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A Pain of Our Choosing

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If you’d asked me what eighth year would be like, I would not have said it would be like this.

“He’s staring at you again,” Pansy says, draped on the arm of my chair and fiddling with my hair.

I swat her hand away. “He’s not.”

“He is.”

Across the common room, there’s a gaggle of Gryffindors, but he’s not with them. He’s sitting on the stairs leading up to the dormitories, and he is, it appears, staring at me.

The fuck do you want, Potter? I send it through Legilimency, just to startle him maybe. Because he has been staring at me lately, and I’d rather not admit it but it’s freaking me out.

His lips curve up in a half smirk, and I see the magic rise in his palm. He rolls it with his fingers like it’s a toy. Wandless, I’ve learned, comes easy to him, and everyone dreads being paired with him in Defence; he’s taken people out at the knees without even lifting a hand or saying a word. He flicks the spell toward me (it’s all in the wrist), and it lands on my cheek like a slap. I try not to gasp, but I do, my hand coming up and rubbing over the spot, the overly warm skin and the sting he’s left.

I look back again, but it’s only to see the retreat of his shoes, slowly, as he ascends to his room.

 

Stranger still, he sits his arse on the Slytherin bench in the Great Hall at dinner the next night. He faces away from the table, his own meal already eaten. He leans back, elbows where Blaise’s plate once was and where now there is only an empty space beside me. I’m still working on my bread pudding, but my fork hangs arrested halfway to my mouth at his utter insolence.

“To what do I owe the pleasure?” I ask him. “Or did you fancy slapping the other cheek with your bare hand?”

At this he smiles. His gaze drops to the place where his spell had struck. His look is assessing, penetrating, an arrogant caress. Then he meets my eyes again. “It didn’t even leave a mark.”

“Were you intending to?”

“If I had been, you’d have a nice handprint right now, Malfoy.”

“Like the cuts you left me with sixth year?” I don’t want to say it, but it comes hurtling out of my mouth regardless. Will it hurt him? Maybe. There’s something unyielding in his eyes now. No. Not unyielding; it’s accompanied by a tiny flinch. But my bringing it up exposes me as much as shaming him. I can feel the presence of that moment between us… when he did more than I ever thought he’d do. I drop my fork into my plate and use my napkin at the corners of my mouth to advertise my calm, fake though it is. “What do you really want, Potter?”

“I’m— We’re going to the Hog’s Head Saturday night. Thought you—you and your mates, that is—might like to come.”

He’s sitting entirely too close to me. I feel his words, the breath in them, gusting over my neck. I quell a shiver of unwanted delight.

“Or you could go fuck yourself,” he adds.

I turn my head and meet his steady gaze. I hate—positively hate—that there is an eleven year-old boy who lives inside me still who can’t quite believe Harry Potter is sitting next to him, talking to him.

“Do you need our faces for target practice in order to improve your darts game?” I ask him.

At this, he smiles again, broad, surprised. I scowl at him, and he tilts his head, eyes on my sneer. “Show up and find out.”

Then he’s off the bench, leaving the hall, his robes flaring behind him in his wake.

 

We do turn up, and we sit in a booth far away from Potter and his friends. I watch him sometimes. He’s with them, but he’s not really with them. He sits on the outskirts. He smiles at the conclusion of a joke but doesn’t contribute his own. He responds when addressed but only with the most perfunctory of answers, though polite. He drinks. Rather a lot.

Sometimes his eyes find mine, and we just sort of… observe each other, for a moment. It might be the challenge of it, of not looking away first. It might be curiosity. Nothing is exchanged exactly. Nothing pleasant or friendly, nor any spells or Legilimency. Nothing at all. And yet it feels like the world drops away.

“Fetch me a drink,” Pansy says drunkenly to me, her leg flung over Theo’s lap.

“Fetch your own,” I tell her and stand from the booth. I’m tempted to leave, or just get some fresh air, though it’s almost winter and getting cold.

I make my way to the loo and take a piss. I’m standing at the urinal with my dick out when the door opens, and I whip a glance over my shoulder to see that it’s Potter. Face hot, I turn back to finish, expecting him to take a stall or leave. He doesn’t. He simply stands there. I can feel his eyes on my back.

“Not even you would curse a man with his cock out,” I say, my stream slowing.

“I bet you would,” he says. Another glance back at him reveals him to be leaning against the door, his arms crossed.

