“Did he die?”
“Did his wife die?
“No, Draco, for fuck’s sake! No one’s died.” Longbottom snapped and slammed his goblet down, pumpkin juice swishing and trickling down the sides.
Draco slumped back in his chair and released a particularly whiny moan, “Why won’t anyone tell me?”
Chang rolled her eyes, “Because you enjoy these stories way too much, soulless prat.”
It’s not that Draco enjoyed the stories per-se.
The jinx just fascinated him. It officially had to be a jinx- no one could argue with twenty-five years of Defence Against the Dark Arts teachers never returning for a second year at Hogwarts.
The teachers didn’t always die, but something strange consistently happened. Like the first year Draco taught; the defence professor was arrested for being an unregistered animagus. But the man had been one for nearly forty-three years, what were the chances he gets caught after exactly one year of teaching at Hogwarts?
Or Draco’s third year as a Hogwarts professor; the defence teacher got into some rough goings with several vampires in southern Pensilvania and was turned.
But, he’d been planning on taking this trip for fourteen years and he just happened to go at the end of his first year at Hogwarts? What were the odds?
Draco had enthusiastically explained his theories to Chang and Longbottom several times before but they had taken his excitement over someone else’s misfortune as “insensitive” and “cruel” and “kind of disturbing”.
Truly, Draco just thought this jinx was intriguing. It was so magical, like the traditional kind of magic Draco’s mother would tell him about. When things happened without wizards and their wands. When objects and places and job positions (apparently) managed to take matters into their own hands. So, maybe this jinx wasn’t the kindest, but it’s the proof of the immense power magical things could contain that really mattered.
To Draco anyway.
But this year, no one would tell Draco why Professor Wendleford had been made to leave his position. He had to know what had happened; if it was another mysterious incident, then the other two professors would not be able to argue with him any more.
“I am a curse breaker,” Draco claimed emphatically, gesturing wildly to the empty chair next to him, “I could help break this jinx! But only if I have all the facts.”
“You’ve been working here for five years already, if you could’ve done something- wouldn’t you have done it already?” Longbottom bargained and Chang nodded her head as if this was perfectly logical.
“As the only curse breaker at this table-,”
Chang narrowed her eyes, as she always did when Draco was being a self-righteous dolt, “You were a curse breaker for a year in Turkey, you solved three mediocre cases before-“
Draco cut her off by waving his hand, “As the only curse breaker at this table-” Chang groaned- “I can safely say that it takes at least ten years or so to gather all the necessary intel and even begin to come to any sort of conclusion about a case.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, every christmas you tell the story of how you cracked those hypnotising pop ballads in one night.” Chang responded.
Draco scoffed, “That was an extraordinary feat achieved by an extraordinary man, it doesn’t happen everyday. ”
Chang shut her eyes tight and breathed in deeply, “Look, while you may need ten years of carefully gathered intel to come to a conclusion, me and the rest of the sane wizarding world have the actual facts; people are scared of this ridiculous jinx-rumour that idiots such as yourself have been spreading, so only the nutters are willing to take the job-”
Draco made a noise of protest but Chang put her hand up haltingly “Absolute nutters who decide to transfigure into their illegal animagus at the end of year feast as a treat for the first years. Nutters who decided that their next holiday should be a suicide mission. Complete and utter nutters, every last one of them and it is entirely your fault.” Chang finished with a huff.
“They’re not all nutters,” Longbottom added unexpectedly, he usually stayed out of conversations the second Chang lost her cool, “There was Francesca Primfall, she was just pregnant. Went home to care for the baby.”
Chang gestured as if to say, ‘Ha! We got you there.’
“Some would argue that having to stay home all day with an infant is a disguised form of torture.”
Longbottom released a defeated sigh, “I don’t know what to say to you anymore, except that the bloke coming this year is not a nutter.” Longbottom said and a mischievous smirk took place on Chang’s features.
“That’s… arguable.” Chang laughed, Longbottom joining in not long after. Draco was getting annoyed.
“You guys know who’s coming this year?” Draco asked, he was always left out of things.
“Yes we do, Draco. Yes we do,” Chang retorted, dragging out the last three words triumphantly, “He owled us two days ago.”
Draco looked at the two professors expectantly.
“Well? Are you going to tell me?”
Chang brushed her thumb against her chin in pretend contemplation, “Hmm, no.”
“Why not, this doesn’t have anything to do with tragedies or jinxes. Yet, anyway. Tell me.’ Draco whined and pouted and begged.
“Nah. It’s too funny to watch you whine and pout and beg.”
“I do not do that.” Draco huffed indignantly, “At least tell me when he’s planning on arriving. It’s kind of unprofessional missing the start of year feast, if you ask me.”
“No one did ask you, but he’s arriving tomorrow, he had to take care of some last minute business from his previous job.”
“Start as you mean to go on.” Draco muttered under his breath.
“What was that?”
It took every ounce of self control not to run to the Great Hall the next morning. Instead, Draco entered the hall calmly. He lazily nodded his head at some of his students as a good morning. Draco took note of the still-vacant chair next to his seat at the teacher’s table but showed no external reaction.
He gave Chang and Longbottom a quick wave of his hand and dropped in his chair, positively oozing nonchalance as he slung his arm off the back and took a swig of his coffee, “So, the new guy arrived yet?” Draco asked breezily.
Chang snorted, “Are you trying to be breezy, Draco?”
“I am breezy, Chang.” Draco said, slumping even further back in his chair to prove his point. “Totally breez-“
It was then that Draco fell off his chair.
Mostly due to the fact that Harry Potter stood at the door of the Great Hall in a ridiculously cliché, not to mention incredibly ugly, woollen jumper and a shit-eating grin on his face.
“Merlin, it’s good to be home.” Potter said as he made his way to the empty seat beside Draco, stopping to give Longbottom one of those man-hugs that Draco had never quite gotten the hang of and Chang a kiss on the cheek. He paused when he reached Draco’s messy form on the floor.
He look down and fucking giggled, “Alright there, Draco?”
Draco? Is Potter alright? No, of course Potter’s not alright, he seems to have decided to destroy his entire life entire. So, probably not ‘alright there’, mentally.
“Draco’s just trying to be breezy,” Chang retorted, taking a sip of her juice. Then sputtered when Draco kicked her leg and made her swallow badly.
Chang kicked him right back.
Draco stood up, brushed non-existent dust from his robes, swept his hair back and sat down in his chair. He stayed quiet as he waited for Chang, Longbottom and Potter to finish exchanging pleasantries.
It was five minutes later when Chang and Longbottom seemed to be deep in conversation and Potter was immersed in buttering his toast that Draco figured the coast was clear.
“Are you crazy?” Draco hissed under his breath, doing his best to ensure Chang didn’t hear.
Potter looked up from his toast and gave Draco a confused look, “Are you talking to me, Draco?” Potter said rather loudly, clearly not catching on..
“Quietly, Potter, can you not take a hint?” Potter looked at him as though he’d completely lost his mind. Yeah, because Draco was the crazy one right now, “Of course I’m talking to you, idiot. Now tell me; what dark, dark creature possessed you and compelled you to take this job?”
