Harry sits in Kingsley’s office but the words barely reach him.
Somehow among the long sermon, bits of information make their way to Harry’s frozen brain.
You’ve overstepped the mark, it’s one time too many, I can’t let that pass.
Same old same old, really. Harry is used to it. And he knows this time he won’t be able to get away with it as easily as before.
The sentence falls.
Sorting out piles of ancient books. Harry raises an eyebrow; that doesn’t sound too bad. He braces himself for the catch.
And he’s not disappointed.
Ancient books from Malfoy Manor.
Harry swallows hard, then nods and walks to the door.
Oh. And keep an eye on Malfoy, too. He’s still under house arrest.
The door slams behind Harry.
The house gives him the creeps.
He follows Malfoy like a shadow through dark corridors and huge rooms with high ceilings and drapes over rare pieces of furniture. The walls whisper and hiss, the house creaks around them as they make their way to a remote part of the east wing.
Harry shivers and it’s not only because of the cold that creeps in beneath his clothes and reaches every single patch of skin right down to his bones.
He’s shown to a small, bare room - that probably used to be a cupboard - and his trunk lands at the foot of the single bed with a thud, making him jump.
He turns to look at Malfoy who nods sternly before leaving without a word.
He follows Malfoy everywhere, and somehow it’s sixth year all over again, although without the Marauders’ map and without the thrill of the chase.
Malfoy in sixth year was edgy, unstable, scared shitless probably, but at least he was something. Nowadays Malfoy is silent, and cold, and almost invisible. The first few days Harry tries to make small talk, tries to reach out to him but he soon grows tired of the sound of his own voice echoing on the bare walls and high ceilings of the almost empty rooms.
It’s been a month and somehow along the way they’ve settled into a routine. Malfoy cooks breakfast, Harry does the dishes, and then they get to work.
They sort out piles and piles of ancient books and parchments, organise them in stacks that are to be sent either to the Ministry, or directly to the bin.
They work for hours in silence, and Harry’s mind wanders to places he’d never allowed it to go.
In the evening Harry lights a fire in a small room that used to be a parlour of sorts and they sit in silence, eating watery soup that barely manages to warm him up. He curls up on the only chair in the room. It’s not comfortable but at least he doesn’t have to sit on the floor like Malfoy does, although Malfoy doesn’t seem to mind. In the beginning, Harry had tried to have Malfoy take the chair, but after a few days of Malfoy stubbornly refusing to comply, Harry gave up and took it. Malfoy sits on a moth-eaten rug that used to be beautiful, his legs to his chest, his arms wrapped around his knees and his pointy chin resting on them.
It’s always fucking cold in here, and despite being close to the fire, Harry shivers. He curses the Ministry for placing Malfoy Manor under strict regulations, preventing anyone within a one mile radius to use Magic. Too many dark artefacts around, Kingsley had said and anyway, Malfoy’s no longer considered dangerous.
Harry sometimes wishes he were, wishes he could still see the fire in Malfoy’s eyes, and not only the one reflecting in them and dancing on his face in bright orange shapes.
The pile of ancient books and parchments never seems to diminish no matter how long he and Malfoy spend in the cold, dark library. It gets colder by the day and Harry has to stop regularly to blow on his fingers as they tend to get numb. Their breaths now leave visible trails in the air and Harry wishes he had packed a couple of Mrs Weasley’s jumpers along with his clothes. But then, he had not expected to stay this long. Nor had he expected Malfoy Manor to be stripped of anything that makes a home; he’d never thought Magic played such a role in keeping wizarding houses warm and cosy.
He stops once more to blow on his fingers and Malfoy stares at him. Harry raises an eyebrow but Malfoy shrugs and gets back to work.
Tonight is the coldest of all. Even the meagre fire Harry has lit earlier on can’t seem to warm him up enough. He keeps his fingers tight on the equally cold chipped bowl, his hands trembling so much the light soup threatens to spill over the rim at any time. He can feel Malfoy’s eyes on him again, but Harry focuses on the fire, his mind numb because of the chilling air.
A thrill of terror seizes him when he realises Malfoy has vanished. Harry’s on his feet in a heartbeat and the sudden movement makes his head spin. He has just managed to regain his balance when he sees Malfoy standing in the door, an odd look on his face, holding something in his hand, his eyes firmly planted in Harry’s.