I finish, tuck away, and wash my hands at the sinks. I can see him in the mirror’s reflection now. “You some kind of pervert?” I ask him. My hands are trembling just a little.

He shrugs. “Maybe.”

I start to go for my wand to dry my hands, but he waves his fingers—easy, it’s so easy for him—and he does it for me, a weird kindness or a show of his magical mastery, I’m not sure. Probably both. It would be so very Potter.

“You here to apologize for the last time we were in a bathroom together?”

I don’t know why I keep bringing it up.

He steps away from the door. “Maybe I’m here to give you an opportunity to even the score.”

I turn and scoff at him. “So you can take me down wandless when I try? I’ll pass.”

I try to edge by him for the door, but he stops me, taking a step to the side and barring my way. My hand springs to the wand at my hip, but I don’t draw it.

“Do it,” he says.

“Why?”

“I don’t know.” His words are slightly breathless now. We’re standing too close. And then he…he slowly lowers himself to the bathroom floor, onto his knees.

“What are you doing?” I ask, alarmed.

“Are you bent, Draco?”

I blink at him. The answer is yes, but I don’t want to give him any leverage without knowing why he’s asking. In the next moment, he shows me why. He reaches up and starts unfastening my belt.

I gasp, staring down at him.

“You don’t have to like it,” he says. “You can do it rough.”

The shock blasts through me, head to foot, and as his fingers pop open the button on my trousers, my dick starts to get hard.

The next moments are a blur of confusion as, for some reason, I let him draw my zip down, and for still more unknown reasons, I start helping, pushing my trousers down and pulling my cock out over my pants. I’m already panting in anticipation. I’m so aroused and afraid simultaneously, I feel like my legs will buckle. There’s a loud buzzing in my head, my eyes unable to quite focus.

Then he dives in and starts giving me head, and my whole life falls apart in an instant.

I go fully hard inside his mouth. It’s disorienting enough that I nearly stumble; I widen my stance. I grab his hair and feel a moan all down my shaft as Potter’s mouth moves on my cock. My balls are already pulling up. He’s nearly choking on me, he’s going so far down. I want to choke him on it.

I start fucking his mouth. I’d wonder how the hell we got here, but I don’t have enough of my bearings for that. The world has narrowed to where his tongue laps, to the warmth of his mouth, his breaths against my groin, how soft his stupid hair is, the ache in my legs and the juddering I can feel as I get closer and closer. I slip in and out, and he blinks and peers up at me. The eye contact hurts like a curse. I wince. But a line of saliva drips down his chin—and I like that.

Salazar, I like it.

You don’t have to like it. You can do it rough.

“You’re going to swallow my come.” I don’t know where the words emerge from or the strength to say them except that I’m high right now. I’m beyond myself. Potter has taken me beyond any idea of who I’m supposed to be. And I don’t know if this is a command or a wish, or maybe some precognitive realisation that leaves me rocked down to my bones. He could spit for all I know. He could spit it into my face. And maybe that would be good too, in some weirdly fucked-up way. But I want to see him swallow. I want it in a way I haven’t wanted anything in a very long time.

As I get close, he descends, his nose nearly in my pubic hair. I grind into his face and feel it rise up my thighs. I jerk with the pleasure, thrusting into him, fist shaking where I’m holding him by the hair. And then he pulls back, suckling at the head. A tiny bit escapes down his chin, but otherwise, he’s swallowing it. I’m trying to breathe as I watch it, but it’s all one long set of gasps. He pulls off and opens his mouth, thumbing under the crown, and I watch some land on his tongue. With it still there, he leans back in and takes me between his lips. His wet mouth does things to me I never knew I wanted.

Then it’s finished, and he pulls back. I loosen my hand in his hair, stepping away (stumbling, my body stupid with orgasm), and I stuff my half-hard dick back into my pants, pull up my trousers. I turn my back so he doesn’t see how I fumble with my belt.

“God, I need to wank,” he says, and I hear the rustle of his clothes. “You want to watch?”

I turn back, and he’s still on his knees. Fucking Merlin.

He pulls out. His cock’s a good size, ruddy with blood, shiny from the pre-come he’s leaked. I take a step toward him, his fist already moving. I take another, and my crotch is back in his face. He’s pulling on himself, fast and practised, looking up at me, expectant.

“Kiss it,” I say.

Something flickers over his face before he leans in and drags his open mouth over the bulge in my trousers. He licks me through the cotton, wanking hard.

