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Chances Are...

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“Is Master Harry wanting Kreacher for anything else?”

Harry reached out and plucked the bottle from his elf’s wizened fingers. “No, thank you,” he replied. He looked from the bundle in his arms back to the elf. “Are you sure it’s not too hot?”

“Kreacher is serving the Black family for many years,” the elf replied shortly.

“What’s that got to do with it?”

Kreacher gave a none-too-subtle roll of his eyes. “If there is nothing else, then Kreacher has somewhere to be.”

“Hmm? Oh, yes. That’s fine.” Harry turned his attention back to the squirming bundle in his arms and barely noticed the crack as his house-elf disappeared.

Teddy Lupin was an adorable baby, and spending time with his godson was a welcome relief from the interminable round of funerals, memorial services and Ministry functions. Andromeda Tonks was still struggling to come to terms with the loss of both her husband and daughter, and though her small grandson was doubtless a great comfort to her, there were still times when it all became too much. At times like that, Harry was only too happy to step in and share the load.

Harry lowered the bottle and watched as Teddy’s rosy lips latched on eagerly to the rubber teat. No matter what memories haunted him, his troubled mind was always soothed by Teddy’s presence. There was something about the pure innocence of his godson that helped, if only for a short time, to erase the bitter experiences of the past year.

After the Final Battle, Harry had been overwhelmed with a sense of emptiness; Voldemort was dead and Harry had fulfilled his destiny. But he was only seventeen and he couldn’t help but wonder what on earth he was supposed to do now.

He no longer wondered that. The first time that he had felt Teddy’s warm, soft body, squirming in his arms, Harry had been filled, once again, with a sense of purpose. He was going to be the best godfather ever to this little boy. The kind of godfather that he himself had been desperately in need of, but that Sirius had never had the chance to be.

He knew that he could never replace Remus, and nor would he try. But Harry understood, in a way that most people couldn’t, the sense of emptiness that growing up without parents could create. And he was determined that, if he had any say in it, Teddy would never know the aching loneliness that had characterised his own early life.

Harry pulled himself away from his own musings and realised that Teddy had fallen asleep. He leant forward and placed the bottle on the small table at the side of his chair. He toyed with the idea of placing Teddy in his cradle, but there was something so comforting about the warmth radiating from his small body.

Harry cuddled Teddy closer to him and settled himself further back in his chair, allowing his eyelids to drift closed. Barely had his lashes fanned out against his cheeks, before his fireplace burst into life and a dishevelled-looking Hermione tumbled through the green flames, a large bag clutched in her hand.

“Hermione!” Harry exclaimed, starting forward in his surprise.

Hermione dropped her bag and began a futile attempt to smooth her wayward locks. “Oh, Harry,” she gasped breathlessly, her eyes coming to rest on the small bundle in his arms. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realise that you had Teddy today. I hope you don’t mind me dropping in unannounced?”

“Don’t be silly. You know you’re always welcome here.” Harry paused here and gazed speculatively at his friend’s baggage.

“This isn’t a flying visit, is it?”

Hermione sank down into the nearest chair with a heavy sigh. “No,” she replied softly, shaking her head.

Harry got to his feet and crossed the room to place his sleeping godson in his cradle. He then turned back to his friend, crouching in front of her. “Your parents?” he asked, fairly certain that he already knew the answer.

Hermione nodded mutely, her chocolate-brown eyes full of hurt. Harry reached out and tentatively took one of her hands. “You can stay as long as you want. I’ll be glad of the company, to be honest. Teddy’s not much for conversation yet, and Kreacher…well, he’s just Kreacher.”

“It was horrible,” Hermione whispered, her eyes full of unshed tears. “Things have been awkward for a while, ever since they got back from Australia. I knew that they were mad, but…”

Harry squeezed her hand sympathetically. He knew that neither Mr nor Mrs Granger had taken kindly to their daughter altering their memories and sending them halfway across the world.

“They’d obviously been holding their feelings in, all this time. I’ve never seen Mum so angry. She said that I was arrogant and thoughtless, and that…that…” Her voice broke at this point and she struggled for a moment to regain her composure. She raised her head and gave Harry a weak smile.

“I’m sorry to keep off-loading all of this onto you. I know everyone’s got their own problems right now, but I just don’t know who else I can talk to.”

“I don’t mind, Hermione. It probably does me good to hear about other peoples’ problems. It kind of puts my own into perspective. Besides, it’s not like you could go talk to Ron at the moment.”

The two friends fell silent for a moment at the mention of the final member of their trio. Since the Final Battle, neither of them had seen much of Ron. Mrs Weasley hadn’t taken the death of Fred all that well, and once the adrenalin of the Battle had faded, she had had some kind of emotional breakdown.

“Have you heard from him recently?” Hermione asked quietly.

“I got an Owl last week,” Harry replied. “He didn’t say much. Just that his mum didn’t seem to be getting any better. He tried to get George interested in opening the shop again, but he won’t have any of it; Ron’s going to open it back up himself. I think he just wants to get out of the house.”

Hermione nodded. “I had a letter from Ginny,” she said, giving Harry a sideways look. “She said Mrs. Weasley isn’t getting any better. Mr Weasley tried to persuade her to go to St Mungo’s, but she won’t listen. She just sits in her room all day looking at pictures of Fred.”

Harry shook his head sadly. He hadn’t seen Mrs. Weasley in over a month. Since Fred‘s funeral, in fact. The whole family had made it perfectly clear that he was welcome to stay at the Burrow for as long as he wanted, but Harry felt like he was intruding on their private grief. However much they might have considered him to be part of their family, he wasn’t. And however much Harry mourned the death of Fred, he would never feel it on the same level as those who were grieving for their son, or their brother.

Plus, if he was honest, he wanted to avoid Ginny as much as possible. Every time he saw her, she would drop subtle hints about them resuming their relationship. Harry had had a lot of time on his hands recently, with nothing to do other than think, and he had come to the conclusion that he did not want Ginny, not like that.

He did care about her, but when he examined those feelings, he found that he felt about her much the same as he did about Hermione. It was platonic - pure and simple.

With the threat of Voldemort hanging over him, Harry had never expected to live to much of an age. When Ginny had offered him the chance of a relationship, he had grasped at it eagerly, wanting to experience everything he possibly could. But now that his future was a possibility, he had been forced to admit that he did not see Ginny as part of it.

He wanted to tell her the truth. Really, he did. But she looked at him with such hope in her sad eyes. As if he was going to rescue her from the misery that currently filled her family home. Harry didn’t have the heart to hurt her anymore, but he couldn’t bring himself to lie to her either. So he had moved himself into Grimmauld Place, with only Kreacher for company.

“How is Ginny?” he forced himself to ask.

“If you’d write to her, Harry, you would know,” Hermione replied smartly.

Harry didn’t bother to dignify that comment with a reply. Instead, he just glared meaningfully at his friend until she relented.

“She’s fine, I guess,” Hermione replied eventually. “As well as can be expected, anyway.”

Harry just nodded and then swiftly changed the subject. “Are you hungry? Kreacher has disappeared off somewhere again, but I could whip us up something.”

Hermione nodded, and Harry was grateful that she didn’t pursue the topic of him and Ginny any further.

“I can’t believe you’re even thinking of not going back!”

Harry winced as Hermione’s shrill tones shattered the silence of their usually peaceful breakfast. It had been almost three weeks since she had come to stay at Grimmauld Place, and they had quickly settled into a comfortable routine, with no mention of her leaving.

Things were still rocky with Hermione’s parents, and Harry, who had never really liked the old Black house anyway, was grateful for the company. They had been getting along just fine, until Harry had been stupid enough to suggest that he might not return to Hogwarts to complete his education.

“It was just a thought,” he replied defensively. “Besides, you don’t even know that it will be ready in time for school to open in September. You know how much damage was done during…during the Final Battle.”

As she heard Harry stumble over his words, Hermione felt some of her outrage die away. If she was honest, it was perfectly understandable that Harry didn’t want to return to Hogwarts. The last time he had been there, he had died. He’d had to walk into the Forbidden Forest and allow Voldemort to kill him. She still couldn’t get her head around that; couldn’t understand how Dumbledore could ask something like that of him.

“Harry,” she began softly. “I know that Hogwarts holds some really bad memories for you now, it does for all of us, but you can’t not go back. It would be like letting Voldemort still have control over your life, even after he’s dead.”

Harry shrugged sullenly. “It was just a thought,” he muttered.

“Well, as long as that’s all it was. Honestly, Harry, you can’t just throw away six years of study. You won’t be able to be an Auror without your NEWTs. Have you thought about that?”

“Actually, Kingsley already said that I could join the training programme this year if I wanted to. It seems that the Ministry is rather keen to have the Boy Who Lived on their payroll. So much so, that they aren’t awfully bothered about whether I’m qualified for it or not.”

Hermione didn’t miss the bitterness that had crept into his tone as he finished speaking. “Well,” she said. “That’s…um...I’m not sure what it is. What did you say?”

“I told them to get stuffed,” Harry replied succinctly. “I’m not even sure I want to be an Auror anymore. But if I do, I want to do it on my own merit, and not because I’m being used as a Ministry poster boy again.”

“I wouldn’t mention that to Ron just yet, if I were you,” Hermione advised. “He’s still struggling with the fact that you testified for Malfoy.”

“I know.” Harry sighed. “I know you guys don’t understand, but I had to do it.”

“I do understand, Harry. I think that even Ron does, on some level. Malfoy’s a git, a nasty git even, but that doesn’t mean he deserves to go to Azkaban. If you repeat this, I’ll deny it. But hearing some of those stories at his trial, I actually felt sorry for him.”

“Do you think he’ll go back to Hogwarts next term? I mean, I can’t imagine that anyone learned very much with the Carrows in charge.”

Hermione looked thoughtful for a moment before answering. “I don’t know. I think it would depend on if he had the courage to show his face there again. After everything that happened there, I can’t think that he has any fonder memories of the place than you do.”

Harry nodded in agreement but didn’t pursue the conversation further. He turned his attention back to his breakfast, buttering another slice of toast. He was just reaching for the coffee when Hermione let out a loud cry.

“I don’t believe it!” she shrieked from behind her copy of the Daily Prophet.

Harry swore silently as he cleaned the spilt coffee off the table. “What on earth’s the matter now?”

Hermione thrust the paper under his nose and jabbed forcefully at the page in front of him.

“Look,” she commanded. “You were right about Hogwarts not being ready. It says here that the Ministry doesn’t think it will be open next year.”

“Oh,” was all Harry said, though he was secretly relieved that it wasn’t something more serious.

“Oh? Is that all you’ve got to say, Harry Potter?” Hermione was up on her feet and rifling through one of the kitchen drawers.

“What do you want me to say?”

Hermione ignored that comment in favour of yelling for Kreacher. The elf appeared instantly and gave a low bow to Harry.

“Master Harry is wanting Kreacher?”

“It was me that called you, Kreacher,” Hermione interrupted. “I need you to get me some parchment, and a quill too, please.”

The elf nodded and instantly disappeared. Hermione sat back in her chair and busied herself with re-reading the article that had her so agitated. It was moments before she realised that Harry was grinning madly at her.


“Nothing,” Harry replied through a mouthful of toast. “I was just wondering when you decided to give up S.P.E.W. in favour of ordering around house-elves.

Hermione flushed a little at this. “It was an emergency,” she replied defensively.

“Of course it was,” Harry agreed soothingly.

“And anyway, I wouldn’t have to if it wasn’t so hard to find anything in this house. So, if you think about it, it’s really your fault.”

“Of course it is,” Harry agreed again. “Who are you writing to, anyway?” he enquired, before taking a welcome gulp of his coffee.

“Professor McGonagall,” she replied, in a tone that said ‘duh’. “I’m offering her our help with the rebuild.”

The mouthful of coffee that Harry had been in the middle of swallowing, now decided to reverse its direction, and sprayed out of his mouth at an alarming speed.

“What?” he yelled. “What do you mean our help?”

“Shush, Harry. There’s no need to yell, I’m only here.” Hermione’s tone held that gentle, chastising quality that he was so used to hearing from Mrs. Weasley. “And anyway,” she continued. “Why wouldn’t you want to help?”


“Say that again, after you’ve swallowed that mouthful of food please.”

“I said, I’m too busy,” Harry repeated, hearing how weak an excuse it was as soon as it left his mouth.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Hermione replied briskly. “You have absolutely nothing to do except sit round here and dwell on things that are best forgotten.”

Harry wanted to protest further. He wanted to tell her that the last place on earth he wanted to go was Hogwarts. That he was terrified of returning to the place that had seen the death of so many people he cared about, including his own. But Hermione had that look in her eye. The look that said there was no point arguing, because she would win in the end - so Harry gave in.

The letter was written and swiftly dispatched, via Harry’s new owl, Orion.

The reply came the next morning as Harry was lazing on his sofa, thumbing through the latest edition of Quidditch Focus. Hermione descended upon him like a woman possessed, waving parchment in his face.

“Get up,” she instructed.

Harry reluctantly sat up and looked at her questioningly.

She reached out and tugged on his arm. “Come on.”

“Where are we going?” Harry asked in confusion; he had been in the middle of a very interesting article.

“Hogwarts, of course. I’ve had a reply from Professor McGonagall, who has eagerly accepted our offer of help.” Hermione ignored Harry’s mutinous mutterings about how he had made no such offer. She dragged him forcibly up the stairs and pushed him in the direction of his bedroom.

“Pack,” she instructed in a tone that brooked no argument.

Harry, however, was a brave Gryffindor who took no notice of such warning signs. “Pack?” he repeated. “Why do we need to pack? Can’t we just Apparate?”

“We could,” Hermione considered. “But Professor McGonagall has offered us lodgings, and I think it would be rude to refuse. Besides, I was rather hoping to make use of the library in the evenings, to catch up on all that work we missed last year.”

Harry just let out a groan. He knew the moment that Hermione got her study-head on, that he stood no chance of winning. He shuffled into his bedroom and reluctantly began stuffing clothes into his trunk.

They Apparated to the outskirts of Hogsmeade and walked up to the castle. This had been Hermione’s idea and, as he felt the curious stares of various witches and wizards burning into the back of his head, Harry felt he would rather like to hex his best friend.

“We couldn’t have just taken that Portkey?” he muttered bitterly.

“Oh, Harry, come on. You know how you hate travelling by Portkey. Besides, this way we get a good chance to look around.”

“I hate Apparating, too,” Harry grumbled. “And Hogsmeade isn’t exactly much of a sightseeing destination at the moment.”

The two friends looked around at the various buildings that ran alongside the main street. Despite the clean up attempts that the locals had made, evidence of the recent battle was still glaringly obvious.

The Shrieking Shack was little more than a charred ruin, and the Three Broomsticks still had part of one wall missing, leaving the bar open to the elements. But worst of all was the Hog’s Head. Used as an evacuation route for students making their way out of the castle, the building had been targeted in a revenge action by retreating Death Eaters. Harry made a private decision to call in and offer his help to Aberforth as soon as he was settled.

As they approached the castle, Harry could feel his insides tying themselves in knots. There was such a dichotomy when it came to his feelings for this place now. On the one hand, it was the first real home he had ever known, the one place he had felt truly secure and safe. On the other hand, people he cared about had died here. Dumbledore, Remus, Tonks, Fred, the list went on. And Harry was afraid that that was all he would ever see now. Afraid that when he entered the Great Hall, all he would see were bodies laid out on the flagstones, their eyes lifeless and unseeing.

As if sensing his emotions, Hermione reached over and slid her hand in his, giving it a gentle squeeze. “It’ll be okay,” she said with a certainty that Harry wished he could feel.

Harry smiled weakly in return. “I know. It will just take a while to get used to it.”

Hermione nodded sagely. “There’s a lot happened since then. Since Dumbledore…”

She didn’t have to finish that sentence; Harry already knew perfectly well what she meant. They walked the rest of the way to the castle in silence, their hearts and minds too full of memories for mere words to do them justice.

