It had been years since Draco had laughed so much. Years since the war, years since the Death Eaters and the trials and his father being imprisoned in Azkaban. Years of struggling in jobs in the wizarding world because everyone knew about his past. Years and years of putting up with bullshit and of hard work. And he hadn't even realized how much he had been trying and how much he had been so focused on keeping his head above water and trying to redeem himself that he forgot what it was like to live.
Like this. This was what it was like to live: stumbling along down a side street with a fellow-drunk and rambling Harry Potter, arm in arm.
The two had been dating for months now. Things between them had started so slowly and took so long to build that they fell into it so naturally. One small step at a time.
"I feel like," Harry was slurring, staring down at his feet while they walked. "I feel...Like, you know? Like, people always wan—to ask me things about, like, Hogwarts, you know? You know that people still ask me about that whole—what was it called....No really, Draco, what was it called?"
Slightly less drunk than Harry but no better with words, currently, Draco just laughed.
"With the whole..." Disentangling himself from Draco, Harry stumbled through some sort of walk and then said, "And the—“ And did a smaller twirl before staring at Draco expectantly. " You know! ”
Draco scrunched up his nose and thought for a moment. "Was that supposed to be like how Durmstrang and Beauxbatons came in with their entrances for the Tri-Wizard Tournament in fourth year?"
Harry's mouth dropped open, his eyes going wide. "That's it! That's what I meant! The Tri-Wizards Tournament."
"Sorry," Draco said, coming to catch Harry's elbow as he swayed. "Did you say Tri-Wizard s ? Plural?"
"Well, yeah, there's tri of them, right? Tri Wizards."
Again, Draco just laughed. By now, they were almost back to Harry's flat and the two finished the last block in much of the same manner.
Sighing through his laughter, Harry eventually fit the key in the lock and the two stumbled in.
Making his way to where he remembered stocking Harry's potions cabinet with sobering potions, Draco said, "Harry, next time we get too drunk to apparate back home, we really need to do it at a wizarding place so we can floo home instead of walking."
Harry leaned against the wall, blinking lazily. "'M no good with flooing while drunk. Always makes me puke."
Draco drank down the sobering potion before passing some to Harry, blinking his own head clear as it started to take effect. "Here, Harry," he said. "Take this."
But Harry just gently pushed his hand away. Draco tried again and Harry took the bottle this time, only to set it down on the counter.
"Would you take the potion, please? I'm not babysitting you while drunk when I'm entirely sober. It's much too strong of a headache and I—“
Harry cut him off with a sloppy kiss, one hand on the back of Draco's head. "Come to the bedroom with me," Harry whispered.
The potion having fully taken effect now, Draco just took a step back, picking the bottle up once again. "Harry, you're out of your mind if you think that I'm going to do that before you take this."
Still looking into Draco's eyes and nowhere else, Harry said, "It's just that we haven't before and I didn't think I'd have the courage to ask if I was sober. Truth be told, I'm kind of scared."
Sighing and knowing that Harry wasn't going to take the potion from him that very moment, Draco forced himself to relax. "Why is that?"
His eyes still never left Draco's. "Cause if I sleep with you I'm probably going to tell you that I love you."
"Harry, I think we should slow down." Draco rubbed his eyes, starting to feel how tired he was. It was already early morning—in fact, the sun would be coming up in probably an hour.
"I know, I know. But I can't help how I feel, Draco. I've felt this way since before we were together. And I've always been so afraid of it because I know that I have hurt you." Finally, Harry's eyes dropped, looking down at the floor as they started to well with tears. "I know that I have hurt you," he repeated, voice only a whisper. "And despite how much I love you and how much I regret the things that I have done to you in the past—“ He paused for a moment and Draco quietly winced when he saw a tear drip down Harry's nose to the floor. "—I know that you could never love me because of it."
"Harry," Draco started, softly, not knowing where to go. Because the sentence wasn't true, but he also wasn't ready to go to the point of confessing love. Even if he felt it, he was too scared. And he could clearly see why Harry was doing this before taking the potion.
When Harry spoke again, saving Draco from trying to find what to say, his voice was so quiet Draco took a step closer to hear. "I know about the scars, Draco. I heard. At some event, Parkinson got in a fight with Ron and she told him and he told me and Draco I'm so sorry, I—“
Unable to handle another moment of this, Draco pressed the sobering potion into Harry's hand hard. "Drink this," he said. "Now."
After Harry had finished the potion, Draco took the empty bottle back, set it firmly on the counter, and took Harry by the hand to the bedroom.
"Draco, what's going on?" Harry asked, and Draco could tell by the pacing of his speech that the potion had already worked its wonders.
Turning to face him, Draco put his hands on Harry's shoulders. "You need to stop."
Harry looked confused. "Stop what?"
He dropped his hands. "Stop feeling sorry, stop feeling guilty. Harry, I thought when we had started to date we had made an agreement between the two of us that the things that happened between us in the past were in the past. We called it even, did we not?"
Harry sighed. "Draco, we can 'call it even' as much as we want but it doesn't change the fact that I literally scarred you for life."
