Harry watched from across the room as Dean Thomas tucked a piece of fiery red hair behind Ginny Weasley’s ear. She smiled at him and placed a kiss on his cheek. Harry turned away.
It had taken exactly three weeks for Ginny to move on from their relationship. In three weeks, she had managed to get over everything that she and Harry had had over the past year and move on to the next guy, or in this case, return to the previous guy.
It wasn’t like Harry wasn’t happy for them. They were both his friends, and he wasn’t jealous of Dean. The spark between him and Ginny had been gone for a while. Everything had seemed so overwhelming and exciting during the war, but after, it just faded away. Harry and Ginny both knew it wasn’t there anymore, but Harry was content with pretending like they were okay. After all, neither of them had done anything wrong or breakup worthy. Ginny, however, was not a fan of pretending. She’s the one who called it off, but there were no hard feelings. They were better as friends.
So obviously, Harry was happy for them. Dean and Ginny getting back together wasn’t what bothered him; what was bothering him was how pathetic he felt. Ginny had moved on so quickly, and what had Harry done for the past three weeks? He wallowed. He felt sorry for himself. That was what you were supposed to do after a breakup, wasn’t it? He was sad, and he would miss having Ginny around all the time, but to him, the wallowing felt more like going through the motions, and it was pathetic. He could tell his friends looked at him with pity in their eyes. Ron and Hermione were the worst. They didn’t want to make Harry feel bad, so they refused to act like a couple in front of him. Whenever he entered a room, they would jump ten feet apart and turn to him with the same sorry look on their faces. Harry started taking different routes to class just to avoid them.
His eyes scanned the quiet library until they landed on Draco Malfoy. He was leaning so far over the book at his table, Harry was afraid he might fall into it. His eyebrows were scrunched together in concentration, and he was chewing on his bottom lip. Harry thought it was possibly the most adorable thing he’d ever seen. Then, as if sensing Harry’s eyes on him, Draco looked up from his book. His stormy grey eyes instantly met Harry’s, and he shot him a wink. A small laugh that was more like an exhale escaped Harry’s mouth, and he shot a wink back.
Harry was not really sure what to expect when he had come back to Hogwarts for his eighth year, but if there was a list of things he’d least expected, becoming friends with Draco Malfoy would’ve been at the top of it. Still, over the first three months of school, that’s exactly what happened. It started slow at first. The atmosphere was different between them from the first day back, Harry could feel it. He no longer felt Draco’s eyes burning holes into his skull, or heard him whispering cruel things in the corridors, and Harry didn’t feel the urge to do those things either.
All of the eighth years pretty much had the same schedule, so Harry and Draco inevitably spent most of the day together. The first few weeks of school they only made subtle eye contact from across the room. Soon though, the eye contact turned to staring, the staring turned to smiling, that turned to waving, and eventually, they shared their first civil conversation.
Harry quickly found that Draco was actually really fun to be around. Sure, he could still be a jerk sometimes, but it was different from before. Now when he was being a jerk, he was joking. More important than his tendencies to tease Harry, was the fact that he was incredibly smart and witty. Harry was learning things about Draco that he never knew before, like the fact that he could play the most beautiful songs on the piano from memory and with his eyes closed. Harry loved learning new things about Draco.
They talked in class, studied together, went to quidditch games, and had lively debates in the eighth year common room. Draco was a good friend to Harry. He listened to his concerns, told him when he was being ridiculous, and was the only one who didn’t have pity in his eyes when he looked at him. Draco got Harry through his breakup. He sat silently next to Harry through his hours of wallowing, brought his favorite treats from Hogsmeade to cheer him up, and reminded Harry repeatedly that it was better this way.
Harry watched now as Draco dropped his gaze and started staring at someone over his shoulder instead. Harry turned in his seat to see Blaise Zabini talking with a seventh year bloke at the table behind his. They were sitting even closer than Ginny and Dean were. When he looked back at Draco, the other boy was reading again, unfazed.
