Monday morning, Harry and Draco sat at breakfast with McGonagall and most of the rest of the professors.
“So, what did you do after I left last night?” Draco asked subtly.
“I went to bed shortly after. I was completely knackered,” Harry leaned in and whispered. “How about you?”
“I went straight to bed. It’s been a long few weeks and I haven’t been sleeping well.”
“You haven’t?” Harry was concerned.
Knox strolled in and nodded. “Morning gentlemen, Minerva.”
“Good morning Knox,” Minerva smiled. “Ready to begin your second full week of classes?”
“Yes. Thanks to Harry. He’s been a big help.” Knox sat in the vacant seat, third down from the Headmistress, next to the DADA professor and winked at him.
“I’m so pleased at the way you young professors have come together.”
Draco suddenly stood and bowed slightly to the Headmistress. “Excuse me. I just remembered a matter which requires my attention.”
He walked swiftly past the student tables and out of the Great Hall. Before long, he heard footsteps coming up behind him.
“Draco, wait.” It was Harry.
Draco turned to face him. “When did lying come so easy to you?”
“I saw Knox go to your room after I left.”
Harry frowned. “I didn’t lie. Well, I didn’t mean to lie. It wasn’t important enough to mention.” He sighed. “He only popped by for a second to borrow some ink until he can get some in Diagon Alley.”
“All this talk about how much you trust me,” Draco said, defiantly crossing his arms over his chest. “I never even questioned whether or not I should trust you.”
“You don’t trust me? After what I did for you last night?”
Draco relaxed his stance, and let his arms fall to his sides.
“Yes. Of course I trust you. It’s him I don’t trust.” Draco didn’t have to specify which him he was talking about.
“How many times do I have to tell you? I’m not interested in Knox.” Harry sighed heavily. “If you truly trust me, it shouldn’t matter who I’m with. Just like it doesn’t matter who you spend time with.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means you have to get over this jealousy.”
Draco opened his mouth to retort. But Harry was right. He didn’t even know why he was jealous. Perhaps because Knox’s branch of the family tree hadn’t brought shame to it. Knox’s father wasn’t in Azkaban, and never once tried to do harm to Harry or his friends. Knox wasn’t spoiled, though his family had money. He was good-looking enough, and projected a clean cut version of Draco himself. Draco wondered if Harry noticed any family resemblance. It was probably the thing Draco hated most about Knox.
As a child, Draco overheard Knox’s great grandmother talking about how the two of them could pass for brothers. She had gone so far as referring to Draco as the evil twin. He knew it was what they all thought of him on that side of the family. The fact that Lucius had been a suspected Death Eater only fueled the rivalry.
Draco was relieved when Knox’s family moved to America, and his great grandmother passed away. He attended the funeral with a fair amount of guilt, thinking he wished her dead. Childhood fears are often unreasonable and difficult to outgrow.
As adults, Knox and Draco no longer shared many of the physical traits they had as children. While Draco’s hair remained almost translucent, the blond in Knox’s hair dulled to dirty. And though they were nearly the same height, Knox carried several pounds more. No, at first glance the family connection wasn’t obvious. But it was there.
It was his eyes. Grey, like Draco’s. And nearly the same shape. It was still like looking into a mirror for Draco. He was desperately afraid that Harry would look into those eyes and see the best of what Draco could be. Without all the baggage.
“Draco?” He had no idea how long he’d been standing there lost in thought.
“I’m sorry,” Draco shook his head. “I know I’m not an easy person to be around.”
“You are for me. Look, I don’t know what the issue is between you two. But whatever it is, it doesn’t have anything to do with us. You can’t let it come between you and me.”
Harry reached up and touched Draco’s loose hair. It was getting longer but was still soft as ever.
“Hermione sent me an owl this morning. She wants us to get together this coming weekend. At Hogsmeade, or somewhere else. It doesn’t matter.” Harry smiled. “She says she has news. I guess Ron didn’t tell her I knew about the proposal.”
“Good,” Draco nodded. “You haven’t seen her in a while. It’ll be good for you.”
“We were both invited, Draco.” Harry paused. “Don’t look so surprised.”
“I have duty, remember?”
“Then I’ll have them come here. We can have the house elves make us supper. Or they can bring take away. Please say yes.”
