After decimating the Chinese food, Ron, Hermione, Harry and Draco lounged with full bellies. Ron lay down on the settee while Hermione sat on the floor in front of him, leaning her head against his leg. Harry had pulled a few pillows from Draco’s bed and the two of them were lying side by side on the floor facing the other two.
“I can’t believe how much we ate,” Hermione hiccuped.
“You mean how much Ron ate,” Harry laughed.
“Hey, I didn’t eat any more than you,” Ron protested. “Maybe more than Malfoy, definitely more than Mione, but not more than you.”
“You did eat a lot, Harry,” Draco said, leisurely twirling a lock of Harry’s hair.
“Traitor,” Harry joked. “Did you like the food?”
“Some of it, yes. I liked the noodle dish, and the shrimp. Not the dumplings. Or that strange omelet thing in gravy.”
“You didn’t like the egg foo young?” Ron asked. “That’s one of my favorites.”
Hermione picked up two fortune cookies and tossed them to Harry and Draco. She handed one back to Ron.
“What’s this?” Draco asked of the cellophane wrapped treat.
“A fortune cookie,” Harry answered. “I don’t really like to eat them, but they have a fortune inside.”
“I’m guessing by fortune, you don’t mean money,” Draco smiled.
“Oh man, mine is always stupid,” Ron grumbled.
“What does it say?” Hermione asked.
He held it up. “Feeding a cow with roses does not get extra appreciation.”
“What does that mean?” Draco questioned.
“How the bloody hell should I know? I never get anything that makes sense.”
“Every flower blooms in its own sweet time,” Hermione read aloud.
“Of course, yours makes sense,” Ron said with his mouth full of cookie.
Harry turned to Draco. “Read yours.”
Draco cracked open the hard cookie and took out the small piece of paper. He frowned a little, then read, “You cannot love the life you live until you live the life you love.”
“Ooh, that’s telling,” Hermione chuckled.
“They don’t really mean anything Mione,” Ron said.
“Oh, you’re just a party pooper because you didn’t like yours. What’s yours say Harry?”
“Okay. Your first love has never forgotten you.”
“Does that mean the first person you were in love with, or the first person to fall in love with you?” Ron questioned. “You gonna eat that?” He indicated the cookie.
Harry tossed Ron the two cookies halves. “I don’t know. I suppose it could be interpreted either way. But seeing as I’ve only ever been in love once . . .” he smiled at Draco. “That means I’ll never forget you.”
Hermione giggled at seeing Harry so openly affectionate. He’d always been so reserved about his feelings in matters of love. Even with Ginny.
“Or maybe,” Harry gave Draco a small kiss on the cheek. “It means you have never forgotten me, and never will.”
“You think Draco is the first person to fall in love with you, Harry?” Ron laughed. “I’ll bet there were lots of girls that thought they were in love with you while we were still in school.”
“And at least one boy,” Draco muttered.
“Oh,” Hermione sat up straighter. “Are you saying you really did have feelings for Harry back during the war?”
“I shouldn’t have said anything,” Harry said.
Ignoring Harry and still addressing Draco, Hermione continued. “So, when you said at the pub that night that you’d been in love with him for a long time, you weren’t exaggerating just for drama. You literally meant that you’ve been in love with him all these years. Since when?”
“Hermione, you’re embarrassing him,” Harry scolded.
“It’s all right, Harry,” Draco put a hand on Harry’s. “Maybe it will make them feel better to know that this isn’t just a passing fancy for me.” He looked at Hermione. “I don’t exactly when I began to see Harry differently. Probably during Sixth year, when I learned first-hand what it meant to be forced to play a role on a war I didn’t start.”
“You were supposed to kill Dumbledore,” Hermione said solemnly.
At first surprised she knew, Draco nodded. “Of course, you would have told them.”
“He also told us you couldn’t do it,” she said. “Is that when you started having feelings for Harry?”
“No. Actually, I was still pissed off at him for the hex. But I respected him. Something I hadn’t done before that. That was why I didn’t identify him when he was brought to the manor.”
“That was very helpful,” Hermione commented.
