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'If you can't beat them, join them. I can't remember where I've heard that before but now I know it makes perfect sense. He couldn't beat us so he had to join us. As long as he came out on top, that's all that mattered to him. How can somebody be so shallow?' Harry wondered bitterly to himself, resting his head on his propped up arm at the end of the Gryffindor Table.

Ron and Hermione were sitting across from him, listening to Ginny's animated recap of Michael Corner's mishap in Potions earlier that day, their hands clasped together underneath the table top. Harry wished he could join in, listen and laugh along with them, but he simply couldn't. He didn't have it in him anymore. It wasn't the grief, no, for it was better handled than he thought it would have been after losing so many friends in the recent war. As friends, as a family, they grieved their losses from the final battle together. Now back at school, on Halloween night, the grief was a distant pang.

"And what about Slughorn? What did he do, then?" Ron asked, grinning from ear-to-ear.

Harry watched as Ginny pushed her dinner plate away, smiling mischievously at her brother as she continued to rehash the event. 'What's wrong with me? I should be happy. I should be laughing along with them.' But Harry simply couldn't. He didn't consider himself to be depressed, not in the slightest, but detached. He wasn't sure where he fit in anymore. His purpose was completed, his job done. Ron and Hermione had one another, they were no longer the trio they had once been. Harry and Ginny had decided to go their separate ways after the battle and she had returned to her old boyfriend, Dean Thomas. Harry wasn't needed any longer. The best thing he had to offer his friends, his house and his school now that the war was over, was to win the Quidditch Cup that year, one final time.

Harry was too wrapped in his brooding, his finger flicking bread crumbs across the table and onto the floor, to notice the piece of parchment soaring across the room headed straight for him. It hit him squarely on the forehead, narrowly avoiding knocking his glasses off in the process.

"What the bloody hell was that?" Ron asked surprised.

Harry grumbled, looking down at a piece of parchment sitting, folded like a paper crane, before him. There were sniggers coming from across the hall from the Slytherin Table. He looked up and immediately searched for Draco, his eyes landing on him in an icy glare. He mouthed something crude he wouldn't dare say aloud in earshot of the professors at the blond who merely sneered at him and returned to the feast. His friends flanked beside him, however, were still huddled over in fits of giggles.

Ginny reached out to grab the parchment from the table top but as soon as her fingers touched it she hissed and recoiled as if burnt. "Well that's certainly odd," Hermione commented. The Gryffindor seventh and eighth years sitting around them all looked at Harry curiously watching as he snapped out of his glare at Malfoy before reaching for the paper crane.

When he picked it up it didn't burn his hands as it had done Ginny. He unfolded it carefully and read aloud at the fancy script scrawled on the parchment. "Wotcher, Potter. What the-" but Harry didn't get to finish his sentence. In the lower corner of the parchment was a small drawing of a spider that suddenly sprang to life. From the drawing came not one, not two, but a few dozen spiders erupting from the page.

Everybody around Harry that could see what was happening squealed and jumped away from him, eyes wide with surprise. Ron had flung himself so forcefully backwards he landed near the Hufflepuff table on his arse, his face pale as death. The spiders didn't seem to crawl anywhere but on Harry and no matter how much he swatted at them, as he did manically, they couldn't be crushed or thrown from his skin. They crawled under his robes, up his arms and his neck, over his face, on the surface of his ears. Harry was violently trying to shake them, cursing aloud as he did. The entire Great Hall watched in fixation as he did an odd dance, most confused as to what was going on. Headmistress McGonagall was descending from the head table, her lips pursed and wand drawn. The only ones who seemed to understand what was happening were the Slytherins surrounding Draco Malfoy, who were cackling wildly now.

"Got something under your skin, Potty?" Somebody, Harry guessed it was Blaise Zabini by the sounds of it, called, causing more laughter from his housemates.

"Finite incantatem!" Hermione had her wand pointed at Harry and the spell seemed to do the trick rather nicely. The spiders vanished almost immediately, Harry looked wide-eyed down at his skin, back to normal, although he had a crawling sensation he couldn't shake.

"Thank you, Ms Granger. Mr Potter, do you mind explaining to me what exactly happened here?" the Headmistress inquired, her arms crossed.

Harry, finally rid of the uneasy feeling of spiders, sent a deep scowl over to the Slytherin table where the students had quieted down. "Just a prank is all, Professor," he ground out between clenched teeth.

McGonagall eyed Harry carefully. "Do refrain from such colourful language in the future, Mr Potter. And somebody help Mr Weasley back on his feet," she turned over to Ron, still on the ground looking more shaken than anybody else. Ron blushed and snapped out of his stupor, accepting Hermione's hand of pulling him up back towards the table.

"I've never seen a prank like that before. They're getting inventive," Ginny commented as Harry still was unmoved, standing behind her and eyes narrowed at the Slytherins.

Since the beginning of the term the Slytherins and Gryffindors, most specifically Harry and Draco, had been trying to get at one another more than any other year. The Head boy and girl along with prefects and professors were trying to keep a reign on mostly the eighth years all to no avail. Hermione kept saying they needed to set a better example, how they were the ones at the forefront of the war and they should lead the traumatized, the lost and grieving, in their footsteps but Harry very well couldn't when he was one of them. Most of the Slytherin students had parents in Azkaban or under Ministry probation which explained most of their foul moods especially towards the trio of Gryffindors; they saw it the trio's fault that their parents were in the current positions they were in.

Harry was about to sit down and continue with the Halloween Feast when something caught the corner of his eye. Malfoy's mop of blond hair was moving, bobbing along by itself towards the Entrance Hall. Without a word to his friends Harry grabbed his school bag and followed out after, his eyes narrowed. His friends left in his wake shared knowing looks. "Harry, Harry!" Ron was calling after him but Harry didn't hear or he didn't care to listen.

"He's going to end up getting himself expelled," Ginny groaned, standing up from the Gryffindor Table. Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnigan, Hermione, Ron and Neville were all following the raven-haired boy who had already disappeared between the two large doors.

"I hate Malfoy just as much as the next bloke but Harry really is going too far these days," Ron commented, everybody mumbling their agreements.

Out in the Great Hall, Harry quickly caught up to Malfoy who was descended to the dungeons. Harry thrust his wand in his direction, effectively locking his ankles in a trip jinx. Malfoy sprawled on his front to the floor while swearing. He quickly gathered himself up. Without turning around, he cursed his attacker. "Potter, what the fuck do you want from me?" he growled, slowly facing Harry who was now directly behind him,

"Me? What do I want from you?! What the hell were you playing at with that bloody prank, hrm? Think it was funny, do you?" Harry spat, jabbing his wand threateningly forward again. Malfoy was eyeing it, his fists clenched at his side.

"I had nothing to do with that," Malfoy ground out, "But yes, it was indeed a good laugh to watch the Wonder Boy dance around like a little girl."

Harry's eyes narrowed dangerously now, he could distantly hear his friends calling him to stop but their voices weren't as loud as the blood rushing in his ears. Just being in Malfoy's presence had him seething. He looked so much like Lucius it made his skin crawl. "Give me one good reason not to hex you into oblivion right now, Malfoy. They should have never let you step foot in here again, you don't deserve it."

Malfoy crossed his arms and raised his eyebrow, stepping forward and towering over Harry as he did, not caring that the boy's wand was now pressed into his chest. "Bipolar now, too, Scarhead? I happen to recall you testifying for me."

"Clearly I was wrong. You should be rotting away in Azkaban with your precious little Daddy."

Malfoy reacted quickly to the words. He shoved Harry's wand out of the way, it clattered to the floor, and he balled Harry's robes into his fists, shoving him hard against the wall not far from them. Harry's head hit the wall with a sickening crack. Malfoy brought his face close to his, his teeth bared as Harry glared up at him. "Don't you ever speak about my Father, Potter."

Harry pushed Malfoy back, shoving him as hard as he could muster square in the chest. "Get your hands off of me, you bloody Death Eat-"

But Harry couldn't finish his sentence. Malfoy's arm had swung back and his bony knuckles collided with the side of his cheek. The force of it nearly knocked Harry back against the wall. His glasses shattered, however, into Malfoy's fist and Harry's cheekbone and nose, the broken pieces falling to the floor. There was shouting now, a crowd of students and Professors alike, but Harry couldn't hear them. Neither he nor Malfoy noticed the black smoke rising suddenly from the ground and the sudden gasps and shouts. Harry ran forward, a deep growl in his chest as he swung back at Draco, connecting hard with his cheek. As he did so, Malfoy grabbed a hold of his shoulders with a vicelike grip and kneed him in the groin. They were in a tangle of body parts, punches and knees when two sets of spiralling light shot out at them. They were both immediately caught in two separate full body binds. Harry fell over on top of Malfoy, trying his hardest to glare down at the immobilized body beneath his own.

The smoke was still heavy around them but slowly lifting, when a voice Harry picked out to be Professor McGonagall's sounded not far from them. "Mr Potter and Mr Malfoy, again! I cannot bel-" but she was cut-off by several gasps and a high pitch scream. Harry wished he could twist and see what everybody else was reacting to but all he could do was look down into Malfoy's piercing, grey eyes glaring up at him as their bodies lay heavily against one another. Suddenly, he felt a nauseating sensation creeping its way from his toes up his body. He felt the body bind being lifted from him but at the same time a pain like no other exploded behind his temples. And then darkness.

Chapter Text

A blinding light consumed Draco's vision the moment he stirred. He clamped his eyes shut, slowly blinking them open to adjust to the familiar white ceiling.

'The Hospital Wing. Bloody fantastic.' There was a dull though persistent throbbing in the back of his head, he turned over underneath the scratchy bed sheets and closed his eyes willing the aches away. Unfortunately, three voices roused him fully and immediately upon recognition.

'Perfect Potter and his Gryffindork pals,' Draco groaned to himself, gritting his teeth as he sat up fully and took in his surroundings. There were curtains drawn about his entire bed, his school bag and wand were placed on the bedside table. He turned to kick his legs out of bed, hoping to get as far away from the golden trio as quickly as possible. Just as he was about to slip his shoes back on a hand fell on his shoulder, gripping tightly from behind.

Draco whirled around to face a grave looking Madame Pomfrey. "Not so fast, Mr Malfoy. You have potions you must take at once and your Head of House will be up shortly to speak with you."

Draco supressed the urge to groan aloud. Slughorn and he had never seen eye-to-eye. The man approved of Draco's obvious talent in potionry but otherwise held all but disdain for him. 'Probably for peeving off his precious Potter.'

Everything always came down to him, the Boy Who Lived to Annoy Draco. "What do you think it could be?" He heard the Weasel ask.

"I'm not sure. It's nothing like I've ever seen before," Granger commented, Draco could almost see the disappointment on her face for not knowing something. He scoffed and took the potions Madame Pomfrey had left on his bedside table. There were two. One of which was a Pepper-Up as he could recognize and the other tasted faintly like a Replenishing potion but slightly different.

"Did anybody even see where it came from?" Potter's voice was small and soft, a tone Draco found rare to hear from him. Whenever he heard him speak it was laced with malice and anger.

"Sorry, mate, there was far too much smoke in there. Clever, whoever did it, to use Peruvian Darkness powder first." Everybody hummed their silent concurrence.

'Why do they all sound so bloody put off? Potty's in the infirmary, big deal. Nothing's obviously damaged with me so it won't be with him, either - unfortunately.'

"Maybe they muddled it up," Weasel returned.

The mudblood sighed. "Perhaps it was somebody other than a Slytherin. Other people are perfectly capable of casting spells in this school."

"Yeah, but a spell of that caliber? 'Mione, even you don't know what it was and you know bloody everything backwards and forwards! It has to be somebody clever enough with wand work."

Draco noted that Potter himself stayed for the most part silent. The Weasel continued talking. "I wouldn't put it past the git and his cronies to curse you with something untoward."

"Ronald, if that were so Malfoy wouldn't be here, too," Granger said levelly.

'Yeah, Weasel, and if you had not been paying attention you would recall the only Slytherin's in the Great Hall were much too far to cast anything.'

The door to the Hospital Wing swung open, Draco could hear the loud creak of the old wood. He finally pulled at the curtains separating him from the rest of the room, peering outside and snarling at who he saw. Professor Slughorn greeted the trio, asking Harry immediately how he was and going on about how atrocious it was that somebody would even think about harming the Boy Who Lived. Draco sat on the edge of his bed, rather impatiently tapping one of his feet on the floor as he continued to listen to the exchange until Slughorn addressed him at long last.

"Mr Malfoy, are you awake in there boy?"

Draco sighed and stood of his bed, pulling his curtains back as he did. Pomfrey must have stripped him before he was out for the night as he stood there in slacks and nothing else. He sneered over at the Gryffindors two beds away from him. Granger turned pink and averted her gaze, Potter - who was sitting with his legs curled up underneath himself on the bed still - ran his eyes over Draco with a blank expression. Draco was impressed, he didn't see much anger in the – never mind, he thought way too soon as Potter's unnaturally green eyes clouded over and narrowed at him.

"Bloody hell Malfoy, put some damn clothes on before I retch up my breakfast!" The Weasel snapped.

"Tch," Draco shrugged and turned around to do just that. Professor Slughorn was waiting patiently for Draco to finish as he stood by the Gryffindor's bed. "It's a feat you haven't lost your appetite, sitting next to Granger all the-"

"You better shut your mouth, Malfoy!" Harry snarled, almost jumping from the bed but the girl promptly shoved him back down, a dithering expression on her face.

"Or what, you'll shut it for me?" Draco drawled, finally clasping up his robes.

Before Harry could retort Professor Slughorn cleared his throat. Granger and the Weasel turned their attentions toward him but Potter and Draco were locked in a staring battle until Draco merely raised an eyebrow and leaned against his bed, listening to his Head of House.

"Now boys, let's be civil now. In light of yesterday's events I have here a potion I will need both Mr Malfoy and Harry, my boy, to take." Slughorn turned to him, smiling weakly and speaking his name with admiration causing Draco to roll his eyes. Slughorn held up two half-filled vials. "Now, I do not have much in stock so I will ask that the two of you stand as close together as you can bear it so we can observe the effects properly. This is an-"

"Identifying Potion," Draco cut off his Professor, Hermione and Slughorn looked over at him slightly impressed but he pretended to be all too occupied in looking at his nails.

"Yes, that is correct, Mr Malfoy, quite the eye you have," Slughorn grudgingly complimented.

"And what if this is as close as I can bear?" Harry countered venomously.

"Harry, must you be so difficult?" Hermione sighed.

Harry turned his chin up, nudging towards Draco all still too occupied in himself than what was happening around him. "When it comes to him, yes." But even as he said it he was moving up out of his bed. "Come on then, Malfoy, let's get this over with," he grumbled, striding halfway between their beds and looking at him expectantly.

Draco sighed, pushing off and taking long, slow steps towards the shorter, hot-tempered boy. Once he reached him he wore a winning smirk, peering down his nose at him. "If the Chosen One insists," he breathed.

Eyes glazing over again, Potter opened his mouth to undoubtedly snap at him but Slughorn quickly shoved a vial in each of their hands. "Now boys, this will be much easier if the two of you could remain civil for just a few minutes."

"Easy for you to say," Harry muttered beneath his breath. Draco knew they never got along and that Harry could go so far as to say he hated him but it truly amused him that he was able to get under his skin just by being present.

"Alright. You must drink it at the same time. An identifying potion merely lasts thirty seconds and I will need to take as many notes as I possibly can. We have to determine the curse the two of you were struck with. Now on the three. One, two, three." At Slughorn's words they both downed the vials and simultaneously spat in distaste almost immediately afterwards.

Their bodies grew warm starting with their heads and moving all the way down to their toes. As they looked down they could see what Ron and Hermione were amused with. There were dancing colours everywhere, twirling amongst the two of them individually as if their auras were now visible. Slughorn was writing furiously with a quill on the back of a hard book, looking up every second.

Draco's body consisted of primarily pinks and purples with a few odd black spots swirling in the mist around him. Harry, however, had blue, pink and yellows strewn around his body and it wasn't a mist so much as a wind whirling though without feeling. On his forehead and chest were two large black areas, they bled into the other colours. Then there was something that resembled tentacles between them. They wove in two places. The tentacles that reached out from their hands and entwined together in the air between them were a blinding white. The other tentacles, ones they couldn't see particularly well but the observers could, were a fierce red more vibrant than any other colour surrounding them. They were wound from both their heads.

As soon as the colours had appeared it seemed they disappeared. They both immediately felt cold, the warmth leaving their skin. "Bottoms up," Slughorn said, tossing two more vials at them, "It will warm you up."

Once they had drank and were feeling relatively back to normal, Potter was quick to distance himself and sit on the edge of his bed. "Professor, sir, what do the colours they shared mean?"

"It is magic we have shared. Things that have affected both of us equally. I believe I am right to assume the one between our hands represents the fact Potter here stole my wand last year. That and-" Draco stopped and pursed his lip. 'That and my life debt,' he thought dully to himself. "Granger said there were more than one. What was the other?"

Professor Slughorn was nodding at Draco's words, confirming what he was saying. "There was some woven around your heads. It must be the curse from last night. I must cross reference the colour with ailments that can affect ones' mind between two people. Until then, the Headmistress would like to see the two of you."

Now Potter groaned allowed. "It's Quidditch practice in an hour, sir. I really don't want to miss it."

"I am sure the team can manage without their Golden Boy for one afternoon," Draco grinned at the absolute disdain Potter shot at him.

"Professor, sir, is there anything we could do to help?" Granger offered hurriedly, her hand in Ron's pulling him to a stand with her.

"Ah, yes, Miss Granger always willing to study. You and Mr Weaselbee may come along. The sooner this is sorted the better. Now to the Headmistresses office, boys, if I hear of any foul play on the way I will not hesitate to assign detentions."

They both nodded at their Professor and turned to gather their things. Potter said a quick goodbye to his friends and as soon as they left turned to Draco, scowling. "Hurry up," he merely spat.

Draco raised his eyebrow at him, slinging his shoulder bag across him. "Eager to get me alone in dark corridors, Potter?"

Harry sneered at him and started out of the Hospital Wing, Draco was quick on his heels. The walk to McGonagall's office was full of thick silence, Potter would turn every so often to look over his shoulder and see Draco smirking ahead at him or observing his nails nonchalantly. Potter would scoff or mutter something unintelligible and continue on.

McGonagall's office was closed once they arrived. "How does she expect us to get in if she didn't even give us the password?" Draco wondered aloud, slightly tithed. He, like Potter, had better things to be doing with his Saturday like studying for NEWTs.

"Shut up for a minute and maybe you'll see," Potter spat.

"Always so tetchy, Potter. You really need to learn how to relax," Draco breathed, he was standing directly behind him now and he could have sworn he saw Potter shiver.

"Licorice Whips," Harry mumbled and the statue sprang to life, revealing its ascending staircase. He took the liberty of walking up it first, promptly ignoring Draco's taunt.

"Of course perfect Potter would have the password to the Headmistresses office."

The door to her office was open. She was sitting inside at Dumbledore's old desk, his portrait sleeping peacefully not far from her. Both Draco and Harry cast a look at their old Headmaster, both with different emotions running quickly through them before Headmistress McGonagall pulled them from their reminiscence.

"Mr Malfoy, Mr Potter, please have a seat."

They took the two seats before her as she leaned forward on the desk on her elbows. She looked so much older than Draco could remember, wearier.

"Please, recap the happenings of yesterday evening leading up to the incident."

Potter was quick to start, his finger jabbing out accusingly in Draco's direction. "He was being a right arsehole and-"

"I was being an arse? I hardly think you are recalling the proceedings correctly, Potter," Draco interjected.

"You know you were, Malfoy, you started it with that blasted curse!" Harry cried indignantly.

"Back to that bloody curse, honestly, Potter! How many times do I have to say it to get it through that inflated head of yours? I. Did. Not. Send. You. That. Prank," Draco ground out word by word.

Professor McGonagall heaved a heavy sigh, rubbing her temples. "Boys," she hissed sounding rather unimpressed. "You are eighteen years old. You are adults and considering what you have been through one would assume you could take it upon yourselves to act according to your age and not like blithering little children!" Her voice rose with each word causing them both to snap their mouths shut. "Now, again and calmly. Let's start with your perspective, Mr Malfoy, shall we?"

So Draco told her from the beginning of Blaise sending Harry the prank mail till they blacked out in the Entrance Hall. Harry returned with his own, slightly altered version of the events although they were nearly identical telling's. "It's just oh so convenient Blaise sent the prank mail, isn't it, Malfoy?"

"I can confirm it was indeed Mr Zabini, who is now serving detention with Professor Sprout, was the one to send the prank mail. With the help of the other faculty, all sixth years and up in the vicinity of the incident had their wands checked via Priori Incantatem which also revealed him to be the prankster. However, it revealed nothing of the curse that has befallen the two of you."

"Professor, how do you even know there was any curse at all other than a simple stunning charm that hit the both of us? And why would somebody wish to target us at once?" Harry asked, calmer now that he was addressing all his attention to the Headmistress.

McGonagall's lips drew into a thin line, she leaned back in her chair and fell silent for a moment. "The curse was visible, though where it originated from was not. It felt...wrong," she explained. "As for your other question, Mr Potter, it comes back to what I said earlier. I do not think there is not a soul in this school who is sick and tired of having to hear and see the two of you go at it like toddlers fighting over a pygmy puff," Her voice darkening ever so slightly. Harry blushed at the words but said nothing, Draco on the other hand was now becoming interested in the shining reflection on his shoes. "The war is over. You, Mr Potter, spoke for Mr Malfoy's innocence here and yet you still cannot put the past behind you. And you, Mr Malfoy, show very little thankfulness considering you owe Mr Potter a life debt. All the staff have been advised after this particular incident which clearly got out of hand, to deduct points at any instance of even a verbal fight between the two of you. If any magic of ill intent is involved with the two of you, it will be immediate detention. You are both looked up to as leaders of your Houses. We strive for unity amongst ourselves yet your actions segregate you and your other students far more than you realize."

Draco still appeared uninterested all though he drank in every one of her words. He had no trouble playing nicely so long as Potter kept his nose in his own business. Harry, however, appeared ashamed an embarrassed at her words, his head hanging low and looking flushed. "For the time being, I think it wise you check in with Poppy every evening before curfew to ensure there is no observable alteration to your well beings. Professor Slughorn will be working tirelessly to discover the curse itself along with Professor Alcona and Professor Flitwick. I do hope you two can find the time to assist them. If you are able to make it a fortnight with no side effects, we shall leave things as they are," McGonagall explained and slowly stood up from her chair. "Until then, I expect the both of you to behave. You are here for your eighth year out of a kindness, do not make me revoke it."

Harry was already standing and heading for the door, hoping to get away from Draco as soon as possible. "If that's all, Professor," he nodded his head to the witch and ignored Draco entirely before ducking out of the room.

Draco made a noncommittal sound as he stood up slowly, brushing off his day old robes as he did. "And Mr Malfoy," Professor McGonagall was around the front of her desk now, looking up at the taller boy. "It is especially important for you to maintain a good record. Auror McDermo-"

"I know," he snapped abruptly. He needn't be reminded of his probation. McGonagall pursed her lips and nodded.

"Very well, Mr Malfoy if you wo-"

It happened so suddenly. A burning pain burst in Draco's temples and his stomach lurched. He gripped onto his head with both hands, his fingers knotted through his platinum hair. He let out a guttural growl of pain as he fell down to his knees. McGonagall was at his side, her wand drawn and rolling a revealing charm across his body. "Mr Malfoy! What happened, are you-"

"Get. Potter. Now," Draco ground out, looking up through his hands. McGonagall visibly blanched, a look Draco had never seen on the old witch. She nodded briefly and flew out of the office.

The pain grew, intensified. It felt like a million, iron hot needles were piercing through his skull. With one last groan, Draco slumped over into unconsciousness.

Chapter Text


“Give me my wand back this instant!”

Harry woke to the sound of a heated argument. He winced as he pried his eyes open at the bright lights surrounding him. He was in the hospital wing, again, the curtains drawn about his bed. “I certainly will not! You were about to hex Harry!” Hermione’s voice chided.

“For good reason, too!” Malfoy growled, his heavy footsteps falling on the floor just outside of Harry’s curtains. Harry adjusted himself in bed, noticing that the roaring pain in his head he had felt before fainting at the bottom of McGonagall’s office stairs was gone.

“And what exactly is that good reason, hrm? You haven’t even explained why the two of you ended up here-“

“That is our business. Kindly sod off, Mudblood!”

Harry started to swing his legs out of bed, grabbing his wand from his bedside table at that remark. His blood boiled hearing that word come from Malfoy’s mouth. Did he really go through the trouble of vouching for him at the Death Eater trials only to have him return to the completely ungrateful prat he had always been? But he stopped as he heard Professor McGonagall’s voice carry from the entrance of the Hospital Wing. “Mr Malfoy!” She called shrilly. “Twenty-five points from Slytherin for foul language! Honestly, I thought better of you. Now, please, Miss Granger, I need a word with Mr Malfoy and Mr Potter in private.”

“But, Professor, Harry’s still-“

Harry clambered out of bed, realising his glasses weren’t on as he tripped through the curtains. He fell onto the opposite bed, bracing on it before righting himself. He flushed, pulling his cloak which Madame Pomfrey had seemingly left on, closer to him. “Er, I’m awake now.”

“Clearly,” Draco scoffed, crossing his arms and turning his back to Harry.

Hermione was at Harry’s side now, hugging him lightly as he shrugged her off. “Harry, how are you feeling?” she asked gently.

“Fine, really. Pretty hungry, though,” he admitted, turning back towards the bedside table to retrieve his glasses.

“Miss Granger,” Professor McGonagall urged softly. Hermione reluctantly left the Hospital Wing as the Headmistress addressed the two remaining boys, her mouth drawn into a thin, unamused frown “Professor, what happened yesterday? One moment I was walking down the stairs from your office and there was this blinding pain and then nothing. What could have caused that? Is it because of the curse?” Harry asked evenly, trying his best to ignore the blond who was visible from the corner of his eye.

“Brilliant deduction Potter, really,” Malfoy sarcastically bit out.

“Mr Malfoy, please,” McGonagall said softly. “Yes, it seems to be the result of the curse. I have my assumptions, as does Madame Pomfrey and Professor Slughorn, but you seem to have understood the connection already, isn’t that right, Mr Malfoy?”

Harry shot a dwindling look at Malfoy who uncrossed his arms, sighing. “Last year my Father came home fro-“ the Slyterin abruptly stopped himself before continuing. “Father had a curse put on himself and his…friend. It only lasted half a day at most but during that time whenever one of them would leave the room both of them felt a blinding pain to the point of passing out. It was some kind of binding curse.”

The blood drained from Harry’s face. “Are you trying to tell me somebody bound us together?” He spluttered out.

McGonagall looked between the two boys, wholly unimpressed by the situation. “It would seem that way. There is not much in the way of knowledge of binding spells or curses, unfortunately, but we have gathered what we can and Professor Slughorn is working alongside Professor Alcona trying to figure out the parameters of the curse, time limit being an example. We think it best the two of you report any changes, physical, mental or emotional, to Madam Pomfrey immediately as the nature of this binding curse is unknown we wish to keep an eye on it. As it stands, the two of you are lucky the Eighth Years all have corresponding classes.”

“Lucky? What are you saying, Professor?” Harry found his voice was quiet and shaking. ‘Bound to Malfoy? Bound. What does that even mean?!

Malfoy rolled his eyes exasperatedly, running a hand through his hair – a tell Harry had observed over the years was somethinghe did when he was nervous. “To put it into words a Squib would understand,” Draco grumbled, “We are, as it seems, bound at themoment. Some sick, twisted little fu-“

McGonagall cleared her throat, raising her eyebrow at Malfoy who merely continued. “Somebody thought it would be all amusing to see Boy Wonder bound to me. The only thing we know about the bond so far is that it, like the one my Father had, forces us to remain in close proximity to one another.”

Harry blinked a few times. He didn’t particularly want to wrap his head around the thought of being by Malfoy all day long. “Why would somebody want to do that?”

Professor McGonagall shook her head. “As earlier stated, you boys have to begin to act like the men you are becoming. The nonsense between the two of you must be brought to an end and the entire school agrees. This bond shall prove either fatal to or the ultimate blessing upon the two of you this year.”

‘Sounds like McGonagall bloody well did this to us.’ Harry was startled. He had heard that. It was his thought but not quite his thought. He was thinking along the same lines but had not constructed the thought as of the time he heard it. He shook his head, he really just needed to get some food in his system.

“What do you propose can be done about this now?”

McGonagall pursed her lips. “I have been speaking with the Heads of your Houses and for now we feel it in your best interest to stay within the guest chambers by my office. They have been warded to alert myself and Madame Pomfrey of any magical or non-magical violence that occurs within. This way the two of you can remain within close proximity of one another without causing a disturbance to your classmates. The waters will have to be tested on the distance that can separate you. Arrangements for now have been made that each of you are paired in your classes-“

Malfoy shrugged but Harry himself groaned at that. That was more of the Slytherin prat than he could handle. “I am very sorry for the circumstances, Mr Potter, it seems you are not able to catch a break. However, it may have been deserved this time around,” McGonagall’s mouth for the first time in days twitched slightly into a bemused grin.

Malfoy rolled his eyes. “Sorry for him? Pfft. At least he has somebody who knows what the bloody hell they’re doing to cheat from.”

“Hey! I would never cheat!” Harry snapped defensively.

“Right, of course, the noble Gryffindor. But, I cannot fathom any other way you’ve made it this far at Hogwarts,” Malfoy muttered under his breath which caused Harry to throw a glare in his direction.

“Your things have been brought to your new quarters as well as your dinner seeing as you have missed it. I still expect the two of you to arrive on time for each of your classes. Remember, you being here this year is a privilege, not a right,” she warned and began out of the Hospital Wing, gesturing for them to follow.

They both did so in silence, avoiding looking at one another as they silently walked. A million questions ran through Harry’s head. Who had bound them together? Why – for kicks? How long was this going to last? What’s the specific binding curse? Is there a cure? Malfoy’s father was cured so there was hope in that yet. What was he supposed to do about showering? He certainly wasn’t going to let Malfoy see him starkers! Sure, he had let the other members of the Quidditch team see him in nothing but underpants but this was Malfoy, there was no chance he could live with himself after that!

“Shut up, Potter,” Malfoy hissed as they came to a stop before a portrait. Harry startled and opened his mouth, had he said that all aloud?! “You’re mumbling like a buffoon.” He sighed with relief, it didn’t seem like Malfoy had deciphered any of his words.

The portrait before them was of four knights in a circle, all in full military armour. There were only three horses in the picture, trotting gently in the background. The knights were leaning against a stone wall, which appeared to be the side of a fort. The knights turned to bring their attention to the three now standing before them. They stood, saluting McGonagall, and then put themselves at ease. “Those the miscreants that need tending to, ma’am?” the one on the far right asked in a deep, Scottish accent.

Malfoy raised his eyebrow softly, mouthing the word ‘miscreant’ at the knights. “This is Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. They are the only permitted persons allowed in these quarters other than faculty members-“

“But Professor! What about my friends?” Harry piped up immediately.

McGonagall sighed, “And of course whomever they permit as well.”

“Understood, ma’am!” a slightly podgier knight in the back saluted her.

McGonagall turned towards the two boys, crossing her arms firmly. “Remember, every single inch of these rooms is warded, understood? The knights will also alert me of any foul play. I expect the two of you to behave like the men you are. You are expected to see Professor Slughorn tomorrow evening after dinner to discuss the parameters of the bond and Madame Pomfrey before curfew for her daily evaluation. The current password for the room is Galahad. Good evening, boys, do behave,” she warned one last time before going off down the hall.

Before the two of them could address each other and the thick silence enveloping the corridor, the knights began to speak. “I am Sir Ferguson, of the brave,” announced the fittest looking of them all.

“And I, Sir Albacour of the loyal,” said the pudgiest.

“And I, Sir Cowper of the intelligent,” said the leanest.

“And I, Sir Leland of the cunning.”

“How fitting,” Malfoy commented dryly.

The knights ignored his comment as Sir Ferguson continued to speak. “We have been charged with the duty of your containment and protection.”

“It seems we have our work cut out for us, my brothers! We have only recently been moved to this solitary location, you see,” Sir Leland explained.

“Before that we heard and saw of the two of you more than any other students in these halls,” said Sir Cowper.

Harry was shifting uncomfortably. Couldn’t they just say the password and get inside? It seemed Malfoy had the same idea. “Galahad,” he snapped. The knights seemed to ignore him once more.

“You two have quite an extensive training to be had ahead of you,” Sir Feruson crossed his arms the best he could against his heavy armour.

“Training?” Harry asked dumbly.

“Yes sir, training. Everybody trains to be a knight but not all knights are dressed in armour ready for battle. Some train for fields of healing, or investigating, or even knights of the written word,” Sir Cowper went on.

“It’ll be a cold day when I take advice from a bloody portrait,” Malfoy snapped and repeated the password between his gritted teeth.

Sir Cowper walked forward to the forefront of the portrait, before all the other knights, his eyes burning into the boys before him. “We know you two well. You walk these halls like Kings and you still have yet to learn how to be a knight. With or without our assistance you must learn to one day grow, with or without one another.” With that, Sir Cowper bowed his head slightly, the rest of the knights other than Sir Leland did as well and the portrait swung open.

When Harry stepped into the portrait hole, nodding his thanks to the knights who watched him carefully, he really had no idea just what exactly he was following Malfoy. Little did he know, it would be the room he thought would bring one of his greatest hells but instead his greatest prize.

Chapter Text

 ‘At least the room is quaint.’

Draco was trying his best to see the positives in this situation. When they had entered it was into one large room, almost like a common room but more intimate. It had a small fireplace, a Chesterfield, two armchairs, a lounge table and a small work table with four chairs, all of these being a deep violet colour. On the work table there were two plates of dinner and two goblets of what he assumed was pumpkin juice. Draco noted the door on the far side of the room, it must lead to wherever they would be sleeping and their things.

As he passed through it, into the other side, his head began to throb with pain. He sighed heavily and immediately returned to the common area shooting Potter a disdainful look. “I want to see the bedroom.”

Potter looked at him levelly. “I want to eat first. I’m starved.”

“It can wait a minute, Potter, I just want to have a look,” Draco retorted coolly.

But Harry was already sitting down at the table, looking unfazed by the resounding pain in their heads from parting even briefly. He was stuffing his face with his morsels, shovelling it down with gulps of pumpkin juice.  Draco watched him, momentarily disgusted but when his stomach grumbled he reluctantly joined him – sitting as far away as possible, of course. Other than Harry’s chewing and Draco’s utensils hitting the plate they surprisingly ate in silence. Draco was too hungry to insult him or care that the silence was almost becoming comfortable. That was until Potter stood up, finished before him, and began toward the room.

Draco picked at his last few bites, aware of Potter’s heavy eyes on him. He slowly wiped his mouth, took the last sip of his pumpkin juice, brushed his trousers and robes off and then finally they both entered into the bedroom. It was, like the common room, simple. There were two four poster beds on opposite sides to one another, two wardrobes, their trunks at the foot of each bed, all coloured in dull, deep violet. There was a small window between their two beds, it looked out over one side of the Black Lake.

Attached to the room was a bathroom, just large enough for one occupant at a time. Draco longed for a shower, it felt like it had been weeks since his previous one. He was glad to find all his balms and products already laid out on the counter, as they had been in his dormitory previously. “I’m showering,” he announced with no air left for argument.

“How?” Potter asked.

Draco looked dumbfounded at him. “With water and soap, Potter.”

Potter rolled his eyes beneath his contorted spectacles. “No, I mean, how when we have to stay in the same room?” Draco blinked. That was definitely a problem he hadn’t foreseen. “Hold on,” Potter said. He reached into his pocket, pulling out his wand that Draco automatically flinched at. He was surprised when Potter didn’t aim it at him and instead out into the common room. “Accio Chair.” A few moments later a chair whizzed in, its feet scuttling on the stone floor. Harry took it and pushed it up against the wall beside the bathroom. “If I sit, with the door open, do you think perhaps that’ll be close enough?”

Without responding, Draco strode into the bathroom. His head began to feel a little fuzzy but it didn’t hurt. He heard Potter scuffle onto the chair, his feet began tapping on the floor absently. “Do you feel anything?” Draco called, beginning to take off his robes and throw them to the floor.

“Just a little uneasy, nothing I can’t handle,” was his response. “Hurry up, Malfoy, I won’t sit here all day.”

Draco showered as quickly as he could and savoured the warm water at the same time. However, with each minute he spent in there his mind pained a little more. Potter had his go afterwards and Draco had to summon his pajamas near to the bathroom door so he could change without passing out from the intensifying ringing in his ears.

When they were both showered and fed came the real problem. Interaction, or the lack thereof. Two boys who absolutely loathed one another forced to stay in the same room. Draco decided to go for the last resort which was homework. He went to his school bag, lying on the side of his bed, and rifled for his Ancient Runes text. Potter was standing awkwardly by what must be considered his bed, looking between Draco and the rest of the room, chewing his bottom lip.

“I’m doing homework, come out here,” Draco ordered. He needn’t want to resort to asking Potter politely if he could sit down and do his homework. But, surprisingly enough, Potter followed after grabbing a few texts of his own and they walked out one right after the other into the common room. Potter went immediately for the Chesterfield, however, which Draco was glad for with the space between them.

No more than ten minutes into the blissful silence, where Draco almost felt like everything was normal and would be alright as he scratched away at Ancient Runes, Potter had gotten up and was looming over him. “Leave me alone, Potty, I’m working,” Draco murmured, barely looking up from his parchment.

“I want to see Hermione and Ron. I’ll ask them to come down here,” Potter stated.

Draco considered for a moment getting angry about it. Having Weasley and Granger in his private rooms? Well, it couldn’t be much worse than having Potter sleeping next to him. “Fine. But quickly. And only if I get Blaise first, I’m certain he needs to be freed from Pansy.”

Potter’s face immediately turned red at the name of Draco’s best friend causing him to smirk, he was so easily angered. “I don’t want that fu-“

“And I don’t want Weasel anywhere near me at any time in the day. Blaise or no Weasel and Granger, Potter,” he said firmly.

“Fine. Hurry up then,” Potter muttered defeatedly.

It was…odd. Draco had to go back to their bedroom to retrieve his cloak to cover his pajamas and Potter followed though didn’t retrieve his own. At least he wasn’t a complete idiot and understood it was for his own good that he remain in the same room as Draco no matter how much he disliked it. Perhaps he was even trying to take McGonagall’s advice and acting mature for once, ‘Hah! Now that’s funny!’ Draco chuckled to himself as they walked simultaneously out the small portrait hole together.

Draco followed Potter through the corridors silently. Very few students were out but those that were tucked their mouths under their hands and whispered viciously as they walked by. Draco ignored it for the most part and concentrated on the boy ahead of him. Potter even walked with emotion – his feet hit the floor with a resounding noise every step. ‘How can he feel so much all the time? It’s like if he’s not exploding from anger or frustration, he’s depressed and or, on very rare occasions, overjoyed. He can’t just feel something a little bit, even his walking is done with such purpose. No wonder he is wound up so tightly, I’d be bloody exhausted feeling that much.’

By the time they reached the Slytherin Common Room Draco had to pause in surprise. “Potter, how did you even know where you were going?”

For the first time all day, Potter grinned and his eyes lit up beneath his broken, round glasses. Draco was caught off guard by the look – he rarely saw any other emotion other than anger on Potter’s face and the amusement with a glint of happiness gave Draco a warmth in his stomach. “I’ve been here before, Second Year, you were even right there with me,” Potter was beaming even larger now as Draco became even more dumbfounded.

“I was there with you? There’s no bloody way I let you get into my common room in second year no less!” Draco’s mouth fell open as Potter laughed. He was laughing in Draco’s general vicinity but not like before. Potter wasn’t laughing at Draco to hurt him but because he was being amused by him. The difference in the tone of Potter’s laugh seriously unnerved Draco, he had never heard it quite like that.

“Ron was there too, actually. The three of us had a nice little chat in the common room!” Potter couldn’t contain his laughter this time as Draco’s disbelieving face contorted even more with confusion, he began barking and clutching his stomach. Draco was so torn between letting himself smile at watching Potter laugh so freely and wanting to know what he was on about but it was all interrupted as the portrait hole swung open.

Pansy Parkinson stepped out, the look of surprise written all over her pug face. Blaise was wrapped around her forearm and his smirk fell into an immediate glare towards Potter– who at the moment was trying to bury his laughter now that he was near more Slytherins. “Draco! What happened to you? Slughorn wouldn’t tell us a thing!” Pansy shrieked, releasing Blaise and embracing the taller boy in her arms.

“Oi Potty, what’re you doing down here? I thought ickle Potter was afraid of the dark!” Blaise teased.

Potter, still biting back his laughter, merely shrugged. He didn’t like being outnumbered by Slytherins, none of whom he was fond of especially Blaise after what he had done the night before. Draco pried Pansy off of him, ignoring her, and turned to Blaise. “Come on then Zabini, we have to talk,” he said.

“With him?” Blaise wrinkled his nose in a teasing distaste at Harry who half-heartedly sneered back.

“Unfortunately. Sorry, Pans, boys only,” Draco informed her and already turned away, dismissing anything else she was going to say to her. Potter quickly followed, Blaise wasn’t far behind.

“I thought Parkinson was your friend too?” Potter asked curiously.

“Pansy is…nice,” Draco merely said, still leading the way up the flights of stairs.

Blaise chuckled. “Pansy is a friend but she is very touchy. For some that’s okay but for our little prince right here, he can’t stand her.”

Draco shot a look back at his friend before turning to Potter. “She’s an annoying, clingy bint sometimes, Potter, and I already have my hands full between you and the Mud-“

“Shut your mouth, Malfoy,” Potter hissed warningly.

Draco shrugged but didn’t go on to finish his sentence, he knew he was treading a fine line and he just wanted to survive the next few hours with Potter till they had lessons again and he could distract himself more thoroughly. Potter eventually took the lead as Draco wasn’t too sure of where the Gryffindor Tower was located.

On their ascent in the castle Draco explained what had happened to Blaise. “That’s bloody awful, Draco. I mean, stuck with the Golden Boy for Merlin knows how long?! And you know how finicky bonds can be. I mean, one minute it’s just needing to share one another’s vicinity and the next-“

“Zabini, shut up.” Draco snapped, nudging forward at Potter. “Don’t want to send him into an anxious fit,” he whispered so the Gryffindor couldn’t hear. Blaise nodded understandably looking thoroughly displeased for his friend’s situation.

“Whoever did that is a right devil, though I can see where they are coming from in doing so.”

“Excuse me? How can you even say that whoever bound me to Potter was bloody sane?!”

Blaise put up his hands in defense. “Just saying it makes sense. The two of you go at each other like banshees, it’s kind of exhausting, really. Forcing both of your to spend an enormous amount of time with one another will solve that problem in one of two ways; you learn to tolerate one another or one of you ends of dead. It’s really a brilliant plan, honestly.”

Draco was about to retort but they had come to a stop at a portrait of a Fat Lady. “Mr Potter! I was told you were not returning to this dormitory!” The Fat Lady’s shrill voice rang through the corridor.

Potter shrugged and mumbled an incoherent password and the portrait swung open to the three of them. Immediately upon stepping foot in the crowded, putrid coloured common room, all eyes landed on them. Blaise was smirking with crossed arms, Draco was sneering at the abysmal décor of Gryffindor Tower, and Potter was already being greeted by those of his year.

“Harry, mate! What happened?”

“Haven’t even seen you since yesterday at the feast!”

“What are they doing here?”

“Yeah Harry, I heard it was Zabini who pranked you but…what happened after that? The Professors aren’t saying a word!”

Potter smiled wearily at his housemates as Granger and the Weasel approached the group. “Sorry guys, I’ll explain tomorrow at breakfast. ‘Mione, Ron, do you mind coming out for a little bit?”

His friends nodded quickly, grabbed their cloaks and were out the door. Draco couldn’t leave that common room faster, he felt like retching afterwards. “I do not know what I would have done if I had to endure that décor for eight years,” Draco whined, leading the way back down to their new dormitory as Potter trailed with his friends, explaining the situation over a fury of whispers.

Blaise clapped his friend on the back, smirking. “If your Father let you survive being sorted into Gryffindor, I could see you hanging yourself with scarlet drapes,” he laughed as Draco cringed.

By the time they reached their rooms, Draco had forgotten entirely that Potter was behind him with his friends. It was nice to have Blaise with him for a sense of normality and distraction. He had also forgotten about the four knights who all stood at ease to greet him. “You better bloody not give me any grief and open up,” he drawled to the knights.

It was Sir Fleming who addressed him with a raised brow, “Of course, sir knight,” he bowed mockingly, “Password?”

“Galahad.” Draco pushed in through the portrait, Blaise and the Gryffindors quickly following after. When it swung shut the knights turned to each other.

Sir Cowper sighed. “Have you three noticed the alteration of the bond already? Quite curious indeed…”

In their rooms, Draco settled back down at the table and he busied himself with gossip of the Slytherins and what their apparent theories were of his absence as well as half-heartedly doing his homework. Blaise lounged on the chair, lazily levitating a spare bit of parchment off and onto the table repetitively. Draco tried multiple times to overhear the Gryffindors’ conversation but it seemed they had placed a heavy privacy charm about them as they sat on the Chesterfield, animatedly speaking with one another.

With a friend, the hours fell away relatively quickly. It wasn’t long before Blaise was bidding himself to bed and Granger was warning her boyfriend of their curfew. Their privacy charm was dropped as they said goodnight. They didn’t acknowledge Draco in any way whatsoever as they left their dormitory, for which he was quite glad. With a glance at one another the boys simultaneously walked into their room.

They silently got ready and Potter clambered into bed. Unlike most people, however, Potter left his bed hangings open which Draco found curious. Draco climbed into his own bed and before pulling the hangings about himself he turned to face towards Potter who had taken off those dreadful glasses and was lying flat on his back, staring up at the ceiling.

“What were you on about being in my common room in second year?” Draco asked.

“Hah, I’ve still got you going about that don’t I?” Potter turned on his side, propped himself up on his elbow. “It’s quite a long story, maybe one day you’ll be lucky enough to hear it.”

Draco wanted to prod more, he really wanted to know, but left it alone. “Why do you sleep with your curtains open?”

Potter sighed, lying down on his back again, his hands folded under his head as he closed his eyes. “I…I don’t like to be closed in when I don’t have to be,” he whispered simply.

Draco heard that there was more behind his words. Much more to it, in fact. He could feel the odd emotion, not of fear but of discomfort, in the air at his question. He wanted to ask more and as he opened his mouth it appeared Potter sensed his words were about to come out. “Can I just go to sleep, Malfoy?”

In the darkness, Draco blushed. Here he was keeping Harry Potter awake simply because what…he wanted to talk to him? No, surely that wasn’t it, he was just curious, that was all. Curious about the boy who was under the façade he had grown to know so well over eight years. Draco settled into his own bed, turning away from Potter. It wasn’t long before he heard the even sounds of his heavy breathing. Draco followed quickly after into a deep sleep. And for the first time in a long time, Draco slept with his curtains open too.  

Chapter Text

Harry found himself once again surviving. This time he wasn’t fighting for his life but for his sanity.

Malfoy had been acting more strangely the longer he spent with him and he was becoming truly unnerved. With only a few hurdles of difficulties, they were able to get ready for their lessons and still make it to breakfast on time without saying a word to one another and only once accidentally going into separate rooms causing their heads to immediately split with pain. Harry settled down at the Gryffindor table and it almost felt normal for a few minutes.

Hermione and Ron were supportive and all around felt sorry for his situation. They even left the Great Hall, despite not being finished breakfast, with Harry when Malfoy got up himself to leave. Their first lesson of the day was Dark Arts and Professor Alcona was a fairly decent Professor – for once. So Harry assumed he would have a good start to the day, despite having a new seating arrangement to be beside Malfoy for every class even when it wasn’t necessary.

Zabini and Parkinson were at Malfoy’s sides as they all exited the Great Hall together in silence. Once in the corridor, the Slytherins quickly led with the trio following behind. “This isn’t so horrible, mate. I mean, not being able to hang around the dormitory anymore is a bit rubbish but so long as you keep ignoring the prat it should be fine till Slughorn and Alcona find a way to reverse it,” Ron said comfortingly.

Harry nodded, agreeing. He wasn’t a particular fan of the crowd of the Gryffindor common room anyway, perhaps he could even score well on his NEWTs with the extra privacy of his new dormitory as long as Malfoy continued to leave him alone.

Hermione was pursing her lips looking not as convinced as her friends. “It’s a shame about Quidditch, really, being the last year you can play and all.”

Both Ron and Harry’s steps faltered. “What do you mean about Quidditch?!” Harry panicked. He hadn’t even considered it and the Gryffindor practice that was this Thursday afternoon nor the Slytherin one he knew was the day before.

“Well, er,” she looked nervously between the two boys who seemed both drained of colour at the mention of a disruption of Quidditch. “Honestly, I thought you would have figured it out by now, Harry. I’m really sorry but how do you expect to play when you can’t be in a different room as Malfoy? Obviously he won’t be able to play either so it looks like both Gryffindor and Slytherin will need to find new Seekers.”

Harry was shaking at the thought. Quidditch was still his favourite thing in school. When he flew on his broom he felt a million miles away from everything. Away from the memories, away from any lurking reporters that still attempted to contact him, away from any awed younger students who still paved his way and most of all away from the Lucius-look-alike ten feet ahead of him.

Ron steadied himself on Harry’s shoulder as they continued to walk to their Dark Arts classroom. “It’ll be alright, mate. We can talk to McGonagall, try to work something out.”

Hermione was shaking her head sadly. “It’s too dangerous. I mean, what if the snitch flew above the stadium – which it usually does – you’d be knocked unconscious following it. It’s hardly fair to either team that you would both have to stay within a certain area of the pitch. I’m really sorry, Harry.”

Harry grumbled, his mood shattered for the day. ‘Damn Malfoy, always mucking everything up,’ he swore to himself. “I guess you should tell Gin she’s got to find a new Seeker,” he sighed to Ron who nodded slowly, his little sister being the captain of the team that year as Harry had stepped down from the responsibility.

“Only till the reversal is found for this, mate, then you can play again,” Ron added, trying to sound chipper and hopeful even though it didn’t quite feel that way.

They reached the classroom and settled in for a lecture period. Harry gloomily took out his parchment, ink bottle and quill. But he couldn’t concentrate. All he could do was look away from Professor Alcona, over Malfoy’s shoulder and to the window that oversaw the Quidditch Pitch longingly. At one point halfway through the lecture Malfoy nudged him hard in the side. Harry nearly fell out of his seat and swore, tearing his eyes away from the pitch as he glared at Malfoy, a few heads nearby turning to them questioningly.

“What the hell was that for, Malfoy?” Harry spat quietly, glad they were at the back of the classroom where Professor Alcona had yet to hear them as she continued prattling on about proper warding for handling cursed objects.

Malfoy was glaring icily at Harry. “You won’t keep your bloody eyes off of me, it’s distracting,” he hissed.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Pull your head out of your arse you narcissistic twat, as if I would waste my time looking at you.

The offense was seen clearly in Malfoy’s face before he quickly masked it and turned stone cold. “You’re such a fucking nuisance, Potter,” he growled and returned his attention to his Professor.

But Harry couldn’t concentrate on the class. Now it wasn’t just the thought of not playing Quidditch any longer but of what Malfoy had said. His blood wouldn’t be boiling if he had called him a prat or a ponce instead but he just had to use the word nuisance. The Dursleys’ voices echoed in his head from what seemed like ages ago, calling him a nuisance as they shoved him in the cupboard, locking the door. They whispered of his insignificance beneath their breaths every chance they got. Harry’s fists clenched on the table and he tried to reel his anger in but all to no avail.

He didn’t remember how he got there but he was standing all of a sudden with his wand gripped so tightly in his hands it was turning his knuckles red. A million curses ran through his head he wanted to cast at Malfoy but his mouth was turning dry. “What did you just call me, Malfoy?”

“For Salazar’s sake, Potter, sit down!” Malfoy hissed. Harry was surprised he himself wasn’t drawing his wand in defence or rising to meet him.

“Repeat it, Malfoy. What. Did. You. Just. Call. Me?!”

“Mister Potter!” Professor Alcona called from the front of the class. “You will sit down this instance or-“

“I said repeat it!” Harry screamed down at Malfoy, his breathing ragged and obviously he hadn’t heard a word from his Professor.

Suddenly a curse whizzed at him, one he was too slow to block, as he fell over clearly immobilized. Malfoy himself seemed still as well, looking down at Harry oddly and unmoving from his spot in the chair. Professor Alcona loomed over them with a disapproving look and hands on her hips. “To the Headmistess’s office immediately, boys. Finnigan, escort them.”

Seamus looked almost petrified at it. “Me? But, Professor, what if they-“

Professor Alcona sighed. “Finnegan and Zabini escort them immediately to the Headmistresses office.” With a wave of her wand she wordlessly lifted the boys’ immobilization, giving a second glance at Malfoy who too seemed to be affected by the curse even though it was only placed on Harry.

Harry pocketed his wand, swearing beneath his breath an apology to the Professor and grabbing his shoulder bag, storming out of the classroom with all eyes on the back of his head. Malfoy quickly followed in hopes not to get too far behind and cause another uncontrollable reaction to the bond. Seamus caught up to Harry in the corridor, slightly out of breath. “What happened back there mate? What did Malfoy do to you?”

“Do to him? Typical Gryffindor’s always thinking the boy wonder never steps a toe out of line. It’s bollocks,” Malfoy snapped.

Harry took a shuddering breath to ignore him and picked up his pace to further distance himself. “Just said something s’all. Sorry for making you miss class, Seamus.”

Seamus shook his head, grinning. “Any excuse to get out is a good one. What’s with you two anyway? Sitting beside each other? I even heard there was a rumour that you had to…I dunno, I heard you had to share a dorm, too. Mate, that’s gotta suck if that’s true.”

Harry nodded slowly. “It is true. I don’t really feel up to explaining it, I’m sure ‘Mione and Ron wouldn’t mind telling you though.”

“Course mate. Y’know we’re here for you, though, right?”

“Yeah,” Harry attempted to smile at his house mate, “Thanks.”

Zabini muttered something from behind that sounded a lot like “Bloody Gryffindors.”

Once arrived at McGonagall’s office, the other two students made their way quietly back to class as they ascended the stairs. The Headmistresses was awaiting their arrival with a truly sour expression and her arms crossed. “You will serve detention with Professor Alcona tomorrow night immediately following dinner. She also informed me that you felt the effects of a curse placed on Mr Potter, Mr Malfoy? You will see Madame Pomfrey immediately after we are done here.”

Harry quickly glanced at Malfoy who was nodding slowly. ‘He had felt the curse too? That’s certainly strange…’

“As for our little situation here. I told you to behave boys, I told you that you would not be given any more warnings. Do neither of you want to complete your NEWTs this year? You are this close to forcing me to expel the two of you because of this continuous behaviour!” Both Harry and Malfoy looked as if they wanted to retort but firmly kept their mouths shut. “This behaviour is disruptive to those actually hoping to pass their eighth year. Until the two of you can act accordingly together in public you will no longer be attending your lessons. Your friends may bring you your assignments and notes but I will not have you stunting others’ ability to learn. Is that understood?”

Harry’s mood fell even lower than it was before. Now not only was Quidditch taken away from him but lessons as well? And all because of Malfoy. ‘And your temper,’ he chided himself inwardly before quickly shutting up his inner conscience. “Professor,” Malfoy began bitterly, “How long do you assume that to be for?”

Professor McGonagall looked almost pitifully at Malfoy, almost as if she felt sorry for him. Harry couldn’t understand the look she was giving him and wanted to scream that he was anything but innocent and ill deserving in all of this. “You will have this entire week off and we will re-evaluate your situation this weekend. Unless that is, of course, Professor Slughorn and Professor Alcona find a cure before then. I highly recommend the two of you assist them in their search for the time being, I would have assumed you would already be doing so given the strong desire to rid be rid of one another.”

The eighth years nodded up at the Headmistress  solemnly. ‘She’s right, we really should be researching what kind of bond this is and how to reverse it. The sooner Malfoy is as far away from me as possible, the better.’

They were dismissed with a few more lingering warnings and the instructions to head straight for their dormitory. It only took a minute to walk there but before they entered the portrait hole Harry was suddenly accosted. Malfoy threw him up against the wall beside the knights, his teeth bared as he glared down at Harry threateningly. “What the fuck was all that about, Potter, hrm?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Harry muttered trying to shrug Draco off.

“Bullshit,” Malfoy shoved him harder against the wall, the knights silently watching in mild interest. “I made a comment that your head was obviously kneazeled and you attacked me.”

“You didn’t just make a simple comment, Malfoy!” Harry snapped.

“What is it I did then to upset the precious golden boy?!”

“Stop calling me that,” Harry muttered but didn’t answer his question. Malfoy repeated himself again and then thrice, shaking Harry each time. Harry eventually pushed Malfoy off of him with all the force he could muster nearly knocking him over. “You called me a nuisance, alright! You called me a nuisance and it pissed me off!”

Malfoy stilled and observed Harry for a moment as he steadied himself on his own two feet again. Harry felt as if he was being dissected the way Malfoy’s eyes were running over his face, burning into him. “Can we just go inside now? Please?” Harry added after a few moments.