“All right. If you’re sure they want around me, too.”
“Hermione made a point of it,” Harry reassured him. “And Ron’s coming around. Really.”
Students began streaming out of the Great Hall.
“I’ve got to go,” said Draco. “I’d like to get to class before the students. See you later.” He gave a genuine smile before he left.
As he walked to the dungeons, he thought perhaps Harry was right. It was silly for him to be jealous. Harry could have had his pick of any wizard he wanted. Probably a good number of straight ones included. But he chose Draco. Knox didn’t have anything particularly special to offer Harry.
He was feeling a little better about the situation and began laying out the ingredients for the day’s potion. By the time he was finished, most of the students were seated and ready for class.
“Good morning,” Draco addressed the group.
“Good morning professor,” many said in unison.
“Today’s class is strictly potion making. We have a double period, so you’ll have plenty of time. If you’ve taken proper notes, this potion will go smoothly. If not,” he glanced at Casper Montague. “Warn your neighbor. Or better yet, ask for help.”
Casper averted his eyes, appearing a bit panicked.
“First, though, I’m assigning new seats,” Draco announced.
He paired Casper with a boy he knew to be meticulous, hoping it would rub off on the boy.
Throughout the period, Draco walked about the room, peering into cauldrons, inspecting technique, and occasionally advising, in order to avoid disaster. To his surprise, Montague’s potion didn’t explode or take on a life of its own. It actually seemed to work.
“Montague,” Draco said, leaning over the boy’s cauldron.
Casper looked up and blinked.
The boy beamed and let out a sigh of relief. “Thank you, professor.”
Alastair, the student next to Casper, nudged him when Draco walked away. “Oi, when did you suddenly become a swot?”
Montague shrugged. “I don’t know.” He didn’t want to tell anyone he’d been getting private tutoring.
Alastair narrowed his eyes. “Well, you’d better keep it up if you’re going to be my partner.”
As the professor made his way around the room, Casper watched. When Draco stopped at Penelope Pipshaw’s cauldron, he glanced over at the boy and smiled. Blushing, Casper looked down and pretended to study his notes.
All in all, the Draught of Peace was a success. Draco was pleased, with his Fifth Years, at least. The Seventh Years were slacking, but he still had time to whip them into shape before the N.E.W.T.s.
The situation with Casper Montague being managed, Draco felt the stress ease up. Perhaps there would be no more private potion making. Ron was investigating Narcissa’s accident, and there was little Draco could do to help there. He was free to concentrate on his relationship with Harry more diligently.
Saturday, after supper, upon returning from Hogsmeade with Knox, Harry bound up the staircase to Draco’s room.
“Well, this is a surprise,” Draco said as he opened his door. “I didn’t think I’d see you tonight.”
“I have something for you.”
“Hmm. I suppose if we’re quick enough we could fit it in,” Draco grinned.
Harry laughed and held out a small bag. “I brought you some toffee and fudge.” He knew Draco didn’t indulge in sweets very often, but when he did, those were his favorites.
“Thank you,” Draco smiled. He took the bag, avoiding eye contact. “And, um, how was the trip?”
“It was fine,” Harry said as he sat down on the settee. “I got some new parchment, and a book for tomorrow. We can still read together tomorrow, can’t we?”
“Yes, but it will have to be here. I’m sorry. I know your sofa is much more comfortable.”
“That’s okay. As long as we still spend the day together.”
“No shagging, though.”
“Damn,” Harry smirked. “I guess I’ll have to find someone else, then.”
By the look on Draco’s face, Harry could tell his little joke had not gone over well.
“I’m kidding. Draco, you know I’m kidding.”
Harry was unconvinced. But a knock on the door distracted him from carrying the conversation further. Grateful, Draco walked to the door to find a familiar face.
“Casper. Is everything all right?”
“Yes professor. I just wanted to thank you for today. For everything really.”
“You made your potion on your own. You can thank yourself,” Draco replied. When the boy hesitated, Draco prodded. “Was there something else?”
“Um, I was hoping for a little advice actually. For my friend.”
“Oh?” Draco quirked an eyebrow.
Montague opened and closed his mouth several times before any words came out. “Well, how do I . . . I mean, how would my friend go about . . . letting someone else know how he feels about them?”