“I realized that I was on the side that wouldn’t be winning,” Draco said. “Wait, it was more than that. I was on the side that shouldn’t win. I knew that, and I wanted Harry to win. I know my actions didn’t always reflect that. But it was necessary to keep up appearances in order to stay alive. I couldn’t even trust my friends. As you can all attest.”
“The fiendfyre,” Ron grunted.
Draco nodded. “But then, you did the unimaginable.” He looked at Harry. “You saved me, when you could have gotten rid of me forever. I guess that was when I saw what a truly amazing person you are.” He focused on Hermione. “Whatever happened to me and my family, I knew Harry needed to win. So did my mother.”
“Your mother. That’s right! I almost forgot to tell you,” Ron exclaimed. “I did some investigating. It’s looking more and more like your mother’s accident wasn’t an accident at all.”
Draco sat up straighter. “Really? You’re sure?”
“Your father told you about him possibly testifying in exchange for early release, yeah?”
“Did he also tell you he received threatening letters about it?”
“The letters were unsigned. But we have a few leads and suspects we’d like to go after. Did your father give you any idea who he was planning to name as a Death Eater?”
“It would really help,” Ron said, as though he thought Draco was holding out on him.
“I really don’t know. He didn’t tell me,” Draco told him. “Believe me, if I could do something to protect my mother, I would. Even if it meant ruining Father’s deal.”
“I just hope he makes that deal before something else happens,” Ron said absently.
“Perhaps I should take a leave and go stay with her until this is all settled,” Draco mused aloud.
“That’s not necessary. There are Aurors on rotating duty keeping an eye on her. Plus, the wards around the manor have been fortified,” Ron informed him.
Draco’s brow drew together. “The Ministry would do that? My mother was involved with Death Eaters herself.”
Ron shrugged. “She was cleared years ago. Now she’s an ordinary citizen in need of protection.” Ron gave Harry a sideways glance. “Of course, it doesn’t hurt that her son is dating the Chosen One.”
Pursing his lips, Draco looked at Harry. “I know you don’t like to use your status that way.”
“I’ll make an exception, if it will help your mother and put your mind at ease.”
“Thank you,” Draco said to Ron. “What about my father?”
“He’s safe where he is. But we’d like to have this wrapped up quickly. If you could persuade your father to make a deal as soon as possible . . . “ Ron trailed off.
“I don’t understand. I thought that was what got him threatened in the first place. Why wouldn’t he want get on with it?”
Ron sighed. “Yes, rumors of him turning snitch is what seemed to prompt the letters and attack on your mother. But the demands he’s made are too unreasonable for the Minister to come to an agreement. I think the deal on the table is fair.”
“And you want me to convince him to take it.”
“Frankly, yes. The faster we get a name, or names, the faster we can get them off the streets. The sooner your mother is safe. And you.”
Harry perked up. “What? Do you think Draco is in danger as well?”
Reluctant to elaborate, Ron hesitated. “I didn’t really want tell you this, but as it affects you too . . . the letters weren’t just vague threats against Lucius or the Malfoy family. The last letter specifically mentioned you and Draco. I didn’t say anything before because Hogwarts is the safest place for the two of you to be,” Ron explained. “And the Aurors have been checking in here every so often.”
Draco snorted. “Ah, now it makes sense.”
“What? What makes sense?” Hermione asked.
“My father is trying to use Harry as a bargaining chip.”
“To put it bluntly, yes,” Ron replied. “He’s got the Minister by the bollocks.”
“Kingsley won’t give in because of me, will he?” Harry asked. “What is Lucius demanding anyway?”
“Well, for starters, he wants out of prison now. Which, really isn’t a problem, if it ended there.”
“I’m afraid to ask what else,” Draco groaned.
“He wants his conviction overturned.”
“What?” Harry cried. “No. He’s mad if he thinks he can get away with it.”
“Ron, isn’t it worth it if Draco and his mother are safe and another Death Eater is behind bars?” Hermione asked.
“You don’t understand Mione,” Harry said. “If he gets his case overturned, he can bring a case against the Ministry for wrongful incarceration. He could ask for compensation.”