Malfoy was surprised at the politeness and slight begging tone and all he could do was nod and follow Harry who was, for the first time, silently let in by the knights. “I understand you don’t like me Potter. Trust me, I don’t like you either, but this truly does have to stop. We have to survive this bond for as long as we are burdened with it. I don’t know about you but I really hope to pass my NEWTs this year. It’s the only option I have left for my life and I don’t need you taking that away, either.”

Harry furrowed his eyebrows at Malfoy. “Me taking it away? How have I bloody ever taken anything away from you, Malfoy?”

Malfoy cast a look at the roaring fireplace, his mouth drawn into a thin line as his eyes glazed over. “Whether or not you admit it, you took my father from me. Yes, you saved my life which I still question why but at what cost? I was one of the very few Death Eaters to receive a second chance, they will not give me a third. Causing trouble with you, their bloody saviour, was the first thing on the list that will send me back to Azkaban,” he explained quietly, his voice was void of emotion but Harry could tell he was seething inside having to admit that, especially having to voice his life debt.


“No. Don’t pity me, Potter, I don’t need it.”

Harry shook his head. “I wasn’t going to. I was just going to say that I think you should probably try not to be such a prat, which might make things a little easier.”

Malfoy laughed coolly, it sent a shiver down Harry’s spine. “Me? If you haven’t been able to tell, Potter, just ask any of your little Gryffindork friends, I haven’t purposefully provoked you at all this year. Though I am impressed it is such an innate talent of mine to peeve you off so much, I can’t afford to.”

Harry clasped his mouth shut, it was true and he knew it but he couldn’t help himself. He simply couldn’t. Every time he saw Malfoy he didn’t really see him but saw a thousand bad memories instead. Malfoy took his silence as a small admittance. “Why do you hate me so much anyway? The war is over, Potter, you should know being the one who ended it. Why can’t you just leave me be?”

‘Is Malfoy really trying to have a conversation with me without yelling? Is he really attempting at understanding my motives? No, can’t be, that’s just too absurd…almost as absurd as his questions last night.’

“Fine. I will go because whether or not you like it we have to live with one another for the foreseeable future and I’d like my dignity to remain intact without going behind bars.” Malfoy said as he walked over to the fireplace and sat down in one of the armchairs. Harry was confused as to what he meant about going first but followed, sitting in the opposite chair and refusing to look at him and instead bore a hole into the table between them.

“I don’t hate you. I used to but not since fourth year,” Malfoy began, careful to keep his voice void of emotion. “I loathed you for getting the attention I wanted and for turning my friendship down. Nobody had ever said no to me till you and it made me angrier than I had ever been. When I accepted you wouldn’t be my friend I wanted to be better than you. Greater than the Boy Who Lived. I wanted nothing more than to make my father proud. But you and your friends made that impossible. At every turn Granger was there, beating me in every class. You were there, beating me at every Quidditch game. Even Weasel was there beating me at chess – a game I had studied so much in my youth, playing with the House Elves hoping to become undefeated at Hogwarts. It made me so incredibly angry and hate you more than I had hated anybody in my entire life.”

Harry looked up from the table, surprised at what he was hearing but kept quiet as Malfoy continued. “In fourth year during the final task, when you returned with that Diggory fellow…I knew then that it wasn’t all it appeared to be the Boy Who Lived. Fame or no fame, I didn’t want to see my friends die. By fifth year I knew that the war was truly coming. I didn’t know much about it, only that my father was always right and always won. I would follow my father wherever he went. But that didn’t mean I would let myself be marked by a madman, despite what values he swore he stood for. But some of us,” Malfoy gestured at Harry, his eyes flashing to his faded scar beneath his fringe, “Cannot choose whether we want to be marked or not. Some of us already have a path chosen for us no matter what decisions we make for ourselves. Then came sixth year and you wouldn’t leave well enough alone. I was doing what I had to in order to keep my family safe. That’s all I ever did was want my family to be safe because they were all I ever had, them and my friends. But you never saw it that way. All you ever saw was that I was out to get what was yours and you never once thought I was just trying to save what was mine.” Malfoy sighed a heavy breath, leaning back into his chair and peering into the fireplace. His cheeks were tinted a slight pink from his speech, the embarrassment of his admittance, though he knew it was necessary. He needed Harry to see that he wasn’t out to get him, which he hadn’t been for a long time. He needed them to get along so that he could provide the proper care for his household, the Malfoy heir, and his mother.

Silence hung heavily between them for quite a few minutes before Harry spoke quietly. Malfoy had to ask to repeat himself in order to hear his words. Harry’s cheeks were flaming red when he spoke up. “I said ‘Mione doesn’t beat you at every class. It peeves her off still to this day that you’re better than her in Potions.”

A small quirk of the corner of Malfoy’s lips caused Harry to have to bite back his own grin. He had nearly made Malfoy smile at the comment. “What is it that pissed you off so much when I called you a nuisance?” he asked after a moment.

Harry quickly shook his head. “I am willing to tell you some things Malfoy, but not that. I probably won’t ever be ready to tell you that,” he shook his head seriously and was glad when Malfoy didn’t prod him further and gave him his time to continue with his own explanation. ‘All is fair,’ Harry reminded himself, ‘Malfoy did just tell me everything he probably never wanted to, even if he is still a prat he does still deserve to hear my end of it.’  

“I hated you because you were a jerk and I don’t think I need any explanation for the past seven years,” Harry said honestly which Malfoy shrugged as if to say ‘Fair enough’. “But,” he sighed, “This year I have to admit it has been me for the most part. It’s just that…” Harry took a deep breath, ‘Here goes nothing,’ he thought to himself. “…It’s just that every time I see you I see your father and there’s not a man I hate more than him. You’d think I hated Voldemort more but I never did. I pitied Tom. But your father, I hated him since the moment I met him and still the thought of him makes me angry. Then when I think of your father I think of your mother, who I have no ill feelings against!” Harry said quickly, putting up his hands in defense as Malfoy was about to jump at him for the mere mention of his mother. “But your mother always reminds me of that bitch Lestrange. I don’t think there was a soul more twisted and evil than hers. She took the closest thing to a parent I ever had before I could even live with him. She took away so much from so many people. She is one of the reasons my godson is growing up parentless, just like I did. She’s the reason that the only people who were ever close to my mother and father are dead. She tortured Hermione, in your house nonetheless. She killed the kindest House Elf I ever had the opportunity of meeting,” Harry breathed shakily. The memories flooded him and he tried to urgently shake them, he didn’t need to be breaking down again especially not within a warded room with four knights he knew were listening intently.

Malfoy spoke slowly, “So…when you see me you see my father and when you see my father you see my mother who reminds you of my completely insane Aunt? Potter, you do realize how crazy that all sounds.”

Harry nodded. He did but he couldn’t help it. It was like how he connected the word nuisance with the Dursleys, it was just natural to him. “I know but I can’t help it.”

“Well you’ll have to. Even I cannot stand thinking of my Aunt, mother and I are both quite glad she is gone. Perhaps you need to talk to somebody to relieve yourself of your repressed memories. It’s not in the least appropriate to go about everyday having the simplest things remind you of what happened. You need to move on if you’re ever going to face the real world outside of Hogwarts,” Malfoy said, sounding all too reasonable to Harry.

“Seems pretty rich, taking advice from you, no offence,” Harry admitted.

Malfoy shrugged and stood from the armchair. “Take from it what you will, Potter.” He walked over to where he had earlier discarded his shoulder bag and took out his Dark Arts book and sat at the table beginning to work. Harry himself took a few more minutes to do the same but once again in his spot on the Chesterfield by the fire.

The rest of the day went by uneventfully. They didn’t speak a word to one another, including when they went down for lunch and dinner as they just followed one another’s cues on when to depart and return. Hermione and Parkinson both loaded them up with work for the day which kept them more than distracted from one another’s presence.

When Harry lay down to sleep that night he felt a whole lot more comfortable than he had the evening before. Perhaps they wouldn’t have to miss an entire week of classes after all. “Tomorrow I was hoping we could go to the library and see what we can dig up on this bond, ‘eh Malfoy?” Harry asked absently before drifting off into sleep.

Malfoy hummed an agreeing sound, turning his back to Harry in his bed, his curtains drawn open as they were the night before. “It’s Draco.”


“Draco. My name is Draco, Harry,” Malfoy repeated.

Harry looked at his back, slightly shocked at being informally asked to call him by his given name. “Er, right, Draco,” he mumbled before settling down into his bed. It took him a lot longer to fall asleep that night.

Chapter Text

“That’s utter fucking bullshit!”

“Calm down, Draco! I know it is but there isn’t anything we can do about it now!”

“And you knew? You knew we couldn’t play Quidditch and you didn’t even tell me?!”

“Did I miss a memo that stated I’m suddenly your keeper, too?”

“Oh, sod off, it would have been common curtesy to tell me ahead of time so I don’t look like a fool getting ready for Quidditch practice!”

“Until an hour ago I assumed you already figured it out! Now for the millionth time could you please just calm the hell down before McGonagall and Pomfrey come running in here like it’s the apocalypse!”

“It bloody well feels like it is anyway!” Draco dramatically flung himself down onto an armchair, all occupants of the room were looking at Harry and Draco’s exchange with wide eyes.

“That was certainly odd,” Ron whispered amongst himself, Blaise, Pansy and Hermione who had followed the boys after Draco’s big uproar from being informed that he was not allowed to play Quidditch under the certain circumstances.

“Wasn’t it? I mean they are fighting but…” Blaise trailed off, they watched as the two continued to bicker.

“…they’re not really fighting,” Pansy finished for her friend, blinking a few times.

Hermione finally stepped in, shushing the boys immediately as she walked towards them clearing her throat. “Boys,” she said sounding too much like Professor McGonagall, “It is neither of your faults that you cannot play Quidditch. It is only temporary until the bond is sorted out. Perhaps you could spend more time researching the bond itself to hurry up and find a cure for it? It’d be a lot more productive than throwing a tantrum.”

Draco narrowed his eyes dangerously at her but didn’t say a thing as Harry was quick to complain. “But we’ve read every book in the library that has to do with bonds, ‘Mione! We tried using an identifying charm with each bond that was similar but none of them worked! If I don’t get to play for the finals I swear I’ll murder whoever did this to us.”

Draco nodded, agreeing with Harry, as the other four looked at them still in shock. Did they realize just how much had changed in a mere three days? Harry wasn’t getting mad at Draco for the bond instead at whoever actually cast it. Not to mention he had said whoever did this to ‘us’ instead of ‘me’. It certainly was surreal to witness it but the two boys didn’t seem to notice the change in their dynamic.

“Well something will come up, I am sure of it,” Hermione tried to sound comforting but both boys looked at her, depressed.

“Or maybe it will just dissolve on its one over time,” offer Pansy.

Draco shook his head. “Not likely, Pans, very few bonds dissolve on their own without something being done first like a promise being fulfilled or the bond being…furthered,” he frowned at that.

Harry looked oddly at Draco. “Furthered? What does that mean exactly?”

“You do not want to know, trust me,” Draco said seriously and for the first time ever, Harry did trust him.

They settled into the nice routine they always did when the four of them found themselves in Harry and Draco’s new shared dormitories. Hermione, Ron and Harry all settled by the fire, Hermione took out her work books and urged Ron to do the same. Blaise, Pansy and Draco all sat at the table, working together, whispering beneath their breath and laughing every once and awhile. Every time Draco’s laugh echoed through the room, Harry would jerk his head up and peer over at the table to see him smiling broadly. It was so odd to see him laughing like that, so unguarded, and to see him smile, too. Too long had Harry imagined him as a stone, cold, angry person and never anything more than the prat he thought he was.

‘Appearances mean a lot to the Malfoy’s, even I know that,’ Harry reminded himself, ‘I wonder what would have happened if I had ever given Draco the benefit of the doubt…’

“How about you, mate? How’s your Potions essay coming along?” Ron asked, bringing Harry back to the conversation as Draco’s laughter died out.

“Urgh, don’t remind me. You think Slughorn likes me enough to give me a pass on it?” Harry groaned, receiving a generous kick from Hermione.

“Harry!” She hissed chastisingly as Ron chortled.

“It’s bloody difficult, I’m telling you. Smart move giving us all different topics, though, or else I would’ve just copied off Hermione – Ouch!” Ron was rubbing his own shin now as Hermione had sent him a kick as well which Harry now laughed at.

“You know I would never let you, Ronald. Besides,” Hermione blushed, “I had a lot of difficulty with it myself.”

“Draco didn’t,” Harry said immediately shrugging. “Maybe I could ask him for help seeing as he finished his yesterday afternoon.”

“I’m sorry, but did you just say ask Draco for help?” Ron asked incredulously. “I mean, it’s great and all the two of you are getting on while this bond lasts but asking him for help with your school work, honestly?”

Harry shrugged, it didn’t seem like such a big deal to him. “I think it’s fantastic, really. Whoever had this bond in mind had the right idea, the two of you haven’t fought since Monday which is longer than you usually managed, even when you didn’t spend every minute together!” Hermione said proudly.

“I don’t really see the big deal. I mean, Draco was right, I really shouldn’t be comparing him to Lucius let alone Lestrange. I’ve been acting off my hatred for them and putting it on him, it’s not been fair, really,” Harry shrugged again. Hermione was looking at him like a proud mother hen, like he was a chick walking for the first time. “He’s still a prat and a bigot sometimes, don’t get me wrong,” Harry added quickly, “And I’d like no more than to hex him right in the arse…but most of the time he’s not so bad. He keeps quiet and so do I. We even managed to get through all those books on bonds in relative silence.”

“That’s great, mate, honestly. I still don’t quite like the guy but he’s tolerable now, y’know? Ever since the war ended he’s like a completely different person and it’s like what Mum said before we left for the holidays, remember? ‘We all come from different paths. It’s not for us to choose who to judge and who not to judge. Your eighth year is a way for everybody to start over.’” Ron said, Hermione smiling even more broadly as she snaked her arm around his shoulders.

“I think she was talking about your marks, Ron. She’ll kill you if you get the same level on your NEWTs as you did on your OWLs,” Harry teased, grinning as he missed Ron’s quick swipe at his head.

Hermione couldn’t be happier as the three returned to their studies. Ron had become so much more mature after the war. Perhaps it was through all the grieving that he came to appreciate those around him – including those he disliked – more. And Malfoy had made a formal apology at his hearing, a general one, but it was still an apology. Despite being on either side of the war they had all been through so much together, they had all experienced many of the same things and they all had to build a life after it and after losing so many. Whenever a negative thought about Draco Malfoy came across her mind Hermione would remind herself that he too lost a best friend and essentially lost the closest thing to him, his father.

The afternoon slipped away and the four went to dinner together. Many students were still whispering about the sudden change in dynamic and why the golden trio were constantly in close proximity to the three Slytherins but thankfully they weren’t constantly bombarded. The Gryffindors were rather understanding of the situation whereas the Slytherins pitied Draco.

When they had finished their dinner, Harry and Draco returned alone. Draco always led the way to their dormitory, he always gave the password to their rooms and was always the first one to step inside. Harry was unsure of what to do once inside, he stood uncomfortably watching Draco who was packing up his school work from earlier.

“Er,” he began saying, catching Draco’s attention. But he had nothing to add to it as Draco looked at him curiously.

“Yes?” Draco asked slowly.

“Er,” Harry repeated, his cheeks turning redder. “Do you have a wizard’s chess board?”

Draco stood up straight, shock covering his features momentarily before a small smile settled in. He nodded and took out his wand and Accio’d a large black box. It took a moment to get to them and as they waited Harry shifted uncomfortably by the door. “I’m just bored, s’all.”

Draco raised an eyebrow. “Why do you find it necessary to make an excuse?”

Harry shrugged. “Because we’re not friends and people who aren’t friends don’t just do things together like play wizard’s chess.”

“We could be,” Draco said barely audible as he opened the box on the table, revealing a large glass chess board and chess pieces, one set transparent and one opaque. “Friends. We could be friends,” he continued as Harry’s was shock stilled. He looked across the room at where he was still planted near the portrait hole. His face was such an extreme mixture of embarrassment and shock. Draco couldn’t help but laugh lightly at it. “You are so dramatic, Potter, it really is quite amusing.”

“Friends? You and me? Somehow I don’t see that as likely. This situation,” Harry quickly gestured between them, “Hardly constitutes us as being friends.”

“You’re right, it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean we can’t be, either,” his smile faded as he looked back down to set the board up and took a seat at the table, patiently waiting for Harry to shake himself from his reverie and join him. “Stop bloody thinking so hard and come and play chess, Potter.”

Harry finally came over to sit with him, trying hard to concentrate on the fact that this wasn’t Malfoy anymore, this was Draco. A boy his age that in all honesty he didn’t really know and one he was stuck with for the time being so he might as well make the best of it. “You said you couldn’t beat Ron at wizard’s chess well lucky for you I’m absolutely rubbish at it,” Harry said, making his first move.

Draco shook his head, his lips curling up into a small smirk. “Harry, we don’t call it wizard’s breakfast and wizard’s lunch…it’s just chess not wizard’s chess.”

Harry blushed lightly and watched as Draco calculated his first move, Harry was quick to return it. Just like when he was playing with Ron he didn’t think his moves out, he couldn’t, he truly never had the patience for the game. Draco, like his best friend, took his time with each and every move as if it would be the deciding factor in the game. It only took about twenty moves for Draco to have smashed nearly all of Harry’s pieces and to claim his King. Harry pushed back from the table, shaking his head. “See, absolute rubbish.”

“It’s because you don’t even try, you just move. You never stop and think about the moves you’re making,” Draco explained, using his wand to clean up the pieces back into the box.

“It’s a game, you’re not supposed to concentrate that hard on a game.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “It’s not just the game, you do it with everything. You never think, you just do.”

“How would you know?” Harry asked, not that he was offended as he had heard the same thing many times from Hermione.

“Just because I haven’t been your best mate doesn’t mean I haven’t known you for the past eight years.”

‘Eight years. Had it really been so long?’ Harry wondered to himself. ‘Eight years of knowing Ron and Hermione, it seems like so much longer. But eight years of Draco Malfoy? It seems so much shorter…’

“It’s nearly curfew,” Harry said pointedly, “We should make it up to see Madame Pomfrey.”

The two made their way through the corridors together, silent until they nearly reached the Hospital Wing. “I really hope this all gets sorted before the holidays,” Draco said.

“Why’s that?”

Draco frowned, making sure not to look at Harry as they continued on their way. “Just that I’d prefer it if my mother wasn’t alone for Christmas.”

They arrived at the Hospital Wing and Madame Pomfrey quickly assessed them as she did every night. She asked them the same questions, if anything had changed, and also had them attempt to leave the room from one another which only ended in a buzzing, painful headache which she quickly relieved with a potion. Nothing seemed to have changed as of yet and Harry realized that if things continued on the way that they were there was a good chance that it wasn’t going to be solved by the holidays. They were silent on their way back to the dormitory and as they got ready for bed, following one another’s cues.

“We can go to the Manor for the holidays if we’re still stuck like this,” Harry said through the dark once he was huddled on his sheets.

Draco was silent for a long time, Harry could even hear that his breathing had become uneven. “You really don’t-“

“All I was going to do was go home with the Weasleys and there’s plenty of them to celebrate together. We can’t just leave your mother by herself for Christmas. Really, it’s just one holiday, it’s not a big deal. It’ll still probably be loads better than any Christmas I ever spent at the Dursleys,” Harry said truthfully. He didn’t want Draco to sit and argue his decision because only then would he himself question it and he knew that choosing that was the right thing to do.

Draco had a million questions flying through his head like who were the Dursleys? Why didn’t he have a good Christmas with them? Why would he choose his mother over the Weasleys? Why was he being so nice? Did Harry even fully understand what it was he just agreed to? But he couldn’t voice any of them as a bubble began to form in his throat that threatened to turn into a small sob that he quickly swallowed down. Instead he croaked, “Thank you,” as softly as ever.

Harry didn’t ask for anything more and turned over to sleep but Draco couldn’t sleep for the longest time. He had known Harry Potter to be kind, selfless and giving – he had witnessed it many times in his life. The few times Harry had saved him during and after the war, like at the trial and in the Room of Requirement, was more out of pity and duty than kindness. However, this was him being truly kind to Draco. This was Harry treating him like he would a friend.

And Draco had never felt so overwhelmed by a simple gesture.

Chapter Text

Returning to class was a disaster.

Harry had been so excited to return, get back into some sort of routine that didn’t involve Draco. They had been getting along more than he would ever care to admit. Draco even did end up helping him with his potions essay which surprised him. But Harry had forgotten just how hectic the class schedule for the eighth years was. They were all taking collective classes, there were no electives or options for them that year as there wasn’t enough of them to make it so. That left very few free periods and very little time for anything other than lessons, meals and studying.

Their bond had shown no considerable changes as of yet. The buzzing in their heads while they separated into the bathroom seemed to lessen but only ever so slightly. Under the supervision of Madame Pomfrey they had also discovered that any spell cast on one of them would affect the other but by how much they were unsure as they were unwilling to test it. Slughorn, Alcona and Professor Flitwick were all still uncertain about the parameters of their bond. They had even got the Ministry involved at this point as they had the legal right to be aware of any bonding of any legal aged witch or wizard. There was a small team of Healers and researchers from St Mungo’s and the Ministry alike that were assisting them in their discovery but there wasn’t much more help that they could offer other than the hope that over time it would dissolve.

Harry was surprised to learn on Friday evening before they returned to class that Draco had a weekly meeting with an Auror from the Department of Magical Defense. He had to awkwardly sit in on it as Draco was administered Veritaserum and questioned about his recent activities. He was itching to ask him further personal questions of his own because how many chances did one get to talk to Draco Malfoy under the truth serum? Harry, however, held back the urge out of his growing respect for him.

He had learned many things over the week about Draco. That he was oddly patient, especially for him. He was a fantastic teacher as Harry understood more about potions now than he did after eight years in a classroom. Draco wasn’t necessarily a giving person but he wasn’t unkind either. He was honest, blunt and had a great ability to decipher a situation without becoming personally involved with it. He also was obsessed with his hair, something Harry had assumed beforehand, but he didn’t quite understand the lengths he went through every morning to make sure each strand was in its proper place. He had to stop himself every morning when Draco emerged from the bathroom to not shake his hand through his fine hair just to see how mad it would make the Slytherin.

Draco himself had learned many things about Harry but most of them were just confirmation of what he already knew. Harry wasn’t a hard one to understand, he always wore his emotions and thoughts on his sleeve. He was a genuine person and his kindness was never out of spite but always out of a sense of friendship. He was humble, too, more humble than he should be for who he was. Draco also had never understood the extent of which Harry was removed from the wizarding world before Hogwarts until that week, either, when he overhead snippets of conversations here and there and realized he truly had grown up a muggle. Draco had many questions he wanted answering about that but he knew Harry wouldn’t divulge more than he had to with him. They were becoming friends, at least, but they weren’t close enough friends to have those kinds of conversations. And unlike himself, Draco had realized, Harry seriously never attempted at dressing well or appearing good. Draco had assumed he at least tried every morning to tame his wild hair but no, never in the slightest, he was certain he didn’t even run a brush or a hand through it after showering. This amazed Draco because even though he looked unkempt he was still good looking without the effort.

And then came Wednesday afternoon in potions class. They were seated near the back and it was an exam that period. Even with Draco’s assistance Harry was still at a loss about potions. Draco had summed it all up to his inability to concentrate on little details, instead Harry always tended to look at the big picture instead which is not the way potions worked where every little thing counted. Harry kept looking over at Draco. His brows were knit together, he was chewing on his lower lip and writing furiously with his quill, pausing every few moments. Harry found it almost cute when Draco concentrated.

Halfway through the exam period, Draco flipped his over on the top side of his desk but did not move to the front of the class to hand it in even though he was clearly done. Harry, however, was still not even halfway finished. Unfortunately, due to having Arithmancy the period before, Harry appeared to have run out of ink. He swore beneath his breath and was scraping the bottom of his ink bottle with his quill but to no avail. He had never run out of ink before during class. Before he could raise his hand, Draco tapped Harry lightly on his bare forearm resting on the table. His cold fingers startled him enough that he nearly fell out of his seat. At the simple touch an electrifying heat, despite Draco’s temperature, flashed through him at the point of contact. Draco’s eyes widened considerably as he looked at Harry, momentarily stunned as he too obviously felt it. He shook it off and smiled oddly at Harry as he held out his own quill for Harry to take. Unable to tear his eyes from the unnerving amusement in Draco’s own, Harry whispered, “But what about you?”

“Finished ages ago. Waiting for you,” Draco gestured at the turned over exam at the top corner of the table.

“I still haven’t any ink!” Harry said dumbly.

“Everlasting quill, Harry,” he explained shortly.

Harry slowly nodded and gratefully took the quill. It felt odd in Harry’s fingers. It must have been made of silver, explaining its heavy weight, and the quill itself appeared completely unfrayed unlike those of most students. After a half hour, which felt like a life-time to Harry due to the fact Draco would peer over and study him every so often, Draco grabbed both their exams and brought them to the front. Harry fumbled with his shoulder bag as he was quick to follow Draco into the corridor.

“Here,” he held out Draco’s quill.

Draco looked at it for a moment as if asking it a silent question. “Keep it, I have more. If I need it, well, I know where it is,” he said even though his eyes were still trained on the quill.

“Er, thanks,” Harry blushed as he gripped it tighter before carefully putting it in his shoulder bag. They had nearly an hour till dinner and Hermione was probably already in the library whereas Ron was still in the exam.

“Do you mind if we go outside today?”

Draco’s voice sounded faraway to Harry. The words he used, the calmness and familiar tone of his voice certainly wasn’t the Draco he was used to. Perhaps they truly were breaking the threshold and becoming something like friends to one another.

“It’s freezing...” Harry stated but at Draco’s sudden fallen look he shook his head. For some reason he didn’t like the sight of him being let down. “Fine. So long as you have nothing against warming charms.”

Draco’s disappointment immediately turned around as he quickly led the way to the courtyard, grabbing Harry’s forearm as he did. There was the initial cold feeling of his fingers again and then that jolt of heat, something akin to electricity. Harry jumped at it as they walked but didn’t remove himself. “What is that?” he asked curiously. “Do you think we should see Madame Pomfrey about it?”

Draco shook his head. “It’s likely just our bodies reacting to being under the influence of the bond for so long, that’s all,” he explained simply but that didn’t ease Harry as despite Draco’s cool fingers lingering on his forearm he still felt himself heating up considerably.

Once they finally reached the courtyard Harry was quick to cast a warming charm as Draco shoved his hands into his cloak pockets. It was a light snowfall in the second week of November. They walked silently for a few moments, towards the Quidditch Pitch. Instead of Draco leading as he usually did, Harry walked along-side him. Harry kept looking over at Draco every few moments, his face was calm and not masked as it usually was. He had a faint smile on his lips and his eyes were half-lidded. He appeared to enjoy the cold that reached them even through Harry’s warming charm. Whenever he looked away Harry could swear he felt Draco’s eyes on him, studying him, turning away only when he turned back.

“I have been thinking about it for a few days and I am hoping that maybe now you could tell me. Who are the Dursleys, Harry?” Draco asked softly after a few minutes as they now were out of the courtyard and on the snowy path that wound down the castle grounds.

Harry sighed and shook his head. “Just my nasty relatives. There’s not much more to it than that and I would really rather not talk about them. I only have to see them once more and then hopefully never again in my life.”

Draco frowned. “Why see them at all again if they’re such horrible people?” he asked, holding down the urge to beg to know more about the story. It was such a great mystery to all pureblood children who grew up knowing the history of the great Boy Who Lived – where was he as a child? How did he grow up?

“My things are still at their house. Well, a few of them anyway, certain things I would like to retrieve…” ‘Like Hedwig’s cage,’ he thought sadly to himself. “After that I’ll be done with them.”

“When you go back…I could go with you if you would like. I mean, if you really don’t like seeing them all that much. I mean, that’s what friends do.” Draco whispered, looking far off in the distance to avoid Harry’s piercing green eyes that turned toward him in shock.

“Draco, we’re not really-“ Harry stopped himself. ‘Not really friends? Is that what I was going to say? Is that what Draco wants from me because it really seems like it…and why can’t we have it? We are pretty much there already. We live together for goodness sake. He has helped me with my homework, we have studied the bond together for countless hours in the library, we’ve set aside our differences…why can’t we be friends? Why am I stopping it from happening?’ Even though Draco’s gesture went too far for Harry and he knew Ron and Hermione, along with any other Weasley, would be more than happy to accompany him to the Dursleys,  the sudden thought of Draco Malfoy walking into their home was amusing to Harry. He forgot about his inner debate and grinned. “You know what, I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you, Draco,” he said at last.

Draco turned to him beaming. Harry was caught off guard with the strength of that smile. Who knew he could smile so brightly and at Harry nonetheless. “How’s your mother doing?”

“Good as can be expected,” Draco shrugged. “I keep telling her she needs to get a job or a hobby, to occupy herself somehow. Instead she’s stuck in the Manor with nothing but House Elves and every so often Ministry officials visiting her.”

“Your dad deserved everything he got-“

“I know, Potter, no need to remind me,” Draco hissed.

But Narcissa is a very nice woman from what I’ve seen so far. She really doesn’t deserve any of this,” Harry added pointedly. Draco looked at him gratefully, smiling once again. ‘He really does have a nice smile…’ Harry thought absently. Draco nodded his silent appreciation, afraid of what his words would betray of him if he spoke. “Neither did you. You made some stupid decisions and we could have offered you sanctuary but…but I know now why you did what you did. I know now that at the time it seemed like you didn’t have a choice and we were only kids…you don’t deserve it.”

Draco stopped walking now. They were only a few paces from the empty, snow-filled Quidditch Pitch. Harry turned back around to look at Draco, his platinum hair blending in with the snow, the tip of his pointed nose a rosy red despite Harry’s warming charms, the snowflakes that fell on his eyelashes and immediately melted. The way he was smiling not just at Harry but because of him. The way he was smiling so broadly you could even see his teeth – a smile Harry had never witnessed Draco have. His usual grey, dull eyes were lit up and almost a silver, sparkling colour instead. Harry felt heat rush up to his cheeks. He was making Draco Malfoy feel this happy and for some reason it made him feel happy, too.

“Harry…how can you say all that? After everything I’ve done? After everything that’s been forced on you, not me, after all the choices that were chosen for you? How can you just stand there and say that I didn’t deserve any of it?” Draco asked in awe. ‘After everybody he has lost, after everything he’s been through, how can he be so empathetic towards somebody like me?’ Harry didn’t answer, he just shrugged, blushing harder as he shoved his hands in his pockets and looked down at his shoes pretending to be distracted by them.

Taking a large step forward, Draco stood right before Harry and reached out a shivering, pale hand. It reached up and his fingers pushed the unruly fringe away from Harry’s forehead revealing the paling, infamous scar. Draco ran his fingertip across the scar, his eyes piercing into Harry who still refused to look up at him as he shivered at the touch of the other boy. “You truly are something else, Harry Potter,” Draco said softly, letting his hand drop, his palm brushing Harry’s red cheek on the way down.

Harry couldn’t move nor could he speak. He couldn’t explain the tingling, feverish feeling the trail of Draco’s fingers left. So instead he looked so intensely at the ground that he was certain he was making the snow around his shoes melt. Draco was still studying him intently when he reached out again and this time grabbed Harry’s hand from his pocket, sending that electrifying jolt through the both of them again. Harry gasped at the touch and peered up at Draco, questioning his actions. “Come on,” Draco smiled, “We still have a half hour before Charms. I want to show you something.” He quickly wheeled around on his heels and led Harry back through the snow towards the castle.

Harry was in too much shock to respond or move his hand where Draco was still clutching ever so slightly. It was different from any other way they had touched before and had Harry’s head reeling for a reason he couldn’t quite explain.

As they made their way through the snow neither noticed the bright, knowing smile that followed them the entire way. “See boys, all you needed was a little push in the right direction,” the onlooker thought to themselves from a window high above overlooking the grounds.

Chapter Text

‘This is commitment. There is no turning back now, Malfoy, you’re about to cross a line you can’t erase with Harry,’ Draco reminded himself as the two quickly ascended the stairs. His hand was still tightly grasped in Harry’s, leading the way, their skin was warm and electric wherever it met. Once on the seventh floor Draco heard Harry softly mumbling, he wasn’t sure if it was to himself or Draco. He led him down a familiar corridor and to an old, worn looking door.

“Here it is,” Draco gestured to the door, his lips curled into a small smile. He peeked over his shoulder at Harry who was staring, cheeks flaming red, at their hands.

“I think we need to go see Madame Pomfrey,” Harry mumbled.

Draco sighed. Even after all their research in the library and Harry still had no idea what was going on? “We will, I promise. But would you at least look first?”

Harry slipped his hand away from Draco, the foreign sensation immediately stopping much to both of their dislike. Harry finally took notice of where he was, realisation dawning on his face causing Draco’s smile to broaden. “This isn’t what I think it is, is it?”

“It is. It’s not the same as it used to be but the room itself has been in a state of magical repair since the fiendfyre went out. At first it was a broom closet, then a lavatory and now…” Draco reached for the old knob. After a swift kick the door gave way.

The room of requirement had been reduced to a small, cupboard-like space. Inside there were no faux windows or mantle places. Just a blackened room with a large pile of small, inanimate objects that appeared to be burnt. Harry felt suddenly overwhelmed, his face began heating up and his palms were sweaty. He could picture the vivid flames, he could hear Vincent Crabbe’s screams, and at the same time he felt claustrophobic. The ceiling was far too low, it nearly touched Draco’s platinum head. Harry bolted from the room back into the corridor, leaning against the wall and breathing shakily. Draco wasn’t far behind, concern and confusion written across his features as he placed both hands on Harry’s shoulders, leaning in inquiringly.

 “Are you alright, Harry?”

Harry nodded, steadying himself between Draco’s hands and the wall. “M’fine, just need a moment.”

Draco didn’t move an inch as he waited until a little bit of colour returned to Harry’s face. “What was that all about? You look like-“

“I’ve seen a ghost?” Harry offered, laughing uneasily as he looked up at Draco who looked back down at him, puzzled.

“No, not quite, like you’ve just seen Voldemort come back from the dead.”

Harry shrugged, leaning his head against the wall. “How can you stand being in there?”

“It’s really kind of bittersweet. Before the fire, before…Crabbe,” Draco sucked in a small breath, he rarely spoke his name, “This room meant a lot to me in sixth year. It was the one place I could come to be alone, to think. It was the only place where I could make sense of everything. Look, I’m sorry for bringing you here. I just haven’t told anybody about this room and I thought, well, I thought it used to mean something to you, too.”

Harry tried to smile but it turned into a small frown instead. “It did. A lot happened in this room but…I don’t like to be reminded of death, y’know? I’ve seen enough of it,” he admitted softly.

Draco released Harry’s shoulders and turned his back, tensing up. Harry could swear he could feel Draco’s sudden mood shift through the bond, it hit him almost like his own emotions would but he could tell they weren’t his. “You think I haven’t seen enough death? I still live in a house where…” Draco trailed off, clenching his teeth and eyes shut, shaking off the memories of the not so distant war. “And Crabbe. He was never bright but that didn’t make him any less my friend.”

“Then can’t you understand why this room makes me uncomfortable?” Harry asked gently.

Draco turned around sneering at Harry. “No, I don’t. I don’t understand because I don’t run away from everything. If I turn a blind eye to my memories it doesn’t make them any less real,” he spat, glaring down at Harry.

Harry stilled, not knowing what to say as he looked up at Draco. He felt his frustration mixed with yearning coursing through himself; Harry never felt so strange, looking at somebody and truly feeling their emotions as if they were his own. A few minutes must have passed because Draco was turning on his heel, stalking down the corridor. “Come on, Potter, let’s pay Madame Pomfrey a visit,” he hissed as Harry quickly shuffled to follow him.

Harry explained in as few words as possible what had brought them in that day - the tingling sensation in their hands. Madame Pomfrey’s eyebrows went up immediately at his words as she cast a few observation charms over the two of them. Harry felt uneasy as the tension through the bond was becoming stronger by the minute.

“You will be excused from your afternoon classes, I have sent a message up to Professor McGonagall who is waiting in her office for you two.”

“Excused? But, Madame Pomfrey we just returned I really don’t think-“

“Now Mr Potter, it is not nice to keep the Headmistress waiting. Go along, boys, hurry!” The mediwitch watched the boys walk out, Draco leading and quickly so with Harry hurrying after. “Poor boys,” she frowned once they had gone.

On their way Draco finally broke the silence, causing Harry to breathe a little easier. “I want to drop off my things first, no sense carrying it up all those stairs to her office,” he clipped. Harry silently agreed as they went off in the direction of their dormitory first.

Unfortunately, it was one of those days where Sir Cowper wasn’t in a very cooperative mood. “Boys! Back so soon?”

“Ah, but we have not a decent conversation in days! Sir Potter, you’re looking rather unfit at the moment, is there anything-“

“I’m fine. We have a meeting with the Headmistress; would you please let us in Sir Cowper? Sir Leland? Would any of you please just open the portrait hole?” Harry asked pleadingly, hoping he sounded as strained as he felt.

All four knights, only one who was mounted this time, looked between themselves curiously. “This time you will pass but next time I expect a conversation! We are not just simple gate keepers, we are knights!” Sir Ferguson said smugly raising his chin up in the air.

Both Harry and Draco rolled their eyes as the portrait swung open. Harry immediately tossed his bag onto the Chesterfield as Draco slung his around the chair at the table. He leaned over, pulled out his secondary everlasting quill and a spare bit of parchment and began to scribble something. He shoved it into his pocket before turning to leave, not looking at Harry once.

McGonagall was ready for them when they arrived. She wasn’t sitting but standing before the two conjured chairs in front of her desk. “Mr Potter, Mr Malfoy,” she nodded her head in greeting at both of them.

“Professor, I apologize for taking up your time but Madame Pomfrey insisted we see-“

“Mr Potter please do not make excuses that don’t need to be made,” she cut him off, raising her hand up in the air as she did to silence him. “Madame Pomfrey was quite right to inform me of your new situation. Your bond is altering and that is a very dire matter indeed.”

“Dire?” Harry choked out. What exactly did she mean by dire?

“I have contact the Ministry already and they will be sending over an official as promptly as possible. They will be sending Healer Greene, a bonds and contract specialist whom also is a certified mediwizard. He is part of the team which is working with Professor Slughorn and Professor Alcona in discovering the nature of your bond. With a bond as unknown as yours any alteration to it must be looked at seriously until we fully understand what it is between you two. Now, Healer Greene will be escorted to your dormitory as soon as he arrives. I am certain he will want a physical examination as well as a verbal interview. Please cooperate as best as you can, Healer Greene insisted on absolute privacy so neither Madame Pomfrey nor I will be there to moderate the meeting,” Professor McGonagall explained although she seemed put out by this.

Draco silently listened, his hands folded tightly on his lap, his lips pursed. Harry shifted uncomfortably in his seat looking between Draco and Professor McGonagall. “Er, okay. I guess that’s all fine, right Draco?”

“Sure. More people to poke noses where they don’t need to. If that is all, Professor,” Draco grumbled, standing up from the chair and as he did so he seemed to slip a step. He fell at the foot of McGonagall’s desk, his cheeks turning pink as he did so. He hurried to his feet, using the Headmistress’s desk on the way up. He brushed off his robes as McGonagall eyed him curiously but Draco was intent on looking anywhere but at her as he turned to leave.

“Yes, I guess that will be all, Mr Malfoy. Mr Potter,” she bowed her head slightly. For the third time that day Draco left the room faster than Harry could follow, immediately giving them both a small buzzing in their heads that was alleviated as soon as Harry joined Draco in the corridor.

“Alright Draco, stop,” Harry called firmly, reaching out and grabbing his wrist to bring him to an abrupt halt in his stride.  Again, the tension vibrated through the bond. “What’s up with this silent treatment? So what, we deal with our past a different way. I’m sorry I didn’t like the room, I’m glad you shared it with me and all but…why are you feeling so…frustrated?” Harry shivered when he said it because it’s like he could even feel the word as he said it, it rattled him.

Draco eyed him curiously, immediately some of the tension lifted. ‘Harry has never been good at knowing what other people are feeling. Ever. I guess the bond is working quicker than I thought it ever would,’ Draco thought to himself and sighed. “I’m frustrated because you’re frustrating,” he said simply as if that were enough of an explanation.

“And since when have the two of us,” Harry gestured wildly between them with his index finger, “Ever been something that wasn’t frustrating to begin with?”

“This isn’t about us, Harry, this is about you. You are frustrating. Not how you treat me but how you treat you,” Draco admitted. He felt a sudden, sickening wave of confusion. It hit him full force, pushing all his own frustration out of the way. Draco’s eyes went wide as he looked at Harry. ‘The bond really is moving quickly.’

“How I treat me? Draco, you’re not making any sense here! So you’re peeved at me because of how I treat myself? And that’s all because I don’t like being reminded of the people who died during the war that shouldn’t have? You’re making absolutely no sense!”

Draco shook his head. “I want you to look me in the eye and tell me that the only reason that room made you uncomfortable was because of what happened in May,” he demanded.

Realisation dawned on Harry. ‘Am I that easy to read? Could Draco really see that wasn’t what was really getting to me? But, how? Even Ron and ‘Mione haven’t figured that out yet…’ “I-I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he mumbled and began to lead the way towards their dormitory.

“You can avoid it as much as you want but you’re going to have to face your demons someday, Harry,” Draco said.

“Ah! And again we are graced with their holy presence!” Sir Ferguson chimed.

“Sir Leland, Sir Ferguson, Sir Cowper, Sir Albacour. I guess I owe you a conversation,” Harry muttered though he wasn’t in the mood but he knew fully well by now that the sooner he obliged the sooner the door would open.

All four knights exchanged a look and then Sir Albacour stepped forward, his smile beaming. “All we need is the password, Master Potter, and you shall have your entry.”

Harry and Draco exchanged a look of surprise. “Er, Galahad,” Harry offered and much to the Knight’s word the portrait hole swung open. “Well that was certainly odd,” he commented once inside.

“Indeed,” Draco agreed. “McGonagall may be old but she sure is quick,” he gestured at the table. Sitting there was a pot of tea, three cups and a small plate of crackers and cheese.

“Ah, food,” Harry sighed hurrying over to take his usual seat, facing the mantleplace across the room, and immediately swallowing a few morsels of food.

Draco sighed as he sat where he had earlier placed his school bag, on the chair beside Harry. “How unfortunate,” he muttered.

“What’s unfortunate?” Harry asked between bites as Draco slowly poured himself a cup of tea.

“That no matter how much time you spend with me I fear you will never even comprehend the basics of eating like a decent human being instead of a barn animal.”

Harry couldn’t help but smile into his next cracker and at the sight of it Draco picked up his tea cup as it cleverly hid his own smile.


A short, round man appeared at their dormitory late that afternoon. He ran the same diagnostic spells Madame Pomfrey usually did as well as an identification potion. However, unlike Professor Slughorn, Healer Greene merely watched as the identification potion took its effect, curiously squinting his beady brown eyes at Harry and Draco as the lights entwined their bodies momentarily.

They sat down at the table, the self-refilling teapot full again as Healer Greene merely tapped it with his wand, pouring three equal cups. He opened a file he had brought with him, scanning the notes quickly before leaning forward, his chubby arms resting on the table as he smiled unnervingly across at Harry and Draco but didn’t address either of them yet.

“Er, sir, about today-“

Healer Greene waved his hand quickly in front of Harry’s face, silencing him. Harry turned to look at Draco who had an elegantly raised eyebrow looking both amused and bored at the same time. “Yes, yes. I was told all about the new development of the bond. From the accounts Poppy has given me the answer appears rather obvious,” he began, speaking slowly and articulating each word. “You have both subconsciously altered the parameters of the bond, meaning,” he waved his hand again before the questions could leave Harry’s mouth, “Your mutual feelings have grown changing the bond’s specifications to meet your emotional and physical wants. The bond now resembles that of a courtship bond. Physical contact, as you now know, provides a slight warming sensation and-“

“Electrifying,” Harry blurted out. Healer Greene looked at him curiously as Draco tried to bite back his smug smile. “Er, it’s warm but it’s more like electrifying, sir,” he blushed.

Healer Greene stared at Harry for a moment before scribbling on the notes before him, muttering beneath his breath. “Other than the physical contact not much differentiates a courtship bond. Spells placed on one will now even more greatly affect the other. A positive to note is that a courtship bond is a somewhat stable bond. You will find the ability to be in separate rooms increases, but the actual maximum distance between you will not go up by much. This new development has ultimately narrowed down the search in discovering the exact bond you have been inflicted with. We now know parameters were never of importance so we are looking for a bond that serves a purpose. This could be a debt, a lapse of time or even till the end of a life.”

Harry jumped up suddenly, his face paled. “End of a life?! You’ve got to be bloody kidding me!”

“There’s a counter to every spell. Once they find the means to the end of the bond it can be countered,” Draco explained. “Right, Healer Greene?” He queried, reaching over to graze Harry’s forearm with the back of his hand, visibly calming him in a moment.

“Right, right you are, Mr Malfoy,” Greene mumbled and was scribbling again, after looking quickly between Harry and Draco, at the small contact on the arm.

Harry slowly sat back down and crossed his arms, tapping his foot uneasily. The word courtship kept hanging dauntingly in his head. “Is there anything else we should expect?”

Healer Greene shook his head. “A courtship bond’s parameters will only expand and change if the courtship is pursued. It would be best if the two of you continue to report to Poppy any immediate, noticeable changes when they occur as it will continue to help us monitor and discover the properties of the bond. Other than that we remain much the same.”

“Healer Greene, sir, how long do you estimate this will last? I mean, now with this being a courtship bond you said it would make it easier. Do you think you will find a reversal to it soon?” Harry asked hopefully.

The older man sighed, leaning further across the table. “Sooner than before, yes, but we are working rather blindly here Mr Potter. It could be tomorrow or a month from now, though I ensure you that your professors and I are working as hard as we can to figure this out. Now, if that-“

Draco cleared his throat, looking pointedly at the Healer who nodded vigorously. “Ah right. Mr Potter,” he turned to Harry. “You see, all Healers are trained in basic therapeutic medicine as well as their specialization. I wish to reiterate now that this meeting is bound by utmost confidentiality . Mr Potter, I have come to understand that you have been having difficulty processing certain situations and perhaps need a professional to speak with concerning…personal matters,” he said delicately.

Harry’s mouth dropped open, his knuckles clenched on his arms. “Excuse me?” he asked, gritting his teeth.

Healer Greene closed his file and shifted awkwardly in his seat, his eyes flashing between Draco who appeared to find particular interest in his nails. “Mr Potter, it is perfectly acceptable to ask-“

“No! No! What the hell is this? Need to talk concerning ‘personal matters’?” Harry snapped mockingly. “Is this a bloody joke? Who-“ he stopped, standing up and looming over Draco who continued to inspect his nails. “You! Who the bloody hell do you think you are?! How did you even – you know what, I don’t even want to know! You’re a fucking bastard Malfoy! I knew it, I knew you hadn’t changed. I knew the second I told you anything you would go and-“

Draco stood up, shaking the unnerving feeling of Harry’s emotions under his own skin. “That is not what this is about, Harry.”

Harry rounded on Healer Greene who was still watching the boys’ short exchange with rapt attention before Harry’s glare stirred him. “Well, ahem,” he cleared his throat, tucking his file under his arm and standing from the table. He reached his hand forward to be shook whereupon Harry merely glared further until Draco shook it and excused Healer Greene. “Please, Mr Potter, my door is always open for matters of any kind. Mr Malfoy, it was a pleasure,” the Healer ducked out before Harry could snap a response.

As soon as Healer Greene had left the room, Harry disappeared into the dormitory, slamming and locking the door behind him. The buzzing in their heads wasn’t as prominent as before though it was still present.

“Potter, come on open up!” Draco’s voice could be heard from the other side of the door.

Harry collapsed on his bed, taking out his wand and pointing it at the door, “Silencio.” Draco’s voice disappeared but Harry could swear he could still hear it echoing in his head. “Bloody Malfoy,” he swore, burying his head in his pillow.

Chapter Text

The embers of the fire turned at the movement of Draco's wrist as he sat in the armchair, his wand lazily pointed at the crackling logs. His head was humming, getting used to the absence of the other half of the bond. Although still frustrated with Harry, Draco was surprised he didn't receive more of an earful.

'That still doesn't excuse his behaviour,' he thought to himself. 'How his so called friends put up with his constant sulking and mood swings is beyond me. Every time we make progress, every time we get closer to some sort of agreeable friendship I seem to do or say something that triggers some ridiculous, ingrained thought in his head. He's certainly not worth all the trouble I put myself through,' he lied to himself.

Draco flicked his wrist causing the flames to suddenly surge before dying down to normal again. He sighed, leaning back in his chair. 'But he is worth it. He's worth it because when he's not an emotional wreck, he's Harry. He's impossibly kind, brave, humble and loyal to a fault. And I want him.' Draco shuddered at hearing the truth so clearly in his own thoughts. 'I want Harry Potter. So what? It's obvious it's mutual to an extent or else the bond wouldn't change to resemble that of a courtship. It could be worse; I could have fallen for the Weasel or his horrid sister,' Draco shivered and stood up from his chair and began to pace before the fireplace.

'I want Harry. I like Harry,' he repeated in his head becoming more confident with each reiteration. 'And tainted may be the name of Malfoy but I am still one of them and a Malfoy always get what they want or they die trying,' he thought firmly, striding over to the bedroom door pointing his wand at it before he could convince himself to do otherwise. "Alohamora!" Draco said with more enthusiasm than was intended causing the door to swing open so forcibly the hinges nearly snapped.

Harry, who had been buried in his bed, startled and jumped up looking wildly at Draco. "What the hell, Malfoy?!"

"I told McGonagall that I thought you needed help coping, because you won't ask for the help yourself. I told her it wasn't right, after everything you've done for all of us, for you to be dealing with your past alone. Anybody who has been through what you have needs a little help, so don't you dare say you don't!" Draco yelled from his position in the doorway where he still had his wand clenched in his hand.

"Bugger off, Malfoy! Just because we're bound doesn't mean you know me and gives you NO right to talk about me! And maybe I'm not like everybody else! Just because you need your dear Daddy to-"

"Silencio!" Draco yelled causing Harry's words to immediately die on his tongue. Draco opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out – the bond had silenced him too.

Harry, glaring icily at Draco, retrieved his own wand from his trousers and pointed it at himself and wordlessly cast finite. Draco blinked a few times, "How did you-"

"It doesn't matter, Malfoy, all that does is you're a self-entitled prick who can't keep his nose out of other people's business!" Harry fumed.

"Stop deflecting. Stop bringing up my father as an excuse. Stop hiding. Stop bloody running away from everything! You have a problem and I'm trying to help you deal with it."

Harry chortled sarcastically, "I have a problem?"

"Yes, you do. You looked like the Bloody Baron's cousin after seeing the room of requirement. You explode at the simplest things like the word nuisance. And you are constantly ready to be attacked. Even in the corridors you always have at least one hand in your pocket on your wand. It's bleeding insane how hostile you are! The war is over, Harry, nobody is out to kill you!"

Narrowing his eyes Harry crossed the distance between them looking derisive. "That's rich coming from you. You're always on guard waiting to defend yourself. Even now," Harry gestured at the wand still held in Draco's hand.

"Potter, you're the golden boy of the wizarding world. Everybody loves you and not only that they are all terrified of the power they know you have. You have nothing to fear because everybody in this damned school is ready to lay down their lives for you if only you asked," Draco sighed, calming himself down and shoving his wand into his robes. "I am the son of one of the most hated Death Eaters. Both those who followed you and those who followed Voldemort see me as a betrayer. I'm the coward who is only free because of your testimony. If somebody were to try something ill on me everybody would turn their heads and let it be done."

Harry frowned, "That's not true."

Draco laughed, "Ha!" Don't lie to yourself more than you already are. You would never dare let that happen to someone but I bet every galleon I own that even Weasley wouldn't lift a finger to help me."

Knowing the truth of it Harry sighed and turned away from him, rubbing his temples. "You still have no right to do what you did. Did it even occur to you that I'm fine and happy the way I am?"

"Even without the bond I know you're unhappy but with it there's no use lying." Draco said softly as he placed a tentative hand on Harry's shoulder. Both of them instantaneously relaxed at the simple touch. "Listen, I only told McGonagall because I knew Weasel and Granger would never approach you about it and you would never talk to me willingly."

Harry sighed and turned back around. Suddenly Draco was unusually close to him, looking down at him with his breath ghosting across his face. "So that's what that ridiculous fall in her office was all about," he mumbled, his eyes downcast.

Draco found the corners of his mouth twitching into a grin, he could feel Harry become more at ease through the bond. Now that his anger had almost dissipated Draco couldn't help but notice how nervous Harry seemed to be whenever they were close. He never lowered his head and hid his eyes when they were sitting across the room from one another but, with Draco's hand still gripping his shoulder lightly and his eyes burning into him, their chests almost pushed up together, Harry was nervous. Draco found himself smiling smugly. "Malfoys never fall."

Harry rolled his eyes, smiling weakly. "Listen," Draco said seriously, "I would have never said anything if I wasn't worried. I just wanted to, well," Draco took a deep breath, gathering his courage, "I just did it because I care about you, Harry."

"You care about me?" Harry returned incredulously, "Sorry, the great Draco Malfoy cares about anybody besides himself?" he laughed but then frowned at his own words, Harry hadn't meant it to come out sounding as mean as it did.

Before Draco's anger could lash out and before he had time to think about the consequences of what he was urging to do, he reached out and grabbed Harry by both shoulders and bent his head down to roughly capture Harry's dry lips. Harry's eyes went impossibly wide as the bond felt as though it was imploding at their mouths pressed firmly together.

Harry felt as though he was being kissed with the most soothing of fires that washed over him entirely. Shocked and confused, Harry couldn't grasp at a single coherent thought in his head. All that mattered was that Draco Malfoy was kissing him and suddenly he wasn't so angry or tense anymore.

After what seemed like an eternity, Draco's hands relaxed on Harry's shoulders and ran down the length of his arms leaving an electric sensation in their wake as Harry shivered into him. Harry was unsure of who had started it but suddenly their lips were moving. His hands had wound up on Draco's back, pulling them toward one another, and they moved their lips in perfect unison. Harry had never felt so much heat from such a simple kiss. Draco's lips were narrow and soft. They were drawn open ever so slightly as they moved against Harry's, his breath ghosting into his mouth every few moments.

Draco, lost in a world caused by every move Harry made against him, flicked his tongue out from his mouth and lightly touched Harry's lower lip. At the feeling of his wet tongue, Harry let out a groan from the depths of his throat as he opened his mouth to Draco who found himself moaning in response.

A loud knock a short distance away tore them apart. Both of them panting for air, their cheeks red and lips swollen and wet. The knocking continued and the boys could hear the muffled voices of the knights of their portrait. Harry had his back to Draco now, too stunned to face him as he stared absently out the one window in their bedroom between their beds with his heart hammering in his chest. Draco cleared his throat and straightened his robes. "I'll get it," he announced hoarsely.

Draco strode to the door, collecting himself with each step. He inwardly groaned when he recognized the voices which accompanied the knights. Fixing an unreadable scowl on his face he opened the door, tightly greeting Harry's friends. "Granger, Weasley."

"Malfoy," Ron inclined his head and turned back to the open portrait to sneer at the knights who were watching him, mildly amused. Stepping past the Slytherin and into the room, Hermione looked oddly at Draco before entering as well. "You should have a talk with your guards, they wouldn't let us in even though we know the password," Ron sneered.

Hermione continued to look between Draco and the rest of the room perplexingly. "Harry's not here," she stated quietly.

"And the award for astute observation goes to Miss Granger," Draco said dryly ignoring Ron's scowl. "He's in the bedroom," he gestured.

Both Ron and Hermione exchanged a look now. "He's in the bedroom? How can he be there if-"

Draco promptly cut Hermione off, "I said he's in our room." Hermione lingered a moment longer before Ron took her hand and led her away, closing the bedroom behind them.

They must have immediately silenced the room because Draco couldn't even hear a muffle of voices. He sighed and although he was peeved at being interrupted he still couldn't help but feel a shiver of happiness running through him and he was certain it wasn't just his own he was feeling. Harry could lie, and Draco knew he would, to get around this. He knew he would avoid it, avoid him, and avoid talking about what had just happened but none of that mattered. Harry knew he couldn't lie to Draco, he knew the bond wouldn't let him and in the end at that moment that's all that mattered. Because, in that moment Draco knew that Harry had liked what he tasted and wanted to feel it again.

"I do fear he is lost to us now, Sir Ferguson."

Draco turned to the portrait door he was still holding open and scowled at the knights. "Not that I'm not grateful for it but why didn't you let the Weasel and his girlfriend in? You know they're permitted."

Sir Albacour stepped forward and cleared his throat. "We knights are not just keepers but observers as well."

"We can hear things others can't," Sir Cowper said stepping forward as well. "We know things others don't."

Draco rolled his eyes. "What are you all on about exactly?" he asked wearily.

"How exactly is that bond coming along, Mr Malfoy? By pureblood tradition, at which stage of the courting would you currently be residing?" Sir Leland queried.