Hogwarts bore the scars of battle even more so that Hogsmeade did. The effects of the giants’ rampage were clearly visible, as were the numerous gouges in the masonry all around the building.

They walked up to the main doors, where Professor McGonagall was waiting to meet them. She greeted them warmly and then promptly ushered them up to her office.

It was the first time that Harry had seen anyone other than Dumbledore seated behind the desk in that office. Although he knew that his old Headmaster was dead, it was as though he was waiting for him to appear, to offer him a lemon drop and smile at him with those twinkling blue eyes.

His eyes raised, instinctively, to the spot on the wall where he knew Dumbledore’s portrait hung. When the frame was found to be empty, Harry couldn’t quite decide if he was disappointed or relieved.

“That will be fine, won’t it, Harry?”

“Huh?” Harry turned to find Hermione looking at him expectantly. “Sorry, Professor, I didn’t hear what you said,” he admitted sheepishly.

Professor McGonagall noticed as his eyes flicked, once again, to the empty frame behind her desk, and she smiled indulgently. “That’s alright, Mr Potter. I understand that it must be quite overwhelming for you to come back here. I was just explaining to Miss Granger about your accommodation.”

Harry looked at her in confusion. “I just assumed we’d go in our usual rooms.”

“Gryffindor tower is quite out of the question, I’m afraid. I know it looks undamaged, but it is structurally unsound and I daren’t risk it.”

“Where then?” Harry wanted to know. He noticed Hermione and the Headmistress shooting meaningful looks at each other, and he grew uneasy.

“The most obvious place for you to reside, would be down in the dungeons.”

“In Slytherin?”

“Harry, don’t shout,” Hermione chided.

“It is the least damaged part of the school, Mr. Potter.”

“Yeah, and we all know why that is,” Harry muttered darkly.

“It’s nice to see that you haven’t grown up at all, Mr Potter,” a familiar, silky voice interjected.

Harry spun round in shock and found himself face to face with the dark scowl of Professor Snape. “W-W-What…?”

“How very articulate, Potter. It’s good to see that you have lost none of your verbal skills since last we met.”

There was just one thought that kept going round in Harry’s head, and before he knew it, it came out of his mouth. “You’re dead,” he blurted out.

“Why, thank you for pointing that out. Your powers of observation astound me, Potter.”

A smile spread across Harry’s face as he listened to his old professor insult him freely. Hearing Snape recite a litany of his faults made Harry feel more at ease and more relaxed than anything, or anyone, had managed to do in weeks.

“What are you grinning at, idiot boy?”

“Nothing, sir,” Harry replied, a broad smile threatening to split his face. He inclined his head in a respectful nod and then turned to face Professor McGonagall again. “The dungeons will be fine,” he acquiesced. “What’s the password?”

“I don’t see why we can’t just cast Reparo a bunch of times,” Harry complained.

Hermione grimaced at him. “Honestly, Harry. Don’t you think if it was that easy, Professor McGonagall would have done that by now?”

“But I still don’t see why not?” Harry whined, as they made their way out of the Great Hall.

“I’ve already explained this to you dozens of times. Do you think that if I do it again, you might actually listen this time?”

“I did listen,” Harry protested. “It’s something to do with wards and old magic.”

Hermione rolled her eyes and repressed the overwhelming urge to beat her friend over the head with a thick book. “I’ll make it simple for you. Casting Reparo would interfere with the ancient wards that were woven into the fabric of the building by the founders. Besides which, the layers of protective magic in the walls would simply refuse to be regenerated in this way.”

“Oh, I see.” Harry was still not entirely sure, but he felt it wisest to agree. The last thing he wanted to do was to set Hermione into full lecture mode. If he wasn’t careful, she would start going on about…

“Of course, if you’d actually ever read Hogwarts: A History, then you would know all of this already.”

Too late, Harry thought, she’s off. He tried his best to look interested while Hermione extolled the virtues of her favourite book. He really ought to read it one day, he supposed. But really, when Hermione could virtually recite it word for word, was there any actual need? Quidditch through the Ages was about as close to a book as he would come to reading for pleasure.

Hermione’s hand gripping his arm stilled Harry’s movements. He looked at her questioningly and followed her gaze toward the main staircase. There, making his way upwards, somewhat reluctantly, was Draco Malfoy.

“What’s he doing here, do you think?” she murmured.

“I don’t know,” Harry replied, pulling away from her grasp. “But I’m going to find out.”

Hermione’s hand reclaimed its position on his arm, only this time the grip was a lot tighter. “Oh, no, you’re not going to start stalking Malfoy again, Harry. This isn’t sixth year.”

Harry tensed a little at that reminder. “Well, I was right that time, wasn’t I? He was up to something.”

Hermione blanched a little at this but remained undeterred. “That was a long time ago. Things have changed since then.”

“How do you know that Malfoy is one of those things?” Harry could hear the petulance in his voice, but for the life of him, he couldn’t stop it.

“Because you would never have spoken up at his trial, if you didn’t believe that he’d changed.”

Harry’s mouth snapped shut; there really was no arguing with that. Sometimes there were definite disadvantages to having such a clever friend; if only he had made friends with someone like Lavender or Parvati instead.

“So why is he here then?”

“I don’t know.” The exasperation was clear in Hermione’s tone. “If it bothers you that much, you can ask Professor McGonagall at lunchtime. I’m sure she’ll be only too happy to tell you all about it.”

Harry scowled at his friend, who knew, as well as he did, exactly what kind of short shrift he would get from the Headmistress if he was stupid enough to make such enquiries.

Hermione gave him a shove in the direction of the main doors. “Go and get some work done. Professor Sprout is expecting you down at the greenhouses.” She paused here and looked at her watch. “And we’re both late,” she said in horrified tones. “I have to go. See you at lunch.”

Harry smiled in amusement as he watched his friend scurry up the grand staircase as though she had a hoard of Filibuster’s Fireworks after her.

Harry supposed he really shouldn’t have been surprised when, later that morning, he entered his room, only to find Draco Malfoy already in it. And he wouldn’t have been, not really, had it not been for the utterly forlorn look on the Slytherin boy’s face as he sat slumped on one of the empty beds, gazing at the equally empty bed opposite.

Sensing, for once, that he was interrupting a somewhat private moment, Harry made to leave the room before he was spotted. However, with his usual grace, he managed to trip over his own feet, and knocked the door against the wall in his effort to steady himself.


Malfoy was on his feet, long fingers smoothing down his robes and his familiar mask sliding into place on his pointed features. Although, now that Harry came to look a little closer, he could see that the other boy wasn’t really that pointy at all, he was more angular, and really, it rather suited him.

“Malfoy,” he acknowledged warily.

“Professor Snape told me you and Granger were staying. I take it that’s your stuff, then?” Draco indicated the clearly occupied bed with a nod of his head.

“Um, yes. It was Professor McGonagall’s idea for us to stay down here,” he explained.

“I would imagine you weren’t quite so keen on the idea,” Draco replied wryly.

Harry coloured a little at this. He silently cursed Malfoy; something about the other boy always managed to get under his skin. Suddenly, a thought struck him. “Is this your room?”

“Was,” Malfoy corrected. “That used to be my bed, over there. That was Zabini’s that you’re sleeping in.” His eyes returned once again to the bed opposite, and Harry knew, without the need for any further words, that that had been Crabbe’s bed.

He wanted to say something, anything to break the awkward moment. But really, what do you say to someone who is mourning the loss of a friend who died trying to kill you? Just as the silence was becoming unbearable, salvation arrived in the form of Hermione.

“Harry? Are you down here? Professor Sprout said…” Hermione’s words died in her mouth at the sight of the other boy. “Hello, Malfoy.”

Harry was impressed by the almost-friendly tone that she used, and judging by the quirk of his eyebrow, Malfoy was also.

“Granger,” Malfoy replied, inclining his head in her direction.

The silence returned after that and all three of them stood looking from the floor to each others’ faces uncomfortably.

“Well, this has been pleasant, but I really must go.”

As Harry watched Malfoy turn towards the door, he really wanted to say something, to tell the other boy to stay. He hadn’t seen Malfoy since his trial and there were still so many questions that he wanted to ask, things he needed to know for his own peace of mind. Unfortunately, his Gryffindor courage appeared to have deserted him.

“Harry and I are just about to go and have lunch in the Great Hall, Malfoy. Why don’t you join us?”

It was difficult to tell who was more shocked by this surprising offer. Malfoy, who momentarily allowed his trademark mask to slip, or Harry, who had never been any good at hiding his feelings, and was currently looking appalled by the suggestion.

“Honestly,” Hermione huffed as she turned on her heel and headed towards the door. “It’s like dealing with children. Great Hall. Now. Both of you.” With that, she left the room with a flourish that was eerily reminiscent of Professor Snape.

Harry turned to Malfoy and gave a helpless shrug. “It’s really much easier to just do what she says when she gets like this.”

Without waiting to see what the other boy did, Harry headed for the door and made his way across the common room. He was shocked then, to see that Malfoy had opted to follow. He waited a moment and held the door open for the other boy, before they made their way, silently, out of the dungeons, up towards the Great Hall.

Hermione was waiting for them by the entrance, impatiently. She motioned to Harry to enter the room, but when Draco hesitated on the threshold, nervously eyeing the room’s occupants, she rolled her eyes and gave his sleeve an impatient tug.

Draco couldn’t help but notice how different the Great Hall looked from his new vantage point at the Gryffindor table. Of course, the fact that there were only about thirty or so people in there made a difference also. He noted that the Hall bore virtually no scars from the battle that had been fought such a short time ago. The only difference, he noted upon looking upwards, was that the ceiling was no longer representative of the sky; the wooden struts and rafters were now clearly visible.

He sat there in silence, wondering whether he had been hit by a Confundus Charm lately. The idea of Draco Malfoy sitting at the Gryffindor table with Granger and Potter, well, it was just too preposterous for words. He looked discreetly at his companions; Potter was busy loading his plate with an inhuman amount of food and busily trying to ignore the rather bizarre situation he found himself in. Granger…well, Draco could practically hear the cogs whirring in that bushy head. She was eyeing him speculatively and he just knew the silence was about to come to an end.

“How‘s your summer been so far, Malfoy?”

Draco marvelled at the utter inanity of the question and was forced to bite back a sharp retort. Granger had clearly spent the last few minutes struggling to come up with an opening gambit, and this was the best she could do? However, Draco noticed how Potter’s arm stilled in the action of lumping mashed potato onto his plate, and the incredulous look that he shot his friend. Potter was clearly uncomfortable with the whole situation, so, although Draco had no real desire to make small talk with Gryffindors, he decided to indulge Granger, if only to aggravate his nemesis further.

“Oh, you know, as well as can be expected,” he drawled lazily. “Of course, visiting your father in prison and watching your mother drown herself daily in a vat of Laurent Perrier does make for a rather interesting time.”

If he had been hoping to discomfort Granger, then Draco was sadly disappointed. She merely nodded thoughtfully. Potter, on the other hand, was glaring at him most satisfactorily.

“What are you doing here, Malfoy?”

He arched one brow. “It’s called eating, Potter. I realise that you were raised by Muggles, but surely you have seen it done before.”

“That’s not what I meant and you know it!”

Granger was watching them with an almost amused expression, Draco noted. But he could see the familiar glint of anger in Potter’s vivid green eyes and immediately discarded his original planned response. As much fun as it was baiting Gryffindors, this was the closest he had come to an actual conversation with someone, who wasn’t a house-elf, in weeks. Anything was better than returning to that mausoleum he called home.

“Granger invited me, Potter. You were there, you heard her. And honestly, I didn’t have anything better to do.” With even the best of intentions, Draco couldn’t keep a hint of a snark out of his tone.

“I think what Harry was trying to say, Malfoy, is what brings you to Hogwarts?”

Draco looked thoughtfully at Granger whilst formulating his reply. He abandoned every instinct he had when it came to dealing with Gryffindors, and decided to go with the truth.

“Professor Snape, or rather, his portrait, wanted to see me. Even one-dimensional, he’s still not someone you say no to.”

Harry snorted at this, having already had several brushes with the Potions master’s likeness. “That must have been a cosy Slytherin reunion for you?”

“Harry,” Hermione said warningly.

“It’s okay, Granger,” Draco replied calmly. “You’re right, Potter. It was pleasant to catch up, even if it isn’t the same as having him here for real. He and I were not on the best of terms when…when he died.”

Harry couldn’t help but notice how Malfoy’s jaw tensed and the brief flash of something resembling pain, which flitted across the Slytherin’s expression briefly. He was struck suddenly by the ridiculousness of the situation; the war was over, both of them had endured losses and suffered beyond their years, and yet they had instantly fallen into the familiar pattern of sniping and backbiting, as if that was important anymore.

“How was it?” Harry asked, with as much civility as he could muster.

“Much the same as always. He berated and I listened. He still speaks highly of you, Potter. In case you’re interested.”

Both Hermione and Harry cracked wry smiles at that. “Somehow, I doubt that,” Harry replied. “Not even death seems to have mellowed the narky git.”

“No, so I discovered. He can be rather forthright in his opinions.”

“Like you were ever on the receiving end of his temper, Malfoy. He let you Slytherins get away with mur…” Harry tailed off here, realising suddenly what he was about to say, and how inappropriate it would be, given who he was talking to.

Draco chose to ignore this. “What, you think we didn’t ever get the sharp end of his tongue? He may not have done it in front of the rest of the school, but don’t think for a minute that we got away with anything. He was probably harder on us in some ways, than he was on you Gryffindors.”

Harry made a disbelieving sort of noise and Draco seemed ready to argue the point further. Deciding to derail the argument before it even got started, Hermione intervened.

“Will you be coming back in September, Malfoy?”

“It would appear so,” Draco replied smoothly. “I had intended not to, but it was pointed out to me, rather forcefully, that I needed to finish my education.”

“Snape,” Hermione said smiling.

“Yes.” Draco nodded. “Professor McGonagall set him onto me. I don’t know if you remember, but he’s not exactly easy to say no to. Even in oils.”

“Maybe I should set him on you, Harry,” Hermione teased.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t coming back,” Harry protested, not at all happy to be discussing this in front of Malfoy. “I just said I was thinking about it.”

“Of course,” Hermione continued, “that’s assuming that the school is ready to open in September.”

Malfoy craned his neck round the Hall. “It doesn’t look too bad to me. Is there still that much left to do?”

“Appearances are deceptive. Gryffindor Tower is still unsafe, parts of the fourth floor need completely rebuilding and the library is a complete disaster zone.”

Harry had to smile to himself at this. It was quite clear from the tone of his friend’s voice that she ranked the state of the library as by far the worst fate to have befallen Hogwarts. The smile was wiped off swiftly by Hermione’s next words.

“Why don’t you stop and help, Malfoy? It would get you out of the house, and probably get Professor Snape off your back.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Draco hedged. “I’ve got lots of things on; the Manor doesn’t run itself.”

“No,” Hermione agreed. “That’s what your legions of house-elves do.”

“What’s the matter, Malfoy? Scared of a bit of hard work?” Harry wanted to kick himself as soon as the words were out of his mouth; the last thing he wanted was to spend the next month or so living and working with Malfoy.

“Not at all, Potter,” Draco replied smoothly. “All right, Granger, you‘re on. I’ll talk to Mother when I get home and see how she feels about it. Not that she notices whether I’m there or not.”

When Hermione had suggested that Malfoy join them, Harry had originally been horrified. But over the days that followed, he found that, not only had he become resigned to it, but that he no longer viewed the prospect with horror.

Malfoy was going to be coming back to Hogwarts in September, regardless, and the last thing Harry wanted was a resumption of their usual hostilities. Voldemort was dead, his destiny was fulfilled, and if he had to spend another year of his life in school, then Harry was damn well going to have fun. Fighting with Malfoy had no place in his plans.

