The worst part of the summer, with Voldemort now known to the wizarding world and the Order watching Harry’s every move, was that he was always alone yet never had time to himself.
He’d caught the Knight Bus into muggle London a few times, when he was certain he’d ditched the Order members tailing him. That avoidance grew into a bit of a habit, but he didn’t mind having to take the extra steps to get rid of them. Maybe they were trying to sharpen his situational awareness. Or they were just so staunchly against including him in anything that they couldn’t berate him for disappearing- they’d have to acknowledge him as a person in order to reprimand him.
Going into London gave him a chance to buy a few things he’d been thinking about getting for a while. Including a form of protection that he could use without his magic.
Voldemort might expect a curse, but he probably wouldn’t expect a well placed knife. The oddest thing was, he thought he’d seen a head of white-blond hair out of the corner of his eyes during more than one of these trips. But this was muggle London, there was no reason for Malfoy to be here. It was just his brain- like a dog with a bone- refusing to release any thoughts of Malfoy. He’d even dreamt about him once last week.
Those glimpses, trick of the light or no, were what made him think deeper on Malfoy’s behavior over 5th year. With Voldemort back, he’d expected a… certain brand of behavior from Malfoy, and it hadn’t happened.
Fifth year, for everything that was totally screwed about it- missing out on Quidditch, Sirius dying at the ministry, a year that started with his cousin almost losing his soul (surprising that he even had one) including going on trial- all that was par for the course. Voldemort tried to fuck up his life all the time, and when a genocidal Wizard wasn't after him, his own propensity for trouble was dragging him down. Both these things fit into the established pattern from before Voldemort's return. Things seemed to be going normally.
Everything was supposed to change when Voldemort came back, as a kid he'd gotten it into his head that immediately the world would launch back into war. It hadn't.
There was only one immediate change he saw that year.
Draco’s eyes kept finding his across the great hall, looking, searching for something. At the time, Harry didn’t know what to make of it. Maybe he was trying to get ahead with the Inquisitorial squad. Who really knew what went on behind the inner workings of Draco Malfoy?
Every time Harry looked for him, there was only about a 50% chance of Draco being there to sneer back at him. It was like he’d suddenly decided he had better things to do than go to school. He had to have been on a mission for Voldemort. It would have made the most sense out of any theory.
The day after everything horrible at the Ministry happened, Draco had entered the great hall with a wide smile on his face. Harry had flinched, waiting for the taunts he knew would come. The barbs Draco would throw out about the death of his own cousin- but none came. No words about how his father had been disgraced. Just… nothing!
The Slytherin joked with his friends about something, and waved off their odd looks. Harry thought it was a weird choice to try and play everything off like that, but it seemed to be effective. The others around the table let the conversation drop and gradually joined in with Malfoy’s good mood.
If Draco had shown up to the farewell feast, Harry hadn’t seen him. That bothered him more than anything as he boarded the train back to his own personal hell.
It had consumed his waking thoughts ever since. Why was Malfoy suddenly acting so unlike himself. Had he been possessed? Imperioused?
Harry didn’t know, but he wanted to find out.
If there was any connection between that and a head of platinum blond popping up just around the corner in London- he was going to find it.
Over the first month of summer, Harry made several contacts in Muggle London. He had a plan, one that he couldn’t get out of his mind once it occurred to him. Knives were good and all, but what wizard knew anything about guns? And of those that did would never think of it as a defense Harry Potter was willing to employ.
Sirius might have, he’d have thought it was a right ballsy play.
Voldemort's underestimation and focus on magic would be his undoing. Harry intended to live long enough to see if Sirius could be recovered from the veil. If that meant he had to beat Voldemort first then so be it. Shocking the wizarding world was something he’d been doing since birth. They’d just have to get over the possibility of Harry defeating Voldemort through mortal means.
Better to ask for forgiveness instead of permission and all.
Getting a gun was a lot harder than getting a knife, though. Muggles kept a pretty strict eye on who had them and Harry didn’t exactly have access to any papers that would confirm him as a British citizen if he wanted to go through legal channels anyway. The Dursleys kept that under lock and key and with Britain’s laws… well he had to get the gun before the summer was out didn’t he?
He turned into an alley. He’d done his homework on a library computer. There were many ways to get a gun, if you weren’t afraid to put yourself into wild amounts of danger and take a chance on some suspicious connections. This was his best chance. Copious amounts of Muggle money (thanks to Gringotts mail-exchange) and a ludicrous amount of that Gryffindor pluck.
He’d never been known for being cautious, he was a Gryffindor, after all. (A tratrious part of his brain hissed that his current course of action was far more Slytherin than anything else.)
That was, of course, when he ran right into Draco Malfoy.