Moving backwards, Draco sat down on Harry's bed and looked at him with patience.
"I can't just stop feeling guilty about what I did to you. I deserve to feel guilty for the rest of my life."
"Harry," Draco started. "Darling, you saved my life." He paused, trying to figure how to sum up all that he could say, all that he felt about the scars on his chest. It was just so hard to explain to Harry.
"Come here," Draco said and Harry dutifully walked over to him.
Draco took Harry's face in his hands and pulled him to him, kissing him and lying back on the bed. Carefully, Harry maneuvered them to a more comfortable position in the middle of the bed, himself above Draco.
Harry pulled back from the kiss and opened his mouth to speak, but Draco stopped him with a small shake of his head.
Then, he said, "Go ahead, Harry," and they both knew what he meant.
Fingers hovering at the bottom hem of Draco's shirt, Harry paused, biting his lip to not cry again. Gingerly, Draco placed his fingers on top of Harry's wrists and guided him and together they slowly brought Draco's shirt up and over his shoulders. As the skin of Draco's stomach was slowly revealed, Harry turned his head away and closed his eyes, not ready yet to see what he knew was on Draco's chest.
Shirt beside him on the bed, Draco lay back down and took Harry's face in his hands once again. Tears fell from Harry's closed eyes and landed on Draco's chest, small and cold.
He brushed back a piece of Harry's hair from his face.
"It's okay, Harry," he whispered.
Slowly, lip trembling, Harry opened his eyes and then gasped at what was before him. Instinct told him to withdraw, move away from the sight that brought him so much guilt, but he determinedly didn't move. Didn't shy away.
"It's alright," Draco whispered and Harry collapsed into tears, wrapping his arms underneath Draco to hold him close, his face against his chest.
Draco ran his hands through Harry's curls while he cried, soothing him softly until he started to run out of tears.
As they slowed down finally, Draco slowly pulled the two of them apart enough to see Harry's face.
"Draco, I—“ Harry tried, but Draco spared him with a kiss.
"I love you, too, Harry."
Draco sighed, pulling Harry back to his chest as he started to cry once more.
"Let me tell you a story," Draco said. "It starts...Well, let's say this one starts when we were sixteen. Prior to then, you had always been such a constant in my life. My main rival. You were what my worries were consumed with. And then the Dark Lord asked me to kill Dumbledore. And suddenly I had much bigger problems than you, Harry." He brushed his hands through Harry's hair while he continued.
"I knew I wouldn't be able to do it. And I thought that if I just threw myself off of the top of the Astronomy Tower, the resulting punishment would be less for my parents. Better to have them punished for raising a coward for a son instead of for our family failing the Dark Lord. Plus, it had the added perk of me no longer existing in that hellscape." Harry had stilled against Draco's chest and was simply listening to Draco's words and his heartbeat.
"So I was talking to Myrtle and trying to brainstorm the best way to kill myself. You know, to ensure that it got done and that no one was able to stop it once it started. And who comes into the bathroom? I was upset and I tried to crucio you. You cast sectumsempra. There was so much pain and then I saw Snape there."
Draco shifted beneath Harry, continuing. "As he cast the counter curse I remember holding on to his arm. I had never held onto anything so strongly. And I kept trying to speak to him and he kept telling me not to speak and I was choking on blood every time that I tried." Here, Draco paused, remembering the emotion of the moment, feeling wet tracks make their way through his hair and onto the mattress below him.
"What I was trying to tell him, Harry, was I was begging him to not let me die. All I could think past the pain was, 'I don't want to die, I don't want to die, I don't want to die.' And when I woke up in the hospital wing covered in bandages, I was still depressed and I was still going to fail the Dark Lord, but I was alive. And for the first time in a long time, it felt good to be alive. Not like a curse, but like a gift."
Now, Draco moved his hands away from Harry's head and Harry pushed himself up to look at him.
"Sure, they hurt. Sure, for a while I wanted to kill you for putting me through that pain. But every time I felt like giving up, I could remember how I felt when I woke up and by some fucking miracle I was alive. Naturally, if I could have come to that understanding any other way, I would have chosen that, but if this is what it took?" He shook his head. "Harry, you nearly killed me. But if you hadn't, I surely would have died anyway."
"Draco." Harry spoke at last. "I'm so sorry." And they both knew he meant for everything.
"I know." They kissed softly once more and then Draco smiled brightly. "So are you really telling me that avoiding that is why we haven't fucked yet?"
"Don't tease me; I'm still emotional!" Harry laughed.
"So it is!"
"Well, you know, I wasn't sure how you would feel about me seeing you naked and if you would even want us to, you know—“
"Potter, if you don't get inside of me before that sun comes up—“
Still laughing, Harry sat up and took off his own shirt. "I think someone's being a little pushy."
"Have you met me? That's one of my defining characteristics."
"That it is," Harry muttered, coming back to kiss Draco again. He pulled back, sighing through a smile. "Good thing I love you, though, right?"
Draco joined in the laughing. "Good thing."