Harry had tried to help Draco through his breakup the way that Draco had helped him, but Draco was inconsolable. Not because he was a wreck, but because there was nothing to console. It had only been one week since Blaise dumped him, but Draco never shed a tear, he never wallowed, he never once allowed himself to appear pathetic. In fact, the day of the breakup, Draco had simply moved over to Harry’s tables at the Three Broomsticks, and acted like the conversation he’d just had with Blaise was normal. Normal was the only word Harry could use to describe Draco’s behavior for the rest of that night too. He didn’t even find out that Blaise had broken up with Draco that night until the next day. Even then, Draco was casual about it.
“We’re not talking anymore,” he’d said with a shrug when Harry asked why he wasn’t eating breakfast with his boyfriend. Then he took another bite of his toast, and that was that. He didn’t talk about it again, and Harry didn’t pry. Instead, he helped in the only way Draco would let him.
Harry picked up the potions book he was reading and carried it over to Draco’s table. He sat in the seat next to him and moved closer so they wouldn’t be overheard.
“So what’ll it be today?” He asked in a hushed tone, peering over at Blaise’s table. “Sneaking ton-tongue toffees into their dinners? Setting off portable swamps in their dorm rooms? The Peruvian instant darkness powder was a huge success by the way. I heard it took Blaise twenty minutes to find his way out of the bathroom yesterday.” Maybe playing pranks on Blaise every day for the past week was a little childish, but it made Draco happy. Besides, as an investor in their business, Harry got a great deal at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes.
Draco continued pretending to read his book, but Harry knew he was listening. He saw the corner of his mouth turning up in a grin, and he couldn’t help but smile himself. These days, Harry was doing anything he could to put that smile on his friend’s face.
Both boys looked up at the sound of chairs moving across the room. Blaise and the seventh year were leaving the library, Blaise practically leading the seventh year out by the hand. Harry swore he could see Draco tensing up, but the moment they left the room he was back to him calm, cool composure.
“No,” He whispered back at Harry. “I have something even bigger in the works. I’ll tell you when the details are worked out.” Harry was a little more than intrigued at the promise of this new plan, but he knew better than to press Draco was he was plotting. He would just have to wait and see. Draco pulled the potions book out of Harry’s hands and examined it.
“Potions for Beginners?” He shot Harry a puzzled look. “I don’t think students that are in an extended year of school count as beginners.” Harry snatched the book out of his hand and put it back in his school bag.
“Just a bit of recreational reading,” Harry asserted with a shrug. “It was just the first book I grabbed.”
“Hey,” Draco’s eyebrows rose in mock surprise, “you’re getting better. That lie was almost believable. I might be rubbing off on you after all, Potter.”
“Shove off, Malfoy.” Harry said, actually shoving his shoulder. Draco just laughed and held his hands up in surrender.
“I’m sorry,” he replied more seriously. “Are you struggling in Potions again?”
“No,” Harry answered, almost too quickly. “Well, you know, it’s just all those years of neglectful teaching and exclusion from Snape finally taking its toll in a real Potions class.” Harry attempted to seem unconcerned and lighthearted about the matter, but he could tell that Draco wasn’t buying it. “It’s just this one exam,” he admitted. “Once I get past it, I’ll be okay.” He may have been stretching the truth a bit with that last part. He’d need to get good marks on the next five exams at least, and that would only stop him from completely falling behind in the class. He hated talking about potions with Draco though. Harry was better at Defense Against the Dark Arts and flying, and Draco was better at pretty much everything else, including Potions. Harry would never admit that to him though.
So, in order to avoid having the conversation go any further, he cut it short. “Speaking of exams, I’m supposed to meet Ron and Hermione to revise for Transfiguration.” Harry gathered up his things and stood next to Draco, who was looking particularly amused. “I’ll see you later though, right? Then I’ll get to hear about this plan of yours?” He asked, shifting his books in his arms.
“Seven o’clock,” Draco said, already returning to his book. “Your room.”
The eighth year common room was set up a lot like the Gryffindor common room, but it looked newer. After the Battle of Hogwarts destroyed a decent chunk of the school, the staff was forced to do some major remodeling, and the eighth year dorms were included in the new additions. Still, there were tables, chairs, couches, bookshelves, and two fireplaces, and even though there were decorations to represent all four houses in the common room now, it still felt like home to Harry every time he entered it.