Potter laughed and shook his head in what seemed to be disbelief, “Draco, have you developed a sense of humour since I last saw you? I have to admit, it’s a little obscure; but I can see why Cho is constantly telling me what good company you make.”
(Draco couldn’t help the warmth he felt when Potter confirmed his friendship with Chang. He continuously wonders how Chang and Longbottom could’ve possibly forgiven him.)
“Potter, this is a serious issue, why on earth would you take on this job?”
“Well, they were sending me to work with MACUSA and the next step from there was head auror. So I quit.”
“So you quit.”
“So I quit.”
“Naturally. You deny a job that allows you to make an actual impact and accept one that will undoubtedly end your life,” Draco sighed, running his hands over his face in agitation.
“End my life? What are you on about?”
“Are you seriously telling me you aren’t aware of the Defence job jinx?” Draco asked in complete incredulity.
“Oh, that jinx,” Potter said as if he was talking about an old, forgotten friend, “Yeah, I’m not too worried.”
“That-“ Draco released a defeated sigh, “That jinx has ruined the lives of at least twenty-five professors, Potter, what in Salazar makes you think it’s going to stop at you?”
Potter paused for a moment,
“Well, I am the Boy Who Lived.”
Oh, for fuck’s sake.
Smug bastard, Draco thought as he stirred his coffee in the staff room. Let the jinx get him.
If Potter doesn't deign this issue his fucking majestic and highly sought after attention, Draco most certainly won’t.
Such a pity for Potter to survive all the oh-so-terrible things he had, just to die because of a jinx.
It would be his own fault. His own ignorance. His own arrogance.
Entirely. His. Problem.
“Chang, I’ve figured out how to break the jinx.” Draco announced when Chang entered the staff room ten minutes later.
In those ten minutes Draco had come to the conclusion that although Potter was a blithering idiot who refused to acknowledge what was right in front of him- it was Draco’s duty to help him.
As a curse breaker, of course.
See, when Potter had claimed that he was the Boy Who Lived, it had reminded Draco that the only way to really break a jinx was to end the pattern, he just had to make sure that Potter lived through this year and returned to teach for a second year. And bada-bing bada-boom; jinx broken.
It actually pained Draco a bit that he had only come to this realisation when Harry Potter was the one in danger, but now that he knew he simply had to help.
It would be incredibly unprofessional of him to do otherwise.
He explained all this to Chang.
“And you’ve only just realised this?” Chang asked with an annoyingly knowing look on her face.
“Let me get this straight; you’re going to spend this year following Harry around and protecting him from any and all potential dangers,” Chang looked amused.
Draco blinked, “It’s my duty. As a curse breaker.”
Change let out an entertained sigh.
“It doesn’t have anything to do with Potter himself.” Draco continued angrily, “He just happened to be the teacher in question when I reached my conclusion.”
“Okay,” Chang sang.
Draco stared at his hands with narrowed eyes while Chang continued to chuckle quietly to herself.
“You’re late for your fifth-years.”
It was later that week that Draco’s service was in demand.
A sunny Friday afternoon, to be exact. Draco had just finished teaching his second-period sixth-year Ancient Runes class and was making his way to Hogsmead for his usual Friday Drink with Chang. Draco loved his half free Fridays, they made his weekend seem longer.
This Friday, unfortunately, his work hours would have to be extended. Potter had decided to teach his Defence class outside.
Right on the edge of the lake.
Did he not see the danger?
Accidentally consuming the lake’s contaminated water.
Slipping on the wet banks and cracking his disturbingly empty head on a sharp rock.
And those were only the muggle ways to die.
Potter was an absolute imbecile. And, of course, Draco had to clean up his mess.
Potter stood close to the edge of the lake, talking fast and gesturing wildly to the water. Several of his third-years laughed at something he said.
It probably wasn’t even funny.
Draco positioned himself behind a Willow tree several metres away, hidden from view. He didn’t want to distract the class.
Potter was rolling up the sleeves to his atrociously rumpled blue shirt and crouching down to the water.
Several of the third-years looked fearful.
What in Merlin was this idiot planning on doing?
His arm was in the water now, up to his elbow, biceps clenching as he felt along the side of the lake as though he was looking for something.
He said something muffled.
The class gave another nervous giggle.
Draco couldn’t take the suspense. This was it, he was witnessing Potter’s death.
Half the class released shrieks as a flash of green began thrashing around in the water.
Potter’s hand was dragged down to the shoulder as he gave unflustered reassurances to the class.
Unflustered Draco’s arse.
Potter hadn’t even made it a week at Hogwarts and the jinx’s dark magic was already upon him.
Potter’s arm gave another uncontrolled jerk and Draco’s innate curse-breaker instincts caused him to surge forward.
Draco was so blinded by his fierce protectiveness that his mind didn’t register Potter’s wand moving in two quick swishes, or his mouth uttering the disarming spell for the Grindylow, or the threat falling to the ground with a pathetic flop.
No, no, see Draco was busy being incredibly brave as he jumped on Potter as soon as the Grindylow hit the ground.
Potter released a pained oomph as his back collided with the hard earth and an ugh as Draco landed on top of him. Potter was still groaning when Draco regained some composure and pushed himself up on his hands, eyes examining Potter’s features which were screwed together from the pain.
“Have you lost your bloody mind, Malfoy?” Potter moaned from beneath him.
“Quiet, Potter.” Draco snapped and continued his scrutinising, “You seem to be alright.”
“Alright? You just spear tackled me. And for absolutely no reason, might I add.”
“The reason is actually very apparent to the intellectual sector of the wizarding world, though I wouldn’t expect you to know anything about that.” Draco stood up, brushed the dirt from his elbows and nodded his head at the stunned speechless third-years,
“You’re welcome, Potter.”
“I’ve spoken to Cho.” Potter said tentatively as he entered the staff room Monday morning. Draco had not seen him since the events that occurred Friday afternoon. No, he was not hiding in his room, he simply preferred to spend majority of his time there that weekend. He was not ashamed of his actions. Who knows what could have happened had Draco not come to Potter’s rescue. Potter would probably be Grindylow stew by now and that abominable jinx would still reign supreme in the hallowed halls of Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Draco could not allow that to happen.
As a curse breaker.
Draco continued to sip his tea and read the paper. He didn’t have to acknowledge Potter’s presence when he wasn’t in a life threatening situation. When he was being a mundane sort of idiot, he could be someone else’s pain in the backside.
“She’s explained how you seriously believe in this jinx voodoo.”
Voodoo? Voodoo? Who did Potter think he was? Draco studied curses for the same amount of time as a hamster’s entire life.
This was not voodoo.
Whatever voodoo actually was.
Draco fumed silently into his tea but did not give Potter the satisfaction of a reaction.
“I suppose, in some twisted way, I can see past the insanity and, well, I’d like to say thank you. I think.”
Draco scoffed, what kind of display of gratitude was that? He thinks he’s thankful. Ponce.
“No, alright then, I am thankful. But, it’s- and don’t take this the wrong way- but it’s really not necessary. Don’t trouble yourself with looking after me, I can manage. And I don’t totally believe in the jinx stuff, but I will try to be more… vigilant, I suppose.”
Draco closed the newspaper gently and let it flutter down until it rested on the table, he breathed in deeply and spoke calmly “I understand that you’ve lived your life under rather special circumstances, Potter, but it’s no reason to be such an entitled prat.