He stumbled back, eyes wide- Malfoy was in muggle clothes (and not a suit either as Harry had always imagined him in when trying to blend in with a world he didn’t understand). He was wearing a loose windbreaker, dark jeans, and a pair of trainers. Blond hair lay in wisps across his bright grey eyes, which looked out at him from behind red tinted sunglasses with huge white rims.
He almost laughed. Malfoy was even wearing one of those black plastic chokers. Had he tripped into some muggle girl's laundry?
A blond eyebrow was raised in question. Harry’s mouth went dry in response.
Malfoy held a finger to his lips, sidestepped around him and ambled out of the alley like he had nowhere else to be. Not a stitch of wizard clothing on his person- or for that matter, any indication of magic at all.
What the hell?
The other guy, the one Harry was actually here to see, popped his head out from the alley. “Eh, still looking to buy? I’ve not got all day round here.”
“Uh- yeah. What was up with him?” Harry asked, hoping his tone was neutral.
“Don’t rightly know, he was weird though. Thought he might be a Gammon.”
Harry didn’t bother asking what the man meant by that, his mind was already racing off to consider other possibilities.
It just got worse after that.
Malfoy was everywhere. He’d turn to walk down a street and see him walk out of a brightly lit loud buildings at 2am carrying something in a large case.
Just what was he up too?
Harry followed him once or twice, only to lose him in the crush of a crowd. He had trouble getting into some of the places Draco was heading. Harry had always been short, but it had never been a problem until a doorman decided he was definitely too young to be let in to a club.
At least running all around the city trying to keep track of Draco Malfoy kept him in shape.
The strangest part was that Malfoy never seemed to call the Knight bus- never went home. Every time Harry ran into him he was in muggle clothing with that case. Sometimes he had a run down looking backpack slung over his shoulder.
The jeans were traded for a darker, ripped pair. The windbreaker switched intermittently with a leather jacket on days when it rained. Those days he didn’t see much of Malfoy. He was harder to spot without the bright splotches of neon color that covered the windbreaker.
Finally, Harry spotted him walking down the street with that same blasted case slung over his shoulder. He only had a moment to decide whether he was going to follow him into the club, ducking into a group passing by the doorguard.
For the first time, Harry successfully made it behind Draco, following the shock of platinum hair through the swirling lights and colors. The club was overwhelmingly populated by men, but there were women here and there. There were people in drag up on the stage, and Harry almost paused, fascinated by the display that would have no doubt horrified the Dursleys. That alone was enough to make him relish the strange situation he found himself in.
Why was he here?
Someone was pressing a drink into his hands and pressing a kiss to his cheek, before vanishing into the crowd.
He looked down at the drink, as if his magic could tell him what was in it. He took a hesitant sip. It burned like firewhiskey, but wasn't as strong.
There was no need for him to waste anyone's hospitality.
Harry knocked it back, setting the empty tumbler down next to its siblings on an abandoned table.
"Up next after our lovely Queens, we have Danny and the Dragons taking to the stage," the host called, sending up a cheer into the crowd.
Harry's mouth dropped open.
Up on the stage was Draco Malfoy as Harry had never seen him. Eyes bright, full of energy, clothes ripped and blackened. A Weird Sisters t-shirt that looked like it had a bad run in with Veron's tool chest stretched across his frame. And topping all of that off, was a simple, beat-up looking electric guitar.
There were other people on the stage, but all of them paled in comparison.
Silver eyes sought him out, and had the gall to wink at him before he struck down on the first chord of a song Harry had never heard before. Then again, he wasn't up on the music he'd missed since Hogwarts started.
The song could have been great, if Harry’d heard any of it. The chords played over and over again in his mind as he desperately tried to reconcile what he saw with his eyes and the things he knew to be true. Malfoy would never do this sort of thing. There wasn’t anyone bearing the Malfoy name that would be caught dead here.
But he realized he didn’t know all that much about Draco.
By the time he pulled himself back together, the band was leaving the stage.
He opened his mouth and paused, it didn't seem right to call him Malfoy, not after seeing him... he wasn't sure what it was really. Act normal? Casual? Human?
"Draco!" Harry called, trying to get to him through the press of the crowd. His blonde head seemed to drift further and further away. Losing sight of him, Harry paused in the throng of people, feeling them try to buffet him from each side like the currents of the Black Lake.
Long fingers caught him around the arm, pulling him sideways. There was a hot breath against his ear.
Harry turned, mouth agape.
Malfoy just held a finger to his lips, shushing him in a gesture that seemed oddly muggle.
For a moment, Harry was tempted to lick it.
Maybe whatever had been in that glass was more potent than he'd thought.
"Not here," Malfoy said, a note of conspiracy in his tone.
He let Draco drag him into a darker part of the club, for reasons unknown to himself. On the way he plucked a drink out of someone's hands and downed it to calm his nerves.
It never worked with firewhiskey but maybe muggle alcohol was different. Maybe.