He entered the room now and spotted Ron and Hermione on a couch by one of the fireplaces. They had purposely left a seat open in the middle for him. Harry rolled his eyes and set his books on the coffee table.
“Alright, guys?” he said, sitting on the floor facing them.Ron and Hermione glanced nervously at each other before hesitantly sliding closer together.
“Hey Harry,” Ron started. “We haven’t seen you since dinner. Where’d you go off to?”
“Oh, I was just in the library,” Harry answered, pulling out his Transfiguration homework.
“The library?” Hermione inquired curiously.
“Yes, Hermione,” Harry said, never looking up from his books. “You know about the library; you’ve been there once or twice.” Harry chose to ignore the looks his two best friends were sharing. He already knew where this conversation was going. The library had been Dean and Ginny’s hangout place since they’d gotten back together. Harry suspected it was because they knew he hardly went there. He knew that Ron and Hermione thought he was there to spy on them, and that suspicion was only confirmed when Ron said, “Yeah, mate, but you haven’t really been hanging out there since… well y’know.”
“I was just there to study,” Harry said, unable to hide the bit of annoyance in his voice, “and to talk to Draco-”
“Oh!” Hermione exclaimed a bit too enthusiastically. “Draco.” She and Ron exchanged another look. Harry didn’t understand what these looks meant, but they happened almost every time he mentioned Draco. At first he thought it was because they didn’t approve, but they had been nothing but supportive of the friendship. They’d even started developing their own friendships with Draco. He and Hermione could debate for hours about the most boring things, and he was the only one in their year that stood a chance against Ron when it came to Wizard’s Chess. Harry was glad that they were all getting along. Still though, Ron and Hermione must’ve had some sort of shared opinion of him, something that they didn’t want to tell Harry.
“Speaking of studying,” Harry said, before he could become even more frustrated with their behavior, “Aren’t we supposed to be doing that now?” For the next hour he hardly looked up from his work, only talked about the assignment, and ignored the concerned looks coming from his friends.
At seven o’clock, tired and slightly irritable from the time spent with Ron and Hermione, Harry climbed the stairs to his dorm room. When he opened his door, he was greeted with a strange sight. Draco was standing by a chalkboard that he had somehow managed to get into Harry’s room. The board was covered in lists, graphs, charts, and at the top in big letters were the words, “The Plan”.
“What’s all this?” Harry asked, stepping into the room.
“You’re right on time.” Draco set down the piece of chalk he was using to write a pro-con list on the board. He turned to face Harry, his expression inscrutable. “Have a seat,” he said, gesturing to Harry’s bed. “It’s time for me to introduce you to The Plan.” Harry could hardly stop himself from asking the hundreds of questions that were popping into his head. Instead, he took a seat on the edge of his bed, and waited for Draco to explain. Draco came to sit next to him, and he was so close that Harry could smell the faint scent of mint that Draco always seemed to carry with him. Harry noticed that Draco was bouncing his leg, and there seemed to be some sort of unsettling energy about him. Whatever this plan was, he was obviously nervous to tell Harry about it.
“Harry,” Draco began, not quite meeting his eyes. “You and I have been friends for a while now. Your kind of my partner in crime at this point.” He smiled sheepishly, and Harry smiled too. “I trust you, you know I do, and I hope you’ll trust me enough to just hear me out on this one.” Harry was starting to feel nervous. He felt his chest tightening with every second that Draco didn’t tell him what was going on.
“What is it?” He asked, unable to hold back any longer.
“Harry,” Draco said more firmly. This time his eyes intensely locked on Harry’s own. Harry looked down to where Draco had taken his hand before meeting his eyes again. “I’ve come up with a plan so brilliant that it’ll help us both. It’s the best way to get back at Blaise and the best way to prove to your friends that you’ve moved on.” There was a spark of excitement in Draco’s grey eyes, and Harry felt something then. There, looking into Draco’s eyes, their fingers firmly locked together, he felt something new. He had no idea what it was. He was so shocked by this new feeling that he could barely speak above a whisper when he said, “What is it?”, and Draco spoke the words that would be the beginning of something big.
“I think we should date.”