Hermione had pointed out, and Harry had reluctantly agreed, that it would be much easier to get to know Malfoy in their current environment. What she meant, and Harry understood, was that it would be much easier to achieve without a certain volatile redhead around. Not that either of them voiced this opinion, out of loyalty to Ron.

By the time a week had passed and there was no sign of Malfoy’s return, Harry was shocked to find that he felt a little disappointed. He wouldn’t go so far as to say he was looking forward to the other boy’s arrival, but, wonderful though Hermione was, Harry did think that it might be nice to have some male company - even if it was that snarky, blond git.

However, Malfoy proved, for once in his life, to be a man of his word.

Harry returned to his bedroom one evening after dinner, to find that it looked as though a hurricane had blown through it. If hurricanes blew in trunks full of designer clothes, that is, Harry thought wryly.

He was so busy eyeing the expensive-looking clothing, that he didn’t even notice the heavy trunk at his feet until his toe stubbed against it.

“Shit!” Harry scowled and glared at the offending article. It was a large, highly-polished trunk, with the Malfoy crest proudly displayed on the top.

“Fucking Malfoy,” he muttered. “I might’ve bloody known.” But there was no real malice to Harry’s words.

Noticing that the bathroom was lit up inside, Harry opened the door and entered. He was once again greeted with tangible evidence of his new roommate’s arrival. Virtually every spare surface was littered with some kind of bottle or other. So much so, that it looked less like a teenage boy’s bathroom, and a lot more like an apothecary.

“Bloody poser,” Harry muttered again.

That was when the sound of running water reached his ears. Without thinking, he looked up and his eyes promptly locked onto the sight of Malfoy, naked.

Harry was transfixed by the sight. He had seen other boys naked before. Sharing a dorm with four other boys, it was inevitable. But Malfoy was something else entirely.

His head was angled backwards under the flow of water, his eyes closed, long fingers raking through the soaking strands of his hair. His body was slender, certainly, but it was lean, rather than skinny, and whilst not particularly muscular, he was certainly well-toned.

Harry’s eyes ran the full length of the other boy’s body. Starting with his water-darkened hair, down to his broad shoulders; watching the play of muscles across his back with every movement. His eyes then trailed down to Malfoy’s narrow waist, the taut flesh of his buttocks, and then his long, lean legs. The skin was flawless, and looked so smooth that Harry itched to reach out and touch.

Realising with a start, exactly what he was doing, Harry blushed furiously. But before he could tear his gaze away, Malfoy turned around, and Harry found his eyes inexplicably drawn to the blond’s semi-erect penis.

The sound of water shutting off brought Harry, once again, to the realisation of his actions. Half expecting to be hexed at any moment, he looked up slowly and found himself greeted by the sight of a smirking Malfoy.

The blond exited the shower in one graceful movement. He picked up a towel and loosely wrapped the white, fluffy fabric around his waist, allowing it to rest just about his hip bones.

“See something you like, Potter?”

Harry doubted whether it was possible for his face to burn any redder. His brain seemed very reluctant to supply words to his mouth and he just gaped at the other boy for a moment.

“You came,” he said eventually.

“Sadly, I didn’t. Though had I not been interrupted, I certainly had plans to.”

Mumbling apologies, uncertain that the words leaving his mouth made any real sense, Harry exited the bathroom quickly. He swiftly crossed the dormitory and flopped back on his bed, the heat still flaring in his cheeks.


As his eyelids fluttered closed, he was horrified to find that the image of Malfoy’s naked flesh was burned, indelibly in his mind. And the worst, most sickening thing about the whole incident, was the undeniable tightening in his trousers. He let out a heartfelt groan and rolled over, burying his face in the soft pillows that littered his bed.

By the time that Malfoy emerged from the bathroom, Harry had pulled the hangings of his bed closed. He just laid there willing the mattress to swallow him up, to rescue him from the unending humiliation of his current situation.

Harry was straight; he knew that. He’d been in a relationship with Ginny, a girl, for Merlin’s sake. Not that they had gone much further than some over-the-clothes fumbling, but he had definitely felt stirrings in his groin at the feel of Ginny’s breasts through her thin sweaters.

The same stirrings, Harry realised with a lurch, that he had felt course through him upon beholding a naked Draco Malfoy.

“Come on, Potter. You can’t hide in there all night.”

Harry wanted to dispute this; he had every intention of remaining cocooned in the privacy of his bed. He tugged a pillow over his head with a groan and ignored the other boy.

“Are you wanking in there?”

That did it for Harry. It was one thing to be caught in the act of eyeing up Malfoy, but there was no way he was going to let the arrogant git think that he was wanking over him. With a flick of his wand, the hangings flew back to reveal Malfoy, thankfully now fully clothed, grinning at him smugly.

“You’re too easy, Potter.”

“Fuck off,” Harry snarled in reply.

“Come on, Potter. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. So I caught you perving on me in the shower, who cares? You’re not the first. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re only human.”

Harry gave a derisive snort. “You’ve certainly got tickets on yourself.”

The familiar smug grin took its usual place on Malfoy’s face, and Harry longed to do nothing more than wipe it off with a swing of his fist. Instead, he lay back and watched silently as the other boy attempted to put away the vast quantities of clothing that he had brought with him.

It amused Harry to see the Slytherin struggle with what was such a simple task.

After watching Malfoy make several unsuccessful attempts to negotiate the trouser hangers in his wardrobe, Harry pushed off the bed and crossed the room.

“Give that here,” he instructed. “You put that pile in those drawers and I’ll do these.”

“You’re helping me?” Malfoy’s tone was genuinely incredulous.

“Well, it’s either that or trip over your belongings at every turn for the next month.”

“I’ve never had to do this before. The house-elves always did it,” Malfoy explained.

“Yeah, I figured. But they’re a bit busy at the moment, so you’ll have to make do with me.”

“Thank you.” It was said so softly that Harry had to strain to hear it.

He shrugged in reply. “’S okay. I’m used to it.” When he looked up from the mound of clothing, Harry was surprised to see a pink tinge colour Malfoy’s usually pale face.

“Not just for that,” he began uncertainly. “I never really got the chance to say it after…after my trial. But thank you, for what you did. For me and my mother.”

“How is your mother?” Harry wasn’t sure why he was asking, but all he knew was that he didn’t want this tentative truce to end.

Malfoy paused and seemed to be considering his answer carefully.

“Not good,” he admitted. “Father’s in Azkaban for the foreseeable future, and after what she did for you, Mother has been pretty much shunned by both sides now. The wife of a Death Eater, who betrayed Voldemort, is not exactly high on anyone’s Christmas card list.”

Draco sank down onto the bed before continuing. “It’s not really safe for her to go out, not while there are still some Death Eaters out there. But then, she rarely wants to stray further than the Manor’s wine cellar anyway.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry said, uncertain of what else to say under the circumstances. He was glad that Narcissa Malfoy had betrayed her Lord and, in turn, saved his life – he would never wish it otherwise. But he couldn’t help feeling responsible, in part, for her current predicament, and by default, Draco’s.

Draco looked at him in surprise. “For what? My father? Voldemort? Of course you’re not sorry. You’d be mad if you were. We both know that they got what they deserved.”

“But your father…” Harry trailed off; Lucius Malfoy had always been a contentious issue between them.

“Don’t sound so surprised. Just because I don’t like the fact that my father is in Azkaban, doesn’t mean that I don’t understand why he is there.”

This all came as something of a surprise to Harry. When Lucius Malfoy had been arrested after the debacle with the prophecy at the Ministry, Malfoy had held him completely responsible for his father’s incarceration, and had refused to accept that Lucius was in anyway responsible. So to hear him now, admitting his father’s culpability, was something of a revelation to Harry, and only served to show him just how much the other boy had changed.

“What made you come back?” Harry asked, rather hoping that in this surprising mood of openness, he might actually get an answer.

Malfoy looked at him meditatively for a moment, but just when it looked as though he was going to answer, Hermione came bundling into the room, bushy hair surrounding her head like a frizzy halo.

“Harry! I just saw Professor McGonagall and she said…” Hermione trailed off as she spotted that her friend was not alone.

“It’s okay, Hermione. I already kind of figured that Malfoy is here.”

“Malfoy,” Hermione acknowledged. “We’d given up on you coming back.

Malfoy shrugged. “I had a few things to take care of first.”

Hermione switched her attention back to Harry, noticing the large bundle of clothing in his arms. “You’re doing his unpacking?” she asked incredulously.

“It’s just easier this way. I’d still be tripping over his clothes this time next week if I had left him to do it himself.”

Malfoy lay back on the bed, supporting himself on his elbows, whilst he watched Harry put away the remainder of his belongings.

“It’s brilliant,” he enthused. “It’s like having my own house-elf, without any of that annoying groveling and self-flagellation.” He paused here and gazed at Harry speculatively. “Unless you’re into that sort of thing, Potter?”

The sound of a smothered giggle came from Hermione’s direction. Harry chose to ignore it and turned, instead, to the supine blond in front of him.

“If you’re done putting that stuff away, you can get your lazy arse in that bathroom and sort out all the crap you’ve left in there.”

“It’s not crap, Potter. I use every one of those products, so don’t even think about moving any of them.”

“But there’s hundreds of them,” Harry protested before turning to Hermione. “You should see it. There are bottles, pots and tubes everywhere; it’s like sharing with Lavender.”

Malfoy huffed. “It’s called grooming, Potter. You might want to try it sometime.”

Harry rolled his eyes and turned, once again, to Hermione for support. His friend was busy eyeing him critically. “You know, Harry, Malfoy may have a point.”

“I thought you were my friend?” Harry asked with a look of mock betrayal on his face.

“I am. But being your friend doesn’t mean I can’t tell you that you would look better if you did something with your hair.”

Harry merely gazed meaningfully at Hermione’s own frizzy tresses and slowly arched one brow. “I need to do something with my hair?”

Only the sound of Malfoy’s chuckles reminded the two friends that they were not alone. They turned and shot twin glares at the Slytherin boy.

“What?” Malfoy asked. “Don’t blame me because you two have got appalling hair. What with you two, and Weasley’s scarlet monstrosity, I just assumed it was a Gryffindor trait. You know? Like, Slytherins are cunning masterminds, Ravenclaws are bookish nerds, Hufflepuffs are weepy, overemotional imbeciles and Gryffindors just have offensive hair.” He paused here and ran his eyes the length of Harry’s body. “Oh, and some of them have very questionable dress sense also.”

The following days passed more peaceably than Harry could have ever dreamt possible. As it turned out, when he wasn’t being an unmitigated arse, Malfoy was actually good company.

He had a keen sense of humour and kept Harry entertained with endless tales of Slytherin house, to the point where the Gryffindor boy began to wish that he hadn’t interfered with the Sorting Hat’s decision back in the first year.

Malfoy also provided the intelligent conversation that Hermione craved, but always found lacking in her friendships with Harry and Ron. In fact, the two of them were now getting on so well together, that Harry privately wondered whether he needed to remind his friend that she already had a boyfriend.

With Malfoy’s help as well, the progress made on the castle was increasing daily. The three of them were able to take on the smaller, more menial tasks, which, in turn, freed up the professors to deal with the more complex, structural problems.

Between them, Harry and Malfoy had now completely finished the rebuild of the greenhouses. Harry couldn’t surpass the feeling of satisfaction that started within him when he saw the look of pure joy on Professor Sprout’s face as she beheld her new domain.

Harry found that he was waiting for the acid remark that the old Malfoy would have made. But the other boy merely accepted the professor’s enthusiastic hug with a good grace and a benign smile.

Harry supposed he shouldn’t be surprised by the changes in the other boy any longer. But he found that with every day that passed, another new facet of Malfoy’s character was revealed and he was increasingly, and unavoidably, drawn to the Slytherin.

Malfoy had ceased to be Malfoy to Harry, in his mind at least. But on the few occasions when he had tried it out in private, the name Draco just felt so foreign on his tongue, and he wasn’t sure what reaction he would encounter should he suddenly start using it publically.

In the end it was Hermione who started it. She simply came up to breakfast one day and began calling him Draco. If this surprised Draco at all, then he hid it extremely well. He simply slid effortlessly into calling Hermione by her given name, rather than the previous, and preferred, use of her surname. Harry mentally hugged his friend for doing what he had been unable to summon the courage to do himself.

If the name Draco had seemed strange coming from his own mouth, it was nothing compared to the peculiar sensation that Harry felt upon hearing his own name fall from the blond boy’s lips. It should have felt abnormal, yet every time he heard ‘Harry’ spoken in that familiar drawl, it caused an inexplicable warmth to fill him.

Harry’s birthday came and went virtually unmarked. Harry had been aware that it was approaching that date, but he thought it was hardly something to celebrate. Hermione had broached the subject bravely and suggested some sort of small celebration at Hogwarts, just inviting Ron and Ginny, and a few other friends. But even that idea was vetoed with a ferocity which forced her to put all thoughts of birthday parties from her mind.

“I don’t know why you’re so set against celebrating your birthday, Harry.” Draco had said one evening. “It’s not every day you turn eighteen and we could use a bit of a celebration to liven things up round here.”

Harry sat up in his bed and glared across at Draco. “What’s to celebrate? The fact that there are even more gaps now where the people I love should be? Or am I just supposed to be grateful that I lived to see it?”

“Is that such a bad thing?” Draco asked softly. “Not the dead people, obviously,” he amended quickly as Harry’s glare intensified. “I mean celebrating that you’re still alive. Surely that’s something we should all be celebrating, now more than ever?”

Harry’s anger faded with these words. Somehow, Draco had a way of saying things that made it hard to be mad at him. Which was ironic, really, considering the fact that their earlier years were marked by the fact that Draco had been able to get so deep under his skin.

Harry let out a sigh. “It’s just that usually I celebrate my birthday at the Burrow,” he said. Then, seeing Draco’s confused expression, he explained. “Ron’s house. Mrs. Weasley normally makes a huge fuss, but there won’t be any of that this year. Ron can’t even get away from the shop and his mum long enough to come up here for the day.” Harry hated that he sounded self-pitying, but he just couldn’t help it.

Draco crossed the room and perched on the edge of the bed. He was secretly glad that the Weasel wasn’t coming up to visit. He doubted very much whether this new spirit of goodwill between him, Harry and Hermione, would extend as far as the volatile redhead.

“Did you celebrate your birthday? It’s in June isn’t it?”

Draco was sure it wasn’t healthy to be as happy as he was, upon realising that Harry knew when his birthday was. But he went with it, all the same.

“No, I didn’t,” he admitted quietly.

“So how come you’re telling me that I should?”

“I didn’t have anyone to celebrate with,” Draco admitted without a touch of self-pity.

Harry looked up startled by this revelation. “But there must have been someone? I know your dad couldn’t, and your mum’s…But what about your friends?”

Draco gave a bitter laugh at this. “Which ones? Crabbe’s dead, Goyle’s busy drooling in St Mungo’s, Zabini is currently working his way through the adult male population of Europe and Pansy’s parents have banned her from having anything further to do with me. Apparently ex-Death Eater connections are not good for your social standing.”

“What about Nott?” Harry asked after a moment.

“Bad break up,” Draco said shortly.

“Who with?”

Draco looked warily at Harry for a moment and seemed to be debating whether or not to answer the question. “Me,” he replied eventually.

Chapter Text

Hermione leant back in her chair, butterbeer in hand, and surveyed the scene in front of her. If someone had told her twelve months ago that she would be sitting in the Slytherin common room watching Draco Malfoy teach Harry Potter the finer points of chess playing, she would have laughed in their face and called them crazy.

But it was real. The war was over, Voldemort was dead, and Harry and Draco were very definitely friends.

Hermione watched the two boys as they played, the light from the open fire casting a soft glow on their relaxed, smiling faces. Getting to know Draco had been a revelation and Hermione just knew that she would never regret the impulse that had prompted her to invite the blond Slytherin to stay. Of course, she reflected, getting Ron to understand that would be another matter altogether.