I’m not troubling myself because I’m worried for your safety… or- or your happiness. I am a curse breaker. This is my bloody job. And I don’t trust you or your judgment on what vigilance is, so I will continue doing as I see fit. Seeing as I am more experienced in this field than you.”
Potter stared at Draco in disbelief, “Mother of Merlin, I forgot what a piece of work you were.” He chuckled to himself and shook his head at Draco, eyes shining with amusement,
“Alright, then. I don’t see that I can convince you otherwise. But, hey, no more spear tackling in front of my third-years, they’re impressionable. And now, very, very, frightened of you.”
“Fine,” Draco grumbled.
“See you around, Draco, you’d better not let me die. I will be very disappointed that, if after all this, I still end up in a vegetative state.”
Draco didn’t want to boast or anything, but, recently, he’d been pretty fucking badass.
Over the past three weeks, he’d saved potter’s round rump approximately three times.
Maybe more, without even realising.
And let’s face it, it’s no easy feat.
Factoring in the events that occur in Hogwarts’ tendency to involve injury and/or lawsuits and Potter basically being a magnet for all things threatening and murderous- keeping the idiot alive was no walk in the park.
So far, Draco had discreetly steered Potter from a flooded corridor, pushed him from the vicinity of a chandelier that was being quietly unscrewed by a giggling Peeves and deterred him from communicating with a hypnotising mirror.
These were all of Draco’s wonderfully valiant achievements. There were, however, some acts that have been less angelic. See, though it was his duty to be Potter’s guardian, the knob head did still manage to profoundly piss Draco off.
The way he’d approached him in the teacher’s lounge, all puppy-dog eyes and shy-half-smile, telling him didn’t need to worry for his safety. As if Draco cared about him that way, the self-indulgent derrière, it was his job. Italics, Caps Lock and Bolded, J-O-B. If he had to say it one more time, he just might lose his mind.
Draco was irritated, to say the least, with the man he’d sworn to protect. So, Draco had taken the liberty to preform some… less than necessary acts in the name of “Potter’s safety”.
Draco enjoyed grabbing Potter’s wand from his back pocket at random times for ‘wand-checks’, waving it in Potter’s face and saying, “What if it’s cursed to fire all its spells directly back at the caster?” until his cheeks grew red and his nostrils flared. (Sometimes Draco wondered if Potter’s flustered features were the result of Draco lightly brushing his arse as he slipped the wand from his pocket, his fingers lingering, perhaps, a moment too long.)
Draco had also assigned himself the role of Potter’s Official Food Tester. He’d push Potter’s cutlery away from his plate, filled to the brim with food, and claim, “What if it’s poisoned?”. He’d then, smirking, proceed to eat half the plate, ignoring his protests and holding both of Potter’s hands with one of his to keep him from reaching his food. Draco would then sit back in his chair for the rest of the meal, quietly content, as Potter sat next to him muttering under his breath and shooting him adorably dirty looks.
On top of that, Draco had found immense pleasure in stealing Potter’s horrendous woollen jumpers on account of the fact that they were “so ugly they might actually kill you, Potter.” He ran giggling down the teacher’s corridor with an armful of wool and tweed as Potter chased him down yelling that this was “an absurd abuse of power.”
Draco was now standing outside the teacher lounge, deciding that a particularly annoying “abuse of power” was due soon because Potter had officially taken it too far. The prat had signed up to stay on duty for the Christmas holidays. Draco stared at the child-like handwriting on the sign-up sheet and groaned. Of course, of course, now he has to give up his holiday for the bastard.
Draco contemplated crossing out Potter’s name and being done with it, instead he pouted and signed his name, making sure the letters were neat and swirly enough to put Potter’s scrawl to shame. He took a small pleasure in seeing Chang’s name on the sheet in tiny block letters as well.
The term didn’t end quickly enough but soon the school emptied to a fifth of its usual capacity and Draco felt the sharp pain he seemed to constantly have above his left eyebrow during exam season disappear.
The first day of holidays, Draco collapsed on the couch next to Chang in the teacher’s lounge with a loud sigh. He buried his head in her shoulder and waited for her attention. It didn’t come as Chang was seemingly engrossed in a novel.
Stupid Ravenclaw, oxymorons be damned. He buried his head deeper still and released another sigh. Nothing.
In, perhaps, a momentary lapse of sanity, Draco took the book from her hands and placed it on the table. Closed.
With what sounded like a velociraptor screech, Chang flipped Draco onto the ground and pinned him down, screaming, “Don’t ever touch my book! I don’t know what bloody page I was on, you fucking arseh-“
Chang’s graceful words were interrupted as the door swung open and suddenly Chang was being lifted off him as if attached to some sort of crane. Draco lay frozen on the floor, still petrified. He may have actually pissed his pants.
“Cho! Cho, calm down.” Draco heard Potter say, his voice strained in the effort to keep the professor under control.
“Calm down? Calm down? He closed my book. He closed it-“
“I know, he’s a right prat. Believe me, I know. But he can’t handle your violence, we know he’s a bit precious.”
A small thud had Draco believing Potter may have put the small woman down. He flinched, expecting her to come straight back to her previous position in order to throttle him. She didn’t.
“Right. Right, I’m going to my room. I need… some time.” Chang said, breathing deeply,
“Draco, we will discuss this later.” She added sharply and the door shut.
Draco opened his eyes hesitantly and saw a Potter’s face split with a too-wide grin hovering above him. He offered his hand to Draco and he took it graciously. Standing and brushing the dust from his robes.
“When I opened the door and I saw you two… like that, I almost thought something entirely different was happening.” Potter said amusedly.
He thought he and Chang were, what, engaged in physical activity of the love persuasion?
He almost laughed aloud at the ridiculousness.
“Please, Potter, I’m on a strict diet of cock n’ balls.” Draco retorted. He figured out long ago that it was easier to be upfront about such things, it allowed much less room for complication. Besides, if someone had a problem with Draco’s sexual orientation, he’d rather know about it from the start than later.
Potter blushed a deep crimson.
Potter cleared his throat, “Yes, that was eloquently put. I might use that next time I come out to someone.”
Draco’s smirk dropped. Potter was gay? When did this happen? He heard about the golden couple’s breakup a couple years ago but he figured it was because Ginny was touring with the Harpies and the distance was too much.
This… this Draco would not have guessed.
Draco shook it off and brought the smirk back, “I would say thank you for saving me but I figure that would fuel your hero-complex so much your head may actually explode and my efforts would be for nothing.”
Potter rolled his eyes and exited the room with a yell, “You’re welcome, Draco.”
It took seven boxes of Yorkshire tea, a gift card to Flourish and Blotts and a requested serenade of Draco’s rendition of Jinxing Me Softly for Chang to forgive him.
She sat giggling on the floor as Draco pranced around her singing, producing rose petals from the tip of his wand to land like confetti in her hair and shoulders.
Draco finished with a long winding note, jazz hands and an exaggerated bow when he fell to the floor near Chang.
“That was beautiful.” Chang mused, “You are forgiven.”