Draco paled, "Oh bugger off," he hissed at the knights before shutting the door, ignoring their knowing chuckles.

Trying not to let himself be annoyed by the presence of Weasley and Granger as well as the silenced room, Draco decided that it must be time. He had put it off long enough and now was the best opportunity he would get. Not to mention that the holiday season was getting closer still and he needed to give fair warning about the situation he might still be in.

So he settled himself down at the table, shaking all thoughts of Harry and their lingering kiss from his head as he pulled out a piece of parchment and his spare everlasting quill, and began to write to his mother.

Harry heard Ron and Hermione's voices carry from the common room of their dormitory. He rubbed his hands over his face trying to shake the sensation still leftover from Draco's brash kiss. But he couldn't. He couldn't think of anything but that kiss, those thin lips claiming his, the sound of Draco's small moan. Harry had never in his life heard something as humbly attractive as that.

"Oi mate, where've you been?" Ron asked, startling Harry from his reverie as he turned around and smiled weakly at his friends. Hermione shut the door behind them and silenced it quickly when Harry didn't protest.

"After we finished our exam we had to go to see Pomfrey about the bond. The matter turned out to be more urgent then we thought, s'all. Don't worry," he held up his hands quickly as he could see the concern flash across his friends faces, "It's not a big deal, we just had to have a talk with McGonagall and a meeting with a Healer, too."

Hermione nodded and held out her school bag. "I got homework and notes for you from the lessons you missed. I was going to get Draco's, too, but Zabini informed me he would be doing that."

"Thanks 'Mione, and for thinking about him, too. Means a lot," Harry thanked her earnestly but his mind wandered again to Draco. The way his lean frame pressed up against him, the fragrant smell of his shampoo that filled his nostrils when they were too close, the feeling his fingers left imprinted on Harry whenever he touched him.

Ron was standing in front of Harry now and nudged him. "Mate, did you hear anything I said?"

Harry snapped out of it shaking his head. "Sorry, Ron, it's been a long day." Ron nodded understandingly.

"What did this Healer say?" Hermione asked, making her way with Ron to Harry's bed and sitting down on the edge of it.

"Yeah, and how come you and Malfoy can be in separate rooms now? Not that it's not fantastic because it is but doesn't this hurt your head?"

Harry sighed and sat down across from his friends on the edge of Draco's bed. He sucked in a deep breath and ignored Draco's familiar scent coming from the sheets as he slowly explained the happenings of his afternoon to his friends. He started with going out onto the grounds and then the room of requirement leaving out key details that were private to him and Draco. He talked until the Healer left and decided it best to leave the kiss out of it as he still couldn't make heads or tails of what it meant and how he felt about it himself.

Hermione and Ron listened quietly from their seat on Harry's bed. "I'm pretty happy about being in separate rooms. I'm mean, it'll be nice to be alone for a while, y'know? I definitely took the ability to shower by myself for granted before," Harry said in closing but quickly blushed as he realised what he had said as he looked across at Ron's horrified expression. "Not that we ever did shower in the same room or anything! We never did! We never would!" he said quickly, mentally kicking himself. "Showering was just always difficult, one of us would have to sit right outside the door and even then it was rather uncomfortable."

"Er, right," Ron said awkwardly. "What exactly is a courtship bond?"

Harry shrugged, glad for the subject change as he fought down his blush. "Healer Greene said it isn't a big deal so long as we don't pursue it," he stilled at his own words. 'What does it mean to pursue it? Did that kiss alter the bond in some way?'

"What does pursuing it even mean?" Ron pulled a face.

"Beats me, mate, but I doubt that'll ever happen. We were told it changed because we mutually don't hate each other anymore I guess so the bond became a little more tolerable. From what I can tell s'a good thing – so long as it isn't pursued." Harry added firmly.

Hermione cleared her throat softly drawing both boys attention to her. "To pursue a courtship bond there are many intricate steps that are traditionally taken. Although, as Sebastian D. Taberman wrote in The Bonds that Divide Us, many of these steps are unnecessary and a courtship bond can vary greatly depending on the people it involves. For an arranged courtship Taberman noted that the bond seemed only to be satisfied with all the traditional acts being done and in order. For a courtship of another type, however, the bond seems to be a lot more lenient to whichever way the persons involved wish to pursue it. A courtship bond is a fairly common one in pureblood circles. I reckon both your parents did it before they got married," she explained. "There are dates to go through, family members to receive permission from, and gifts to give. There are of course the physical steps that must be taken and can also overrule the other steps. But you have to try to fulfill a courtship bond, it never is pursued by accident."

"What physical steps are those?" Harry asked weakly.

"Touching is fine, from what I understand, but I do believe kissing of any kind and any sort of activity together that inspires arousal would be considered pursuing of the bond," Hermione state matter of factly. Harry's mouth went dry and the colour drained from his face.

"So long as you don't kiss Malfoy then you'll be fine! And like that Healer guy said at least this helps them figure out how to dissolve the bond sooner, right mate?"

Harry swallowed the lump in his throat and nodded. "Er right, don't kiss Malfoy," he mumbled. 'Too bloody late,' he thought. Thankfully Hermione took over in explaining the day of lessons he'd missed and distracted him from succumbing to the thought of Draco's lips again.

The three occupied themselves in Harry's bedroom until nearly dinner time and when they went out into the common room Harry wasn't the least bit surprised to see Blaise and Pansy there. Barely paying any attention to the three Slytherins, Harry and his friends led the way to the Great Hall for dinner. Harry refused to look at Draco through the entire meal even though he could feel those grey eyes burning into him the entire time.

When the time came to return to their dormitory, Draco caught Harry in the entrance hall. "I need to mail a letter," he informed him shortly. Harry merely nodded and said goodnight to his friends before following Draco up to the Owlery.

"Who did you write to?"

"My mother. I thought it was about time I responded to her letters questioning the allegations made against us in the post all that time ago," Draco explained, though of course he left the rest of the content of the letter out. Harry nodded slowly, his hands in his pockets and his eyes downcast as he avoided looking anywhere in the vicinity of Draco. But when Draco's hand suddenly reached out and snatched him roughly by the forearm he was pulled to a stop as the electric sensation rattled through his body again. Draco felt the surge between them and nudged at the small statue at the side of the corridor. "You were going to run into it," he explained and let go of Harry before continuing towards the Owlery.

"Why are you avoiding me?" Draco asked after a moment.

Harry blinked a few times, confused. "Avoiding you? Draco, we're bound. I physically can't avoid you even if I wanted to."

Draco shook his head. "You wouldn't look at me all night. You silenced our room the second Granger and Weasley came, which is a little rude if you ask me," he huffed.

Harry opened his mouth to speak but closed it again. He was avoiding Draco because he didn't want to think about him because every time he did his thoughts jumped back to his damn lips and how good they felt on his own.

"Is it because of the kiss?" Draco asked bluntly.

"Maybe. A little bit. Yes," Harry admitted beneath his breath. "And the bond. Hermione told me that doing things like that meant that we were pursuing the bond."

Draco sighed. "One kiss will not change the parameters of the bond in any way."

"What does then? I mean, I think I should know so we can…avoid pursuing it in the future."

"Trust me, Potter, you won't be doing anything any time soon in regards of pursuing the bond," Draco scoffed bemusedly. "If it makes you feel any better I can explain to you what a courtship bond is and everything that entails it. All purebloods do it before they wed."

Harry nodded, "I would appreciate that."

"In return all I ask is you do a little talking yourself," Draco said nonchalantly as they entered the Owlery.

Harry blinked a few times. "Talking about what?"

Draco busied himself with finding a cooperative school owl and tying the letter to its leg, sending it off before turning back to Harry who for the first time that evening was looking directly at him from the entrance to the Owlery. "I was thinking about what happened earlier today with the room of requirement and I know it's not just about Crabbe. It was the Dursleys too, wasn't it?" At the way Harry paled Draco knew his suspicions had been right. "I want to know who they are, Harry, what did they do to you that made you this way?"

"And what way is that exactly?" Harry snapped defensively, crossing his arms.

"Unable to allow yourself to take care of yourself," Draco sighed. "I want to know what you were before Hogwarts and who they were to you."

Harry turned away from Draco and began descending from the Owlery. Once out in the corridor with Draco not far behind Harry spoke again. "For whatever bloody reason, I want to tell you everything. But in my own time. Can you not understand that?" Draco frowned but slowly nodded as they started off in the direction of their dormitory.

"So, courtship bonds," Harry said suddenly in desperate need to change the subject away from that of the Dursleys . "Tell me everything you know about them…"

Chapter Text

“Harry! Harry!”

Seamus’ voice startled Harry from his dream state at the Gryffindor table. It was the last week of lessons before the holidays and all the students were buzzing with excitement to see their families. Harry turned blearily to Seamus. “Sorry, I must have dozed off there for a second,” he mumbled apologetically.

Neville, Seamus, Dean and Ginny all rolled their eyes at Harry. “That’s all you’ve been doing lately, Harry. I mean you know something’s wrong when even Slughorn has to takes points from ya!” Dean teased as Harry shot him a small scowl.

“Just haven’t been sleeping right, s’all.”

“Well who could, given your current sleeping arrangements,” Seamus said pointedly as he gestured at the vicinity of the Slytherin table.

“Are you sure you’re alright, Harry?” Ginny asked sympathetically leaning across the table, placing her hand gently on his forearm. “Do I have to get Hermione to force you to the hospital wing?”

Harry shook his head. “Honest, I’m fine. Just not a lot of sleep, studying for exams and all that.” Harry lied. The truth was he couldn’t sleep because he didn’t want to. He didn’t want to because every night since Draco had kissed him he couldn’t dream of anything other than it. He relived the kiss in his sleep nightly to a point he was ready to brew some Dreamless Sleep Draught and risk poisoning himself to get rid of the vivid images of Draco doing what he did.

“Anyway, we were talking about the Christmas party we’re going to have before everybody leaves. It’ll be next Friday and in the Hufflepuff common room because it’s the biggest out of them all. All the eighth years from Ravenclaw will be there, too, and most of the seventh years as well,” Neville explained.

“And mate,” Seamus grinned, “I think I can manage to get us some firewhiskey, too.”

Harry frowned and looked up from his plate for a moment across the hall at Draco who was conversing with Pansy and Blaise. Ever since the kiss Draco seemed to be perfectly comfortable with Harry and he had no idea how he did it. He acted as though nothing had happened. They were still on relatively friendly terms and helped one another with studying as well as played chess or Exploding Snap in their spare time. Harry still couldn’t grasp how he could go back to acting like that after what they had shared but he was more than glad Draco wasn’t trying to draw attention to it, either, because Harry certainly wouldn’t know what to do then.

“I doubt I’ll be there, sorry guys,” Harry said. “I mean, can you really see Draco stepping foot in the Hufflepuff dormitory?”

“That’s bollocks, mate,” Dean sighed.

“I always forgot you two can’t be too far away from each other. Sorry, Harry,” Seamus frowned.

“At least you’ll be coming to Christmas, right Harry?” Ginny said in an attempt to cheer him up.

Harry looked across the hall again and this time Draco was looking at him, too. Draco smiled softly at him before returning to respond to something Blaise was animatedly talking about. “Oh Gin, I totally forgot to tell you. I have to write to your Mum-“

“Don’t you dare, Harry James Potter!” Ginny began pointing her finger crudely at him. “There is no way you’re missing Christmas because of this stupid bond, too!”

“I won’t miss Christmas,” he shrugged. “I just promised to spend it at the Malfoy Manor because his mother’s all alone. At least you guys have each other. And who knows, maybe I can convince him to let us go over on Christmas Eve.”

Ginny lowered her finger looking defeated. “He better drag his arse over. Malfoy or not, you need to spend at least some of the holidays with us.”

Harry smiled weakly. “I’ll see what I can do, Gin. And sorry about the party guys,” he apologized again. “You’ve reminded me now though, I’ve got to write to let your Mum know that she shouldn’t be expecting me.”

“Good luck. I bet two galleons that you will have a howler response by Wednesday,” Ginny teased.

Before Harry left the Great Hall he caught Draco’s eye. He waited only a few minutes in the entrance hall with his head buzzing dully due to the distance between them before Draco joined him and they immediately started up towards their dormitory. It was a Sunday and they both had plenty of studying for their exams to do. Harry was just glad he had avoided Hermione the entire day thus far as she was most likely keeping Ron on library lockdown.

“What’s wrong?” Draco asked.

Harry shot him a nonplussed glance. “How do you-“

“Bond,” he said shortly.

“Ah. Well, uhm, I was talking to Ginny and I guess I sort of forgot to tell Molly I wouldn’t be at the Burrow for Christmas this year. I reckon she’s not going to take it very well,” Harry mumbled.

“Harry, you don’t have to do this you know. We could always stay here for Christmas,” Draco offered earnestly.

Harry shrugged. “What good will that do – then nobody gets what they want on Christmas. It’s fine, really, it’s just one year and it’s not like I’m not used to spending Christmas alone.”

Draco stopped and grabbed Harry by the wrist. That same electric current still jolted through them whenever they touched. “You won’t be alone,” he said firmly.

Swallowing the lump in his throat as images of Draco kissing him feverishly kept sweeping through his head, Harry nodded. “Er, right. Thanks.”

“Doing this doesn’t just mean a lot to me you know,” Draco explained as he regretfully let go of Harry and started down the corridor again, “It means a lot to my mother, too. In her last letter she went on to say how thankful she was and how accommodating she will be to you and our situation. Even without being bound to you my mother is very fond of you,” he admitted.

Harry blinked a few times in surprise. “She is? Uh – I was always pretty certain she despised me.”

Draco laughed. “Yes, well, a lot of people think that’s how mother feels about them. She’s my mum, Harry, she’s thankful you saved her only child’s life and were the one to give him another chance. And her another chance.”

Harry nodded knowingly but he didn’t want Narcissa to admire him out of respect for her debt to him, he would much prefer it if there were no debt at all. “There’s still one thing about Christmas though. I was wondering if you would, er, if we could go to the Burrow on Christmas Eve. We would still be spending the day with your mother and the rest of the holidays but…the Weasleys are my family, it would be nice to see them, too,” Harry said as they approached their portrait hole.

“Me? Spend an entire evening with a house full of Weasel-“ Draco sucked in a breath as he felt Harry become automatically restrained through the bond. “Yes, well, I guess that’s the least I could do.”

“Really?” Harry chirped up, “I thought it would take a lot more convincing than that! Thank you, Draco, really. It means a lot to everybody.”

“Just, promise me they won’t kill me,” Draco groaned at the thought of it. ‘How many Weasleys are there again? Seven? Eight? Too bloody many if you ask me.’

Harry chuckled. “I promise I won’t let them, not to say some of them won’t try,” he teased which caused him to receive a swift elbow in his side from Draco who muttered their password and disappeared into their common room.

The four knights saluted Harry, each of them sporting a knowing grin. “We are quite impressed, Mr Potter.”

“Impressed?” Harry probed curiously as he crossed his arms at the portrait, he could see Draco from the corner of his eye taking out some homework and settling down at the table paying Harry no mind at all.

“Indeed we are impressed. You and Mr Malfoy have begun your journeys in overcoming yourselves,” Sir Cowper said.

“And who would have though,” Sir Leland spoke up, “That you would be on your path of accomplishment due to who was once your enemy.”

Sir Albacour nodded, “Much like Sir Dumbledore and Sir Grindewald.”

Harry blinked a few times. He knew Dumbledore and Grindewald had a questionable relationship but that was as far as his understanding of it went. “I really don’t know what you’re on about. We respect each other now. We’re...friends. Doesn’t mean we’re overcoming anything great, really, we’re just adapting,” Harry shrugged.

Sir Ferguson grinned. “Ah, but you do not see what doors of opportunity this opens for you. But you will, in due time. Mr Malfoy shall as well.”

“It is he who shall benefit extraordinarily from the pursuing of the bond.”

Harry paled at Sir Cowper’s words. “P-pursuing? But, we’re not pursuing anything here!” he hissed, forcing himself to stay quiet so Draco wouldn’t hear him.

The four knights looked between themselves again, their grins and smiles broadening. “We did not say you were in the act of pursuing the bond.”

Harry lightened up ever so slightly until he could swear he heard a night whispered voice say, “Yet.”

“Bloody portraits,” he mumbled and entered the common room, shutting the knights out into the empty corridor.

“How goes courting Potter, Malfoy?” Blaise teased as he approached Draco at the Slytherin table on the last day of exams. Draco sneered at his friend and quickly looked around to see if Pansy was in the vicinity. “Don’t worry, the annoying bint is gone,” Blaise assured him.

Draco scoffed, “That’s rather rich; you calling her that when you’ve been in love with her for the past four years.”

Blaise scowled playfully at Draco. “Honestly, how goes your courtship? I thought you said you were going to pursue it and from what I can tell none of the proper steps have yet to be taken.”  

“In due time, Blaise. Before I begin to further our bond any more than I already have I want him to willingly do it himself,” Draco explained, his eyes glancing up at the Gryffindor table where Harry sat amongst his friends.

Over the week Harry had become increasingly more comfortable with Draco. Draco’s soft, honest approach was working and he couldn’t be more pleased. Although he was growing rather impatient, he knew Harry would be worth it in the end. “Draco, you know I’m all for whatever it is that boils your cauldron but are you certain Potter wants any of this?”

Draco shrugged noncommittally. “The bond I’m certain he doesn’t want but neither do I. I know what I want now and I want Harry without the bond pulling our strings,” he explained lowly. “As for me, well, let’s just say Harry’s dreams aren’t exactly quiet ones these days.”

“Still?” Blaise asked, pulling a mildly amused and disgusted face.

“Mhm. Every night,” Draco grinned, looking back across the hall again at Harry who was looking at him this time. They locked eyes for a moment before smiling and turning back to their friends.

“That poor bastard must not have much to compare you to if he’s still fantasizing about kissing you. What a poor sod,” Blaise shook his head.  “And your mum? How’s she?”

“As good as can be. Still rather befuddled by the entire current situation,” Draco exhaled. When he thought about it, even though all he had was Blaise and his mother, he was truly lucky. Blaise didn’t bat an eye when he approached him a week ago about his budding feelings for Harry and how he wanted to pursue the courtship bond. His mother, when learned of his situation and how it was being handled, was, as always, supportive and understanding and offered her assistance in any way he could need it.

“And how do you reckon Potter’s going to fare after a whole two weeks in the Malfoy Manor?”

Draco smirked. “It will be amusing, though he will probably be far better off than I will be at the Weasel’s hole for one night.”

Blaise shivered and clapped Draco sympathetically on the back. “Good luck with that, mate. Frankly, you’ll need it. Ah, and speaking of the wonder boy,” Blaise inclined his head at the Gryffindor table where Harry was sitting staring deliberately at them.

Draco raised his eyebrow at Harry who nudged to the entrance hall. Draco nodded and got up, ready to follow him a few moments later. “I guess I’ll be seeing you on the train, Zabini.”

“Hey, Draco, where are you off to?” Pansy asked skipping up to the table.

“You’ve got bloody good timing, mate,” Blaise grumbled as Draco smirked and excused himself from the table to follow Harry.

‘Two full weeks of Harry to myself. No outsiders looking in, no lessons to attend or professors to appease. Maybe he might even let us pick up that kiss where we left off…’ Draco thought hopefully to himself.

The two boys returned to their room, discussing the final exams. “I’m certain Slughorn must have given me a separate exam from everybody else’s,” Harry admitted, “It was way too bloody easy.”

Draco jeered, “Slughorn did give us individual exams. However, if you’re referring to the level of difficulty of the said exams then yes, I full heartedly agree that Slughorn gave you a simpler version. That man deserves to have any Professor title revoked; you cannot properly teach when you’re blinded by your own star struck desire.”

Harry sighed, “Give the man a break. He’s still a good Professor.”

“Tch, hardly. Poor Sev is simply rolling in his grave right now, I can see it. He always disliked that man.”

At the mention of Severus Snape’s name, Harry shivered. It was a name he very rarely heard after the war. “How can you talk about him like that, ‘Rolling in his grave’? I mean, weren’t you two close?”

Draco, who was currently riffling through his trunk in their bedroom making sure all his things were in order for tomorrow, breathed. “Sev was like an Uncle to me, Harry. He was my Godfather. He meant the world to me. Severus was the greatest man I ever knew,” he said tenderly. Harry was sitting down on top of his own trunk watching as Draco paused only for a moment in memory before continuing on. “When I think of those who have passed, I like to remember them for what they were and not for what they no longer are.”

Harry thought about it for a minute. He had never considered it like that before. Whenever he thought about those who were lost he thought about what they could never be, memories they would never share. Harry was beginning to respect Draco’s outlook more and more each day. Despite the accusations against him and his character, Draco was truly prevailing and striving to make a life for himself.

“Harry,” Draco called, startling him from his trance. “I was asking you if you would like my mother to invite Andromeda over for Christmas dinner. She would be bringing her grandson, of course.”

Harry looked up at Draco incredulously. “Really? Teddy? Draco that would be fantastic! But I thought Andromeda and your side of the family didn’t get on.”

Draco tensed. “We don’t particularly but my mother offered to extend the invitation for your sake. There is a rumour that you are his godfather.”

“Your mother offered? Well, tell her that would be really appreciated. I hate not being able to see Teddy more often because I’m here – he’s probably so big. I wonder what colour his hair will be,” Harry mused.

“You can tell her yourself. She was waiting to owl Andromeda once she had your word. And I have a feeling Andromeda will accept the invitation if she knows who else will be present. I think my mother’s trying to make up for being forced to spend Christmas at our manor,” Draco admitted. He knew his mother and when a guest was in her home she did all she could to make sure he was accommodated.

“I’m not being forced,” Harry corrected him, “I was the one who offered.”

Flashing a smile over at Harry, Draco closed his trunk and mirrored Harry by sitting on the edge of it. “And your offer is greatly appreciated. And how are the Weasleys handling our holiday situation?”

Harry bit his grin, he didn’t want to seem too amused by the fuss Ron had made after hearing that Draco was going to come to the Burrow with him for Christmas Eve. “Ron’s still pretty peeved about it. I think he’s just upset he has to see your scrawny arse outside of school – oi!” Harry, thankful for his speedy Seeker reactions, dodged a pillow Draco had been quick to grab and hurl towards his head. “Mrs Weasley, Molly, is really fantastic though. She said the more the merrier and that she didn’t want to go the whole holiday without seeing me and if that means bringing you along she’ll take it.”

“And the other Weasleys. Aren’t there a hundred of them?” Draco queried.

Harry rolled his eyes exasperatedly. “The other ones I can’t speak for but Molly’s usually pretty good at keeping them all on their behaviour besides George and…” Harry trailed off. It wasn’t Fred and George anymore, just George. “Well, just George,” he finished quietly.

“We have all night. Up for finishing our Arithmancy assignment due for when we get back?” Draco quipped quickly, wanting to distract Harry from the mourning he had brought upon himself.

Harry groaned. “We have two whole weeks to do that!”

“Yes. Two weeks. That leaves us just enough time to complete the assignment and rewrite it at least twice,” Draco shrugged.

“Merlin, what did I do to deserve two Hermione’s in my life?” Harry grumbled jokingly, dodging yet another pillow that came flying in his direction.

Chapter Text

King’s Cross was particularly crowded this time of year. All the muggles’ trolleys were over flowing with Christmas presents as they bustled about in a hurry. After a lengthy goodbye to their friends, Harry and Draco set out through the train station in the opposite direction. Somehow Draco had convinced Harry that their trunks could fit on the same trolley and of course Harry ended up being the one to maneuver it through the crowd. “Why wasn’t your mother at the pick up area like the rest of the parents? Where is she meeting us?”

Draco, who had his hands stuffed in his slacks with one hand wound tightly around his wand as he observed the muggles, shortly stated, “She’s not.”

Harry stalled for only a moment. “She’s not? How the bloody hell do you expect us to get to the manor?”

“Mother never leaves the manor anymore, remember? She has a driver that will bring us to the Ministry,” Draco explained.

Harry blinked, “The Ministry? What exactly are we going there for?”

Draco was thankful Harry couldn’t see his face at that moment nor the emotion that quickly flashed across his features. “The only way we were granted access to the Floo Network was if its only connection was to the Ministry.”

“What? That’s insane! What do they think you and your mother could do through the Floo Network?” Harry asked, appalled. ‘No wonder Mrs Malfoy never leaves the manor. I wouldn’t either if it meant always going to the bloody ministry.’ Draco shot Harry an untoward expression over his shoulder. “I think it’s ridiculous they’re treating you like criminals. You were both pardoned of all charges and accusations, they should damn well begin to act like it.”

“Tch, wait till you see what happens when a Malfoy enters the ministry,” Draco clipped.

Once they reached the street exit, Draco walked around the waiting taxi’s and shuttle buses. “He’s not here yet,” he announced as he rejoined Harry on the side of the street, the sidewalk crowded with comers and goers of the train station.

Due to not wanting to draw muggle attention to himself, Draco was only wearing a thick, grey sweater and it only took a few moments before he began shivering. It was snowing lightly, wet, cold snow, too. Harry walked up to Draco and startled him by taking him by the hand. The bond reacted instantaneously as Draco look wide eyed and befuddled. Ever since the kiss they shared, Harry had successfully avoided any and all physical contact with him. “Warming charm, if you don’t mind,” he answered the other’s puzzled gaze. Wordlessly and wandlessly Harry cast a warming charm on Draco before letting his hand go and making himself comfortable by leaning on the front of their trolley.

“Harry, how did you manage that without your wand?” he asked in a hush not wanting to be overheard.

Harry shrugged his shoulders. “I’ve always sort of been prone to accidental magic-“

“With your temper, who wouldn’t be?” Draco teased, receiving a playful glare from Harry in response.

“-So ‘Mione suggested that I should start trying wandless magic a while ago. I’ve only been able to do simple spells I’m used to casting with my wand so far. After sleeping outside so often last year, warming charms have become my specialty.”

“They are rather proficient. Most warming charms get too unbearably hot after a certain duration, but not yours. You stabilize the temperature when you cast it and I’m guessing you don’t even do it on purpose,” he complimented. “Wandless magic is quite a-“ Draco was abruptly cut off as somebody slammed into him from behind.

Once he steadied himself Draco whirled around with an insult ready on his tongue – one Harry could bet had the word muggle in there a few times – but upon seeing the clumsy perpetrator, he bit it. A small, frail looking girl in what must have been her late teens, blushed as she scurried to pick up one of her three dropped bags.

Draco crossed his arms and watched the small blonde retrieve her things as she stumbled a bunch of apologies. Harry was quick to join her and handed her one of the fallen, small purses. “Are you alright?” he asked concernedly as Draco scoffed at Harry’s readiness to help.

The girl looked between Harry and Draco before settling on Harry, her cheeks tinging pink. “Y-yeah, I’m fine. I’m so sorry about that, I’m such a klutz!”

“Don’t worry, you didn’t hurt anybody,” Harry assured her with a small smile which caused the red in her cheeks to deepen.

Another girl came up from behind her, she was taller and broader with black hair and tanned skin. She patted her friends shoulder. “That’s our Trinity, always falling over. At least this time it was over a couple of cute boys,” the new girl flashed a smile at Draco who merely raised an eyebrow in return.

“Shannon, shut up,” Trinity hissed at her underneath her breath, clearly embarrassed.

“It’s all fine, really,” Harry assured them, “She did more harm to herself than Draco. It’s no bother.”

Shannon’s smile broadened and twisted into a smirk as she stepped slightly forward from Trinity towards. Draco and held out her hand. “Draco, is it? What a strange name.”

Harry turned to Trinity who was still embarrassed and hiding her face under her fringe, he extended his hand. “I’m Harry. Where are you two headed, then?” Suddenly he sensed Draco’s mild discomfort deepen through the bond, something had shaken him. Harry looked back at him and saw Shannon with her hand on his upper forearm, leaning in and whispering to him. Harry thought the discomfort he felt was odd but it became suddenly overpowered. His stomach churned as Shannon leaned back and was smiling as Draco was peering at her with mild distaste. He didn’t like seeing somebody lean so close to Draco and even though he couldn’t hear what she had said to him Harry wasn’t completely oblivious and he knew they were flirting. The thought of it bothered Harry much more then he knew it should.

“We’re going to Cambridge, if my mum ever bothers to pick us up,” Trinity mumbled.

But Harry wasn’t paying attention to what she was saying anymore, instead he was noticing the way Shannon was laughing and how her hand was still lightly pressed on Draco’s arm. ‘That’s mine to touch,’ Harry thought defensively, surprising himself.

At the surge of jealousy and discomfort through the bond, Draco’s head snapped away from Shannon and towards Harry. He stepped back from the girl and instead reached out to Harry and yanked him by his shoulder till he was standing pressed up against him. Draco put his arm around Harry’s shoulder and tried not to look too amused by the three dumbfounded faces that looked at him. Instead, he turned to look down at Harry’s befuddled expression and smiled sweetly. “Shannon here was just tragically left by her boyfriend, as she was telling me. What a shame, isn’t it dear? I hope you never do that to me.”  

Harry blinked, confused and thankfully didn’t have time to respond as Draco heard his surname being called. “Oh thank Merlin,” Draco moaned and pushed away from Harry, striding down the sidewalk to the caller of his name.

Shannon was frowning and Trinity appeared to be stunned. “How come it’s the hottest ones are always gay? What did women do to deserve this?” she grumbled, half teasingly and half truthfully, before taking Trinity by the arm and leading her down the opposite side of the sidewalk.

“It was nice to meet you, Harry!” Trinity called nervously as she was being dragged away.

Shaking his head, Harry gathered himself and started to push the trolley in the direction Draco had gone. When he reached him, he was standing beside a small, sleek black car with a suited, old man. “Harry this is Jackson, Jackson this is Harry.”

The older man, Harry assumed he was in his sixties, reached out a gloved hand and excitedly shook Harry’s. “It’s such a pleasure to meet you, Harry Potter, sir. I’m honoured, really,” Jackson gushed.

“Jackson, we want to get home sometime today,” Draco complained.

The driver let go of Harry’s hand and nodded quickly. “Right, of course, Master Malfoy. Please,” he reached out for the backseat door and opened it. Draco got in but Harry turned about to get their trunks and began lifting them off the trolley. “Mr. Potter, sir, there’s absolutely no need for you to do that! Allow me, please!” Jackson let go of the door and hurried to take the heavy trunk from Harry’s arms which he refused to give up.

“No, it’s alright, really. Just open the back and I’ll-“

“Harry, for Merlin’s sake get in here and let Jackson do his job!” Draco hissed from inside the car. Harry frowned and handed the trunk over to Jackson. He joined Draco in the backseat and was surprised to say it was just a normal, muggle car. There was nothing magical about it.

“I can’t believe you won’t let me help him. He’s an old man, our trunks are heavy, can I just-“ Harry was about to step back out to help Jackson again but Draco promptly leaned over him and slammed the back door shut, giving Harry an exasperated look.

“Doing things like that is what we pay him for. And it’s good money, too.”

“Still, we shouldn’t just sit here when we’re perfectly capable of-“

“There’s a lightening charm he uses to lift things too heavy. Does that make you feel any better?” Draco rolled his eyes as Harry nodded.

When Jackson joined them again he announced their destination and their estimated arrival time, which was only ten minutes with the current traffic. They sat looking out the window quietly for the most part of it until Harry finally turned to Draco. “What was before all about?” Draco knew exactly what he was referring to but simply shrugged. “Draco, you can’t just go around acting like we’re…a couple,” Harry whispered the last part, redness creeping up his neck.  

“The insufferable muggle was flirting with me, Potter. It was nearly unbearable not to send a Bat Bogey Hex after her,” Draco grumbled.

“Then tell her you’re not interested don’t go telling her we’re together, because we’re not!” Harry defended. The driver cleared his throat uncomfortably in the seat ahead of him.

“I only did that because you were feeling like a jealous bint,” Draco snapped.

Harry sputtered, the redness reaching his cheeks now. “I was not! I just felt uncomfortable for you, that’s all, it’s awkward!”

Draco sighed and turned back to look at the window. “Potter, running circles around your emotions is becoming exhausting. I will stay here and wait if that’s what it takes, but enough with the charades. Do you not remember what I told you about courting bonds?”

“Yes, actually, I do. That’s what it must be. I must have felt like that because the bond was making me-“

“Bollocks!” Draco swore, punching his fist into the seat at the same time, startling Harry slightly. “That’s not how the bond works and you know it! I can feel you more now. I can tell exactly what it is you’re feeling whenever I want to just by fucking paying attention to our bond. You should do it once in a while, Potter,” he spat. Draco accepted waiting for Harry. He accepted his growing feelings for him and what he wanted for them even despite the bond. But the constant denial and avoidance of feelings was really starting to get to him.

Harry breathed in deeply, clenching his fists so as to not lash out defensively at Draco as the driver hummed nervously to himself, trying hard not to listen to the heated conversation behind him. “Fine. You want me to feel the bond? I can feel it,” he took another breath, his eyes becoming half-lidded as he concentrated on Draco. He could almost feel the invisible string between them, pulling them together, and he focused on that. “You’re angry. You’re frustrated.”

“Potter, you’re a natural born genius, aren’t you,” Draco muttered. “How about using the bond to look beneath what’s on the surface, hm?” ‘You have to dig,’ he thought to himself. ‘You have to push aside what the person was feeling at that moment and really, truly listen to what their subconscious is trying to tell themselves.’

Harry was taking his time, his face screwed up in concentration and his eyes squeezed shut. Sighing, trying to let go of some of his frustration, Draco reached across the seat and took Harry’s hand. The heat erupted immediately and they both felt it extend from their hands and jolt through their entire bodies. A sudden yearning to feel more than just hands startled them both as Harry’s eyes shot wide open and looked almost fearfully at Draco. “Y-you feel…” he trailed off, becoming slightly lost in Draco’s stormy eyes peering down at him.

“Yes?” Draco urged even though he knew what it was Harry had found through the bond. It only took a little bit of concentration for Draco to find it hidden beneath Harry’s emotions at the beginning of their courtship.

“You want me,” Harry said, barely audible.

Draco clenched Harry’s hand in his own and with a steadying breath leaned forward. Before he could close the distance between the two of them, Jackson spoke loudly causing them to separate immediately. “We’ve arrived at the ministry!” he announced as the car came to a halt outside the recognizable visitors entrance to the ministry of magic.

Reluctantly, Harry and Draco parted and joined Jackson who was already unloading their trunks. ‘If I’m what he wants…why hasn’t he tried harder to get me? More importantly, what do I want?’ Harry distractedly speculated. He followed the other two into the visitors’ entrance, quietly mulling over his thoughts up until they arrived in the Atirum on level eight. And then, all hell broke loose.

Usually the secretary at the front of the Atrium signed the visitors in and directed them to where they needed to be. This time, however, as soon as the secretary – Mrs. Delargy, as Harry could read from her name plate – saw them, she immediately recognized two of the three visitors and wasted no time. She picked up a small, transparent ball and tapped her wand three times and whispered hurriedly into it. Mrs. Delargy, a thin, frail and tall old woman, hurried around the corner of her desk.

“And now it begins,” Draco grumbled to Harry who was about to question what he meant but the secretary quickly spoke.

“A Malfoy?” Mrs. Delargy inquired. “They will be here any moment to escort you, under your contract mandated by the ministry of magic and Head Auror Donnelly, you must remain here and unmoved at all times until the proper escort can come and retrieve you.”

“Er, he can’t move?” Harry asked unsurely after a moment.

Mrs. Delargy snapped her attention at him, her eyes flicking over his features until they rested on his fading scar. “Oh, Mr. Harry Potter! What an honour!” she held out her hand which Harry merely stared at before turning back to Draco.

“Why can’t you move? Why do you need an escort in the ministry?” he asked. Instead of replying, Draco simply pursed his lips and looked aside and off into the distance. Harry stepped in front of him blocking his view, ignoring Mrs. Delargy’s presence. “Draco, answer me. Why do you need an escort? What’s going on?”

“He can’t talk either, dear. Part of the contract,” Mrs. Delargy shortly explained.

Harry turned to her looking appalled. “Can’t talk either? He’s just in the damn Atrium of the ministry and all of a sudden he can’t move or talk? What are they going to do to him, arrest him if he does?”

By all three of the serious gazes that landed on Harry, they most certainly were going to do just that. “That’s absurd! I want to see whatever contract this is you’re talking about!” he demanded.

Mrs. Delargy went unusually pale and began stepping back in the direction of her desk. “Sir, that’s classified ministry info-“

“I don’t give a damn! I want to see this rubbish of a contract!” Harry yelled, his voice echoing through the Atrium.

“Ah, how lucky for us, a Malfoy,” a drawling voice sounded, coming from the way of an elevator. Two Aurors, as Harry could recognize them from their uniforms, strode over to Draco who finally moved from his spot on the floor, shifting the weight of his feet.

“Yes, lucky you,” Draco sneered, crossing his arms. “Let’s just get this over with, shall we?”

The guards looked at one another and snorted. “Eager boy, aren’t you? C’mon then, you know where to go,” one of them gave him a not so gentle push on his shoulder in the direction of a long, narrow corridor off to the side of the Atrium.

“Before we forget,” the other guard said, withdrawing his wand and pointing it at Draco. Without hesitation Draco lifted his arms to them. His wrists were wound with a thin purple rope that tightened and tied itself. He turned down the corridor and the guards followed close behind. Harry was left to quickly follow along with Jackson.

“Why are you restraining him? Draco, where are we going?” Harry asked once he had caught up. Draco merely clenched his jaw and refused to look behind his shoulder at Harry. “You two, who are you and what the bloody hell is going on? You can’t just take an innocent-“

“Hah! Innocent!” One of the guards laughed loudly. “This piece of filth is lucky he’s not rotting in Azkaban.”

“Yeah, he and his mum deserve nothing more than the Dementor’s Kiss,” the other guard grunted.

Despite having bound hands, Draco turned on his heel and with his elbows shoved the guard into the wall of the dimly lit corridor. “Don’t you dare talk about my mother like that!” he snarled as the other guard grabbed him by the shoulders and shoved him into the adjacent wall, the side of his head connected with it and resounded a sickening crack as Draco winced. Harry withdrew his wand and was about to retaliate but it was Jackson, levitating their trunks along behind them that grabbed him by his sleeve to stop him.

“Mr. Potter, sir, it would be best to stay out of this. I have been through this a few times and the quicker it is over the better,” Jackson whispered.

One of the guards had Draco by his collar now and was leading him along, snarling as he did. “You just made this harder on yourself, boy! How’s a full search sound, Longfield?”

“That sounds about right, Reid! C’mon then, Malfoy, in ye go!” the guards harshly shoved Draco into a room they had finally come to. It had no window on the door and no indication other than a small carving of letters and numbers above it that read ‘23CB’. Harry tried to follow in after by Jackson pulled him back again.

“We don’t go in there,” Jackson informed. “You can try but it’ll be locked. And…that won’t work either, sir,” he said as Harry lifted his drawn wand to unlock it.

Defeated, Harry pocketed his wand and began to pace. “What the fuck is this all about, exactly? I mean, we come to the ministry and as soon as we step inside they treat him like a fucking fugitive?! What goddamn right do they have to do this? And what’s this contract they keep going on about?”

Jackson frowned. “All I know, Mr. Potter, sir, is that every time Lady Malfoy or Master Malfoy comes into the ministry they have to be escorted into the interrogation room. There they receive veritaserum and are questioned for a few minutes before-“

It was such a sudden sensation that overtook Harry. His whole body felt like it was on fire from the tips of his toes to each of the hairs on his head. He fell over in crippling pain, using the wall as support to keep him from hitting the ground as he screamed out. Jackson was by his side immediately, offering his arm to hold him up. As soon as it felt like the pain had gone it ripped through him once again, this time stronger.

“Mr. Potter, what is it? What’s happening?” Jackson asked worriedly, shaking as he tried to support him.

The pain slowly subsided but it left a dull, unwanted prickling impression that danced underneath his skin. “Those bloody bastards. I don’t know what they just cast on Draco but whatever it was it fucking hurt. This can’t be legal. You said they go into the interrogation room well then what’s happening in there right now?”

“Master Malfoy on more than one occasion has angered the aurors that escort him to the interrogation room. When he does he is brought here for a few minutes before they continue to the right department. Lady Malfoy always warns him to hold his tongue while he’s here,” Jackson expounded.

“Still! This isn’t right, not from the very start. He shouldn’t need an escort in the first place, there shouldn’t be an interrogation of any kind! They were pardoned, wholly and completely and they should be treated that way!” Harry fumed.

The door to 23CB opened and one of the guards came out first, a lopsided grin on his face, and then Draco followed, his face drained of colour and looking sweaty and unsteady. The aurors continued down the hall, their wands drawn and prodding Draco as they went. “What the hell did you two do in there?” Harry snapped at the aurors as they reached an elevator.

The aurors exchanged a look as Draco groaned. “Harry, just keep your mouth shut, would you?”

Harry’s eyes widened and his fists clenched angrily, the aurors promptly ignored his question and stepped into the elevator, Harry following with Jackson and their trunks not far behind. “Keep my mouth shut? Keep my mouth shut?! You’ve got to be kidding me! Whatever they did to you can’t be legal, Draco! That fucking hurt and I’m not even the one who experienced it firsthand!”  

One of the guards stepped towards Harry. “You felt it? Reid, how is that possible?”

“We’re bound that’s how! What you do to him gets done to me and whatever you just did to him isn’t fucking okay! That’s it, as soon as this elevator stops I want to see Kingsley Shacklebolt!” Harry demanded angrily.

Reid and Longfield both glowered at Harry as Draco sighed. “Potter, right about now would be a fantastic time to exercise shutting your mouth,” Draco hissed.

“Potter?” Reid turned to Longfield, slightly stunned. “Blimey, are you Harry Potter? We didn’t recognize ya! Jackson, it’s the Harry Potter!”

Longfield leaned forward in the elevator which came to a sudden, abrupt stop causing them all to lurch slightly. “So it is. But what’s Harry Potter doing with a rat like Malfoy?”

Draco could feel Harry’s anger flaring once again, he wished his hands weren’t tied because he knew a simple touch of his hand to his skin could soothe him. Instead he closed his eyes and took a deep, steadying breath and tried his hardest to be relaxed, hoping it could somewhat influence Harry’s temper. The five of them stepped out of the elevator and onto the magical law enforcement floor. “That’s it, nobody’s going any further until I see Kingsley.”

“Sorry, but even for Harry Potter the Minister isn’t going to come down here to deal with Malfoy himself,” Longfield drawled.

“And we’ve got a protocol to follow, a contract that cannot be broken. Now in here you go,” Reid gestured to a room he had led them to, small and windowless just like 23CB.

Draco paused at the threshold. “He has to come as well,” he stated to the aurors.

“Does he now? And why’s that, Malfoy?”

“We have a bond. Check with Healer Greene at St Mungo’s if you so wish it but any length of time longer than we were already apart for could harm both myself and him,” he lied. Harry and Draco both knew fully well that they could handle being in two separate rooms for a long period of time, but the aurors didn’t.

“Alright, fine, but Mr. Potter we must insist you do not interfere with the procedure. The interrogator is already in here, waiting,” Reid said, ushering both the boys in.

Within the room was a long, wooden table. On top of it was a piece of parchment, a single quill and ink bottle, and a small vial of clear liquid. An older, calm looking gentleman sat at the table across from the entrance to the room. There was one seat, presumably for Draco who took it, and Harry stood off to the side of him, the aurors on either side of the room, wands at the ready and looking at the interrogator.

“Mr. Malfoy, take the veritaserum before we can proceed,” the interrogator said.

Draco moved awkwardly with both his hands still bound and retrieved the vial on the table, he uncorked it but before he could bring it to his lips Harry stepped forward and snatched the vial. Everybody in the room looked curiously at Harry. “More veritaserum? More? He gets it once a bloody week as it is when an auror comes to question him at school, too! Anymore and the stuff will start to poison him!” he protested.

“Now, Mr. Potter I assure you that we are not giving him any lethal doses-“

“No, you’re not, but you’re giving him a small dosage continuously over a long period of time and eventually it will add up! What then, hrm? It isn’t bloody right! None of this is! Draco,” Harry turned to him, ignoring the others in the room, “Tell me about this contract, please. There has to be something I can do to change it. This isn’t right.”

“Mr. Potter,” the interrogator was standing now, “The contract has been written and agreed to on both behalves and none of it concerns yourself. Please, the veritaserum,” he held out his hand.

Harry growled and took a step toward the table, leaning over it as he spoke venomously, “Everything that concerns Draco concerns me.”

“Auror Reid, please escort Mr. Potter out so we can-“

As Reid approached Harry to do just that, Harry grabbed his wand and whirled around and he wordlessly threw the auror against the wall so hard he slumped over and onto the floor unconscious. The interrogator and Jackson had their wands on Harry now, both sent stunning hexes his way but he quickly threw up a protego. “Harry!” Draco hissed, standing up from his chair. “Are you fucking insane? Harry Potter or not you just attacked an auror! Just let us get this over with, they only need to ask me a few routine questions and-“

“No! Draco, no, this isn’t right! Can you honestly look me in the eye and tell me that the amount of veritaserum you’re receiving on a daily basis is safe? No? Didn’t think so. And can you truthfully say that you agreed to this stupid contract, to be treated like an average criminal?” Harry asked, ignoring the commotion around him as the interrogator sent the auror out to retrieve the Minister.

Draco stood up carefully from his chair and took a step towards Harry, he looked at him levelly. “Yes, I did agree to the contract. Yes, I knew every piece of information it entailed and what it would mean for both my mother and myself. We both willingly agreed and signed the contract.”

Harry blinked a few times. He tried to feel the lie through the bond but he just couldn’t, what Draco said felt and sounded truthful. “But…why? You don’t deserve this.”

A cold laugh escaped Draco. “Harry, when will you see that I do? I have admitted my faults to myself, to the Wizemgamot. When will you accept them?”

“When they’re true,” Harry said but his voice was weaker than before. He didn’t see Draco as guilty, as somebody who should be treated as a criminal, but that didn’t stop everybody else including Draco himself from seeing it.

With his two bound hands Draco reached forward and grabbed onto the hand holding the vial, squeezing it gently as the electricity shot familiarly between them. “Harry, I don’t need you to save me from this. This was something I did to myself. Please, just let me do it with dignity.”

Harry frowned, reluctantly he released the vial into Draco’s hands who gave him a soft, warm smile before returning to the table again. The interrogator, surprised as he was, cleared his throat and resumed his seat. As Draco lifted the veritaserum to his lips, Harry cringed as he downed it, shuddering as he did.

The interrogation itself was painless and a lot quicker than Harry thought it would be. At first it was simply stating his name, his age, where he was going and why as well as who he was travelling with and what objects he was bringing along with him. Then there were questions of affiliations with his father or if any correspondence has occurred between him and any known past or current Death Eaters. Before the end of the questioning, Harry’s attention was grabbed by Jackson re-entering the room with a familiar face.

“Mr. Potter,” Kingsley Shacklebolt smiled warmly, extending his hand to Harry.

“Hello, Minister.”

Kingsley grinned, “Kingsley will do just fine for you, Harry. Come along, I hear you wish to have a word with me.”

Harry looked at the back of Draco’s head as it inclined ever so slightly, indicating he would be alright by himself. Following Kingsley out into the corridor where Jackson was waiting patiently with their belongings, the Minister grabbed Harry into an informal embrace. “It’s so nice to see you, boy. It’s been too long! Very unfortunate about the circumstances, however.”

“Yeah, it’s great to see you too, sir. About the circumstances…” Harry trailed off. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to ask Kingsley, what he could even do when the said elusive contract was already legally bound and agreed to on Draco’s behalf.

“Yes, Longfield here mentioned you wanted to see the contract. Usually we do not release such sensitive information but due to your current, unfortunate relationship to the subject of the contract, you have a legal right to see it,” Kingsley explained and withdrew his wand, quickly conjuring up the said contract.

Harry grabbed at it hastily, his eyes skimming over the fine printed words. Kingsley patiently waited as he read, his face contorting as he got further down the document. When he finished he had to take a moment to collect himself as he handed the contract back over to Kingsley, his hands shaking. “Draco agreed to all of that?”

“Narcissa Malfoy as well, yes.”

“But why? Why was there any reason for any of it in the first place? He was fully pardoned, as was she. I was there, I saw it get ruled,” Harry stated confusedly. The existence of this contract in the first place made no sense to him.

“Yes, well, it seems you are one of the very few who see the Malfoys as innocents. Others would have very much like to have seen them pay for their crimes-“

“You mean Lucius’ crimes.”

Kingsley sighed and shook his head. “Draco and his mother are equally responsible for their own actions, or lack thereof in certain cases, and both take responsibility for them. There was a separate, private trial after the public one in which you and others attended. It was to determine whether or not Draco Malfoy could return for his eighth year at Hogwarts. Given the circumstances and the history, Narcissa was the one to propose the contract and her son was not far behind her in agreeing. Although at first Draco appeared very hesitant about the probation he and his mother would have to undergo, he fully agreed to it as well as the contract.”

“And part of the contract is preventing them from using the Floo Network outside of the ministry? How do you expect them to get anywhere?” Harry asked.

“The contract itself is only lasting for three years, the probation is much longer. You have to understand that even though pardoned, they are still Malfoys and they still broke the law. There are regulations that must be followed and unfortunately even somebody standing beside you cannot circumvent them,” Kingsley calmly explained.

Harry huffed. “But what about the veritaserum? It isn’t safe for Draco to be receiving it on such a regular basis.”

Kingsley nodded. “That much I do agree with. Veritaserum is a very unstable substance. Would it satisfy you if from now on it was only used on a monthly basis? I am quite certain the Wizengamot could be coerced into agreeing to that.”

“I guess,” Harry sighed dejectedly. “Sorry to bother you, Kingsley. I just – I can’t stand the way I saw them treat him,” he admitted, biting down the blush that threatened to rise to his cheeks.

Kingsley smiled softly at Harry, clapping his hand on his shoulder. “Be careful, Harry. You always do see the best in people so sometimes you forget to see their worsts.”

“And about the auror…” Harry trailed off, his cheeks flaming now. He hadn’t meant to throw him so hard.

Kingsley shook his head. “For today it can be forgiven. In the future, Harry, you will need to control your temper.”

The door to the room opened and Draco emerged looking drained. He stood up straight at the sight of Kingsley and nodded his head. “Minister,” he said shortly.

“Ah, Mr. Malfoy,” Kingsley forced a smile as he pointed his wand at Draco’s hands, causing the rope to vanish immediately. Draco looked at him confusedly. “There’s no need for those amongst friends. Anyway, I must be off. Happy holidays, Mr. Malfoy. Harry,” he said more quietly, squeezing his shoulder he still had a grip on, “Think on what I said.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you,” Harry watched as the Minister turned to leave.

Harry remained silent during the rest of their journey through the ministry which thankfully went smoothly as they were escorted throughout the corridors until they reached the Floo Network. Jackson disappeared into the flames of a visitors fireplace first, their luggage miniaturized and sent along with him. Draco was about to step into the flames until Harry reached out and grabbed him back. “What about the bond?” he asked concernedly.

Draco frowned. “I guess I hadn’t thought about that. Perhaps if it is just for a moment it should not be too dissatisfied, just waste no time following.”

Harry nodded and swallowed as he let go of Draco. He himself grabbed a handful of Floo powder and stood ready right before the flames. Draco disappeared after calling out his manor and the pain of the departure immediately hit Harry like a brick wall. The ringing had never been so loud in his head before. He hissed and stepped into the flames, through clenched teeth he called out the Malfoy Manor and threw the powder down. A few, gut wrenching moments later he fell out onto the other side where he had reappeared.

Draco was there waiting for him, his face screwed up in pain. Without hesitation he pulled Harry up off the floor of the study and into his arms, holding him tightly as the pain quickly soothed itself. “That was bloody horrendous. Even if it only lasted a second, I’ll never be doing that when I don’t have to,” Harry commented dryly as he eased into the embrace, his arms unsteadily finding themselves wrapped around Draco, too. He could question why all he wanted but all the questions and answers couldn’t rival how relieving it felt to hold Draco.

After a few moments Draco took a step away from Harry, a smile so bright on his lips Harry thought it was impossible that this was Draco Malfoy standing before him. Grinning he took Harry’s hand and pulled him along.

“Harry, welcome to Malfoy Manor.”

Chapter Text

July 6th, 1997

“And does the accused plead guilty to all of the charges?”

“Yes, sir.”

The whisper of voices rippled through the overflowing court room. From their seats, the Weasleys watched with rapt attention as well as Harry, his throat dry and palms sweating, twisting nervously together. The Death Eater trials had been going on for weeks, the most urgent ones were quick and painless, as the crimes they had committed simply couldn’t be contested. Azkaban was nearing its fully capacity and without the dementors, the aurors were becoming overwhelmed.

This particular trial was one of the most publicised and attended of the trials even though the subject of it was a very low ranking Death Eater. But everybody was curious about the fate of the young, newly appointed Master of the Malfoy estate. With Lucius Malfoy being sentenced to life in Azkaban only two weeks prior, the public was divided on the fate that should befall his son and his wife. They were going to have a joint trial at first, something rare for the Wizengamot to do, but seeing as many of their crimes were interchangeable it made the most sense. Instead, Draco’s hearing was first with Narcissa’s immediately following as she waited patiently and stoically in the stands with an auror guard at her side.

Draco’s blatant admittance to his crimes – though most petty in comparison to the slew of horrendous things the other Death Eaters were being accused of – shocked most of the Wizengamot and the public as they assumed he, like his father, would attempt to plead innocent. “Before the sentence is passed, Mr. Malfoy, would you like to give a few words as to the reasons for your crimes?”

Harry watched unblinking as Draco rose in his stand, the aurors watching his every move carefully despiteDraco not having a wand on his person. Compared to what Harry could remember of him, Draco looked worn and weary; his eyes were sunken in and his dress wasn’t even as impeccable as he was used to.

“Did yah ever guess in a million years that snivelling little snake would just admit to all of that?” Ron whispered to Harry.

“Mm.” Was all Harry could say as he watched Draco shift his weight from foot to foot. He was thinking, carefully, constructing a response for the Wizengamot and the press, ready and waiting with their quills. ‘What’s Malfoy up to? He admitted he did everything he’s accused of, he’s damn sure bound for Azkaban now. What could he say that could change it?’

“Good afternoon to the ladies of the Wizengamot, the press and,” Draco paused, his eyes flicking across the crowd, landing resolutely on Harry, “friends,” he said carefully, the word strained.

“Friends? Where’s the bugger get off calling anybody here that?” Ron snarled.

Hermione squeezed her boyfriend’s hand. “Ronald, hush,” she warned.

“As I have already stated, I admit and take responsibility for all the crimes brought to your attention here today. I knowingly broke many decrees and laws written by our people. What it is I hope for going forward is the understanding I do not deserve given the circumstances in which these laws were broken. As you know, with all Death Eater trials, I have taken the proper dosage of veritaserum and cannot tell a lie in my testimony so I hope you all – some more than others –“ Draco paused again, his eyes once again settling on Harry, causing him to shift uncomfortably in his seat as those around him turned to look. “Can truly understand and perhaps to have mercy on me, knowing why it is I followed through with certain actions.”

The reporters were scratching madly away as well as the transcriber, as the Wizengamot and public listened carefully. “My father, recently committed, has been a Death Eater since many years before I was even born. Growing up I was not to even think about any house other than that of my predecessors nor a career other than my father’s.  When the war had begun again, I was fourteen years old. I was impressionable and left with very few options. However, I felt due to my age perhaps I could continue going to school, complete my education and have a career before I was asked to choose the path I wanted to take. Little did I know that I would never be given the choices I expected; there were no options presented to me other than follow in my father’s footsteps or sacrifice my living family if I chose not to.

“At the point I was asked to take the Mark, during the summer before my Sixth Year at Hogwarts, I was given an ultimatum when the Dark L-when Voldemort,” he corrected himself as a shiver ran through the audience at his name. “When Voldemort approached me. The ultimatum was to help him in his cause, which at the time I thought was petty and benign, or to sacrifice myself along with my parents. When faced directly with the tip of Voldemort’s wand, very few would deny him and fight against him and those who do I must admit have a greater deal more courage than I ever did.” For the third time Draco’s eyes found Harry who watched intently, awkwardly looking away from his intense gaze.

The Weasleys, all of whom were in attendance, shifted uncomfortably as they noticed who Draco kept looking at. “What do you think Malfoy’s playing at here, hm? He’s guilty as they come!”

“Well,” Harry sighed, “He’s got a point. I mean, he wasn’t given that many options and from what I saw in Sixth Year he didn’t really want to be on the path he was on.”

Ron and Hermione both turned to Harry, a great deal of surprise showing across their features. “Harry, you’re not certainly suggesting that he’s innocent, are you?” Hermione asked.

Harry quickly shook his head. “No, not in the slightest! Only that, well, he seemed incredibly reluctant to be doing what it was he was doing. Like that night in the bathroom, or on the Astronomy Tower…or even when we were being held at the Malfoy Manor. He’s never quite actively pursued or intentionally hurt anybody. All he’s ever done is what he was being told, at the end of Voldemort’s wand nonetheless, and being the gigantic prat he is. The latter certainly isn’t a punishable crime.”