Hermione had made the mistake of mentioning Draco’s presence in a letter to her boyfriend. The resulting tirade that she had received in return was sufficient to convince her never to bother mentioning it again.

But this peaceful isolation that their friendships had blossomed in couldn’t last forever. There were only a few weeks left until school restarted and then they would have to deal with Ron, like it or not. Watching Harry, as he lay sprawled on the floor, his eyes twinkling as he teased Draco, Hermione determined that whatever it took, she would not allow Ron to shatter this new-found friendship.

Draco was good for Harry in ways that neither she nor Ron could be. Granted, there were things that the three of them had shared over the years, things that had bound them closer than the usual bonds of friendship, but Draco just seemed to get Harry. He knew what made him tick, what to say, and when to say nothing at all. He knew every last nuance of Harry’s character, things that, even after seven years of close friendship, Hermione had never noticed.

And it was the same for Harry with Draco. Obviously during six years of bitter rivalry, the two boys had spent an enormous amount of time observing, and obsessing over the other.

When Hermione had gone to stay with Harry at Grimmauld Place, it was as much to bolster his spirits as it was to escape her parents. Harry was prone to falling into dark pits of guilt and self-loathing if left to his own devices. And ever since the end of the war, Hermione had watched as a mantle of melancholy had slipped tighter around him.

Yet, looking at him now, to hear the friendly bickering he was engaged in with Draco, she could barely believe it was the same boy.

And Draco, too, seemed far more relaxed and at ease than she could ever remember him being before. Hermione would have liked to flatter herself that her presence had played a part in both boys’ regeneration, but she was an honest girl and she knew she had nothing to do with it.

Harry and Draco just seemed to compliment each other. There was no other word for it.

“Checkmate!” Draco exclaimed gleefully.

“You cheated!” Harry accused, scowling as he watched his defeated chess pieces stomp off the board in protest.

Draco smiled lazily and stretched out in front of the fire; rather like a cat, Harry thought.

“You wound me,” he declared melodramatically, clutching at his chest. “I’ll have you know that I am the epitome of fair play.”

Hermione couldn’t help but smile at his antics. Harry, meanwhile, had his eyes fixed firmly to the strip of pale skin that had revealed itself when Draco’s t-shirt rode up, mid-stretch.

Ever the observant one, Hermione noticed his gaze and wondered at it. The niggling thought that had festered in her mind for the last few weeks resurfaced with a vengeance. She knew Draco liked boys, even before Harry had breathlessly told her about his failed relationship with Nott. She didn’t need confessions to understand the Slytherin boy’s sexuality. She only had to look at the way his expression altered when Harry walked in the room, to know in which direction his preferences lay.

She had tried once to raise the subject with Draco, but he had closed the conversation down so clinically that she hadn’t bothered again. There was no point forcing the issue. Harry liked girls, so maybe it was best to let sleeping dogs, or unrequited feelings, lie.

But as she looked at them now, the easy way that they sprawled so closely together, Hermione had to wonder. There was definitely something unplatonic in the way that Harry was staring at Draco’s stomach as if he’d quite like to devour it.

The wizarding world had never adopted the prejudices of its Muggle counterpart. Race and sexuality were not matters of concern; it was all about purity of blood for wizards. So Hermione had no concerns on that score, should it turn out that Harry viewed Draco as something more than a friend. And she, though a Muggleborn, had been raised in a liberal-thinking home.

No, that didn’t bother her at all. Although the thought of what Ron’s reaction would be certainly gave her pause for thought. But at the end of the day, Harry had sacrificed a large portion of his youth in order to ensure their freedom. He had even been willing to die for it. If anyone deserved the freedom to be happy, in whatever way he chose, it was Harry.

And if Draco Malfoy was what it took to keep that heartwarming smile on her friend’s face, then Hermione was damned well going to make sure that no one, not even Ron, got in the way of it.

Draco couldn’t remember when it was that his feelings for Harry Potter had shifted from loathing, to something far more intimate. He had thought that it dated from that time in the Room of Hidden Things, when he, like so many swooning girls before him, had fallen under the spell of Harry’s heroic and chivalrous behavior.

Draco had been almost resigned to a fiery death in the Fiendfyre, when Harry had swooped down over him, hand extended in an almost mocking re-enactment of their encounter on the Hogwarts Express, and plucked him from the flames.

Despite the terror and blind panic that had been coursing through his body, he had felt another, more indefinable emotion sweep through him as he wrapped his arms round the other boy’s waist and clung on for dear life.

But now that he had given it some thought, he had begun to wonder if there had ever been anything other than some form of attraction behind his interaction with Harry. From the first time he had met Harry, as a scruffy, green-eyed boy in Madam Malkin’s, he had felt some need to be noticed by him. And when his offer of friendship was rejected, Draco had decided that if he couldn’t be his best friend, then he would be his worst enemy. Even that was better than nothing. Pansy used to tease him about pulling Potter’s pigtails; maybe she had been right all along.

Getting to know Harry, actually becoming his friend, made that attraction all the more difficult to deal with. Even after the incident that first day in the bathroom, Draco was fully convinced of Harry’s heterosexuality. So, spending most of his day, and all of his nights in the vicinity of someone he was so enamoured of, was proving to be something of a strain on Draco’s legendary reserve.

And then there was the fear that, as wonderful as this new camaraderie was, once school started up and the Weasel returned, Harry would have no use for him anymore. He would move back up to Gryffindor tower and that would be it for Draco. He would be surplus to requirements. And even if Harry tried to maintain it, the Weasel would never consent to sharing his best friend with a Slytherin, and Harry would be forced to choose. Draco wasn’t arrogant enough to believe he could win in that situation. And apart from anything else, he didn’t want to put Harry in that position.

Harry was finding it impossible to rid himself of the image of Draco and Theodore Nott together. Draco had seemed almost surprised to find out that Harry had been in ignorance of his sexual preferences; apparently it was common knowledge in most parts of Hogwarts. But then, as Harry had pointed out in his own defence, he had been a little busy fighting Dark Lords.

He had questions, so many questions, but couldn’t work out whether it was appropriate to ask them or not. Like, did Draco like girls as well, or was it just boys? Or how did he know he was gay? Or even, how did you decide who went where during sex? Harry understood the basic logistics of gay sex, but he didn’t understand how it was decided who was on the top or the bottom.

Harry wasn’t sure whether he and Draco were at that point in their friendship yet where he could ask questions of such a personal nature.

The level of their friendship was something that had been concerning him recently. Harry was conscious of the fact that school would be starting again in a couple of weeks and he would have to move out of the dungeons, away from Draco, and back up to Gryffindor tower.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to return to the tower, but he was concerned about how well his friendship with Draco would survive once the rest of the school returned. Ron, alone, would cause more than enough problems to be going on with. Hermione had mentioned in one of her letters to him that Draco was staying at the castle with them. The aftershock of Ron’s explosive reaction to this news could be felt all the way from the Burrow to Hogwarts.

Just the thought of rowing with Ron gave Harry a headache. But it was unavoidable. Harry was determined that there was no way he was giving up his friendship with Draco; it had come to mean a lot to him.

He looked over to the bed where Draco laid, the faint light from his wand softly illuminating the sleeping boy’s face. For someone with such fair hair, Draco had startlingly dark eyelashes, and Harry was fascinated to see how they fanned out against the pale skin of his face.

Harry was slowly coming to understand that there were more than just friendly feelings behind his relationship with Draco. He didn’t understand when it had happened, and he tried not to even think about the how, but he knew that he wanted something more than simple friendship.

It was a bit of a shock to him to find out that he liked boys, or rather, a boy. But what surprised Harry most, was how calmly and quickly he managed to accept this fact. For once he didn’t bemoan his fate or berate the gods for punishing him, he just accepted it.

Living in such close quarters with Draco was a little more difficult after this revelation, and Harry was concerned that he would allow his feelings to show, and thus ruin the friendship. The last thing he wanted was to scare Draco off; if he couldn’t have what he wanted from the other boy, then he would certainly settle for what they had now.

He didn’t think he dared risk what they already had, for the slightest chance of what they could have. For once, Harry’s Gryffindor courage had deserted him.

The week before school was due to commence, Professor McGonagall called the three of them to her office before breakfast. She sat them down and explained to them how things were going to work for the so-called eighth years when the new term began.

It wasn’t going to be announced to the student body as a whole until the Welcome Feast, but as they had played such an important part in the rebuild of their school, she said that she felt they had a right to know first.

They were all stunned to find that none of them would be returning to their original houses. A separate part of the school had been set up to accommodate them, and they would live and sleep there, together.

The Headmistress explained that there were now some serious concerns about the divisive nature of the house system, and that this was an experiment to see if it was possible to do away with that system and encourage greater unity amongst the students.

Professor McGonagall took them to see their new accommodation, and Hermione was thrilled when she was shown to a single room and informed that, as Head Girl, this would be her room. There was an identical room at the side, which they were informed would belong to the Head Boy, who, it turned out, would be Ron.

Harry was pleased for both of his friends; he had no desire to assume any responsibility this term, so felt no jealousy over their new found status. However, when he saw that the remainder of the rooms only slept two people, he was a little apprehensive over who he would be now sharing a room with.

Draco seemed unfazed by this new development. He looked approvingly at their new home and then turned to the other two.

“How about it, Potter? Do you reckon you could stand sharing a room with me for a bit longer?”

Harry’s heart leapt with joy at this suggestion and he struggled to hide his enthusiasm. “I suppose I could manage it, if I have to.”

Draco just grinned broadly in return. “Is that okay?” he asked, turning to face McGonagall

“Certainly, Mr. Malfoy. We are leaving it up to you to decide on your own roommates, but we had rather hoped that the old houses would intermix.”

The remainder of that afternoon was spent packing up their belongings and moving them into their new rooms. Hermione and Harry accomplished this task fairly quickly, but Draco, having several times more belongings, took rather longer.

Harry lay back on his new bed, surveyed his new room, and realised with a groan that he was likely going to have to spend several hours assisting Draco with his unpacking again. But he couldn’t suppress a small smile at the thought of his new roommate. It would be no hardship at all to maintain their friendship now.

Two days before the rest of the school were due to arrive, Professor McGonagall announced at breakfast that there would be a small celebration for all those involved in the clear up operation, to be held that night in the Three Broomsticks.

Harry and Hermione grinned excitedly at each other.

“It’ll be nice to get out of the school one last time before we have to get down to studying,” Hermione said.

Harry groaned. “You can’t talk about schoolwork yet, Hermione. That’s not allowed, is it, Draco?”

They both turned to Draco and saw that he was sat picking at his breakfast, with a glum expression on his face.

Harry gave him a nudge. “What’s up? Aren’t you looking forward to going out tonight?”

Draco glared at him. “I hardly think I will be welcomed in the Three Broomsticks, do you?”

“Why ever not?” Harry asked in confusion.

“Because the last time I was in there, I was putting Madam Rosmerta under the Imperius Curse.” Draco pushed his seat away from the table and stood up. “Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

Harry watched sadly as Draco left the room. “I forgot,” he said, turning to Hermione.

“It’s hard to remember that he was ever any other way than how he is now,” Hermione agreed.

“I don’t think I’m going to go,” Harry said decidedly. “I’m not leaving Draco here alone. He’ll just sit brooding about things. And anyway, he helped just as much as we did. Why shouldn’t he go?”

However, when Harry mentioned his intentions to Draco, the other boy was having none of it.

“Of course you’ll go. You were looking forward to it. I’ll be fine on my own for one night, Harry.”

“Then you’re coming as well,” Harry said stubbornly. “You have as much right to be there as anyone else.”

Draco sighed heavily. “I think I forfeited my right when I cast an Unforgivable on the landlady.”

Harry said no more on the subject, recognising the stubborn set of his friend’s jaw. But he decided that he would only go down to the pub with the others, purchase some drinks, and then come back up to the castle to celebrate with Draco. He didn’t care what the other boy said, he wasn’t leaving him alone.

When Harry returned from Hogsmeade later that evening, Draco was nowhere to be found in the castle. Retrieving the Marauder’s Map from his trunk, Harry unfolded it quickly.

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”

He watched impatiently as the layout of Hogwarts slowly appeared on the worn parchment. His eyes ran eagerly over the map of the castle, but no dot labeled ‘Draco Malfoy’ appeared. Just as he was about to panic, he finally spotted what he was looking for; Draco was outside.

Grabbing his cloak, Harry hurried down the stairs and out of the main doors. As the white marble of Dumbledore’s tomb gleamed in the distance, he could just make out a dark figure leaning against the side of it.

Hearing approaching footsteps, Draco turned round. Harry was shocked by the bleak look on his friend’s face. Unable to stop the impulse, he reached out and placed a hand on the other boy’s arm.

“Draco, are you okay?” he asked hesitantly.

Draco slid slowly down the side of the tomb until he was seated on the ground. He looked up at Harry with a familiar haunted expression in his eyes.

“Do you think they’ll ever forgive me?”

“Yes, once they see how you’ve changed. It just might take a little time.”

“What about you?” Draco demanded with a peculiar intensity in his voice.

“I already have,” Harry replied simply, holding out his hand to the other boy. “Come on, it’s cold out here. Let’s go back inside; I brought some Firewhisky back with me”

Draco grabbed his hand and allowed himself to be pulled up. He stumbled slightly and fell towards Harry, who grabbed at his shoulders to steady him. There was an awkward moment as their faces were only inches apart, their eyes locked together. Draco licked his lips nervously and for a moment Harry thought that he was going to kiss him. Just as he was about to lean in himself, Draco pulled back and began brushing his robes down.

“Come on then, Harry. I believe you mentioned something about alcohol.”

I can’t believe that you’re sharing a room with that git,” Ron fumed.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Ron, we’ve already had this conversation. Draco’s changed, and if you gave him a chance, you’d see that.”

“I can’t believe you’re calling him that, both of you! After everything he’s said and done to us in the past. What about what he did to Bill?”

“The war’s over,” Harry said tiredly. The Welcome Feast was barely over and they had already been over this three times. He just wanted to get back to his room and relax. Plus, he hadn’t spoken to Draco since the others arrived, and he was eager to see the other boy. Especially after he had seen him catching up with Theodore Nott earlier.

“The war’s over, is it?” Ron raged. “Tell that to my mum.”

“That’s not fair,” Hermione said, noticing the anger that flashed in Harry’s eyes. “You can’t blame Draco for that.”

“Can’t I?” Ron’s voice was getting louder and Harry was sure that all the other eighth years would be able to hear them by now. “It was Death Eaters that killed Fred. His aunt, in fact. That little bastard was one of them and I’ll blame him if I like.”

Harry stood up, desperately trying to hold onto his temper. “Draco wasn’t a Death Eater. He doesn’t have the Mark.”

Ron huffed angrily. “That doesn’t prove anything.”

“You were at his trial, Ron,” Hermione reasoned.

“Yeah, and I watched the evil little shit get away with murder.”

“He never killed anyone,” Harry shouted, all attempt at control gone.

“He as good as did. Dumbledore would still be alive if it wasn’t for him,” Ron countered stubbornly.

“I’m not going over this with you again,” Harry said in a tight voice. “I’ll speak to you about this when you’re willing to be reasonable.” He turned and made for the door.

“You’ll be waiting a long time then,” Ron shouted after him.

“That went well,” Draco commented as Harry stormed into their room, slamming the door behind him.

Harry just grunted in reply.

“Oh, very articulate,” Draco teased. “You spend a couple of hours in the company of other Gryffindors and you lose the power of speech.”

“Ron’s being an arse.”

Draco wisely decided to hold his tongue on the subject.

Harry flopped onto his bed and rolled over to look at him. “What, no scathing remark to make?”

“Why would you think that?”

“Because you hate him.”

“I don’t hate him, per se. I don’t like him, I’ll grant you. But he’s your friend and I’m not going to make things more difficult for you by slating him.”

Harry stared at him, wide-eyed. “You really have changed,” he marveled.

