires your companionship."
"Holy hell," Seamus breathed.
Dean, who no longer looked like he wanted to laugh but instead flee the room, added, "That’s insane. They hate each other."
"I don’t hate him," Harry immediately said, only to then immediately frown. Why did he say that?
"You don’t?" scoffed Malfoy.
"Obviously not," Seamus mumbled.
"I don’t believe this," Ron said, shaking his head and looking at Harry like he had grown an extra head.
"What can we do?" Hermione asked, sounding ready for action. "This can’t go on."
Malfoy scoffed again, only this time sounded offended when he said, "What, scared of the great and heroic Harry Potter being companions with the likes of me?"
"Yes, quite frankly," Hermione replied hotly.
"Stop," Harry intervened. He groaned, leaning more heavily on Malfoy and pinching the bridge of his nose.
"There’s not much to be done," Slughorn sighed.
"What do you mean?" Ron asked, sounding slightly panicked.
"Well," Slughorn began, getting up and pouring himself a glass of something amber colored. "There isn’t really a counter to the potion, which is probably why whoever spiked his drink picked it. You were right in giving him the standard counter to love potions, as it has obviously given him back self-control – "
"Speak for yourself," Malfoy interrupted.
Slughorn snorted then took a big gulp of his drink. "Otherwise, it will just take time." He fixed Harry with an apologetic smile. "It’ll be hard, but you’ll eventually have to just learn to be without him."
"What?" Harry asked, hating how small his voice sounded again, like when he asked Malfoy to come with them. His entire body ached with just the phrase ‘learn to be without him’.
"Either that or Mr. Malfoy will have to learn to be with you."
Malfoy scowled and crossed his arms. "No way."
It felt like a punch in the gut. Harry's breath caught, and he snapped his head over to look at Malfoy. "What?" he asked again.
Malfoy rolled his eyes and glared at Harry. "I’m not having you stuck to my shoe. This is bad enough, with you touching me now," he pulled a face.
Harry’s world swirled like time had slowed. His heart beat loudly in his ears as he felt like his insides were being ripped in two.
"Harry?" someone asked.
"Oh, no, no," he heard Slughorn, but everything else seemed to fall away. His body stung with pain and rejection, which logically, somewhere in his brain, he knew was stupid. Knew it was just the potion. Knew it was ridiculous. But that didn’t stop his eyes from stinging and his body to start trembling, of all things.
"For crying out loud," Malfoy’s voice cut through his… mourning, then suddenly there were warm arms around him, and he was being pulled into a loose embrace that smelled like rain and citrus.
He looked up to find Malfoy frowning at him, positively annoyed and irritated. "Calm down, Potter."
"You’re hugging me?" Harry breathed, quietly and very small.
Malfoy rolled his eyes. "Yes, Potter, I’m hugging you. We’ll figure this out, okay?"
Figure it out. Them. Together. He said ‘we’. Hope surged through him, and he felt himself utterly deflate against Malfoy, relief flooding through him like a tidal wave. "I really hate this."
"Ditto," Malfoy mumbled.
"Very good," Slughorn got Harry’s attention. Everyone was staring at them with wide eyes, but Slughorn seemed to be nodding in approval. "You’ll just have to be patient, Mr. Malfoy. These next 48 hours will be the hardest for Mr. Potter."
"What the hell am I supposed to do, then?" Malfoy asked, incredulously.
"Be gentle, but firm. I suggest you both spend the rest of the day together, working on Mr. Potter becoming more and more comfortable with the distance."
"The rest of the day?" groaned Malfoy, letting go of Harry and seemed to want to physically push Harry off the couch.
"We’ll help," Hermione announced.
"All day with Malfoy?" Ron asked as though she just asked him to help gut spiders.
"I’m tired," Harry admitted. He really was. He felt like he just had twenty rounds with a pack of dementors. "I just want to nap."
"Now, now, careful. Sleeping next to Malfoy may strengthen the bond," Slughorn warned.