Hermione opened her mouth to respond but quickly shut it as Draco’s voice came back into their focus. “I will state once more that I do accept responsibility for my actions but I hope that at least a few of you will be able to see from my perspective the choices I had to make and why I made them. I hope that over time, especially for some of you, you will begin to forgive me. Thank you.” Draco nodded his head and returned to his seat, crossing his legs and exhaling a long breath.

The Wizengamot was silent for a moment before the head spoke again. “Before our recess to determine of the outcome of the trial, is there anybody present that would like to speak on behalf of Mr. Malfoy and his crimes?”

All that could be heard through-out the court was the shuffle of paper or movement of quills. “Then I will be-“

“I would,” Harry called quietly from his spot near the back of the room as he stood from his chair. Gasps rang through-out the crowd as all eyes turned to him. The Weasleys of all people appeared appalled as Harry’s closest friends stared at him with utter confusion. ‘Merlin Potter, what are you doing?’ he inwardly cursed himself. ‘Doing what you always do. Malfoy doesn’t deserve life in Azkaban.’

“Excuse me?” the chairman of the Wizengamot asked disbelievingly.

Harry cleared his throat and spoke louder. “I would like to speak on behalf of Draco Malfoy,” he clarified.

Ron grabbed the cuff of his sleeve and yanked so hard he nearly fell back over into his seat. “Harry! What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?!” he hissed. “That bastard doesn’t deserve any of our help!”

Harry frowned at his friend, snatching his arm back from him. “What would you have done, Ron, if Voldemort threatened your family and life. What choice would you have made? You or them?”

“We would’ve figured out another option!” Hermione exclaimed.

“He didn’t have the luxury of time, ‘Mione. I’m sorry, but as much as I hate the guy this isn’t right.”

The chairman of the Wizengamot spoke up again through his mild sonorus charm. “If you would please come to the witness stand to make your statement, sir.”

Harry nodded and navigated himself through the crowd, well aware that all eyes were on him. With each step he tried to forget the disapproving glares from the Weasleys, the only family he had left which he was now risking over what – a class mate he never even liked in the first place? ‘Still, it’s the right thing to do. Mum would have done it for Sev if he needed it, she would have done it for anybody,’ Harry encouraged himself.

He was sworn into the stand, stating his name as he did and looking everywhere but at Draco’s disbelieving stare. Once he was on the stand the chairman asked him to make his statement. “Er, should I take veritaserum to ensure that all my statements are truthful?” Harry asked awkwardly.

The chairman quickly waved his hand. “Harry Potter, of all people it is quite unnecessary for you to take the truth serum even when speaking for one such as Draco Malfoy. So long as you swear to it that your testimony is truthful.”

Harry nodded and swallowed, looking through the large crowd nervously. Everybody appeared so judgemental, curious, disgruntled or appalled. He felt increasingly anxious until his eyes rested on the tall, lean figure of the perfectly poised Narcissa Malfoy. She sat attempting to show no emotion but her eyes gleamed of appreciation and respect directly at Harry. He smiled softly at her – a thing he never thought he would do.

“Draco Malfoy was the first student at Hogwarts I ever met. It was in Diagon Alley and immediately I could tell he was abrasive and arrogant, not the type of friend I would attempt to make. Ever since our initial introduction we have never got along. And even still after seven, nearly eight, years of a stupid little rivalry which I don’t even know why exists at this point, we don’t get along. I don’t think Malfo-Draco,” he stressed, reminding himself there were multiple Malfoys on trial that day, “and I will ever see eye-to-eye. After all the hatred that has passed between us, which I can admit there has been quite a lot, I still can’t stand here and agree that he deserves to be thrown in Azkaban for a crime I see as an unavoidable one.”

Harry took a steadying breath, closing his eyes and focusing once again on Narcissa, the only face in the crowd that kept him speaking. “In sixth year I above all others was convinced that Draco Malfoy was a Death Eater and was a part of an untoward scheme. I have several friends that can contest to my behavior.” Harry went on to describe sixth year and all the various times and activities he can recall watching Draco closely, every few minutes he could see from the corner of his eye the subject of the conversation shift uncomfortably in his seat.

When he got to more recent occurrences Harry reiterated the role Draco played in their capture and holding at the Malfoy Manor. How he did not confess that it really was Harry Potter even though he was certain. Then came the tale of the night of the final battle and how he was certain Draco had insisted on leaving Harry alive not for the Dark Lord but because he truly didn’t want to kill him no matter how much he hated him. “In the few instances I have been around Draco regarding the death of somebody he seems relatively uncomfortable, just like any other person. He never revelled in it, he never sought to do the things he did. From what I have observed he has only ever done the bare minimum of what was required to keep himself and his family alive and away from immediate harm. In the circumstances presented to him, how would any of you have reacted? I certainly do not know the choice I would have made but I do know in these instances there were no clear right or wrong decisions. It was always one life for another and just because Draco chose his family’s life over others he shouldn’t be punished because I can guarantee every soul in this courtroom would have chosen their families, too.”

Harry took a moment a deep breath, looking back around the room and this time resting on the Weasleys. “I can’t apologize for the reactions that have occurred due to his actions but I can firmly say that I believe Draco did what he saw needed to be done in order to keep those close to him alive. I often wonder what would have become of myself and my parents if they chose the same path he did, and some days I wish they had.” Harry’s words caused another hushed uproar amongst everybody, but his words held true. Countless times Harry wondered if they would still be alive and what would have happened to the three of them if they had given into Voldemort’s will as the Malfoys had done. The difference between their families, Harry thought, was that one of them was still alive.

“Is that all, Mr. Potter?” the chairman asked after an extended pause. Harry nodded nervously and stepped down from the stand, he promptly ignored the calls Draco made as he hurried back through the crowd to his seat.

The court adjourned for their thirty minute recess, the time of crucial decision, and immediately as Harry had expected, the whole throng of the Weasleys turned on him. “What the fuck was that, Harry?”

“After everything he’s caused us?”

“Where do you get off talking for that scum?!”

“That bastard deserves to rot in Azkaban alongside his father!”

The calls and anger kept coming from them as Hermione and Molly stayed relatively quiet. Even Arthur Weasley and Ginny, still Harry’s girlfriend at the time, were throwing their two cents worth of disappointment and betrayal in. “Listen, I know. I would never mean to hurt any of you or cause any of you pain, you know that, right? You’re my family,” Harry said quietly. “But I was sitting here thinking about what my mother would have done, what was the right thing to do, and that was it. I was only being honest, I didn’t fabricate anything. The council now has all the proper facts to make an informed decision and he may still even go to Azkaban for all we know.”

“But he won’t,” Hermione said after a moment. “After everything you’ve done for all of us, Harry, even the Wizengamot sees you as a leader. Your voice means more than everybody else’s in this court room put together.”

Harry flushed, “Don’t say that, ‘Mione.”

“It’s true, mate. Now that they’ve heard that Harry Potter stands behind Malfoy, there’s no way that they’ll convict him!” Ron exclaimed and then sighed. “I just don’t get why you did it, that’s all.”

“I did it because like I said the jury deserves to hear every part of the story. And there were only two other witnesses to all the events I saw that could have spoken up and are you saying that if I wouldn’t either of you two would have?” Harry turned on his friends who both opened and closed their mouths several times before shaking their heads in admittance.

“Harry is right. Whatever the Wizengamot decides now will be a rightful decision based on the full facts,” Arthur said, sounding as if he was convincing himself as he spoke.

“That doesn’t mean we have to forgive him,” Bill called from his seat down at the furthest end of their aisle, the rest of the family hummed an agreement.

Though the tension was thick the Weasleys all settled back into their seats, Hermione and Ron casting Harry contemplative glances, until Molly suddenly stood and walked out from their aisle and out through the backdoor of the courtroom. Harry looked amongst all the frowns in his direction before he quickly followed. He met her out in the corridor of the ministry, she stood with swollen eyes as she paced and wrung her shaking hands around one another. “Mrs. Weasley…” Harry trailed off. “Mum,” he corrected himself softly.

Molly’s head snapped up at him, her eyes immediately welling with tears as a sad smile forced itself onto her lips. “Harry, dear,” she whispered. “Why? No,” she waved her hand quickly. “Not what you told everybody else back there. Truly, why?” she urged, her voice trembling.

Harry stepped towards Molly and took her shaking hands in his own steady ones, holding them tightly. “If I were in his situation, I fear I would’ve done the same.”

“Nonesense, child, that’s not who you are,” Molly shook her head quickly.

“If it meant the lives of my mother and father…if it meant saving yours and Arthur’s lives, I would have done whatever I needed to do,” Harry said firmly. The tears now fell silently from Molly’s eyes and Harry was quick to reach up with one hand and wipe them away. Molly had understandably been an emotional wreck since May and Harry hated causing her even more grief.

“Oh, Harry.” Molly pulled him into a tight embrace, squeezing him for a moment before backing away. “I just feel like I will never find it in me to see things from his perspective. His family and he have caused too much damage. They’ve broken things that can never be fixed.”

“I know. And I’m not saying you should forgive them. Ever,” Harry recapitulated. “I just think what I did was fair. You know me, Mum, I hate Malfoy as much as you all and maybe even more but the one-sided trial just wasn’t fair. Just please don’t hate me for it.”

Molly nodded slowly, sucking in a staggered breath and wiping her tears with the small handkerchief retrieved from her pocket. “Hate you? Dear, you’re my son. No matter what you do I could never hate you.”

Harry felt himself even being threatened to tears as he pulled Molly into another embrace. A third presence joined them in the hallway, Hermione cleared her throat. “Harry, Mrs. Weasley, the verdict has already been resolved and they’re about to announce it.”

The three made their way quickly back to their seats, the Weasleys and many others still giving Harry uncomfortable and questionable glances. Once all seated and quiet, Draco was called to stand and patiently wait his verdict. To those who did not know him well enough, he seemed perfectly calm and poised, but to Harry he knew that the Slytherin was screaming inside his own head, sweating profusely.

“In the case of one Draco Lucius Malfoy, the Wizengamot finds the accused guilty of all charges,” the chairman announced. There were gasps, applauds, agreements ringing around the room as Harry was certain he heard Narcissa give out a strangled cry. “HOWEVER,” the chairman yelled over the sudden noise, silencing everybody. “Guilty as he is, the accused will be pardoned of all charges on condition of accepting parole.”

Harry had never seen a court room react so abruptly and violently before. The Weasleys were amongst the many who protested, yelling how unfair it was. Harry himself stood and watched Draco, paler than ever and stunned, make his way from the stand and to his mother, hugging her tightly as she shed unashamed and unhidden tears. Harry had never seen the Malfoys act so…human before. He found a small smile twitching in the corner of his mouth; there must have been only three satisfied persons with the verdict in that room that day, other than the jury, and he was definitely one of them.

 After all the commotion was settled they sat through the last trial of the day, Narcissa. She was pardoned with her own testimony as proving enough worth, Harry assumed it was because she didn’t bear any marks or affiliation directly with Death Eaters and the only mark she bore was the faded Unbreakable Vow she had made with Severus Snape nearly two years prior.

Following the Weasleys and Hermione out into the crowded corridor, Harry didn’t get far before he was quickly stopped. He was faced with Draco who stood, calculating every emotion passing through Harry’s readable face. “Thank you, Potter. I don’t think I can thank you enough,” Draco stated, forcing the words.

Harry shrugged, shoving his hands in his pocket. “I was merely returning the favour you gave me back at the Manor last year…or in the room of requirement in May. I didn’t do that for you,” he clarified.

Draco raised an eyebrow, a smirk came along with it. “Potter, I think you seem to forget that it is I who owes you a life debt and not the other way around.”

Harry was about to retort but a hand was placed on Draco’s shoulder, squeezing it. Narcissa appeared behind him, slightly shorter than her own son. She smiled kindly at Harry, with such softness he thought it was impossible for a Malfoy to adorn. “Mr. Potter, your honesty today will never be forgotten in our family. My son is lucky to have known you, even when on unfriendly terms.”

Narcissa reached out her hand which Harry stared at for a moment, well aware that Ginny, Hermione and Ron were lingering behind their family and watching the scene carefully. He took the hand, shaking it briefly. “If there’s anything, any monetary way we can-“

“No,” Harry cut her off quickly, dropping her hand. “No,” he echoed, “I did what I did because it was right, not for any other reasons. Now if you’d excuse me Mrs. Malfoy…Malfoy,” he nodded curtly to them both and turned on his heel, stalking over towards his friends as two pairs of grey eyes followed him closely.

December 22nd, 1998 – Present

Looking around, Harry took in the sights of the study around him. It was just as elaborate as he expected it to be – filled with books, stacked high on their cabinets. Afternoon light poured into the room through the large windows, illuminating the large, overbearing bookshelves filled to an even greater capacity than the Hogwarts library.

“This is the main study. It’s my favourite room,” Draco announced. “It used to be much bigger when I was a child but father had it renovated to turn his own personal study, which is next door, into a larger area.”

Harry scoffed. “It was even bigger before? This is gigantic! And a lot…brighter than I expected it to be,” he said truthfully. In the centre of the room sat a small coffee table with a few chairs and a loveseat surrounding it as well as an untouched game of chess.

“Coming, Harry?” Draco called to him as he was standing at the threshold of the doorway, beckoning Harry into the corridor.

The tour of Malfoy Manor was overwhelming to say the least. Thankfully, Draco avoided the areas which Harry had already seen from past, negative experiences. The décor, marble, and even the living portraits were all much more pleasant than Harry had ever expected them to be. “This is Daisy,” Draco said nearing the end of their tour in the kitchens. “She is one of our few remaining House Elves, and our best.”

Daisy bowed low to Harry in her tea cosy. “Pleased to meet you, Daisy.”

The House Elf looked at Harry, utterly shocked. “S-sirs happy to meet me? No, Daisy is happy to meet you, sir Harry Potter. Daisy hears many great things of you. Daisy very happy to serve Mr Harry Potter,” she grovelled.

Draco rolled his eyes. “Everybody just loves kissing your arse, Potter,” he teased.

Harry shrugged. “It doesn’t hurt to be nice, Draco. And it’s not like you go around kissing my…” Harry blushed and shut himself up as Draco raised an eyebrow, hoping to hear the end of the sentence. Instead he cleared his throat. “So, where’s your mother, shouldn’t we go say hullo or something?”

“I never thought I would hear the day. Harry Potter eager to see my mother? Salazar and Godric must be rolling in their graves,” he grinned as he missed the quick, playful swipe Harry made at him.

Draco led the way through the pantry and up the stairs of the manor onto the expansive second floor. After the emotional, tense visit to the ministry this is what Harry needed – to have Draco tease him, poke fun at him, make him forget that he had ever been angry in the first place. Hermione and Ron would’ve dwelled on what had happened but not Draco, and it was something about him Harry was beginning to appreciate more as time went on.

They came to double wooden door, the first on the left in the upstairs corridor, and Draco knocked softly. “Mum, are you in there?” he called.

Harry could hear a small scuffle from inside before Narcissa’s unmistakeable voice spoke. “Come in, darling.”

They entered a small study lined with only a few, nearly bare cabinets, a writing desk and a small seating area. Narcissa was currently sitting at the writing desk but she rose upon seeing Draco and made her way to him slowly and then swept him into her arms just like any mother would to her son. Harry looked away from the intimate embrace, he felt as if he was imposing on a moment. “Mr. Potter, I do believe I haven’t seen you since our trial. What a pleasure it is to have you here,” she smiled earnestly and reached out her hand.

Harry didn’t hesitate to shake it as he smiled. “Pleasure to be here, ma’am. And it’s Harry, please,” he insisted.

“Always so charming, aren’t you, Harry?” she smirked at the immediate blush to Harry’s cheeks and turned to Draco who was also smirking. “Now come, sit,” Narcissa gestured to the chairs. “Daisy?” she called, the House Elf appeared momentarily with a small pop! “Daisy, would you mind please retrieving some tea and biscuits for our guests?”  

“Yes, Mistress, Daisy would be happy to,” the Elf bowed and disappeared again.

Draco took a seat and Harry quickly followed suit beside him, Narcissa sat opposite as she crossed her legs and looked between both boys, a thin smile always on her lips. Harry had never taken Narcissa Malfoy for the good natured kind but then again he had only ever met her under poor circumstances. “Uh, I just want to say thank you, Mrs. Malfoy-“

“Narcissa,” she corrected as Daisy reappeared with their tea and biscuits, setting them on the table between them and popping off once more.

“Er, thank you, Narcissa for having me.”

“Let’s forget the pleasantries, Harry, we all know you are here for mine and my son’s benefit. It is we who should be thanking you,” she said.

“Oh, I would thank him if he’d let me, mother. He’s a hard one to appreciate, he never actually lets you,” Draco drawled, his smirk only widening as Harry shot him a small glare.

Narcissa raised her tea cup to cover her growing smile. “How was your journey here? Did everything go smoothly at the ministry?”

Draco looked at Harry who immediately brought his attention down to the biscuits, grabbing one off the platter and examining it closely as if it were suddenly the most intriguing biscuit he had ever seen. “It was…fine,” Draco said after a moment.

Narcissa leaned forward and put her tea cup down. “Fine? Hmm, that’s not exactly what Jackson said after he dropped your things off and headed back to return the car.”

“Bloody Jackson,” Draco swore.

“Language, Draco,” she warned.

“Sorry, mother,” he muttered. “It would have gone fine if they hadn’t sent two of the most imbecilic aurors to escort me. They were so incredibly rude, mother, I couldn’t just stand there and let them say what they were saying.”

Sighing, Narcissa folded her hands in her laps. “Yes you could have, Draco. What have I taught you?”

Draco groaned. “But mother, I didn’t let anything they said about me get to me! That’s not why I became upset. It’s what they said about you.”

“Still, Draco, you know better than that do you not?” she asked levelly.

“Yes, mother,” he moaned, taking up a cup of tea and settling into his chair.

“I do wish to apologize to you, Harry, for having to go through the ordeal at the ministry. It is cumbersome for us to travel these days, you see,” Narcissa said conversationally.

Harry shook his head, finally biting off a piece of his biscuit. “No apologies necessary. I’ve, er, had to sit in on Draco’s weekly probation meetings so I guess you could say I’m sort of accustomed to it now.” Harry ignored Draco’s scoff, instead concentrating on Narcissa.

“Yes, given your circumstances I assumed that was the case. Now that we are on the subject, is there any further development or news regarding the bond since you last wrote to me, Draco?” Narcissa asked, almost causing both boys to suppress their groans. Talking directly to her about their bond was the last thing either of them wanted to do.

“None, mother.”

“Healer Greene seemed pretty confident that it shouldn’t be much longer now. Perhaps a few more weeks, two months at most,” Harry added.

Narcissa nodded slowly. “Perhaps there are resources here you can utilize to your advantage. Ministry officials don’t quite like the offered help of a Malfoy these days but I am certain the two of you could make use of some of the books in the study.”

“Thank you, Mrs…Narcissa, that would be nice,” Harry beamed.

Thankfully for the three of them the afternoon and dinner went by swimmingly with only a handful of moments where evasive conversational manoeuvres were necessary. Harry had learned in that time that Narcissa was a kind yet stern parent and an overwhelmingly prestigious host. They had spent their entire day with her and Harry found most of it surprisingly easy. At last the two of them stood outside of Draco’s room, double doors just like the rest of the manor.

Upon entering Harry was pleasantly surprised; it wasn’t what he had presumed Draco’s room to look like in the slightest. The walls were painted an ivory white, trimmed with grey and a few accents pressed into the corners. His bed was a four poster, just like the ones at Hogwarts but much larger and his sheets were of a light, almost sky blue. It was oddly bright in the room, even at night time when there was just the light from the candles on the wall. There was a long vanity in one corner, of a kind which Harry could have sworn only girls possessed, filled with bottles and balms of all kinds. Another corner had a small writing desk, a picture of a large group of scrawny looking first year Slytherins on top. There was a single armchair by the bed, looking out of the window, that looked perfectly positioned for reading. To one side of the room Harry could spot the attached bathroom, ‘Of course,’ he thought to himself, and there were two closed doors on the opposite sides of the room.

“Er, Draco,” Harry said, shifting his weight awkwardly in the doorway as Draco immediately went for one of the closed doors, presumably the closet, and smiled brightly as he opened it and peered in.

“This is my favourite part of the holidays, Harry. Being able to exchange my first term clothing for my second term clothing,” he stated, withdrawing his wand and using it to rifle through what Harry assumed, though he couldn’t see, was an enormous collection of clothing.

“Draco,” he repeated. “There’s only one bed in here.”

Draco paused and stepped out from the closet with a handful of blouses. “Is that a problem?” he drawled, not skipping a beat.

Harry’s heart jumped into his throat. “Uh…er…No, I just…”

“Merlin, Harry, no need to have a heart attack. There’s a guest room attached. We can privately sleep for the first time in weeks,” Draco informed him.

Letting out all the breath Harry was holding in, he finally entered the room closing the door behind him and walking the length of it. “I never thought I would be in Draco Malfoy’s room,” he stated after a moment as Draco still busied himself with his wardrobe.

“You say that like it’s an accomplishment. I can assure you none other than my parents and Blaise have been in here.”

“Blaise? Why would Zabini have been in here?” Harry asked too quickly, realizing how suddenly his mind had jumped to a sexual conclusion and he cursed himself for it as Draco cast him a strange look. “I just meant that it’s odd, s’all. Having tea and dinner with Narcissa Malfoy and even liking her. Not fearing for my life if I sleep in Malfoy Manor tonight. The whole thing is weird,” he particularised.

Draco hummed in agreement before emerging fully from the closet and tossing a large handful of clothing onto his closed trunk. He sat down on his bed and sighed heavily. “I think we need to talk about today, Harry.”

Harry froze for a moment before continuing to walk about the room. The whole thing smelt like Draco, he noted. Though he changed scents of shampoo and balms he still always had the same underlying, musky yet floral scent. It was unnerving and satisfying at the same time to be fully surrounded by the smell of it. “What about today?”

“As flattered as I was at your defence of me, it really cannot happen in the future.”

Harry turned to Draco, confused. “And why not, exactly? I got Kingsley to reconvene with the Wizengamot and hopefully they’ll change your contract and you won’t have to receive veritaserum that often anymore. And I think all of my actions at the ministry were pretty damn justified.”

“Even if they were, which they weren’t, I don’t want to keep living my life getting bylines just because Harry Potter asked somebody to or because Harry Potter is defending me,” Draco explained calmly, feeling the surge of Harry’s defensive anger come through their bond he pushed it away so as to not be influenced by it himself.

“Are you suggesting I just ignore it? Let somebody be treated in a way they don’t deserve? Draco, it hurt seeing the way they treated you and that’s not just because of the bond,” Harry blurted, surprised at his own bluntness.

Draco stood up from the bed and stopped Harry in his slow pacing, putting his hands on either of his shoulders. Harry was immediately soothed at the touch as he looked up at Draco. “As much as that means to me, Harry, I still can’t have you fighting my battles for me. Especially battles I don’t deserve to win.”

“But you do, Draco. How can you say that about yourself?”

“Because it’s the truth. You always see the best in me because it’s what you want to see, you see it in everybody. But the rest of us, we’re not as empathetic and forgiving as you are. Even I see myself as more guilty than you do,” Draco said softly, his right hand moved slowly up from Harry’s shoulder, tracing a line on his neck till it met his jaw and he held his hand there. Harry shivered against the touch and the reaction of the bond, his eyes fluttering shut as he remained unmoving under Draco’s fingers.

“I never said you weren’t guilty. I’m only trying to say that you’re innocent,” Harry whispered, unintentionally licking his lips which Draco found himself immediately drawn to. With Harry’s eyes still closed, his hand still gently cupping his face, Draco nearly lost his ability to restrain himself.

“That’s an oxymoron, Harry, you’re not making any sense,” Draco’s words were barely a breath now as he leaned ever closer still, his eyes still trained on Harry’s mouth, slightly parted and wet. He stopped a few centimeters from his face, hovering there for a moment, waiting to see if Harry would withdraw. Even without physically pressing their lips together, they could feel the bond responding reactively between them.

“I-I,” Harry stammered, his words and breath shaking.

“Yes?” Draco breathed. ‘You what? Want to kiss me? Please, Potter, do it. Hold me? Do it. Anything, Harry, just do it.’

Harry’s eyes snapped open and he took a step back. “I’m really knackered from today, I think I should head to bed.”

Draco’s hand fell from his face and he quickly hid his disappointment. “Of course. Everything you need should be in your rooms.”

Nodding, Harry turned around and headed towards the guest room attached to Draco’s. “Er, in the future I promise to try not to defend you so much. Goodnight, Draco,” he said, hovering in the doorway as he watched Draco return to sorting his clothing.

The blond’s shoulders tensed and he pretended to be too busy to hear him. Sighing, Harry let himself into the guest rooms and closed the door behind himself to spend the first night apart from Draco since they were bonded.  

Chapter Text

Malfoy Manor, Harry had come to realize, was unorthodoxly quiet. He wasn’t exactly known for his musical tastes but at the end of his second day there Harry was dying for some kind of music just to get some noise ringing through out the corridors.

Narcissa spent a great deal of time with Draco, catching up and discussing a lot of family matters or gossiping about certain balls and events Harry had no idea even existed. They toiled away in the study for a long time, reviewing any books that referenced bonds. They found one in particular that was written in Latin that could prove quite useful but decided upon bringing it to Hermione so her and Draco could translate it accurately together.

Not being alone with Draco for the entire day was a godsend to Harry who wanted to avoid any repeat of the night before. He was still going over in his head why exactly he had turned away again, why he was denying what he knew was there again. ‘Because as Draco would say, I’m a martyr and I don’t want to give myself what I want,’ Harry thought gloomily to himself. ‘I know now that whatever it is I feel for Draco isn’t because of the bond. The bond can’t make me want to kiss him. It just makes kissing him better. The bond can’t make me want to watch him while he sleeps,’ Harry groaned inwardly.

The previous evening had been disastrous. Spending a night apart from Draco proved much more difficult than Harry was willing to admit. He tossed and turned, unable to get comfortable as an itching sensation crept up his spine growing stronger till the morning. Harry had felt like he hadn’t slept at all by sunrise. “Interesting, it looks like you’re actually thinking for once, Potty,” Draco nudged Harry from his stupor, almost causing him to fall off his chair.

He was sitting in the main study, staring off into space and thinking as he waited for Narcissa and Draco to be finished with their chess game. Harry sneered in response to Draco’s playful jibe. “Funny you say that, seeing as you’re the one without a brain.”

Draco sat down opposite Harry at the small drawing desk, elegantly raising his eyebrow. ‘How does he always look so poised and perfect? Not a hair out of place nor a line in his skin and each of his expressions he makes with such…delicacy. How is he even human? Maybe he’s not,’ Harry pondered to himself again, lost in looking too closely at the contours of Draco’s face. “If I’ve not got a brain, Potter, there is absolutely no hope for you.”

Harry stuck out his tongue, the gesture causing the corner of Draco’s mouth to twitch. ‘I don’t know when it happened but suddenly everything’s easy with him. Talking, studying, playing chess, whatever it is we’re doing it seems so natural. Who would’ve thought I could make Draco Malfoy smile without lifting a finger?’

“What’s that, the fifth game of chess your mother beat you at?” Harry teased.

Now it was Draco’s turn to huff as he stuck his nose ever so slightly in the air, crossing his arms in his seat. “My mother taught me everything I know about the game. When I’m her age I’ll finally be able to beat that Weasel and her, too. Now a match between my mother and Weasley – that would certainly prove interesting. Interesting enough to bet your galleons on,” Draco wondered, smirking at the idea of the imaginary chess game.

‘He’s even complimenting Ron now, in his own Malfoy way but still…when did he become the person I see him as now? Was it him that changed or me? Am I just seeing him more clearly now?’ Harry was lost again, leaning his face on his hand as his eyes trailed down from Draco’s face to his arms. His sleeves were rolled up to the elbows and although they were crossed he could see the faint outline of the Dark Mark on his pale skin. For the first time since Harry could remember, he could look at it without shivering. This time when he saw it he wanted to memorize it, to map its position and every detail of Draco’s skin so that if he closed his eyes he could paint a perfect picture of it. To Harry it represented what Draco was, what he had overcome, what he was atoning for and what he was becoming instead. It was a necessary reminder of their past.

A sudden shove to his elbow caused his hand to give way as he nearly dropped his head to the table, he scowled over at Draco who was shrugging. “You were ignoring me,” he simply stated. “I was saying that I think we should go flying before dinner. It’s not too cold today and it’s been a while.”

The topic of flying certainly grabbed Harry’s attention. “But I thought it was dangerous with the bond?”

Draco shook his head. “Quidditch most certainly would be but that’s dangerous even without two bound members opposing one another. I just want to fly around the grounds a few times, if either of us is too far from the other we can just call to be closer. We do have enough time before supper, right mum?” he turned his attention to Narcissa who was fiddling away with papers and envelopes at the desk in the study.

“Of course, dear.”

Draco looked back at Harry, silently asking his permission. “Oh alright, but if this ends with a trip to St Mungo’s I’m telling ‘Mione that it was all your idea.”

“Fair enough,” Draco accepted.

Once kitted out  for the outdoors, Draco led the way to the large shed on the north side of the grounds. Harry walked, gazing in amazement at all that was around him. The courtyard, the stone work that lined the pathways, the few statues placed strategically through out the grounds to grant the greatest visual appeal. “I’ve always wanted to live in a place like this,” Harry admitted as he pulled his cloak closer to himself. “Somewhere expansive. Maybe not as fancy as the manor but the grounds…I’ve always wanted to be somewhere with a lot of land, where I couldn’t see another house no matter which way I looked. It feels so secluded here, so private.”

Draco listened carefully, well aware that Harry was sharing something private with him. It was something so small but so intimate – his hopes for the future. “I prefer the city. Maybe because I grew up here and rarely was permitted to leave the grounds. Where was it you grew up?” Draco asked carefully. He didn’t ask with whom or for any information regarding those Dursleys he heard scarce about he had heard scarcely anything about , hoping Harry would be comfortable now sharing just a little bit with him.

Harry stiffened, through the bond he unintentionally sent Draco his discomfort at the mention of it. “Little Whinging,” he said after a moment. “The homes were all crowded together and each of them looked like all the rest .”

“Sounds lovely,” Draco said sarcastically. “You should come here in the summer, it’s serene. Mother loves gardening, it’s the only task she refuses to let any house elf do, she makes the most colourful arrangements,” he added, casting a look back at Harry who was still following him, smiling to himself at the blush that reached his cheeks. ‘Yes, I know what I implied, Harry,’ Draco thought, ‘That you should come here again, with me.’

“T-that would actually be nice. I am sure your mother could do with the company, too,” Harry said after a moment of consideration.

Draco tried to hide his triumphant grin, glad that Harry couldn’t see his face from where he was walking. “Not just mother,” Draco corrected, immediately sensing a surge of discomfiture in Harry. Finally at the shed which housed a wide variety of, surprisingly muggle, gardening tools and a neat row of broomsticks, they both chose the latest models. They both mounted their brooms just outside the shed but didn’t kick off as Harry shifted uneasily on the ground, chewing on his bottom lip. “What is it?” Draco asked.

“It’s just…what Hermione was saying again, I don’t wanna be knocked unconscious and-“

Draco kicked off from the ground and hovered a few feet above Harry now, immediately relaxing as he was in the air. Harry still didn’t follow after. He circled close above him once before smirking down over his broom at him. “Scared, Potter?”

The immediate grin that lit Harry’s face up delighted Draco in a way he hadn’t felt before. “You wish, Malfoy,” Harry said, kicking off the ground and steadying himself beside Draco midair. “It’s a shame there’s no Snitch for me to beat you to. Race to the front doors?” he offered. Without responding, Draco sped off in the direction of the manor. “Bloody cheater!” Harry called after him but his grin remained in place as he hurried behind.

Time didn’t exist when they were flying. All that did was their brooms, the wind, the faint snowfall on their eyelashes and one another. They raced and practiced impossible Wronski Feints, teasing and encouraging each other. ‘He’s so carefree when he flies,’ Draco thought as he stopped to catch his breath, hovering somewhere over the eastern grounds as Harry continued to soar circles and figure eights not far from him in the air. ‘I love flying and Quidditch but Harry…Harry appreciates them on a whole new level.’ Draco admired the passion he saw in Harry, he always had, but now witnessing it from this particular perspective and being able to feel how peaceful and joyful he was, was sublime.

A long, loud whistle startled them both and Draco sighed as Harry flew over to him, panting as he caught his breath. “What the devil was that?” Harry yelled.

“Mum casts a sonorus on her whistle to get us. Must be dinner,” Draco explained, leading the way back to the ground.

Reluctantly Harry followed. They dismounted and placed their brooms away, Draco locking the shed after them. Even though they were quiet on their walk back to the manor, both boys were much more peaceful than they had been for a long while. They always said flying clears the head.

Upon entering the manor, Harry turned towards the kitchen and Draco pulled him along hurriedly. Both of them found themselves suddenly shaking, something that seemed to be caused by the bond. The usual electric heat now pulsated with such strength it was nearly overwhelming. They both were startled for a moment as Draco withdrew his hand from Harry’s wrist. “That was odd,” Draco commented, looking at his hand perplexingly.

“Did it hurt you?” Harry asked concernedly.

“Not at all. It felt…good.”

Harry blushed. “Yeah, it did didn’t it? Why did it change again? D’you think the bond changed?”

Draco put a finger to gesture that he needed a moment. He stepped outside again, closing the manor door and waiting for a moment before returning. “It seems parameters are still the same. Are you having any overwhelming…” ‘Urges to kiss me speechless?’ “…feelings?”

“Not really. Nothing feels different. D’you we should firecall Pomfrey?”

Draco shook his head. “It can wait till she calls in after Christmas, let’s not bother the nice mediwitch on her holiday now shall we?” he gestured to the staircase.

“But, isn’t the dining room in there?”

“Are you honestly trying to attend dinner with my mother smelling like you do with your clothes drenched in sweat?” Draco drawled.

“Ah, I see your point,” Harry conceded and followed him up to their rooms.

Draco had already slipped inside when Harry entered and he was already lifting his jumper over his head, his buttoned shirt along with it, his bare back to Harry. Harry was frozen to the spot, his eyes grazing over his backside from his legs, up his buttocks, the small curved dip in his back, up to his tight shoulders that held his neck which from this angle looked simply edible.

Harry jumped at his own thoughts and hurried into the guest room, taking off his own clothes and tossing them haphazardly in the direction of his trunk where he went to rummage for something new to wear. “Unacceptable, not formal enough, too formal, too green, too red…” Harry mumbled to himself. Ever since arriving at the manor Draco refused to let Harry leave their rooms unless he was properly dressed and it seemed that, by Draco’s standards, there were only three acceptable outfits in Harry’s trunk.

Draco was standing, dressed again in a casual set of robes bearing his family crest, in the doorway to the guest room. Harry was bent over at the waist, pushing his clothes aside into piles on the floor and muttering away to himself. When Harry stood at last, holding up a ghastly yellowed coloured shirt, Draco’s eyes raked across his torso. “Damn,” Draco cursed, unable to look away. ‘Such a shame somebody with such a great body still cannot properly dress himself.’

At hearing Draco’s curse, Harry looked over at him and felt suddenly much more naked than he actually was. The blond was staring unabashedly at his torso, practically salivating and not even concerned about covering it up. A small sensation of foreign arousal crept into Harry from Draco, making him shiver. “Here,” Draco eventually tossed Harry a similar set of robes to his own, his eyes still trained on his abdomen.

Uncomfortably, Harry slipped into them which didn’t help his sense of arousal much. He was suddenly swimming in Draco’s scent, wearing his clothes that were a little bit too long for himself but too tight at the same time. Looking down at himself, Harry noticed the Malfoy signet crest on his own breast now, too, much to his chagrin.

“Come on, mother will be furious we have taken as long as this,” Draco said at long last.


When night fell again they said their quick goodnights, pausing momentarily to regard the feeling of misplacement from sleeping separately. Settling into his bed, Harry sighed. His muscles ached from flying and his head had a dull throb emanating from the back of it. They could be apart now, be in separate rooms, but the more often they did, the louder the buzzing in his ears became. “Bloody Malfoy,” Harry swore, turning again in his bed, kicking his feet out from the bottom of the sheet as he tried to get comfortable. ‘I’ve gotten so used to him that I can’t even stand sleeping without him beside me. Pathetic,’ he chastised himself, grumbling as he turned once again. “Another sleepless night I guess.”

Resolutely, Harry clambered out of his bed, grabbing his wand from the bedside table. He conjured a pair of socks, slipping them on before he walked over to the door leading to Draco’s room. With his hand on the doorknob, turning it, he paused for a moment to press his ear up against it, listening carefully. ‘It’s quiet,’ Harry thought solemnly, ‘He must be sleeping just fine without me, then.’

Letting his hand fall, Harry left out the other door in the room instead and into the corridor. Settling on the floor against Draco’s door, he pulled his knees up to his chest, resting his chin on them. ‘I envy Draco so much. Amidst everything that’s going on he still knows exactly what he wants. Even so , he says he wants me yet now he sleeps easily without me. And I know Draco has changed, I see it and believe it myself, but has he changed so much that he’s capable of eventually loving…’ Harry shook his own thoughts from his head. ‘That’s not what matters. I’m not here to judge what he may or may not feel. What matters are my feelings for Draco, even without the bond, what is he to me? What do I want him to be?’ Before voicing the own questions in his head, Harry already knew the answer.

A small set of footsteps down the corridor startled Harry; he reflexively withdrew his wand jumping to attention. Nariccsa let out a sharp laugh as she came into view through Harry’s hazy vision, his glasses left beside his bed. “There is nothing in this home that is out to harm you, Harry. I only came because I thought it was Draco who was out of bed,” she explained as she pulled her pale blue dressing gown closer around her. Perhaps it was the light of the night or the fact her sleep was disturbed but she appeared much older to Harry then he was used to seeing her.

“Sorry, Narcissa, I didn’t mean to wake you,” he hung his head, pocketing his wand. “If it was Draco, why would it have mattered?”

“Many years ago, before he attended Hogwarts, Draco had a persistent habit of sleep walking. Whenever I hear footsteps down the hall, or a creak of a floorboard, even when Draco is at school I have to check on him,” she explained, gesturing at the floor.

“Sit,” she said, taking her own spot on the floor across from him.

Harry bit back a grin at the thought of a young Draco wandering around in his sleep, it made him seem so normal. As he resumed his spot on the floor leaning against the door, he was surprised Narcissa sat so comfortably with her legs tucked underneath herself before him. Even Draco hated sitting on the floor, he thought it was unsanitary and unbecoming. Narcissa laughed for a second time. “Relax, Harry, I am human too, you know.”

“I know, ma’am, it’s just I thought Draco was a lot like you. He avoids sitting on the floor as long as he can,” Harry explained. He remembered in particular an argument they had about it during exam week, they were early for their Charms examination and Harry opted to sit and wait much to Draco’s chagrin.

Narcissa smiled through the darkness at him. “Draco is very similar to Lucius when I first met him in school. They are a lot alike those two.”

Harry’s stomach plummeted at the thought of Draco being so similar to Lucius. “I don’t they’re alike,” he said defiantly, almost like a stubborn child protesting their bath.

“Ah, but they are. Or were, rather. After school Lucius became a different man and I take partial responsibility for that.”

“You can’t blame yourself for who others choose to be,” Harry empathetically stated, feeling odd at the topic of Lucius which they had avoided for the past two days.

“But it’s only true. If Lucius wasn’t forced by Abraxas to court me, I feel his path in life would have differed greatly,” she admitted.

Harry blinked, “You two were in a courtship bond, too?”

 “Yes, of course, and it was arranged. It was not until after Draco’s birth that we truly began caring for one another. However, I must say that the bond we had in no way resembles that which I see before me and which my son has described to me. The reactions you two have to one another are truly fascinating and unique in a courtship bond. It is my guess that is what is making it so difficult for your Professors to distinguish which particular curse you two were bound with,” Narcissa trailed off in thought for a moment.

Harry felt like he was intruding on something private the way she was sitting and sharing openly with him. “Did you regret bonding with and marrying Lucius?”

“Never a day in my life,” she answered quickly. “Lucius is the man who gave me my world,” she said as her eyes wandered to the closed door at Harry’s back. “My bond with Lucius was dissolved the day of our marriage, once the courting was complete.”

“Oh. Is that how courtships work?” Harry asked, turning his wand over in his hands as he did, a yawn threatening to escape him. It felt like he hadn’t slept in ages, his body was so tired but he knew that even if he climbed back into bed now he wouldn’t be able to rest.

“What do you know about courtships?” Narcissa asked.

Harry shrugged. “What Draco has told me. They use courtship bonds in the pureblood society to signify an engagement or the promise of one. Some are more lenient than others as there are some courtship bonds that you do not have to be around one another for it to be fulfilled, unlike ours. Most courtships follow a set of guidelines, certain practices the couple goes through. He explained each of them to me; the gifts, the acceptance from guardians, the announcements, all of it. He was pretty vague on the physical aspects of a courtship, though.”

Narcissa hummed quietly. “He would be. Each courtship has different physical requirements and even the traditional gifts and procedures do not need to be followed. A courtship either dissolves out of wearing over time or is completed upon consummation of ones vows.”

Gripping his wand a little tighter, Harry’s cheeks turned red. “You mean marriage?”

“Or even just consummation, though many do not choose that route,” Narcissa added, laughing again at Harry’s shifting discomfort. “However, each physical act the bonded make does increase the intensity of the bond. Say, if you two were to…am I making you uncomfortable, Harry?” she asked as she observed Harry through the dim light, twitching slightly.

“Yes,” he breathed honestly. “Sorry, Mrs. Malfoy, it’s just not the type of conversation I thought I’d ever have with you.”

Narcissa smirked. “No, I imagine it isn’t. For the time being Harry, do not worry yourself over the bond, it will only expand itself if you both want it to. With a physical act and an emotional response from both parties a bond deepens, it cannot even if it wanted to without both of your subconscious permissions.”

Harry was a dark red now. ‘That means when it last changed we both wanted it that way. And today, in the foyer of the manor, perhaps it’s changing again…’

“Forgive me for being so frank, Harry, but what exactly are your intentions with my son?” Narcissa asked, dragging him from his thoughts.

“Er, I-I’m not sure, Narcissa.”

“Are you not? Sitting outside his door and not your own? Coming here, given your memories of this place, must have been a great difficulty as well, but here you are. Are you certain you are so unsure of your feelings, or perhaps just scared?” Narcissa’s tone was low, barely a whisper, but it penetrated Harry like a knife.

Was he that obvious that even Narcissa knew what he wanted before he could admit it to himself? Harry sighed letting his head fall back against the bedroom door. “It’s late, Mr. Potter, I think you should really get some sleep, you two have a busy few days ahead of you.” Narcissa stood up from the floor, brushing off her gown.

Harry stood as well, “Right, sorry to disturb your sleep,” he apologized again.

“No need, Harry. For what it’s worth, whatever path you choose with Draco he will accept it,” she said softly.

Yawning, Harry leaned against the door again. He really was exhausted and all he could think of was sleep and Draco. “Fuck it,” Harry said, gathering up that Gryffindor courage and opening up the door to Draco’s room. He quietly stepped inside, looking around. Everything had its place, Draco’s clothes for tomorrow were neatly folded on his trunk at the foot of his bed. Even with Draco in his bed, curled up under his sheet, it looked impossibly neat.

Hesitant but determined, Harry sucked in a deep breath. “Sleep,” he said aloud to encourage himself. He walked over to the large bed, watching Draco closely for a moment. His eyebrows were knit together as he concentrated in whatever dream he may be having. ‘Probably about NEWTs, or a misplaced outfit, knowing him,’ Harry thought, smirking at the blond. He slipped awkwardly into bed but once he felt Draco’s bare back against the fabric of his shirt he sighed. It didn’t have to be awkward, it didn’t have to feel wrong because as he pulled Draco into his arms, holding him tightly from behind, burying his face in his fine hair, it felt perfectly right.

Draco moved closer to Harry, his own hand found an arm resting across his abdomen. “Harry?” he asked in a hoarse, weary voice.

Harry buried his head further into Draco’s hair, pressing his cheek against his neck. “Sleep,” he hushed him, drifting off almost immediately.  

Chapter Text

Musk. Like a forest of pine trees on a rainy day. The smell of his mint shampoo mixed with sweat was the first thing he noticed as he stirred the next morning. Draco secondly noticed there was a heavy arm curled around his abdomen, pulling him as close as possible to the body behind him. Then there was the heavy, warm breath pushing through his strands of hair and tickling his neck. A sense of satisfaction moved through him at having Harry holding him, willingly having crawled into his bed in the middle of the night. A million ‘Whys’ raced through his mind but they didn’t matter.

What did matter was the fourth thing Draco noticed that morning; the hard poke protruding from Harry’s briefs and into his upper thigh. His own prick automatically responded, pushing against the confines of his pajama bottoms. Draco had to bite his lip and physically restrain himself from throwing Harry fully onto his back.

Draco was becoming increasingly aware of how long it had been since he released himself. Two months. ‘With a nearly naked, hard Harry Potter in my bed I deserve a bloody medal for not taking him.’ His eyes fluttered shut as he took a ragged breath, the bond felt so good, so gratified at the closeness. Much to his dissatisfaction Harry shifted, his arm around Draco withdrew and stretched over his head. A yawn pressed into the skin of his neck followed by a contented sigh. Afraid to move, afraid to speak, distressed thinking that Harry would scarper, Draco lay still, waiting.

“G’morning,” Harry said groggily.

“Finally awake?” was all Draco could manage.

Harry was shifting again, trying to unpin his arm from Draco. “If you were up for so long you could’ve left,” he said, finally freeing himself and sitting up.

Shrugging, Draco sat as well. “I had nothing better to do,” he mumbled, his eyes averted off in the distance. ‘Why do I feel so anxious all of a sudden? I haven’t done anything, he crawled into my bed.’

A heavy hand on his shoulder startled him, he peeked over at Harry who was looking sheepish in return, a slight hue of pink on his cheeks. “I’m sorry about last night, about this. For intruding,” he apologized.

The hand pressing into him was about to fall but Draco was quick to twist around in his bed and catch it. “Don’t be,” he said softly. They stayed like that for a moment; hands unmoved, cheeks blushed, as they tried impossibly to read one another’s thoughts.

Careful not to remove his hand from Draco’s, Harry leaned over and grabbed his wand from the bedside table. “Accio glasses.”

“No, Harry!” Draco said suddenly as Harry turned to him, confused. But it was too late and Draco brought his free hand to his forehead, rubbing his temples as they heard the echo of Harry’s glasses smash into the door between their rooms, the glass shattering to the floor. “You’re not that sharp in the morning, are you?” Draco drawled.

“Damn, I hope they’re reparable,” Harry muttered, turning his palm to meet Draco’s and squeezing his hand gently. ‘I’m not letting go. I’ll be back,’ Harry thought, hoping he conveyed that to Draco. He let go and climbed out of the bed, squinting his eyes to see as he awkwardly walked to the door, opening it up. “Bollocks,” he swore, bending down and sweeping up the broken glasses and frame into his hands, sitting on the edge of the bed.

Draco scooted across and peered over his shoulder, scoffing as he did. “I doubt a reparo will do that any good.” Harry tried anyway, but to no avail. The pieces tried so hard to assemble themselves but merely fell back down into his hand. “Is your eyesight that buggered anyway? I mean, surely you can get by?”

Harry shook his head. “Nearly as blind as Trelawney, honest.”

“Come on then,” Draco said standing from the bed, stretching as he did. “We haven’t much time and we’ll need to go to the ministry first in order to get to Diagon Alley.”

“Diagon Alley?” Harry asked blankly.

“Be my guest if you want to be walking into walls all day.”

Harry cast a quick tempus, it was already half past ten. “We should be at the Burrow by four, do you think we’ll make it in time?”

Draco gathered his clothing that he had laid out neatly the night before and headed towards his bathroom. “If you keep your mouth shut this time, yeah.”

“Hey! I was –“ but Draco disappeared into the bathroom before Harry could finish his sentence as he dejectedly looked down at his broken spectacles.

When Harry decided to step into Draco’s rooms last night he was making a statement, to both himself and Draco. It didn’t mean he particularly understood what he wanted, but he knew he wanted something from Draco, something with him. ‘At least he didn’t kick me out. That would’ve been embarrassing,’ Harry thought as he got himself ready for the day, noting that Draco had also picked out a set of semi-formal dress robes for him; black but outlined in deep green. Thankfully these ones did not have the Malfoy family crest on them because there was no way Harry was going out in public making that statement.

Once Draco was finally ready , in similar dress robes though outlined in silver, they made their way to the dining room for breakfast. Narcissa joined them if only for the company. It was an awkward affair. Harry studied Draco’s every move and it appeared Draco seemed completely unfazed by the previous evening, whereas he himself was a wreck inside. With each minute that passed, Harry questioned his own actions more. ‘What does this mean for us? We’re bound, does this mean we’re going to pursue the bond? Does this mean we’re going to date? I-Is Draco Malfoy my boyfriend now?!’ The thoughts came at a million miles a minute.

Each time Draco reached across the table for water or butter, Harry jumped out of his skin at the nearly close contact. At one point in the meal, Draco was so bold as to place his hand on Harry’s thigh causing Harry to accidentally put jam on his eggs. He proceeded to eat them anyway, pretending that had been his intention all along. Narcissa watched with delight – using her teacup to once again hide her bemused smiles.

The trip through the ministry had gone a lot better than the last time and Harry was please to find that there was no veritaserum involved this time around. They Floo’d from there to the Leaky Cauldron, many surprised eyes gazing at the two of them. There had been a few articles with rumours and poorly taken photographs as to why the Malfoy heir, ex-Death Eater and the Boy Who Lived were spending so much time together, most of them turned out to be horribly inaccurate, possibly even libellous, articles. Being Christmas Eve day, the streets were congested with people buying last minute gifts.

Draco led them to a small road that ran adjacent to Gringotts, it had a few shops Harry had never been in before including a furniture store, another tailor akin to Madame Malkin’s, and the optometrist. Harry blinked and shook his head, that’s not what they would call somebody who sold glasses. “Are muggle glasses and wizard glasses different?” Harry asked.

“I would imagine so,” Draco shrugged.

Inside was exactly what Harry would expect to see in a muggle optometry office. There were two other customers who looked immediately at them, a little boy whispering in his mother’s ear and her nodding, ushering him to look away.  “Blimey, are you Harry Potter? Come in, come in!” An older gentleman welcomed them, leading them to the back as Draco scoffed, crossing his arms.

“I’m Boris Hatchburn, pleasure to meet you Mr. Potter,” the old man shook his hand vigorously as Harry smiled as earnestly as he could muster. “What can an old fella’ like myself do for yah then, boy?” he clapped his shoulder enthusiastically and it was then Harry realized how this Boris character was purposefully ignoring Draco. The shopkeeper kept looking over him quickly, as if to recognize that he was there, and turned back to Harry as if to say he wasn’t worth the time.

“Pleasure to meet you, too, Mr. Hatchburn. This is my-“ Harry choked for a moment on his own words as he gestured at Draco. ‘My what?’ “My friend, Draco Malfoy,” he settled for now, letting out a strangled breath.

Mr. Hatchburn’s demeanor changed almost at once, he straightened up and nodded curtly at Draco but said nothing more to him. “I can only guess lad that you’re in need of a new pair of spectacles? All of our selection is out on display, Mr. Potter, you may take your time looking around. Let me know when you’ve found something you like or if you need any help.”

“Thank you, sir,” Harry said as he turned to the shop. There was certainly a large collection of eyewear on spindles and shelves, glass cases and hooks all over the place. “Merlin, where do I start? I’ve never had to do this before.”

“Clearly. What sane person would have chosen to wear those ghastly glasses you did before? It’s a blessing your own idiocy broke them,” Draco drawled tightly, scanning the shop. “Leave it to me, Potter.”

“But, don’t you need my prescription or-“

“Prescription?” Mr. Hatchburn overheard the word. “Ah, right lad you grew up a muggle, didn’t yah? Worry not, there’s no prescriptions here. All glasses are made to alter themselves to the necessary intended strength.” Harry frowned, even eight years later he was still so out of touch with his own world. Of course glasses were not the same in the wizarding world.

It took a lot longer than Harry thought it would have. Draco moved quickly about the store, always coming back to where Harry stood and shoving a pair of glasses on his face, looking for a moment and then shaking his head and disappearing amidst the eyewear again. Eventually the blond settled on a pair and, pleased with his decision, he brought Harry to a mirror. The frames were a lot thinner then Harry was used to, the lenses themselves weren’t round but rectangular shaped.

“Well, what do you think?” Draco asked proudly standing behind him.

Harry shrugged, examining himself. “Looks ‘bout the same to me.”

“Hopeless, Potter, you’re hopeless. You look brilliant with those on.” Blushing at the compliment Harry busied himself with purchasing the glasses from Mr. Hatchburn.

“But you really do look good with those on, Harry, you can see the colour of your eyes a lot better,” Draco reiterated once they were on the street again.

Before Harry could respond, his name was being yelled from amidst the crowd. He groaned at the caller of the voice. “Is that…Chang?” Draco pondered as the voice and its speaker drew nearer.

“Bloody hell, we should go,” Harry mumbled, grabbing ahold of Draco’s wrist in hopes of quickly leading him away from Cho who was pushing her way through the crowd.

“Why, bad break-up?” Draco teased.

“Bad relationship,” Harry grumbled, his attempts at dragging them away spoiled as Cho was quicker.

“Harry! It feels like it’s been forever!” Cho threw her arms around his neck without hesitation and seemed unfazed when Harry didn’t embrace her in return. She took a step back, looking up at him, studying. A pink tinge grew on her cheeks. “Your glasses, they’re different,” she stated.

“Observation of the century,” Draco said dryly beneath his breath.

Cho snapped her attention over at him, frowning. “Malfoy. I heard the two of you got on now, I didn’t think those rumours would be true, Harry,” she said disappointedly.

Harry shrugged. “There’s a lot more to it than that, Cho. It doesn’t matter, how’ve you been?” he asked in hopes of distracting her from Draco’s presence.

“Good. Been apprenticing at St. Mungo’s for the past few months, it’s been great, really, although I have to work most of the hols which is rubbish. Hey, you’ve got a few weeks off of school, right? Maybe if you’ve got some time you could come visit me, I could show you around, maybe we could have some lunch?” Cho asked, her eyes nearly sparkling.

Draco swallowed his groan. ‘Do I really have to be subject to this insufferable bint trying to ask Harry out?’ “Unless you want to have dinner with me, too, Chang, that won’t be happening.”

Cho turned red as she looked at Draco. “I wasn’t talking to you, Malfoy,” she spat disgustingly.

“Er, well…” Harry scratched the back of his head awkwardly. ‘Anywhere but here would be fantastic right about now,’ he thought to himself.

“Let me explain something to you, Chang,” Draco hissed, “When two people are bound, what you say or do to one you say or do to the other.” With that Draco grabbed Harry by the elbow and dragged him away from her, Cho’s flabbergasted face following them till they were lost again within the crowd.

“Malfoy! What the bloody hell was that for?!” Harry hissed, yanking his arm from Draco’s possession as he followed the haughty blond through the streets. “You can’t go around saying things about the bond like that, people will think-“

“Think what, exactly Harry? Think we’re together? Think we’re partners? Think you actually like me? Merlin forbid somebody thinks you actually like me, right?” Draco reeled angrily. Through the bond Harry could feel the waves of jealousy and anger hit him as Draco continued bitterly. “Who does that Chang bitch think she is, hm? Bloody inappropriate and desperate if you ask me, hitting on people like that in the middle of the street,” he harrumphed.

All the way to the Leaky Cauldron, Draco muttered beneath his breath as the jealousy through the bond grew tenfold by the time they arrived. Harry was overwhelmed by the feeling of it and the thoughts that followed. ‘He’s really jealous. He actually wants this so badly he’s jealous over Cho. I don’t think anybody has ever felt like that for me.’

“…And don’t tell me it wasn’t because of the glasses! How shallow can a person be, honestly, and if she…” Draco’s voice kept trailing in and out of Harry’s head as they made their way over to the fireplace. Harry watched him intently, the way his cheeks were red, his fists clenched, his eyebrows drawn together in frustration and how heavy his feet fell on the floor. Draco was so jealous he was angry.

And Harry thought he should be angry, for his words or the way he treated Cho or what he admitted to her without question, but he wasn’t. No. Seeing Draco like this made him happy. “Draco,” he said softly, but he was on too much of a tangent to be stopped.

They passed by the lavatory off to the side of the bar, just a few feet from the fireplace, and Harry acted without thought. He grabbed Draco by the back collar of his robe and threw him into the washroom, following in after. “What the hell, Potter, you can’t just-!” Draco was yelling flustered.

Harry moved his grip from his collar to his upper arms, he pushed him forcibly up against the door of the washroom. He covered Draco’s body with his own and his pressed his lips to Draco’s. The bond immediately responded, the electrifying fire that began caused a small groan to escape Harry’s throat as he deepened the kiss. His tongue pushed its way into Draco’s confused but open and accepting mouth. It took the Slytherin a momentbefore responding, kissing Harry back with equal intent.

With one leg in between Draco’s two, Harry pressed so hard into him he could actually feel Draco’s member grow hard against his thigh. Draco’s hands had somehow found his unruly hair, his fingers pulled lightly at it, urging him closer. All thoughts, inhibitions, disappeared from Harry’s mind. All that mattered was Draco kissing him, his hands in his hair, his scent surrounding him and his body yearning for him and the bond overwhelmingly tugging at him; burning from the inside out.