He walks stealthily to Harry and hands him what looks like a piece of cloth but what is in fact an old, worn out cloak that’s seen better days. Harry looks up at Malfoy, who nods at him holding out his hand with the cloak. When Harry doesn’t move, Malfoy rolls his eyes and unfolds the cloak before wrapping it around Harry. The cold air swishes around them but soon Harry’s surrounded by the soft touch of wool as a most welcome heat reaches through his clothes and makes him shiver again. Malfoy’s touch on his arms is light and barely there, but the simple contact, the first one in weeks, is enough to take him out of his state of drowsiness.
Malfoy curls back up on the rug by the fire and Harry follows him with his eyes, the woollen cloak heavy on his shoulders. He stares at Malfoy’s back, stares at the angular shoulders, at the nape of his neck and at the blond hair that has grown way too long over the weeks. Harry stares at Malfoy’s pointy face, he stares at the rather fine features he never really bothered to notice before, but that he now realises are quite harmonious. Beautiful, even.
Malfoy wraps his arms tighter around himself, obviously trying to bring more heat to this body. In one swift movement, Harry unclasps the cloak and comes to sit next to Malfoy in front of the fire. Malfoy’s head snaps so fast Harry’s afraid he’s hurt himself and as Harry drapes the cloak over the two of them, there’s something undecipherable in his eyes. He opens his mouth to say something but closes it again. He looks back at the fire and Harry focuses on the curve of the lips that almost formed words, but didn’t.
They wait until the fire dies and then Harry heads back to his cupboard in the east wing and Malfoy goes wherever he goes to get some rest.
Harry wakes up abruptly in the middle of the night and is unable to go back to sleep. He wraps the cloak over his shoulders and has to keep his hands on the cold walls of the corridor, feeling his way to the library.
He nearly jumps when he realises he’s not alone.
Malfoy is crouching on the floor, and Harry watches him as he restlessly adds books and parchments from God knows where to the pile they’ll have to sort in a few hours. Harry watches him sabotaging their work in the orange light of the fire before turning around without a sound and heading back to bed.
The sight of Malfoy’s skinny figure dances in front of Harry’s eyes for a long time before he manages to get back to sleep.
They’re back in front of the fire the following night, huddled up beneath the cloak, elbows and knees touching tentatively as they sit cross-legged, empty bowls sitting before them on the tiled hearth. Harry’s lost in his thoughts when something fumbles at the cloak down to his side and he nearly starts when Malfoy’s cool fingers somehow find their way to his own. Harry doesn’t say a word, doesn’t even dare, as they both keep staring at the fire. Malfoy’s fingers are as cold as his, but Harry doesn’t let go of them, doesn’t even dream of letting go of them. Instead, he secures his own hand in Malfoy’s, and after a slight hesitation, brings their entwined fingers over his lap, and covers them with his other hand. Malfoy’s thumb caresses Harry’s knuckles and Harry shivers, although not from the cold this time.
Harry can’t sleep.
Instead he stares at the cracks in the ceiling. It’s a full moon tonight and the light it brings to the quiet room is different from the one from the fire. It’s whiter, and colder too. Harry knows there will be choices, decisions to make when he leaves here. If he leaves here someday. Because Malfoy…
How fucked up Harry’s life must be if the first emotions he feels after months of living in a perpetual state of numbness are directed towards someone who used to be a total bastard to him and who made all the worst choices possible.
And yet, Harry feels closer to Malfoy - Malfoy who doesn’t even speak for fuck’s sake - than he’s felt to anyone in months, hell in years probably.
Harry really needs to sort himself out.
The sooner the better.
The light has changed on the cracked ceiling and yet Harry still lies on his bed, shivering under the thin blankets, colder than ever despite the woollen cloak wrapped up on top.
A tiny click in the door makes him freeze as he forces his eyes closed.
The sound of tentative steps on the hardwood flooring, and then- the soft sound of breathing right above him. He can’t see, but all his other senses are on alert. He can feel Draco’s eyes on him. He can almost tell the path they take, imagine them roaming over his forehead, stopping for a heartbeat on his scar before running lower, from his closed eyelids, to the sharp lines of his nose, down to his lips.
Harry’s heart beats fast in his chest as the soft sounds of breathing now come with hot breath washing over Harry in the best way possible, warming him on the inside just as much as on the outside.
Sound and feel are soon completed with touch setting Harry’s body on fire from a simple, faintest brush of lips on his own.
The words are almost inaudible, murmured against Harry’s lips, but Harry has heard them and soon they overtake the space in his head, bounce around inside him and run through his veins, and it feels good, and it feels warm, and it feels right.
The sound of steps on hardwood floors slowly fades away and soon the click on the door leaves no room for regrets or what-ifs of any sort.