"There is no way in hell that I – " Malfoy cut himself off, giving Harry a wary look. Harry was thankful he stopped himself from finishing that thought, but he couldn’t blame Malfoy for the outburst. As much as his body seemed to like the idea of sleeping next to Malfoy, his brain was recoiling at the idea.
"I know, me too," he assured Malfoy.
"Oh!" Slughorn hopped out of his chair, holding up a finger. "I know something that might help!" He waddled over to his desk and started digging through the drawers. Harry, meanwhile, got up and stretched, making himself take several steps away from Malfoy.
"How do you feel?" Hermione asked.
"Cold," Harry answered honestly. "But fine, I guess."
"Cold?" Malfoy sneered.
"You’re rather warm," Harry sneered back.
"Here we are," Slughorn rejoined them. He handed a black leather-bound notebook to Harry and handed its twin to Malfoy. "These have mirror pages. Whatever one writes in one will appear in the other. That way, Harry, when it gets to be too much, you and Mr. Malfoy can still stay in contact this way. The strings there," he pointed to the leather string wrapped around the notebook several times, keeping it closed, "will let you know if there is anything new written since last opened. Writing back and forth may help take a considerable edge off you, my boy," Slughorn winked at Harry.
Harry didn’t doubt it. The idea that he could communicate with Malfoy at any time definitely soothed his nerves. He looked down at Malfoy who was studying the notebook with a critical look. "Are you okay with this?"
Malfoy made a face but shrugged.
"Excellent! Now off you go. I recommend walking laps around the lake, walking further away from each other each lap."
"Sounds good to me. I can nap after," Harry agreed.
Malfoy made another face, shoving the notebook into his robes. "I hate you, Potter. I hate you so much."
Hermione hissed, and everyone in the room snapped their heads to Harry. Harry supposed his body should have taken that as a rejection and reacted like it did just a bit ago, but strangely, it didn’t.
"Really?" Malfoy snapped, standing. "Really, Potter? You go all pale and kicked-puppy-like when I say I don’t want you around all the time, but when I say I hate you, nothing?"
Harry shrugged. "I guess hatred is a form of acceptance?"
Malfoy stared dumbfounded for a moment before he scoffed indigently, turned on his heels, and marched out of the office. And to Harry upmost, complete humiliation, his throat made a yelp sound as soon as Malfoy was out of sight, and his body chased after him.
They were on their fifth lap. Malfoy was about forty-five yards up ahead with Goyle, animated and gesturing wide with his arms. No doubt as to what Malfoy was upset about.
Ron and Hermione were on either side of him, discussing his newest little issue without needing his input, apparently. So far, the discussion had gone its rounds of how Slughorn could be wrong, that there had to be a way to undo what had been done, but they had yet to branch into what this had meant. Not until Malfoy playfully pushed Goyle, saying something that made Goyle laugh, and Harry had to stomp down a growl. It wasn’t that he was jealous, per se, especially since his entire body felt like Malfoy was his. It was just… He wanted to be up there with him so badly.
"So," Ron started awkwardly.
"Harry?" Hermione asked softly. "Is… is this why you didn’t want to get back together with Ginny?"
"Wait, what?" Ron barked. "You dumped her for Malfoy?"
"Don’t be stupid, Ron," Hermione chastised. "I meant, you know," she turned a little awkward herself. "Being attracted to men."
"Oh," Ron relaxed. "Yeah, mate. Since when did that start?"
"Today, apparently," Harry said flatly. "I mean, I never really thought about it." His eyes dropped down to Malfoy’s arse, and he gulped. "Wish I could go back to not really thinking about it."
"Well, yeah, who knew Malfoy batted for the other team, huh?" Ron chuckled.
Harry groaned and let his head fall back. "You should have let him hex me. I can’t believe I did that. I basically almost raped him."
"No, Harry," Hermione said sternly. "We would have never let that happen. You were obviously under the influence of something. That makes you just as much a victim as Malfoy."