Draco felt a weight lifted off his chest. He loved hearing those words. They had so much more meaning than just this ridiculous little fight. It reminded him to believe in second chances.
There was a certain weight, however, that remained very firmly in his chest, his mind and, frankly, every other part of his body.
“Did you… Did you know that Potter was gay?”
Chang rolled onto her stomach, propping her chin on her hands, “I was aware, yes.” On her face, a weirdly knowing grin was etched.
“Why are you smiling like that?”
“You’re just so, ugh, you’re adorable, Malfoy.” Chang smiled goofily.
Malfoy pouted, Chang laughed harder, “I am not. I’m just asking a question. Its perfectly normal to be interested in a colleagues personal life.” Draco huffed.
“Yes, it’s also very normal to be interested in a crush’s personal life.”
“A crush?-“ Draco started his sentence indignantly, then slumped his shoulders and buried his face in the plush carpet, “A crush.” He confirmed defeatedly, words muffled by the carpet.
Chang laughed again and patted his head fondly, “Oh, Draco, it’s okay! I’m just so happy you admitted it.”
Draco groaned and pushed his face further until it started to hurt, “It’s not okay! It’s terrible, it’s all my stupid hormonal teenage thoughts coming back to bite me in the arse.”
“It’s not stupid. I’ve seen the way the man looks at you, like he can’t believe you’re real. In a good way. Seriously, with all the shit you’ve pulled, if he didn’t like you back he would’ve wrung your neck long ago. Also, he’s not that open with his sexuality, he only tells the people he wants to know.”
Draco won’t deny it, he’s a coward. He spends the first five days of the holidays intensely avoiding Potter as though he had the plague. He needed time. He needed to see if he even liked Potter without him being around (he did), he needed to find the reasons why he liked him (there were too many) and he needed to formulate a plan (he couldn’t).
Draco thought a lot. He thought as he ate, as he graded papers, as he told off kids that thought it was okay to leave their dormitories after curfew just because it was the Christmas holidays.
He was currently thinking as he walked down the corridor. In fact, he was so busy thinking that he forgot that he was also meant to be avoiding so he was completely caught off guard as a hand wrapped around his wrist and brought him to a screeching halt.
“Draco! Finally, we keep missing each other. I’ve been slightly terrified without my guard dog.” Potter said smugly.
Draco knew he was trying to goad him into conversation but he let himself be dragged in nonetheless. Pathetic.
“Guard dog? Guardian angel, more like, Potter. And you very well should have been terrified.” Draco retorted, poking Potter in the chest with a self-satisfied finger.
Unexpectedly, Potter grabbed hold of the hand assaulting his chest and held it between them. Draco’s heart may have just joined a percussion marching band it was beating so erratically.
“Are you going tomorrow night?” Potter asked softly, thumb rubbing dizzying circles on the palm of Draco’s hand.
This is where you answer, Draco, with words, remember?
Draco cleared his throat, “Ye- um, yes. I am. Tomorrow, Christmas, the party. I’m- I’ll be there.” Draco answered gracefully.
Potter chuckled, “Good. I’ll see you there.”
With the hand that wasn’t aggressively cuddling Draco’s, Potter pointed at the ceiling.
Draco followed the movement until his eyes met a sprig of mistletoe, hung heavy with expectation and opportunity.
Draco’s eyes made their way back to Potter’s smiling face, who lowered his mouth until it was pressing a sugary sweet kiss to the palm of Draco’s hand and walked away, hips swinging, hair wild.
What was Draco doing before… before that? Thinking. Right. How do you do that, again?
Draco has already admitted he’s a coward. He’s accepted it. Signed, sealed, delivered. But he’s also really, really horny.
Every time Draco’s mind travels to the events that transpired yesterday afternoon, which is mortifyingly frequent, he feels small tingles of pleasure flit through his body.
Merlin, he hasn’t gotten any action in so long.
Just a small kiss to the palm had Draco rushing to his room to jerk off desperately, coming violently, embarrassingly moaning Harry’s name. Harry. Not even Potter. Harry.
He’d leant against the cool tiles of his shower, hot water cascading down his shoulders wiping away any evidence of his indulgence. He wondered how he let this happen. How did he go from successfully repressing his urges, for the whole nine years he’d known he could even have urges for Potter, to coming in thirty seconds like a twelve year old after a small kiss.
Maybe… Maybe it’s because he might actually have a chance now. Draco doesn’t have many platonic friends that press lingering kisses to the palm of his hand. No… that kiss felt a bit like a promise.
A promise that this could continue tonight at the Christmas party.
But it couldn’t. It just couldn’t. There was so much. Too much that has happened and too much that could happen; it’s too big a risk. It took so long for Draco to get to where he is.
So long to finally accept that he can be happy.
He spent three miserable years after the war, just sitting on the couch in his dingy apartment in Diagon Alley. Then another miserable year working as a Curse Breaker in Turkey where he spent most evenings crying because he hated being so far away from home. And then he spent his first year at Hogwarts ignoring Chang and Longbottom’s attempts at befriending him because he didn’t deserve it.
He doesn’t deserve it even now. He doesn’t deserve their kindness and he definitely doesn’t deserve Potter’s.
He can’t put himself in a position where he expects something like that. Expects forgiveness or friendship or… or even love. He knows he couldn’t handle the rejection. He can’t put himself back to those miserable five years he passed wallowing in sorrow. He just can’t.
Too much could go wrong.
Draco banged his head against the door frame. His stomach growled.
Maybe he could still go, if he ignores Potter he might get the hint and the two could just avoid a world of hurt. He grabs his coat and makes his way to the festively decorated teacher’s lounge.
The Teacher’s Christmas Party was one of Draco’s favourite events. It was after the Christmas feast. The students who stayed for the holidays would be in their common rooms. Perhaps having parties of their own, perhaps wandering the hallways in hushed giggles carrying concealed Firewhisky up their robes. But for this night, no one really cared. It was a communal night to just not give a fuck. Everyone was here to relax.
And he loved a good old drunk Professor Slughorn. That guy was a hoot.
When Draco entered the room the party was in full swing. Which made it rather difficult to find a certain scar-headed boy. And no, Draco did not try to find him.
Instead, he found Chang chugging from a large bottle of fire whisky. Surrounded by several esteemed professors yelling, “Chug, chug, chug.” Ah, this night was gold.
He was feeling himself let go a bit. Maybe he would take a turn chug, chug, chugging when Chang was finished. Though, it could take a while. That tiny witch could hold her liquor.
It was later that night, after Draco had had several drinks, though not so much that he had begun singing shitty ballads like his colleagues, that Draco felt a sort of sensation.
A sensation that something was missing.
See, he hadn’t spotted a glimpse of that messy jet-black hair all night. He hadn’t seen an atrocious hand-knitted christmas sweater that Potter always sported this time of year. He hadn’t seen the light reflecting blindingly off a pair of worn out spectacles. He hadn’t seen Potter, not once, and this was unnerving to say the least.
Yes, Draco had been planning to avoid the boy to convey a rejection of sorts but, as Curse Breaker, Draco was worried! So, of course, Draco had to go looking. But he was no where to be seen.
Draco approached Slughorn, a man you could always count on for the whereabouts of his favourite protégé, “Have you seen Potter, sir, by any chance?”