Of course, Draco never explained anything, just looked at him with an inscrutable expression before darting forward to press a searing kiss to his lips. Pulling away with a foolish grin, Draco almost smiled, “I’ve wanted to do that since I was thirteen.”
Then he was gone, leaving Harry alone with the noise of the club to question his sanity.
He said he would stop looking for him after that, but his eyes still looked for a familiar head of hair. He had questions- he had a lot of questions actually.
I’ve wanted to do that since I was thirteen.
What the fuck was he supposed to make of that? Only Draco would have the absolute gall to say something like that off the cuff and just leave.
All too soon, Harry was sneaking into King’s Cross, avoiding the Order and Voldemort alike. Part of him expected to see Draco Malfoy there in ripped jeans and bad band t-shirts. But when Harry caught a glimpse of him, he was perfectly coiffed, dressed in robes. Neither of his parents were anywhere in sight, but it was jarring to see him like that. Like the Draco Malfoy outlined in stage lights existed only in his memory.
Where was the Draco that played at clubs? The one that slunk around muggle London like an alley cat?
The one that kissed him.
Their eyes met across the crowd, and Harry belatedly realized he’d had a growth spurt over the summer while he was chasing Drac- Malfoy, bloody hell, Draco around London. Harry held his breath, waiting for something to happen.
His breath escaped in an unbidden sigh of relief. He wasn’t crazy. It was real. It just didn’t make any sense.
He didn’t have any time to ponder, Ron slammed into his side with a hug seconds later and then they were all climbing into a compartment to talk about their summers- Harry presenting them with a heavily edited version of events.
When had he decided to keep the truth of his summer from his friends? Well It probably had something to do with the knife strapped to his forearm, and the knowledge of the gun laying heavy in his trunk.
Voldemort had to die, but no one ever said magic had to do it. He knew someone would try and talk him out of it, so he told no one. Hermione in particular would not be happy with the knowledge of his back-up plan, Harry didn’t blame her. He knew why she felt that way.
For once, he also didn’t bring up Malfoy.
When they all climbed out of the train, fresh from Ron’s complaints and Hermione’s hopeless enthusiasm to learn- Harry had started to tune his best friends out.
His head swiveled, looking around out of habit.
Draco Malfoy was reaching up to the carriage, his robe slipping down his arm. Harry’s mouth went dry and his stomach started tying itself into knots that burned against the fluttering in his lungs.
Draco Malfoy had a tattoo.
And it wasn’t the dark mark.
More than that, in the brief glimpse he was afforded, Harry also noticed that the tattoo didn’t even move.
Draco Malfoy had a muggle tattoo.
He had to talk to him.
He didn’t get a chance before the feast, Draco slipped through the doors of the castle with a turbulent stride completely unlike the one he’d used to amble down the streets of London.
If asked, he couldn’t tell you what the feast was like. Snape was the new defense professor, big deal. Harry had problems other than some thirty year old man’s schoolyard grudges- even if he was supposed to work with him towards understanding occlumency.
Maybe Draco knew something about occlumency?
He bolted up, ducking down to get lost in the milling crowd of confused first years. He had time, Ron and Hermione both had to guide the new additions up to the tower. All he had to do was catch up with him, but Draco was already ducking out of the room. Wasn’t he a prefect? Maybe not after last year’s performance.
“Dra-” Harry let the call die in his throat. Maybe a different tactic.
Draco froze, fumbling over his steps and making an aborted movement to grab the wall.
Harry mustered his courage to continue, “We need to talk.”
Draco’s eyes flicked behind him to the open doors of the Great Hall before sighing. “Yeah, okay, Astronomy tower, midnight. Don’t be late.”
Robes flared as he stalked down the hallway, putting distance between the two of them as quickly as possible. Harry just sagged against the wall. That was confirmation. Summer had been real and now he finally had a chance to get to the bottom of it.
It was hard to be late when Harry had been pacing the halls underneath his cloak since curfew. He’d made some excuse to Ron about wanting to check out the castle, make sure Voldemort hadn’t gotten inside and planted anything insidious to harm the students.
After he wasted the first 10 minutes pacing, he did give the castle a cursory once over.
He was still half an hour early.
The door slammed open and Harry jumped, his fingers catching the smooth silk fabric to pull it up over his head. He had it turned inside out right now. Guarding against an early autumn chill where it wrapped around his shoulders like a serpent.
“God, this is the worst place to meet, remind me never to suggest it again. Honestly, what was I thinking. Have you any idea what a walk this is from the dungeons?”
The comment skittered across the tension in the room like a rock across a pond, and Harry couldn’t help be shrug at him.
“You’ve only got yourself to blame.”
Draco snorted in response, walking over and sitting down. He pulled his robes off, revealing muggle clothing underneath. It was nothing fancy, just jeans and a dark shirt, but it was still completely different than what he was expecting.