Without realising it, Harry had begun to grind into Draco, his hips rolling into him. Draco hissed into Harry’s mouth, pleasure rippling through him.

A loud crash from outside in the bar somewhere startled them both. Harry jumped away from Draco, untangling himself and blushing madly. Draco, though flustered, regained himself rather quickly, straightening his robes to hide his arousal. “What was that for, Harry?” he asked softly.

Harry was fidgeting with his own robes, his eyes fixated on the floor. “You were so peeved about Cho and…and I wanted to let you know where I think I stand now,” he said, still sounding unsure of himself despite his own actions.

“Where you think you stand? Bloody hell if that wasn’t the best snog I’ve ever had, if you don’t know where you stand, I do,” he smirked as Harry tried to hide his own grin. “Come on, we haven’t all day to stand in the lavatory.” Draco led the way out, Harry taking another moment to himself before following.

‘Now that I know where you stand, Harry, I hope you don’t mind me finally taking what I want.’


Harry was certain he had never been more nervous before. Not even in the Forbidden Forest last May when he walked to meet his death. No, this was much more nerve-wrecking than that.

Not only did he have his brash snogging session from earlier on his mind but he was about to face the Weasleys with Draco close behind. It did help that Draco had been in contact with Narcissa over the past few days, gathering presents for a few of the Weasleys. Harry was taken aback that he had actually gone to the effort. ‘I only want them not to murder me, Harry,’ was Draco’s response to the gifts as well as, ‘A proper house guest brings a welcoming present, no matter the company.’

But now, about to go through the Floo at the ministry, nothing could calm him. Between worrying about keeping Draco in line (and alive), and making sure none of the Weasleys were offended by him and trying to enjoy the holidays all at once, he was certain tonight was going to be a disaster.

They arrived in the Burrow’s cluttered living room, Harry felt immediate unease through the bond and was for once appreciative of Draco’s ability to mask his emotions. Ginny was there, seated on the couch exchanging some sort of unidentifiable small objects with George. “Harry!” she exclaimed, dumping the remainder of the contents of her hand into George’s palms. She jumped at her friend, embracing him as if they hadn’t seen one another in years. Taking a step back Ginny blushed, “You look fantastic, Harry! Those robes, those glasses! Where did you get those?” As Harry responded Draco suppressed the urge to pry her away from him, distracting himself with the subdued, surviving twin.

George stood to meet him, they were nearly level in height. Draco stretched out his hand. “I wish to offer my condolences,” he stated formally.

Looking him up and down a few times, Ginny and Harry watching with rapt attention, George took the hand frowning. “I don’t trust you Malfoy, but if Harry does then that means something.” Dropping his hand he turned to the brunette in question, forcing a small smile. “Harry,” he greeted softly.

Harry smiled warmly, hugging George tightly for a minute . “How have you been, George?”

“Malfoy,” Ginny welcomed flatly.

“Draco will do, Weaselette,” he drawled, speaking the nickname with a hint of friendliness instead of its usual sting.

She blinked a few times before smiling broadly and much to George and Harry’s surprise, she hugged him. Draco stilled before slowly reciprocating. Harry had to bite his tongue to prevent him from laughing. Though he appeared poised as ever he could feel Draco squirming. “C’mon then, Mum is anxious as all hell to see you, Harry.”

On their way out to the kitchen, Harry leaned over to Draco and whispered, “See, not so bad,” to which he hummed lowly in response.

Despite the blond’s presence, Harry was immediately coddled by Molly once they entered the kitchen, currently at full capacity with the pots and pans and the preparation for Christmas Eve dinner.

Harry dear! You look…thin,” she frowned, “Have you been eating?”

Coming up from behind her, Arthur placed his arm around her shoulders. “Molly, leave the poor boy alone. How’ve you been, Harry?” Arthur grinned, shaking his hand.

“Good, actually,” Harry said truthfully. “And you Mum, Dad?”

Draco’s eyes widened slightly at how easily Harry referred to the Weasleys as he would his own parents. Arthur welled up, it was the first time Harry had ever called him that, he was beaming down at him. “As good as can be, dear. Now what is so different about you? I can tell there is something but…” Molly trailed off, taking a step back to look over her informally adopted son.

“His glasses, mum,” Ginny mumbled through a mouthful of food as she hovered over one of the many self-stirring pots.

Molly rounded on her daughter red-faced, “Ginerva Weasley, you get out of that this instant!” she huffed before turning back to Harry, putting on a weary smile.

Even though he was content with being ignored, Harry finally drew attention to the boy standing quietly behind him. “Mum, Dad, I just wanted to-“

Knowing where Harry was headed with his sentence Draco promptly cut him off. “We wanted to say how grateful we are that you have opened your home to us. I have brought this with me to offer as representation of my gratitude,” he reached from his pocket and took out two very small boxes, bowing his head as he handed them to the hesitant looking couple.

Harry knew what was in the boxes but he thought it was ridiculous and strange but Draco assured him it was part of pureblood custom to present them to your hosts. Molly and Arthur opened both of their boxes, Ginny watching curiously. Inside each was a set of brilliant silver napkin cuffs, a thin line of gold woven in between the silver and at the front of them was a ‘W’ shaped clasp. It was supposed to represent an agreement between two parties, and in this case, two families.

Molly and Arthur looked between the napkin cuffs and each other. “Malfoy, we’re not ones for pureblood tradition here,” Arthur started, his words sounding forced, “But we can at least appreciate the effort.”

Harry looked between the three of them, biting his lip. He had no idea what to make of his surrogate parents’ emotions and he could feel Draco was struggling with keeping calm and collected. “Thank you, and I hope in time you will see what Harry sees. I have changed, I do regret most of everything that has happened in the past eight years. I was young, I was foolish, I was impressionable and I-“ Draco was explaining, saying aloud his internally rehearsed speech that he hoped would get him through the evening alive and without poison laced into his meal.

“Draco,” Molly said softly, startling all of them with his first name. She was smiling slightly even though her eyes still appeared sad, but it was obvious she was making an effort. “I can’t say I’m comfortable with any of this but Harry here says that we can trust you now and we may not agree with the verdict of the Wizengamot but we would like to agree with Harry,” she said as she turned back to Harry, her smile widening. “Why don’t you two go and say hullo to the rest of them? They’re all upstairs in their rooms.”

Harry smiled thankfully; they were actually, albeit reluctantly, admitting Draco to be in their home. As they left Draco inclined his head again, offering respect. Ginny joined them upstairs, leading the way to Ron’s room. Draco wrinkled his nose at the sight of it but otherwise kept his comments to himself. “The bugger actually let you show up!” Ron chimed with surprise at seeing his friend.

Scoffing, Draco crossed his arms and leaned against the doorway. “What do you take me for, Weasel, a coward?”

“Well, actually-“ with a sharp nudge to the ribs from his girlfriend, Ron coughed and substituted with, “Happy Christmas, Malfoy,” instead.

“It’s a rather unfortunate one, having to spend it in a place like this,” he drawled, looking around again, scrunching up his nose in distaste, for dramatic effect.

“You were being so nice to mum and dad, what are we, chopped liver?” Ginny asked, placing her hands on her hips. “Mister Slytherin Prince here even gave them some stupid customary pureblood gift.”

“As you said Weaselette, it was customary,” he shrugged, ignoring Hermione’s curious intense gaze on him.

“I’m glad you could come, Harry, it just wouldn’t be the same without you,” Hermione smiled.

“Now that you’re here, how about a game of Exploding Snap?” Ron asked, reaching over to his bedside table to grab his cards.

Harry was about to agree before Draco shifted beside him, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Instead of having an awkward affair at dinner, do you not think it best to see the rest of the litter first?”

“Cut it out, Draco,” Harry mumbled at the insult before sighing. “But yeah, you’re right, we should go say hullo to the others. Where are they all anyway?”

“Up in Percy’s room, trying to talk some sense into the bugger by quitting the ministry – or at least looking for a new position. Fleur’s there, too,” Ron explained. “But hurry back would yah mate? I’ve been dying to have a game of Snap all day.”

Grinning, Harry nodded before leading Draco out of the room and upstairs. “How do you reckon they will take to my presence?”

“Honestly? I don’t think it’ll be so bad. Percy has his own boggarts in his closet when it comes to the war so I don’t think he’ll be too judgemental on our situation. Bill has been a little bit on edge ever since, well, you know…” Harry trailed off as he stopped just a few feet down from the open door to Percy’s room.

“A werewolf bite, even not on a full moon, will make anybody irritable for a long stretch of time,” Draco said understandably.

“Werewolves, huh? You fellows wouldn’t happen to be talking about this handsome lad now would you?” Charlie asked, grinning from ear-to-ear as he pulled himself and his brother out of the room, his arm slung lazily around Bill’s shoulders.

Harry beamed at him. “Hiya Charlie, Bill, how’ve you been?”

“A damn sight better than you I would say,” Charlie gestured towards Draco and even with the implication of his statement he was still grinning largely. He released Bill and shook Harry’s hand and without hesitation reached for Draco’s.

Surprised, Draco shook it. “Nice to see you, Charlie,” he said stiffly, his hand turning to Bill now who also shook it, “Bill. Ah, and the ever so lovely Fleur,” Draco bowed his head and offered the underside of his hand for a gentler shake as Fleur and Percy also came out of the room to greet them.

Blushing, Fleur slipped her hand into her husbands. “Monsieur Malfoy,” she bowed her head as well. Percy introduced himself as well but kept quiet for the most part as Harry quickly caught up with the elder Weasleys. It felt, for the most part, normal. Draco stood quietly beside Harry, appearing to listen with intent even though they both knew he wanted to be anywhere else but there. He did make an attempt with Bill, asking him about how Gringotts was faring, and although the conversation was short the effort was still present and appreciated.

“Oi, Harry!” Ginny yelled from down the hall a couple of minutes later, everybody turning their attention to her. “Ron’s moaning about how long you’re taking!”

Nodding, Harry turned to Draco. “Why don’t you head down into their room I’ll be a second, Draco,” he said, purposefully looking at the small line of Weasleys before him. Draco nodded and turned to leave and go back into Ron’s room much to his dislike. “Thanks guys, really. I know neither of you can be too happy about him being here and all but…it means a lot to me.”

The three of them all smiled warmly at Harry as Percy merely turned his head away, as if the conversation didn’t concern him. “After everything Harry, we trust you. And Ron too, he may be a snot but he’s still our little brother,” Charlie said.

“Yes, Harry, you’re family. We couldn’t have let you spend the holidays alone just because you’re temporarily attached to Malfoy – which isn’t your fault to begin with,” Bill elaborated, cracking a small smile.

Harry smiled gratefully at them. “You guys are brilliant, you know that, right?”


It was Draco beckoning him down the hall now and Harry sighed, following him after he excused himself. “Isn’t it customary to not scream in homes that you’re the guest in as well?” Harry mumbled once he rejoined them.

“That bloody Weasel is annoying as all hell when he’s bored, Potter, and I for one do not want to listen to one second of it,” Draco huffed.

“You’re so dramatic, Malfoy. C’mon, Harry, let’s have a game,” Ron gestured at the cards already laid out on his bed much to Hermione’s chagrin as she was now standing by the doorway with Ginny.

The evening progressed with very few incidents. There were a few slipped mentions of the war and some muttered insults between Ron and Draco – all of which were almost tame in nature – but otherwise Draco kept to himself, quiet as he stood beside Harry the entire evening. He would never admit it out loud but he was actually enjoying himself. It wasn’t the company around him that made his evening pleasurable but observing Harry in an environment where he was at complete ease, constantly smiling, seemingly without a worry and wholly unguarded. Despite having no living relatives, besides those muggles Draco still knew little about, he was happy to see that Harry did have a family. ‘Stop getting so bloody sappy, Malfoy,’ he reminded himself chidingly.

The strangest event of the evening happened after everybody else opened their gifts. They were all crowded into the cluttered living room, Harry and Draco were both leaning against the mantlepiece beside one another, when Draco cleared his throat loudly and called to attention all the occupants of the Burrow. Harry watched him curiously as he stepped forward into the middle of the room and turned to face Molly and Arthur who were occupying one end of their floral patterned couch.

“I would like to announce once again the appreciation I have for welcoming me into your home this evening. And to all of you, for being so convivial,” he stated formally, trying to sound sincere even though Harry – who scoffed to himself – could easily feel through the bond that he was talking out of his rear end. “And to Molly Weasley Prewitt and Arthur Weasley, the patrons of the household, the acting guardians of Harry James Potter, I would like to present to you this gift of alliance,” Draco recited and bowed his head lowly, retrieving his wand from his pocket as he did and conjuring up one of the strangest looking plants Harry had ever seen in his life. Everybody was looking wide-eyed at Draco; some with confusion, a few others in astonishment and disbelief. Harry was amongst the befuddled bunch.

The plant itself was large and bulbous at its deep green roots sprouted up into multiple entwining stems, all a lighter green in colour. At the end of each stem were large buds about the size of a fist that looked like a deep mauve, all of them were clamped shut and hadn’t blossomed yet. Nobody spoke nor moved as Draco held the plant and offered it to Molly and Arthur, his face masked and emotionless but Harry could once again feel his anxiety climbing.

Te oro suscipere me et meum propositionem,” Draco spoke fluently, his pronunciation impeccable.

Hermione reacted immediately to her words as she gasped and brought a hand quickly to cover her mouth. Draco did not move to turn and question her, instead he kept his focus fixed on Arthur and Molly. Harry turned to Hermione questioningly, hoping to get an answer out of what exactly was going on. “Draco, what are-“

“Arthur, dear,” Molly said, her voice shaking, “Come to the kitchen with me for a moment, would you? And Ma-Draco?” she gestured, standing on wobbly knees as her husband, too shocked to speak, held onto her elbow and followed her. Draco set the odd plant down in the middle of the room and followed them promptly into the next room, ignoring the stares.

Harry tried to follow, confused and concerned as he felt Draco’s anxiety rise even further. ‘What the bloody hell is going on?!’ he was screaming to himself, ‘What did Draco say? What did it mean? Why is Molly freaking out so much?’ “Harry, dear, we’ll just be a moment, I promise,” Molly interrupted him, stopping him from following them. He frowned and waited in the living room as they closed the door to the kitchen, promptly silencing it.

Turning to the still quiet room where crickets could surely be heard, Harry blinked a few times before addressing Hermione. “What the fuck was that about? And what the hell is that thing?” he gestured blindly at the middle of the room. “You know how horrible my Latin is, what did Draco say?” Hermione merely shook her head slowly, her cheeks flaming red and her hand still clamped over her mouth. “Is this some stupid customary pureblood thing again?” Harry asked the rest of the occupants of the room.

Ginny bit her lip and shrugged, she was equally confused as were Ron and George. The three eldest Weasleys, however, looked as if they knew more than the rest as they shared nearly the same shocked expression as Hermione did. “Well?” Harry urged the three of them.

“A rough translation of it, Harry…he said ‘Please accept me and my proposal’,” Bill whispered.

“Proposal? Proposal of what, exactly?” Harry snapped lightly. He wasn’t angry but tense, he could feel Draco continuing to get more nervous as the seconds went on and he was worried he had done something to offend Molly and Arthur.

Bill, Charlie and Percy were all shifting awkwardly in their seats. Fleur was blushing a bright, pink red and refused to speak from beside her husband. “You know that bond you got, Harry? Ron told us it was a courtship bond now, right?”

“Yeah, so what? Healer Greene said that sorta just happens sometimes and I think it happened because I stopped hating him so much…what’s the big deal about a courtship bond, they just go away eventually, right?” Harry asked quickly. How did what just happened have anything to do with the bond? What the hell was going on and why was his bond starting to tell him that Draco was so nervous he was beginning to feel afraid? Harry began to panic, he wanted to go into the kitchen and demand to know what was happening but feared the reprimand Molly would give him.

“Sure they do, Harry,” Bill said, hoping to sound reassuring.

“They do if you want them to. They certainly won’t if you pursue them. Say, isn’t presenting a gift like that weird, funky plant to the guardians of your partner and asking them to accept your proposal the first step in actually solidifying a courtship bond, Hermione?” Charlie asked hoping to sound nonchalant as he looked to her for support in his explanation.

Hermione nearly jumped out of her seat at being called upon by Charlie as Harry whirled around to face her. “What?” he hissed in low confusion, “What did Charlie mean by that, ‘Mione? Is he really…is that really?” Harry stuttered, his voice barely audible as a frog jumped in his throat. ‘No, surely he can’t have…he wouldn’t. Why would he?’

“That’s a Pervigeo; one of the most traditional gifts that a bonded courter gives to his partner’s parents. It is the very first step one takes in deliberate completion of a bond. It’s not typically a gift you would see one give in an arranged bond…its intent is much more romantic than that,” Hermione blushed deeply as she quietly finished.

“Wait, wait, wait,” Ron said quickly, holding his hand up in protest. “You’re telling me that Malfoy just literally proposed to Harry via my parents?”

“No, that’s not how it works. This is just for a completion of a courtship bond which can end in multiple ways; vows, consummation or engagement and another courtship bond. It can always be broken – accept in this case it cannot until the curse itself is discovered and countered – and the steps can take up to as long as five to ten years if the two being courted wish it to take that long. I remember reading in Bonds: Unbreakable and Undetectable by James T. Dalphnia that after the first step, which is the verbal acceptance by both sets of parents, both courted partners still have to present gifts themselves and verbally accept the continuation of the bond before anything happens,” Hermione rapidly explained.

Harry blinked a few times and began to shake his head. ‘This can’t be happening. He’s not doing this. Why would he do this? I thought he hated this bond? What would happen if I said yes? What will he do to me if I say no? Do I want to say no?’ Harry groaned; he felt like bashing his head senseless using the corner of the fireplace.

“That’s alright then. Malfoy’s obviously gone nutters with this whole thing, all you gotta do is deny him,” Ron said trying to sound cheery.

“I doubt mum and dad’ll accept it, anyway,” George piped up, everybody hummed and nodded in agreement.

“Bastard is probably using the bond as a way to bring back his family name. What better way than using Harry Potter,” Percy said through gritted teeth.

Everybody shifted uncomfortably under Harry’s frantic gaze. “You guys don’t really believe that, do you?” They all cast their eyes downward at his question, some shrugged and others nodded slightly in indication. “Listen, I know Draco well enough now to know he’s beyond that. He wouldn’t. Not to me he wouldn’t,” he repeated, sounding as if he was convincing himself as well as the others.

The door to the kitchen opened at long last before anybody could say anything else. Molly was wiping her teary eyes with a handkerchief, sniffling, as Arthur looked uncomfortable but at ease. Draco, on the other hand, was smiling a true smile for the first time that evening, and it was directed at Harry. Arthur left his wife by the threshold of the room beside Draco and went over to pick up the plant as he spoke – his words nearly causing Harry to faint.

“As the guardians of Harry James Potter, we accept your offering.”

Chapter Text

"Calm down, mate. Tell us what happened," Ron said, trying to heed his own advice as he sat on his bed. Hermione had silenced and locked his room, Draco and Ginny were seated together outside in the corridor on the top of the staircase.

Harry paced in front of his friends watching him concernedly. "We won't dislike you for it, Harry, we won't be mad. Right, Ron?"

"Well…" Ron said hesitantly, ignoring the jeering elbow Hermione threw in his rib. "I won't be mad at you, mate, but I won't like it. I mean, it's still Malfoy. He's not who he was before, I know, I see the difference, I've seen him at school and all that but Merlin, he's still Malfoy! I'll get over it if I have to but I was sort of hoping that we wouldn't have to deal with him much longer," he said honestly.

"I know he's still Malfoy. Trust me, I know," Harry sighed and sat on the floor, bringing his knees up to his chest and resting his head despairingly between them. "I don't know what happened," he said quietly, "One day we hated each other and then it wasn't so bad. The next day I was yelling at him telling him there was no way he could care about anybody else but me and then all of a sudden he was kissing me."

"He kissed you? When the bloody hell did he do that? Yesterday?" Ron spluttered, pulling a distasteful face as he did.

Harry blushed a deep red and shook his head, hoping his fringe would cover at least a portion of his embarrassment. "Er, about two weeks ago now. A little more, maybe," he confessed.

"Two weeks ago? And you never-"

Hermione stopped her boyfriend, gently placing her hand on his back. "Has anything happened since then, Harry? Did you two talk about it? What the, er, kiss meant to Draco?"

Harry groaned and hung his head even lower. "When we went to Diagon Alley today we ran into Cho. She sort of started flirting with me and well, Draco didn't like that one bit. He told her about the bond in one way or another and proceeded to drag me away. I could feel he was really, uhm, jealous of Cho and pretty upset with me because I told him not to go around talking about the bond so openly. Being able to actually feel how upset he was and knowing the reason why, well, I was sorta flattered and uhm…I kissed him. A lot," he flushed and looked up from behind his knees to survey his friends' reactions.

Ron turned a sickly white but said nothing as Hermione blushed before speaking slowly again. "Other than the jealousy, do you know how Draco feels? Has he told you what he wants out of all this?"

"He's pretty open about his feelings with me," Harry said, ignoring Ron's indignation. "Draco wants me, for whatever reason, but he does. Even if he didn't tell me I can feel it; he taught me how to look beneath the emotions on the surface within the bond to see what lies underneath. It's strange, really, if I concentrate hard enough I can tell what he wants at this very moment. It's kind of exhausting but interesting to do all at once."

Hermione and Ron exchanged a look now and he appeared near to passing out as he gripped his girlfriend's hand for support. "Is there anything you've said or done, other than today that would encourage Draco to do something like this?" Hermione inquired.

"Well, uh, we have separate rooms at the manor because there's a guest suite attached to Draco's bedroom so we got to sleep alone when we first arrived," Harry began, he felt like he was confessing his sins to two familial priests, as if he had done something horribly wrong by finally admitting his feelings for Draco to himself and acting on them.

Hermione sighed heavily, she knew where it was headed. "You said when we first arrived," she stated knowingly causing Harry to turn an even deeper crimson. "Did you…"

Harry nodded. "I did. I couldn't sleep last night and I ran into Narcissa in the corridor and long story short I sort of got into bed with him. Nothing happened!" he said defensively at Ron's sudden disgust contorting through his features. "We just slept beside each other. I didn't sleep a wink the night before and I couldn't last night, either, until I got into bed with him and I've never slept better in my life," Harry mumbled the last part.

Ron took a deep, staggering breath. He wanted to scream, wanted to hit some sense into his friend, but he knew better, especially with Hermione's hands now wrapped around his own keeping him calm. "So you like him then?"

"Uh…yes, I do," Harry admitted.

"Well, 'Mione, you did say it was a possibility," the redhead stood up and held out his hand to Harry, still huddled on the floor. Harry blinked at the hand before taking it and he was immediately pulled into a tight, awkward hug. After a few pats on his back, Ron released Harry and smiled weakly. "That Malfoy is a bastard ferret and I can't say I'll ever like him, but whatever happens will happen. But Godric save him if he ever hurts you because I promise I will send 'Mione and Ginny after him."

Harry couldn't stop himself from beaming at his best friend. He truly did have a fantastic family. "That's like a death sentence, mate," he grinned before turning to the bushy-haired girl. "What's he mean about Draco and I being a possibility?"

"You two are extremists. You never do anything just a little bit. You either hate wholly or love with everything you have. That's obvious with you, but with Draco you can only see that with the way he treats his mother and now you," Hermione smiled. "A few weeks ago I saw the two of you out on the grounds, you were, well…you looked…" she blushed and Harry's eyes went wide, he knew exactly what incident she was talking about.

"Yeah, she told me then that it could happen. I was pretty peeved at first but the more I saw of the two of you the more it was obvious, y'know?"

Harry blinked. "Obvious? Obvious? I didn't have a bloody clue until a few days ago!" he said, exasperated, running a hand through his unruly hair. "Just because I admit I like Draco doesn't mean I know what I want from him. I mean furthering the bond…that's huge. How can he do that so lightly? How did he even prepare all this without me knowing when I've been with him the entire time?" Harry asked, he felt bewildered. This couldn't really be happening; Draco couldn't be waiting in the corridor for his confirmation or denial.

Hermione stood up and took Harry into her arms. Even though she was a good few inches shorter than himself, the way she held him tenderly was akin to that of Molly's embrace and was encompassed with warmth. "You can accept him for now, Harry, and then go no further. Don't let him pressure you into anything you don't feel comfortable agreeing with. Remember, when it comes down to it, if you listen to yourself you'll always know what's right," she reassured him.

He sighed into her hug and then smiled as Ron joined them. "Yeah, and like I said I'll kill that snake bastard if he so much as lays an uninvited finger on you."

Harry stepped back and smiled brightly at his friends. "Thanks, guys, I really don't know what I'd do without you."

"Fail your NEWTs for one, that's for sure, probably end up dead a hundred times by now, have nobody to bail you out after being late for class or handing in assignments, Merlin knows how many times we've had to get you outta Filch's hands! Don't worry, mate, just add this to the list," Ron winked.

"Oh shut up," Harry mumbled, though he was grateful. He really didn't feel as stressed – the bond didn't feel as pressing, other than the small buzzing beginning in his head despite Draco being nearby. "So, say if I do accept him, what will happen to the bond?"

Hermione frowned and resumed her seat on the edge of Ron's bed, her fingers fiddling with the hem of her sweater. "From what I've read, not much should be altered. I would check in with Healer Greene, Madame Pomfrey, Professor McGonagall and Professor Slughorn as soon as you can so they can monitor the changes. Remember, every courtship bond is different. Though the acts and traditions do indeed progress the state of the bond the intensity by which it becomes strengthened is up to the subconscious of both involved parties. Really, whatever happens will truly depend on what you and Draco want from one another," Hermione explained.

'What we want from each other?' Harry wondered to himself. 'I still haven't figured that out. I can't sleep without him but I still want to punch him half the time when he's being a prat but still…he's a great teacher, he's considerate in his own way, he trusts me and he is a phenomenal kisser…' "Oh, hell," Harry swore, rubbing the back of his neck.

There was a muffled knock on the door and Hermione lifted her charm before Ron walked over to answer it. Ginny was leaning against the doorway, her hand on her cocked out hip as she looked between them with an eyebrow raised. "Hurry up and take him back, Harry. I may not hate Malfoy anymore but Merlin he's annoying," she groaned.

Harry smiled apologetically. "Thanks Gin, guys," he nodded to them as he went back out in the hall. Draco was sitting with his back towards Harry, strands of blonde hair whisked down his pale neck and Harry wanted to sweep them away and kiss the small patches of exposed, milky skin – he shivered at his own thoughts. Harry cleared his throat causing him to turn around and look at him, his eyes softened immediately and a small smile played on his thin lips. 'Gods, he looks so relaxed even after what he just did. He even feels relaxed and I'm a bloody mess.' He observed Draco's open posture to him: the way his shoulders eased instead of pulled straight as they did in front of others, the way he let loose strands of his hair fall before his face and didn't pay any mind to move them as he usually would, or how his eyes appeared so unguarded as they bore into Harry, his smile still present. 'Since when has Draco been so happy just to be in my presence?' he asked himself, truly amazed that just by coming out into the hallway.

Draco's face finally fell and turned into a frown. "I'm sick of this place, Harry. Did you know there's a ghoul in the attic? How plebeian of the Weasleys to keep a ghoul in the attic. They really ought to get a curse breaker in here to rid themselves of such a pest immediately. The Weaselette even told me they have gnomes here – honestly! Have they never heard of proper seasonal gardening?" he whinnied, pouting.

Harry shook his head, chuckling. 'You're right Gin, Draco sure is annoying, but he's my annoying Draco.' He held out his hand, a little relieved that he had yet to ask about the acceptance of the bond, as he helped him to his feet and once he was standing Harry didn't let go but bravely entwined their fingers, pressing their palms together. "Come on then, let's go home."


"Ron, Hermione…upstairs, please. Now," Harry said following Arthur's acceptance of the gift.

Draco's heart fell. He assumed the Weasleys, or Hermione rather, had filled Harry in on the meaning and intentions of his action and instead he was leaving. He wasn't responding. "The bond," Draco reminded him idly.

"Fucking goddammit!" Harry swore frustratingly.

'He's really in a mess about this, isn't it? I guess it cannot hurt to give him time,' Draco thought to himself. "That's fine. I can stand outside a room, if you would like, while you discuss what you need to," he offered.

Harry looked at him gratefully for a moment before his face dissolved into that of confusion, embarrassment and he quickly turned away again, leading the small party upstairs as the family watched quietly with fascination. Harry avoided looking at Draco even as he turned in his direction once in Ron's room and closed the door; Ron and Hermione inside as well. There was a muffling charm placed on it immediately.

Draco sighed and stood awkwardly in the small, narrow hallway with his arms crossed. He could feel Harry wasn't mad at him, that he was more embarrassed and nervous than anything else. "Chin up, Malfoy," Ginny greeted too cheerily for his tastes.

"Did somebody accidentally slip you some mead or something? You're incorrigibly inviting this evening," Draco said tightly, looking at the girl with disdain as a large grin spread across her face.

"Slip me some mead? You say that like it's an accident."

Draco rolled his eyes and suddenly jumped as a long, high-pitched howl sounded from behind him. He whirled around wide-eyed to see what it was and where it was coming from. Ginny was chuckling, sitting down at the top of the stairs and patting the floor beside her to invite Malfoy to sit as well. "That's the family ghoul. Don't worry, he won't bother you, doesn't come down from the attic often anymore," she explained.

"You would have a ghoul," Draco murmured as he reluctantly sat beside the redhead.

Ginny reached over a placed a hand on his knee, startling Draco. "Don't worry, Harry will come around, he's just surprised. These things usually take him sometime to process." Draco hummed noncommittally, he wasn't about to talk to her about this particular situation, about their bond, anybody but her. "Hell, it took him six years to realize I liked him!" Ginny giggled, squeezing his knee now.

"Is there anything in particular you want?" Draco grumbled. He would much rather have sat quietly than have this conversation with the youngest Weasley offspring.

She sighed and put her arm around Draco's shoulders now, boldly. The blond was about to shrug her off before he thought he better not; she was important to Harry, she was – for some god awful reason – trying to help him. "I wanted to know how you felt about Harry."

Draco suppressed the urge to groan, he was never one for sharing his feelings, even with Harry it had proven difficult to let his barriers down. "Harry knows how I feel, that is all there is to be concerned about."

"But does he? Sorry, Malfoy, Harry's a little daft. You really need to be straight forward with him. If I know Harry at all, he's spent most of this time questioning what you really mean by what you say or do and second guessing everything. Take it from someone who knows him; he doesn't think he deserves what others want to freely give him. He never thought he was good enough for any relationship, he never thinks somebody could like him to that extent and now with this gesture he's probably confused, taken aback. Don't forget he knows very little about courtship bonds – he could be thinking you intend, well, y'know, the most traditional type of courtship," Ginny explained, exhaling heavily afterwards as she hung a substantial amount of body weight against Draco.

"He wouldn't think that, would he? He knows where my feelings stand. He knows what I want from him. But we're eighteen; an actual proposal of marriage is ridiculous!" he said incredulously.

"What was the purpose of the gift then?" she urged.

Shrugging, Draco started to examine his nails and pick at his cuticles. "Merely to solidify my intentions. I would like to be with Harry in that sense and he would like to be with me in the same way. I have no idea what will come of us when the bond finally gets sorted out or even a few months from now, but at this moment, I want to be with him when I can." Despite his reservation, despite his perfected mask, despite his dislike for anything topped with red, Draco felt his cheeks growing warm.

Ginny watched him curiously from the corner of her eye for a minute, letting her arm finally fall from him. She was surprised Draco had shared as much as he had with her and she didn't want to push him further. "So…Malfoy, how good are you at degnoming gardens?"


They had spent a much longer time at the Weasleys then they had originally planned and when they got home they were knackered. They said hullo and goodnight to Narcissa before returning to the hallway of Draco's room. Harry went automatically for the guest suite as Draco stood at the door to his own room, his hand clasped on the knob. "I see," he said stiffly as Harry went wordlessly into the guest room.

Draco sighed and got himself ready for bed. "I guess I have my answer," he muttered darkly to himself, slipping under the covers of his bed as he Nox'd out the lights. 'I was so sure he would say yes. I was certain this is what he wanted – me, us,' he thought disappointingly.

"Draco?" came a soft voice from the side of his room. "Can I – I mean, would you mind if…well, er…"

The disappointment slipped from Draco as Harry awkwardly stuttered, entering through the guest room making his way around in the dark. Without a word, Draco lifted up the covers of his bed inviting him underneath as well. Harry sat with his legs drawn up, the small bit of light coming from the window showed the outline of his worried etched face. Draco waited patiently, he didn't want to pressure him any more than he already had.

"Er, how did you arrange for that weird plant thing without me knowing?" Harry asked nervously.

Draco laughed, "Mother," he said simply.

"And how did you get Molly and Arthur to say yes? What did you say to them?"

Draco shifted in the bed, sitting up as well now. He reached out to Harry and with his thumb he traced the side of his face, causing Harry to shiver beneath the touch. "The truth," he whispered and had to stop himself from leaning forward and capturing Harry's lips with his own. He rested his hand on the back of his neck now, the contact of their skin still left a feverish feeling from the bond, something deeply rooted in him always encouraged him to close the distance between them and he had to restrain himself.

"Draco, I don't really understand what you meant by what you did. I mean, don't you want this bond gone just as much as I do?" Harry asked slowly.

"I do. I would rather you want to be with me in this way of your own volition and not because some random student was sick of seeing us fight. But that's not how it's working out for us. I want you, I want you now and however I can have you, Harry. And yes, we're bonded, and we both want this courtship. You can't lie to me," Draco finished softly. His fingers were weaving through that thick, unruly hair, tugging at it slightly, and oh how much Draco just wanted to pull him into him.

"So it's not…a proposal?"

"Heavens no, Potter!" Draco said quickly, chuckling, 'Ginny was right.' "I've known what I wanted for a while now but after today, after seeing you with her and then what you did to me after. Hell, Harry, I've never felt like that before and I want it every damn day I can get it."

Harry blushed, thankful for the shrouding darkness. "Is there, er, anything in particular I have to say or do to accept it?"

Draco's heart skipped a beat. He smiled, finally pulling him closer with that hand still wrapped around his neck. Their faces came so close they were nearly kissing but Draco didn't initiate it, instead he closed his eyes and breathed deeply, his other hand slid around Harry's waist and in a few quick movements he was straddling him – hovering over him, only his hands touching his body. "You have to kiss me," he said breathlessly.

Placing his hands on either of Draco's hips, Harry dug his fingertips into them and with all his force pulled the boy fully on top of him and crashed their mouths together. Harry pushed his tongue into the moist opening, groaning as electric sparks erupted all over him. Nothing had ever felt so ecstatic as kissing Draco did and he found himself wishing he never had to stop doing it. Draco's hand on Harry's waist slid under the hem of his shirt, his fingertips tracing the toned skin. Harry shuddered into him; even the faintest of touches sent him reeling.

Kissing him deeply, their lips never parting, Draco began to slowly rock his hips. He became increasingly aware of not only his own arousal but that of Harry's, growing underneath him, poking through the fabric of their briefs. Harry's hands moved from his hips up to his shoulders and once they were there he grasped them and in a fluid movement Draco was suddenly lying on the bed, Harry pressed heavily over top of him. He broke their kiss, leaning up on his elbows and looking down at Draco who appeared wistful, and with his finger he pressed the side of Draco's neck. "I want to kiss you here," he whispered.

"Please," was all Draco could croak out as Harry lowered himself and his mouth tenderly manipulated a very sensitive patch of skin near his collarbone.

Harry's fingers trailed down Draco's neck to his chest and stopped at his pink nipple. "And here?" he asked.

"Please," Draco said again and this time when Harry lowered his mouth to his skin in the particular spot, Draco arched his back up into Harry and clutched at his hair with one hand, his sheets with another as he bit his lip to stay quiet. It was nothing extravagant, nothing extraneous, Harry was merely kissing different parts of Draco but the slightest touch had him suppressing moans.

Those tantalizing fingers worked their way down Draco's body and landed on the hem of his briefs. His breath caught in his throat, his eyes flew open wide and he looked down his own body to see Harry looking back up at him, his face hovering near the spot his fingers now were. He was grinning at Draco, who at the moment was sure his heart had stopped beating, and he pressed into the skin at the hem. "Here?" His voice was husky, thick and low.

Draco opened and closed his mouth a few times, nothing coming out, before he eventually nodded, his eyes still fixated as Harry lowered his lips to his skin. He sucked and licked the area, a mere few inches above Draco's unabashedly hard cock. Much to his chagrin, Harry's fingers stopped and began to move back up his body again, both hands were now exploring Draco's abdomen as his mouthed kissed its way back up to meet Draco's and capture his lips again. Draco threw his arms around Harry and gasped as Harry ground their pelvis' together.

"Were you worried I would say no?" Harry asked hoarsely, breaking their kiss again.

Draco's hands pulled Harry closer to him and in response Harry ground into him again, another breathless moan escaping his lips. "Yes," Draco hissed.

"How could I? I mean, look at you," Harry sat up further now, his body lifting off Draco's and the blond wanted desperately to pull him back down. "It's late. We have Christmas with your mother tomorrow," he said suddenly, seriously, peeling himself fully off Draco now.

Draco blinked a few times. He wanted to ask if that was it, if Harry was honestly going to tease him like that, get him so close, only to back away again. Harry fell on his own side of the bed and brought the covers up fully around him, shivering in them. Draco groaned out loud, repressing the urge to throw Harry on his back and have him then and there. Draco got up suddenly from the bed, muttering to himself. Harry half sat up, concerned. "Where are you going, Draco?"

"Shower," he said shortly, heading towards the bathroom door, only turning around to sneer at Harry through the dark, "You bloody tease."

Harry snorted as Draco left and nuzzled further into the bed, surrounding himself in Draco's scent.

Chapter Text

The cold woke him the next morning and Harry was made quickly aware that Draco was in the bathroom, brushing his teeth he assumed. Harry smiled softly, flashes of last night flooding to his head. The bond didn’t seem as altered as he thought it would be. Actually, Harry noted, with Draco in the bathroom he felt less strained than he would have the day before.

‘I wonder why the further into the bond you get, the easier it is to be apart?’ Harry pondered to himself, slipping out of bed and stretching. He was about to walk into the guest suite to scrounge an outfit for Christmas morning but he spotted clothes already put out for him, neatly folded on top of Draco’s trunk at the end of the bed. Harry smirked; he had no problem wearing Draco’s clothes but he found it almost cute that he enjoyed dressing him so much.

Harry slipped into the formal robes, grimacing at the once again visible Malfoy insignia on the breast of it. “Must they brand everything?” he muttered to himself but then realized Molly does it, too, with her sweaters to the kids and the tags of their clothing. ‘Do all purebloods do it? Did my Dad?’ Harry frowned at the thought, shaking it off quickly as he made his way to the bathroom, knocking on the door.

Draco opened it before returning back to his current task, the process of maintaining his hair with the variety of floral scented balms he owned. “You know you don’t have to do all that, Draco. Your hair looks great without all that effort.”

The corners of his mouth twitched, he had to bite back his own smile. “As flattering as you are trying to be, Harry, doing all of this is what makes my hair flawless. I simply cannot live with myself if I went about looking like a wet mop all the time,” he looked at Harry pointedly.

Harry, who would usually swipe playfully at him for the mock insult, instead came to stand behind Draco whose hands were full of oil and lost in his own hair, and wrapped his arms around his waist nuzzling into his neck. Now Draco did smile at their reflection, only pausing for a moment before continuing. “You really should get ready though, Harry. Andromeda and Teddy will be here within a few hours and I know my mother would like a traditional Christmas brunch before they arrive,” Draco informed.

“I am ready, just have to brush my teeth,” Harry said, reluctantly detangling himself from Draco and reaching for his toothbrush.

Draco eyed him up and down for a moment before leaning forward and washing the residue off his hands and stepping back from the sink, leaning against the counter and watching Harry. “Do you know how delectable you look in proper robes? You really should get a new wardrobe, merlin knows you have the money to.”

Blushing, Harry shrugged and continued to brush his teeth. When he spat he took a moment to say, “Shopping? No more than necessary, thank you, the clothes I have are fine.”

“They most certainly are not fine. I’m sorry Harry, I don’t consider myself particularly shallow but I merely think if you’re to be my boyfriend a little sprucing wouldn’t harm you,” Draco said, watching Harry carefully as he reacted to one particular word he had said. He stopped brushing his teeth again, made a gurgling sound in his throat as if he was choking, his ears were turning red and his eyes were wide. “You do still want to be my boyfriend don’t you?” he empathized.

Harry didn’t answer, instead he concentrated on regaining his composure and finishing his teeth. When he was done, he turned to Draco and smiled sheepishly. “Yeah, I do.”

“Good. Because frankly, after last night, I’m not willing to let you go even if you wanted to leave,” he teased, looking him over again. “I do have a few questions before we go downstairs though, Harry,” Draco said seriously. “What made you come to me two nights ago? What changed?”

Harry turned crimson immediately and used this opportunity to lead the way back into Draco’s bedroom, he fiddled with the hem of his black robe and stalked over to the window, looking over the expansive grounds. “I spoke with your mother-“

“Heavens preserve us. Alone? What did she do to you, Harry?” Draco groaned.

“She, er, help put a few things into perspective, that’s all. Narcissa is an impressive women, I…admire her,” Harry said carefully. He didn’t want to go so far as to say he liked her but in a way he did; she was nothing like Molly but still a mother just the same.

Draco was silent for a minute, coming up behind Harry and mirroring the way he had just held him in the bathroom. Harry automatically leaned back against him, sighing. “What do you want when we leave this room? I don’t feel particularly keen on snogging you in empty lavatories or hiding behind statues at school.”

“Oh, er,” Harry stuttered. “The Weasleys already know and well, we already spend all our time together and it seemed like people were finally getting over that…we have nothing to hide,” he said, sounding as if he was still convincing himself.

There was a knock at the bedroom door. A small, squeaky voice immediately recognizable as Daisy called for them. “Master Draco and Mr. Potter, sirs, the Mistress is asking yous to join her in the dining hall!”

“Thank you, Daisy,” Draco called back, holding Harry tighter and gently lowering his lips to his neck, planting a few soft kisses. “Let us put your bravery to the test, O great Gryffindor,” he teased.

Harry became suddenly nervous, what did Draco mean by that? “It’s just Narcissa, we’ve had meals with her before and they didn’t end so disastrously,” he said, unsuccessfully attempting to detangle himself from Draco. Instead he was forced to merely turn and face him, his nose at the level of Draco’s lips so that when he looked up, they kissed again. Draco deepened it immediately, pushing his tongue through Harry’s slightly parted lips, his hands gripping to the back of his robes.

Draco backed away, grinning, “It’s just Narcissa,” he mocked, taking Harry by the end and leading the way out of his room. “Funny, Blaise said the same thing after his first time sharing my room. Never came back again after that, probably for the better.”

They were outside in the corridor now and Harry’s blood ran cold. “Blaise…and you…” he couldn’t formulate his sentence properly. Unwanted images flashed across his mind; a well of jealousy began to brim inside of him, he felt his stomach clenching as his hand tightened over Draco’s.

“Later, Harry,” he warned lowly, it was not a proper conversation to be having on Christmas morning. Suddenly, an unadulterated – horribly inaccurate – image of Blaise and himself sprang into his head out of nowhere. Draco paused, trying to shake it but he couldn’t. They were at the landing of the stairs now, in the foyer, he turned about to see Harry’s contorted face. “Stop thinking that. I can see it,” Draco snarled.

Harry shook his head and blinked in surprise. “You can see it? How is that possible?” he asked incredulously.

“I have heard of bonds reacting like this, but only very rarely. It’s usually a bond where its sole purpose is to connect minds. Very useful if used temporarily for investigative purposes,” Draco explained curiously.

“So it’s like Legilimancy?” Harry asked, his face turning at the thought of it. Sometimes the bond made him feel so invaded.

Draco thought for a moment. “Sort of, I think. I’m not quite sure.”

“Could you, er, try it on me? Just so I can see what it’s like?” Harry asked, shifting the weight on his feet.

Draco found himself grinning again. ‘The ability to send Harry images just by thinking about them. Now this could get interesting.’ He concentrated on last night, the way Harry’s lips moved down his body, the teasing of his fingers. Instead, when Harry moved back up, Draco imagined what he really wanted Harry to have done. He thought about his hands in his hair, pushing him further down on his own erection, he could almost feel himself bucking up into him. Harry startled, blinking rapidly and shaking his head. Draco smirked at his flaming red cheeks. “Not thinking about Zabini anymore now are you, Harry?”

Draco led the temporarily mute boy into the dining hall, their hands still entwined.

Narcissa was seated at the head of the table, as always, and looked with a raised eyebrow over her tea cup at the boys; one blushing madly and her son, smirking and leading Harry to their seats side-by-side not far down from her. Their clasped hands did not escape her notice and although she was publicly known to be reserved, cold even, she couldn’t help but smile. Her son, for the first time in a very long time, was happy and for once had got what he had wanted.

“Merry Christmas son. Harry,” she greeted them once she trusted her voice not to defy her.

“Happy Christmas, mom,” Draco said more cheerfully than he had heard him say that in years. Once he unceremoniously shoved Harry into his seat he walked over to her and kissed her on the cheek before joining his boyfriend.

“Happy Christmas Narcissa,” Harry mumbled at last, lowering his head to allow his fringe to cover him.

“I did not get the time to tell you yesterday, Harry, but those are lovely glasses. My son has impeccable taste, does he not?” Narcissa said, unable to stop her smiling, especially as she watched Harry wriggle uncomfortably in his seat.

Draco’s hand was on Harry’s knee making little circles with his thumbs, as Harry tentatively agreed with Narcissa. They loaded their plates, called Daisy for tea themselves, and at last Harry found himself relaxing. That was until halfway through their silent brunch when Narcissa spoke again.

“Something strange happened last night. I heard somebody was awake so I got out of bed and followed down the corridor towards the sunroom near my quarters. You know the one, Draco, across from the guest room? Yes, well, it turns out Daisy took it upon herself to clean it in the middle of the night for some ungodly purpose. Either way, I was returning to my room and noticed your door was open, Harry, so I went to see why and couldn’t find you anywhere. I did, however, hear some intriguing sounds. I must have been imagining myself,” Narcissa finished, smirking despite herself as she placed her tea down and folded her hands in her lap, watching Harry react to her words with rapt amusement.

Harry stilled, swallowing the bits of egg left in his mouth whole, his face turning crimson immediately. There wasn’t enough fringe to save him this time. He merely looked wide-eyed at his plate, his breathing shallow and heart thumping in his throat.

Draco’s hand on Harry’s knee gripped it slightly. “Mother, be careful, I think poor Harry here is faint of heart.”

“I see. We wouldn’t want that awful Great Uncle Tibias incident to happen all over again now would we?” Narcissa said, a hint of playfulness to her tone.

Draco couldn’t contain himself, he burst out laughing, his mother soon following after. Harry looked, rather horrifyingly, between the two. Draco was clapping Harry on the back now between his shoulders. “Great Uncle Tibias? W-What happened to him?” Harry stuttered, finding his voice again.

“The poor bastard died of a heart attack one Christmas morning. Pretty sure father did him in,” Draco explained through his mirthful tears. “Harry did have that same look about him, didn’t he?” he turned to his mother, grinning broadly.

Narcissa inclined her head, her laughter ceasing, as she smiled softly at Harry. “My apologies, Harry. You must know from my assistance with Draco’s gift to the Weasleys that I am very approving of your relationship. You make my son happy and as a mother that is all I can ask. Your mother would want only the same for you,” she added.

The mention of his mother took Harry by surprise. His embarrassment dispersed entirely as both he and Draco looked at Narcissa, mouths slightly open. “My mother?” Harry croaked. “How could you possibly have any idea what my mother would have wanted?”

“Harry,” Draco hissed beneath his breath.

Narcissa raised her hand. “Now Draco, that’s fine. Harry has all the right to be upset, I did catch him off guard. Your mother was in school when I was myself. I was in fifth year when she first attended. Bright child, especially for a muggle-born. Oh no,” Narcissa said quickly at seeing Harry’s disgust at the reference, “I mean no offense by it. It must be hard to enter a school you know nothing about and yet somehow your mother did and was always the top of her class. Much like your friend, Miss Granger. Lily used to run a rather popular study group in the library every Sunday. Your father would attend, though I hardly doubt much studying took place on his behalf as he had ulterior motives. In Lily’s third year, my seventh, Severus always asked me to accompany him.” It was only for a year but what I saw of your mother I was impressed. She was a good woman,” she finished softly.

Harry smiled at Narcissa. That wasn’t what he had expected to hear at all. It had been awhile since he heard anything about either of his parents. “Do you know a lot about them? I mean, either of my parents.”

She shook her head. “Not a lot, I’m afraid. We have a while before our guests arrive. If you wish, I could tell you what I do remember,” she offered.

Harry’s smile brightened even more, his hand falling underneath the table and finding Draco’s. “That would be lovely.”

When Andromeda arrived later that afternoon, the air in the manor changed drastically. On the few occasions Harry had met her, she always appeared to be a calm and reserved lady. In this case, she wasn’t any different. Though she didn’t seem particularly eager to be reunited with Narcissa, she directed most of her attention at Harry.

Little Teddy had grown a lot since Harry had seen him; he had passed his first birthday now, was walking, and his hair was long, down just below his ears. He looked the spitting image, although chubbier, of Remus, with Nymphadora’s nose.

They were having afternoon tea in the parlour, Narcissa and Andromeda stiffly conversed on topics such as new shops that had come  to Diagon Alley, the exchange rate, the whereabouts of distant relatives, all polite, cordial conversation. Teddy was venturing near the large window, climbing up the loveseat that sat beneath it. “No, no, Teddy. Get down, please,” Andromeda called softly from her seat.

The toddler looked over at his grandmother, a large, crooked smile with a few teeth poking out splaying across his face. “Up! Up!” he exclaimed, gesturing to the window.

Harry laughed lightly, going to Teddy and picking him up underneath his arms. He propped him on his hip and walked over to the adjacent unobstructed window, giving Teddy the full view of the east side of the grounds. “There, look Teddy, it’s the albino peacocks. They’re sort of like birds,” Harry explained, pressing his finger to the glass.

Teddy clung to Harry and looked on with amazement at the animals grazing below. “Cold?” he asked after a minute.

“No,” Draco stepped in behind Harry, his hand on the small of his back as he smiled sweetly at the toddler. “These birds are very special. They don’t get easily get cold.”

Teddy hit the glass, growing in excitement as one of the peacocks expanded its wing size. “Go! ‘Arry, go!” The little hand rapped the window a few more times before Harry softly grabbed it, holding it within his own and shaking his head.

“They’re not very friendly peacocks,” Draco informed the boy. “But you can come see the House Elves. Would you like that? That is, if your Grandmother is alright with that.”

Andromeda was watching them closely from her spot on the couch. “Please, Andromeda? I’m sure there’s plenty we could show him around the manor that he’d like,” Harry added.

The older witch nodded slowly, though she was obviously not entirely comfortable with the idea. “Of course dear.”

“Just do not forget that dinner will be served in an hour,” Narcissa reminded them as Harry carried Teddy out of the room. Once out in the corridor, Draco softly closing the door behind him, Harry put Teddy down and reached down to grab a hold of his hand.

They brought him to the House Elf quarters which he was entirely fascinated with. The Elves delightedly put on a bit of show for Teddy’s amusement and gave him a few treats to spoil his dinner. Draco led him, by hand much to Harry’s amusement, around the manor pointing out various portraits and explaining who they were and how they were related to Teddy. The last stop on their journey was a room situated right next to the master bedroom.

Carved on the door was the depiction of a dragon, beneath it Draco’s initials. Harry couldn’t contain his smile as they were let inside. The seemingly untouched, unmoved nursery that must have been Draco’s as a little boy was still intact. His crib, a few stuffed animals, a few children’s books, a rocking dragon, and an odd glass that played music when you touched it in certain places.

Draco led Teddy over to the glass, demonstrating how to use it. Teddy’s entire face lit up as the colours danced in the glass orb, sounds emanating from it. Teddy took the large orb into his own unstable hands and plopped down on the floor, placing it between his legs. Harry was looking about the room, at the moving pictures of Draco as an infant, a toddler, smiling freely up at the camera and waving. Harry’s heart welled; it was a strong testament in the favour of Draco really being human, he really was just like any of the rest of them, his life had just led him in an unfortunate direction.

“Why didn’t you show me this before?” Harry asked, his hand reached out to find Draco’s as his eyes looked across to the crib. Above it read ‘Never wake a sleeping dragon’. Harry snorted. “Your parents were really obsessed with dragons, weren’t they?”

“Evidently. I was, too. I guess as a kid I thought it was interesting I was named after them,” Draco opined.

Harry looked over his shoulder at Teddy, still laughing away and sliding his fingers, jabbing them, into certain parts of the orb. “You’re not interested in them anymore?”

Draco became almost immediately serious, he stiffened. “No. Back in Fourth Year the interest faded rather quickly,” he explained.

A rather loud, abrupt scream alerted them both to Teddy. The orb had stopped. Draco’s mood automatically lightened as he and Harry approached the toddler, lowering themselves to the ground. “All done, all done! All done!” Teddy said frantically looking between Harry and Draco with wide eyes.

Draco took out his wand, “Transfluo.” The orb started up again, much to Teddy’s delight. He cast a quick tempus as well, sighing at the time.

“Magic, magic,” Teddy said, pointing his stubby finger at Draco’s wand.

Reaching out and ruffling his hair, Harry scooped up the toddler into his arms again, the orb coming with them. “Yes, that’s magic, Teddy. You can do magic, too, when you’re old enough,” he explained.

“Come on you two, Grandma Tonks and Great Auntie Cissa don’t like to be kept waiting.”

Harry snorted at the names, following Draco out of the nursery before giving it one lingering look. “I never expected you to have a room like that,” Harry admitted.

“Why? Did you honestly expect my parents raised me in a dungeon of sorts? Or put me to bed in Slytherin clothing? Honestly, Potter, I was a baby once, too,” Draco scoffed.

Harry laughed, “I know but it’s hard to imagine.”

When they came to the dining hall, Andromeda seemed anxious to take her grandson back. She looked at the orb in his hands and then back at Draco, a small smile on her face. She sat Teddy down at the conjured highchair and gestured to Draco. “Give the ball back to Draco, Teddy, it’s not ours,” she said softly.

Teddy immediately pouted his lips, clinging to the ball as if his life depended on it. Sensing a wail coming on, Draco shook his head. “Consider it a Christmas present. You can have it, Teddy,” he smiled.

Andromeda and Narcissa exchanged a glance as they all sorted themselves out at the table. “Draco, are you sure? That was your favour-“

“Really, Aunt Dromeda, he can have it,” he insisted.

Harry raised an eyebrow at the name but for some reason it evoked a strong emotion in Andromeda. The older Black sister sniffled to herself, concentrating instead on getting a plate from their small festive feast ready for Teddy.

“You really are wonderful with kids, Harry. Teddy couldn’t ask for a better Godfather,” Andromeda complimented halfway through dinner as Harry pulled another face at the giggling toddler.

Blushing, he stopped only for a moment. “I just want him to grow up happy,” he said beneath his breath, barely loud enough for the table to hear, before returning to sticking his tongue out at Teddy.

“Has he shown signs of changing yet, sister?” Narcissa queried.

Andromeda pursed her lips, slowly nodding. “He seems to be able to change his hair colour so far. Normally he doesn’t do it but when he sees certain pictures of his mother he will change his hair to match whichever colour she was wearing.”

Teddy blinked and looked up at his grandmother, he hit himself on the head. “’air? ‘Air?” he gestured, Andromeda nodded. Teddy looked across the table at Draco and Harry, between the two. His godfather continuing to make silly faces between bites of his dinner, Draco merely raising his eyebrow, laughing at Harry, and shaking his head. “Dr-ay-co,” Teddy said slowly, unsurely. Everybody at the table looked at him, surprised. “Drayco,” he repeated quicker, smiling brightly at his second cousin. “’Rayco!” He made an exuberant gesture at his hair again and all of a sudden his dark brown locks turned a vibrant blond.

They all stared in amazement mixed with shock and amusement. Harry was the first to make a sound, he burst out laughing as he looked between his godson and Draco. “It’s perfect! Look, he got it perfectly!” he wheezed, too entertained by the face Draco was pulling at the boy now. But Teddy merely pulled the same face back, making the two look even more ridiculous.

“Well I never,” Andromeda commented, shaking her head in slight disbelief.

After dinner they returned to the parlour where Narcissa gave Draco his Christmas gifts: a few robes, some new quills, a few new journals and books, and gave her sister a new set of robes as well much to Andromeda’s surprise. Andromeda gave Harry an empty photo album with his last name inscribed on it, to chronicle his years. And Narcissa, it seemed, had been in earlier contact and agreement with Andromeda for she had gotten Harry a gift, too. An expensive looking camera with a few rolls of film. It looked to Harry much like Colin Creevey’s old camera, and he had no idea how to work such a thing. Draco showed him how and the first picture Harry took was of Teddy playing with Draco’s orb as he sat on the floor beside his grandmother.