“Draco, m’boy, how’s your Christmas evenin’?” Slughorn bellowed, slurring his words.
“It’s going quite well, have you seen him though?” Draco asked, stuck somewhere between amused and irritated.
“Harry? Oh, ‘e was here earlier, said summat about the Firewhisky in the closet. Haven’t seen ‘im since.” Slughorn relayed with a lazy grin before wandering off.
Firewhisky in the closet? Draco groaned in frustration. Batty, that man is. He asked Chang where he could find some more Firewhisky and she motioned to a closet in the far corner of the room. Oh, perhaps slightly less batty that Draco anticipated.
Draco crossed the room to the closet and pulled on the handle. It was locked, with a quick Alohamora the handle clicked and the door opened with ease.
There, slumped on the floor, Draco’s sensation was wonderfully quenched with the sight of Potter.
The man was on the floor, in the foreseen Christmas jumper, cradling a Firewhisky in his hand.
“Draco, than’ God.” Potter slurred and rushed to get up. He nearly fell but Draco offered a steadying grip on his wrist.
“What on earth were you doing?” Draco asked.
“I was drinking and sitting. It was fun, ‘cept I was locked in a closet. I hate the closet.” Potter said matter-of-factly. The promptly burst out laughing, “Get why I hate the closet? Coz I was in a closet for eleven years and then I fin’ly got out of the closet, but then I got to ‘ogwarts, saw your bum and I was put shoved in.” Potter laughed as though this was the funniest thing he’d ever said.
Draco assumed he was referencing the years he’d spent in the cupboard under the stairs at the Dursley’s. (Draco had read a hard-hitting exposé written about Potter during those bitter few years and learnt all about his backstory. He did not, however, get emotional as he read it. Or felt any sort of pity. He did not.)
The bum story, however, he was familiar not with. Though he’d love to hear more about it.
“Oh, it was my bum that sent you back to the closet, was it?” Draco said smugly, struggling to keep a smile off his face.
Draco was dragging him across the room, he’d better get the drunk professor back to his chambers before he vomited all over Draco’s dress robes.
Potter ‘mm’ed noncommittally and leaned against Draco further, “Yeah, ’s a very nice arse, you can’t blame me. But don’t worry, now I’m getting the arse.” Potter finished with confidence.
Draco stopped mid-drag, “You’re getting the arse? What does that mean?”
Potter stood up and pressed his mouth close to Draco’s ear, breath hot next to it, “I’m seducing you.” Potter said in what Draco could only assume was supposed to be a sexy voice.
Draco laughed, a loud laugh that did not happen on common occasion. Merlin, Potter was horribly adorable. This would be the death of him.
They’d reached the refreshments table and Draco grabbed a goblet of water and pressed it close to Potter’s mouth, “Drink it all,” he ordered.
“Yes, sir.” Potter said with a wink and gulped it all down. His throat bobbing mesmerisingly as he drank eagerly. Draco felt his pants get just a little bit tighter.
The music of the party got fainter and fainter as Draco and Potter stumbled up the stairs towards the teachers’ rooms.
“ ‘member the time with the swamp in the corridors?” Potter giggled, “You were carrying me like this, y’know.”
“I was trying to keep you from dying, thank you very much.” Draco grumbled.
“I know, it was very heroic. My knight in shining armour,” Potter giggled again and ruffled Draco’s hair, “Anyway, that’s when I knew it was time to put on the moves.” Potter wiggled his eyebrows ridiculously. Draco leaned him against the wall as he unlocked the door to Potter’s room.
“Put on the moves?” Draco repeated in disbelief. Was this man real?
“Yep,” Potter said, popping the p, “I made sure to get myself into some, uh, sticky situations.”
Draco swerved his head around, “You what?”
“Y’know. I stopped avoiding Peevesy so much. N’ I walked in the dodgier corridors. S’not that hard to get into trouble in this school.”
“You purposefully put yourself into danger? After everything I’ve gone through to save your sorry behind?” Draco said, putting his arms on his hips scoldingly.
Potter at least had the decency to look embarrassed, “M’sorry. I just wanted to see you a little. I thought it was a good way to become closer. And I was right! Look at us now.” Potter stepped forward, putting an inch, at the most, in-between the two men.
“Look how close we are now.” His voice barely above a whisper.
Draco gulped. Okay, okay, he needs to stop this. Potter is drunk and he doesn’t know what he’s doing and this is a mistake and it needs to stop now.
Potter placed his arms on Draco’s slim waist and pulled forward until both their bodies were flush against each other, “So, so close.” He whispered.
His lips brushed against Draco’s softly. So softly Draco wasn’t even sure it happened, but then he felt it again. Smooth lips grazing his in a mind-bending way. Draco just wanted to lean forward and kiss him and take and take and take until there was nothing left to give. Until both of them lay sweaty and spent and breathless, curled up in each other’s arms, closer than ever before.
Merlin, he wanted it so bad he felt his knees shake.
Suddenly, it wasn’t his choice anymore; Potter had pushed forward and their lips crashed together. It only took a few second, though, for Draco to gain back control. He pushed Potter against the wall of the room and kissed him back thoroughly.
He deepened the kiss quickly, licking into his mouth. Potter was releasing desperate little whimpers as Draco expertly nipped at his full lower lip and soothed the pain with small swipes of his tongue.
The whimpers turned to moans as Draco pulled on Potter’s legs until they were wrapped wonderfully tight around his waist, brushing against each other gloriously through their dress-robes. Draco made his way to Potter’s jaw, kissing a trail to his neck that craned wantonly, giving Draco full access. He was so pliant in his arms, so willing to give Draco whatever he wanted. So willing to please. And pleasing he was.
Potter was shamelessly grinding into Draco now. His hips making tiny circles until Draco groaned and sucked onto Potter’s neck furiously as though that would relieve him of the growing need for release building up in his abdomen.
It was when Draco’s teeth nipped at Potter’s sweet spot just under his ear that Potter released a breathless, “Draco.” And Draco froze, what was he doing?
Potter was drunk. As was Draco, a little, but no where near the same amount as him.
Besides, this couldn’t happen.
He dropped Potter’s legs and resumed a respectable distance between the two of them. Potter whined and reached forward to try and close the distance but Draco moved further back, “I’m sorry. I can’t- I’m sorry.” He whispered and left the room hurriedly.
“You did what?” Chang squealed. Her hands surged forward and grabbed Draco by the cheeks, squeezing them until his lips were squished together uncomfortably, “Oh, I’m so proud of you guys!” Chang cooed at his lips, looking at them fondly.
Draco jerked his face out of her hands and groaned, “You don’t understand! This is bad.”
“Oh, yes, poor Draco. So misunderstood, so unfortunate. The boy he likes likes him back, he has a steady job, he has the best best friend in the whole world, he has a full head of hair, his grammar is solid, his students adore him…” Chang whined mockingly, putting her hand on her forehead as though she was a damsel in distress. With an eye roll and a pointed look she hit him across the back of the head, “This is not bad. This is quite the opposite.”
Draco leaned back in his comfy pink chair. They were in Madam Puddifoot’s for brunch two days after the incident, as Draco had taken to calling it.
“I’m just… I’m scared.” Draco whispered, his eyes zeroed in on his tea cozy.