He then pulled a silver lighter out of his jeans pocket and flipped it, lighting up a cigarette. Harry bit down on the impulse to chide him over his health. Since when did he care about Draco Malfoy’s health?
Draco breathed out, grey smoke mingling in the night air and shimmering in front of those silver eyes.
It took his breath away.
He was so fucked.
A red ember floated off the side of the tower, flicked out of sight with a careless gesture.
Draco swept his arm out. “No one gets to define who I am except for me. I’m not going to be anyone’s pawn. I’ve never met Voldemort, but I bet he’s no catch. However, I have met you, for all your stubborn-” Draco sighed, “For all we’ve clashed. I know you, Harry Potter. I’d throw my lot in with a classmate over someone who’s already been defeated once. It’s just practicality.”
Something about that statement warmed his heart, except-
“No one told you?”
“Told me what, Potter?”
“First year, the detention in the Forbidden Forest. The person drinking the unicorn blood was Voldemort.”
A startled laugh burst out of him, his cigarette burning down as he leaned back.
“That would fucking figure- my father was furious with me when I tried to tell him about it. He knew from the start. Bloody bastard just let me walk into a situation with half the information. We could have died.”
“We could have.”
“I always thought it was strange that…” Draco snubbed out the remains of the cigarette on the cobblestone. “Nevermind.”
Harry inched closer. “No, what?”
“It was weird that none of you talked to me after- I mean, I went and got the groundskeeper and the rest of them and then-” Draco shrugged, “I could have kept running. I thought about it. After all, you didn’t even give me the time of day unless I was pissing you off. But I went back.” He shrugged.
Harry picked a piece of rock up and flicked it off the side of the tower, watching it fall through the air and feeling surprised at the knowledge he could have caught it again- given a broom of course. That was just his way of stalling.
“I didn’t think about it like that.” He glanced at Draco sideways. “I didn’t think about that much at all actually. There was… a lot to adjust to during first year.”
Draco didn’t look affronted, he just shrugged. “After this summer, I see why.”
The odd thing about it was that Draco Malfoy might just be the only other person that really understood having a life uprooted and predetermined by Voldemort. A life he had no choice in or part of- until he carved a different one out for himself.
His eyes slid away from the ember hanging from Draco’s lips to look out over the castle grounds. He felt like he was home- and maybe for the first time since Sirius died. Harry felt like he had someone he could talk to about things.
Who would have believed that person was Draco bloody Malfoy?
As much as Draco complained about walking all the way up to the Astronomy tower, he still sent Harry a note asking if he wanted to meet again. They hadn’t gotten around to actually talking about what Harry wanted to discuss last time. They just talked about their first year and why it was difficult for all the reasons they never expected it to be.
He was there, waiting like Harry expected him to be, plucking at the strings of an electric guitar that wasn’t plugged into anything.
His eyes glanced up when Harry sat down next to him. “ ‘ello Harry.”
Harry decided to get right to it.
“Did you know that your father set loose the basilisk in second year?”
Draco’s fingers hit a discordant note in the string of the guitar, pausing in his movements to pluck it like an acoustic guitar.
“I didn’t at the time, but he told me before the World Cup. I think he was trying to groom me for His return- though how he could have know, I haven’t a bloody clue.”
Harry shrugged, “I was convinced you were the heir.”
Draco stopped playing and set his wrist on the swell of the guitar. “I thought it was you for sure, I mean who just happens to reveal they’re a parselmouth in the middle of everything that was going on?”
“That’s just my shit luck no one ever seems to see.”
Draco adjusted one of the strings, “Fair enough. I’m starting to believe all that word about the Potter luck is a bunch of shite. ”
“Besides, I got a glimpse inside the Slytherin common rooms because of it.”
He looked up, blonde hair in his eyes, “You what?”
“We were hopped up on polyjuice, posing as Greg and Vincent.” Harry smirked at him.
Draco chuckled softly. “I wasn’t aware you knew their first names.”
“Just like you weren’t aware that Gregory could read?” Harry couldn't help himself.
“That was you! I was confused for ages over how they’d acted after that feast. I thought Blaise was playing a prank on me for days after.”
“In my defense, it did turn out to be a Malfoy that was responsible- if Dobby had just told me that from the beg-”
“Dobby? Is he okay? Have you seen him? I always felt bad, he was my father’s personal elf so I never saw him much, but I knew he’d gotten clothes. I was worried that my father was lying and had simply killed him.”
“No, Dobby got clothes, my sock in fact. It’s a long story, but it ended in me pulling the wool over your father’s eyes.”
Draco smiled in earnest at that. “That’s bloody fantastic.”