“What sort of compensation?”
“Technically, if his conviction is overturned, the search and seizure the Aurors performed on the manor would be illegal. He could claim back anything taken at the time,” Harry said. Being a former Auror, he knew what was at stake if Lucius Malfoy were to get his way. “Including dark items.”
Ron put his hands up. “Now, that’s a worst-case scenario. He could try to get those things back, but he probably wouldn’t.”
“It’s the principle of the whole thing.” Harry crossed his arms over his chest. “This is ridiculous. At twenty-four, I’m still just a pawn in someone else’s game.”
“I’m going to go see him,” Draco stood.
“You can’t go now, Draco,” Harry said, holding out his hand. “Sit back down. Why don’t we put in a floo call to Azkaban tomorrow and make an appointment together to see him.”
“You would go with me?” Draco slowly sank back down into the pillows with Harry. “He won’t exactly be welcoming.”
Harry laughed. “No, I would think not. But it affects me too. And if I can help you and Narcissa, I will.”
“Thank you, Harry.” Draco smiled and kissed him. “You’re still my saviour,” he snickered.
A few days after Ron and Hermione’s visit, Draco was feeling pretty good about the way things were going. He felt he made real progress toward friendship with the pair. Plus, he was able to relax knowing that the Ministry was taking the threats against his mother seriously. He’d slept better in the past couple nights than he had since Knox became the Charms professor.
The conversation was all about the upcoming Quidditch match between Slytherin and Gryffindor at the lunch table. Though their Houses were rivals, Harry and Draco were trying not to be overly heated in their debate over which team would win. Knox, not being head of a particular House, pretended to remain neutral.
“I don’t know, Malfoy, the Gryffindor Seeker is pretty quick. I saw her practicing the other day. My money-- er, if I was to bet, which I never would, is on Gryffindor.”
“But, you’re a former Slytherin,” Draco pointed out.
“You have to know when to back the right horse,” Knox smirked.
Draco’s jaw clenched. The insult was thinly veiled. “Have you no loyalty?”
“I was in Slytherin for two years. Hardly worthy of my loyalty. I’m merely rooting for the team I think is better. There’s nothing wrong with recognizing good talent.”
“You shouldn’t dismiss the Slytherin team this year, though,” Harry said to Knox. “Their Keeper has the best record.”
“And our Chasers have excellent form,” Draco added, happy that Harry was defending his team.
“Yeah, but everyone knows, it’s all about the Seeker. Whoever has the best Seeker, wins.”
“We’ll see,” Draco muttered. It was supposed to be all in good fun, but as usual, Knox was sucking the fun right out. To Harry, he said, “Speaking of Quidditch, we’d better get out there right after classes before it gets too dark. The days are so short now.”
“Right,” Harry agreed. “My last class ends at three.”
“Mine too. See you out there then. I’ve got to set up for a lab,” Draco smiled and got up from the table to go to the Potions Room for his next class.
“Hmm,” Knox mused.
“What?” Harry took the bait.
“I was only wondering how that Fifth Year fellow was doing. You know, the one I told you was failing Potions?”
“What?” McGonagall interrupted the conversation. “I’m sorry, did you say that someone is failing Potions?”
“Oh, well, I’m sure he’s doing better by now,” Knox said.
“He isn’t failing, Professor McGonagall,” Harry clarified. “He never was. Draco was tutoring him privately, but I think he’s back on track now.”
“Still, a student who requires private tutoring should have been brought to my attention,” the Headmistress said.
“I’m sure Draco didn’t want to bother you with something so minor, when he could take care of it himself.” Harry stood and nodded to the other professors. “I’m off to class.”
When Harry was out of earshot, Knox said to McGonagall, “I spoke out of turn. I’m not the substitute Potions professor anymore.”
“So, you saw first-hand this student’s difficulties? Who is it?”
“Casper Montague. But like Harry said, he’s probably doing fine by now.”
“Hmm.” Minerva pursed her lips.
“Perhaps it would ease your mind if you spoke to Professor Malfoy yourself,” Knox suggested.