When it became time for her to leave, Harry hugged his godson tightly. Teddy surprised everybody further by running up and hugging Draco around the legs, Narcissa, too, before he disappeared through the Floo with his grandmother. As Narcissa retired, Draco and Harry retreated to their room.

As soon as the door shut, they rushed towards one another. They fiercely kissed each other, their arms tightening their grips, as Harry had his back up against the door, Draco pushing into him. It was short lived as Draco pushed off, running a hand through his hair and smiling brilliantly at Harry. “You were great today, with Teddy,” Harry said, getting out of his formal robe and throwing it haphazardly to the ground.

Draco raised an eyebrow at the robe and brandished his wand, levitating the robe, folding it and placing it on the edge of his trunk neatly. “I don’t mind children,” Draco said admittedly, “Especially when they are too young to judge. It is really quite interesting to watch what interests a child and how they react to certain things.”

Harry smiled, kicking off his shoes and socks as well now, quickly correcting himself and placing them neatly on the trunk as well after a quick glare from Draco. “Do you want children?”

“Harry, I’m gay,” he stated blatantly.

“I know but there’s other means of having a child, y’know…”

“Okay. I’m eighteen. Is that a good enough excuse to get me out of this conversation?” Draco offered, folding his own robe on top of the trunk. “I have your present to give you, still,” he said, going to his closet to retrieve it and hoping it would be enough distraction for Harry to forget what he was talking about.

Thankfully, it was. Harry became suddenly nervous, as Draco could sense through the bond. “I didn’t get you anything, I’m sorry, it’s just there wasn’t any time where we weren’t together obviously and well, er, I didn’t think really know if I should and…”

“Just shut up and come open it, Potter,” Draco drawled, placing a small wrapped box on his bed.

“It’s not fair, either,” Harry mumbled as he awkwardly approached the box, “You got your mother to do this too, didn’t you?”

Draco merely shrugged, looking off to the side as he hovered beside Harry whose hands tentatively pulled away at the silver wrapping paper. Once open, Harry reached inside and pulled out a photo album. Apparently it was a year for photography related paraphernalia. But this one was old and had absolutely nothing to do with Harry. Instead, on the front, was a picture of Draco’s mother and his aunt. Harry’s lip curled at the sight of a very young Bellatrix but he quickly forgot it as he looked up at Draco inquiringly. “I remember finding it over the summer. I owled mother and asked if you could keep it and it’s all yours.”

“Er, thanks but, why exactly do I want some old pictures of your mother’s family?” he asked awkwardly.

“You dunce,” Draco muttered, taking the book from Harry and opening it up to a few pages in. He gestured at a photograph that was taken in a very familiar drawing room; one Harry had helped clean over one of his summers, that of Grimmauld Place. A very young, very bright looking Sirius Black was playing with his brother, Regulus. “There’s not a whole lot of him but there’s still a fair amount. I thought since he was important to you this might be better off in your hands. There’s certainly no one in there my mother misses,” he added dryly.

Harry’s heart gave a tug as the Sirius, aged about six, in the photo turned and gave the camera a gigantic smile. The kind of smile Harry could still remember Sirius would give him, although briefly and not quite as untarnished as the one he wore as a child. Closing the book and clutching it to his chest, Harry smiled. “Thank you Draco, it’s perfect.”

Draco removed the book from Harry’s hand, leaning over and placing it on his bedside table. “Now,” he said seriously, taking Harry by his shoulders, “Since you didn’t get me a Christmas present,” Harry began to retort but was silenced by Draco’s finger, “I think it’s only fair you let me take a Christmas present.”

“Take a present? Draco, what does – oh,” Harry silenced himself as he was overtaken with a visual that flooded his mind from Draco’s. They were on his bed again, in the same position as last night, but reversed. Draco was making his way down Harry’s body, kissing as he went, his hands dove under Harry’s waistband and… “Bloody hell,” Harry breathed, trying to shake it from his head.

Draco smirked, giving him a shove backwards onto his bed. Before Harry could respond, Draco was lowering himself on top of him and devouring his mouth with his own, kissing him feverishly as his hands tugged at his clothes.

Propping himself up on his elbows only for a moment, Draco removed Harry’s glasses and tossed them to the side of the bed. He smirked and received a lopsided smile in response. “Merry Christmas, Harry.”

Chapter Text

'There can't be anything better than this,' Harry thought decisively while laying his head back, closing his eyes. The cold air from the propped open window hit his bare skin, sending shivers and goose-bumps across it. He felt tantalized, excited, yet calm all at once. He never dreamed he could feel so relaxed with himself, in his own skin, his mind devoid of everything but the present.

A warm, electric touch started just below his navel and ran slowly up, pausing to make circles or dips into certain crevices, coming to a stop on his cheek. Draco's thumb stroked him there, where his maturing stubble could be felt, and then his hand lay still as Harry felt some shifting above and beside himself. He dared not open his eyes, that could risk this being a dream and if it was he didn't want to wake up.

Harry's breathing was steady until a naked body pressed up against his; hard yet lean and the tips of his hips sharply clashed with Harry's own but even at the slight discomfort it felt completing. The weight on the bed told Harry another hand was pressed just beside his head as the one on his cheek ran back down and braced his shoulder, gripping.

Draco pressed into him harder, rotating his hips, their cocks rubbed together causing Harry to gasp. It felt like every piece of his skin that Draco was touching with his own was on fire but not in an unpleasant, painful way, more of a soothing, peaceful flame. His heart wasn't racing for once, instead it had almost stilled to a non-beat, and Harry was almost tempted to check his pulse to see if he was still alive.

"Look at me," Draco demanded softly, his voice resonating in Harry's head.

Almost regretfully Harry pried his eyes open, his glasses were long since gone and it took him a moment to focus on the figure hovering so close above him. Draco was smiling sweetly down, his grey eyes clouded with lust. "There you are. Are you alright?"

Blinking for a moment, a tranquil smile rose on Harry's lips. "I'm perfect. Just trying to figure out whether or not I'm dreaming," he admitted in a whisper, a moan following after as Draco ground down into him once more, the hand on his shoulder was nearly tickling his side, only enough to make him twitch.

Breathing out a bemused laugh, Draco lowered himself further until his lips were grazing Harry's. "Let me help distinguish that for you."

As they kissed, that same fire dripping from the edge of their lips into their bellies, Harry awoke from his stupor and let his hands explore the man on top of him. They found the lower part of his back, slightly curved, and his buttocks which he kneaded. Draco groaned into Harry's mouth, driving himself down harder.

Harry's hand slipped between his cheeks, the tip of his index finger massaging and gently prodding the hole. Draco stilled, his body going rigid, before he bit Harry's lower lip so hard he was certain it would be fat afterwards. Harry hissed into his mouth at the pain, stopping his ministrations as Draco moved slightly away, hovering. "Is something wrong?" Harry asked.

Draco shook his head, pieces of fine platinum hair falling in front of his eyes. "I want you so badly, Harry," he confessed, his hips rotating again in a way that had Harry throwing his head back, eyes shut, gripping onto Draco now so as to keep himself grounded.

"S-so take me then," Harry stuttered when he brought himself to words again.

"You have no idea how much I want to…" Draco reiterated, his voice faltering but his body moving again despite his words.

Desire was rippling through Harry, his wants transforming into an overwhelming need to be taken or take his lover. "What's stopping you?" Harry asked, almost pleadingly and he cursed how full of desperation his voice was.

Instead of waiting for Draco, Harry's finger massaged his hole once again as he bucked up into him. "F-fuck, Harry," he swore, his head dropping to the nape of his neck, burying his face in unruly hair. "If I take you or if you take me, we – Merlin, fuck – initialize the next stage of the bond whether or not you've offered yourself to my family yet," Draco finally bit out shakily.

Harry blinked. "Oh," he merely said, closing his eyes again and laying his head back. It was the day before they left for Hogwarts. They had spent the entire holidays after Christmas wrapped within one another, barely leaving Draco's room, exploring one another's bodies and putting their newly found mental link to good use. Harry wanted more now. He didn't want a blowjob, or just to touch Draco, he really wanted, almost needed, to really feel him. He wasn't sure if he was properly distinguishing that desire from his own mind or the bond nor did he care anymore. If it felt this good it couldn't be wrong.

"What will that mean?" Harry queried.

Draco was kissing his neck now, planting his lips in a trail, breathing in his sweat and arousal. "That even if they found the counter for it, even if they found what the connection or curse that was used, that nothing could be done about it. We would be bound, Harry, irrevocably."

Two weeks ago those words would have terrified Harry. Now, they barely affected him. "I won't let you make that decision through a forced bond. I can't. If you want to be bound this isn't the way to do it," Draco said, practically hearing Harry's thoughts.

Sighing, deflated but still aroused, Harry nodded slowly. He understood, as much as he didn't like it. Twisting one foot around Draco's lower calf, Harry flipped the boy onto his back so he was pressed against him now. "Fine, but you're not going to stop me from doing this then, are you?"

Harry was lowering himself, his one hand grasped his hip now as the other wrapped around his hard shaft, his mouth waiting just about his head as he looked up at him, eyes shining. Draco wanted to throw his head back but couldn't, his eyes were transfixed on Harry handling him.

"Gods," he moaned, "Fuck no I-" but his word were lost as Harry took as much of his length into him as he could.

'Even if I can't have everything I want, there's nowhere better than here; there's nothing better than this.'

The flash from Harry's camera momentarily stunned Draco. He rubbed his eyes, screwing up his face before drawing his lips into a thin line. "Are you finished?" he drawled, eager to board the Hogwarts Express.

Harry grinned. "Sorry, I've never been here this early. Even the picture I have in front of the Express with Ron and 'Mione is crowded. I mean, have you ever seen Platform Nine and Three Quarters so deserted?" he mused, taking another look around. It truly was fairly empty. There were a few workers, the same ones that had just heaved their trunks on, and some scattered younger years saying goodbye to their parents.

"I told you leaving this early was preposterous," he criticized for the fourth time in their journey through the Ministry and back to Kings Cross.

"The Weasleys always leave at that time to catch the train, guess it must just take longer with such a bigger crowd. At least I got a good picture," he gestured at the equipment still slung around his neck.

They walked onto the train and made their way towards the back, Harry was pleased to actually reserve two good compartments beside one another. "Are you ever going to take that bleeding camera off?" Draco asked as he settled next to Harry in the compartment.

"I never imagined I'd be voluntarily sitting on the train with you. Now, I can't imagine sitting anywhere else," Harry smiled brightly, his arm snaking around Draco's back and pulling him close, ignoring his question.

Draco grimaced at the gesture but eventually relaxed into it. "Did my mother slip some Amortentia into your tea this morning, Potter? Any more of this and I'll have to stun you for the rest of the journey," he warned.

"That would only stun yourself," Harry reminded him.

Shrugging, Draco feigned interest in his nails. "Still better than listening to you the whole way."

Harry laughed, he couldn't help it. He was happy. For once, he could actually testify as being happy. And it was mostly because of Draco. The thought petrified him at first but now he embraced it. He had nothing to be ashamed of. If the Weasleys and Hermione still accepted him, that's all that mattered. They sat for close to an hour before other students began piling onto the train. Draco kept excusing himself into the corridor, peeking out of the compartment, eager to see Blaise and even, admittedly, Pansy.

"Can you blame me? I've spent my holidays with Gryffindors, I need my reprieve," he commented when asked, to which Harry could only laugh more.

Eventually the said Slytherins did arrive, surprisingly hand-in-hand. "Bloody finally," Draco snapped at them, ushering them into the compartment and closing the door.

"Finally? We're a half hour early!" Pansy exclaimed.

"I think he means the two of you," Harry grinned at the blush that came over both the Slytherins' cheeks.

"Same for you, mate! Any more whinging about Potter and I may have had to off you myself!" Blaise scolded teasingly.

"Yes, well, one simply cannot help themselves when bound to a Malfoy," Draco stuck his nose in the air.

Harry smirked, shaking his head as he looked out of the window, keeping his eye out for Hermione and Ron. He was surprised the Slytherins were okay with it but now that he thought about it they hadn't been very hostile to him from the start of their bond. They seemed, oddly enough, rather accepting. "Sure, it's me that can't help myself. I mean, even though it was you who offered that silly plant to the Weasleys."

Draco turned red in the face, his friends turning to him slack jawed. "You did what?!" Pansy all but yelled incredulously.

Before he could be reprimanded, Harry thankfully caught sight of that unmistakeable red hair bobbing onto the train. He stood up stretching, heading for the door. "Looks like they're here," he explained to Draco's questioning, and simmering, gaze. "I'll be in the compartment across the hall. Zabini, Parkinson," he nodded his head to them both.

Blaise and Pansy wasted no time once the compartment door shut on attacking their friend with relentless questions.

Through the growing throng of students, Hermione, Ginny, and Ron finally made themselves seen down the corridor. Harry waved them on, gesturing to the empty compartment across from Draco and his friends. It didn't take long for them to catch up and their own questions to begin. Harry knew they were coming but was still unsure of how he was going to answer them.

"Malfoy's mum got you a gift? That's bizarre, mate," Ron shook his head in disbelief.

"She's actually quite charming," Harry said carefully, he was still so wary of how to describe Narcissa, she was an oddity to him.

"You furthered the bond!" Ginny spoke up for the first time, a bright grin playing across her face.

Harry startled, opening his mouth before promptly closing it. "Harry, have you?" Hermione asked softly.

"Not that it's bad, mate, it's just a little bit mental is all," Ron added quickly after his girlfriend.

Blushing furiously now, Harry knew he had to tell them. Without going into detail of what he and Draco shared, he explained that he had accepted Draco's offering to the Weasleys. He went on to talk about their short trip to Diagon Alley, as Draco insisted he buy Harry a new wardrobe and they wanted to test the parameters of their bond which had extended a fair amount, and of their time with Teddy and Andromeda.

"He's really quite good with Teddy, actually. It's sort of cute," Harry blushed, looking out the window as the train began to move.

"Cute?" Ron reiterated, his face contorting with disgust. "Are you sure you've not been slipped something, mate?"

Harry laughed, recalling Draco's earlier accusation of the same thing. "Does this mean you and Malfoy are dating?" Ginny asked.

"Er," Harry coughed, desperately trying to recover, "Did either of you see the line-up for next year's Harpies team?" And just like that, as Harry knew it would, Ron and Ginny were distracted from the previous conversation, much to Hermione's chagrin.

It was well into the trip to Hogwarts, just after Hermione returned from getting changed into her robes, when it happened. Ginny had gone off with a crowd of Gryffindors in her year, Hermione had settled into the window seat, reading one of the new texts she had received for Christmas, as Ron and Harry tried to see who could juggle the most licorice wands – the chocolate frogs had escaped from them rather fast.

There was a fuzzy frequency in his head, it had started at the back and crept up to his temples. Harry attempted to shake it but it wouldn't go away. He blinked a few times, rubbing his eyes beneath his glasses, and then he saw it. Or thought it, rather. The vision was clear as day, as if it were a memory. Harry could see the mirrors in the washroom of the Hogwarts Express, the familiar design of the walls, and he could even feel the wall's cold, smooth surface against his skin. Harry looked down, blushing madly as he realized he was naked. A hard body pressed up against his back, his face was turned to the wall, his breathing ragged. A hand raked through his hair, yanking his head back as lips devoured his neck, hips bucked up into him and he felt something prodding between his cheeks…

Harry's eyes snapped open. "You alright, mate? You went all stiff there for a minute," Ron commented curiously.

"Er, yeah…" he muttered, trying to ignore the word stiff and the sudden connection it had with his trousers. "I think I'll go get changed now, too. I'll be right back," Harry said abruptly, excusing himself.

Once he was out in the corridor, his eyes went across the hall to see that the door to Draco's compartment was open and Blaise and Pansy were otherwise occupied. Draco himself wasn't to be seen. Harry closed his eyes only for a moment, taking a deep breath. Like an elastic band between himself, stretching itself thin, Harry could feel the bond. He followed it; down the corridor, passed quite a few noisy compartments, dodging having to stop and converse with several classmates, until he finally came to the train's washroom. Harry could feel Draco on the other side of the door. Before that would have unnerved him but now he found it comforting, being able to find him whenever he wanted.

As he went to open the door it was locked. "A little busy in here," snapped Draco.

Harry chuckled. "I'll bet you are, let me in you prat," he returned.

The door immediately clicked and before Harry could even look his partner over he was being yanked into the washroom by the collar of his shirt and thrown back against the closed door. Draco covered Harry with his body immediately, his hand yanked his head back by his hair and his lips devoured the visible patch of skin on his neck between his jumper and his jaw.

Harry closed his eyes, groaning lowly as his hands ran up Draco's back and underneath his blouse. "I was waiting for you," Draco mumbled against Harry's skin, pressing his lips to it again and moving lower, stopping only for a moment to pull Harry's jumper over his head, tossing it to the floor where his cloak already lay.

"Mm, I can see that," Harry breathed. "But here, is this really a good ide-" he cut himself off with a moan as Draco bravely dove his hands down Harry's now unbuttoned trousers, grabbing a hold of him.

"Bloody Pansy and Blaise were all over each other…reminded me of how much I wanted to taste you again before we got to Hogwarts," Draco explained, leaning back to watch Harry's face writhe with pleasure as his hand began to pump. After a moment of observation he lowered himself to the floor, taking Harry's trousers with him, making the Gryffindor increasingly aware of how naked he was in the unlocked washroom. But before he could make any protests, Draco mouth was closing in around his head, his hand cupping his bollocks.

"Fuck, Draco!" Harry swore, his hand weaving in between his silky hair as Draco began to tease his head with his tongue before taking as much of his length into his throat as he could all while his other hand continued expertly massaging him.

The thrill of their location and the familiarity with which Draco worked him made it not take Harry too long before his stomach was pooling with warm pleasure. With his hand on his head, Harry thrust Draco down onto his cock a few good, hard thrusts before moaning his lovers name loudly as he came in the depths of his throat. Draco jumped at the sudden intrusion but took it all in, swallowing after the last spurt.

Harry shook at the knees with his orgasm, feeling light-headed as Draco came to stand before him again, smirking lopsidedly. "Aren't I just amazing?" Draco mused.

"Completely," Harry concurred, choosing to ignore his boyfriend's playful narcissism. After a few heavy breaths, Harry reached out and rubbed Draco's own arousal, receiving a raised eyebrow. "Return the favour?"

"I was hoping so," Draco sighed contently, allowing Harry to have his way with him.

Harry enjoyed pleasuring Draco. It was rapidly becoming one of his favourite activities; dangerously bordering his love for Quidditch. It wasn't so much the act itself but the noises Draco made, the way he hissed his name under his breath or unabashedly yelled it at the height of his orgasm. Over the past few days Harry had come to learn that there was definitely nothing more pleasurable to hear than Draco orgasm. The sound of the act itself could send Harry over the edge, and had on one occasion much to both of their surprise.

When he had finished, Draco pulled him to an unstable stand, enveloping him tightly, planting small appreciative kisses up and down his jawline. "I wonder who heard that," Draco speculated.

Harry blanched at the thought of it. He had overcome the thought of being known to be with Draco since all those who mattered already knew, but the idea of somebody hearing them together was a whole other issue.

When they reluctantly parted Harry was grateful to see that nobody had heard that, though they received quite a few curious looks as they walked beside one another on the way back to their compartment, their hands brushing up against each other as they did. As he entered the compartment, Hermione appeared even more deeply immersed in her book as Ron was reading a copy of the Quibbler, grinning as he did.

Harry sat back down, unable to wipe his sloppy smile off his face. "Mate, didn't you say you were going to get changed?" Ron asked slowly, looking at his friend as though he had grown a third head.

"Bugger. I guess I forgot about that didn't I?" Harry blushed, leaning against the window.

"Harry…I'm alright with Malfoy and all, you know that. It's about time you got yours but should you really be…getting it on the train?" Ron queried, folding the magazine in his lap and biting back his amusement at Harry's continually growing embarrassment.

Hermione looked up curiously now, her eyes going comically wide when they landed on her friend. "Harry!" she scolded, "It is most certainly against the rules to engage in such lewd activities on the train!"

"But I just went and talked to him, that's all! We didn't do anything!" Harry lied defensively.

Ron chortled, pointing a finger at him accusingly. "What kind of talking ends up with a hickey the size of a Snidget?"

Harry's hand shot to his neck as he flushed but it seemed his actions only made Ron laugh even harder as he clutched his stomach. "Wrong side, mate!" Ron choked out.

Harry shot up from his seat, muttering. "Shove off. I'm going to get changed. Honest…and throttle Draco for giving me a damn love bite," he added lowly as he left out the compartment again, Ron's laughter following him as he went.

Firewhiskey was an acquired taste. Or at least so Harry was told. He had never liked the smell of it nor the taste of it. However, halfway through the Welcoming Feast there was nothing more that he wanted than a right, strong firewhiskey.

The rumours had already started, spreading like a frantic patronus. Harry's love bite was apparently noticeable even from a distance and his hair wasn't quite long enough to cover it nor was his collar from his uniform high enough. Harry cursed his luck as he hung his head low to the table, shovelling food into his mouth so that he could leave as soon as possible.

Ginny and Ron, however, found the rumours and Harry's current state quite amusing. Hermione disapproved, of course, and told those whose whispers reached her ears to mind their own business. Though most of the rumours were ridiculous – Harry Potter snogging a succubus, Harry Potter in a love triangle with Weasley and Granger, Harry Potter made a love slave under the Imperius Curse, or Harry Potter detected to have strong traces of Amortentia– some of them were rather close to the truth of the situation. Apparently quite a few fifth year Hufflepuff girls had seen Harry enter the washroom not long after Draco and were quoted as saying they noticed they were in there for quite some time.

When Harry had heard these latter rumours, he looked across the hall immediately searching for Draco. But Draco was content, even the bond told him so, and sitting peacefully amongst the Slytherins where no real commotion was occurring. It didn't help the rumours that when Draco looked up having felt Harry's eyes on him he smiled sweetly, inclining his head, before returning to his meal and conversation.

The hardest part was deflecting Seamus and Dean who were relentless. "Maybe that Greengrass girl?"

"The older one or her sister?"

"Come on, do you really think Harry would date a Slytherin?" One of Ginny's friends interrupted the older boys.

"Well why not?" Seamus returned flippantly.

"Doesn't really matter. I think it was that Ravenclaw beater who kept falling over him last semester?"

Harry looked up feeling strained. He didn't even know which Ravenclaw they were talking about. Last semester he was too consumed with Draco, and he still was, to notice anything else. "C'mon, mate, stop leaving us dry! At least tell us what house she's in, give us something!" Seamus begged, jeering Harry in the ribs from his spot beside him at the table.

"For Godric's sake, who cares?" Harry shouted, shoving himself back from the table and standing up startling his friends who looked up at him apologetically.

"Sorry, Harry, we're just curious s'all," Dean said sheepishly.

"He's in Slytherin. Yeah, you heard me right, he is in Slytherin. And speaking of him, we have an appointment with Madame Pomfrey so if you'd excuse me!" Harry snapped through clenched teeth, ignoring the pale shocked faces of realization that looked wildly between him and Draco as he stormed away.

Out in the entrance hall Harry could breathe. At last. There were no students about the castle yet, as it would be quite some time before the feast was over. Draco joined him only a few seconds later, immediately snaking his arms around his waist. "Why are you so frustrated?" Draco asked concernedly.

Harry sighed, embracing him. "Since the second I got off the train they haven't stopped. Bloody ridiculous rumours about this," Harry jabbed at his neck where the bite was clearly seen.

Draco smirked. "Ah, my apologies, it appears I got carried away."

"You think?" Harry rested his head on Draco's shoulder. "Doesn't matter anyway. I pretty much just told everybody back there."

Draco stilled for a moment, surprise coursed momentarily through the bond before he eased once again. "I figured as much. It was either you told them or my deeply rooted veela heritage decided to suddenly awaken and I sprouted wings a few moments ago," he said dryly.

Harry snorted and grumbled. "Why can't people just mind their own business?"

"Because you're Harry Potter and I'm Draco Malfoy. People will never mind their own business," Draco said truthfully. "Come. I want to get back to our rooms. I'm certain the knights won't let us in for at least a half hour and we have to see Madame Pomfrey first."

Which they did, though they had to wait a good fifteen minutes before the mediwitch showed herself in the empty Hospital Wing. She ushered them into her office, asking pleasantries of their holidays, before her questions stilled as her eyes travelled down to the boys' hands. They were seated in the chairs opposite hers, though pushed closer together. Harry's hand was resting on Draco's knee, Draco's hand clasped overtop of it.

"Is this a particular result of the bond or…?" Madame Pomfrey asked, her eyes focused on their hands.

"Er, no, ma'am. We're sort of together," Harry admitted.

The mediwitch was quick to hide her surprise as she opened up her ever growing file on the two of them and their bond, her quill ready and inked. "How are the parameters of the bond? Have you been finding the distance by which you can part greater?"

"Much," Draco answered. "I barely feel any effect from being a fair distance away, no matter how many rooms in between, now. I think at one point we were on complete opposite sides of the manor completely unanaffected."

"And flying, too," Harry interjected, "We've been able to fly without feeling any sort of reaction."

"Interesting. And the physical sensations? That 'electric' feeling as you so like to call it, Mr. Potter?"

Harry blushed at the word he had used for his adamant description. "Still present, Madame Pomfrey. Kind of more intense, though."

"Hot," Draco added. "Like warm to touch but not in an overwhelming way."

Madame Pomfrey's eyes went wide but she quickly hid it, lowering her head as she scribbled down the altering symptoms. They went through the more specifics, the finer details, and Draco indulged her with the information that they had both willingly furthered the courtship themselves with his actions of gifting Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.

"I don't advise furthering a bond which we do not know the means of. It is not wise to play with elements of the unknown," the mediwitch warned. "I will send my notes to Professor Slughorn, Professor Alcona and Healer Greene as well. I presume they will be in contact with you within a few days. Professor Slughorn will most likely want to do another identifying potion to see what has been altered by your actions," Madame Pomfrey explained, standing up.

"Thank you, Madame Pomfrey. Will we have to come again tomorrow?" Harry asked, pulling Draco to a stand with him.

Madame Pomfrey shook her head. "Only if the bond becomes altered, otherwise I think it can wait a few more days before we check up on you again. Now hurry along you two."

They didn't need telling twice. Both were eager to return to their personal space; their home away from home where they could be themselves together, privately. However, just as Draco presumed, they were thwarted by the four knights who hurried to attention as they approached.

Harry smiled wearily at the four of them. "Sir Leland, Sir Ferguson, Sir Cowper and Sir Albacour, how have you been?"

The knights took a minute, all of them looking between the two occupants of the room they guarded and one another. At long last Sir Cowper stepped forward, clearing his throat and bowing as he did. "Sir Potter, it's lovely to see you. We have been as well as the life of a portrait can be."

The proper title didn't escape Harry who gaped. The other three knights soon followed suit, bowing to the two of them. "The castle is dreadfully dull this time of year. To think even your company would be preferred, Sir Malfoy," Sir Ferguson teased.

Draco smirked, letting go of Harry's hand as he crossed his arms. "And to what do we owe the pleasure of being knighted?"

The knights shifted around in the portrait, neither looking so keen as to answer his inquiry. Sir Leland finally stood forward. "It takes a true man to put oneself aside for another; to hold somebody's needs above their own. Only a truly noble person can do this and it is what we were waiting for."

"We knew it would happen. Or could, rather. We just hoped it would," Sir Albacour admitted.

"Two souls as fervent as yours can only do two things: destroy one another or mould with one another," said Sir Cowper.

Draco snorted. "You four have too much time on your hands. Galahad," and for the first time the portrait swung with ease and no hesitation.

"Don't forget to visit us now, lad," Sir Ferguson added to Harry before he slipped inside the room, immediately collapsing on the couch feeling elated at being back at Hogwarts but also dreading the day to come.

Harry resolutely decided that they should have pushed their beds together eons ago as he woke blearily the next morning. Draco was curled up next to him, his hands shoved underneath his head and pillow, the blankets half on and off his body. Harry sat up, stretching his arms over his head, relishing the rarity that was waking before Draco.

"Tempus," Harry cast, retrieving his wand from the bedside table. "Bollocks! Draco! Draco, get up!" Harry shoved the slowly waking boy next to him. "Breakfast is nearly over, come on!"

"What?!" Draco shot up as if cold water had been dropped on him. "What time is it?"

"Half nine," Harry said shortly, jumping out of bed.

"Half nine? You have got to be bloody kidding me! I haven't even time to shower!" he sputtered frantically, swinging into action. He grabbed the pile of clothes he had laid out last night and darted for the bathroom.

"You showered last night!" Harry reminded him as he approached his own neatly folded uniform ready and waiting for him. "I bloody love how neurotic you are," he muttered, thankful once again for Draco's habitual laying out of his clothing.

Just as Harry was pulling on his robe, a knock sounded at the door. He groaned and cast a quick scourgify before hurrying over to answer the resounding knocks. "I know, we're late, we – oh, it's you," Harry stopped upon realizing it wasn't Ron and Hermione at the door but instead Pansy and Blaise.

"You look like you just rolled out of bed, Potter," Blaise commented, pushing passed him into the room.

"I did. We did," Harry said shortly, shutting the door behind Pansy who fixed him a strained smile.

"Harry? Did I hear the door?" Draco asked, striding into the common room as he buttoned up his shirt. "What are you two doing here?"

"You missed breakfast," Pansy said, crossing her arms, "We just wanted to make sure you were actually going to show up on the first day of term."

Draco scoffed, turning back into their bedroom. "Grab my bag, would you Harry?"

Harry nodded and recovered both of their bags from where they had readied them on the small table in the common room. He adjusted his robes again, uselessly attempting to flatten his hair. "See, Pans, bloody domestic. Eerie, it is," Blaise commented, purposefully loud enough for Harry to hear.

Pansy elbowed her boyfriend in the ribs. "So, Potter-"

"Harry's fine."

"Right. Harry," Pansy said slowly, inhaling sharply. "You left yesterday before we could ask, what did you say to Draco after he gave the Weasleys an offering?"

Harry stiffened, a blush immediately creeping up his cheeks. "Er, well I-"

"Not that it's any of your business, Parkinson, he said yes," Draco interrupted coldly, sweeping back into the common room looking as if he had been getting ready for hours. Harry inwardly swore; how come he couldn't look like that with such little effort?

"Are you two ready?" Blaise asked, looking between the two of them.

"Ready?" Harry queried.

"Well, after you're not so subtle admittance last night the whole school sort of exploded with it. I'm pretty sure there's not a soul in Hogwarts who doesn't know the two of you are…whatever it is," Blaise gestured at them in explanation.

Harry flushed and shifted uncomfortably, sensing his unease, Draco came to stand behind him, placing a comforting hand on his lower back. Harry released his tension almost immediately, smiling softly over his shoulder. "We could skive off today," Draco offered quietly.

Shaking his head, Harry found Draco's hand on his back and brought it into his own, lacing their fingers together and facing him with a weak smile. "No, it'll be alright…what's the worst that can happen?"

Blaise snorted, "Bloody Gryffindor, the worst that could happen-"

"Zabini, is there any particular reason why you came to spread your pessimism up here?" Draco snipped at his friend icily.

Sticking out his tongue, Blaise wrapped his arm around Pansy's waist and began to lead her back to the portrait hole. "We're going to be late for Defence," he said pointedly, and with that led the four of them out into the corridor.

Harry and Draco walked alongside Pansy and Blaise, their hands bravely clutched together. In all honesty, Harry had forgotten about the daunting situation entirely once Blaise began to go off on a tangent about how Theodore Nott slipped his cousin some candies from the infamous Weasley Skiving Lunchboxes at a yule ball over the holidays. "I still can't believe they're Weasleys," Blaise shook his head in disbelief.

Harry's heart dropped only for a moment, thinking of Fred. "It's just George now…and yeah, they were special, weren't they?" he added with a small smile as Draco squeezed his hand a little tighter.

It was as they landed on the sixth floor that it began. Students were hurrying to class, nearly late, but they slowed as they caught sight of Draco and Harry. Their eyes dropped to their linked hands and immediately the whispers overtook them. "It astounds me that people are so pathetically dull that our relationship is thrilling to them," Draco said loudly, hoping his voice reached as many in the corridor as it could.

Blaise and Pansy helped, surprisingly enough for Harry, by sending glares at the seemingly braver students who appeared to almost approach the couple with a determined look. They were quickly deterred. Harry was chewing his lower lip and contemplating letting go of Draco, perhaps it would make things easier, but it seemed as though his boyfriend had no such thing in mind as his grip merely tightened with the more eyes that followed them.

A sudden flash of light went off before them, Draco was quick to act. Harry was blinking, his eyesight unfocused, and when he could see properly again Draco had his wand drawn at the throat of what appeared to be a fourth year Ravenclaw. He was holding him threateningly by the collar of his shirt, snarling down at him.

Bravely, or perhaps unwittingly, the boy smirked up at Draco. A crowd was forming now, watching with interest as Harry had chewed his lip so much now it was bleeding. "You know how much that picture is gonna be worth? The Prophet is going to go crazy – Harry Potter gay with Death Eater! Hah! That picture is gonna make me rich," the boy boldly said.

Blaise was at Harry's side, he slapped his hand to his forehead and groaned loudly. "What a fucking idiot," he said, shaking his head.

"Potter, I believe you know by now that Draco is on probation…if you value your boyfriend's freedom you might want to – oh well, it's a little late for that now isn't it?" Pansy sighed.

Draco yanked the camera so hard from the boy's neck the strap broke, causing him to wince at the discomfort. He shoved the boy back, releasing him, and before he could make a grab at his equipment Draco threw it to the ground and promptly stomped on it; shattering it. Instead of addressing the mortified, protesting boy who was now being flocked by his friends, Draco took a look around at the crowd of awed observers. "Does anybody else have a problem with us?" he snarled loudly.

The silenced corridor all lowered this heads, some shaking in denial. "Good. If you do, you know where to find me," Draco spat and took Harry by the hand again, pushing his way through the crowd with Blaise and Pansy quickly followed. "Guess this is what I get for bloody dating The Boy Who Lived," he muttered.

Harry sighed. "Did you really have to break his camera, Draco? I thought you would understand; people have always been poking their noses into my business. They are obscenely interested in who I'm talking to, what I'm doing, it's sick, really, but I thought you would understand that."

"Even if it wasn't Potter, it's still you, Malfoy," Blaise said pointedly.

Fortunately for Draco, it seemed no Professors were hurrying to reprimand him and the students, though the stares and whispers didn't stop, avoided both of them all the way down to Defence. As they reached their classroom corridor, Harry heard his name being called. He turned to see Ron and Hermione and ushered Draco along ahead of him as he went to meet his friends.

"We heard about what happened," Hermione said, breathless but stern.

"I know, it wasn't right but-"

"Bloody bastards should mind their own business," Ron snapped. "They have no right, mate. Malfoy didn't do anything wrong."

Harry blinked a few times, surprised Ron was defending Draco's actions, before smiling softly. "Thanks, Ron."

For the second time that morning, Harry felt stunned. This time not by the flash of a camera but his body felt as though it had gone rigid. Not in a petrified way but he suddenly lost his footing and ended up on the floor of the corridor somehow. Ron and Hermione hurried to help him to his feet, all three of them confused, but were distracted from the chorus of laughter down the corridor.

"That's what fags get! Remember that, Death Eater! You already were the scum of the earth and now you're gay?!" a voice rang out through the laughter.

The trio hurried down the hall to the scene, thankfully Professor Alcona came out of her classroom first. "Mr. Steadman, fifty points from Hufflepuff and detention tonight! Jinxing another student is not tolerated at all and nor is that language!" Alcona shrieked in a huff. "Hurry along, everybody! You're all late!" she gestured at the students who quickly obeyed her.

Steadman, whoever he was, sneered at Draco who was being picked off the floor by Blaise and Pansy, before hurrying along with his classmates. "Tripping Jinx?" Harry asked as he joined Draco.

"They're all bloody lucky I can't curse them," Draco muttered, leading both sets of three into the classroom.

Their day progressed, surprisingly, without any further incidents. The whispers became background noise by lunch and only a few students approached them, to ask if it were true, whom Draco quickly shooed away. Harry remained quiet for the most part, he knew it would blow over but until then he would bide his time and try his best to stay removed from the situation.

In potions, Professor Slughorn pulled them aside after class congratulating them on their furthering of their bond. He had a meeting with Healer Greene that afternoon and was excited to discuss the progress they had separately made on the discovery of its nature.

It was at dinner, where Harry sat flanked by those in his year who thankfully let the subject of Draco dissipate from their conversation, when a mousey first year Gryffindor approached him. He tugged at Harry's robe who turned to greet the nervous boy; Harry wondered idly if he had really been that small all those years ago. "Uhm, Harry Potter, sir?"

Harry laughed, "Don't call me that."

"Right, well, uhm…Harry? Headmistress McGonagall would like to see you in her office after dinner," he announced.

Harry groaned. This couldn't be good.

Chapter Text

“It could have been worse,” Draco commented as they waited outside the staircase to Headmistress McGonagall’s office.

“Yeah, you could’ve gotten expelled for what you did to that Ravenclaw’s camera,” he said dryly.

Draco shrugged, folding his arms as he looked up the twisting staircase in the hope that he would see the Headmistress descending. “Still could.”

Looking at him exasperatedly, Harry clicked his tongue. “There’s no need to be so aggressive. All of this will blow over…I really wish you wouldn’t make it more difficult than it needs to be.”

“More difficult than it needs to be? My apologies, Potter, I unlike you do not intend to let others tread on me because they deem my business to be their own,” Draco snapped defensively.

Biting down his tongue to suppress the urge to retort, Professor McGonagall was towering over them saving their conversation to be finished later. “Boys, my office, please,” she instructed, tight-lipped as she looked between the two of them.

“You’d better not get expelled,” Harry mumbled as he followed the Headmistress.

As they settled in her office, declining the offer of tea, she folded her hands on the table. “Madame Pomfrey has enlightened myself as well as Healer Greene and Professor Slughorn of your accelerated condition,” she said carefully, looking to see their reactions even though they both remained to passively look at her. “Though I am pleased, if I may admit, in the progress you have made with one another, I am rather displeased at the expense this has taken on the other students.”

“That bastard deserved-“

“Mr. Malfoy, perhaps you should keep your tongue firmly in its place until I am finished?” McGonagall snapped, her voice rising. Draco pursed his lips and sat back in his seat. “For now, the incident shall be forgiven but if it is to happen again I am afraid it will be my duty to inform your overseeing auror, Mr. Malfoy. The reason why I have called you here was to discuss the distance by which you two can now be separated as is tolerated by the bond. Though it is not wise to keep the two of you apart overnight as of yet, it seems Healer Greene and Madame Pomfrey both agree that you may partake in a particular revered activity in your own free-time.”

Harry and Draco both looked between one another knowingly, perking up in their seats. “You mean, we can play Quidditch again?”

Professor McGonagall inclined her head, affirming their guess. They shared a large grin. “You may, although any symptoms you feel while playing must be dealt with immediately. Is that understood?” They both nodded elatedly. “You will only be allowed to play so long as behaviour such as that demonstrated this morning is not repeated. Do I make myself clear, Mr. Malfoy?”

“Of course, Headmistress,” Draco nodded, standing up.

“Very well. Off with you both then, it’s been a busy day,” she excused them, her eyebrow raised as she watched their hands entwine as they left together.

“My, my, I must say I never saw this coming. It is simply a delight to be surprised sometimes, is it not Minerva?” a usually silent onlooker said.

Headmistress McGonagall’s eyes snapped to the portrait hanging on her office wall, smiling softly. “Indeed it is, Albus, but troubling as well.”

“Troubling? I hardly believe so,” Professor Dumbledore countered.

“Certainly you must be concerned about Potter’s wellbeing. Willingly bonding to a Malfoy…”

The old man chuckled, his eyes lighting up beneath his half-moon glasses. “Dear Minerva, have you not yet figured the bond that is between them?”

McGonagall’s eyes widened. “Albus, are you saying you know what their bond is? If you do, you must inform me at once – these boys are being subject to magicks that we-“

“Come, Minerva, in due time. Harry and Draco just need a little while longer, I assure you the answer to all your questions will soon be known.”

Four Weeks Later.

When Draco’s vision came to, he saw white. He blinked against the brightness, groaning as his head felt as though it were to split in two. “Take this,” came the immediate, trusting voice at his side that was forcing a smooth vial into his hand. Without hesitation, he did. His head was propped at a slight angle, allowing the vile tasting liquid to slide down. “And this,” the voice commanded again. Draco obeyed. The second vial tasted even worse.

Finally his eyes adjusted to the light and he sat himself up, wincing at a dull pain in his abdomen. Draco opened his mouth to ask what had happened but quickly found his voice would not reach audible levels. Looking to his left he saw Harry sitting on the edge of his seat, leaning on his elbows on the bed, and looking just as tired as Draco felt.

“You got hit with a few nasty curses. Steadman tied your tongue and slipped some sort of malady potion into your pumpkin juice,” he explained, referring to the boy who had been the most violently opposed to their relationship. He had been the one to trip Draco in the hall the other day, and from then he continually and loudly voiced his disapproval of their relationship. “Sorry, I can’t remember-“

Draco gestured with his hands, pretending to write. Harry merely looked at him, his forehead furrowing trying to understand. Draco sighed and closed his eyes, he concentrated on the image of himself writing on a piece of parchment, and sent it through the bond. Harry received it immediately and nodded, taking some scrap parchment and Draco’s own quill from his shoulder bag. Draco quickly wrote.

“A Melody of Maladies?” Harry read what was written and nodded. “Yeah, that sounds like what it was.”

Draco grimaced. It was a curable potion and its side effects reversible, however, the process of which took a few days and resulted in a fair amount of pain. It explained the discomfort in his abdomen. “Madame Pomfrey said you should be back to normal by Wednesday, that’s just two days,” Harry said.

Blinking, Draco realized it was already the next day. Last he remembered it had been Sunday, not Monday. Sighing again he shrugged and smiled softly at Harry. Melody of Maladies paired with a tongue tie curse…it could have been worse. The thought of Derrick Steadman turned his stomach. As if sensing who he was thinking about, Harry reached out and placed his hand on Draco’s marked forearm, rubbing it comfortingly. “He got a month’s worth of detention. That bastard deserves to be expelled if you ask me.”

Draco wrote on the parchment again, Harry laughed at the words, ‘You got away with a lot worse’. “Yeah, I guess that’s true. If that prick comes anywhere near you or me again, I won’t hesitate to hex him into oblivion.”

‘Were you affected?’

“Sort of. It felt like I had been silenced for a few hours, and I felt the potion take its effect, but it didn’t last very long,” Harry gripped his wrist now, he leaned forward on the bed and graced Draco’s lips with his own.

At the contact, Draco felt temporarily relieved of his physical discomfort. Pressing their foreheads together, Harry exhaled. “I just don’t understand why that bastard has it in for us.”

“A Death Eater with The-Boy-Who-Lived. You couldn’t expect everybody to be happy about it,” came a voice from the doors. The boys parted and turned to see Blaise alongside Ron. It was a strange sight to see the two of them coming there together, of their own accord, without their girlfriends at their side.

“Plus, we heard Derrick’s older sister was killed during the war. Tragic, it was. She was a shopkeeper in Diagon Alley, she was also a Squib and with her father being a muggle,” Ron elaborated and then shrugged, making his way over to the bed. He looked at Draco uncomfortably, as if contemplating to ask if he was alright.

“So? What does that have to do with us?” Harry retorted.

Blaise crossed his arms and looked at Draco, his gaze hardening. Swallowing, Draco understood, he wrote on his parchment and offered it to Harry with an unreadable expression, looking off to the side. “Lucius did it? How can you be sure?” Harry whispered quietly.

“It’s a good chance he did, Potter. He headed the Diagon Alley raids, he was usually there when…” Blaise smiled apologetically at Draco.

“We all knew Lucius was a bastard, everybody does, no offence Malfoy. That doesn’t give this kid the right to blame you!” Ron snarled defensively.

Harry smiled. Ron was protecting Draco, in a way, he was concerned for him and showing it in his own way. “Let’s just hope for Derrick’s sake he doesn’t dare think about coming near either one of us again,” Harry said.

“Or us,” Blaise added.

‘What happened?’ Draco wrote. The three boys looked at the words and frowned.

“You don’t remember?”

Draco shook his head. In all honesty he did, vaguely, but all he was certain of was that the incident involved Steadman. “It was scary, really. One minute I was sitting beside Harry and the next he was on the ground, sort of convulsing a little bit. He said he was fine after a few minutes, but it looked horrifying,” Ron muttered.

“Steadman came over to our table,” Blaise began, situating himself on the end of Draco’s bed, ignoring the patient’s attempts at kicking him off of it. “He was saying the usual shite he has been for the past few weeks, but then he sort of tripped. I think that’s when he must have slipped the Malady into your drink. He wouldn’t leave and just when Slughorn was about to come over, the slow bastard, you took a sip and he cursed you almost immediately.”

“As soon as you took a drink, I was affected, too. But like I said, it didn’t last very long. I’m just glad you’re alright,” Harry said softly, his hand still gripping around Draco’s forearm. “Do you guys mind staying here with him for a minute? I want to go and try to convince Pomfrey to let us go back to our dorms. I’ll be right back,” he added to Draco, standing over him and kissing his forehead.

Once they were alone, Draco gestured at Ron, his lips pursed. Even he didn’t need to vocalize his question; they both knew what he was wondering. “I already came to terms with you two over the hols. The last few weeks just sort of-“

Draco was shaking his head rapidly and exasperatedly looked at Blaise and then back at Ron. Blaise smirked. “Weasley’s not the worst company out there. Besides, we have something in common now,” he explained.

Ron frowned. “More like Parkinson and ‘Mione are all over each other in the library.”

Draco raised his eyebrow eloquently, his smirk defining his thoughts. Ron blushed a furious red and hurried to correct himself. “Not like that! I-I meant the two of them have gone nutters together studying for NEWTs!”

Blaise laughed and Draco joined in, though his was silenced as the sound reached his lips. Harry returned with a vial in his hand, grinning. “I got you your freedom, but you can’t leave our rooms until she properly discharges you,” he said, handing Draco another potion in which he took with no questions asked.

This one tasted much, much worse than the first two he had been offered. He pulled a face and looked at Harry, narrowing his eyes as if blaming him. Harry shrugged. “You’re the potions master, you figure out how to make that rubbish actually taste halfway decent,” he teased.


By Wednesday, Draco received a renewed bill of health from Pomfrey and his voice had returned. In the meantime, it appeared that the Daily Prophet as well as most of the other students had calmed down about the relationship between Draco and Harry. There were still rumours but none of them were too far from the truth to annoy either of them.

With the weather slowly clearing and NEWTs coming closer, the two concentrated on studying and practicing their renewed spots on their Quidditch team. It was Saturday which meant it was the first Quidditch match either of them could participate in since their ban. And of course, by chance, it was against one another.

“Seeing as the two of you share a consciousness, couldn’t you implant some false picture of seeing the Snitch somewhere?” Ron had suggested before the match.

Harry frowned at his friend. “That’s not exactly a fair match, is it? Besides, I’m sure Draco would be able to tell I’m lying. I barely understand how to use our connection let alone how to do it fictitiously.”

“Besides,” Ginny said, chiming in and stepping up between them in the semi-circle that was their team on the pitch, “When has Harry ever needed to cheat against Malfoy?”

Ron laughed, “Yeah, you’re right, there’s no need for that, we’ll still kick their arses.”

As the teams’ captains, both newly reinstated, shook hands smirking at one another, the school watched in rapt attention as they kicked off into the air. It wasn’t until Harry flew high above the pitch that he felt his head begin to buzz. It was akin to a headache you would get from reading excessively in dim light; nothing that he couldn’t handle. He assumed Draco felt it, too, though to what extent he was unsure. He flew around the pitch, eyes darting passed the flying members of both teams and the quaffle, keeping the corner of his eye on the bludgers, as he scanned for that golden little snitch.

Despite the cold blast of the end of winter’s air, Harry felt happy. His elation of being in a Quidditch game again was mixed together with Draco’s which he felt through the bond, intensifying the sensation. There it was. That little glint off in the distance, hovering down by the Hufflepuff stands. Harry took an alternate route to where he thought the Snitch appeared, hoping to throw off Draco who he knew was hovering not too far from its actual location though had yet to see it.

The buzzing in his head, unfortunately, did not decrease the closer he got to Draco. In actuality, it intensified. He looked at his mate to see if it was affecting him, too, but he appeared more concerned with the game and searching for the Snitch than anything else. Harry blinked a few times, he felt heavy, as if an anvil was weighing down his broom. It happened fast and suddenly, his body went rigid and cold, his eyes completely blurry as if he had forgotten to put on his glasses, and in a desperate last thought before he slid off his broom, he projected his sudden confusion and fear at Draco in hopes he would understand what was happening.

Harry’s grip on his broom faltered and he was plummeting to the ground, screams and gasps from the on-looking crowd. Harry’s head was already swimming with darkness as he readied himself for what would be a horrifically painful impact, but instead he felt himself crash into a familiar scent before all went black.

“Fuck expulsion!” Harry heard as he stirred. In an instance he recognized he was in the Hospital Wing, a set of curtains excluding him from the others in the room. “He needs to be convicted of attempted murder! Or what, since he’s a half-blood the same rules don’t apply to him? Oh, but if only he had a bleeding Dark Mark on his arm he would be sentenced to a Dementor’s Kiss for even going near the Chosen One!”

“Mr. Malfoy, silence yourself this instance before you yourself are expelled!” Professor McGonagall’s voice snapped angrily. “He will be charged subsequently but what the Ministry decides is not within my control.”

“This wouldn’t have happened if you expelled him in the first place like he should’ve been,” Harry heard Ron muttering.

“Ronald! What Steadman did before today was nothing more than what Draco and Harry have pulled on each other over the past seven years!” Hermione interjected.

There was a bit more grumbling, Professor McGonagall no doubt agreeing with the witch. “What’s more important here, if everybody is missing the point, is that the bond should be broken,” came Blaise’s voice.

“And are you certain, Healer Greene, that our bond was…what was it you called it?”

“Animus Nexus,” Healer Greene reiterated. “It means a connection of the minds. Two minds melding together as one. Its initial casting physically needed your minds, literally and figuratively, to be close to one another. As the two of you furthered the bond, by choice, it caused the telepathic connection to strengthen. It resembled a courtship bond, however, the intensity of it was much greater. Think of the spell, or curse if you would rather, as a string tying your sub consciousness together.”

“That’s why you two could feel each other’s pain and were affected by spells? But, what about the transferring of thoughts…whatever it was they were doing towards the end? And how did Harry nearly dying have to do with breaking the bond?” Ron quipped.

It was Pansy who answered. “An Animus Nexus bond isn’t a very long-term one. It’s meant to stay in place until the two minds that are being shared reach a conscious level of consensus, where they agree to coincide with one another.”

“So it should have been broken when they agreed to further their bond?” Blaise asked.

“Sooner. It should have been broken when they could tolerate one another, when they agreed that for the sake of their sanity they would be more diplomatic,” Hermione explained.

“Yes, Healer Greene, I myself am curious as to why it took so long and for this specific incident to occur for the bond to dissipate? And why was it not discovered sooner given its simplicity?” McGonagall’s question made the Healer sigh heavily, Harry could hear his feet shifting just outside of his drawn curtains.

“I believe Professor Slughorn can explain that for me.”

“Oh! Right, well, you see Professor, when I examined these boys initially I could see a bond already strung between them. I was told by Mr. Malfoy that he owed Mr. Potter a life debt. The bond altered itself as soon as it was cast, making the completion of the life debt the parameter of the bond.”

“Exactly,” Healer Greene continued for him, “Animus Nexus is a simple but unstable bond, it has the ability to be easily influenced and changed.”

There was a few moments of silence before Draco muttered beneath his breath. “Is that all then? The bond has dissolved?”

“Entirely,” Healer Greene confirmed.

“Where are you going?” Blaise questioned. Harry felt a tug at his heart. He knew it wasn’t the bond, being it was now non-existent, but the knowledge that those even footsteps echoing in the Hospital Wing were Draco’s making their way towards the door and away from Harry.

“There’s no reason for me to be here any longer,” he said softly, barely audible. The door opened and closed once again. With it, Harry supressed an uncharacteristic sob.

‘Did Draco just leave me? Is the bond really gone? I don’t want it to be…Merlin, without the bond Draco doesn’t even want me anymore…’ the heavy feeling and rising sob in his chest grew, he bit down on his lower lip in hopes of keeping it to himself.

“Mr. Weasley, Ms. Granger, please alert me when Mr. Potter has awoken. Healer Greene, Professor Slughorn, I do not believe your services are no longer needed regarding Mr. Potter. Tea?” Professor McGonagall offered.

“Yes, Professor,” Hermione said, Harry could picture her nodding obediently.

“Not too long now,” Madame Pomfrey said to Ron and Hermione. “My patient needs to rest.”

Once the three adults excused themselves and Madame Pomfrey stalked towards the other end of the Hospital Wing, Harry quickly lay back down. All he wanted to do was sleep and dismiss those impeding thoughts of Draco from his head, along with the sob that was still welling under his ribcage. Hermione and Ron pushed their way through the curtains, his back was to them and he tried his hardest to make it rise and fall as if he were asleep. “Hey ‘Mione, you don’t think Malfoy left, like actually left?” Ron asked concernedly.

Hermione sighed, taking a seat on one of the two chairs at Harry’s bedside. “I don’t know, Ron,” she said softly.

“He fucking better not have! What about that stupid thing on Christmas?” Ron hissed, he sounded infuriated, defensive. Harry smiled sadly to himself, even if Draco were truly gone, he would always have his two friends. The thought, though warm at first, made the sob rise threateningly higher.

“Well, who knows what influence the initial bond could have had on their emotions? Who knows what Malfoy was thinking, Ron?”  

“Harry knew, didn’t he? He couldn’t lie through their connection, it must have been true!” It sounded as if Ron were desperate, which was surprisingly considering the subject.

“I-I don’t know, Ron, maybe Malfoy found out a way to lie. He once boasted about being able to use Occlumency…him leaving is going to destroy Harry,” she said, her voice broken.

“No,” Ron said resolutely. “He can’t. He fucking can’t and I won’t let him. I can’t believe I’m about to say this but I’d rather that bastard be around and Harry happy than have him hurt by him.”

Ron’s words and the reality of Draco’s, ‘There’s no reason for me to be here any longer’, caused the sob to implode and sound from the bowels of his chest. Harry cried out, clutching onto the blankets around him and forcing back the tears into his eyes. Hermione jumped up at once, her hands on his back, rubbing intently, her head peering over his shoulder at his scrunched up face. “H-he can’t, he can’t leave…what about…everything?” he whimpered.

Hermione frowned. “Oh, Harry,” she said softly, “We’re here for you. It will be okay, I promise.”

Looking up at his friend with shining eyes, Hermione had to bite her own lip to keep from crying at the sad desperation in Harry’s eyes. “Is he really gone?” he whispered.

“That’s it, I’m going to fucking kill him, hear me, Harry? Make you feel this way and just leave you! What kind of sick bastard does that?” Ron growled, turning to make leave of the Hospital Wing, no doubt to search out Draco.

“No!” Harry cried, shooting up in bed and reaching out for Ron who whirled around to look at him questioningly. “Don’t! I-I don’t want him to be with me because of guilt. I don’t want you to yell at him or hurt him, please, Ron. I couldn’t bear to see him…hurt,” Harry finished softly, lowering his head and gnawing on his lip again. It split and he could taste iron blood pooling into his mouth. It was either that or cry more than he was willing to in front of his friends.

Ron’s fists clenched and he frowned. “Fine, but he’s getting off bloody easy,” he mumbled.

“Oh Harry, just tell us what can we do?”

Harry laid back down, blinking at the bright ceiling of the Hospital Wing. “Could you get me Madame Pomfrey?”

“Are you hurt?” Hermione asked motherly, “They assured us that there weren’t any injuries because Draco caught you when you fell!”

Harry shook his head. “Not hurt. I just want some Dreamless Sleep Drought.”

Ron blinked. “Dreamless Sleep? Why-“ he stopped himself as Hermione glared over her shoulder at him.

“I don’t want to see Draco right now. Not in my head and certainly not in my sleep. I just want…nothing, for a while,” he admitted.

Hermione nodded and went off to grab the mediwitch, giving her friend one last sad glance. Ron sat on the edge of Harry’s bed, exhaling heavily. “At least the bond’s gone. Too bad you and your broom had to be cursed in order for it to happen.”

“What happened, exactly?” Harry asked, more than happy to talk about anything that didn’t directly involve Draco.

“Steadman cast a confundus on your broom, but it didn’t go right, apparently he’s rubbish at charm work. Once he saw it wasn’t working properly he cast one on you, too, and even when that failed the bastard put you in a full body bind!”

“All because…I’m gay?”

Ron shrugged. “He’s mad, he is. I think it had more to do with Malfoy than you, mate, kind of unfortunate you had to get in between. But, no bond, right?”

Harry sank further into his mattress. “Right,” he muttered, “No bond.” He couldn’t tell Ron that was the furthest thing from what he wanted, he didn’t want to admit how desperately close he was to being in complete love with Draco. How much he enjoyed waking up next to him, or studying with him, laughing… “What about the match?” he inquired, hoping to distract himself.