“You’re asking me advice about your love life?”
The boy blushed. “No. I said my friend,” he added quickly.
“Casper, aren’t you a bit young to have a love life?”
“Oh, Professor Malfoy, you have no idea how much I -- oh, Professor Potter.”
“Good evening, Casper.” Harry appeared in the doorway next to Draco.
“Good evening. Uh, well, never mind . . . I guess,” Casper stammered. “Good night.” He turned on his heel and bounded down the staircase as fast as his legs would carry him.
“What was that all about?” Harry asked.
“He’s a bit high strung. It’s nothing,” Draco answered vaguely. Casper had specifically requested Draco not share their last conversation with anyone. And as much as he wanted to share everything with Harry, it wasn’t his place to talk about the boy’s woes.
“Did I hear you say something about his love life?” Harry raised an eyebrow.
“He just wanted some advice.”
“I’m sure,” Harry replied, a sarcastic tone in his voice.
Draco slumped his shoulders. “I promised I wouldn’t tell.”
They regarded one another for a few moments, then Harry relented.
“All right. I suppose if he confided in you, you shouldn’t breach his trust.”
“It’s nothing, really,” assured Draco. “Are you planning on staying tonight?” He kissed Harry’s neck, giving it a small nibble. His hand wandered to the front of Harry’s trousers.
“McGonagall made it very clear that we are not to be found in one another’s quarters after hours when we’re on duty.”
“I’m already half hard. We can make it a quick one,” Draco whispered against Harry’s skin.
“You just had a student come to your door. What if another one comes calling?”
“We can make it a threesome,” Draco joked.
Harry pulled away. “That’s not even remotely funny.”
“Come on, Harry, I was only joking.”
“I don’t suppose you’d think it was funny if I said something like that about Knox.”
“Thank you. That was more effective than a cold shower,” Draco said. “And you did earlier, by the way.”
“When you said you’d have to find someone else to shag.” Harry shook his head in disbelief. “I didn’t say anything about Knox. I was kidding. I wasn’t even thinking about him.”
After a long silence, Harry turned to leave.
“I’m sorry. Don’t go. You’re right. It’s just my imagination conjuring up the worst.”
“How many times do I have to tell you? Knox is simply a colleague. I don’t find him appealing. It doesn’t matter what he says or does, I’m not interested. I love you.”
“At least now you admit he’s after you.”
“I admitted no such thing. I’m not even convinced he’s gay. And he’s never propositioned me or done anything inappropriate.”
“For crying out loud, Harry. I could tell he was bent when we were children. You can’t really be that naive as to miss all of his innuendos and suggestive comments. I’ll give him credit for not being overbearing, but Knox has definitely been trying to seduce you.”
“Go ahead, call me naive. But you’re being obtuse.”
“Yes. Get it through that cynical, Slytherin brain of yours . . . I’m not interested in him!” Harry yelled. It was the first time he could remember shouting at Draco in anger since they began working together, or dating. “You’re being ridiculous.”
“And you’re being a tease.”
With that, Harry turned to leave. “Let me know when you’re ready to grow up.” He stormed out, leaving Draco to fume on his own.
Draco stood where he was for a few minutes, convinced that Harry would be back to continue their discussion. Hopefully, they’d be able to speak more calmly about the situation.
When five minutes had passed, Draco realized that Harry wasn’t coming back. He flopped down onto the settee and began mentally berating himself.
The whoosh of his fireplace cut short his pity party.
“Oi, Draco! You there?” It was Blaise, and his impeccable timing.
“Not now Zabini.”
“Uh oh. Trouble in paradise?”
“Fuck off,” Draco spat.
“Well, I would, but Daphne’s out tonight,” Blaise grinned. “What’s happened, mate?”
Sighing heavily, Draco replied, “Exactly what you told me would happen. He’s too good for me. And now someone better has come along.”
“He broke up with you?”
“Not yet. But if I can’t control my jealousy, he will.”
“Who’s the bloke?” Blaise questioned. “Or is it a bird?”
“It’s a bloke. And you’ll never guess who. Do you remember that whiny little shit, Knox?”
Blaise furrowed his brow. “Not really.”