“Everyone gets scared, Draco. Just remember, you do deserve it. You deserve to be happy.” Chang placed her hand on his, rubbing it affectionately, “Don’t worry, I’ll help you.”
Draco lifted his head abruptly, “Help me? I don’t think so. No. No help from you.”
Chang gasped indignantly, “Hey, I’m very helpful. Look, Neville gets back tonight. I’ll organise a little meet-up at the Three Broomsticks for the four of us and you and Harry can uh, chat a little.”
Chang smiled reassuringly, “Just talk to him, it’ll be fine. More than fine, if I’m as good as I think I am at deciphering longing looks from across the Great Hall table.”
The label on his Butterbeer was in shreds fifteen minutes in. Conversation was flowing at the table. Neville was relaying Baby Alice’s most recent attempts at stringing words together to form a sentence. Draco was usually obsessed with stories about that ridiculous four year old.
But now he felt so uneasy, he couldn’t even enjoy his favourite entertainment. Fuck Potter. And fuck those little moans he makes. And fuck the desperate circle of his hips grinding against his cock.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
He wants to scream in frustration. He wants to look up from his drink and stare Potter in the eye until he comes untouched just from the intensity of their eye contact.
Fuck, that’s a weird thing to want.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
“Go on then, Draco. It’s your turn.” He felt Chang elbow him. His head jerked up, looking at her confusedly.
“My turn to what?” He asked, slightly afraid of the answer. He had completely tuned out of the conversation.
“Your turn to get the next round.” Chang said slowly, as if conversing with a seven year old.
Draco narrowed his eyes but went to the bar nonetheless.
The establishment was packed. It was the Saturday after Christmas and every young witch and wizard was inside trying to get a drink. He was shoved five times and couldn’t get within two meters of the bar.
Fuck, he was so agitated. He needed a smoke. He’d been doing so well, laid off for nearly eight months but this occasion called for it. He clawed his way out of the crowd and found himself a nice spot in the alley behind the pub.
Fucking Potter. He was going to give him lung cancer. The twat.
“Those’ll kill you, y’know.” Speak of the devil. Potter leaned casually against the wall, hands in his pocket. His words poured out of his mouth and looked like smoke against the cold air.
Draco took a drag and released some real smoke, “I had no idea, thank God you’re here.”
Draco said dryly.
Potter chuckled, “It might just be me, but I have this crazy notion that you’ve been avoiding me for quite some time now.”
Draco scoffed, “Avoiding you? How absurd. If I was avoiding you, you’d be dead. Locked in a closet somewhere, shrivelled up and withering away”
Potter laughed again, what was so funny, though, Draco wasn’t quite sure, “ Yes, I never did get the chance to thank you for that. I should probably explain myself, I’m prone to claustrophobia, at times. I forgot every spell I’d ever learnt and sat on the floor of the closet drinking myself half to death. That was, of course, until you came very conveniently to my rescue.”
“A convenience. That I am.” Draco muttered bitterly.
“Quite the opposite actually. You’ve managed to become one of the biggest inconveniences I’ve encountered in my lifetime. And that is quite a statement if I may say so myself.” Potter said, green eyes glinting brightly in the dark street.
His arms were folded under his chest, a pointed look across his features as though he was about to give Draco detention.
Potter leaned forward until they were almost as close as they were two nights earlier.
Draco forgot how to breathe.
With a sneaky hand, Potter slipped the cigarette from Draco’s loose fingers, took a drag, threw it to the ground and promptly smushed it with the heel of his shoe.
“Oi,” Draco protested, “What gives you the right-“
His whining was interrupted by Potter’s hand enveloping his wrist, “You leaving me with a boner for two days is what gives me the right, Malfoy.” Potter’s eyes flashed with anger.
He hadn’t called him by his last name since they were seventeen.
“I know you feel something for me,” Potter declared, stepping closer still. It was a wonder there was any space left between them, “I know it, because every time I do this,” Potter tentatively licked the skin connecting his neck and jaw with a quick tongue and Draco’s breath hitched, “I can feel you breathe just a little faster.” He whispered in his ear, nibbling on the lobe softly. Making Draco positively ooze want. He was practically a puddle on the floor by now.
“And when I do this,” Potter murmured into his skin while pushing a thigh between Draco’s leg, pressing wonderfully into his crotch, “I can feel you getting hard. I can feel you lose control and press against me.” Draco released an embarrassing whimper, because he had started to grind into his thigh, his cock searching for that friction, for that release.
“I know you feel something because I see you, baby, I see you want it.” Potter’s voice was delightfully breathy against his ear. Draco was ready to moan in pleasure when it all stopped. The thigh was removed and Potter’s mouth detached from its honourable position on Draco’s neck, “I know, but I need to hear it from you, so I know that you know it too.” Potter whispered. With a hand squeeze, Potter slipped away, back into the pub.
Shit, he couldn’t go back in with this raging boner. He sat for five minutes thinking of nothing but Longbottom’s ankle hair until he was finally able to get away with a semi.
His trek back to the table felt a bit like a walk of shame, though it wasn’t even that because Draco still hadn’t had sex. Fucking pathetic.
He sat back down directly across from Potter.
“Where’ve you been,” Chang asked with raised eyebrows.
“Havin’ a smoke,” Draco replied hastily then turned to Potter with a sugary sweet expression, “Potter, may I have a word with you at the bar.”
“Bar’s packed, mate.” Potter answered. Mate? Now, he was definitely taking the piss, “But I wouldn’t mind having a word with you tomorrow night.”
“Yeah, at the new restaurant down the street. Heard its bloody romantic. Wouldn’t be opposed if you asked me to have a word there.”
Draco glared at him, lowering his voice, “Are you… are you trying to get me to ask you out on a fucking date?”
Potter shrugged, the same smug smile sitting on his stupidly wet and plump lips, “Call it whatever you choose. If you want a word, that’s where it’ll happen.”
“Fine, whatever, meet me there.”
“Meet you where?” Potter feigned confusion.
Draco groaned and rubbed his hands over his face. Chang stifled a laugh next to him. “Will you please meet me at Regino’s tomorrow night at eight?”
“Nothing would make me happier.” Potter grinned and took a triumphant swig of his Butterbeer.
Draco slammed his head against the table and kept it there for the rest of the night. He’s going on his first date in four bloody years and he was coerced into it. Typical.
“Pass the salt, please.”
“What do you mean no?”
“I mean no. What do you usually mean when you say no?”
“For fuck’s sake, Potter, pass me the bloody salt before I-“
“You haven’t even tried the food yet, how do you know it needs more salt?”
“I just know.”
“You don’t know, you’re assuming. You pretentious arse.”
Draco gasped. Pretentious? How dare he?
“How dare you?” Draco lunged across the table and wrapped his hand around the salt shaker, trying to tug it out of Potter’s stubborn clutch.
He was right, it was a really nice restaurant. The tables were wooden with cute little red checkered maps on them. A candle sat in the middle next to two salt and pepper shakers. He supposes that’s were the trouble began.
Or maybe it began when Potter blackmailed him into asking him out. Or maybe when Draco lost all self-control and kissed Potter senseless. Or maybe when Potter took on this bloody job and reentered Draco’s life.