“Thank you for bringing this to my attention Professor Knox. I will.”
Knox grinned to himself as the Headmistress left the Great Hall. He didn’t have any more classes that afternoon, and he knew just how he wanted to spend it.
Draco’s footsteps echoed through the hallway as he ran toward the door. By the time he’d gotten halfway to the Quidditch Pitch, he could see two figures coming toward him, laughing.
He stopped and watched as Harry and Knox walked in his direction, covered in dirt and dripping with sweat. And, oh, was Harry a sight. If Draco hadn’t been so angry about missing his practice time with Harry, he would have been moved to take him right there on the field.
“Oi, Draco, there you are. What happened?” Harry asked.
Standing in full Quidditch gear, Draco answered, “McGonagall came down to the dungeons to talk to me. She asked how Casper Montague was doing in Potions.” He glared at Knox. “Now I wonder what prompted her to do that.”
Harry looked at Knox.
“Did you say something to her?” Draco asked the Charms professor.
“No, I was talking to Harry. It’s not my fault she was listening in.”
“I told her that you had everything under control, Draco,” Harry said, trying to smooth things over.
“Well, evidently, she didn’t believe you. She wanted to see all of his scores and my reports on the tutoring sessions. It took bloody forever. And now you’ve gone and practiced with him.”
Draco was getting angrier by the minute.
“But I didn’t know where you were. When you didn’t show, I figured you got hung up with a student,” Harry defended his actions.
“And Knox just happened to come by. In Quidditch gear.”
Harry looked at Knox again. This time, he had a guilty sort of look on his face.
“You’re right. I should have come looking for you,” Harry said. He knew it was suspect for Knox to have shown up, and that Draco didn’t. But Knox heard them talking about practicing at lunch time. “Thanks for the game,” he said to Knox. “Come on Draco. Let’s go.”
Draco snorted. At first, he stood his ground, scowling at Knox. But a nudge from Harry attracted his attention.
“You know he set me up,” Draco said as they walked away.
Harry nodded. “It is a fantastic coincidence,” he smirked.
“And you’re just going to let him get away with it?”
Harry leaned into Draco as they walked through the door into the castle.
“Get away with what? He didn’t really get anything out of it. Except maybe working me up into needing a good, long, hot shower.” Harry said each word slowly for emphasis.
“Oh,” Draco said quietly. They walked the rest of the way up the stairs in silence. Now that he had calmed down a bit, he was able to fully appreciate the state Harry was in.
His hair was slick with sweat, yet somehow still sticking up in places. He had shrugged off the robe and his shirt was stuck close to his body. A smudge or two of dirt across Harry’s face gave him a rugged look he didn’t often sport.
But his scent, when he stood close, was what really caught Draco’s attention. He could feel himself becoming aroused the closer they got to Harry’s quarters. In need of adjusting himself beneath his own robes, Draco refused to give Harry the satisfaction. Though, the smirk on Harry’s face told him that Harry already knew the affect he was having on Draco. Harry didn’t even try to hide the fact that he was feeling the same way, and tugged at his trousers.
“Oh, Merlin,” Draco said, as they fell into Harry’s room.
Upon entering, Harry’s mouth was on Draco’s. They kissed deeply while attempting to disrobe one another.
“Fuck it,” Draco said, pulling away. He threw off his robe, then quickly unbuckled his arm and shin guards.
As if it were a race, and perhaps it was, Harry followed suit. The pair watched one another as they stripped.
Gloves and shoes came off next, followed by jerseys and trousers, with Draco slightly in the lead. When he was completely nude, he stepped toward Harry to help with his trousers and pants, which were the last to go.
Running a hand across Harry’s chest, Draco breathed, “You’re so hot when you’re all sweaty.”
“You’re so hot,” Harry grinned back at him. “All the time.”
Draco grabbed Harry’s hand and pulled him into the private bathroom. Without letting Harry go, he turned on the water.
“Let me wash you,” he pleaded.
“All right,” Harry growled.
They got into the shower, facing each other. Reaching around Harry, Draco took a flannel and poured some liquid soap on it. Harry tilted his head back as Draco rubbed the flannel over his chest. Draco’s hand moved up and down slowly, wiping sweat and grime away and leaving fresh, clean skin behind.