"It doesn’t feel like it," he admitted. He felt horrible for what happened.
"I’m serious," Hermione said. "Malfoy said he could handle you, told us to focus on making a counter."
Harry groaned again. "That makes it worse."
They get to roughly their starting place, and Ron and Hermione grab an arm each to keep Harry where he was while Malfoy moved on more ahead. As he did since after the first lap, Malfoy turned to watch as he walked backward. Harry clenched his jaw and fists, forcing himself to watch Malfoy go until he just simply couldn’t anymore. Even then, Ron and Hermione only allowed him to walk and not get any closer. Malfoy nodded up ahead and turned back around.
"That’s great, Harry," Hermione praised. "I think you let him get a couple of yards further than last time."
"Y’know, Malfoy’s being a lot better about this than I would have thought," Ron stated.
Hermione hummed and nodded. "He is. This year, he hasn’t been so…"
"Evil?" Ron offered.
Hermione shrugged. "The war changed him," Hermione said simply. "Maybe you see that, Harry. Maybe that’s why there was a part of you that wanted to get to know him. To see for yourself."
Harry thought about it – had been thinking about it. "Makes sense," he said honestly. "I’ve been a bit… worried, I guess. How he’s been. This afternoon was the most color I’ve seen on him since the war."
Hermione nodded. "I thought so, too, actually."
"Yeah. Snogging you agrees with him, mate," Ron laughed, clapping Harry on the shoulder.
Harry let out his own chuckle. The initial negative reaction to having Malfoy so far away was getting easier to push to the side. It was still there, just easier to focus on other things.
"What I want to know is, who the hell spiked my drink?" Harry asked.
"Slughorn said he and McGonagall will look into it," Hermione said. "We’re going to have to be more careful."
"We already are!" Ron defended. "Whoever did it had to have been down in the kitchens."
"It would have taken a lot of work to find out exactly where Harry was sitting," Hermione admitted.
They theorized, plotted, and mostly helped Harry from running and throwing himself at Malfoy for a couple hours more. Around and around the lake they went, even after the sun was set and the most Harry could make out of Malfoy was a small light from his wand.
Eventually, Hermione ran up ahead to tell Malfoy that a couple of more laps should do it because by then, Harry wouldn’t be able to see him. When she returned, she told Harry she reminded Malfoy of the notebook, and he promised to keep an eye on it. The last lap was painful, and Harry hugged the notebook to his chest, trying to keep his connection to Malfoy close.
"This is ridiculous," Harry spat.
"It’ll be fine," Ron reassured.
Harry was squinted, hard, trying to see if he could make Malfoy out anywhere.
"Fuck," he hissed. "I actually miss him."
"Are you in pain?" Hermione asked.
"A little," Harry admitted. "Like my chest hurts. Nothing I can’t handle, I don’t think." He sighed, hugging the notebook closer, and suggested they do one more lap just in case before going back in. He didn’t want to chance running into Malfoy after all of this.
He was wrong. He couldn’t handle it.
He lasted one hour of tossing and turning in bed before he broke his resolve, grabbed a self-inking quill, and opened the notebook.
"This is pathetic," he told himself. But there was nothing for it.
With the light from his wand, Harry wrote, Are you awake?
His stomach turned over as he waited, biting his lip. Malfoy probably didn’t have the notebook anywhere near him. For all he knew, Malfoy could have thrown it under the bed and laughed at the idea of Harry pining for him, unable to reach him.
Want to get to know Malfoy. What a load of crap. He didn’t want to get to know him. He didn’t want his companionship. As far as Harry was concerned, Harry just wanted to know if Malfoy was alright, and then damn potion took that to mean Harry needed to jump his bones.
After what felt like forever, words began to appear on the page. Harry’s stomach untwisted itself in relief.
I am now. Want to guess how these strings get our attention?
Harry smiled a little, easing himself to rest back against the headboard. Harry could picture all sorts of things, including an image of the string slapping Malfoy’s face from side to side.