Or maybe it doesn’t really make a difference.
The fact of the matter is; he is now seated across Harry Potter in a quaint little restaurant, both of them with angry scowls and some sort of point to prove.
Of all the ways Draco’d imagined it, this wasn’t one.
“Let go of the salt.”
“You let go.”
“No, you let go.”
“You sound like a five year old.”
“So do you.”
It was at this point of utmost maturity that a waiter stopped by the table, a look of plain distaste on his features. Draco released his grasp to smooth down his robes. Potter seemed to have a similar idea and let go at the same time, the shaker dropped to the floor and spilt everywhere, rather dramatically.
The waiter looked down at the newly made mess and back at the two fully grown men, “Someone will be here to clean that up shortly.” and walked away.
“You should’ve just given me the salt.”
“You should’ve just tried the food.”
“You shouldn’t have told me what to do.”
“You shouldn’t have let me to kiss you then ignored me for two days.”
Of course Potter just went and said what was bothering him point blank.
Draco didn’t know how to respond. He was used to dirty glances, whispered remarks, passive-aggressive ‘you would, wouldn’t you’s’. That was the Slytherin way.
This… straightforward talking. This Draco wasn’t used to.
Potter sighed and tugged on his hair in a painfully tight grip, “You’re just…ugh, you’re so frustrating. You flirt with me all year round and you kiss me back and then you just-“
“Flirt with you?” Draco asked, bewildered. When the fuck?
“Are you kidding? Your little jinx thing? Spending every waking moment together-“
“That wasn’t flirting! Are you- I was- it was my job!” Draco sputtered in anger. How dare he assume Draco was that desperate to be around him. Entitled arsehole.
“Oh, please. Your job is teaching sixteen year olds how to do magic so they can get a job. It’s not following me around and eating my food and stealing my clothes.”
Draco refused to sit here and listen to this slander.
“Is that really what you think?” Draco was half standing my now, hands gripping so tightly around the table that his knuckles turned white, “That I’m some sad teacher who’s so desperate for oh-so-amazing Harry Potter’s attention that I follow him around like some idiot?”
Potter was still sitting down, eyes flashing in anger, “Maybe that is really what I think-”
And Draco disapparated.
He appeared just in front of the Hogwarts front gate. His shoulders heaving as he gulped in breaths of air. This was it. This was what he was trying to avoid. The humiliation, the rejection, the sadness. Fuck, he was so, so sick of being sad. He just wanted peace, to live his life calmly and happily. Maybe he was alone, but at least he was alone and happy.
He was happy. Now he’s humiliated. Of course, Potter thinks he’s some sad little groupie or something, he should never have even considered being something more. Never even hoped. Pessimism was his comfort zone, hope was enemy territory.
He rested his face on the cold bars of the gate, the coldness seeping into his left cheek. Draco liked the feeling. It distracted him from the steady pain in his chest and nausea in his stomach.
He walked in through the looming gates, contemplated summoning a carriage to take him to the teacher’s quarters, then decided to take the walk. It was dark and cold and walking probably wasn’t the greatest idea but Draco wanted to. To clear his head or to punish himself or… something, he wasn’t sure what.
By the time he’d made it back to his room he was chilled to the bone, head still foggy and heart just as broken.
Turns out Draco has a lot of spare time on his hands when he’s not tailing a blithering idiot.
He throws himself back into work with the start of term. He starts eating his meals in the teachers’ lounge or in Hogsmead, dodging the Great Hall like the plague. He even avoids Chang, fearing that she will try talk to him about his pitiful love life or worse, try convince him of some happy-ever-after bullshit that got him in this mess in the first place.
Life was getting a bit lonely, though. Longbottom and Chang stopped trying to talk to him after he completely ditched their Friday arvo drinks every week since The Incident. He’d barely seen hide or hair of Potter either, after that first week after The Incident, where Potter trailed him like a loon and tried to initiate some sort of painful conversation.
One particularly miserable Thursday, Draco was leaning his head against his window whilst rain pelted it quite melodramatically and thought about how quickly his friends gave up on him. Which, naturally, gravitated his thoughts towards the age-old question; were they ever really his friends at all?
Basically, Draco was throwing a month long pity-party and no one else was invited. Not that anyone would show up if they were.
A few weeks later and the weather was finally showing signs of improvement. Honestly, if there was anymore indication of a grey sky, Draco would chuck himself off the Divination tower.
Thankfully, the sun had decided to rear its head today. Its rays filtering each classroom, lighting up the dust that rose off the books in swirls and warming Draco’s arms as he finally shed his winter cloak halfway through his lesson. He was sick of wearing that thing. It weighed his shoulders down and made him look like he was sulking. As if Draco would ever actually sulk.
Stepping outside, Draco inhaled deeply. Students lounged by the lake in circles or lay beneath trees with open books. It made him feel sort of nostalgic for his own schooling days. He’d pushed Pansy into that lake once on a dare in second year, she had snapped his brand new broom stick clean in half in retaliation. Father, of course, had bought him a new one but they were both mad at each other for quite some time. Draco and everyone had sat on that hill after class and scared off any first year who even breathed near it. He almost even missed that tree where that batty minion of the Dark Lord turned him into a ferret. Almost.
In truth, he mostly missed talking to Harry. Even those hate-filled exchanges they’d had in school were better than this. He’d rather have Harry hate him than pretend he doesn’t exist. Maybe he’s not even pretending. Maybe he actually has forgotten about Draco entirely. Maybe Harry and his so-called friends are crowding the windows in the teachers’ lounge and laughing at him from two stories up. He looked up to check but the windows were empty.
His wanderings took him past the great lawn and towards the paths less travelled of Hogwarts. His feet almost operating on their own accord, dragging him further and further away from the chattering students. Soon, he found himself staring at a sight that made him feel a slight tug of happiness but mostly a destabilising sort of fear.
Happy, because it meant Draco could rightfully burst into the teacher’s lounge with a party hat and streamers yelling, “I told you so,” and no one could contradict him.
Fear, because Harry was standing dangerously close to the most abusive tree Draco had ever encountered and was inching closer as if welcoming death itself with a happy cuddle.
“Harry-“ The word slipped off Draco’s tongue, seemingly startling the tree into action. A branch darted forward with the swiftness of a fox and lifted Harry into the air, wood spindling around his chest in a painful constriction.
“Oi, what the fuck- Let me go.“ Harry yelled at the tree wiggling about like a decapitated worm. Brilliant approach to a life or death situation. Such a bloody Gryffindor.
Draco surged forward, ripping his wand from his robes and spelling the tree frozen. Draco, convinced that the spell had worked, stepped towards Harry’s suspended body.
Draco, however, was sorely mistaken. The tree stilled for a second, before shaking off the spell and continuing to swing Harry’s body around like a maraca. Well, shit.
“That’s not going to work,” Harry yelled from up above, voice shaking as his body swayed from side to side violently.
“Oh, really? Hadn’t noticed, thanks.” Draco replied angrily. Now what was he supposed to do. He fired random spells at the branches, desperate for anything to work. Nothing did.
Merlin, Harry’s head was going to fall right off his neck at this rate, Draco worried. No, he wasn’t worried, he was petrified. This whole year he’d been working to save the man and now he was going to be offed by a plant. Draco was going to lose him. For real, this time.