“Did you mean this?” he asks, still going at my dick through my layers of clothes so that it’s rising again to meet his mouth. “Or,” and he grabs my left arm, rucking the sleeve up enough that he can—

He leaves open-mouthed kisses over my Dark Mark, nipping at the slender bones of my wrist and then licking up over the ink. “Did you mean this,” he murmurs against my skin. Then with one hand still holding my arm in place, he goes on his dick furiously. He licks my Mark, over and over. My spent cock twitches. I might be able to come dry. Even while part of me is abhorred by it, disgusted with the both of us.

He kisses my arm with something approaching tenderness, a sick sort of adoration. He meets my troubled gaze, and I watch his eyelids flutter before he comes. He just does it right there, his spunk hitting the floor, breathing hard against my arm.

When his soft little moans decrease in frequency, I back up against the nearest stall wall, not trusting my legs to hold me up anymore. He puts his dick back in his pants, waves a hand at the floor and cleans up after himself. His lips are swollen. From my cock. From mouthing like a supplicant at my Mark.

“Merlin, you are fucked up,” I tell him.

He rises from the floor. “What gave it away?”

Then, jeans righted, he turns and leaves me to my own wreckage.

 

I don’t see him again that night, or the next day, or even at breakfast Monday morning.

He’s in Defence though.

I try not to look at him with it written all over my face, the fact that Harry Potter blew me in a bathroom. When he looks at me once, I don’t see it there. I see that same thing I glimpsed in him from across the pub. It’s sort of… blank. Or maybe it’s so deep I just can’t find the bottom of that gaze… can’t maneuver it. He looks away, and when McGonagall tells us to palm our wands (she’s taken over DADA, and even I have to admit it’s the best we’ve had since third year), Potter just stands there, fidgeting with the holstered pommel of his in a way that reads as careless, maybe even disrespectful. He doesn’t draw.

And still he absolutely obliterates poor Goldstein.

Wandless Stinging hex, wandless Petrificus Totalus. It’s over. He didn’t even have to Expelliarmus him.

I’d be reluctantly turned on by his prowess, but Professor McGonagall is giving him a stern talking to. And not one of the ones she gives most people, so that everyone in the class can hear it and feel the secondhand mortification. No, she talks to him in disappointed whispers, though her concern is still plain.

And then we’re reassigned. And it’s me against Potter.

He turns to me with the shame still riding his skin from whatever McG said, bright, telling spots on his cheeks. I see the dark anger filtering in over his eyes—and then he lifts those eyes to me.

But now he’s drawn his wand. And I’m pleased to report I last five more spells than Anthony. It’s just when I think I’m truly done for, when I’m clutching the burning sensation in my shoulder and fighting off the remains of his Confundus, that he does something inexplicable: he gives me an opening.

And he’s Potter; he’s too good. He doesn’t give anyone an opening, ever. Which is how I know it’s bloody on purpose. The arrogant fuck.

I’m not ashamed to admit it: I use the opening he gives me, and I hit him with as many spells as I can manage. He defends against the worst ones, but he just stands there and absorbs the others. He takes a Stunner from me, on purpose. I see it land, the near-relief on his face. I cast a Stinging hex, and he takes that too, the pain scorching along his skin. I drench him with an Aguamenti, and he looks… relaxed. More than. He looks pleased, a mild but potent kind of surrender to whatever I’m doing to him. So I throw an Incarcerous, the slithering hiss of the ropes binding his arms to his body. He drops to his knees, wand clattering to the ground. He looks up at me and smiles.

“Go on,” he says, voice like a soft breeze. I can almost feel the warmth in it, the bliss of giving up. “Hit me, Malfoy. You know you want to.”

I’m standing close enough. I feel it surge through my chest as I drop my wand, my arm pulling back, hand closing into a satisfying fist. He just stares up at me, waiting for the punch to land, that resigned little smile on his cocksucking lips.

“Enough!” McGonagall shouts. And I will never know if I would have done it. My arm lowers to my side, stomach flooding with that sick feeling of adrenaline thwarted. The ropes fall from Potter’s body at a flick from McGonagall’s wand, but he stays on his knees before me, looking at me, not her. He’s dripping wet.

I’m getting hard.