The next morning, as Harry walks into the kitchen, he immediately senses something has changed.
Draco’s face is shut and his movements are brusque.
Harry understands why as soon as he steps into the library.
The pile of books and parchments is ridiculously low today, for the first time in weeks.
It’s Harry’s last day here. His mission is almost over.
He should feel elated, he should feel relieved, he should just feel for fuck’s sake, and yet, there’s nothing.
Nothing but emptiness.
Even the cold doesn’t seem to be able to reach him today. It brushes past him but doesn’t break into his tired body.
They work in silence, but for the first time in weeks, it is heavy.
Harry lights the fire for the last time that night and his heart grows heavier with every log he throws in.
He sits cross-legged by the hearth as he watches the fire starting slow and gaining strength, before finally roaring and cracking, the sound almost deafening in the dead calm of the room.
Harry stretches his legs, readjusts the cloak over his shoulders and looks again as the fire gradually diminishes, until there are only embers left.
He waits until the fire is completely dead and then goes back to his room.
It doesn’t take much. Just a tiny click in the door manages to turn Harry’s fragile world upside down.
Even before Draco makes it to the bed he knows there’s no escaping what’s about to happen. Feels it deep inside.
Because this time Harry won’t let Draco go.
He is almost heady from the rush he feels as he waits for Draco’s lips to touch his.
He can almost taste it.
It never comes.
Instead, Draco stands by the bed, and the moonlight, though not as bright as the night before, catches the beautiful patch of pale-blond hair, catches every single flawless feature of Draco’s face. Draco looks down at Harry and seems to hesitate for a second. Harry props himself on his elbows, feeling slightly dizzy from forgetting to breathe properly.
Despite the cold, despite the fucking cold that makes everything slower, Draco gracefully removes each item of clothing and soon he stands before Harry in all his perfect fucking glory.
Draco’s hands and feet are freezing but Harry doesn’t give a flying fuck because the rest of his body is warm and these wonderful hands are now all over him as he clambers onto Harry’s bed and slips under the covers. Harry doesn’t wait for Draco to initiate the kiss this time, and he presses his lips against Draco’s in a long, slow, languorous kiss that leaves them both panting and aching for more. Draco’s hands can’t remove Harry’s clothes fast enough now, and fuck if this isn’t frustrating. But then frustration is pushed forcefully into some dark corner of Harry’s mind when Draco crushes his lips on his again and they’re finally both stark naked, skin burning and desire growing fast.
In that instant, nothing else matters anymore.
Nothing but the force of need, nothing but the most maddening sense of want Harry has ever felt, as every single nerve in his body seems to be attuned to Draco, their lips moving together frantically. They gasp, they moan, they bite and Draco’s lips are everywhere now and Harry’s afraid he’s about to lose the last shred of control he thought he had.
In a moment of desperate need, Harry grabs Draco at his hips and somehow manages to roll him over, settling on top of him.
Draco’s cheeks are flushed and his hair ruffled in the most appealing manner and the want in Harry’s guts grows so big it threatens to overwhelm him if he doesn’t take Draco right here and then. Harry plunges into the crook of Draco’s neck and Draco spreads his legs.
When Harry enters Draco, there’s nothing but sheer happiness in him.
They have been close to the point of no-return and Harry knows it but here they are, against all odds, seeking comfort in each other’s arms and finding it as they move together in harmony. The look in Draco’s eyes is still very hard to decipher but as his hips meet Harry’s every thrust, as he removes a strand of hair from Harry’s face, as his fingers trail gently along the lines of his jaw, and as his arms wrap around Harry and his hands - no longer cold - splay over Harry’s back, there’s no denying everything has changed.
They fuck, long and slow, and Harry realises they’ve somehow found a way to beat the cold. Harry kisses Draco again, and then runs his tongue on Draco’s salty skin, placing soft kisses all over his face as Draco’s hands move from Harry’s hair to his back, all the way down to his arse, urging him in deeper, faster, as Draco spreads his legs wider still.
They come together in a cry, and there it is again, this amazing feeling of being one with someone, of feeling complete, of feeling alive. Harry empties himself inside Draco, and he nearly loses his mind as sensations long gone finally come home inside him again.
It took sixty-four days precisely for Harry to complete his assignment.
It took sixty-four days precisely for Draco to be free from house arrest.
It took sixty-four days precisely for Harry to hand in his resignation to Kingsley.
And it took sixty-four days precisely for Harry never to feel cold again.