Harry’s voice got fainter as the branch propelled him skywards, “…care not…“
“Care not? Of course I care! I’m trying to get you down, Harry,” Draco screamed indignantly, “I care a lot. I care too much about you, you must know that.” Draco's ran his fingers through his hair in anguish.
“No! Not care not,” Harry yelled as the tree brought him closer to the ground, “There’s a knot! On the trunk, throw -“
Throw himself, Draco assumed. His eyes caught on a bulge in the trunk and he launched himself towards it at a ferocious speed. A thin branch slashed its way across Draco’s forehead, gushing blood into his eye, impairing half his vision.
Draco refused for this to deter him. Just as his peripheral vision saw a larger branch surge towards him ready to grab his chest and lift him, his palm slapped the knot and the entire tree stilled, as though it had never moved in the first place.
Harry’s body dropped to the ground with a terrifying slump. Harry let out a pained groan and turned to his side, positioned close to Draco who was lying on his back, panting hysterically.
“A rock,” Harry breathed, “I meant throw a rock, you great, blundering idiot.”
“Hey, I just,” Draco wheezed. “saved your life.”
“Yeah, you did.”
They lay side by side for a while, sun rays filtering through the still branches. A gentle breeze cooling down their sweat foreheads. Both of them waiting for their heart rates to stabilise.
“We’re still lying under the murder tree, you know.” Harry said rather wisely.
They both scrambled away, collapsing back down a good few meters away.
Draco was still breathing heavily; everything that just transpired played in his mind in flashes. What if he hadn’t been able to stop the tree. Harry would be gone. The curse would not be broken and worse still, he would be completely out of Draco’s life.
That was more terrifying than any curse.
“How the hell did that just happen to you?” Draco sat up abruptly, “Did you feel some kind of magical pull towards the tree? Like, a hundred year old curse calling you to death?”
Harry, still lying down, sighed a deep sigh, “No, Draco. It wasn’t any curse. I… I was trying to get you to talk to me.”
Well. That was unexpected.
“You did that on purpose?!” Draco asked, bewildered, “You thought the best way to talk to me was by committing suicide-by-twig?” What the fuck was he thinking?
“Kind of, actually,” Harry sat up sharply, “You’ve been ignoring me for weeks! You won’t talk to anyone. And, really, the only thing you care about more than your pride is that stupid old curse so yes, I did that to get you to talk to me. I walked up to the demon tree, spelled your legs to make you wander towards this area and waited for you to save me and I know that’s crazy but, that’s what you make me do! You make me go crazy and do stupid things and say stupid things that I want to take back, because I…” Harry looked up at him from under his dark lashes and Draco’s chest constricted.
It didn’t seem like he was going to be finishing that sentence anytime soon. Instead, Harry sat up, scourgified Draco’s face and huffed angrily. Draco felt the blast of the spell like a Quidditch bat up his left nostril.
“You deserved it.” Harry folded his arms across his chest, looking hurt.
Why, though? Hadn’t Harry been the one to hurt Draco? Why was Draco feeling guilty right now?
“I- I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have ignored you.” Draco conceded timidly.
“No! No, you don’t have to apologise,” Harry burst. Merlin. This guy. With the mood swings. Draco could hardly keep up, “I should apologise. What I said was totally out of line, not to mention; entirely untrue. I just said it because I was feeling defensive and hurt because you stopped talking to me after Christmas. So, I’m sorry.”
Draco nodded, a forgiveness of sorts.
“Can we just- I want to say something, okay? Promise not to freak out?” Harry said.
Draco nodded again, slightly more afraid, though.
“I like you, Draco. More than a drunken Christmas party make out. I like you like Christmas morning.”
Draco felt a swell of emotions in his chest but he still had to give a little snort, “That was incredibly cheesy.”
“Doesn’t mean it isn’t true. You’re that feeling I get on Christmas day, anticipation and excitement and warmth,” Harry continued.
“Oh Salazar, that’s horrible, stop talking.” Draco pleaded, grinning.
“You’re this amazing surprise. You’re like a present, waiting for me under a tree, a murder tree, so I can rip off that wrapp-“
“For the love of Merlin,” Draco swung himself forward and pushed Harry back on the grass, “Stop. Talking.” He whispered, his lips hover over Harry’s; just the ghost of a touch. Before pressing down firmly and moulding their chests together.
Their kiss was sweet; summery and soft. Draco could smell grass and Harry’s warm, spicy scent. It was like exhaling a big breath of air. All the tension that had been built up in Draco’s shoulders, stomach, head and pretty much everywhere till the tips of his toes the past few weeks, just… released.
Draco sighed happily against Harry’s mouth, moving his lips lazily. Harry followed his lead.
The Whomping Willow unfroze and swayed in the slight breeze, the lower branches almost grazing the tops of their heads. Draco couldn’t feel it, though.
He didn’t even notice. Neither did Harry.
Epilogue - 8 months later
Draco put on his blackest robes.
He doesn’t know how it happened. He, of all people, knew the dangers and he’d gone through every precaution to make sure it wouldn’t happen and still… He couldn’t believe it.
He had been so optimistic.
“Draco,” Chang whispered, sadness clear in her voice, “I’m so sorry, you lost… I’m incredibly upset too.”
“I know I was just so positive.” Draco’s voice broke on the last word.
“What are you two being so dramatic about?” Longbottom asked as he wondered into the teacher’s lounge.
“Oh no, you haven’t heard? You should probably sit down.” Chang pushed him down gently on the shoulder, guiding him to the sofa.
“Oh… Oh no, is this something serious?” Longbottom's eyes swirled with sudden worry, “what’s happened?”
“Well…” Chang started, “There was an accident.”
“It wasn’t an accident, Chang! Don’t be naive, there’s bigger forces at play here.” Draco burst.
“Yes, maybe…” Change looked at the ground in anguish, “I just, I still don’t know what was going through his mind.”
“I’ll tell you what was going through his mind. He was thinking about the money he’s gonna get from the Caerphilly Catapults by throwing this game. There’s no way Axelby played that badly, it was on purpose.” Harry ranted, walking in from the kitchen annex.
“Wait, this is about Quidditch?” Longbottom groaned, “I thought something actually happened!”
“Something did happen, Neville, the Chudley Cannons are out of the running! I bet real money on them.” Draco yelled, “I thought of everything! Except for Axelby being an absolute knobhead traitor.”
Harry sat down on the couch next to him and put his arm around his shoulders, pulling him in close and pressing a kiss to his forehead, “I know, it positively sucks. But it’s only a few sickles, it’s not like anyone died or anything.”
“Yeah, thanks to me, of course.” Draco snuggled in close, “First day back and first year in twenty-five years that a defence teacher has come back to teach for a second year.”
“My hero,” Harry giggled, pecking Draco on the nose, then his cheek and finally his mouth.
“Hey,” Draco perked up, “now that this curse business is behind us, would you two please tell me what happened to Mr Wendleford?”
Change laughed, “Oh you still don’t know! I have half a mind to leave you hanging forever.”
Longbottom rolled his eyes, “You probably deserve it.”
“Come off it, just tell me.”