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The Rules

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"Harry? What are you doing still awake?"

"Waiting for Charlie."

The room brightened briefly before Ginny extinguished the tip of her wand with a flick. "It's almost 3am. Charlie owled last night to say it might be after sunrise before he touched down..."

"I know," Harry said, not moving. He was curled up on the window seat in the living room of the Burrow. The fire was banked, providing just enough light for him to be able to see Ginny's thoughtful expression. He watched her out of the corner of his eye, wondering if she would put up an argument the way that Hermione had. She hadn't wanted to leave Harry down here alone, and it had finally taken Ron practically dragging her out of the room before Hermione gave up and went up to bed. That had been about two hours ago, by Harry's best guess.

"Okay," Ginny said finally. "But here." She padded across the room to a chest and opened it, pulling out a thick blanket that had doubtlessly been knitted by Mrs Weasley. It was a riot of colours, blues and purples and greens fading into yellows and oranges, but blessedly warm when she walked over and settled it around his shoulders. Harry snuggled into the blanket gratefully, not even having realized how cold he was until that moment.

"Thanks," Harry said with a small smile.

Ginny smiled back. "Good night, Harry."

"Good night." He watched her go before he turned back to the window. It wasn't snowing tonight, but the clouds were thick and heavy with the promise of an on-coming storm. Wizards were fortunate, Harry reflected, in that at least two of their ways of transportation were unaffected by snow. Travelling by Floo didn't even require stepping outside. But Charlie had said that he was coming as far as the next town by train, and then he was planning to fly the rest of the way by broom. Mrs Weasley had spent a good deal of time tutting under her breath about boys and their brooms.

But Harry could understand where Charlie was coming from. He knew from the letters that Charlie wrote that the reserve was extremely busy lately, so Charlie didn't have much of an opportunity for flying. There was nothing like a good flight to clear your head, so it made perfect sense that's how Charlie would want to start off his vacation... to Harry, anyway. Which he figured was part of the reason why he was the only one waiting up.

Then there was the other part.

His stomach twisted uncomfortably, and he pulled his knees up against his chest, draping the blanket over his cold feet. Upstairs, there was a spot for him on Ginny's floor - or so he suspected, considering that Ron and Hermione had gone upstairs after Mrs Weasley had gone to bed. But there was also another spot for him several miles away: in Draco's bed. And while Harry had been very happily claiming the latter every night for about five months now, he needed to talk to Charlie desperately before he could do so another night.

Luckily, Christmas was a convenient excuse. Draco was spending the night with his parents, but he had agreed to come to the Burrow tomorrow morning. Harry fully expected that Draco would be here no later than seven, because both Draco and Lucius usually woke up around six, and an hour was more than enough time for Lucius to be his usual self and piss Draco off to the point where Draco would leave rather than say something that would upset Narcissa. That meant Harry had - he checked his watch and sighed - about four hours to talk to Charlie first.

He rested his head against the cold glass for a moment, then straightened. Had that been a flicker of colour off in the distance? He strained his eyes, holding perfectly still, before biting back a whoop. That was definitely someone on a broom, and there would only be one person heading for the Burrow at this time of night. Harry jumped up, bringing the blanket with him as he dashed over to the door. He stopped just long enough to jam his feet into an old pair of trainers before he threw the door open and rushed outside.

Charlie was just touching down, though had Harry not known it was him he wouldn’t have recognized Charlie at all considering how heavily he was dressed. His dark blue cloak was pulled up around his face and he was wearing a hat pulled low over his forehead and ears. But that couldn't disguise the huge smile that appeared when he saw Harry, and he lifted his gloved hand in greeting.

"Hey Harry! Happy Christmas!"

"Happy Christmas," Harry said, crossing the snow towards him.

"You didn't have to wait up for me," said Charlie, tucking his broom beneath his arm.

“It was no big deal,” Harry said with a shrug. He shivered. The blanket really wasn’t enough to ward off the chill.

“Let’s get inside,” Charlie said, motioning to the door, and Harry eagerly complied. The Burrow felt wonderfully warm after just a minute outside, and he couldn’t imagine how Charlie was feeling. He stood aside and watched as Charlie shed his outerwear, hanging it all up on the pegs.

“What happened?” Harry asked, noticing a bandage Charlie’s right forearm.

“New dragon at the reserve. Bit prickly, but she’s coming around,” Charlie said. “Mum’ll sit me down to one of her lectures about finding a safer job, I’m sure.” He grinned, not looking bothered by the thought, and gave his head a toss. He’d grown his hair out, Harry realized; it wasn’t as long as Bill’s by any means, but it was long enough to be tied into a tiny ponytail at the nape of his neck. Something else Mrs Weasley wouldn’t be pleased about, no doubt.

“So, your work is going well?” Harry said politely.

“Harry, forgive me, but I don’t think you waited up until 3am to ask me about my work. I’m very tired, so if we could skip to whatever is bothering you that you don’t want anyone else to overhear?” Charlie’s voice was very kind, but Harry still flushed.

“I – sorry. It can wait –” Harry turned to go upstairs, inwardly berating himself, but Charlie’s hand caught his shoulder before he could take more than a few steps.