Draco grinned. “The new, improved model. What do you think?”

“I like it, a lot,” Harry replied without thinking. Then, realising what he had said, his cheeks heated up. “I’m just going for a shower,” he muttered, before scurrying into the bathroom.

An extra table had been added to the Great Hall for the eighth years, so that they could be together at all times. It was a lot smaller than the other four, as there were only sixteen of them.

Looking around the table, Harry couldn’t help but notice those who were missing. There were more Gryffindors who had returned than any other house; only Seamus and Parvati were missing. Aside from Draco, there were three other Slytherins, four from Hufflepuff and only two Ravenclaws.

Lessons began in earnest, and by the end of the first week, Harry was seriously questioning his decision to return. Potions, especially, had already proved a challenge. Without the Half-Blood Prince’s assistance, he found himself reduced to relying on his own meager talents. Professor Slughorn was surprised by the drop in standards to say the least.

Ron was still sulking and had now progressed into ignoring his very existence. That, coupled with the relentless stares and whispers of the younger students, left Harry longing for the quieter times he had experienced in the Slytherin common room.

Draco was surprised at how easily the majority of the eighth years settled into their new environment. They had all taken the Headmistress at her word, and no one student was sharing a room with someone from their old house. Draco was secretly glad of this. It meant there was much less scrutiny on him and Harry, and on why they were sharing.

That wasn’t to say that their friendship hadn’t caused a few raised eyebrows. But with the exception of the Weasel, everyone had pretty quickly gotten used to the idea of seeing them together.

Rooming with Harry was something of a mixed blessing. On the one hand, their friendship was going from strength to strength, and it heartened Draco to see that Harry had no intention of dropping him, despite the Weasel’s histrionics.

But on the other hand, being so close to Harry, and yet not having him the way that he truly desired was an exhausting test of Draco’s nerves and self-control. He reminded himself constantly that Harry was straight, that he could never possibly want a relationship to happen between them. But sometimes, he would catch a glimpse of something in those beautiful green eyes, and a spark of hope would flare within him.

Before the war, Draco had been quite the catch in Slytherin house, with girls and boys alike. Not that he really had any interest in females, but sex was sex, and there was a limited supply of willing boys to choose from.

But since his messy break up with Theo almost a year ago, Draco had become very well acquainted with his right hand. In fact, if things went on the way that they were, Draco thought he was in great danger of his wrist seizing up.

If he wasn’t going to have Harry, and he had already decided that their friendship was too important to him to risk the rejection, then he was going to have to relief elsewhere.

Which was why, when Ernie MacMillan began clumsily flirting with him later that week, he didn’t shoot the other boy down as he usually would have, but actually encouraged him.

Hermione watched with dismay when Draco began his flirtation with Ernie MacMillan. It was bad enough that she had Ron’s pigheaded behavior to deal with, without having the fall-out from Harry’s repressed sexuality heaped on her as well. And she knew it was coming.

Hermione wasn’t blind. She saw the way that Harry’s eyes narrowed menacingly every time Ernie came within ten feet of Draco. It amazed her that none of the boys involved seemed aware of the undercurrent of sexual tension.

Merlin only knew what Draco was playing at. He liked Harry, Hermione was sure of that. So what was he doing with Ernie? Shaking her head, Hermione decided it was time for a talk with her best friend.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Harry said defensively, whilst squirming in his seat.

“Oh, come on, Harry. I’ve seen the two of you together. Even a blind man could spot the sexual tension between you.”

Harry flushed. “Really?” He gulped nervously.

“Yes. Now the question remains, what are you going to do about it?”

“Nothing,” Harry said firmly. “Draco doesn’t want me, not like that. Even if I was interested.”

“Which you are, Harry. You can at least be honest with yourself.”

“Okay, so maybe I do, a little bit. You’re not freaked out by this? That he’s a boy?”

“Not at all. It’s quite common in the wizarding world apparently.”

“Says who?” Harry questioned dubiously.

“I might have read it in a book,” she admitted.

Harry couldn’t help but smile; that was so like Hermione. “They have books on this kind of thing in the library?”

“Oh yes. There are some very informative ones. I could get them for you, if you want?”

“No!” Harry exclaimed, rather horrified at the idea of his friend checking out books on gay sex for him. “That’s fine, honestly. Thanks for the offer though.”

“Okay, but let me know if you change your mind. Now, getting back to Draco. I think you should talk to him, tell him how you feel.”

“Isn’t that a bit…I don’t know, girly?”

Hermione huffed loudly. “Do you want him or not?”

“I think so,” Harry admitted, his cheeks colouring furiously.

“Well, then you’re going to have to talk to him.”

Harry groaned and flopped backwards on her bed, his hands covering his face. “Ron’s going to have an aneurism when he hears about this. You realise that, don’t you?”

Hermione pulled him to his feet and pushed him in the direction of the door. “You let me worry about Ron. Now go!”

Harry felt lighter than he had in quite some time as he crossed the common room in the direction of his and Draco’s dorm. He had no idea of what he was going to say to the other boy, and was terrified of rejection. But he was going to do it anyway; Draco was worth the risk.

When Harry entered the bedroom, it took a few moments for him to register what he was seeing. Draco was lying back on his bed, shirt undone, trousers off, and Ernie MacMillan was kneeling between his spread thighs, sucking him off.

It was like time stood still. Harry couldn’t look away and he couldn’t move. He was just transfixed by the sight, and struggled desperately to stop the bile from rising in his throat. Grey eyes locked on his and, for a moment, Harry thought that he saw a flash of guilt in them.

“Do you mind?” Draco snapped eventually when Harry showed no sign of movement. “I’m kind of in the middle of something here.”

The sharpness of his voice woke Harry to the reality of the situation. He wanted to run, but if he left the room, who knew what Draco and Ernie would get up to then. He crossed the room to his own bed and flopped down on it.

“Actually, I do mind. This is my room as well, you know.”

Moments later, a slam of the door indicated that Ernie had left the room. Harry rolled over and opened his eyes fearfully. Draco was standing there, naked apart from his open shirt, erect cock jutting forth proudly.

“I’ll be in the bathroom taking care of this,” he snapped. “That is, unless you were planning to finish the job for me.”

Harry rolled over to face the wall, his eyes squeezed shut tight. The sneer in Draco’s voice caused hot tears to trickle down his cheeks.

Things were still tense the next morning.

“What the fuck was all that about last night?” Draco demanded.

I was jealous, Harry thought. But instead, he played dumb. “What was all what about?”

Draco looked at him thoughtfully for a moment before a scowl crossed his face. “Don’t play dumb, it really doesn’t suit you. I want to know why you spoiled the first blow job that I’ve had in months?”

“This is my room as well. Maybe I don’t like it being turned into some kind of…whorehouse.”

“Fuck you, Potter,” Draco snarled, filled with a mixture of anger and guilt. Rationally, he knew that he had done nothing to feel guilty about, but it felt like he had betrayed Harry, and the other boy’s behavior wasn’t helping.

The rest of the eighth years took one look at both of their glowering faces that morning and wisely decided to give them a wide berth. The atmosphere at breakfast was tense, to say the least. Ron was unashamedly gleeful when he noticed the tension between them, and was quick to insinuate himself into the seat next to Harry.

“What did the bastard do this time?” he asked, making no effort to lower his tone.

“Nothing, Ron. Just leave it, yeah?” Harry was painfully aware of Draco, who was sitting only a few seats away.

“Yes, Weasel, listen to Potter and mind your own damn business.” Draco’s face was white and pinched.

“Shut up, Draco,” Harry said in a low, warning voice. Draco shot him a ferocious scowl and then turned back to his breakfast.

Later, in Potions, when Harry assumed his usual seat next to Draco, the blond boy got up and pointedly moved to the table in front. Ron crossed the room and eagerly slid into the seat at Harry’s side.

“Got no friends, Malfoy?” he goaded as Professor Slughorn entered the room.

“I’ve still got more friends than your family has money. Tell me, how does it feel to be on the same financial level as a house-elf?”

The heat rose in Ron’s face. “Don’t you dare talk about my family, you worthless shit. At least my mother’s not a drunk.”

Draco was on his feet now, eyes flashing and wand drawn. “At least my mother hasn’t lost her mind. Shouldn’t yours be locked up in St Mungo’s by now?”

Ron’s wand was out now and Harry hastily got to his feet and stood between them.

“Get out of the way, Harry.” Draco’s voice trembled with rage. “I don’t want to hex you, but I will if you don’t move.”

“This is all your fault, I hope you know,” Draco muttered to Harry as they waited for Professor McGonagall inside her office.

“My fault?” Harry spluttered. “You’re the one who hexed me.”

“Yeah, well you made me angry.”

“I was just trying to stop you and Ron from killing each other.”

“Gentlemen,” Professor McGonagall acknowledged as she swept into the room. Taking a seat behind the desk, she eyed them severely.

“I must admit that I’m very surprised to see the two of you in here. I foolishly believed that you had put this childish behaviour behind you. Do either of you have anything to say?”

Both boys stared dumbly at their feet.

“Very well. You will both serve a week of detention with Mr. Filch.” The Headmistress suppressed a smile at the twin looks of horror that came her way. “I will not tolerate that kind of behaviour in this school. Now, I have a meeting to attend with the house heads, but I want you two to remain here until you have resolved whatever issue caused this morning’s outburst.”

Hearing the door closer behind her, Harry turned to Draco. “What do we do now?” he asked helplessly.

“What we do now, Harry, is what the good professor suggested. We talk.”

“About what?” Harry asked, a slight quiver in his voice betraying his nerves.

“About what’s really bothering you,” Draco drawled.

“There’s nothing bothering me. You’re the one who’s been acting funny.”

Draco shook his head and began to walk towards him. Harry, in turn, began backing away warily, until the back of his thighs hit the edge of the desk and he could go no further.

“I thought to start with that it was a homophobic thing, and that you were disgusted by what you saw.”

“No!” Harry exclaimed. “I don’t care that you’re gay.”

“Oh, I think you do, Harry. I think you care a lot.” There was a predatory gleam in Draco’s eyes and Harry gulped nervously.

“What are you talking about?”

“Well, Harry, if it’s not the fact of what I was doing that’s bothering you, then the only other thing it can be, is who I was doing it with. I think that you’re jealous.”

Harry just gaped wordlessly as Draco’s eyes burned intently into his. “I think that the reason you didn’t leave the room last night was because you wished that you were the one on your knees sucking my cock, instead of Ernie.”

“I didn’t…I mean, I don’t…” Harry stammered.

“Shh.” Draco laid a finger gently across Harry’s lips. “Let me just try something.” He brought both his hands up to cup Harry’s face and stepped closer until their bodies were flush against each other.

“W-What are-“

Harry never finished the sentence, as Draco’s lips met with his own, sucking and nibbling so gently that a whimper escaped his throat.

Draco’s hands then slid down to Harry’s waist, and he pushed Harry back further ‘till he was half sprawled on the Headmistress’s desk. As Draco ground against him, Harry’s hands scrabbled for purchase on the desk, sending piles of paperwork scattering over the floor. Not that either boy noticed, or cared for that matter.

“Fuck, Draco,” Harry groaned.

“Not in here. I doubt that the Headmistress would appreciate it.” Draco hooked his hands under Harry’s thighs and lifted his legs until they settled firmly around his waist.

“Don’t stop,” Harry gasped as the delicious friction intensified, sending shoots of pleasure through his body.

“Oh, I have no intention of stopping,” Draco replied huskily. “I’m never letting you go now.”

“For the love of all that is decent! Mr. Malfoy, put Potter down this instant!”

The two boys pulled apart in surprise at the interruption and turned to face the portrait of their old Potions master. Professor Snape had both of his hands clamped firmly to his eyes, but even then it was still possible to tell that he was scowling fiercely.

“Oh, come now, Severus. Young love is a wonderful thing.” Harry couldn’t help but smile at the twinkling blue eyes of Professor Dumbledore, as he beamed down at them from his ornate frame.

Professor Snape removed his hands and glared at his old Headmaster, before turning to face Draco. “I’m very disappointed in you, Mr. Malfoy. A Slytherin consorting with a Gryffindor; it’s unthinkable. It can’t be allowed to happen.”

“I rather think that it just did, Severus. Right there on Minerva’s desk.”

Harry blushed at this and tried to hide his face in the crook of Draco’s neck. Professor Snape flounced out of his portrait, muttering something about Hufflepuff behavior.

“I can’t believe we just got caught by Professor Snape,” Draco chuckled.

“I can’t believe you just kissed me,” Harry replied, somewhat dazedly.

“Is that a bad thing?” Draco asked, pulling back with a worried expression on his face.

Harry smiled tentatively and shook his head. “No,” he replied softly. “Not bad at all.”

Just as Draco leaned forward to capture Harry’s lips again, a discreet cough interrupted them. “Forgive the intrusion, boys. But I think that perhaps it would be best if you tidied up and continued this elsewhere.” Dumbledore’s blue eyes twinkled almost blindingly at them.

Harry and Draco looked at the scattered paperwork as if wondering how it had got where it was. They quickly tidied up and hurried to the door, eager to continue the exploration of their new relationship. They were halfway out of the door, when Professor Dumbledore spoke again.

“It’s good to see you smiling again, both of you.”

“Well, I’ve got to say that I didn’t see that one coming,” Ginny said as she leant back on her arms and looked out over the lake. “Are you sure?”

Harry nodded. “Yes,” he said softly. “I’m not sure if I’m gay, or bisexual, or if it’s just Draco that I like. But I know that he’s who I want. I’m sorry,” he added gently.

“You don’t have to apologise, Harry. It’s not like it’s something you can help. I’m just glad that you felt you could tell me.”

“Well, I thought that I owed it to you,” he explained. “I know that when we broke up, the implication was that we would get back together once the war was over.”

Ginny shook her head. “Things change. People change. I understand that. But I have to ask. Malfoy, Harry? Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”

“Yes,” Harry replied emphatically. “I know he was a complete git to us in the past, but he’s changed. He really has. If you just gave him a chance, you’d like him.”

“I trust you,” Ginny said, clambering to her feet and dusting off her robes. “If you say he’s not a git anymore, then I’ll take your word for it. I’ll even try to get to know him. You deserve to be happy, and anyone who can make you smile like that, is okay in my book.”

Harry stood up and dusted himself off. He pulled her into a quick, warm embrace. “Thanks, Gin. That means a lot.”

“I can see the attraction, I suppose,” she considered. “Malfoy is kind of hot, if you think about it.”

“I do think about it, a lot. But you shouldn’t be, so stop it!”

Ginny giggled. “I’m just looking, don’t worry. Besides, I’m obviously not his type.”

Harry smiled in return, before his expression turned serious. “You won’t say anything yet, will you? Draco doesn’t want everyone to know about us yet.”

Ginny nodded. “I won’t say a word. There is one condition on my silence, though.”

“What?” Harry asked nervously.

“When you tell Ron, I want a front row seat.”

Harry couldn’t help but smile at this. “Somehow I don’t think you’ll need to be nearby to hear his reaction,” he replied, linking his arm through hers. “Come on, I’ll walk you back up to the castle.

Hermione could tell that something had changed between them the moment she saw Harry and Draco again. It was something in the shy, almost adoring looks that Harry sent in Draco’s direction when he thought the other boy wasn’t looking, or the way that Draco touched Harry at every available opportunity. Not necessarily in a sexual way, just innocent touches that showed, to anyone who cared to look, the greater level of intimacy between the two boys.

She knocked gently on their door, intent on cornering Harry and finding out all the gossip.

When she entered the room, only Draco was in residence. The blond was lying back on his bed, his long legs clad in dark, denim jeans; his white shirt was open at the neck, revealing a tantalizing glimpse of his smooth, almost luminescent skin. His white-blond hair hung loose around his face, falling forward into his eyes, giving him a younger air.

At that moment, Hermione could totally see what Harry saw in Draco. He had a lean grace that really was quite seductive, and when relaxed like this, retained an air of innocence that was quite at odds with his public persona.