They broke into silence again, Draco plucking the notes that Harry recognized as the beginning of Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead Or Alive . Harry listened, his feet kicking against the outside bricks of the Astronomy tower as he dangled his legs off the edge. He could fall- for some reason the thought didn’t scare him as much as it should. Probably a result of too much time on his broom. That or he trusted Draco more than he thought he did.
And wasn’t that odd, he trusted Draco?
As the song wound down, Draco sighed.
“What?” Harry asked, leaning back and looking at Draco from his position on the floor. He looked upside down from this angle.
“Just thinking about my father- I haven’t seen him in over a year. By choice, mind you. I knew the first moment Voldemort was back that he must have gone mad. That staying would mean signing my own death certificate.” Draco propped his chin on a hand, rubbing at a smudge on his guitar. “I used to want to be like him so much- but the thought nearly sickens me. That people might look at me and see him. In fact, I almost dyed my hair over the summer. Then I figured, if people look at me and can only see my father, that’s their problem. He tried his hardest to make more like the man he wanted me to be- but that just wasn’t who I was. I was never going to be the perfect Malfoy heir. Mother always said the Black blood was too strong to take that sitting down.”
Harry snorted. “That’s the truth if I ever heard it.”
Draco looked up at him, starlight catching in his eyes to highlight the question there.
“Sirius,” Harry said with a shrug. The familiar pang was still there. “He was my godfather- I only met him in third year but he was so stubborn.”
“I never did, meet him or any of the other Black relatives I mean- nost of them are rotting in Azkaban or dead,” he froze, “sorry, I didn’t mean-”
“No, I know.” Harry sighed.
“Mum wasn’t happy with my father for that,” Draco said, obfuscating around the actual topic. “She was the one who told me not to come home. Owled me with a raven and told me where she’d stashed some things. Gave me the option- a choice. Which is more than he ever did.”
He nodded, unsure what to say to that.
Draco cast a careless tempus with his wand. “It’s getting late.”
They looked at each other.
“One more song?” Harry asked, the words sounding loud and breathless in the drawn out silence of the stars.
This time Draco sung along with the almost silent electric strings.
They didn’t meet at the Astronomy tower for a couple of days after that. Then, when they tried to see each other again, they found it rather occupied by an intrepid pair of seventh years that were willing to get a full year of detention if they were caught.
Neither Harry or Draco made eye contact as they stuttered excuses and left.
In the meantime, some occupants of Gryffindor tower were paying just enough attention to know something was up.
It shouldn’t have been a suprise who noticed first.
“Mate, you are always gone at night, who are you seeing?” Ron asked in between masterfully shoving a biscuit in his mouth so as not to drop any crumbs on his essay.
“I’m not seeing anyone, Ron.”
He looked up, distinctly unimpressed with the deflection. A single ginger eyebrow rose up to crinkle freckled skin.
“It’s not like that. We’re just… talking.”
Ron looked at his face, as if divining an answer from it before shrugging. “Well, talking’s good for you, and you’ve seemed a right bit happier than you did at the end of the year. Which, have to admit, isn’t saying much. But you seem happier, and that’s good.”
“Yeah, whatever. Just tell me if you do start sneaking off to do something salacious so I can prepare for the thrashing Hermione will give you for breaking the rules.”
Harry scoffed, looking down at the potions essay to see he’d written down the last few things Ron had said instead of recounting the properties of blood in its different states. Sighing, he waved his wand over the parchment to erase the last few lines.
Draco slipped him a note in potions, a class that had grown interesting this year. Draco and Slughorn avoided each other like the plauge, and the endless parade of praise Draco had enjoyed for the first six years of his education in the potion’s classroom was nowhere to be found.
He crumpled the paper and fisted it into his pocket before Ron could investigate. Hermione gave him an annoyed look.
In the hallway after class, Harry pulled it out and read it.
Meet me on the left hand side of the fourth floor corridor at 11pm.
His eyebrows rose.
Someone bumped into him and Harry looked up, making brief eye contact with Draco. He nodded once.
He almost thought Draco smiled in response.
“Over here,” Draco motioned from an alcove, already moving down the hall.
Harry quickened his pace to catch up. “Where are we going?”
“It’s a secret, but if you must know. I’ve found a new place to have our conversations... undisturbed." He finished his sentence with a crooked smile. It was different from the smirk, he liked it.
The darkened post-curfew hallways stretched in front of them and Draco moved through them with the same ease that he slipped through the dancefloor of a London club.
This time he didn’t have his guitar.
Draco got to a window and took his wand out, murmuring an incantation to unlock it. This particular window was grimy and impossible to see through in the dim light.
“Learned about this from a particularly mischievous portrait of a former Half-Veela head girl,” Draco said, fiddling with something Harry couldn’t see. “Took me some time to find it. Ah-ha.”
Draco pressed on something under the frame, and the window cracked open. He pushed it up the rest of the way and leaned out. Before Harry could stop him, Draco climbed through the window.