“Hey now, that’s not what I meant. I’m happy to talk to you anytime.” He chuckled. “Besides, if we wait, who knows how long it’ll be before we have a moment to ourselves? The house is stuffed to bursting right now.”

He had a point. The Burrow was big, but right now it was already stuffed with Bill, Fleur, Fred, George, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna, Harry, Charlie, and Mr and Mrs Weasley. Later this morning, Percy, Draco, Sirius, Remus, Angelina Johnson and Katie Bell were slated to show up – and there was no telling who else might wander in. Mr and Mrs Weasley prided themselves on the Burrow being a welcome space to any friends who needed it this time of year.

“If you’re sure,” Harry said, still ready to rush upstairs at the slightest suggestion that Charlie was too tired for this.

“I’m perfectly sure. Come here.” Hand still on Harry’s shoulder, Charlie towed him over to the kitchen table and made him sit. Then he started poking around the kitchen. Harry watched, not sure what Charlie was looking for, until Charlie opened a pot on the stove and made a sound of satisfaction. He grabbed two mugs and filled them, then brought one over to Harry.

“Hot chocolate?” Harry said, blinking. He’d expected tea.

“Good ol’ Mum. She knows I love a cup after I travel.” Charlie sat and looked at him expectantly. “Well?”

But now that the time to talk had come, Harry found himself tongue-tied. He fidgeted, lowering his gaze to the table as he wondered how best to explain. Charlie waited, watching him patiently, which just made Harry feel guilty. He was positive that Charlie was thinking longingly of his bed upstairs, and here Harry was keeping him up longer… Finally, he forced himself to say it.

“I think I broke the asexual rules!”

… That wasn’t how he wanted to say it.

Charlie snorted with laughter, then covered his mouth and cleared his throat. “Err, what’s that now?”

“I… um…” Harry mumbled, so embarrassed the tips of his ears were burning.

“Harry, my lad, you know there are no rules that you can really break,” Charlie said gently. “We’ve talked about this; there are no asexual Aurors who are going to break the door down. Just tell me what happened.”

Right. Harry could do that. He stared harder at the table and said, “I think… I mean, I’ve been dating Draco and it’s going well… really well. I-I love him.” He suspected that wasn’t surprising news to Charlie. It certainly hadn’t been to anyone else. Even Ron had greeted that pronouncement with a weary resignation, like it was something he had long ago got used to.

“That’s good. I’m happy for you,” Charlie said sincerely, as Harry had known he would: he’d already told Charlie as much in his letters. Charlie and the twins had been the most accepting by far.

“But lately I… I realized…” Harry clenched his hands into fists. “I think I’m attracted to him.” He blurted out the second bit and hunched his shoulders.

Charlie was quiet for a moment, then he said, “You mean sexually?”

Still not daring to look, Harry nodded miserably. He couldn’t even quantify how long he’d been feeling this way, but he thought it might have been a month or two: it had hit him suddenly last week, when Draco got out of bed naked and stopped to stretch right in the middle of a patch of sunlight. The golden light had lit up the panes of his body, making him look like a god, and Harry had felt a surge of lust so strong it nearly knocked him off his feet.

It had freaked him out big time. Harry had never felt anything like that before. It was the first time in his life he could honestly say he wanted to have sex with someone. He wanted to have sex with Draco. He was sexually attracted to Draco! And had been for some time, though he hadn’t realized that what he was feeling was sexual attraction until that stretch.

Now he didn’t know what to do. Back in his seventh year, when Charlie had pulled him aside for a chat right before Bill’s and Fleur’s wedding, the whole world had opened up. Suddenly, Harry had a label for himself that made sense and explained why he wasn’t sexually attracted to anyone. Romantically, well. That was a whole different story, as in the months following the war, he’d fallen head over heels for Draco.

Sex had never been a big deal for them. Harry still liked sex; it made him feel good and he liked making Draco feel good too. They did it once or twice a week, depending on their busy and varying schedules. But he had never wanted it before with a specific person. He’d never wanted to pin Draco down and do things to him. It was honestly a little scary to suddenly feel this way.

“And that’s bad,” Charlie prompted when the silence had stretched without either of them speaking.

“Well, yeah! I’m asexual! I’m not supposed to feel this way!” Harry said shrilly.

Charlie snorted again. “Oh, Harry. There are no rules about this sort of thing.”

“But you said –”

“I know. I know what I said,” Charlie said. He shifted, and finally Harry looked up at him. Charlie was smiling as he added, “Sexuality can be fluid. Some people go their whole lives relatively set in their ways, but others can change. It happens.”

Harry chewed his lower lip, mulling that over. He supposed it made sense, but… “But… then I can’t be asexual, right?”

“Well, technically no,” Charlie admitted. “You can keep using that label if you want to, but honestly it sounds more like you might demisexual.”

“Demisexual,” Harry repeated.

“Yeah. I have a friend like that. They don’t feel sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. For them, that’s not limited to romantic relationships. They’ve been attracted to friends before too. But for you, it could be more limited because there’s so few people that you really trust.” Charlie lifted his mug and sipped at it, watching Harry with shrewd eyes.