“Hi, Draco, is Harry not about?”

Draco shook his head, silken strands of his hair glinting in the light. “He went up to Gryffindor tower to find the littlest Weasley. I’m here, though. Won’t I do?” He patted the mattress at the side of him invitingly.

Hermione plopped down on the bed and smiled sheepishly; she wasn‘t sure how receptive Draco would be to her inquiries.

“I just wanted a chat really. We don’t get the time to talk much anymore.” She paused here and a sly smile crept over her face. “How are things with you and Harry? You seem to have sorted that argument out now?”

Draco snorted. “Stop fishing, Granger. You might be the smartest witch in the school, but you have all the subtlety of a Confunded troll.”

“What?” Hermione protested weakly.

“Harry said you would be breaking your neck to find out what was going on between us.”

“So there is something going on?”


Hermione grabbed the nearest pillow and swung it at him. “Draco,” she wailed plaintively.

Draco smoothed his ruffled hair. “This is war you realise?”

Before he had chance to retaliate, the door opened and Harry entered. “How did it go?” Draco asked instantly.

Harry shot a meaningful glance in Hermione’s direction and gave a non-committal shrug.

“For Merlin’s sake, Harry,” she huffed. “I’m not blind. I knew before you two did.”

“W-W-What?” Harry spluttered.

“Well, you’re not exactly subtle.”

“She’s right, you know,” Draco added, reaching out for Harry’s hand and pulling him down beside him on the bed. “You Gryffindors are not renowned for your subtlety.”

Harry shot him a mock glare. “Is nothing private in this place?” he complained.

“Well, it’s your fault.”

Harry gave him an outraged look, but Draco ignored it and continued on. “You had to make friends with the bookworm here; she was bound to figure it out. What you need are stupid friends who do your bidding without question.”

The names of Crabbe and Goyle hung unspoken in the air, but Harry could see the flicker of sadness on his boyfriend’s face. He reached over and laced their fingers together, squeezing gently.

Hermione let out a tiny squeal at this outward display of affection. “You two really are adorable.”

A pillow launched across the bed and connected directly with her face. “There will be no squealing in this room, Granger. Out. Now.”

Hermione returned the pillow with interest and then scampered out of the room quickly before either boy could retaliate.

Over the next few weeks, Draco found it increasingly difficult to hide his relationship with Harry. He couldn’t really complain though, not when it had been his idea in the first place.

It wasn’t that he was ashamed of what he felt, or of who he was with. But Draco was keenly aware of the storm that their relationship would kick up and he wanted to spare Harry that for as long as possible.

It wouldn’t just be the Weasel voicing his opinion, either. Harry was the Boy Who Lived; he was considered public property, and Draco doubted that there was a person in the wizarding world who didn’t think they had the right to know, and comment on, every last detail of their Saviour’s life.

As much as he wanted to protect himself from the inevitable public scrutiny, Draco wanted to protect Harry more. He deserved the chance to be able to call his life his own. Harry hated the press and their constant intrusion into his life; Draco knew this much, and he wanted to preserve their illusion of privacy for as long as was humanly possible.

Plus, it didn’t hurt that this cloak of secrecy was delaying the inevitable Howlers that would come winging his way from Azkaban, once his father had found out.

It was difficult to decide who’s reaction would be more vitriolic, Ron Weasley or his father. Draco decided that it would probably be the Weasel, but only because Lucius was locked in a prison somewhere in the middle of the North Sea.

Looking down at Harry, curled up next to him in bed, Draco couldn’t help but smile, and he pulled his sleeping boyfriend closer to him. Waking up together like this was something that Draco hadn’t experienced with any of his previous relationships or conquests.

Harry had quickly dismissed the idea of them maintaining separate beds. Draco had planned to protest that he needed his space, but the first time that he felt Harry’s warm body slide under the covers and wrap around him, he couldn’t even remember what his objections had been.

Draco had a feeling that he should be horrified by this; Malfoy’s were not snugglers. His parents had continued with separate bedrooms throughout their marriage. But obviously no Malfoy had ever been to bed with a Potter before. Harry’s cuddles had quickly become addictive, and if that made him a Hufflepuff, then so be it.

Despite his desire to keep their relationship secret, Draco still delighted in teasing Harry with discreet touches at the most inopportune of moments.

Harry was trying his best to concentrate on Professor McGonagall’s lecture; Transfiguration was not an easy subject and required all of his focus. He lifted his hand and batted at the insect that was fluttering against his neck. The irritation stopped for a brief moment before resuming relentlessly.

Shifting in his seat, Harry turned to find the source of the irritation. What he found, was not an insect, but Draco, sat next to him, using the most ridiculously long quill ever seen. The end of which, had been tickling Harry’s neck.

Draco scratched away at his parchment with such an air of innocence that Harry just knew he was faking it. Generally speaking, the more innocent Draco looked, the guiltier he was. Turning his attention back to the class, Harry felt the sensation resume instantly. Knowing what it was now, he allowed himself to relax into the sensation.

It actually felt quite nice, he realised. The soft feather trailed, teasingly, along his jaw line, skimmed the sensitive skin of his throat, and then traced his neck right down to where his collarbone was visible through his open-necked shirt.

A faint shiver ran through his body at this teasing sensation. In fact, Harry reflected, there was something strangely erotic about it. Goosebumps sprang up on his skin and he was forced to shift in his seat to ease the growing tightness in his trousers.

It only got more torturous for him when Draco slid a hand onto his thigh and trailed it all the way up until it was cupping his burgeoning erection.

“I knew you’d like my new quill,” Draco murmured teasingly. He gave Harry’s cock a gently squeeze, which caused his boyfriend to give a tiny, desperate thrust against his hand.

“Not now, Harry,” he whispered, his hand slowly sliding away.

Harry whimpered softly in protest at the loss and glared meaningfully at the blond.

“Later,” Draco promised, and the gleam in his eye was enough to send shivers through Harry’s body.

“Ron, do you have a minute? I need to talk to you?

“Sounds serious, mate,” Ron said, following Harry into his room. The relief on his face was evident when he realised that Draco was not in residence.

“It is, sort of,” Harry replied, sitting on the edge of his bed and gesturing for Ron to do the same. “It’s not bad, but I don’t think you’ll like it very much.”

Ron’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Just tell me,” he said curtly.

Harry chewed his lip nervously, wondering if it was too late to change his mind. Draco hadn’t wanted him to tell Ron just yet, but Harry had insisted. Right now, he was wishing he had listened to his boyfriend.

“I’m gay,” he blurted out suddenly.

Ron frowned for a moment, but then his face cleared. “Merlin, Harry! You really had me worried for a minute.” His posture relaxed instantly and he leaned back on his hands. “But why would you think that I’d mind that? Unless… you don’t have a thing about me, do you?”

Harry couldn’t help but laugh, despite his nervousness. “No. Redheads aren’t my type.”

Ron sighed in relief. “So it’s no good me trying to set you up with Charlie then?”

“Charlie’s gay?”

“Yep, and single too. But I suppose he is a little old for you.”

“And my ex-girlfriend’s brother,” Harry pointed out.

“Yeah, I suppose you have a point. But, honestly, I don’t care that you’re gay. It’s not that big a deal, really.”

“Thanks, Ron. It’s just…Well, there’s a lot of prejudice against gays in the Muggle world and I wasn’t sure how you would react. It’s not like it’s something we’ve ever discussed.”

Ron waved his concerns aside. “There’s something else though, isn’t there?” he asked with unusual perceptiveness. “Are you with someone? That’s it, isn’t it? Who is it? I hear that Ernie MacMillan likes boys. He’s not bad looking, if you-“

“Ron, stop it. It’s not Ernie.”

“Well, who is it then? Merlin, I didn’t know there were so many gay boys in our year.”

Ron fell silent and just looked at him expectantly. Harry took a deep breath and summoned every last ounce of his Gryffindor courage.

“It’s Draco.”


“Unless you know another one,” Harry replied in a half-hearted attempt at humour.

Ron sat in stunned silence, his mouth gaping open. There was no explosion, no fireworks, and it just left Harry confused; this was not the reaction he’d been expecting at all.

“Ron,” he said tentatively. “Are you okay?”

Ron got up abruptly and when he looked at Harry, his expression was cold. “I can’t talk about this with you. I’ll end up saying something that will destroy our friendship. If you already haven’t,” he added.

“Come on,” Harry protested. “That’s not fair. It’s not like I did it on purpose. I can’t help who I…”

“Love?” Ron spat. “Is that what you were going to say? Just listen to yourself. Do you even remember half of the things he’s done?”

“Yes, of course I do. But I also know that’s not who he is anymore.”

“So he says.”

“So I know. Can’t you just trust me?”

“I did,” Ron replied bitterly. “Look how you repaid it.”

“This isn’t personal, Ron. I didn’t set out to upset you.”

“How can it not be personal?” Ron snarled, stalking closer to Harry until he was only inches away from his face. “Do you remember Ginny nearly dying in the Chamber of Secrets?”

Harry’s own temper flared at this. “Of course I remember,” he replied hotly. “I’m hardly likely to forget it. But that was Lucius; Draco was just a child then.”

“Alright, well, what about Bill then? He still has the scars on his face from Greyback. That little shit let a werewolf loose in a school full of kids.”

“He didn’t know,” Harry protested.

“He knew he was letting Death Eaters in. That’s bad enough. What about Katie Bell? What about me? I nearly died from that poisoned mead. Do you even think about that when you’re doing Merlin knows what with him?”

Harry felt his anger subside at this and he slumped down onto his bed, cradling his head in his hands. “I haven’t forgotten any of it. But you were at his trial, Ron. You heard what happened to him.”

“I heard that he was a spineless little fuck who deserved to be locked up with that bastard father of his.”

“That’s not true,” Harry said wearily. “You don’t know. You didn’t see him that night on the Astronomy Tower, or when Voldemort was forcing him to torture people. He didn’t want to do it, but he didn’t have a choice.”

Ron’s face set in a grim expression. “You won’t persuade me, so you may as well give up now.” He turned and headed towards the door.

“I can’t help who I care about,” Harry said desperately.

Ron spun on his heel and fixed him with an icy glare. “You said you cared about us. We treated you like part of our family and this is how you repay us? Thanks, Harry. Thanks a lot.”

Harry watched his best friend storm from the room with a bleak expression on his face and an aching pain in his chest.

Watching Ron walk away from him never got any easier, however many times it happened. But there was a sickening sensation in Harry’s stomach that told him there was no going back this time. He wouldn’t choose between them, and he rather suspected that if Ron had forced the issue, then he would have lost anyway.

He couldn’t give Draco up now, not for anyone. Not for Ron, or the Weasleys, not even if the Minister for Magic himself commanded it. Harry had lived his life for other people for too long. For once, he was going to put himself first.

But none of this made it any easier to watch as his oldest friendship shattered at his feet.

When Draco slid into bed that night, Harry instantly crawled into his open arms. They hadn’t really discussed the contents of his conversation with Ron, but Draco could tell from the expression in Harry’s eyes what the outcome of it had been.

Draco raked his fingers through the messy head of hair that was currently nestled against his chest. He could feel the tension radiating from Harry’s body.

“Do you want to tell me about it?” he asked, wanting nothing more than to make things better.

“I told you, I’m okay,” Harry replied unconvincingly.

Harry,” Draco began patiently. “You’re not okay. How can you be? We both know how I feel about Weasley, but for some strange reason, you seem to like the ginger prat.”

Harry gave Draco’s ribs a warning dig with his elbow. “Don’t be horrible,” he chided.

“Don’t be horrible?” Draco’s tone was incredulous. “So he can say Merlin knows what and get you in this state, but I can’t even pass comment on his hideous hair?”

“There’s no point in getting upset over it. He won’t budge and there’s nothing I can do about it. He’s taking it like some kind of personal betrayal. It would almost have been better if he’d just got angry and hit me.”

“He better bloody not,” Draco growled. “He so much as lays a finger on you and they’ll be finding pieces of him for weeks to come.”

Harry nuzzled closer to his boyfriend’s warm body and pressed a soft kiss to his bare chest. “My hero,” he murmured sleepily.

“Well, it’s about time you let someone fight for you, instead of the other way round. Besides, I think I make rather a dashing hero.”

When he got no response, Draco looked down and saw that Harry was sleeping peacefully, all the tension gone from his face. He would have loved nothing more than to find the Weasel and hex him into next week for upsetting Harry, but he knew that his boyfriend would not thank him for it.

Things were going so well for the two of them. Draco was constantly amazed at how easily the two of them had gone from adversaries to lovers in such a short space of time. When he thought back on all the wasted years, the time spent fighting each other when they could have been doing something much more enjoyable, he wanted to go back in time and kick some serious sense into his eleven year old self.

Draco could see how much the rift with Weasley was hurting Harry, and as much as he inwardly rejoiced at the end of a friendship that had caused him so much jealousy, he couldn’t bear to see his boyfriend unhappy. So, much against his better judgment, he decided to talk to Hermione; if anyone could make the Weasel see sense, then it was her. And failing that, then Draco was just going to have to talk to him himself.

Chapter Text

Hermione was furious. She stormed out of the common room, down the stairs, and headed out into the school grounds. Wrapping her cloak tighter around her body, she let out a cry of pure frustration, which startled several passing first-years.

Once outside, she was at a bit of a loss. There had been no real plan behind her movements, other than to get as far away from Ron Weasley as was humanly possible.

After much coaxing, she had finally persuaded Harry to share the details of his conversation with Ron. Neither of them had expected their friend to take the news well, but Hermione was stunned to hear some of the things that had come out of her boyfriend’s mouth. No wonder he had remained so tight-lipped on the subject.

Despite Harry’s protestations, she immediately hunted Ron down and confronted him with his actions. She had promised Draco that she would try her best to sort things out between the two boys, but that would have to wait until she had finished reading Ron the riot act.

The conversation had not gone well, to say the least. When taxed with his behaviour, Ron had decided that attack was the best form of defence. He had accepted no responsibility for the breakdown of the friendship, and even went so far as to accuse Hermione of betraying him, and his family, by befriending Draco herself.

The final straw had come when Hermione freely admitted to encouraging Harry to pursue his relationship with Draco. Ron had gone white with rage and even went so far as to raise his wand against her.

He was no match for Hermione, though. She had quickly Disarmed her boyfriend before he could do anything more stupid than he had already. The shocked look on Ron’s face, as he realised what he had done, went some way to calming her anger. But she still informed him, in icy tones, that their relationship was over.

Then, flinging his wand to the floor at his feet, she had exited the room with as much dignity as she could muster, while trying desperately to control her emotions.

By the time she had reached the edge of the lake, Hermione’s anger had given way to sadness. Blinking back tears, she sat down on a nearby log and cried heartbrokenly.

Both Harry and Hermione had made him swear to stay away from Ron, but Draco wasn’t sure how much longer he could hold out.

It was difficult because Draco knew that Weasley had some very legitimate grudges against him and, if he was honest, he would not have been so quick to forgive if the situation had been reversed.

But that apart, the Weasel was hurting people that Draco cared about and he wasn’t about to let that continue.

It was almost two weeks since the row with Hermione, and Draco, mindful of his promise, had endured an onslaught of murderous glares, sneering comments and thinly veiled attempts to trip or knock into him at every available opportunity.

Frankly, he was amazed that he had lasted this long. The Draco of old would have hexed the prat outright and been done with it. Actually, Draco reflected, what he would have done was have Crabbe and Goyle beat the crap out of Weasley. But, sadly, that was no longer an option.

Draco had endured more insults than it was reasonable to expect him to tolerate. But he had done it for Harry. In fact, the final action that had tipped him over the edge was an attack on Harry, rather than himself.

Well, not so much of an attack, really, more of a Tripping Jinx. Harry had been making his way to Slughorn’s desk, carrying a flask of their completed potion, when Weasley had seen fit to send him flying.