“Draco!” he hissed.
The sight that met him when he stuck his head out the window was unexpected.
Draco’s face was below him, looking up with an innocent expression. He was standing on part of a parapet.
“Come on, Potter.”
Teasing tone aside, Harry eyed the drop.
“Scared?” Draco asked.
Harry rolled his eyes and climbed halfway out the window, pulling it mostly shut behind him. He dropped down to the parapet and exterior molding. His landing was only slightly wobbly. He could feel adrenaline slipping through his system like ice, the sensation making his extremities tingle.
“It’s not that far,” Draco assured him.
“Where we’re going? Or the ground?”
Draco laughed and led him along the parapets, climbing over a few decorative gargoyles on their way. They turned around the corner and Harry let out a soft exhale. Up ahead there was a flat stretch jutting off from the wall with steep sloping drops on either side. It was the roof of the great hall. Buttresses came up around them as they walked forward. The strip of flat area at the top was only a few feet wide. He realized that from the ground it looked like it came to a perfect peak only because of the scale and height of the building.
They walked along the ridge until they came to the end of their path. There was a wall that reached up and provided a decorative facade for the roof from the direction of the lake. Draco studied it for a moment before picking his handholds and climbing to the top, leaning down and offering Harry his hand.
He took it, kicking off from the wall and climbing over it himself.
It was just wide enough to sit on. Below him was a sheer drop that went all the way to the Black Lake. The surface of it looked like it was like it was hundreds of meters below them and studded with stars. The moon was shining in a waxing phase over the lake. It was heading towards the end of it’s journey for the night.
Harry breathed out to see if his breath would fog in the autumn chill. “This is amazing.”
“Not as tall as the Astronomy tower though,” Draco remarked lightly. His eyes were on the stars still, instead of the landscape.
“Less of a walk, then.”
Harry could still feel the tingles in his fingertips and toes. They radiated through his body and pulsed each time he looked past his feet. One of his shoelaces were untied. He pulled his knee up to tie it and glanced at Draco out of the corner of his eye. He was frowning out at the lake.
“Something on your mind?”
Draco just sighed. “I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m turning 17. I’m going to be an adult and I’m just off faffing about completely ignoring everything I trained to be- because the future I was promised is a lie. I was working for a lie. Now I just, don’t know what I’m doing. Trying to do what makes me happiest- s’pose. Sounds stupid.”
Harry rested his chin on his knee. “I don’t think anyone knows what they’re doing.”
“Well you give off the impression that you do, because of course everything seems to work itself out for you.” Harry could tell that Draco's heart wasn't in the comment.
“That’s just luck. ‘Sides, the Tri-Wizard tournament didn’t go so well.”
His expression soured, “Fuck him for that.”
Harry nodded absently, “Yeah, fuck him.”
Silence fell upon them again. This time it wasn’t uncomfortable.
“We should fly up here sometime,” Harry said, enjoying the warmth of Draco’s shoulder pressed against his.
“Maybe we could find other places like this.”
“I’m not sure there are any other places like this.”
They stayed there until the tingling in Harry’s extremities was replaced by numbness from the chill. The waters below kept shifting under the mercies of the breeze, ripples being driven across the surface like lines of soldiers. The moon was dipping into the horizon. A crepuscular shroud fell over the scene like a film grain. Intent charged the air between them, for reasons Harry couldn’t fathom, it felt like summer instead of late autumn.
Devoid of the moon, Draco’s hair was the brightest thing in the sky.
“We should go.”
Harry nodded. They hadn’t talked about much, but it felt right. They climbed back into the castle without issue.
It was an image Harry couldn’t get out of his mind. The starlight in his hair. The chill of the wind. The anticipation of the heights. Whenever his attention slipped, he’d find himself back in that moment. Thinking about it again. Thinking about him.
Merlin he was fucked.
They still hadn’t spoken about the kiss. It had been months.
Voldemort was the last thing on his mind, for which he blamed hormones.
Draco and Harry met a few more times after that night, climbing to various parts of the castle. The slight chill of winter had hardened into a freeze and the roof didn’t sound nearly as appealing as it had in the fall. Sometimes they’d just play tag down the corridors with friendly portraits or find old abandoned classrooms to hang out in. It was freeing in a way that Harry remembered his first nighttime excursions in the castle being. When he was kid just discovering a safe place to roam.
During Christmas break, neither of them went home. In fact, a lot of people seemed to be staying over vacation this time. Times were hard and Hogwarts provided safety and a community.
Needless to say, most of their usual haunts other than the roof were taken.
Instead of the roof, this time they tried to climb up the inside of the clock tower. They ended up sitting inside the mechanism, carefully of the way of the gears that were in motion. He remembered being up here in Third year, watching everyone go out to Hogsmead and leaving him behind.