Does it have to do with violence of some kind?
No, Malfoy immediately answered, thank Merlin. It tried to pick my nose.
Harry snorted a little, shaking his head. That would be humorous. Then a thought occurred to him.
Did you have it that close to your head?
Harry was just happy he didn’t chuck the thing, let alone had it close enough to know if Harry reached out.
Said I’d keep an eye on it
Harry felt an approving flutter in his chest that he knew was coming from the potion. Though he guessed real Harry would have been just as satisfied if not suspicious.
He sighed, tapping his quill. Now what? He didn’t really have anything in particular to say.
You okay? Came Malfoy’s neat script.
Harry tried to assess himself. The relief he felt on Malfoy answering was quickly being replaced by a sense of wrongness and loneliness. It wasn't enough.
No, he admitted.
He wanted to say something else, something reassuring. It was bad enough he violated the man, then went and got himself magically attached to him against either of their wills, but now he was dumping this on his lap too? He should be able to handle this. He had faced down hundreds of dementors once, surely, he could go a night without Malfoy?
We spent hours pulling you away from me, Potter
He knew. Boy, did he know. He could practically hear Malfoy’s annoyed voice. He was probably rolling his eyes. Probably trying to work out how to never see Harry again if Harry was already clinging onto him.
I know, Harry wrote. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I got you into this mess.
Wow, how Harry went from simple loneliness to feeling like he was about to cry, he had no idea. But he knew one thing: he did not like it one bit. He, himself, emotionally, wasn't even upset. What the hell was wrong with him? After everything he had been through, and he was getting teary-eyed over this.
He was about ready to toss the notebook across the room when more words appeared.
Look, Potter, I know you desperately want, what was it that you said this afternoon?
Fuck, what was it that he said?
Oh yeah, that you wanted me to take your virginity on a silver platter – which, interesting, by the way. But I need my beauty sleep. Maybe another time.
Anger. He definitely felt anger. Embarrassment and humiliation, but he could easily turn those to anger. But damn that stupid potion, and he felt even angrier because his rejection and sadness was soothed by the stupid ‘Maybe another time’.
Git, he wrote back. No amount of sleep is going to make you beautiful.
Which was a lie, one un-potioned Harry would probably think as well.
Oh really? Malfoy wrote back. I seem to recall something else you said today. Something like how I am beautiful. So, so beautiful. How you’ve wanted me for so long?
Shit. He had said that, hadn’t he?
Come now, Potter. The cat’s out of the bag now. How long have you been pining for me?
This was ridiculous. Real Harry wanted nothing more than to slam the notebook shut, but potion-Harry was desperate to keep talking.
Fuck you, he wrote. That wasn’t the real me talking.
Oh, but wasn’t it? Malfoy taunted. Real desire and wants amplified, remember?
Harry's stomach heated some remembering the feeling. He really didn’t need to start craving Malfoy like that again. He needed to get them off that topic onto something safe.
I want to see you.
Ah, hell, Harry chastised himself. That wasn’t anything safe.
No can do, Malfoy answered. There’s no way I’m undoing all that work around the lake.
Harry huffed, trying to think of an angle, any angle. But real Harry was there, too, denying all ideas potion-Harry came up with. Before he settled on something, Malfoy added:
Besides, it’ll be worse later if we do that, Potter, don’t be daft.
I can’t sleep, Harry answered.
Go to Pomfrey, Malfoy suggested.
Before he could stop himself, he asked, Will you come with me?
Pathetic try, Potter.
Fine. Harry groaned out loud. Are you going to avoid me tomorrow?
Just like we planned, he wrote. 48 hours
That’s too long, Harry reasoned, slipping into some slippers and heading down the stairs. Of course, he was bringing the notebook with him, as well as a self-inking quill. No one had to know if he did.
You have my permission to fantasize about me in the meantime.
Harry rolled his eyes. Cocky git. Arrogant git, he corrected, because he probably shouldn’t be thinking of cocky and Malfoy together.
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