“Ah, well, they couldn’t finish it now could they? It’s bound to be rescheduled due to tampering,” Ron explained.

Harry nodded and sighed. ‘Sleep. All I need is sleep and to not think about Draco. Maybe when I wake up again, he’ll be here again.’

But the next morning when Harry awoke in the Hospital Wing, he was completely and utterly alone.

Chapter Text

All of Sunday was spent in a haze. Harry avoided his private dormitory like the plague and was escorted by Hermione and Ron down to the Great Hall for lunch. They flanked his sides, which was especially unusually for them as they nearly always walked holding hands or with their arms around one another. Harry didn’t say a word and he tried his best to ignore Hermione’s concerned glances; he didn’t want to talk about it, he couldn’t talk about it, hell, he could barely think about it.

They only just made it to lunch on time and Harry only ate a few bites anyway. He tuned out the conversation of those around him, all of his house mates respectfully not questioning him about the lack of Draco Malfoy over the past day. As they left the hall together, Harry started up the staircase. “It’s a nice day,” Ron suggested, slowly.

“Don’t feel like going outside,” Harry mumbled, taking each stair slowly, one at a time.

“Oh. Me neither,” Ron corrected his earlier suggestion and hurried after his friend.

Harry sighed. He knew they wouldn’t leave him alone for a good long while, and he was okay with that, but he honestly didn’t have anything to say to them. What could he say? Admit that Draco Malfoy broke his heart? That he didn’t actually want their bond to be broken? That he was, what, in love with him?

“We could go with you to your room, if you’d like. We’ll stay with you the whole time, Harry,” Hermione said softly.

Nodding, he knew he had to return to his dorm eventually, he desperately needed a shower and a change of clothes. After climbing the flights of stairs and he was rounding on his dormitory, his heart was thudding loudly in his chest. ‘What’ll I say if I see him? What’ll I do?’ he panicked but as Hermione lay a comforting hand on his back, he exhaled shakily. They were there. They could talk for him as he left, if he needed to, which he most certainly would. ‘Hah, and Gryffindors are supposed to be brave yet here I am, ready to run-away from my…my what? My ex-boyfriend? Ex-lover? Ex-bonded?’ Harry’s head was hanging at the portrait hole of the room. He was faced with the four knights. They all stood at attention to him, their faces pulled into grim frowns.

“Sir Potter, we did not expect your return,” Sir Cowper stated.

A horse in the back of their portrait neighed as Harry blinked at the four. “Never return, but, I do sleep here…” he trailed off.

The knights looked between one another and it was Sir Albacour who stepped forward and spoke. “This room no longer has your contents, nor does it have a password to enter.”

Harry’s heart fell. Of course it was empty, why would he have his own room still now that he and Draco were no longer bound? “Er, well…I guess I’ll be going…”

“Sir Potter, you are more than welcome to use the room to your liking,” Sir Ferguson suggested, calling after him.

“That is, we will keep the awareness of its use secret from the Headmistress,” Sir Cowper elaborated.

Sir Albacour smiled sadly. “It is in these times when solitude and a place that feels like home are most needed.”

With that, the portrait hole was flung open. Harry thanked the knights silently with a bow of his head before entering the room. It was barren, besides from a few pieces of furniture. The bedroom had two beds, now separated instead of shoved together, the bathroom lacked Draco’s excessive collection of hair balms, the small study table no longer had the blond’s notes neatly stacked upon it, and the couch no longer smelt of Draco, either. Harry felt threatening thoughts piercing him and tears prickling at the corner of his eyes, he sniffled loudly and fell down into an armchair.

Hermione and Ron took a seat on the couch, Hermione chewing her lip nervously as Ron looked into the mantleplace. Harry looked desperately between his friends and around the cold room once more. “Hermione, Ron…” he whispered brokenly, “What am I going to do?”

And for the second time he cried.

His friends watched mutely for a moment before Hermione was there, holding him, cradling him like a mother would. Harry felt so embarrassed and so weak. He was certain Draco didn’t cry. He never did. When he finally sobered up, he pulled his knees to his chest. “Was everything a joke to him? A lie?” he asked.

“Oh Harry, I don’t think it was,” Hermione answered quickly and sincerely.

Ron nodded in agreement. “Malfoy’s a good liar but he’s not that good a liar.”

“But…why did he leave then? Even his mother…at Christmas…and…” broken memories of Draco’s sincerity, his kindness for Harry, everything flooded to him all at once. Harry had to shake his head to concentrate on breathing again.

Hermione and Ron exchanged a look before they grasped one another’s hands and Ron nodded, letting her know it was okay to say what she was going to. “Harry, sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Sometimes, despite everything you go through together, it just doesn’t work in the end and somebody ends up getting hurt.”

Harry shook his head. “No. That can’t be it. It just can’t be…just because,” he mumbled into his knees. There needed to be more to it than that. There needed to be a better reason as to why he had been turned into a pathetic lump so quickly.

“Sometimes there isn’t,” Hermione reiterated, reaching out and placing her hand on his knee.

It was a long time before Harry would resurface from the room. When he did, Hermione and Ron led the way and he was stopped by the Knights. “Sir Potter, we believe your friend Lady Granger is far from the truth,” Sir Cowper informed him in a lowly whisper. The others nodded in vigorous agreement.

“We think you should seek out Sir Malfoy. Immediately. You have no idea why it is of the utmost importance that you two-“

“Thanks guys, but Draco doesn’t want to be with me. And that’s fine…if that’s what makes him happy…” Harry sucked in a shuddering breath, “Then that’s what he deserves.”

Turning on his heel, he ignored the Knight’s calling out to him. They strode passed McGonagall’s staircase and noted it was open. Harry paused. He was supposed to meet with the Headmistress. “You guys go on, I have to talk to McGonagall.”

“Are you sure, Harry?” Hermione asked gently. “We could wait here.”

“Yeah, mate, we don’t have anything else to do,” Ron quickly agreed.

Harry shook his head and started up the stairs. It was odd for them to be open. Perhaps McGonagall knew he had used his room and would end up walking past her office later. “No, you two go on, I’ll be fine, honest. I’ll meet you back in the Common Room…at some point…” he muttered, walking up the stairs.

Hermione and Ron stared after him, their hands clasped tightly around each other’s. “I wish I could squash that Ferret!” Ron hissed.

“It’s not worth it. Although, I am curious as to why he even left…what was his intention in all of this?”

“Knowing him, he just wanted to be the one to break The Boy Who Lived’s heart.”

The words of his friends disappeared as he reached the door to McGonagall’s office. It was slightly ajar. Harry pushed it open, calling for the Headmistress inside but received no answer. Harry frowned, this was entirely curious now. Never was the office open and especially not when it was vacant. “Hello?” Harry called again. “Professor McGonagall?”

“No such Professor here,” came a familiar, cheerful voice.

Harry whirled around from his spot in the middle of the room and his eyes landed on a smiling, seated portrait of Dumbledore. Despite his aching, his lips drew into a small smile. “Professor, sir! H-how are you doing?” he stuttered. He was always unsure of how to address Dumbledore in this state, he certainly didn’t feel as though approaching him with his problems was in anyway appropriate.

Dumbledore smiled down at Harry, his blues eyes twinkling over his half-moon glasses just as they did when he was alive. “As good as the life of a portrait can be. Which is rather splendid, you see, there is plenty of lively conversation to be had when one lives as a portrait,” he grinned.

“I-I would imagine so, sir,” though Harry very much doubted there was.

“Sit, dear boy, sit. Lemon drop?” Dumbledore offered, his hand slowly raising off his lap and gesturing behind Harry to McGonagall’s desk. Harry shook his head, declining, he didn’t feel right taking McGonagall’s candies without her even knowing he was intruding in her office, but he did pull up a chair. “It took myself two whole years before I convinced Minerva to try a lemon drop – now she cannot stop eating them! Fabulous candies, they are, Muggles are ever so inventive, don’t you agree?”

“Er, yeah…sir, I don’t think I should really be in here, you see, I thought Professor-“

“Come now, I know what you thought and it is quite alright for you to be here. How do you think the staircase was opened? Sir Cowper warned me you would be passing by. Lovely crowd those Knights are, the best of the best, if you ask me. Very informative, too,” Dumbledore said, his grin growing as his hands clasped together on his lap once again.

Harry nodded. “They were nice. At least once you got to know how to talk to them they were,” he said truthfully.

“Harry, I must agree with the Knights. In matters of your relationship…you must not lose hope even in the dimmest of days. When a seed least expects it, it can sprout into a beautiful wiggentree,” Dumbledore said dreamily.

Harry blinked a few times. Just like the live Dumbledore, he hadn’t a clue what he was alluding at. At least not entirely. And he distinctly felt he wasn’t being told everything, as per usual. “Sir?” he questioned.

“The young Malfoy and yourself. All is not what it seems, Harry, and I would hate to see something end that did not have to,” Dumbledore elaborated gently.

Clenching his hands into fists, Harry’s heart began to palpitate again. This wasn’t something he wanted to discuss anymore. He wanted to spell every thought of Draco away from his head. It was pathetic enough he was hurting so much over him and now what; he was expected to crawl back to him? To beg for him to come back? And why, because four Knights and a dead Headmaster wanted him to? And to what end?

“Sir,” Harry began, his voice shaking and low, “I would appreciate it you didn’t talk about things you don’t know. Draco left me. He wants nothing to do with me. And if that’s what he wants than that’s what he wants…I’m not looking to persuade him otherwise.”

Dumbledore smile faltered only for a moment before softening again. “Oh, but some things can be explained, Harry. My boy, Miss Granger is not always-“

Harry had a sneaking suspicion the Knights had a quick doorway to Dumbledore’s portrait somehow and he quickly stood. “If that’s all sir, I really ought to be going,” Harry snapped, letting himself out of the office in a fury.

Sighing, Dumbledore stood from his chair, stroking his silver beard. “Those boys can try to run out the inevitable but they will not be successful. Even when a wiggentree sprouts, it takes a long time to grow, and the branches are not strong enough to hold the weight of a snidget till its first late spring. The snow is melting, Harry m’boy, spring is not lost to us yet.”

It was Thursday before Harry could eat properly again. Before he could smile alongside his friends and pretend that he was enjoying himself. The resumption of Quidditch practice assisted by keeping him distracted; he even tagged along with Hermione to the library whenever she wanted to do some extra studying. Anything to keep his mind occupied.

Oddly enough, he barely saw Draco, not that he was complaining. Even during class the Slytherin seemed to keep his head low, his voice quiet, his hand never rose like it once used to. It was almost as if Draco had been erased from Harry’s life completely and he was left with memories that became vaguer by the day.

They were in the Common Room after practice one night, both Harry and Ron worn out from doing drills, as Hermione quizzed them on Potions. Ginny was sitting silently across from them in an armchair, her legs pulled up under her, her head buried deep in her copy of the Daily Prophet.

“I said I don’t know what’s in it, ‘Mione! Merlin, I just want to go to sleep,” Ron groaned, shaking Harry from his stupor of watching the flames licking the logs in the fire before them.

Hermione appeared disgruntled and turned to Harry before quickly deciding to gloss over him and moved towards Ginny instead. “Ginny?” she asked.

The redhead peeked up over the paper and then raised it pointedly again. “Skeeter’s gossip column,” she said, as if that was an explanation all in itself, to get her out of studying.

Huffing and slamming her book shut, Hermione took off up the dormitory stairs. Ron wearily stood, his muscles aching from practice. “I guess I ought to go after her, blimey, she gets right testy when it comes to homework…” and with that he followed his girlfriend.

Ginny folded the paper in her lap, leaning forward grinning at Harry. “Do you think those two will ever go a week without fighting?”

Harry shrugged. “At least they’ve someone to fight with,” he muttered.

Frowning, Ginny changed spots to sit beside Harry on the couch, twisting herself to face him, narrowing her eyes. “If it’s any consolation, Harry, Malfoy’s looked awfully miserable lately,” she whispered.

Harry tried to smile but it barely reached his lips. “Thanks, Gin, but it doesn’t really help…I’m fine, really,” he added, but the exasperated look he received told him she knew otherwise. “Okay, I will be fine. I just need my time. I’ve never gotten that close to somebody before, you know?” Ginny nodded, she understood, she, like everybody else, just wished there was something more she could do for him.

Stretching, Harry stood up. “I think I’m going to sneak out for a jaunt,” he explained, “Rather you didn’t tell the others where I went.”

Ginny nodded, “Course. And Harry? We’re here,” she smiled warmly.

Harry left out the portrait hole. He knew they were there, like the family he didn’t deserve, but their company wasn’t what would help him – only Draco could make him feel better. Only he could fill whatever was missing. And he was the only one who was willing not to be there.

A few minutes into his walk Harry recognized where he was headed. It was towards his old dormitory. Perhaps out of habit, perhaps he just wanted to brood in the general area, but he didn’t stop himself from continuing there. ‘Anywhere but around people for a while,’ he thought, shoving his hands into his pockets. He was desperate to clear his head.

All of a sudden, Harry came to a stop at the landing of a particular staircase. He was in the Dark Arts corridor. He blinked a few times and turned about on the spot. “Hold on,” he said aloud to himself. “I was certain I was heading-“ his words died on his lips as his eyes looked back down the stairs.

Halfway up where he had just come from was Draco, paused mid-step, blinking up at him. Harry’s pulse was thumping so loudly in his throat it was all he could hear; it was made even worse as Draco smiled fleetingly, continuing up towards him. ‘Am I dreaming? Did I fall asleep back in the Common Room? Because it looks, oddly enough, as if Draco’s actually…happy…to see me,’ Harry’s face screwed up as he couldn’t tear his eyes off of him.

‘Merlin, why does he have to be so beautiful? Why do I have to know just how good it feels to kiss him?’ Harry groaned inwardly, because Draco was standing before him now, silently looking at him and waiting, and all Harry wanted to do was reach out and kiss him.

“Harry,” he whispered, like a word caught in the wind. It reached Harry’s ears and he felt a shiver rake through him – damn, it sounded so beautiful when he said it. It sounded so right.

“What are you doing here?” Harry finally croaked out, his voice sounded far too weak for his liking. And what was that? Was he shaking? Harry internally screamed at himself to stop, to remain calm, to remain poised. But he couldn’t. Not under that gaze, not with Draco smiling sadly at him, as if he meant it, as if he felt sorry for him.

“Same thing you are, I imagine,” Draco drawled, he reached out with his hand to put it on Harry’s shoulder, like a comfort, and Harry recoiled as if he was handling fire.

Harry’s eyes narrowed at him. Draco couldn’t just leave him and then act like he cared. He didn’t care. He didn’t even care that Harry had recovered from the fall. Draco frowned and lowered his hand, hurt. “I guess we both forgot this staircase leads here on Thursday’s, hm?”

“Damn,” Harry swore. He had forgotten. There was too much on his mind and this was the staircase he usually took to their old dormitory. Well, he took it every day but Thursday.

“Listen, Harry,” Draco began softly.

Harry knew well enough what was coming and stopped him. He raised his hands in protest and sighed. “Don’t. You don’t have to explain it to me. It won’t make any difference. Did it come as a surprise? Hell yes it did, but what does it matter? Do you think it will make me feel better to hear your reasons? No. Will you apologizing for hurting me bring us back together? No. So, just save your breath, would you, Malfoy?” Realizing he was on the verge of an uncontrollable rant, Harry shook his head and shut up. He wanted to get out of there. He made a step around Draco but he grabbed him roughly by the shoulders and kept him rooted to the spot. Harry forgot just how strong Draco could be when he wanted to.

Without a word, Draco roughly pressed their lips together and for a moment, for the most miniscule second Harry had ever experienced, his world felt right again. His lips tingled with the feeling of his skin, his tongue could almost taste him. Harry drew back and spat, growling in frustration. “What the fuck, Malfoy?!” he yelled, taking the shock written across Draco’s face as the perfect time to make an escape. He hurtled down the stairs and Draco did not dare move.

Watching after him, Draco clutched his hands around himself, arms folded across his chest. He felt weak, confused, and angry. For the first time in his life, he was overcome with emotions he couldn’t control. He had always been good at controlling them before, it was one of the few good things Lucius had taught him. “Harry,” he whispered at the empty staircase, “I don’t think I can do this without you.”

Afraid of running into Harry again, and knowing how horrible his temper could be, Draco made his way straight for his dormitory. It didn’t quite feel like home anymore but at least Blaise and Pansy were there, waiting for him, as always. He stowed himself away in his dormitory, his friends quickly followed. When they saw his distraught look, they both sighed.

“At least he’s not crying this time,” Blaise commented dryly, trying to make light of the situation.

Draco sneered up at his friends before his face fell again. “I ran into Harry. We both took the wrong staircase up to our old rooms,” he explained, voice falling to a whisper, “I kissed him.”

“You what?!” Pansy shrieked, absolutely scandalized.

“Shove off, would you! I know I shouldn’t have done it-“

“Of course you should have!” Blaise cut him off, smacking him on the arm. “Haven’t you listened to what we’ve been telling you this whole time? Leaving Potter just because you’re not bound to him anymore is bloody ridiculous!”

“But he doesn’t need me!” Draco screamed, standing up from his bed with his fists clenched. “I-I don’t have anything left to offer him now that we’re not bound! He’s free to go out there, make his bespectacled little redhead offspring with any one of those damned Weasels, do as he pleases! How do you reckon he’d ever get into Auror training with an ex Death Eater as a boyfriend, hm? All I could ever do for Harry is hold him back!” he yelled.

Blaise shook his head, he wanted to hit Draco, curse him until he got it through his thick skull, but he knew he shouldn’t. “What about what the Knights said? And Dumbledore?”

Draco’s eyes narrowed. “They just care about Harry’s immediate satisfaction, all of them! They don’t care about what happens to him ten years from now!”

Pansy laughed coldly. “Yeah, that sounds just like Dumbledore, Draco; not caring about the Wonder Boy’s future!”

Draco had considered this a hundred times over the past few days but he shook his head. Dumbledore didn’t know what was best for Harry, Draco did. And he knew it wasn’t him.

Chapter Text

The days melted away with the snow. It was unusually nice for the beginning of February. One Saturday, three Gryffindors found themselves stuck indoors when all they wanted to do was join the other students in a trip to Hogsmeade. Unfortunately for them, three Slytherins were right alongside them.

Flanking both Harry and Draco were their best friends, continuously distracting one another from acknowledging that they were even shoved inside the same tiny Hospital Wing room. Ron kept yammering about the Quidditch World Cup, it would begin in a few weeks, and Hermione would jump in with random questions about subjects that would be on their NEWTs. Harry was nearly overwhelmed as his friends attempted to boggle his mind; to keep it as far away from Draco as possible.

He was still mad at him. And rightfully so, in his friends' opinions. Draco couldn't go around hurting and kissing whomever he pleased. In class, in the corridors and at meals Harry was giving the blond the best cold shoulder he could manage. However, in the small space he could almost smell Draco despite being a few metres away. He could almost imagine him running his hands through his messy hair or trailing soft kisses down his neck…Harry was off in a daydream, smiling sheepishly. Ron knocked his head, causing him to swear and rub at what would most certainly be a bump developing soon.

Blaise and Pansy appeared equally intent on distracting Draco. But it wouldn't work. Even without their failed bond or relationship, for the past eight years if the two of them were in a room they had to at least look at one another once. Whether with hatred or…Harry refused to even think of the word now, he had expelled it from his vocabulary. Permanently.

Between their friends' heads, their words promptly ignored, Harry met Draco's eyes. The blond quickly averted his gaze and his ears turned a slight shade of pink. Harry blinked. He knew that look that lingered there for a moment. It almost enraged Harry, if it didn't flatter him first. 'Thinking about that at a time like this with four other people in a room?!' he thought wildly to himself. He swore he could hear Draco's low chuckle against his ear, the smirk against his skin, 'Screw them. I want you, Harry,' he imagined him whisper.

A shudder ran through Harry and his thoughts were thankfully interrupted; he also was given an excuse to ignore the way Draco was looking sidelong at him, curiously examining him as if he noticed something. Healer Greene and Professor Slughorn stepped into the room. They shooed the four students to the side, leaving Harry and Draco awkwardly in the centre, feeling as if they were being judged. Which, in a way, they were.

Slughorn handed them the familiar vial of the identification potion. Harry was reminded of the first time he took it, standing beside Draco. He loathed him so much back then. He desperately wished he could feel like that again. Hating was much simpler than…'No,' Harry told himself sharply. They took it on Slughorn's demand and looked between one another. There weren't half as many strings and ties and Harry was certain the one representing their life debt had disappeared.

Healer Greene and Slughorn were observing closely, exchanging unreadable gazes, and leaning towards one another whispering. By the time the potion wore off, Slughorn appeared nervous and Healer Greene appeared overall pleased. Hermione, however, was wide-eyed, as the rest of the students hadn't seen exactly what she and the other two had.

"Interesting, interesting," Healer Greene muttered.

"Donnie, you don't seriously think-"

"What else could it be, old friend? I think we need to have a chat with Dumbledore. An old man as wise as himself couldn't have missed this," Greene said gesturing between Harry and Draco.

Harry hated not being included and he grumbled. "Noticed what? What's going on? What's wrong with us-me?" he quickly corrected. He didn't want to appear like he cared about Draco any longer, even if it were blatantly obvious.

Turning their attention back to the two of them, Draco completely silent but anxiously awaiting the answer, Healer Greene sighed. "Nothing is wrong with you. The bond is still completely dissolved, non-existent. There is just something else, nothing to be concerned with, that we cannot discuss until we have seen Professor Dumbledore about the matters. Horace?" Greene gestured to the door, hurrying them both out before Harry could ask any more questions.

Draco turned to Harry, opened his mouth to address him but was quickly cut off as he fled from the room, Hermione quickly following. "You're a right bastard, you know that, Malfoy? After everything you did to Harry and then snogging him? Where the hell do you get off?" Ron snapped.

Blaise and Pansy were ready to jump to his defense but he shook his head at them and sighed. "You're right," was all he said, head hung. "But I did what I did for Harry, not to him."

Ron blinked and backed away for a moment, confused. "W-well, it certainly doesn't seem that way, does it?" he snapped, hurrying out of the room after his friends.

Hermione was particularly silent through Harry's rant about being left uninformed, again, as they proceeded out onto the grounds. The grass was mushy, wet, and the mud caked the bottom of their shoes and pants but it still felt great to be outside with only one cloak on. "I mean, what could be so damn important they couldn't tell us? It's about our lives, isn't it?" Harry disgruntled.

"Did neither of you see what was between Harry and Malfoy?" Hermione asked quietly. They both shook their heads. "Oh dear," she sighed, taking a deep breath. "The Animus Nexus bond definitely dissolved. And the life debt, too. The rest was just little strings coming from hexing one another over the years but…between your heads there was another string, a new one. Like a new bond was forming of its own will, or had been forming over sometime. Don't take my word for it!" she said quickly. "But that's certainly what it looked like to me. It was faint, but there was something there and I'm certain that's what got them all worried."

Harry's breath caught. They were still bonded? He certainly didn't feel bound to Draco any longer. "No, Herm, that can't be-"

"Yeah, it doesn't make sense. They'd feel it, wouldn't they?" Ron said and waved his hands. "C'mon, let's not think about it. How about I run and grab a couple brooms from the shed by the Pitch and we can have a quick go round the pitch?" he asked, hopeful to distract his friend, but before he could answer Ron was already heading off to do that.

Hermione turned to Harry in a flurry, then cast a Muffilato charm and looked as if she were about to cry. "I didn't mean to, Harry! I-I didn't think it would cause all of this! I-I just wanted it all to stop, I wanted everybody to stop and they just wouldn't listen! YOU wouldn't listen and HE would never listen to me! But this…I didn't think it'd go this far and I heard it would dissolve on its own and-and-and" Hermione was crying now, she was in a blunder.

It took him a moment to understand what she was telling him but once he did he grasped her harshly by the arms and shook her, silencing her. She looked ashamed. Surely, utterly, and completely. "You bound us? You cast Animus Nexus?" he asked, his voice was not accusing but low, a bear whisper. Hermione nodded. "Why?"

"Oh, Harry! You can hate me! Please, I deserve to be hated!" she cried, covering her face with her hands.

Sighing, Harry removed her hands and tried his best to smile comfortingly. His thoughts were racing but he put it all aside. After everything they had been through together over the past eight years Harry had no doubt that Hermione would never do anything to intentionally harm him, that whatever her reasoning, it was pure. "Hermione, it's okay. It's a bit of a shock and you should have told us earlier, it would have saved a lot of people a lot of trouble. You casting that though…" he looked over her shoulder now across the landscape of the grounds, contemplating. "…Even though it was only a few weeks, those weeks, once we put aside our differences, were the most amazing weeks of my life. I had my friends, as always, school, a-and I had somebody to share myself with. I didn't think I'd ever have that. It felt sort of like how I assumed my parents felt when they were together, y'know?"

Hermione's tears fell again, but this time against a sad smile. "Oh Harry," she whispered again, her voice shaking. "Do you have any idea how lucky I am to be your friend?"

"Me?" he laughed, pulling her into a tight hug. "First you save my life Merlin knows how many times and then you gave me…you gave me love, even if accidentally."

And Harry had said it. Despite his reservations to never say it again, he did. No amount of denial could cover up his seemingly permanent feelings for Draco and with company like Hermione's, at a time like this, he felt he could admit it to himself.

His confession didn't evade Hermione as she looked even sadder still. "C-could you forgive me?"

"Of course," Harry said quickly but turned serious, "But you should have told me sooner, 'Mione. You know how much I hate being kept in the dark."

"I know, it was a horrible thing for me to do. I felt so cheap; lying to you."

Harry looked back over his shoulder, Ron was coming towards them with a pair of brooms, he was still quite a few yards away. "But why did you do it?"

Hermione blushed and looked off to the side. "Honestly? You were driving me mad. You were driving yourself mad. You were being irrationally, almost desperately, invigorated with Draco. I had never seen you try so hard to hate somebody before. It didn't seem like you at all. On top of everything, you know how important my NEWTs are!" she exclaimed and Harry wasn't sure whether to take that seriously or not. "You kept causing a fight or screaming through-out my entire study sessions! I couldn't bear it any longer! The anger, the fighting, the cursing, and most of all I couldn't see how much you were distressing yourself over him."

"But I've always done that. Even now."

She smiled again and shook her head. "Not quite like you had been. I-I was sort of worried that the war changed you, which I know it did, but I mean really changed you. You were never the one to start a fight, Draco was the one who did that. But at the beginning of this year, it was all you and he was just responding…I don't mean to offend you Harry, the whole situation was just kind of scary to watch…"

Harry nodded. He understood. Even looking back on how he acted made him shiver, he couldn't believe how hostile he had become. Despite the hurt he was feeling now it was much better than the constant, rising anger that bubbled in his chest at the beginning of term.

"Do you – do you think you could forgive me?" Hermione asked, her voice cracking in a whisper.

Again, Harry nodded. "I'm glad it happened, 'Mione, all of it. Because I may never have felt – or known – I'm just glad," he sighed, pulling her into another tight hug.

"Er, you guys alright there?" Ron asked warily as he approached them, tossing Harry a Cleansweep broom – he hated them but it was far better than going up to his dormitory.

Harry tried to smile, and he nearly did. "Fine, c'mon, I need to fly – distract myself. Nobody on the Pitch?"

"Nah, everybody's gone to Hogsmeade. 'Mione, are you sure you're alright?"

"Pitch now, I think you and Hermione need to have a talk later," Harry motioned towards the oval arena and began marching off in its direction.

Hermione tried to appear reassuring, "Really Ron, it's fine, we can talk after you two-"

"You two? I don't think so, 'Mione! This is operation make Harry happy again! What better way to do that than have you make a fool of yourself on a broom?" he teased her, tossing what appeared to be a third broom he had dug out of the broom shed towards her.

Trying to catch it but failing Hermione smirked. "Oh alright, but only this once!"

Ron grinned and ran after Harry. "Mate! I actually convinced her to fly again! What d'you reckon, five minutes?"

Harry looked over his shoulder at Hermione hurriedly following them, casting disgruntled looks between her boyfriend and the broom in her hand. "Maybe three," he shrugged causing Ron to howl with laughter.

Narrowing her eyes, despite the amount of embarrassment she knew she was about to undergo, Hermione smiled. She was lucky to have such a friend as Harry.

It was well into the evening, just after dinner, and Harry hadn't thought of Draco for a few hours. Ron and Hermione and successfully distracted him, he was even halfway happy. He played a game of Gobstones with Seamus and studied for his NEWTs, he had been to the library and even passed Draco once in the corridor on the first floor and successfully avoided looking at him.

'Maybe this could work. Maybe I can be okay again,' Harry thought hopefully.

That was until, of course, he was confined in a room alone with Draco. It was then Harry was certain that there was some sort of fate working against him. Be it God, the Devil, the memory of Voldemort purposefully screwing with him, maybe even Salazar Slytherin was somehow doing this – Harry just knew this much bad luck couldn't happen to one person.

Just before curfew he had been called to the Headmistress's office. The staircase was open and she was not present, however, and Harry immediately whirled towards Professor Dumbledore's portrait but he appeared to be sleeping. After a few minutes of avoided eye contact and silence, Draco spoke.

"Harry, about that kiss two-"

"Shut up, Malfoy, not all of us want to hear your voice all the time," Harry snapped coldly. Inwardly, he was berating himself, but he knew it was better like this. What else was he supposed to do? Be friendly with him?

Draco frowned, looking at the back of Harry's head as he was turned awkwardly in his adjacent chair ensuring they couldn't see one another. "You hate this, Harry, I hate this. I just want you to hear me out."

"Tch, hate it? I love it. Ron was right, I shouldn't have gone near you in the first place," Harry muttered, sucking in a shaking breath. He couldn't give Draco any indication of how much this was hurting him. "The whole lot of them were right, Malfoy, I should've left you and your mother to Azkaban." At his own words, Harry winced and was glad his back was to Draco. He had sunk as low as Draco used to back in the beginning of school; attacking Harry's late parents. Was he really this type of person? 'No, I'm not. Malfoy's just poisonous,' Harry reasoned angrily with himself.

"You don't mean that, Harry," Draco's voice was barely a whisper.

Before they could say anymore, Professor McGonagall along with Healer Greene joined them. The Healer appeared agitated but pleased, Professor McGonagall, however, was looking imploringly at Harry.

"Boys, I am sorry to have called you here so late," she began slowly, her eyes never leaving Harry, "But we have discovered a subsequent condition that effects you both. Healer Greene?"

As the Headmistress sat in her chair, Healer Greene folded his hands beside her and rolled on the backs of his feet. "Bonds are an interesting phenomenon," he began slowly and Harry nearly groaned, it sounded like the beginning to an epic. "They can be placed with rules by curses, hexes, even trip jinxes can start a bond! They can also be born with, however, that has been unheard of for – well, I believe being born with a bond was simply an unexplained bond being romanticized a couple of hundred years ago. As the two of you learned, bonds can grow, they can wane, and the parameters surrounding them can change indefinitely.

"Some bonds last a few hours, a few days, can be broken with a kiss, a counterspell, a potion, or a contract. There is still so much we are unaware of when it comes to bonds and that is why Professor Slughorn, myself, and Madame Pomfrey failed to see earlier what bond tied the two of you together," he gestured between them.

Harry shot up in his seat. He didn't like where this was going. "But the bond is gone! The Animus Nexus He-" he stopped dead, there was no way he could tell Professor McGonagall what Hermione had done. Best student in the school or not, what Hermione had done was illegal in more ways than one.

Healer Greene put up his hands in protest. "Now, now, you are correct. The Animus Nexus was broken. That does not mean that your bond was eliminated," his eyes lit up with his words, as if amused. Harry's mouth fell open and he deflated into his chair, waiting to hear the explanation. "I am well aware, as are most others, than neither are you are particularly pragmatic-"

"I will have you know I am perfectly rational," Draco snipped defensively, crossing his arms and ignoring Harry's tut at his words.

Professor McGonagall levelled her gaze on Draco exasperatedly. "Yes, over the years you have shown the school an exuberant amount of rationality, Mr. Malfoy," she said dryly, the Healer's lips twitching at her words.

"The fact is, the personality and subconscious of the individuals is what matters most in a bond. Both you and Mr. Potter are overtly…passionate," he said carefully, "You either hate with everything you can or love with whatever you have left. As a man of magical maladies, this is even a little romantic in itself but so are the bases of all bonds. With both of your reactions to the bond, both positive and negative, the bond altered itself. At first, it was altered to force you to become close to one another. And then, a wonderful, rare, thing happened. A proposal was made," Healer Greene's eyes fell heavily on Draco.

"B-but that was not a real proposal! It was a stupid gesture I should have never made!" he shouted.

Harry gritted his teeth. "A stupid gesture you should've never made, 'eh?" he mumbled.

"It was not the proposal that bound you two but the acceptance of it," Greene turned on Harry who flushed and looked like he was about to be sick. "What occurred over the holidays is the natural binding of two wizards; done by choice and sealed with your own magic. For a short period of time, until your Quidditch match, Mr. Potter, the two of you were experiencing two bonds simultaneously. The Animus Nexus, still bound by the life debt, and the natural one you forged together."

"Sir, how can we be bound without knowing it? I don't feel anything anymore! We can be apart and everything!" Harry exclaimed.

Healer Greene raised his finger pointedly. "Aha, and that's even more interesting, is it not? Remember, all bonds have altering parameters that come from what we make of it. This particular bond has been forgotten and left to grow cold; the connection is barely there any longer and therefore it asks nothing of either of you. The bond exists to be beneficial to both you and Mr. Malfoy and with your avoidance of the bond, it lies dormant."

Draco stood, brushing off his trousers as he did, trying to appear important. "Fantastic. The longer we ignore it, the sooner it will dissolve entirely. Is that all?" he said shortly.

"Sit down, Mr. Malfoy," McGonagall hissed.

"No, the bond cannot be dissolved. Natural bonds such as these have no end, they see no boundaries. You may choose to ignore it with no further consequences to either of you. Even distance will not affect the bond. However, that being said, neither of you will be able to bond with another," he said seriously.

Harry chanced a look at Draco and he appeared angry; even if neither McGonagall nor Greene could tell, he could. His brows were knitted together, his one fist was clenched on his lap, and his breathing was slightly erratic. "Never?" the blond whispered.

"Many of us do not get to experience what a bond feels like at all, Mr. Malfoy, and you have already experienced two by the age of eighteen!" Healer Greene attempted to sound cheerful but Draco's fist merely tightened in his lap.

"P-Professor, is it alright…" Harry trailed off. He couldn't stand the disappointment and anger in Draco; 'Does he really despise me so much now? Is he truly that revolted by me that the thought of never bonding again…does he have somebody he wants to bond with?!' his thoughts were racing.

Professor McGonagall must have understood the look on his face and she inclined her head. "Of course, Mr. Potter, we merely thought it prudent you fully understood your situation."

"Er, right. Thanks," Harry muttered, beginning to stand up.

"Harry m'boy, if you could stay just a moment longer. I would like a word with you and young Mr. Malfoy," Dumbledore's familiar voice said softly just as he headed for the door. "Minerva, if I may?"

"Of course, Albus. Donald, would you care to accompany me to Horace's office? You may use his fireplace to Floo," she offered, gathering herself up and leading the way with a glance upward at Dumbledore who was now leaning forward in his chair, smiling softly.

Alone again, Harry's skin began to itch. 'Just a couple more minutes and I can get away from him. Merlin, my neck hurts,' he inwardly whined, rubbing the back of his neck that had become stiff from craning it away from Draco as much as possible.

"Harry, you never cease to surprise me," Dumbledore began, his eyes sparkling. "After all of these years you still hold so much undiscovered inside of yourself. And Mr. Malfoy, it appears you are the only one that could have brought young Harry's potential to light."

Draco shook his head. "This bond was all because of a few stupid words," he muttered.

Dumbledore smiled, leaning forward imploringly. "Was it?"

Blinking, Harry and Draco finally looked at each other but only for a moment. And it was a moment too long. Harry needed to get away from Draco, before happiness felt a lifetime away again. "A portrait can see some funny little things; things others cannot. You must ask Sir Cowper what he saw in you all that time ago when Minerva first brought you to that room. Before your second bond was made."

"Sir Cowper? Why?"

Draco sighed. "Remember what he said, Harry? About-"

"Stop calling me that," Harry snapped and then blushed, looking up at his old Headmaster and lowering his head, "Sorry, sir."

Dumbledore merely smiled. "Just promise me to speak with him. Both of you."

"Fine. Come on, Potter, let's get this over with," Draco stood.

"One last thing, boys," Dumbledore said, stopping them in their reluctant yet determined stride. "Ignoring the bond will have no consequence. However, I believe pursuing it would open limitless doors to both of you; doors that can lead you to anything you wish, even happiness."

Draco made a disgruntled noise before vacating the office, Harry cast another look at Dumbledore before following his former lover. They arrived in petulant silence at their old portrait hole. Harry was sweating now; he had been around Draco too long and his resolve was slipping. 'How can he be so collected? I hate him so bloody much but…' he trailed off, he couldn't think like that because doing so always ended in him being hurt.

"Ah, our valiant Knights return!" Sir Leland greeted them, all the other Knights hurried from the horses to bow at them.

"To what do we owe this immeasurable pleasure, Sirs?" Sir Albacour mocked.

"Brothers, the title is no longer befitting. Do you see it?" Sir Cowper said, gesturing at the irate Draco and agitated Harry.

Sir Ferguson clapped his fellow Knight on the shoulder of his armour, it clanged noisily. "Cowper, you know we can't!"

"Ah, there! Back to a couple of miscreants, are they?" Sir Leland chimed cheekily.

Draco, as he did upon their first encounter, mouthed the word and glowered at the Knights in the painting. "We were just wondering if you saw anything…unusual between us when we first met." Harry asked slowly.

The Knights regarded one another for a moment before Sir Ferguson cleared his throat. "Cowper is a clairvoyant. A marvelous one at that. The gift was nearly lost to him upon his glorious death."

Sir Cowper stepped forward, his fist on his breast. "Aye, my brother speaks the truth. I see with an eye most wizards cannot."

"Wonderful," Draco snapped, crossing his arms, "Could you get on with it?"

Narrowing his eyes he marched even more forward. "When I first met you Sir Potter and Mr. Malfoy, I noticed immediately the potential of a bond. Ah yes, not the bond that was already present but another that was already formed but…dead. It was odd. I have never seen such a bond in my life. Then I recalled spying on the Sorting Ceremony all those years ago – all the portraits had to attend! Famous Harry Potter at Hogwarts! It was a celebration in itself! Eight years ago I did not quite understand what I was seeing but when I saw you together again it came to me. Your bond was forged here, your first day at Hogwarts."

Harry blinked and shook his head. "I hated him. More than anything! Almost as much as the Dursleys!"

"That family again – what did they do to you to make them hate you so much?" Draco beseeched.

Taken aback by his interest, Harry merely shook his head deftly. "Bonds can be formed by any strong emotions! Salazar and Godric were bound themselves by a hatred so vile! I can bet all the Sickles in Mr. Malfoy's pocket that you, Sir Potter, know a fair bit about bonds formed by hatred," he said pointedly.

"Voldemort," Harry whispered. "So-so, we've been bound all this time? How can that even be!"

"Stranger things have happened, I assure you. It is nothing to fret about, I am sure you understand by now that the bond will simply remain inactive without the two of your poking around it!" Sir Cowper said, trying to sound reassuring.

"Thanks. I think," Harry muttered unsurely and turned about. His head was reeling; he was not only eternally bound to Draco but he had been since First Year? It was too much for him to process. He needed to think, more so he needed to talk to Hermione and Ron.

"Harry, Harry! Wait up!" Draco ran after him and grabbed him by the robe. Knowing full well that Harry would try to run away, he pushed him up against the wall and held him there, hard. "I need you to hear me out before you leave. Just listen to what I have to say and then be off. I will never bother you again," he said quickly.

Harry shrugged, looking down the corridor, refusing to meet Draco's eyes. "You're not really giving me a choice so hurry it up," he snarled.

Sighing, Draco lightened his grip. "I want to tell you why I left," he said resolutely. And so he did. Draco must have told Harry in five different ways his reasons for leaving as Harry remained still, barely blinking and avoiding all unnecessary contact. When he had finished, breathless, his eyes were softened and his heart was thudding in his chest. Harry wasn't responding to him at all.

"Say something, Harry. You have to understand you being without me is for the better," Draco said softly.

"All this time," Harry said softly, "You hurt me because you thought it would help me? That I'd be better off without you?"

"It's true though! You can't go around bonding with a Death Eater, Harry, you don't deserve the life that'll bring you! Steadman nearly killed you because of me!" Draco said reasonably.

Harry growled and turned to face him, his eyes were shining as if tears threatened to be shed. He easily shoved Draco off of him. "Steadman nearly killed me because of your father's sins! Not because of you! And because he's a homophobic maniac! Do you have any idea how much you've hurt me?! Better for me! Fuck you, Malfoy, fuck you! You don't get to tell me what's good for me and what isn't! You don't get to make my decisions for me…I DO!" he screamed, red-faced and breathing heavy he gave one last angered look at Draco before turning and fleeing down the corridor.

"Harry, please! It must make sense to you! It was the only option that made sense!" Draco yelled after him. As he was certain he was out of earshot, just before he turned the corner, Draco's head fell hopelessly. "I did it because I love you."

And Harry tried to pretend he didn't hear those words as he took off at a run to the Gryffindor Tower.

Chapter Text

“Are you certain you heard him say that?” Hermione asked for the third time as she sat on the end of Harry’s bed. The whole dormitory was listening in, though some were pretending not to be, as they busied themselves for bed.

Harry nodded dazedly. “But…I don’t get it. If he loves you why would he leave you like that?” Ron questioned. None of it made sense to him. The eight year old bond, the reasoning Draco gave him for leaving, none of it.

“Malfoy was doing what Malfoys never do,” a voice from the doorway piped up. Ginny sauntered in, her hands on her hips as she smiled sadly at Harry, shoving her brother over to sit beside him. “Malfoy was being a martyr. He was doing what he thought was best for you and not for himself for once.”

“Then why did he get so mad about being unable to bond with somebody else?”

Ginny frowned and shrugged. “That’s something you’re going to have to ask him yourself.”

Shaking his head vigorously, he gave his silent denial. “Ginny’s right,” Hermione said softly. “The only way any of this will make sense is if you sit down and have a talk with Draco. You have to work everything out – I’m not saying you have to be with him again!” she said hurriedly in response to Harry’s accusing glance.

“I don’t want to ever see him again,” Harry muttered.

“You can lie to yourself but you can’t lie to us, mate,” Seamus grinned as he appeared at the end of Harry’s bed. “Malfoy might be a rotten bastard but there’s no denying he made yah happier than I’ve ever seen yah in eight years!”

“Seamus has a point. You were really happy, Harry,” Ron agreed.

“You can’t possibly be telling me to get back together with him after what he did to me, can you?!” Harry spluttered disbelievingly.

Ron put up his hands in defense. “No! Not at all! You have to make him pay for that still! But,” his hands dropped and he smiled sincerely, “He did make you happy. I think that at least deserves a conversation.”

Hermione looked about to burst into tears, gazing between her best friend and her boyfriend. “Ron, that’s so mature of you!” she squealed hugging him and then turning to Harry, her face freshly wet, she buried her face in his chest. “And you!  You were already bound to him before I-I did anything to muck it up! Oh Harry! You have to go and talk to him you just have to!” she cried.

As much as he wanted to defy them, as much as Harry still felt like crawling into a hole for a little while, at least until NEWTs were over, he knew that he did have to find Draco and talk to him. However, the hard part was going to be Harry deciding what specifically he wanted to talk to Draco about.

It was Wednesday afternoon and the last class of the day. Most of the students were relieved they were going to have a few hours free between Charms and dinner, allowing them to study for the rapidly approaching NEWTs. For Harry, however, NEWTs were far from his thoughts.

Having not heard a single word Professor Flitwick had said all lesson, Harry merely tapped his quill on his parchment. Emerald green ink splotches and dots were appearing in a strange pattern all over his page; if he looked closely enough he could make out odd pictures that were beginning to form. He thumbed the smooth body of the quill, it was still so perfect, even after being in his possession for so long. Harry had contemplated returning Draco’s quill or tossing it into the Common Room fireplace, but he couldn’t destroy something so beautiful.

It was strange, to think of a quill as beautiful. But it was. It reminded Harry too strikingly of Draco; not a feather out of place, not a single strand overlooked. Harry sighed and looked nervously around the room. Today was the day he promised Ron and Hermione (and himself) that he was going to ask Draco to talk. Their strategy of avoiding one another was falling apart. Blaise and Pansy seemed to be walking Draco through the corridors more hurriedly than ever before, persistently turning down barely used corridors just to avoid walking past Harry. Harry didn’t blame them. Just on Monday he and Draco had accidentally bumped into one another. Everybody in the corridor had slowed to a near halt to watch the interaction; they fumbled with their fallen books and made certain their eyes never met. But when their hands had touched, as Draco had to return Harry’s Magick Moste Evil textbook to him, they both felt it; like a jolt shooting through them.

Ron knocked Harry’s elbow at his side, nearly making him topple off his chair. “What’s up mate, you okay?”

“No,” he said truthfully, his mouth dry, “Class is almost over and I still don’t think I can do it.”

“Me mam always told me that the more you think about what you wanna say, the worse it’s gonna come out!” Seamus whispered from behind Harry, winking as he turned to see him.

Harry sighed and slumped over on his desk, mumbling, “Gee. That makes it so much easier.”

Seamus shrugged and returned to the lesson as Ron looked concernedly at his best friend. “It’ll be fine. What’s the worst that can happen?” At the dark look Harry shot Ron he shut himself up and also turned his attention back towards Professor Flitwick.

Too soon the lesson was dismissed and Harry hurried to put his things in his bag. He really didn’t comprehend just how nervous he truly was until he was standing and making his way quickly three rows back to where Draco was gathering his things alongside Blaise. Upon his approach, Blaise noticed him first and his mouth pulled into a tight, thin line. “Potter,” he greeted.

At his name being spoken, Draco immediately tensed but took his time packing his things before dragging his eyes slowly up to meet Harry’s. It had been the first time they really looked at one another since their conversation after meeting with the Knights; and it was immediately electric. Swallowing heavily, Harry began to speak, unaware of how much his voice was trembling. “Are you – I mean, if you’re not up to anything right now – bugger,” he swore at his own sudden linguistic inadequacies.

Draco fought the urge to smirk at Harry’s stumbling and spoke smoothly despite his inner turmoil. “Would you like to take a walk, Harry?” he offered.

Smiling thankfully, Harry swept out of the classroom with another short look at Blaise. Draco was a few steps behind Harry in the busy corridor and to anyone else it didn’t appear as if they were walking together. In silence Harry led Draco down a few flights of stairs and down the corridors until they reached their old dormitory once again. Harry didn’t have to look behind himself to see Draco was still there, patiently waiting for him to stop and speak to him.

“Sir Ferguson, Sir Cowper,” Harry greeted the only two Knights present in the portrait at the moment. They saluted him as per usual. “I know it’s not our dormitory any longer, and I know we haven’t a password but would you mind if we went inside for a little while?”

The Knights looked at one another and nodded. “No impending guests today, Sir Potter, the room is yours,” Sir Ferguson bowed ever so slightly, the portrait swinging open.

“Mum’s the word,” they both heard Sir Cowper add as they stepped inside.

“Harry, I am glad you-“

“No, let me get out what I need to,” Harry said quickly, looking at Draco who was sitting down on his old armchair, watching Harry intently as he began to pace behind the couch, made him nearly lose his nerve. “I’ve been thinking about what everybody said, what you said were your reasons for leaving (as idiotic as they were), and I’ve been thinking about where I want to – what I want to do,” he exhaled, his sweaty palms rubbing against one another.

“I – I don’t think I want to be an Auror anymore,” he blurted.

Draco blinked in befuddled surprise. “What? But you have always wanted to be an Auror! Besides, the Ministry would promote you upon hire! Harry, are you sure you thought this through?” he asked softly, his face dripping with concern.

“Yes, I have and I know, but after everything…I’ve seen enough fighting for a while. I’m not saying five or ten years from now I won’t want to go into training but still. Even if you’re right; maybe I could never get into Auror training because of my relations to an ex-Death Eater, but maybe that’s not what I want to do anymore.” he said pointedly.

With a dry mouth Draco asked. “What are you going to do?”

Despite his nerves a small smile grew at the corner of his mouth. “I don’t know, and I love not knowing. I don’t need a job to support myself, at least not for a while. I was hoping maybe I would travel, y’know? I’ve never left the UK.”

“Travel,” Draco said somewhat distantly, “That would be lovely. Apologies, Harry, but what does any of this have to do with me?”

The nerves crept back up on him so fast he held his breath for a moment. Harry stopped pacing and leaned heavily on the couch, avoiding Draco and looked at the fire. “You have no idea how much you hurt me, Draco. Waking up to find you gone, no explanation, nothing. After everything…” Harry sighed. “I’m still angry when I think about it; when I think about you. But, even with all that anger, I still…I still love you, Draco,” he confessed to him for the first time. Without even looking at him, Harry could sense the shock in his face, his tensed posture.

“Harry…gods, you know how I feel about you but that does not change anything. If you are with me you can never have any freedom. You will never be able to get into the Auror training program even if you wanted to. You would be with a Death Eater.”

“No, I’d be with Draco Malfoy,” Harry corrected, glancing over at him seriously. “This is my decision I am making for myself, stop trying to make decisions for me. People have made choices for me my entire life and I won’t take it anymore, especially not from you.”

Draco sat silently for a moment, Harry’s words weighing heavily upon him. “What choice are you making then?” he asked quietly after a few moments.

Harry stood up fully again, crossing his arms and frowning at Draco. “I’m doing what Dumbledore suggested. I’m doing what I want to do and what I think will make me the happiest. I’m opening the door; I’m just not ready to walk through,” he explained, hoping Draco understood this.

“And when will you be?”

“When I don’t feel like punching you and kissing you at the same time anymore,” he mumbled, turning away from Draco now and starting back towards the portrait hole.

Draco jumped up, taking a few quick strides after him. “Wait, that’s it? You cannot just say you love me, that you want to open our bond together, and then just leave! Harry, what do you want me to do?”

Harry didn’t turn around, he only paused for a moment. “I want you to do whatever you think is right for you. Even if you make a decision, you still need to know how incredibly pissed off I am at you Draco. What you did…it nearly ruined me.”

And Draco was suddenly alone in his old dormitory, looking longingly out the open portrait hole.

Finally willing himself back to his dormitory, Draco found Blaise and Pansy and explained everything Harry had said. “Brilliant!” Pansy exclaimed happily, she was more excited to get rid of brooding Draco than for the two of them to be reunited.

“Brilliant? How is it brilliant? I have no idea what to do now. I still stand behind my reasons, I still do not think I am good enough for Harry, he still deserves all the redheaded children he wants and the job he wants without being under inspection just because of who I was,” Draco caught his breath and sat heavily down on his bed, lowering his head into his hands.

Blaise clapped him on the back as he sat beside him. “Those are choices you have to let Potter make for himself, Malfoy. Those aren’t your decisions. All that matters is whether you want to be with him.”

“I do. That is all I want. To be with him and make him happy,” Draco said quickly, at least that much he was certain of.

“Sorry, but I’m failing to see the problem here then?” Blaise questioned.

Sighing, Draco clarified. “Harry may have said he loves me but he hates me. He even said he wanted to punch me!”

“Don’t blame him,” Pansy interjected, mumbling.

Draco shot her a withering glance before looking at Blaise again. “Not to mention I have no idea what he meant by wanting to open the door but not wanting to step through.”

“Malfoy, when it comes to relationships I swear you have the brain of a flobberworm,” Blaise muttered, ducking the swipe at his head and continuing seriously. “The bloke’s pissed because you hurt him, and I can’t blame him! But he’s also in love with you, Salazar knows why, and wants to be with you but not till you’ve done something to make up for it. Rightfully so.”

“No, it can’t be that simple,” Draco shook his head.

“It’s Potter, Draco, it is that simple.”

“What am I supposed to do then? Apologize?” He was so unsure of what he was supposed to do in this situation. He still didn’t think he was good enough for Harry but his friends were right, that wasn’t his decision to be making.

Pansy was grinning now. “Do what any girl would want you to.”

“Harry’s not a girl,” Draco clipped.

“No but he is Scarhead and we all know how hard it is to get something through his thick head. You’re going to have to do something big, a gesture, something he won’t be able to deny,” Pansy explained.

Blaise caught up and was smirking now, his arm pulled Draco up against him despite the blonde’s efforts to part them. “You’re gonna have to confess your love for Potty. Oh, I am so gonna enjoy watching this.”

Friday morning Draco had an additional spring in his step; every piece of him was perfectly conducted to elicit yearning in his mate. And yes, he had begun to refer to Harry as his mate. This couldn’t fail, it simply couldn’t. Harry appreciated boldness, and bravery, and most of all he appreciated his friends. Well, Draco had such a simple, easy, idea that would showcase to his mate all of those things at once. He would hand them all to him on a platter and if Harry turned them away, well, that was something Draco could not be concerned with at this moment. Instead, he had to concentrate of pinning a dazzling smile on his lips.

Blaise was continuously looking sidelong at his best friend, more nervous than Draco. “Are you sure you want to do this, Malfoy?”

“Perfectly,” he clipped. “You and Pans were correct. I must do something so incredibly plebeian in thought that Harry cannot decipher it otherwise. I have to present myself to him in a way that he can only deduce I mean one thing; and that, of course, will be the thing which I mean.”

Ruffling his own hair, Blaise sighed. “Well, you’re certainly taking our advice quite literally.”

“Are you saying I should not?” Draco returned, although Blaise’s opinion mattered little at this point in time. Whether or not his friend stood behind his actions, Draco was determined to go through with his quick and precise little public act.

“Not at all, mate. I’m merely asking if you’re absolutely sure that you want Potter back, at, er, full capacity,” he said, unsure of how to describe it. “Jumping into the cauldron with both feet,” he elaborated.

“Harry said it,” Draco beamed, “The door is open, and he just cannot walk through it until I do something. This is me doing something. Lovely, there he is,” his smile grew wider at the sight of Harry’s messy brown hair in the entrance hall. It was just before lunch and the crowd was vast, everybody shuffling their feet to get into the Great Hall. “POTTER!” Draco bellowed suddenly, causing Blaise and the others around them to startle at the sudden increase in decibels.

Exasperatedly fingering his ear, Blaise hissed, “You could’ve warned a bloke!”

Sure enough at Draco’s call, the golden trio turned. Harry was no longer being flanked by Hermione and Ron, merely leading them as they followed hand-in-hand towards Draco. Draco stood in the middle of the hall, knowingly blocking a few students way and ignoring their muttering displeasure at having to maneuver the crowd around him.

“Ah, Harry, just the person I needed to see,” Draco’s smile was absolutely steadfast. The way he was primed this morning had Harry’s heart in a flutter and the best part was that Draco knew it. He nearly felt it.

“What’s this about, Malfoy?” Ron rounded on him, his tone clipped and impatient.

His smile faltered, but only momentarily, before he reached out a hand to Ron. “Firstly, an apology has to be made to you. For the past eight years entirely. I should not have insulted your family so thoroughly, though at times you were a big enough troll to deserve it, Harry did not deserve to have his family insulted. Both those alive and dead,” Draco said seriously. His hand still out-stretched, Ron and Hermione staring at it with slackened jaws. Harry, however, had his eyes absolutely trained on Draco’s face and had crossed his arms. He was unmoving, with no discernable emotion to read, however, Draco knew he was more than just a little curious. He was paying rapt attention, his breathing slightly ragged.

“What the bloody hell are you up to?” Ron wondered, still not taking the hand.

“And to you,” Draco turned to Hermione now. “You may not even be a half-blood but you certainly have more wits than those two put together. No offence, Harry, but she does,” he added. He sounded way too cheerful for a Malfoy.

Blaise stood watching the whole scene blinking. This wasn’t like Draco at all. Then again, neither was crawling back to an old lover. This was all for Harry. All of it, Blaise conceded. Draco wanted Harry’s happiness, and his companionship, so badly that he would sacrifice a part of himself to have it. This was Draco’s dignity in his apologies. He hated the Weasleys and everybody knew it. Of course he could be civil, but this? This was humility. It was the greatest thing Draco could muster to give Harry that wasn’t physical.

Hermione, unlike Ron, did take his hand and shook it weakly. The corners of her mouth were curled, she was suppressing a smile. “See, clever,” Draco pointed out. Hermione blushed and ducked her head.

“What’s he on about?” Ron asked turning to Hermione.

Harry, however, still had his eyes boring into Draco as if he were trying to cast the Imperius Curse on him merely with his mind. “What is this?” Harry spoke at last, his voice low and curious. There was no anger. However, there wasn’t much happiness in it, either.

“This is me,” Draco said softly. His smile faded now as he came to face Harry earnestly. “Giving you what you want. You want me to be kind to your friends, then fine. They mean a lot to you, I understand. They are your family and have been when you had nobody else. I understand. I left you because I want to give you the best you deserve; which is everything. Your self-sacrifice and bloody acting a martyr knows no end,” Draco muttered, chuckling beneath his breath.

“But that’s not you,” Harry said quietly. “I don’t want something fake. I don’t want you to be somebody you’re not just to please me,” he muttered, his ears were turning pink the longer he spoke. Draco could instantly tell despite his words Harry was flattered.