Harry wasn’t hurt, just a little embarrassed, but that wasn’t the point for Draco. Whilst he had willingly tolerated various attacks on his person, no one touched Harry.

With something akin to a growl, Draco launched at Weasley and sent him flying with a right hook to the jaw.

“You don’t ever touch him again, you worthless piece of shit,” Draco snarled, looming large over Ron’s prone figure and giving him a swift kick to the guts for good measure

“Don’t worry. I have no intention of it. Not now I know where he’s been.” Ron spat a mouthful of blood onto the dungeon floor and glared at his attacker.

At this, Draco pulled his arm back, as if to inflict further damage.

“Draco! No!” Harry cried out, running over and crouching at Ron’s side. “Are you okay?” he asked breathlessly.

Ron smirked up at Draco as Harry helped him up off the floor. Draco just watched, stunned, as Harry fussed over the boy who had just sent him flying across a crowded classroom, and ignored him, the caring boyfriend who had defended his honour.

He flung Hermione’s calming hand off his arm and began to walk away. “Draco, stop,” she called after him.

He stopped and turned to face her, his expression a blank mask. “What for?” he asked tonelessly. “There’s obviously nothing here for me.”

Ron allowed Harry to tend to him until he saw that Draco had walked away. Then, he pushed Harry away with force. “Get off me, queer,” he sneered. “You better run after your little boyfriend. He doesn’t look very happy with you.”

Harry reeled back as though he had been slapped. He stared at Ron’s angry face in stunned disbelief, before turning on his heel and fleeing the scene.

A deeply unpleasant smirk spread across Ron’s face. But it was short-lived, as Hermione’s hand swiftly wiped it off.

When Harry got back to their room, there was no sign of Draco. He fumbled in his trunk for a few moments, before finally locating the Marauder’s Map.

Saying the incantation, he waited impatiently as the spidery lines fanned out across the parchment, revealing the familiar map of Hogwarts. Harry checked all the more obvious places, but could find no sign of his boyfriend. With a heavy heart, he even reluctantly checked both Ernie MacMillan and Theodore Nott’s rooms. He didn’t really think Draco would have gone to either of them, but he couldn’t deny the relief that swept through him when both rooms showed blank.

Most of the other students were heading to the Great Hall for dinner, so the Map was more than a little busy, making it very hard to check. Just as he was going to give up, Harry finally located Draco’s dot in the Headmistress’s office.

Assuming that Professor Slughorn had reported the earlier fight, and hoping Professor McGonagall was not too hard on his boyfriend, Harry settled down to wait for Draco’s return. He would have to come back to their room at some point, even if it was only to sleep.

Now that he had time to think, Harry cursed his earlier stupidity. Of course Draco was angry with him. Hitting Ron was the sort of impulsive action that he might have taken himself, if the situation had been reversed. Draco had been defending him, and instead of showing his gratitude, he had gone to Ron’s aid. It must have looked to Draco like he was picking a side.

Just the thought of Ron made Harry feel sick. How someone he had known so well, and for such a long time, could become so totally unrecognisable, just baffled him.

Yes, he was still grieving for Fred, but so was Ginny, and she hadn’t reacted in this way. In fact, she had actually gone out of her way to get to know Draco.

It wasn’t so much the name calling that bothered Harry; he knew Ron didn’t really care that he was gay. It was the malicious intent behind the words and actions. Ron was becoming the very thing that he still accused Draco of being. Except that Draco had been a product of his upbringing and hadn’t really known better. Ron, on the other hand, did.

It was late in the evening when Draco finally returned to his room. He had deliberately waited as long as possible in the hope that Harry would already be asleep.

After his flight from the dungeons, Draco had been angry and confused. He couldn’t understand why Harry had gone to Weasley’s aide, not after the way that the redhead had treated them both over the last few weeks.

While he would never have asked Harry to choose between them, he had assumed that the Weasel had made the choice himself, by virtue of his recent behaviour.

Not knowing who else he could turn to for advice, Draco had found himself outside the Headmistress’s office, seeking an audience with Professor Snape’s portrait. It wasn’t quite the same as having his old mentor there with him, but, with his father imprisoned and his mother in a constant state of inebriation, it was the closest that Draco could come to familial advice.

Not that having an unbiased conversation with the man, about Harry Potter, was easy. On more than one occasion he had put Draco on the back foot with his acerbic remarks, to the point where Draco found himself being forced to defend Harry.

But his old professor had made some valid points, and he had listened patiently while Draco had vented his spleen. Whether it was the advice given, or simply the result of having someone listen to him, upon leaving the office, Draco found that he was clear about what he needed to do for the best, for all involved.

Now, as he stood in the doorway of his room looking at Harry, who was curled up peacefully in his bed, Draco no longer felt quite so sure of his decisions. He quickly stripped off his clothes and slid quietly into his bed.

“I was worried about you,” came Harry’s sleepy voice from the next bed.

“I’m fine,” Draco answered shortly. “Go back to sleep.”

Draco heard creaking sounds that indicated Harry had sat up in his bed. “I can’t. I waited up so that we could talk.”

“I’m tired,” Draco protested, trying desperately to put off the inevitable.

“Please, Draco. I’m sorry for what I did. I know you were only trying to defend me.”

“It’s a pity you didn’t realise it earlier,” Draco snapped bitterly.

“I really am sorry,” Harry pleaded. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I would never...”

“I know,” Draco replied wearily. “I know you didn’t really mean anything by it, but it still hurt. That...Weasley has treated you like a leper for weeks and still your first instinct was for him. Despite what he’s done, despite everything we’ve shared.”

Harry recognised something in the finality of Draco’s tone that caused his chest to tighten in panic. “It won’t happen again,” he promised desperately.

“You’re right, it won’t,” Draco agreed. “Because I won’t let it. I can’t do this, Harry. I know what I was, what I used to be, but I’ve changed.”

“I know that.”

“But while we’re together, I’ll never be allowed to be anything else other than the person I was. People will look at me and see some Death Eater trying to corrupt their precious Saviour. They won’t give me a second chance, not like you did. And they’ll drag you down with me in the process.”

“What are you saying?” Harry’s voice was tremulous and it caused a pang in Draco’s heart. He was thankful that the room was dark so that Harry couldn’t see the tears in his eyes.

“I’m saying that we can’t do this anymore. We can’t be together.”

There was a long, uncomfortable silence before Harry simply said, “Oh.” It was just one word but it was so full of hurt that Draco wanted nothing more than to pull the other boy into his arms and kiss it all away.

“It’s for the best, really it is. We can still be friends.”

“Don’t,” Harry choked. “Don’t make out that you’re doing this for my sake. I don’t care what people think, Draco. I lov-"

“No,” Draco snapped. “Don’t say that.”

“Why? Are you scared of the truth?” Harry taunted.

“I don’t believe in love. It’s an illusion perpetuated by people desperate to fill some gaping hole in their lives.”

“You don’t really believe that.”

“Why not? It’s the truth.”

“You know what? You were right. We shouldn’t talk about this now. In fact, I don’t think we should talk about this ever again. Goodnight.”

Recognising the dismissal in Harry’s words, Draco turned onto his side and buried himself under the duvet, fighting to stave off the threat of tears.

Hermione could tell straight away the next morning that something was wrong with Harry. But despite relentless questioning, he refused to talk about whatever it was that was bothering him. A quick look at Draco told her that he was similarly burdened, and being the smart witch that she was, put two and two together and came up with two stupid, stubborn boys.

After a week or so of watching Harry walk round as if in some kind of trance, Hermione had finally had enough. She cornered Draco after Ancient Runes and dragged him into a nearby empty classroom.

As it turned out, Draco was only too happy to finally have someone to talk to about it, as Harry had point blank refused to talk to him since he had ended it. By the time he had finished spilling every last detail of the sorry mess, Hermione was sat on a nearby desk, eyeing him disapprovingly.

“You’re an idiot,” she said finally. “You do know that, don’t you?”

Draco grimaced in reply to her words. “It’s for the best,” he replied softly.

“Best for whom? You’re clearly miserable, and I haven’t seen Harry this upset since Sirius died. The only person who this could possibly make happy is Ron. Is that what you want?”

“It will be best in the long run. Weasley’s behaviour is just the tip of the iceberg. Wait ‘til the public find out that their Saviour is a flaming queen and, worse still, that he’s shacked up with a Death Eater.”

“Stop that,” Hermione chided. “You weren’t one of them. You were found innocent, everyone knows that.”

Draco rounded on her, his eyes flashing. “Do you think that anyone actually cares about that? Not everyone is like you and Harry. All most people see is my surname. I’ll never be allowed to forget what I did. And you know what? I shouldn’t be. But Harry doesn’t deserve to be tarred by the same brush.”

Hermione shook her head sadly. “You know Harry doesn’t care about that. He just wants you. He’s put up with more crap from the press than you can possibly imagine. He’s had them calling him everything from an attention seeker, to mentally disturbed, to them virtually accusing him of murder. He doesn’t like it, no. But he would put up with that, and more, if it meant that he got to be with you.”

Draco shook his head and raked long fingers through his hair. “I just don’t want to hurt him any more than he already has been.”

Hermione reached out and grabbed his hand impulsively. “Draco, you’re hurting him far more by doing this, than being with you ever would. Harry’s a big boy; he can handle whatever’s thrown at him. You just have to trust that.”

“It’s been so hard,” Draco admitted. “Being in the same room with him, pretending that I’m happy with just being friends.” He paused and looked at Hermione with wide, grey eyes. “I never wanted it to be like this.”

“I know,” she reassured him. “But you have to put this right. I can’t stand seeing the two of you so miserable.”

“I guess,” Draco agreed uncertainly. “But what if it’s too late? What if he won’t take me back?”

Hermione almost burst out laughing at this. “Are you crazy? Haven’t you noticed the way his face lights up when you enter a room? He’s about as smitten with you as it’s humanly possible to be.”

She got to her feet and smoothed down her clothes. “Just promise me that you’ll give it some thought?”

Draco nodded, lost in thought, and barely noticed as she left the room.

“So, have you thought about it?” Ginny asked as she squashed down on the bench next to Harry, barely noticing that she had sent Neville sprawling in the process.

“Thought about what?” Harry mumbled through a mouthful of bacon.

Ginny rolled her eyes. “Don’t play dumb, Harry. It doesn’t suit you. You know perfectly well that I’m talking about the Halloween dance.”

“What’s that about the dance?” Hermione asked, turning away from her conversation with Susan Bones.

“Harry has kindly agreed to escort me,” Ginny replied with a grin.

Choking on his pumpkin juice, Harry spluttered, “No, I haven’t. I told you that I’m not going.

“Of course you’re going, Harry,” Hermione replied briskly. “It will be our last Hogwarts dance. Why wouldn’t you go?”

Harry shot a nervous glance to where Draco was sitting, just a few seats down the table. “I don’t feel like it,” he said defensively.

“But you have to,” Ginny protested. “I won’t be able to get another partner at such short notice.”

He looked from Ginny’s pouting face, to Hermione’s determined one; Harry just knew that he had already lost the argument. “Fine,” he agreed flatly. “But my dress robes don’t fit me anymore, so don’t blame me if I show you up.”

“That’s not a problem,” Hermione answered blithely. “I’m sure that Professor McGonagall will give us permission to go into Hogsmeade this weekend.

Harry let out a deep sigh at the prospect of shopping, but simply nodded in agreement; when Hermione had that look in her eyes, he knew that it was pointless trying to argue. Casting another look in Draco’s direction, he found that the other boy was staring straight back at him. Flushing slightly under the scrutiny, he promptly returned to his breakfast, trying to ignore his friends’ excited chatter about dress robes and hairstyles.

Making their way from the Great Hall to their Potions classroom, Harry turned to Hermione. “If I’m going with Ginny, and you’re still not speaking to Ron, who are you going to go to the dance with?”

“There are other boys in this school apart from you two, you know?” Hermione huffed. “Is it that hard to believe that someone else might want to take me?”

“No, of course not,” Harry replied quickly. “I just wondered, that’s all.”

“I’m going with Draco, if you must know.”

Harry stopped dead in his tracks and shot her an incredulous look. “Draco,” he repeated, using the calm tone that his close friends knew to be a bad sign.

“Don’t look at me like that. It’s not like there’s anything going on between us.”

“I don’t see why you’re going with him,” Harry persisted stubbornly.

“Because he asked me. Would you rather he took Ernie MacMillan instead?”

“No! Of course not. I just...Oh, never mind. It’s not like it’s any of my business anymore.”

Hermione gave him a sympathetic smile. “He only asked me because he didn’t want to go with anyone as a real date.”

“Whatever.” Harry shrugged. “Like I said, it’s none of my business what he does. He’s made his feelings perfectly clear.”

Hermione opened her mouth to refute this, but as they had now reached their classroom, she thought better of it.

“So, I hear you’ve got a date with the littlest Weasley,” Draco commented later that evening, as they were readying for bed.

“No more than you have with Hermione,” Harry snapped in return. He climbed into bed and pointedly turned his back on his roommate.

“It doesn’t have to be like this, Harry. Can’t we still be friends at least?”

“No, I don’t think we can,” Harry replied, squeezing his eyes shut to fight the tears that were threatening to escape.

“I don’t see why not,” Draco persisted stubbornly.

“Because it’s too hard. You made your choice and now you have to deal with it, like I am.”

“But I didn’t know it was going to be like this.”

“What did you expect, Draco?” Harry snapped, finally turning over to glare at the other boy. “You can’t just end things without discussion and then expect us to just go back to being friends. It doesn’t work like that.”

Without waiting for an answer, Harry rolled back over. “Nox,” he murmured.

Draco lay on his back looking up in the dark, his heart aching from the pain he had seen on Harry’s face. The pain that he had put there. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“So am I,” was Harry’s bitter reply.”

Harry looked up at the sound of the bathroom door opening. Draco stepped out wearing his new, black dress robes, and Harry felt his heart leap into his mouth. The urge to step forward and pull the other boy into his arms was overwhelming. Draco’s skin was almost luminescent in the soft lighting of their room and his hair gleamed in comparison to the dark velvet of his robes.

“What do you think?” Draco asked uncertainly, pausing in the doorway.

Harry couldn’t help but smile at this. “I don’t know why you ask that. You know you look amazing.”

A broad grin split Draco’s face as he preened slightly from the compliment. He ran an appraising eye over Harry in turn. “You don’t look so bad yourself. I’m impressed.”

Harry fidgeted uncomfortably with his new robes. “Ginny picked them. Apparently they bring out my eyes.”

Draco smiled and took a few steps closer. He looked intently into Harry’s face. “She’s right,” he murmured huskily.

Harry felt a flutter of hope in his chest as he noticed Draco’s eyes flicker briefly to his lips. He licked them nervously and watched as Draco’s eyes widened. For just a split second, Harry was convinced that he was going to kiss him. Draco stepped slightly closer, until their bodies were almost touching, the tip of his tongue flicking out to wet his own lips. Harry held his breath, hardly daring to move in case he startled the blond.

“Harry,” Draco said breathlessly.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door and the spell was broken. Draco stepped away, an embarrassed flush on his face, and Harry just glared at the door, willing a painful death on whoever was on the other side.

“Are you two decent?” Hermione enquired, her unusually sleek head peering round the door.

Harry struggled to force a smile onto his face and was careful not to look in Draco’s direction. “Come in, Hermione.”

She stepped into the room with a sheepish smile on her face. “You two look nice.”

Harry looked at his friend and barely recognised her. Her usually frizzy hair had been tamed beyond recognition and was put up in a chic French pleat. Her face was lightly made up and the colour of her eyes was brought out by the soft, dusky pink of her robes.

“Wow,” Harry said. “You look...” he trailed off here, uncertain as to what to say.

Draco walked forward and took hold of her hand. Bowing low, he pressed a soft kiss to the back of it. “What my inarticulate friend is trying to say is that you look beautiful.”