It made him melancholy.
“Why’d you buy a gun?” Draco asked.
Harry huddled inwards on himself. “I don’t know. I don’t want to die. Thought maybe if Voldemort’s so guarded against magical means of harm, he might not be immune to being shot in the head."
Draco nodded, “But you’ve never killed anyone. Do you think you could do it?”
He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “I don’t know.”
“I couldn’t. That’s part of why I left. They would have asked me to kill someone sooner or later.” His voice was soft against the mechanisms of the clock turning over and over with the wheels of time.
“You’re probably right.”
The subtle grinding of the gears created a measured ambiance, like the world was ticking by each precious second. They were losing time, no, Harry thought- they were spending time. Together.
It was worth it.
“It’s warmer than I expected in here.”
“Might have something to do with the company.”
The clock struck the hour and both of them scrambled to get away from the sudden cacophony of noise, only for it to continue when one of them began to laugh.
The clock tower had been a bust, but Harry did have one place left up his sleeve.
“This may be a little weird, but do you want to see the Chamber of Secrets?” Harry asked and they meandered through the halls. They were vaguely in the vicinity of the third floor, it wouldn’t be that far of a trip.
“What kind of trick question is that? Of course.”
Harry just smirked at Draco. For all the other had grown- he was still a Slytherin. The prospect of seeing the chamber made him look like a child in Honeydukes.
“Well, follow me then.” Harry said, leading him down the hallway.
They walked through a doorway and Draco stopped dead.
“Yes?” He tried not to let too much glee seep into his voice.
“This is a girls bathroom.”
“You’ve brought me to the girls lavatory to see the Chamber of Secrets. Is this some kind of joke?”
“Apparently old Salazar had a sense of humor after all,” Harry said, walking up to the faucet and feeling for the embossed snake. He was sure which one it was, but it always felt nice to say hello.
Draco stumbled back a step as the sinks started to move. “Merlin’s tits.”
“Over the top isn’t it?”
“No, I haven’t heard you speak in parseltongue since second year.” Draco said running a hand through his hair. “It’s impressive. To say the least.”
Impressive. Right. Harry grinned at him and stepped forward off the ledge without comment.
“Harry!” Draco yelled after him, over the wind in Harry’s ears. The drop felt the same as it had when he was twelve but this time he knew about the pit of bones at the bottom. He came out of the slide in a roll to land on his knees. There was an alarming crunch of something’s skull caving in under his weight.
He turned back towards the opening and waited with his arms out.
After a second, and a slowly increasing scream, he had an armful of glaring Draco.
“You could have warned me before doing that.”
“What? I went first.” Harry said,
Draco brushed his jeans. They’d long since stopped wearing their robes on these nightly excursions. “Without saying anything!” He walked forward, and looked around. “Well this is a bit of a dump isn’t it?”
“Don’t know why, snakes don’t leave bones when they digest things.”
“I know that,” Draco said, rolling his eyes. “I am a Slytherin.”
“So? I can’t tell you anything about lions.”
Draco snorted at that and rolled up his sleeves, leaving his tattoo on full display. It wasn’t a single thing, but a connected piece starting with a bed of flowers, narcissus, and swooping lines of vines that grew through the skull of a dragon like a burst of flame. It was done all in fine lines.
“I would like to get the rest of the dragon done someday, going up my arm. But I figured taking a schoolbook in as reference wouldn’t go over very well in a Muggle shop.”
Harry looked over at him, “Yeah, probably not. Come on it’s this way.”
The didn’t have to walk very far to get to the vault the snakes sprang to obey him at the first hiss, he had to admit it seemed like not much had changed in four years. Hell, even the corpse was still there.
“You fought that?” Draco said, aghast.
“Well, I kind of had to. Other option was rolling over and letting it eat me.”
“You’ve never rolled over for anything in your life,” Draco tone was absent as he walked forward and let his fingers drag across the basilisks scales. “Do you have any idea how much this is worth- not even for potions ingredients, though everything this could make… basilisks used to be used in wand lore. Some of it’s almost been forgotten. They’re so rare. If we could get this to someone like Ollivander… it could preserve those uses.”
“You know, I kind of like the idea of donating the body to some place like St. Mungos. Technically it belongs to Voldemort- well, it did.”
“He’d hate it being used for good,” Draco said smugly, looking up at Harry. Even in the gloomy darkness of the chamber his eyes were bright silver. “We could send Ollivander a sample by owl and see what he says.”
“Sounds like a spring project.”
Draco’s rolled his eyes, “Don’t remind me. I’m doing a transfiguration thesis. I don’t want to think about it.”
“Really? Not potions?”
He stood up and shrugged, looking around the rest of the chamber. “I’ve always been good at potions- but the idea of spending extra time with Slughorn makes me want to ask Longbottom to melt my cauldron for me. McGonagall has always given me a fair shot.”