“I know it is fake. No offence Weasel, I just cannot seem to wrap my head around the stupidity in which is your existence,” Draco drawled. Hermione quickly put her arm on her boyfriend, calming him from an outburst she knew he was beginning to fester in. “The point is, Harry, I would be willing to do that for you. To act like that, for you.”

“That’s not what I want,” he reiterated firmly. And Gods, his eyes were absolutely piercing through Draco and he was just where he wanted him to be. So honest, so open, his heart plastered on his sleeve.

Draco took a brave step forward and pulled up the left arm of his robe. It was up to his elbow where he held it as he proudly presented his marked skin to all those watching. “Is that…?” Hermione’s question died on her lips.

Ron’s eyes went comically wide as he looked at his arm. The Dark Mark, which most certainly was there as they all knew and would be for eternity, was covered with black ink. Absolutely made invisible with black ink. And the black ink was made out to form another symbol instead, one that outshone the Dark Mark by far. A symbol that matched the one etched and fading on Harry’s head.

Harry stared at it, as if it was taking a while to register in his head. It was a childish act of branding, it was silly and stupid. And Merlin it was funny.

Laughter welled in Harry’s chest to a point where he couldn’t contain it any longer. He laughed and Draco grinned mirthfully, triumphantly, at the hunching, shaking form before him. Harry was clutching onto his abdomen as the laughter rolled off of him in waves. Hermione and Ron looked concernedly between the two boys.

“I thought you would like it,” Draco smirked, refusing to roll down his sleeves. Each time Harry caught a glimpse of the gigantic lightning bolt, the laughter rose up in him once again.

“Like it?” Harry choked. “You’re barking, you are,” he managed between laughs. Eventually he calmed himself and straightened up to the best of his ability, coughing as he did.

“It was a lark,” Draco admitted, his grin fading as his lips pulled into a serious straight line once again. “But the only lark I could imagine. For Salazar’s sake, Potter, I bloody want you. Perhaps I always have and merely spent seven years in perfect denial. I left you because it was best for you. Not because I wanted to. Never could I want to leave you, do you understand me? I would never want that for myself.”

“So what’s changed?” Harry asked, the laughter ceasing in full. 

Draco gestured in Blaise’s silent direction. The olive-skinned boy shrugged. “My friends were correct. Your decisions are yours to make, not mine. If you wish to be with me then why should you not? Who am I to choose what is best for you? This is me being selfish and selfless all at once,” Draco explained, “This is me telling you I love you, Harry Potter. This is me stepping through the door.”

Harry’s eyes softened considerably at his words. “You finally get it,” he whispered. “Fuck, Draco, I just want you and you bloody well just had to make it so damn difficult. You fucking hurt me so damn much –“

“For your own good!” Draco interjected quickly. He sighed. “But you get decide what is for your own good and what is not. Not me.”

“Bloody hell, that’s what all of this was about then?” Ron growled. “He was a bloody mess he was! You can’t just waltz – “

“Shut up, Ronald,” Hermione hissed underneath her breath. They were onlookers, they shouldn’t be interjecting where it wasn’t their place. Draco smiled at her, almost thankfully.

“Are you certain,” Harry began, sucking in a deep breath, his eyes rolling over Draco from head to toe. “That you-“

“Yes,” Draco breathed. It had been absolutely too long since he felt Harry’s shorter, thicker form between his arms. Too long since he smelt a mixture of his musk and his shampoo. Most of all, it had been too long since he pressed his lips to his. Draco pulled Harry who allowed himself to be pulled. He wrapped his arms around him and kissed him full on the mouth, and did so with absolute abandon.

The fervent kiss ended as quickly as it started.

Harry shoved Draco, his hands pushing on his chest and then his fingers ghosting across his tingling lips. The same sensations still lingered; that electric synapse that sprawled from his mouth to his jaw and down his neck. The bond felt every bit intact. Which, Harry knew it was, however, it wasn’t the Animus Nexus bond any longer. It was their bond.

Draco was blinking, confused. “Harry, I do not understand,” he said slowly, taking a step forward, wincing as Harry took one back. “I know I fucked up, I thought you said you wanted to open the door. Well, here I am walking through it,” he said, sounding hopeful and hopeless in the same sentence.

Hermione suddenly felt as though she was intruding on a moment that wasn’t hers to see. She tugged purposefully at Ron and eyed Blaise who nodded knowingly. They left without a word and Harry didn’t even give them a side glance, he was concentrating solely on Draco. Intent on studying him carefully, in case he were to make a move in his direction again. Harry’s eyebrows were knitted together in thought at the same time, his breathing still heavy.

“Fucked up? Draco, you left me. Which is fine, y’know, or at least it would have been if you had said one goddamn word to me. You gave me bollocks! I at least deserved an explanation,” Harry’s anger was coming out now, revving under his skin. This didn’t surprise Draco; what had surprised him is that it took so long to show.

“You did, but I knew if I had given you one you would have argued it,” Draco returned, sighing again.

“I had damn rights to have argued it!” Harry seethed. “I don’t think simply walking through the door is good enough, Draco.”

Draco growled, his hands suddenly gripping Harry’s shoulders so hard he felt them bruising. “I am not merely walking through the door, Harry. This is me breaking that fucking door down,” he said lowly. “I do not want there to be a door. Ever. Over the holidays I realized how bloody wonderful we could be together and I did not want it to end. But for you, I could end it. For you. And if I made the wrong decision I will pay the consequences for it but I will not beg any more than I already have. I will not make a fool any more than I already have! You know who I am, Harry, better than anybody else ever has.”

Harry mumbled something unintelligible and Draco felt a tremor of anger ripple through him at his words. Desperate anger. “What did you just say? ‘I don’t know you like Blaise does’? Are you honestly thinking about that now?” Draco hissed in disbelief. His hands curled even tighter on Harry who flexed his arms against the intrusive pain. “If that is how you want to know me, I can show you. But not like this. Not now.”

“Then what now?” Harry said, finally pushing against Draco’s tight grip but to no avail. “What do you want; for me to scream at you till I’m raw? Forgive you?”

“The latter, preferably, but I understand that will take time,” Draco sucked in a shaking breath, reeling his emotions with it as his hands loosened considerably. “I will do things that will upset you, Harry. It will always happen. And you will do things that unnerve me no end; such as eating like a common buffoon or never folding your towels or never making the bedclothes. But from now on, despite those annoyances, despite what idiotic shit I get myself into, I want to be able to always come back to you,” he said purposefully.

Draco dropped his hands and surveyed the now empty hall around him, he turned his back to Harry and took a couple of steps to give them both space. “I miss being able to feel what you feel,” he admitted dryly, his back still turned and his voice unobtrusive. “It sickens me how much I ache to be poking in that daft, big head of yours.”

When he turned back to Harry, the brunet was rubbing the back of his neck and looking at his shoes, his cheeks were red. “Harry,” he said softly. “Let me break the door.”

Biting his lower lip, Harry dragged his eyes up to meet Draco’s and it was such a slight nod accompanied with the drop of his eyelids, but Draco knew it was an affirmation. “Come here, then,” Draco held out his arms and Harry considered it before shaking his head. “Sod off, I know you are still mad but-“

“It’s not that it’s just that, er,” he stammered and the colour of his cheeks deepened. “C’mon,” he muttered, rushing past Draco and up the winding stairs.

Draco was silent the entire way as he followed Harry. His heart was humming a loud rhythm in his ears and goosebumps mapped their way across his skin. He knew undoubtedly where Harry was leading him; and he couldn’t be happier.

When they arrived at their old dormitory, the Knights did not even bother to ask for a password or to give them conversation. Sir Cowper allowed them entry after a mere once over and as soon as Draco followed Harry inside he was shoved hard up against the backside of the portrait hole. Harry ravished him entirely. He claimed his mouth in a way that stated that his were the only lips that were ever going to claim it again.

Harry’s hands started on Draco’s hips and slid up his sides slowly, pressing into every curve. Draco shivered into Harry, kissing him back with everything he could muster, his own hands roaming his back, his hair, the curve of his bottom.

“I’m still mad at you,” Harry mumbled in between mouthfuls of his mate. “Very, very mad,” he all but groaned as Draco’s teeth scraped across his lower lip.

“Mm,” Draco breathed into his mouth, breaking the contact and delicately working his way with his lips down Harry’s jaw and to the shell of his ear. “And what are you going to do about being so mad?” he inquired.

As he felt a hand squeeze his behind and hips grind into him and oh Merlin, Draco’s mouth sucked on that sensitive patch of skin between his collarbone and neck now, Harry moaned. “You’re going to let me have my way,” Harry said.

Draco stopped and pulled back, his breath catching. “You want to…”

“No, no! Not now, not like this, I agree with you on something for once,” Harry said, shaking his head. “But the rest of you. I want that. I missed that.”

“So did I,” Draco smirked, pushing off the wall and grabbing Harry by the wrist as he led him to the Chesterfield.

They fumbled down onto it in a tangle of limbs, their mouths claiming each other as their own like they never had. Harry felt his anger dissipate almost entirely, all he could feel and think of was Draco’s skin on his own, his breath exhaling into his mouth, his hands tugging off every particle of his clothes. “I almost forgot how hot you are,” Harry muttered as Draco leaned backwards from his position on top of Harry to toss his robe and shirt to the ground.

Draco smirked and smothered Harry with himself once again, “Let us make sure neither of us ever forget that again.”

As Draco kissed and sucked his way down Harry’s torso, he came to the rim of his slacks and hesitated only for a moment. “Will you let me make everything up to you?”

In response, Harry looked down at Draco with clouded eyes and hoarsely spoke, “Gods yes, please do.”

Smirking, Draco yanked down Harry’s trousers till they were around his knees. His fingers slid up his exposed inner thigh until they met his groin where they slipped underneath his erection and cupped his bollocks. Harry inhaled sharply and propped his head up on the arm of the Chesterfield so he could watch each of Draco’s ministrations. This was an apology he didn’t want to miss one second of; he wanted to burn it into his memory.

Draco flicked out his tongue over the moistened head, causing Harry to shudder and grip the fabric of the Chesterfield as well as his hand which balled into a fist on the back of Draco’s neck. After a few moments of teasing, Draco engulfed Harry’s cock into his mouth, surrounding it with a wet warmth, his teeth accidentally scraping every once and awhile as he began a rhythmic bob. “Fuck, Draco, you’re so bloody good at that,” Harry’s voice trembled, eyes wide with lust. At the compliment, Harry could feel his mouth on his cock curl into the best smile he could muster while otherwise preoccupied.

Their bond was reacting wildly, both well aware of it, as the contact of their skin was spreading fervently throughout their bodies. A heat unlike any other crawled under their skin, tantalizing them both. With Draco’s hand working Harry’s bollocks and his mouth expertly eliciting moans and the occasional jerking of hips from his mate, it didn’t take long for Harry to be brought to the brink of an orgasm. Draco felt him getting closer, his cock twitching every so often in his mouth and to the back of his throat.

Draco came off of Harry and with a raw voice instructed, “Look at me while you come, Harry.” Harry obliged and as Draco reclaimed him he did it with a newfound vigor.

The grip on the back of Draco’s neck tightened and pushed him further down his shaft; his muscles from his toes to his shoulders all tightened at once in anticipation. Draco’s eyes stared up at him, lovingly, hungrily, and expectantly. Harry cried out as he came, his back arched up off the Chesterfield as he filled Draco’s throat with his come.

Propping himself up over top of Harry, swallowing the thick substance, Draco smirked down at Harry’s now limp and relaxed form, his eyes half-lidded. “Fuck, that…fuck,” Harry illustrated.

“I am glad you enjoyed my apology,” Draco drawled, settling himself on top of Harry, his head lying at the crook of his neck where he planted a few chaste kisses.

“Enjoyed it? That’s gottabe the best blowjob Hogwarts has ever seen,” Harry supposed, his arms surrounding Draco. “But what about you?”

“Mm, I am perfectly content at the moment, Harry. I believe when one apologizes they are not supposed to receive an apology in return.”

“Good, because you knackered me,” Harry admitted with a chuckle. “Tomorrow though, after Quidditch,” he said, referring to the rescheduled match between Gryffindor and Slytherin, “You’re mine.”

“Now, tomorrow, the next day. However you want me, I am yours, Harry.”

Chapter Text

Harry’s silly, lopsided grin stayed plastered to his face the rest of the day. He was still a tad angry, rightfully, but his head was buzzing, as was his skin, with the aftermath of their reunion. With Steadman gone and the rest of the school, as well as the Prophet and public, settled when it came to the knowledge of their relationship, Harry walked with ease through the corridors to their last lesson with their hands clasped tightly together.

“It itches like a Stinging Hex,” Draco commented, rubbing his arm against his side.

“Most inks suitable for use with a quill contain additives that have minor toxic properties. Increased exposure to the ink, especially directly, may result in allergic reactions or other toxic side effects such as irritation,” Hermione’s matter-of-fact voice suddenly came within earshot.

Draco jumped as the Gryffindor strode alongside him suddenly, her boyfriend hurriedly following and fumbling with the buckles of his shoulder bag. “Merlin, Granger, you would assume with hair as big as yours we would sense you coming,” he drawled.

Ron was about to protest the insult but at Hermione’s light laugh he shut his mouth as he came to Harry’s side, eyeing the couple’s clasped hands. “Sorry, my hair must have been hiding behind your gigantic ego,” she grinned.

To both of the observer’s surprise, Draco chuckled. “Touché, Granger.”

“Alright, am I allowed to ask just what the bloody hell happened back at lunch? When there weren’t any walls blown apart in the Entrance Hall we went to check on you. Couldn’t find you anywhere, mate…I was wondering if you might have fed Malfoy to the giant squid. Well, I was sorta hoping, rather,” Ron admitted.

Harry laughed and shook his head. “We, er, agreed to further the bond.”

“You what? After everything that bloke – “

“Ronald, I am certain Harry has a perfectly good explanation for his decision,” Hermione cut him off and they both waited expectantly for Harry to talk.

“How about later?” Harry suggested as the four of them rounded onto Professor Slughorn’s potions classroom.

Not very willingly, they agreed to hear the events of what happened at a later date. When they entered the classroom and took their regular seats, apart from Harry and Draco who sat at the back and together, Professor Slughorn didn’t waste any time as the students were settling in to come over to the couple. “Mr. Potter! Mr. Malfoy! Is this, my, is this what I think it is?” he gestured between them.

Harry ducked his head as the curious heads of his classmates turned towards him. “Professor, perhaps you should concentrate on teaching the class rather than the private lives of your students,” Draco drawled.

Professor Slughorn turned an off shade of pink before he stammered, “Very true, Mr. Malfoy, but I believe Professor McGonagall should be made aware as soon as possible. Properly bonded wizards must be reported to the Ministry,” he reminded them before returning to the front of the class to begin his lesson.

The lesson as well as the rest of the day seemed to go by within a split second; of course, it was because Harry was somewhat dreading explaining to Professor McGonagall that he and Draco were now properly bonded. Harry couldn’t think of a more awkward conversation to be having with his Headmistress. The Headmistress’s office was open when they arrived in the hour before dinner. She had with her Healer Greene, to both of their surprise, who absolutely beamed at their clasped hands. Harry’s cheeks warmed considerably as he parted himself from Draco only to have the blond possessively yank him back into his grasp.

“Er, Professor, how did you-“

“Ah, young Mr. Malfoy and Harry,” Professor Dumbledore said warmly from his portrait. His eyes were twinkling with an excessive amount of mirth this evening it seemed. “I am quite pleased that you both have decided to open the door to your bond – you two will be limitless together,” he smiled softly.

At his analogy, Harry’s blush deepened as he recalled Draco using it earlier that morning. “Thank you, sir.”

“Oh, do not thank me, it was Sir Cowper who brought it to all of our attentions. I do believe you owe those knights your thanks.”

“Albus,” McGonagall interjected, clearing her throat importantly.

Professor Dumbledore raised his hand, gesturing towards her with a slight nod. “Yes, of course Minerva, my apologies. I will be a silent observer,” he winked.

McGonagall conjured two chairs for Harry and Draco who refused the offer of tea and biscuits as Healer Greene stood awkwardly beside McGonagall, seated once again at her desk. “Professor Slughorn made me aware of your…development,” she said, her voice nearly as tight as the lines that were pulling around her mouth. “Though I share Professor Dumbledore’s sentiments,” she said carefully, “There are procedures to be followed. As bonds are not a specialist area of mine, Healer Greene is here to kindly explain to the both of you the legal ramifications of any actions you perform from here on in.”

Healer Greene cleared his throat and stepped around to the front of the desk, leaning back on it slightly to support himself, as he looked down at the boys. “A properly documented bond has many positive and negative aspects of it. Do either of you understand the laws in which are involved with a mutual, irreversible bond?”

“In the eyes of the Ministry, we would be legally married if we were to ever complete the bond with consummation. Every law that accompanies marriage would do so to us as well if we were to,” Draco paused and flashed Harry a quick and suggestive smirk, “Complete such acts. Also, as the Ministry is aware of our particular situation, we would need to sign our consent to be viewed by the public as a married couple. Since we are both of age I don’t believe there are any familial assent concerns,” Draco finished, tossing Harry another glance. He appeared nonplussed by it all, which made Draco feel more comfortable.

“Exactly,” Healer Greene nodded. “However, there is another particular aspect of your situation I am not sure you will be fond of, Mr. Potter,” he said, addressing him specifically. Harry raised an eyebrow curiously as Greene continued. “When one is married they may separate; however, when one possesses a bond such as yours it is permanent. If you two wish to lessen the bond that is always a viable possibility, however, if your bond ever reaches the state of…full commitment,” he said awkwardly, his beady eyes looking between the two of them, “Then there are certain further legalities tied to your persons. The punishment for any particular crimes current or outstanding will be shared between the two of you including any suspended sentences. It is a rather archaic law that has been in place a few hundred years ever since the discovery that bonds as intense as yours can have the gift or curse of pseudo- leglimancy  , the ability to read each other’s thoughts without any  actual casting. I myself think it ridiculous, however, since these cases are so very rare the law has never been changed.”

Draco was sporting a tight frown and Harry’s brow was furrowed in thought. “What you’re trying to say is that if I committed a crime, Draco would be found guilty as well? That doesn’t make much sense, does it?”

“It is because of the telepathic relationship a bond in that state experiences. One would argue that although only one of the individuals participating in the crime is actually guilty, the mate is deemed equally guilty as they would be well aware of the crime beforehand and perhaps might even have mentally coaxed their mate into it,” Healer Greene explained.

“As long as Draco’s not thinking about turning over any shops in the future, I don’t see how this really applies to us,” Harry stated, though he was disconcerted by Draco’s grimace. He attempted to silently ask him what was wrong but Draco remained quiet.

Professor McGonagall sighed, leaning forward on her desk. “I believe, Mr. Potter, this concerns you because if you were to consummate your bond,” Harry shuddered at the Headmistress even referring to the act herself, “Mr. Malfoy’s current sentence would also be placed on you.”

Harry blinked a few times, slightly surprised. “Is that what is worrying you?” he questioned, turning to Draco who inclined his head ever so slightly. “If I share his sentence all I have to do is meet weekly with his probationary auror, no? That’s not too bad – Merlin, no,” Harry groaned, “Don’t tell me I’d have to Floo to the Ministry every time I wanted to go somewhere!”

“I am afraid that is the case, Mr. Potter. Whatever limitations Mr. Malfoy has, you would have as well. Other than that,” Greene said, clapping his hands together and displaying a forced smile in attempts to cheer up the atmosphere, “A bond such as yours is a truly remarkable and wonderful thing! I do hope you allow me to follow you boys during any development you might have – an opportunity like this happens once in a century!”

“Er, sure, Healer Greene, we’d be delighted,” Harry said awkwardly, casting another glance at Draco who appeared thoughtful and withdrawn, still.

“Brilliant. And if the time comes when you wish properly register with the Ministry, send me an owl,” Greene instructed as he held out his hand, Harry shook it but Draco didn’t even seem to register the man anymore.

“If that is all, Professor,” Harry said, gesturing towards the door, he just wanted to get Draco alone to hear what was going through his head.

“Yes, you may leave,” she excused them.

As soon as they were out in the corridor, Harry grabbed Draco by the hem of his sleeve and ran his thumb over his brow. “What’s wrong?” he insisted.

Draco sighed, relaxing against Harry’s touch that left a prickling sensation in its wake. “Three more years until we can consummate our bond, Harry. I understand if you do not want to wait three years,” he whispered.

Harry blinked a few times before chuckling. “Three years? I may want to wait but I’d sooner sleep with a Blast-Ended Skrewt than wait three years!”

“Oh,” Draco dejected, “So, that will be it then?”

Finally grasping Draco’s thought process, Harry quickly cupped his face, bringing it level with his own as he grinned at his partner. “Don’t be an imbecile, Malfoy. It just means I’ll have to deal with the Ministry a little more than I’d like to for another three years.”

Surprised, wide silver eyes bore down at Harry. “Harry, do not be foolish here-“

“And don’t try to make my decisions for me again, Draco,” Harry warned seriously before he slipped his hands down Draco’s sides and around his back, embracing him lightly but standing in a way he could still peer up at him. “I understand the repercussions, I truly do. If I’m going to be with you anyway I’ll be dealing with the terms of your probation on a regular basis no matter if we have consummated anything or not.”

“It will be on your record,” Draco explained.

“Yeah, and so will being a Parselmouth and I don’t care much about that either,” Harry retorted lightly, squeezing Draco and planting a soft kiss on his slightly parted lips. “Are you really going to turn me away again?”

“Gods, no,” he responded quickly. “I just want the best for you,” he reiterated for what felt to be the hundredth time that week.

“And for the foreseeable future, that’s you.”

Draco felt the corners of his mouth pulling into a soft smile. ‘How did I get so lucky even after I buggered everything up so badly?’ he wondered to himself as he leaned down and pressed his lips to Harry’s, his eyes fluttering shut. When he backed away, Harry had that same goofy grin on his face as he did after a heavy snogging session.

Somebody cleared their throat behind them and they jumped away from one another, wheeling around to see Professor McGonagall with crossed arms and a raised eyebrow regarding them with obvious displeasure. “As joyous as the union of the two of you is,” she said sarcastically, “This type of behaviour will not be tolerated within school grounds.”

“Yes, Professor.”

“Sorry, Professor.”

They both said in unison. McGonagall pursed her lips and indicated towards the length of the corridor ahead of them. “Hurry along now, dinner will be served any minute.”

Hands clasped together they abided by their Headmistress and strolled down to the Great Hall. “Oh bugger, I had almost forgotten that I have to deal with Hermione and Ron,” Harry groaned as they reached the entrance hall.

“I could come and sit with you if you would like,” Draco offered.

Harry smiled thankfully at him, “No, I think it’s best I handle them on my own.”

“Splendid, I’m not quite keen on having Weasel berate me during my meal,” Draco clipped semi-playfully. “Good luck then,” he squeezed Harry’s hand.

“I’ll see you after dinner?’ Harry asked hopefully as they entered the hall, beginning to part from one another towards their respective tables.

“Meet me outside of my common room at eight,” he instructed.

The moment Harry collapsed onto the bench at the Gryffindor table across from his best friends, Ron immediately jumped in with a barrage of questions. Even Ginny and Seamus were there, throwing in their equal curiosities in hopes of explanations. Harry sighed as he indulged his friends in the events of the day regarding his and Draco’s bond. Of course, he left out exactly how it was Draco apologized to him.

“Let me get this straight, if you ever want to sleep with the fella’, you have to not only marry him but share his probation? That’s rough, mate,” Seamus empathized, clapping Harry on the back.

Harry shrugged as he dug into his meat pie. “Not really. I mean, the actual consummation is the marriage bit and its separable like all other marriages are. As for Draco’s probation, it doesn’t really bother me. I’ll just have to go through a couple of procedures in order to travel for the next little while,” he explicated, as if neither of these aspects were a big deal.

Hermione shook her head. “A naturally occurring bond that came together like the two of yours did, especially without your knowledge, means a lot more than just hating one another. A bond like that can only be made when two people are truly meant to oppose one another or be with one another – the chances of the two of you separating are pretty slim. I read it in The Essential Handbook to Marriage for Witches,” she recited.

“What’re you reading that for?” Ron asked accusingly, panic clearly written on his face.

Ginny, Seamus, and Harry all coughed overtop of their own laughter, hoping to hide it from Hermione who was suddenly glaring at Ron but didn’t answer him. Ron shook his head and peered over his shoulder in the general direction of the Slytherin table and then back at his best friend. “But going on probation and marking your record for Malfoy, mate? I don’t think that’s a very wise thing to do.”

“Do you really think the Ministry is going to make Harry Potter go on probation? Honestly,” Hermione huffed.

“You don’t think they would?” Harry returned quickly.

Hermione shook her head. “Definitely not. I’m sure they would find a way to either rearrange the circumstances, change the laws, or negate Draco’s probation altogether – probably not the latter, he’s still lucky enough as it is for the sentence he has.”

Harry beamed, “That’s still wonderful, though. Draco was feeling pretty peeved about that bit but I know he’d feel less guilty if there were a way to get me off.”

“That’s great and all, but I’m still lost on something, mate,” Ron interjected. “What exactly did Malfoy do to apologize? I mean, that bastard really did a number on you and it wasn’t right. I didn’t think there was anything he could do to make you want to bond with him again!”

A blush immediately flooded Harry’s cheeks and he turned to Ginny suddenly. “Do you think the team is ready for the game tomorrow?” he asked, much to Ron’s chagrin.

Across the hall, Draco was pleasantly surprised by the calm refuge that was the Slytherin table. “I’m just glad he won’t be bothering us anymore – no more than usual, that is,” Blaise commented to his girlfriend, grinning at the glare Draco shot him.

“You’re lucky,” Pansy reminded him for the third time already that meal, “If Blaise ever left me like that there would be no chance in Hades I would be taking him back!”

“Yes, well thankfully you are not Potter. So, did either of you complete that Ancient Runes essay?” Draco inquired, hoping to change the topic of conversation. As happy as he was being with Harry once again, he wasn’t up for it to be the constant topic of discussion.

As Pansy was halfway through explaining where she had become confused in her essay (which was a reoccurring incident with most of her homework – Draco conceded years ago that she was the slowest Slytherin in their year), Draco felt it like a tremor through his body. A sudden rush of – what was it? Draco took a deep breath, concentrating as he muted out his friends around him. It was creeping up his skin, if you could feel an emotion creep, and it nestled somewhere in the forefront of his temples.

Draco must have appeared startled or dazed because soon Pansy was leaning across the table, her hand running over the back of his bringing his attention back to her. “Are you alright, Draco?” she asked concernedly.

Blinking, he nodded as his lips slowly began to curl into a smirk. “Wonderful,” he responded, “It appears Harry is embarrassed. Really embarrassed.”

Blaise and Pansy turned to look over their shoulders through the crowd of students at the subject in question before rounding on Draco once more. “He doesn’t look it to me,” Blaise commented.

“I know,” Draco said as he stood from his seat, “I can feel Harry again.”

“Piss off, Draco, do you have to say it like that?” Blaise grumbled pulling an exaggerated disgusted face.

Ignoring his friend’s comment, Draco made his way around the Slytherin table and towards his partner. When he came upon them, all of the Gryffindors were blinking up at him confusedly. “Nice of you to join us, Malfoy,” Seamus drawled, though with no malice and a hint of playfulness to his tone. Draco regarded him with a raised eyebrow before letting his hand fall on Harry’s shoulder, relishing the sudden vibrato he felt from the touch.

“Did you feel it?” Draco asked Harry, ignoring the curious stares from the other Gryffindors.

Harry blinked up at him, clearly at a loss, so sighing Draco tightened his grip on his shoulder and shut his eyes. Perhaps if he felt Harry’s emotion – which he was certain he had – he could send Harry an image again, like they could nearing the end of their bond. He visualized the last night they spent at the Manor in as much detail as he could recall, the way it looked, how he saw Harry hovering over top of him, the way his hands felt caressing him. When Draco opened his eyes again Harry was still staring at him and Draco sighed. “Bugger, I guess it is only emotions at this point.”

“What are you on about, Draco?” Harry quipped but then his eyes rounded with understanding. “Y-you can feel me?”

“Of course he can feel you, he’s touching you, Harry,” Ron uttered in a way it seemed he thought his friend was going a little bit daft.

“No,” Harry turned back to him, rolling his eyes. “What I’m feeling, Ron.”

“You cannot feel anything?” Draco questioned, a bit curious as to why this realization was only hitting him. Harry shook his head, seemingly a bit put off by the frown on his face.

“Maybe whatever Draco is feeling just isn’t strong enough,” Hermione offered. “I would bet that in a bond whomever is experiencing the stronger emotion would be the one to project it.”

Harry nodded, “That sounds like it makes sense…”

Draco inclined his head in agreement before eyeing the other students. “Which one of you was making Harry so embarrassed? And how?” he lightly interrogated, clearly more amused than offended.

Under a deep, sudden blush Harry shook his head. “Leave it,” he mumbled.

It was Ginny who spoke up, grinning a little mischievously. “We were only wondering what it is you did for Harry to apologize to him. I mean, that must have been one lovely apology,” she said far too innocently.

“It’s not about what I did for Harry,” Draco responded quickly, his voice suddenly dropping into a whisper as he leaned closer to Harry and smirked at his friends. “It’s what I did to Harry,” he purred.

Ginny brightened, Hermione as well as Ron flushed, and Seamus chortled as he hit Harry on the back all at once. “You don’t have to go around telling my friends things like that, Draco,” Harry muttered as his embarrassment rose even higher and Draco didn’t need to feel it to see it.

Laughing, Draco squeezed his boyfriend’s shoulder before letting his hand fall. “I did not tell them anything; I merely alluded to it.”

Making a poor attempt at distracting himself from his embarrassment, Harry inquired about the ability to exchange pictures and images as they had been able to do previously. “No, I tried that as soon as I knew I was able to feel you again,” Draco admitted.

“Oh, blast, that reminds me…Healer Greene advised we hurry along and register with the Ministry,” Harry cursed. Despite having just come from McGonagall’s office, he knew it was best to register as soon as possible to avoid any future legal complications.

Draco nodded knowingly. “I am ready to do so when you are. From what I understand we will need a familial third party witness; one typically does for these legal proceedings.”

“Well, either one of them can do it, can’t they?” Harry asked, gesturing to his friends who pretended to not be listening to the couple’s conversation any longer.

“Not quite. It is best to be somebody of greater position. It would not appear in good favour to have the bonding of two eighteen year olds witnessed by yet another teenager,” Draco explained.

Harry nodded and bit his lip, looking down at his plate for a moment before back up at Draco with a small smile. “We should go and write a letter after dinner, then, and ask her to be our witness.”

“Her?” it was Ron who asked to whom Harry was referring.

“Are you sure Harry?” Draco softened. “We could probably just ask another Professor, even McGonagall would do it,” he offered although it was obvious the sentiment thrilled him. For the first time in a while, Harry could also feel Draco’s admiration as if it were his own; it felt like wearing your favourite jumper after losing it for a whole season.

Beaming at the familial feeling, Harry grabbed Draco’s hand. “I’m certain, I should have thought of her first,” he said honestly and turned to answer Ron’s question. “The only blood-related family either of us has left that isn’t absolutely insane; Narcissa.”

It was a bittersweet day; the penultimate afternoon of their education at Hogwarts. They had all been assured their presence was welcome there whenever they wished, but it wouldn’t be the same. They would never play another Quidditch game, never sleep in their dormitories again after tonight, never moan over a potions essay or have to sit through one of Professor Binns’ impossibly long lectures. Soon, Hogwarts would be a memory among memories.

To mark the last day of their education, after the completion of their final NEWTs, Harry, Draco and a select crowd were convening in Professor McGonagall’s office for the official signing of their bond. The Ministry had finally come to a conclusion that upon the legal amendment of their bond, the Malfoys’ flooing privileges would be opened. They need only report to a Ministry official weekly, as per usual, and properly register each residence connected to the Malfoy Manor Floo Network and lastly undergo veritaserum questioning once a month. It was more than they could have hoped for; especially with their growing plans to travel, Draco in rapport with Harry’s wishes after they left Hogwarts. They had no idea where they were going to stay starting tomorrow. Harry had made it perfectly clear that as much as he enjoyed Narcissa’s company, he could never feel comfortable living there. Grimmauld Place was always an option, however, Hermione was working alongside Molly in restoring the old, dilapidated home.

None of that mattered. Their future was entirely uncertain, and for once both Draco and Harry were comfortable not knowing where they were going to end up so long as they went there together.

Despite what should be a celebratory day, Harry came out of his final NEWT examination, Charms, in a foul mood. Fortunately Draco had already completed his examination and thus was not distracted by the sudden feeling of anger surging through the bond.

Barely needing to concentrate anymore, Draco followed the bond in search of Harry. Eventually he ended up in the Gryffindor Tower, waiting impatiently at the Fat Lady’s portrait hole until somebody came to let him in. It was, to his luck, Ron and Hermione who came out of the portrait after only a few minutes of waiting. Neither looked too thrilled, unlike the rest of the students whom were rejoicing over the completed term of the year and excited with the prospect of the summer.

“Is Harry in his dormitory?” he questioned, forgoing any sort of formalities or small talk.

Hermione and Ron exchanged a look. “I guess you, uh, felt it then?” Ron returned.

“What did you two do?” Draco accused, crossing his arms.

“Nothing!” Hermione hurriedly defended themselves. “We were talking about this summer and our plans to buy that cottage not far from the Burrow and…” she trailed off, looking nervously at Ron.

“We invited you two to stay with us until you figured out where you were going,” Ron finished, much to Draco’s surprise which was, admittedly to himself, difficult to mask at the words. ‘Being invited to stay with the Weasel and his mud-muggleborn wife? How alarming,’ he thought to himself.

“Yes, well, he was rather thrilled about that, but…I figure he forgot he would have to go and see the Dursleys some point soon,” Hermione finished explaining.

Realisation dawned on Draco who sighed. “What is it with those relatives of his? They cannot have been that horrible,” at Ron and Hermione’s looks he added, “Were they?”

“Er, that’s something you’ll have to talk to Harry about, Malfoy. You know how he is,” Ron patted him on the shoulder in a nearly friendly gesture as they stepped aside from the still ajar portrait hole. “Good luck.”

Draco rolled his eyes and pushed past the two Gryffindors into the ghastly too-scarlet-for-its-own-good-common-room. ‘They just do not understand how to make Harry feel better. These Dursley characters really could not have been as bad as they are making them out to be,’ Draco lied, despite knowing better himself. Harry had yet to confess much of his past before Hogwarts to him and Draco promised he would let him take his time – but not if it was going to affect their last day at Hogwarts together and their first day as a legally bonded couple.

Coming upon the room, Draco could feel Harry’s frustration coming off in waves. Without knocking, he entered the dormitory, sighing as soon as he laid eyes on his partner. Harry clearly had made a fuss as he was sitting on the edge of his bed, his head in his hands, breathing raggedly. A few outfits (the ones Draco had chosen for him this evening and tomorrow) lay strewn across the dormitory and Harry’s trunk was knocked over. A piece of jagged glass sat beside him on the bed and Draco recognized it at once; Harry may not have shared his past with the Dursleys, but he did share his past with Sirius and the other Marauders with Draco.

Sitting beside him, Draco took the piece of glass in his hands and fingered the edges for a moment before gently placing it on Harry’s bedside table. He put one arm around his back and the other came up to gently stroke the opposite cheek, forcing Harry to turn and look at him. At the touch, trailing that familiar and desirable sensation in its wake, Harry exhaled heavily as he came to meet Draco’s soft, understanding grey eyes.

Draco didn’t ask, he didn’t prod, for he knew that would only take longer. Instead he waited, stroking and holding Harry was comfortingly as possible. Warming up to his touch, Harry eventually nuzzled into his side, dropping his head to his shoulder and allowing his tension to seep away as Draco held him. “I just don’t want to have to go there again.”

“You don’t have to,” Draco quickly said.

“They’re right, I need to get my things,” Harry sighed.

“I can do it,” he offered softly.

Harry looked up at him, smiling the best he could although it faltered. “Thank you, Draco, but if you did that – or anybody else – somebody would end up in St. Mungo’s.”

Maneuvering himself on the bed, Draco made it so that Harry was forcibly facing him now, and he took both his hands in his own, grasping them as he looked at him seriously. “Then I will go with you, but Harry, you need to tell me what happened. Only then can I actually help you.”

“I know, and I will-“

“When?” Draco cut off. “We are bound, Harry, for life. Why should we keep anything from one another? That is hardly how I want us to start.”

Harry frowned deeply and looked at their hands before sighing. “I just don’t want to ever have to think about them again.”

“And after we go back one last time, you will never have to. I promise.”

Knowing there wasn’t another excuse he could grasp at, Harry slowly began to delve into the story of his childhood. Through his earliest memories, the false truth he believed about who he and his parents were, the neglect, the hatred, the cupboard, Dudley, Vernon, Aunt Marge, and even Piers Polkiss, he told Draco everything he could remember.

The infamous ability to mask his emotions did Draco no favours towards the end of Harry’s monologue. His fists and jaw were clenched as he paced before Harry who sat subdued on the edge of the bed still. “I guess I mostly want Hedwig’s cage and maybe the army men; I would like to keep those,” Harry finished absently, recalling those little green men underneath the staircase still, no doubt.

“See,” he gestured at his clearly enraged partner, “This is one of the reasons why I didn’t want to tell you – you’re just peeved now and it’s my fault.”

Draco quickly came upon Harry and pulled him up roughly by his shoulders before embracing him. “It is not your fault. Those bastards treated you like a House Elf! And to think, I treated you almost the –“

“No, we’re not going there today,” Harry cut him off quickly.

“Harry, those bastard Muggles will get what they deserve, and after they meet me they will understand just how fucking pathetic it was for them to treat you like that. And I will not let anybody treat you like that again, do you understand?” Draco intoned sharply.

Harry nodded. “They apologized, in their own way.”

“Which was clearly not good enough. Harry, you need to let these people go and I promise to help you do that as soon as we go there one last time. Together, okay?” Draco breathed, trying to allow his own anger to dissipate for Harry’s sake. The mere thought of the treatment of those Muggles was enough to get Draco’s probation absolutely revoked regardless of his bond to Harry Potter.

Harry finally relaxed, unwinding into his partner and embracing him tightly in return. “You’re right, Draco, thank you. I’ll never have to see those bastards again after one last time. You know, it might be pretty amusing to see them meet you…they do hate wizards.”

The thought of a Muggle who was knowledgeable about their world hating a wizard astounded Draco no end but he shook it off. “What time is it?” Draco queried, knowing Harry could cast a wandless tempus, which he did.

“Bloody hell, we have to be up in McGonagall’s office in a half hour!” Harry groaned.

Draco parted from Harry and retrieved one of the discarded sets of robes from the floor, tossing it at his boyfriend. “Hurry up and change then, we cannot look anything but our best.”

“What does it even matter what we look like? We’re just signing some papers.”

“We are legally binding ourselves, Harry. All formalities aside, this is the great Harry Potter’s wedding day and you are absolutely denser than I thought you were if you assumed there would not be any press there of any kind.”

Harry groaned, this was certainly not something he had thought about beforehand and the prospect of having to face any journalists or reporters of any kind after they fully committed themselves was not a pleasant one.

It was an hour later, after all the cordial greetings had been done, that they were seated in Professor McGonagall’s office. Professor Dumbledore was awake and beaming down at the scene before him, the collection of individuals all standing about the Headmistress’s desk. Narcissa was standing behind and slightly between her son and his partner, her hand resting gently on Draco’s shoulder, exchanging pleasantries with those around her. Healer Greene was exceedingly enthusiastic about the situation, McGonagall looked, despite herself, pleased, and even the Knights had come all the way to their adjoining portrait to watch from the corner of the room.

Eventually Healer Greene called everyone to order, reiterating the parameters of the documents they were about to sign and the vows they were about to make. This would be their fifth time hearing it in only a matter of weeks so Harry and Draco paid little attention to Greene and instead clasped their hands together tightly. Both searched through the bond, trifled amongst the surface of it and burrowed as deep as they could without making themselves too obvious, and were delighted to find no doubts and absolutely no reservations about today making them all the more eager.

When the time came as instructed by Greene, they both signed quickly and without a single hesitation, much to the surprise of Professor McGonagall who was certain there would be some sort of debacle. As Narcissa leaned over and signed at the very bottom on behalf of her son and his new partner, Harry and Draco immediately felt it. Their eyes snapped to one another’s, searching for the understanding in which they found.

It felt like the Animus Nexus did at the end of their holidays but different; special in its own way. This was their naturally occurring bond, lighting something between them even they could not begin to understand. There were congratulations all around them as Narcissa shook the hands of the other people present, but Draco and Harry were locked into one another. Wordlessly, they moved together and at the same time leaned forward to capture each other in a gentle, simple kiss – but it was a kiss like no other.

That electrifying heat, as Harry had described it all those moons ago to Healer Greene upon their first meeting with him, had exploded tenfold. It was nearly overwhelming and they felt themselves become light-headed at the sensations that danced across their bodies; it felt like they were exchanging pivotal atoms with one another. Eventually, a loud clearing of a throat broke them apart. Harry was blushing deeply although Draco needed only to blink before appearing unfazed, his hand still fastened in Harry’s.

“It changed? Wonderful, boys, wonderful! You must tell me exactly what is different. Explain it in as many details-“ they were grateful for Greene’s eccentricity, however, a lengthy conversation with him was the last thing on their minds and they both knew it.

Correction. They both saw it.

Once again, they were consumed in thought between each other. Draco saw flashes of an imaginary, glorified version of himself pressing his lips down Harry’s body. On the other hand Harry saw – oh! – he saw something he had never actually physically experienced but now he wanted to more than ever.

“Now would not be the time to interrogate my son and his new husband,” Narcissa said carefully, “We would be pleased to have you over to the manor one afternoon when they are properly settled.”

“But, this is a once in a lifetime –“

“I agree with Narcissa,” McGonagall added, slightly transfixed at the way Harry and Draco appeared to be lost to those around them.

“These boys deserve their privacy during such a moment. Sir Cowper?” It was Professor Dumbledore who was speaking and the voice of the overlooking Headmaster startled both Harry and Draco from their reverie.

“Understood, Chief,” Sir Cowper saluted across the room and himself along with the other Knights dispersed from the portrait.

“Congratulations, Harry m’boy, and Mr. Malfoy. I believe the Knights are awaiting your arrival to your rooms once more.”

“Professor! Are you sure that’s appropriate? They are still at Hogwarts!”

“Now, Minerva…”

But Harry and Draco didn’t get to hear Professor Dumbledore’s reasoning. Without a word and only one more lingering glance at Narcissa who smiled warmly at them both and nodded, they were rushing off to their old dormitory.

It looked just the same as it always had and Harry wasted no time wandlessly silencing and locking the portrait hole.

Without words, without so much as a single gesture, Harry ravaged Draco. By the time they even made it to the bedroom, everything but their trousers left a trail like breadcrumbs to Harry’s old bed. Eyes wild with want, Harry shoved Draco down onto the bed who did not protest whatsoever, breathless and flushed at the sight of his lover advancing onto him.

“Harry, show me what you want,” Draco whispered, running his hands down Harry’s back as the brunet came to sit upon his lap.

Huskily, hitching his hips into Draco as he responded, Harry spoke into the nape of Draco’s neck where his lips ghosted across his skin.

“I want you to do to me exactly what I saw you wanted to do in McGonagall’s office.”

Draco abandoned his reserve at the request, took Harry by the shoulders and quickly altered them so that he was now straddling Harry whose back was flat on the bed. “Are you sure, Harry?” he asked.

Harry nodded tersely. “I’ve never been surer of anything in my life,” he whispered truthfully.

“And you want it exactly how you saw it in my head?” Draco returned maliciously.


“I will see what I can do, Harry,” he smirked before capturing Harry’s lips in another needy kiss.

Bliss was a simple word though its implications were grander than they appeared.

Bliss could not begin to describe the way both men felt. Pure elation did not even come closer to pinning a word to the way they were feeling.

Hitching his breath, Draco removed his intrusive fingers from Harry and released his cock from his mouth at the same time, a thin line of saliva following him as he went. Harry was seeing stars before his eyes. Draco had done all of this before but it had never felt quite so wonderful; he never had to restrain himself from coming so much as he did now. This new bond was decidedly the best thing that had ever happened to Harry.

Pulling himself up to his partner’s face, Draco kissed along his jawline all the way to his lips. Draco was so hard he was certain he wouldn’t last long once he was inside of Harry – especially when the man in question appeared so overwhelmingly aroused. Draco was about to ask if Harry was ready as he rested between his drawn up legs, his erection resting against his bollocks, until Harry bucked up ever so slightly into him and groaned, rotating his hips.

“Please,” he pleaded gruffly, “Please fuck me, Draco.”

It was a miracle Draco restrained himself from driving Harry into the bed that second. Instead, he very slowly, carefully, pressed into his stretched entrance. Harry winced and sucked in a sharp breath at the intrusion. “Relax,” Draco whispered from his position above him.

Looking up at Draco, Harry felt himself relaxing and melting into him. Draco took his time entering Harry, ensuring  that it didn’t hurt him more than it had to. By the time he was fully inside, Harry was biting his lower lip and groaning loudly, his hands gripping Draco’s hips. “How does it feel?”

“Like you need to move,” Harry growled.

Draco obliged and began to move, slowly at first, but once he was sure Harry could handle it he closed his eyes and allowed his own desire tangled with Harry’s to lead him. The fiery impression their skin made when pressed together was shooting through both of them where they were connected; it felt just like that – as if they were connected and more than just physically. Everything else besides Harry slipped from Harry, it felt as if they had fallen off the edge of the world together.

Harry was gripping Draco hard enough now that he was certain blood would soon be drawn if it had not yet. “Fuck, Harry, you feel so good.”

“I know,” Harry responded, his voice was strained and low. Closing his eyes, Harry let himself feel every inch of Draco entering him again and again, his own hand reached down his body as he began to rock his hips in rhythm to Draco, and grasped his cock.

Draco immediately pried Harry’s hand away and was all over a sudden much closer than before. Propped up on one elbow supporting himself above Harry, Draco reached down between them with his one hand and grabbed a hold of Harry’s cock dripping with pre-come and began to stroke it. Harry arched his back up into the touch and into Draco and at his movements he shifted his hips in exactly just the right way.

Eyes suddenly snapping open, Harry looked up at Draco who paused as he, too, felt Harry’s own arousal. “Was that-“ Harry began to ask but did not have time to answer as Draco drove into him hitting his prostate again. Incoherently, Harry cried out.

Each of his senses became overwhelmed with Harry’s arousal at Draco fucking him; he began to move faster, harder, hitting that sensitive area in rapid succession. Draco fell fully onto Harry now, his hand releasing his lover’s cock, as his body pressed against his. He lost himself in Harry, thrusting sporadically now, as his hands explored Harry wherever they could reach.

“Draco – fuck, Draco, I-I think-“

“Do it, Harry, come,” Draco hissed, and Harry was not far behind his words. Feeling Harry release his building orgasm at last, Draco felt as if it were himself that had come and thus wasn’t far behind as he came inside of Harry.

They collapsed together in a tangle of limbs, exchanging lazy, shaking kisses when they could. Eventually Harry pushed Draco off him only to quickly clean themselves and envelop Draco in his arms, burrowing himself into his side. “I love you, Draco,” he whispered.

Draco pulled Harry into him, planting a soft kiss on his brow. “I love you, too, Harry.” Neither wanted to move nor part, and for once, they allowed themselves to forget about their other engagements and instead spent their last evening at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry indulging one another.

Chapter Text

A ruffled, small owl with anxious eyes landed on the perch of the kitchen window sill, hooting derisively with one of its legs outstretched. “Ta, Pig,” Ron said, untying the parchment from his owl and throwing a piece of toast leftover from breakfast in his direction.

Unravelling the parchment he sighed at the unmistakeable scrawl. “Malfoy!” he called, slightly annoyed, taking leave of the kitchen and making his way upstairs.

Coming out of the spare room, Harry was pulling on his jumper. “Shower,” he explained shortly, jabbing his thumb in the direction of the bathroom down the hall.

“Again?” He had one last night!” Ron scandalised.

Harry’s cheeks tinted. “Er, well, he was a little sticky…”

Ron quickly clapped his hands over his ears melodramatically. “Too much, mate, too much!”

“What is all the fuss?” Hermione quipped, stepping out of the master bedroom, running a brush through her hair. Catching the state of her husband, she frowned. “You are not wearing that to your mother’s, Ronald!”

Ron looked at his jumper a little too short for him and the tight jeans with a tear at the knee. “Mum’s seen me naked, ‘Mione, I hardly think she’s going to care,” he mumbled but at his wife’s narrowing glare he put his hands up. “Fine, fine, I’ll get changed. Speaking of mothers, this is from yours,” he held out to Harry who flushed.

The reference to Narcissa Malfoy to being Harry’s mum had begun at Hermione and Ron’s wedding as a joke. After the reception incident, on many occasions Narcissa made it clear how much she cared for Harry in her own way, fuelling Ron’s insistence on calling her his mother. At the reception Harry had consumed one (or four) firewhiskeys too many and Narcissa made her disappointment of his state quite publicly clear. Later in the celebrations somebody had conjured a set of broomsticks for a drunken pick-up game of Quidditch. Harry excitedly joined, making a fool of himself on the broom for the most part. When Narcissa received word of the late night activities she dragged her son out into the field by the Burrow to deal with his mate.

“Harry James Potter!” she had yelled, her voice cold with an odd inflection of something akin to fear. “You will put your two imbecilic feet back on the ground this instant!” Once Harry landed, his face beet red, he would have tumbled over if Draco hadn’t caught him. Narcissa’s eyes were a stormy grey as her lips were drawn into an intensely disappointed frown.

“You are so in for it now, Potter,” Draco murmured, clearly amused.

Harry was about to open his mouth but Narcissa spoke again, her voice low yet inflective. “Flying under the influence. Do you have air for brains, Harry? What would happen if you were to fall and succumb to fate? What would become of Draco”? What would become of you?” she proceeded to drag him away.

 “Ah, what does mother want?” Draco’s voice hummed beside Harry suddenly. His hair was still wet, drops of water falling on his naked shoulders as he held a towel loosely about his waist.

Hermione quickly averted her eyes, blushing, Ron scowled, and Harry eyed his mate closely. Draco leaned over into Harry’s vicinity, skimming the letter. “I don’t want to Floo there first,” Harry whined ever so slightly.

“Firecall to warn her we will be there for dinner,” Draco ordered gently, and before Harry could groan out his remorse, Draco pressed his lips to his ear. “Do it for me, Harry? If you do, I will do to you tonight exactly what you did to me last night.”

Harry swallowed any further protests and merely nodded. Ron rolled his eyes, “Malfoy has you trained like a crup.”

“Get changed, Ronald,” Hermione ordered again.

Grinning, Harry folded up Narcissa’s letter in his hands. “Better a crup than a House Elf.”

Avoiding Ron’s swipe, Harry ducked past the small crowd of people in Ron and Hermione’s hallway to go to the drawing room to firecall his mother-in-law. He was thusly informed that there would be no need to go to Andromeda’s residence that evening as originally planned; she and Teddy would be staying at Malfoy Manor instead for Harry and Draco’s last night spent in the country.

The couple were excited with their plans – or lack thereof. They had enough finances to last them a long while even with all the travelling they hoped to do. Much to Harry’s liking, they would be doing it the Muggle way. At first, Draco was horrified by the prospect of flying in a Muggle contraption but Hermione assured him planes were much safer than cars…now it was simply impossible to get Draco anywhere near a car unless absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately for Harry’s plans, Narcissa also requested they stay the evening and given they would not be seeing her for quite some time, nor Teddy and Andromeda, it was not an unreasonable request. Bringing himself back up to their temporary room, Harry made note that Hermione was still busy in the en suite and Ron must have still been figuring out something new to wear.

Draco was just about to pull his last item of clothing on when Harry entered their room and quickly locked and silenced it. Turning around with a raised eyebrow, Draco didn’t even need to ask what it was Harry was wanting, he felt his thoughts as if they were his own. “I thought I told you this evening. Ah, mother?” Draco inquired, abandoning the shirt he was about to dress in.

Harry grinned, glad he need not even ask Draco. “She wants us to spend the evening – Dromeda and Teddy will be there all night, too,” he informed him.

“And suddenly you can’t fuck me in the manor anymore? I can recall a very specific day in my father’s old study just last week-“

“Not with Teddy in the manor,” Harry waved him off, expelling the voyeuristic memory.

Draco smirked, walking towards Harry and pulling him up against his flush body, his hair still damp, allowing Harry the rare opportunity to run his hands through it without being chastised. “The manor is massive, Harry, surely it will do.”

Harry shook his head, burying his face into Draco’s neck and nipping at a healing love bite gently. “I’d rather fuck you now, Draco.”

At the Gryffindor’s bluntness, Draco snorted and snaked his hands underneath the hem of Harry’s shirt. “I’m all yours, Harry,” he muttered.

Out in the hallway, Ron was staring at the closed off bedroom door, groaning, and stomping to the bathroom inside of their bedroom where Hermione was putting the final touches to her make-up. “They’re doing it again,” he whined.

Hermione rolled her eyes at her newlywed husband. “They are in love, Ronald,” she said as if it were enough explanation for their constant copulation – which to Ron it wasn’t.

“But we’re in love!” he protested. “Why don’t we –“ Ron swallowed his words at Hermione’s heated glare. Grumbling, Ron turned away and walked back out into the hallway and down the stairs, muttering to himself. “I can’t believe Malfoy’s getting more action in my own house than I am.”

Later that evening.

Another flash emitted from Harry’s camera, temporarily startling the growing toddler and his cousin. Draco immediately scowled over at Harry but at the goofy smile on his partner’s face, Draco couldn’t help but grin in return.

Teddy had his hair turned platinum blond once again, as he usually did whenever he played with Draco, and was currently sitting on his lap in the main study of the Malfoy Manor, leafing through the children’s version of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. “Babbity Rabbity!” Teddy exclaimed at the pictures that went along with the text of that particular story.

Draco chuckled lightly, his one arm coming around Teddy’s front as he turned it back to the first page of the story. “Would you like me to read it, Teddy? Again?”

“Nana, Nana read it!” Teddy said suddenly, jumping up from Draco’s lap.

“Alright, go on then,” Draco offered the book to Teddy who hurried away to the other end of the study where Andromeda and Narcissa were sitting, conversing over a spot of tea after dinner. Upon passing Harry, Teddy grinned wildly and his hair turned the same shade of his godfather’s.

Harry joined Draco on the floor, taking Teddy’s seat between his legs. Draco wrapped his arms around his waist, pulling Harry’s back close to his front as he rested his chin on his shoulder. “Don’t you have enough pictures of Teddy and myself?”

“I thought I would never hear the day that Draco Malfoy would protest about having his picture taken and admired,” Harry teased, laughing at the playful jab Draco pressed into his ribs. “I just love the way you two interact. You’re really, surprisingly, good with kids.”

“You know I like them. Prefer them to most adults,” Draco added, honestly. At sensing where Harry’s conversation was leading, Draco groaned aloud. “You’re not on about children again, are you?”

Harry shrugged, blushing despite himself. “You know I want them.”

“Harry, we’re nineteen!” Draco protested.

“Not now,” he returned, “Eventually…after we travel, after you open an apothecary if you can or do whatever it is you decide to do…” Harry trailed off. “Don’t you want kids with me?”

“Maybe. Truly, I don’t know. I’m only just getting used to the idea of leaving here,” Draco gestured around him at the familiar study, “And being here, instead,” he held Harry closer. “For you I will consider it but for now can’t you just be happy with me?”

“Of course! I am happy with just you!” Harry assured quickly, turning around to face Draco now, peering up at him earnestly. “It’s just I want to…I don’t know why, but I just really wanted to be there for somebody in the ways I imagine my Dad would’ve been there for me.”

Draco smiled sadly, cupping Harry’s face in his hands he rubbed his cheek gently with his thumb. “You keep forgetting, Harry, that you already do that for Teddy,” he said softly.

Harry blinked and grinned, his hands reaching around Draco and clasping together on his lower back. “You do, too, you know. I love seeing you with him.”

“I know. But for now, let’s just keep us as just the two of us, yes? Teddy is enough for now, isn’t he?” Draco questioned hopefully.

Nodding, Draco was right. Teddy deserved their attention more than anybody else in their lives at that moment. Harry wanted to be an integral part of the growing toddler’s life and he wanted Draco to remain there alongside them both. Harry leaned forward and kissed Draco, their lips lingering on one another’s until Narcissa’s voice interrupted them.

“Draco, Harry, dessert is ready to be served,” she called from across the study.

Breaking apart, resting their foreheads against one another and smiling softly, Draco called after her, “Be there in a moment, mother!” Once they were alone to the study, after Andromeda had to drag Teddy away from the shelves where he always got into mischief pulling out the old texts, Draco kissed Harry more feverishly than before.

“Are you ready for tomorrow?” Draco asked, catching his breath from their kiss.

Harry beamed at Draco, tightening his hold on him. “Tomorrow? You mean to actually begin to live my life with you? Just you, all to myself?” he buried his head into his mate again, surrounding himself in his scent. “I can’t bloody wait.”