She flushed at the compliment and gave a most un-Hermione-like giggle. “You’re such a charmer,” she teased lightly. “Are you ready to go?”

Draco nodded his agreement, and after bidding farewell to Harry, they both left the room.

“Come on, Harry,” Ginny chided, as he hung back at the entrance to the Great Hall. “This is the last dance like this that we’ll ever get to go to. You could at least pretend to enjoy yourself.”

Harry muttered something unintelligible, but nonetheless took Ginny’s arm and guided her towards an empty table. He had gotten her halfway across the room, when she pulled back on his hand.

“Let’s go over this way. I can see Hermione over there, look.”

Harry didn’t have to look to see where his friend was sitting. Draco’s blond head shone like a beacon in any room, and he had been deliberately trying to avoid him. It was going to be hard enough to make it through the night as it was, without the added torture of being forced to look at Draco all evening.

Ginny seemed unfettered by such concerns. She practically dragged him over to the other side of the Hall, brushing aside any protest he made.

“Don’t be silly,” she instructed; rather unsympathetically, Harry thought.

Hermione smiled warmly at them, and Draco’s eyes seemed to linger on Harry just a little longer than was necessary. It was too much, and Harry was confused enough without Draco adding to it tonight. He turned abruptly to Ginny, who had barely sat down.

“Let’s dance,” he suggested, with rather more eagerness than he felt.

This provoked raised eyebrows from the rest of the table’s occupants, but they wisely remained silent. Ginny got to her feet and took hold of Harry’s proffered hand.

“Okay,” she agreed. “But if you tread on my feet, I’m hexing you.”

As conspicuous as Harry felt, clumsily leading Ginny round the dance floor, he felt that it was infinitely less uncomfortable than trying to make small talk with Draco. Since the night that they had broken up, Harry had gone out of his way to avoid the other boy; it was just too hard to hide his feelings.

Ginny was perfectly aware of what Harry was doing, but allowed him several songs' grace before she insisted on returning to their table. Hermione was alone at the table when they returned and he gratefully sank into an empty chair.

“Where’s Draco?” Ginny asked, giving voice to the question she knew Harry was dying to ask.

“He’s gone to get us some punch. It’s good stuff,” Hermione said, indicating the empty glass in front of her.

Ginny turned pleading eyes to Harry and before she even asked, he was on his feet. “Okay,” he sighed. “I suppose anything is better than sitting here listening to you two critiquing everyone else’s outfits.”

“I think you have us confused with Draco,” Hermione replied primly.

Harry just grimaced and headed off in the direction of the drinks table. He kept an eye out for any sign of Draco, hoping to avoid contact if possible. However, as he neared the table, he found himself only feet away from the other boy. Not that Draco noticed, however, as he looked to be lost in deep conversation with Theodore Nott, who appeared to be flirting rather badly.

Harry’s long-dead chest monster roared into life at the sight of this. He took several deep breaths in a vain effort to calm himself and his fists clenched so tightly that his knuckles were white and his fingernails dug deep into his palms.

“I can’t do this,” he muttered to himself, and swiftly turned on his heel and fled the Hall, failing to notice the concerned grey eyes that followed his exit.

Instead of returning to his room, which he was sure would be the first place anyone would look, he headed out of the main doors and into the grounds.

How long he sat by the edge of the lake, he wasn’t sure. But eventually he heard the sound of someone approaching and, standing up, he turned to find Draco watching him intently.

“It wasn’t what it looked like,” Draco said, before Harry had a chance to speak. “Theo and I, I mean. We were just talking.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Harry replied dully. “It’s none of my business what you do.”

“But I want it to be,” Draco replied softly, stepping even closer.

Harry looked at the blond, hope blossoming in his eyes. “You mean...?”

“I mean, I was an arse.”

“Yes, you were,” Harry agreed.

“You will forgive me though, won’t you? It is a rather lovely arse, after all.”

Harry couldn’t help but chuckle at this. “That’s what I’ve missed about you, your overwhelming modesty.” Holding out his hand, he continued, “Would you and your lovely arse like to join me back on the dance floor?”

Draco took hold of his boyfriend’s hand and pressed a gentle kiss to his palm. “Yes,” he whispered. He paused here and gave a small smirk. “It’s just my feet that are a little reluctant. They seem to have bad memories of you at the Yule Ball.”

Harry pulled Draco towards him and cupped his boyfriend’s face with both hands. He pressed a gentle kiss to the tip of his nose, watching with affection as Draco wrinkled it in protest. “You are a git,” Harry said, smiling softly. “But I promise I won’t tread on your delicate toes. I’ll even let you lead.”

Hermione and Ginny were waiting by the main entrance as the two boys entered, hand in hand. Harry smiled happily at his two friends, while Draco mock glared at both girls in response to the muffled squeals of delight that came from behind their hands.

Upon re-entering the Great Hall, Draco ignored the pointed stares and whispers of their classmates as he led Harry onto the dance floor. He stopped them in the centre of the floor and turned to gaze at his boyfriend, an expression of absolute adoration on his face. Unable to resist, Harry leant forward and quickly kissed him.

Ignoring the resulting gasp that echoed around the room, Draco wrapped his arms firmly around Harry and began to guide him effortlessly around the room. He noticed, with some degree of satisfaction, when Ron Weasley slammed his drink down on the table with a look of disgust in their direction.

For one moment, Draco thought that the other boy was going to come over and confront them, and he tensed in preparation. However, Ginny and Hermione had spotted the impending confrontation and had headed the impetuous redhead off. Draco smiled smugly to himself as the Weasel stormed from the room.

When the lilting strains of the waltz finally came to an end, Draco stepped back and bowed to Harry, before pulling him close and kissing him soundly. Harry let out a little squeak of surprise as he felt Draco’s warm lips press against his own, but he swiftly forgot all about their audience and relaxed into the embrace.

When the boys finally pulled apart in search of air, the sound of clapping began to echo through the room. Looking over, they saw Hermione and Ginny stood at the edge of the dance floor applauding wildly.

“About bloody time, too,” Ginny yelled, much to the delight of the crowd.

That was all it took for the rest of their classmates to join in, and quickly the Great Hall was filled with the sound of cheers and wolf-whistles. More than a little embarrassed, Harry buried his face in the crook of Draco’s neck.

“Can we get out of here?” he whispered.

Draco pressed his lips to the top of Harry’s messy head. “Anything you want,” he replied. “Anything.”

The two boys had barely made it inside their bedroom before Harry had Draco pressed up against the wall, his lips attacking the blond’s throat, while his hands quickly divested his boyfriend of his robes.

“Missed you so much,” he gasped in between pressing open-mouthed kisses along Draco’s jaw line.

Draco buried his fingers deep in Harry’s messy hair. “Missed you, too,” he replied, his voice thick with emotion. “Want you so much.”

As Draco lowered his hands and began to fiddle with the clasps on Harry’s robes, he found his hands batted away.

“No,” Harry almost growled. “Not yet. Want to see you naked first.”

If Draco thought there was anything odd in this request, then he certainly didn’t show it. His fingers flew to the buttons on his shirt and began undoing them eagerly. Harry’s own fingers were already at Draco’s belt, swiftly sliding the leather strap through the loops, before turning his attention to the trouser fastenings.

Once Draco’s trousers were removed, Harry dropped to his knees, his face level with his boyfriend’s crotch. Draco looked down, barely able to tear his eyes away from Harry’s face; the flush of arousal was so enticing.

Harry pressed one palm to Draco’s chest and ran it all the way down his chest, right down to his erection, which was straining desperately against the thin fabric of his boxers.

“So beautiful,” he murmured, before leaning forward and slowly mouthing Draco’s cock through the silk of his underwear.

Draco’s his thrust forward almost involuntarily. “Please,” he begged.

“Please what, Draco?” Harry asked huskily. “D’you want me to suck you?”

“Merlin, yes,” Draco groaned.

Harry pulled his mouth away from Draco’s cock. “I don’t know,” he mused teasingly. “I’m not sure if you deserve it, after the way you’ve acted recently.”

Harry’s actions belied his words, though, as his thumbs hooked under the waistband of Draco’s boxers and slowly eased them down. Draco’s cock, like every other part of him, was pale, slender and absolutely irresistible.

Harry wrapped his hand around the base and slowly flicked out his tongue to swipe a drop of pre-cum off the head.

“Like that?” he asked, as Draco whimpered audibly. “Want me to continue?”

“Fucking tease,” Draco hissed, pressing his hips forward so that his cock bobbed closer to his boyfriend’s face.

Taking pity on his frustrated boyfriend, Harry lowered his head and took the head of Draco’s cock into his mouth. Draco forced himself to look down as his erection slid between Harry’s swollen lips. There was something incredibly erotic about the way his boyfriend’s cheeks hollowed with every effort to take his length deeper.

As Harry lapped eagerly at his cock, Draco buried his fingers in his boyfriend’s thick locks, tenderly massaging his scalp.

When Harry pulled away, Draco whimpered loudly, protesting the loss of that delicious, wet heat.

“Don’t worry, I’m not done yet.” Harry smirked and Draco was convinced that that was his smirk grinning back at him. “On the bed,” Harry instructed, and without stopping to question his obedience, Draco hopped up onto the bed and lay stretched out on his back, eagerly awaiting his boyfriend’s next move.

“Lube?” Harry asked roughly.

“Second drawer down,” Draco answered, finding himself surprisingly turned on by this new, forceful approach. The other times that they had had sex, Draco had very definitely been in charge. Harry had been a virgin when they got together and had been only too glad to let his more experienced boyfriend take the lead.

Harry seemed to spend a long time rifling through the drawer. “Found it?” Draco asked impatiently.

Harry stood up and looked at him with a wicked grin on his face. “Oh yes, I’ve found it.” With that, he pointed his wand at Draco and murmured: “Incarcerous.”

With a feeling of apprehension, Draco found that both his hands and feet were now bound to the corners of his bed. He bucked against his restraints.

“What are you doing?”

Harry just grinned at him again. “I was thinking that I forgave you far too easily. Perhaps you need to be taught a lesson.”

Draco’s eyes widened at this. “W-W-What...?”

“Shh,” Harry soothed, one finger pressed to his boyfriend’s lips. “It will be a nice lesson, I promise.”

Very slowly Harry removed his own clothing. By the time he slipped off his underwear, revealing his thick, hard cock, Draco was desperately humping the air, his own cock begging for some attention.

“You really aren’t very patient, are you?”

“Please,” Draco begged, barely sure at this point exactly what he was begging for.

“Do you remember this, Draco?”

Harry held in his hand the quill with the long feather that Draco had used to tease him with. He began to trace the feather lightly along Draco’s torso.

“You got me so hard that day.”

Draco whimpered as the feather slid down to brush against his thighs. “I was hard for hours,” Harry continued. “And no way to take care of it.”

Harry leant down and tenderly brushed the stray strands of blond hair off Draco’s damp forehead. “Maybe I should do that to you,” he mused, before finally stroking the quill along his boyfriend’s sensitive shaft.

“No! Please don’t,” Draco gasped, arching off the bed as shivers of pleasure coursed through his body.

“I won’t,” Harry agreed. “I’d be punishing myself as much as you.” He knelt on the bed and crawled over Draco with a predatory gleam in his eyes. “I’d much rather fuck you instead.”

Draco mewled delightfully as he felt Harry’s hard length brush against his own.

“Would you like that, Draco? My cock filling you so hard that you can barely remember your own name?” Harry gave a slight thrust of his hips as he spoke, and Draco almost sobbed with desire.

“Yes. Fuck yes.”

Harry sat back on his heels and looked at the arousing picture his boyfriend made, spread out in front of him. He took hold of the lube and squeezed some on his fingers.

“More,” Draco instructed nervously.

Harry looked at him in surprise. “You haven’t done this before?” It was a statement more than a question.

Draco shook his head as much as his restricted movement would allow. “You’re the first,” he admitted, blushing.

Harry dropped the pot of lube, crawled back up his boyfriend’s body and placed a tender, almost chaste kiss to his lips.

“I love you,” he murmured softly. When Draco opened his mouth to speak, Harry’s fingers came to rest on his lips. “You don’t have to say anything. I know how you feel about it, but I just wanted you to know.”

Draco lay back on the pillow and gazed into the green eyes of his boyfriend, wondering if it was even possible to put into words what he felt at that moment. But then the fingers were gone from his mouth and, after being further slicked with lube, were inserted into a much more intimate part of his anatomy.

Draco hissed in a breath as he felt Harry slide in a third finger, stretching him, working him open. Although he had never bottomed, he had certainly inserted things in himself before; he had a lovely dildo at home that he had no intention of ever telling Harry about. But there was something about the feeling of Harry’s fingers as they stretched and twisted inside him, giving him such an incredible feeling of fullness.

“Are you ready?” Harry asked uncertainly.

Draco nodded. “Pillow,” he gasped as fingertips brushed against his prostate.

“Lift up, then.” Draco obliged and Harry promptly placed a pillow under his hips. From that angle he could see Draco’s puckered opening, glistening with lube, and it was all he could do not to bury his cock in the blond right then.

Instead, Harry reached over for his wand and removed the restraints on Draco’s legs. He smoothly raised those lean calves until they rested snugly on his shoulders, running his fingertips soothingly down the sensitive flesh of his boyfriend’s inner thighs.

“Ready?” he questioned.

Draco gave an answering thrust of his hips. “Just do it, please.”

As he felt a cock, Harry’s cock, penetrate him for the first time, Draco’s head lolled back onto the bed. His eyes fluttered closed and he just lost himself in the sensation.

It took every last ounce of Harry’s self-control for him not to come the second he felt the tight heat of Draco’s hole envelop his cock. Gritting his teeth, he stilled his movements and rested his damp forehead against his boyfriend’s. When he finally had himself under control, he gazed deeply into Draco’s eyes, which were now almost silver with arousal.

“Okay?” Draco asked.

Harry nodded and kissed him hard before pulling back. When he buried himself in Draco the second time, the blond let out possibly the most erotic sound that Harry had ever heard. Taking this as encouragement, he gripped tightly onto Draco’s thighs and began to thrust harder, making sure to angle his cock so that it hit his boyfriend’s prostate.

The keening noises escaping Draco’s throat went straight to Harry’s cock, and he just knew he wouldn’t be able to last much longer. He reached down and wrapped a hand around Draco’s straining erection.”

“Mine,” he growled possessively and began stroking firmly in time to his own thrusts.

“Yes,” Draco hissed, his back arching off the bed as pearls of white come spurted from his cock over his chest and over Harry’s stroking hand, too.

The sight of Draco’s orgasm was all it took for Harry to relinquish the tight control he had forced on himself. Slamming home one more time, burying himself deeper than ever before inside Draco’s tight channel, Harry came hard, babbling words of love and devotion as he did so.

The feel of Harry’s cock pulsing inside him, filling him with his seed, was possibly the most complete that Draco had ever felt before. There was something just so right about it, about him and Harry, together.

With the last remaining bit of energy he had left, Harry leaned over and picked up his wand one more time and promptly released the bonds on Draco’s wrists. That done, he slumped, bonelessly, onto his boyfriend’s chest, his face nuzzling in the crook of Draco’s neck.

Draco looked down at the relaxed face of his boyfriend and promptly wrapped him tightly in an embrace.

“Harry,” he whispered. Green eyes rose to look at him intently. “I love you,” he continued nervously.

“You don’t have to say it, Draco. Not just because I did.”

“I know I don’t have to. I’m saying it because I want to, because it’s true. I didn’t know that I did until tonight, but I do. I love you.”

“Say that again,” Harry demanded, his voice thick with emotion.

“I love you, Harry Potter. I can’t believe that I nearly let you go, and I’m so sorry for hurting you. I don’t blame you if you never forgive me.”

Harry nuzzled closer against him, their faces only inches apart. “Just promise me you won’t leave me again.”

Draco’s arms tightened round his boyfriend’s body. “Never,” he promised. “I’ll never leave you again.”