“Mmm,” Draco involuntarily groaned. He was finding it increasingly difficult to control his desire to pounce on Harry.
“Can I use this on your hair?” he whispered.
“Yes. All of it,” he answered.
Draco glanced down. “Oh, I will get to all of it.”
He continued to clean Harry, opting to use his fingers rather than the flannel for his hair. He leaned forward and around Harry again for the soap, this time making sure there was full body contact.
“Hurry up and get to it,” Harry groaned.
“Patience, my love.”
Harry closed his eyes while Draco’s fingers massaged his scalp. One hand moved down his body to the other patch of dark hair. But Draco was more interested in the hard cock waiting for him than cleaning anymore. In a swift move, he reversed them and pushed Harry under the spray.
“I have to have you now,” Draco sighed.
“Use the body oil,” Harry suggested.
Draco raised an eyebrow.
“I use it after I shower to keep my skin from drying out,” Harry laughed. “But I don’t see why it won’t work for my arse too.”
Not questioning it, Draco retrieved the bottle and poured some in his hand, then rubbed his cock.
“This will do,” he said. “Turn around.”
Complying, Harry turned and backed up toward Draco, then bent over. Draco poured more of the oil on his fingers and pushed two of them up Harry’s arse.
“Ah,” cried Harry.
“Sorry. Too much?”
“Fuck no. Shove ‘em in. Another one.”
Draco added a third finger and pumped them in and out. His other hand snaked around to Harry’s front, rubbing his torso from nipples to cock.
“Oh, yeah,” Harry murmured. “I’m ready for you. I want you, Draco.”
He spread his legs wider in anticipation.
All at once, Draco’s fingers were out and his cock was in. His hips thrust forward and backward while Harry countered his movements. The sound of wet skin slapping skin echoed throughout the room, drowned out occasionally by Harry’s calling out of profanities.
“Yes, there!” Harry exclaimed when Draco pulled Harry to a more upright position. He stroked himself in time with their rhythm.
“Harry,” Draco whispered in his ear. “I love you.”
“Yes, I love you too.” He grunted, “I’m cumming.”
Harry’s body jerked and spewed out onto the shower wall. Draco hadn’t stopped driving into him and was close to climaxing. If he didn’t pass out first.
“Fuck. Fuck.” Draco gasped and came hard into Harry, his knees weakening. “Oh, ffffuck.” He leaned forward onto his lover for support.
“You all right?”Harry asked.
“Brilliant.” He hugged tightly.
They rinsed and dried off, then fell into Harry’s bed.
“It’ll be supper soon,” Harry said.
Looking over at the clock, Draco corrected, “It’s supper time now.”
“Good. I’m starved. Let’s get dressed and go.”
“All I have here is my Quidditch uniform. I’ll have to go up to my quarters to change,” Draco said. “I’ll be back down soon.”
He got up to dress. Harry remained on the bed watching.
“I was thinking,” Harry said, drawing circles on the bed sheet with a finger. “Maybe you could, I don’t know, keep some things here.”
Pulling his jersey over his head, Draco smoothed out his wet hair. “What things? What do you mean?”
“Like, clothes or something.”
Draco stopped. “You want me to keep some clothes here?” The corner of his mouth raised.
“Yeah. And maybe a pair of pyjamas, some toiletries. A toothbrush, at least.”
“Well, that sounds like commitment,” Draco teased.
“I am committed,” Harry said in a serious tone. “I love you. They’re not just words to me.”
“All right.” Draco sat down on the bed. “I love you too. I’d be happy to keep some things here. And you can keep some things in my room.”
Harry smiled. “I’d like that.”
“I’ll be right back.” Draco kissed Harry and raced out of the room, as if he thought Harry would change his mind if he took too long.
Harry laughed, then realized he and Draco had just taken a big step in their relationship. Bigger than either of them had ever taken. His stomach fluttered. He wondered, if he was this nervous about a few personal items, how Ron must have felt proposing marriage to Hermione.