He had a point. Harry’s circle of friends hadn’t widened much in the years since the war. It didn’t help that in the end, he had foregone Auror training and decided to take up the mantle of the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor. So, he saw the same people – his fellow professors – on a regular basis, and you weren’t really allowed to be friends with students, so his scope was limited.

Draco was really the first person Harry had ever seriously dated. There had been Cho, but that hadn’t ever gone anywhere. He’d dated Ginny briefly post-war, but both had been too damaged to really make a go of it, and now Ginny was happily dating Luna. There had been a couple of other women after Ginny, but no one that really made Harry feel anything close to what Draco did. Enemies or not, he could never deny that Draco had always inspired feelings of passion.

And he did trust Draco. More than he had ever trusted anyone except for Ron, Hermione and Sirius, to be honest. Enough so that Harry had started to talk about what had happened during the war, including things that he had never told anyone. He drummed his fingers on the table, thinking about the way Draco would hold his hands during those moments, and the way that Draco always seemed to know exactly when Harry needed a hug or when he didn’t want to be touched at all – often before Harry himself even realized.

“I love him,” Harry said again in a tiny voice. “I love him a lot. So that’s why…?”

“It’s my best guess. Harry, listen.” Charlie leaned forward. “I wouldn’t let this freak you out too much, okay? You and Draco have a really good thing going on. I can see how happy you make each other. As long as he keeps making you happy, that’s what you should be focusing on.”

“Right.” Harry took a deep breath, feeling the knot in his chest loosen some. “Do you think I was always demisexual and didn’t know it, or was I asexual and changed?”

Charlie shrugged. “I’m not sure, sorry. You’ll have to figure that one out on your own.”

That made sense. Harry leaned back in his chair and finally took a sip of his lukewarm chocolate. Demisexual. There was a name for it, for what he was feeling, and that was more of a relief than he really wanted to admit. Because if there was a name for it, he wasn’t the only person that this had happened to. He wasn’t a failure as an asexual: he was demisexual. He liked that.

“It was scary,” he said at last. “Feeling that way suddenly. I didn’t expect it.”

“Yeah, I can’t imagine.” Charlie made a face and stood up. “Just… take it slow, maybe? I hear that kind of thing can be overwhelming at first. Did you talk to Draco about it at all?”

“No. I wanted to get things clear in my own head before I told him. Knowing Draco, he’s going to take it as a huge compliment that he was the one to awaken my sexual desire.” Harry sighed and rolled his eyes as Charlie sniggered.

“Probably,” Charlie said, amused as he took his cup over to the sink. “Are you okay now?”

“I’m fine. Thanks, Charlie,” Harry said. He was surprised when Charlie came over and hugged him, but quickly sank into the hug.

“No problem, little bro,” Charlie said, ruffling Harry’s hair. Harry yelped and swatted at him, and Charlie laughed again and disappeared upstairs.

Rather than follow, Harry rinsed out his cup and went back to the couch. He curled up, feeling better now that he had spoken to Charlie. Now that he had a word for it, he’d be able to talk to Draco. And to Hermione: as soon as she heard about this, she’d be tripping over herself to do research. Harry would shortly know more about being demisexual than he’d ever wanted to know.

He didn’t mean to fall asleep but did. He only woke up when someone began to gently shake his shoulder; he opened his eyes and found himself looking into Draco’s beautiful grey eyes. Harry blinked, realizing that he could hear Ron, Luna, and Sirius laughing. A smile crept across Harry’s face and he leaned forward, wrapping his arms around Draco’s shoulders.

“Hello to you too,” Draco said, laughing.

“Mm, what time is it?” Harry asked, rubbing his nose against Draco’s neck. Much as he might tease Draco about the expense, he loved the smell of Draco’s cologne.

“Just after 6:30am,” Draco replied. “My father woke up early.”

“I’m sorry,” Harry said with an inward grimace.

“I’m not. It gave me an excuse to leave.” Draco was smirking, Harry knew. He pulled back to look and – yup. The smirk made Harry’s heart flutter, and it also made certain other parts of him interested. That was new. He’d have to get used to that.

“Can we talk tonight?” Harry whispered.

Draco’s eyebrows furrowed. “Talk? In a bad way?”

“No! In a very, very good way,” Harry said, smiling in that way that he knew Draco thought was sexy.

“Colour me intrigued,” Draco said, and was just leaning in for a kiss when -

“Harry!” Sirius yelled, descending on them. “Happy Christmas, you two!”

“Happy Christmas!” Harry said, laughing as Draco squeaked indignantly when Ginny, Hermione, and Luna all piled in on the hug. Draco was trying hard to look annoyed, but even Draco couldn’t stop himself from smiling when Ginny and Luna kissed his cheeks at the same time.

“Better now?” Ginny asked him when Draco managed to squirm free. Sirius chased after him, threatening to change into his dog form and lick Draco’s face all over. Hermione and Luna collapsed into giggles, and even Remus, standing in the doorway, started to laugh.

Harry smiled. “Much better.”