She dismisses the class but keeps Potter for another talking-to. I almost feel bad for him. Except that he’s brought it all on himself. I don’t know why I wait for him out in the hall. It’s time for lunch, though I’m not hungry. I should still go, find my Slytherin friends at our Slytherin table and just go back to what I know. Except I want to know something else.

He comes out of the classroom, and I match his strides, walking alongside him. “What was that about?”

“Nothing,” he says. Gone is the peaceful look. Now he’s just surly.

“You can duel anyone into the ground in there, me included. Why lose, ever? Why lose to me?”

“I didn’t lose to you.”

“Bullshit,” I say.

He slants me an annoyed look. “I didn’t lose,” he repeats.

“So... what? You surrendered?”

He looks at me again, with different eyes this time. His gaze slips down my body. I’m only a little hard still, but he seems to notice.

“Come on,” he says. Then he takes me away from the Great Hall. We’re like fish going against the current as we navigate through the lunchtime crowds. He leads me to the back of the castle, into a dank hall where repairs are still being done and it’s dark and quiet. He takes my elbow and pulls me into a dusty, unused classroom and shuts the door.

“Fuck me,” he says. He’s already on his belt, backing toward a desk.

My mouth drops open, but no words come out.

“I want to fuck. Do you want to fuck, Malfoy?”

I do. And I can’t really care about anything else right at the moment. I follow him, unbuckling as well. With a rush of breath, he turns and shoves his trousers and pants down, bending over the desk as I come up behind him. This isn’t how I envisioned it: my first time doing this with someone. There’s a distant ache at that thought. But I discard it. I throw everything away that isn’t this moment.

Potter lubes himself with a spell, and I line up. It’s all happening so fast, like gravity pulling on an avalanche.

“Yeah,” he pants when I push a little. He holds one arsecheek open for it, so I nudge again, push, and breach him.

“Oh God,” I sigh, working into him a little at a time. I make small thrusts until his arse loosens up enough, and then I slide all the way in and out.

His knuckles go white on the edge of the desk, but he’s moaning the whole time, like it feels good. Like me fucking him feels good.

He’s pretty tight, but my dick slides easily enough. The friction makes me want to cry. Inside, he’s warm. His body hugs the head of my cock when I’m all the way in. I want to kiss his back for letting me do this. I let my hands roam up his sides, under his shirt. I find his nipples and give them a tweak. He rises up enough to let me do it again, his face twisted into something between pleasure and pain. I run my fingers down his ribs to feel him breathing. I grasp his hips and pull.

“I’m fucking you,” I tell him. It’s stupid, but I need to hear it, need to prove it in words.

“You’re fucking me,” he agrees, and the hitch to his voice when I go even harder lights a bonfire of feeling inside me, although I can’t name it at all beyond pleasure. Unspeakable pleasure.

He’s not wanking himself—both his hands are holding tight to the desk—but I swear to fuck, he comes. He comes like that. I haul his arse onto my cock, and he’s crying a little, maybe as overwhelmed with it as I am. I fuck his climax out of him, and then he’s pushing me off. My heavy dick slips out of his arse, and he turns around. He waves a spell over me, a cleaning charm. Then he’s on his knees again. He’s taking me into his mouth. I groan at the filthiness of it, cleaning charm be damned. His pants are still down, his arse probably feeling me still, and he’s bobbing his luscious mouth on my prick, trying to make me come.

He does. God, he does. I wrap both hands up in his hair, pull him tight to my body, and I come down his throat with a cry like anguish.

I think I nearly pass out. Somehow I’ve got my arse leaned against a desk as Potter continues to lave my twitching dick. My hands are on his head, and, like I’m outside my body, I realise I’m stroking his hair, slow and tired and sort of gratefully.

I push his head away, and while I put myself back together again, I let my eyes roam over him… his used mouth, blown pupils, his bare arse sat on his heels, flaccid penis still a harsh pink and clinging to a drop of his semen.

“Come here, Potter,” I say.

He stands, comes close. I reach around and watch his eyes as I sink my middle finger into his arsehole. He exhales into my face, spreads his legs for it a bit. I let a low chuckle come from my lips. “Does it hurt?”

He blinks. “Yeah.”

“Yeah?” I ask as I leisurely pump in and out. He’s swollen and hot.

“Yeah,” he breathes.

“Good,” I tell him, withdrawing to just the tip and then leaving that there. Because I can. Because he lets me do it.

He nods. Because it hurts a little, all of it, and that’s good.