They walked forward towards the pool. Salazar’s mouth was closed again- and Harry didn’t feel like opening it again to see the state of the basilisk's lair.
Draco sat down at the edge of the pool and looked over the pool. “You know, Slytherin was concerned about the survival. Which at the time, probably seemed pragmatic. But history looks back on it with biased views in both directions. I doubt any of the founders had such lofty goals as the ones we assign them. They wanted to make a school. A safe place. The chamber was intended to be- well I’d liken it to a bomb shelter. The basilisk was supposed to be a guard dog. But I guess it depends on what stories you’ve been told. I talked to a portrait of him once. The varnish was cracked and it looked like it hurt him to speak. But what he said always stuck with me.”
Harry nudged him to continue, causing Draco to glance at him and give him a tight smile.
“He said: ‘Hie behycgaþ hwilc fyligendlice, sé betoste ríce leódwynna.’ Which translates to something like: People will think what they ought, the strongest power comes from ignoring them and finding the people that make you happy. I realized I didn’t have anyone that made me happy other than my mother- and sometimes my friends. But then I realized. I could make new friends. People that didn’t know anything about me. Meeting those people let me grow into my own person. It’s how I ended up learning how to play guitar- and in a band.” He scratched the back of his arm. “My father translated the words a different way. ‘Some people will believe anything, true power comes from being happy among your own kind.’ I like my version better.”
“I like your version better too. Did I ever tell you the sorting hat tried to put me in Slytherin? But I was so stubborn and thought you were so mean that I begged it to put me anywhere else.”
“Nope,” Harry smiled.
Draco rubbed his face with his hands, leaving a smudge across his cheek. “That makes so much sense. No wonder so many of my plans blew up in my face. I had you archetyped all wrong. Ambition 101, know your enemy.”
“And to think, all it took for you to get my attention was to be yourself.”
Draco just groaned. “Go back in time and tell 10 year old me that so he won’t waste so much fucking time.”
“Speaking of time. I think you might be right about history- hell. It only happened fifteen years ago and people have already got the facts about Voldemort’s ‘death’ all wrong.”
Draco glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. “Maybe nothing is permanent.”
Harry looked back at the way the reflection of the stone face wavered in the water. “Maybe things are fluid instead of stone. Ironic, considering.” His eyes glanced back towards the basilisk.
Draco ducked his head behind his arm to hide a smile. "Maybe."
New Years eve found both of them sneaking back out to the roof of the great hall yet again despite the cold. The view was too good to turn down.
The castle was alive with celebration, various parties were in full swing. A deal had been worked out with the professors to allow one night of festivities throughout the castle. It was conditional on the absolute ban of firewhiskey from the castle, but all involved knew it was a load of shite. There would be alcohol in the castle one way or another.
Ron had taken one look at Harry and sighed, “Oh just get on with it. Go meet your mysterious lover.”
He’d never been more glad to leave a Gryffindor party. Still, they almost hadn’t made it up here before midnight. It had taken them more time than usual to climb out to their spot. Wasn’t that something? They had a spot.
They weren't up on the wall this time, looking over it instead.
Harry leaned into Draco’s shoulder a little more.
The clock began to chime off the hour, signifying a new beginning.
Harry glanced back to look at the clock tower, which was now shooting off a couple of contraband Weasley fireworks.
As he turned, the a chilled gust of wind caught him in the side and he slipped, his foot losing all purchase against the slate tiles of the Hogwarts roof. His world tilted sideways and the stars went spinning off in all directions.
And then everything jerked to a stop as Draco’s arm caught the back of his shirt. He twisted, and Draco’s arm found better purchase around his back.
Suddenly he was looking up at Draco’s face backlit with the stars that had returned.
His hands found purchase in the soft cotton of Draco’s shirt. A safety pin poked into the meat of his hand but he couldn’t find it in himself to give a damn about the blood he was getting on the shirt.
Their lips were meeting before Harry made the conscious decision to do move forward. White knuckles fisted in the shirt as an anchor point in a whirlpool of sensation. Gravity dipped him again and his back was pressed into the slate of the roof with Draco on top of him. His trainer slid across the tiles as he pushed up against it on instinct.
Harry bit down on Draco’s lip hard, drawing blood. He wanted to mark him, show the rest of the school that Draco had been up to something- that he had changed. That they both had changed.
Maybe that’s why he didn’t complain when Draco set to attacking the side of his neck with his teeth. By the time he registered he was getting a hickey- the time to object to it had already passed.
But he found that he didn’t object, just the opposite.
“Bloody hell,” Draco said.
Harry pulled him back down by his hair, “Shut up and kiss me.”
They still hadn’t talked about it, but maybe they didn’t need words to have that conversation.