“He was two years behind us. I don’t even know how he made it into Slytherin. You must remember him. Back then, he looked a bit like me.”
“Oh, yeah,” Blaise laughed. “The one we called Knockers? I forgot all about him. He’s a cousin, right?”
“Very distant,” Draco corrected. “Now he’s back here, teaching Charms.”
“And he’s caught Potter’s eye?”
“Other way around. So Harry says. The git has been coming on to him since he got here. And Harry is either too Gryffindor to see it, or he sees it and . . . “
“Likes it?” Blaise asked. “What does Potter say?”
“He denies it, of course. Says it’s all in my head.” Draco crossed his arms over his chest and narrowed his eyes at Zabini’s expression. “What?”
“Not that I’m an expert or anything, but maybe you ought to take Potter at his word.”
“Traitor,” Draco quipped.
“If you’re not careful, you’ll drive Potter right into that other bloke’s arms. Sort of like a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
Draco relaxed his stance. “You think so?”
“Whenever Daphne gets too clingy, it only makes me want to take off.”
Giving it some thought, Draco paused. “I have been acting like a clingy girl,” he admitted. “Should I apologize?”
“Shite, you must really have it bad for Potter. You don’t apologize for anything,” Blaise chuckled.
Draco bowed his head. “I do,” he said quietly. “Fuck it all. I do.”
“I thought that once you had a taste, you would have gotten him out of your system,” Blaise said. “All these years, I figured it was just lust after something you couldn’t have. But you really love him, don’t you?”
Nodding, Draco replied, “Yes.”
“Then you should back off, mate. If he says nothing’s going on, maybe nothing’s going on.”
“Maybe you’re right,” Draco agreed. “Who’d have ever thought I’d be taking advice on love from Blaise Zabini,” he laughed.
“Chump,” Blaise grinned. “How about I take you to lunch tomorrow? Take your mind off Potter for a while.”
“Can’t. I have duty all this weekend. The professors have been taking turns being available on weekends to students and heading up detentions. This is my weekend. Harry has next weekend. How about then?”
“All right. Sounds great,” Blaise said. “In the meantime, don’t be such a pussy. Potter’s never going to find a better shag than you,” he winked.
“Ta,” Blaise called out disappeared.
Draco sat on his settee for a while, considering his conversation with Blaise. He didn’t want to be a pussy, as Blaise put it, but he decided a quick trip to Harry’s room was in order.
Harry was clearly surprised to see Draco at his door when he opened it. Draco’s first thought was that perhaps he was hoping it would be Knox. Then he shook that thought from his head.
“Before you say anything, I’m sorry,” Draco began. “I trust you. And if you tell me there’s nothing for me to worry about, then I believe you.” It was most difficult for him to swallow his pride. But more difficult for him to imagine losing Harry.
Harry smiled. “I’m sorry too. I shouldn’t have trivialized your feelings.”
“I shouldn’t have been so jealous.”
“No, you shouldn’t.” Harry stepped closer and drew Draco into a hug. “You have no reason to be. I love you.”
Draco bit his lip and tried to peek inside the room.
“He’s not here, Draco,” Harry chuckled. “Stop looking for trouble.”
“Oh.” He pulled away. “I’ll work on that, I promise.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever known someone so cocky and yet so insecure at the same time,” Harry smirked.
“I’ve good reason to be both.”
“Well, you’ve good reason to be cocky,” Harry wiggled his eyebrows. “I wish I could take advantage of that right now.”
“Merlin, so do I. But I should go back to my quarters. With my luck, McGonagall will be looking for me.”
Harry gave him a gentle kiss. “See you tomorrow, then?”
“Are Granger and Weasley coming?” Draco caught himself too late. “I meant Hermione and Ron.”
Laughing, Harry told him, “At least you’re trying. They’re coming around six o’clock. We’ll bring supper to your room, if that’s okay.”
“What about tomorrow morning?” Draco asked shyly.
“I told you I bought a new book. Did you think I was that angry I’d cancel? It’s gonna take a whole lot more than one little fight to get rid of me.”
Feeling better, Draco walked back to his own room. By the time he got into bed that night, he was actually looking forward to their supper with Ron and Hermione. He decided Blaise didn’t need to know about that.