 

Two nights later, he sneaks into my room under that cloak of his, his hand pressing over my mouth when I instinctively yelp. He climbs into my bed, on top of me, hand in place. And then he pulls the curtains around us and goes down on me. He doesn’t let me come in his mouth though, rising when I’m close, giving me a smirk that tells me he knows I want to hex him for dragging me off the edge of orgasm—only for him to strip his pants off, straddle me, and sink down on my cock.

He rides me to the finish and comes all over my chest, his hand milking it out of his dick while I’m still twitching inside him, so deep I’m crazy with it.

“Night, Malfoy,” he says after, pulling up his pants, re-cloaking.

I have teeth marks near both nipples where he bit and sucked them while my cock was up his arse.

As I drift back to sleep, I touch them, and I ache.

 

A week later, I find him twirling his quill rather than writing an essay in the library. Granger keeps chastising him, to which he shrugs, uninterested. I spy on their interactions while I look for the book I need.

He sees me spying, and he gives a small, knowing smile. A minute later, he makes an excuse. We find each other near the back, in between books on magical law and accounting, where no one is likely to catch us if we’re reasonably quick.

It’s just wanking this time, my cock in his hand, his in mine. I keep losing my rhythm because he’s too good at it. After a bit, I leave off and just lean against the stacks, my hand just holding his dick while he jacks mine. I come over his fist, and he watches it like it’s somehow beautiful.

Then he says, “Please.” He looks down at my lax hand, willing it to tighten.

I smirk at him through the haze of my own afterglow. “Desperate for it, are we?”

He nods, bites his lip.

“Say it again,” I tell him. I’m not sure why. I liked it. Maybe that’s reason enough.

“Please,” be begs quietly.

It’s so good I almost get hard again.

“Promise you’ll finish your essay,” I say.

He draws back from me a little in surprise. “Wanker,” he says with a little laugh.

I lift my brows at him.

“Fuck me,” he curses, “alright, I promise, just…” He ruts into my hand a few times, and I can’t help smiling at him.

There’s a sound just around the corner, and we both start. We jostle around and find some new shadows near magical deeds and contracts. There’s a hushed laugh, and I realise it’s me. Potter answers it, his muffled chuckle toppling over mine, tripping me up into a small round of silent giggles. Then he closes my hand around his dick tighter, and when I start back in on wanking him, he leans in spontaneously, and he kisses me.

It’s quick, borne of adrenaline and mirth. He breathes a soft laugh against my lips and then, hesitatingly, leans in again. I meet him. And we kiss harder, lips opening, tongues meeting. I stroke his cock, and we keep kissing all the way through it, until he’s gasping and panting into my mouth. And then even that turns into a laugh. A soft one. Like parchment slipping between fingers, like pages turning.

 

Potter gets an Exceeds Expectations on his essay and I tell him I can help him get an O.

He raises his eyebrows, both at the double entendre and the insinuation. “Not like that,” I tell him. “Maybe like that, a little bit.”

He smiles.

I shake my head. “But I meant by helping you study. You’re not an idiot, you know.”

“Wow, thanks,” he deadpans.

Somehow in the midst of everything, we’ve started talking to each other. Not much, but, when I see him, I say hello, and when he sees me, he smiles a little and says, “Alright, Malfoy,” in a way that makes that eleven year-old in me posthumously happy.

I’m not sure what it does to the me that’s here and now.

I start helping Potter study, though. Which seems to cause a bit of a rift between him and Granger. And that, between him and Weasley. He gets the Outstanding on his essay, but when we fuck the next day, it’s harder than usual even. Like he’s punishing himself on my cock. Under the Quidditch stands, on his hands and knees, Potter’s head hangs down, and he grits, “Fuck me like you mean it, Malfoy,” and so I do.

I do mean it. I leave bruises on his hips because I’m not a replacement for his friends and we both know it. I leave a bite on his neck, because I want them to have to acknowledge me; I want him to have to wear it like a brand.

He shoves me off and flips over onto his back on the rough ground. The Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff match goes on out there, though slightly muffled. A hundred feet pound above us. I sink into the hot clench of him. He’s been drinking. I can smell it on his breath. I fuck him harder, because I don’t actually care if he’s drunk in the middle of the day or not. I just want to come in him. I just want to watch his eyes when I make him lose his goddamned mind, my cock going in him like I won’t even stop after I come.

Afterward, we lie there on our backs with our dicks out and watch the shadows move as people stand, cheer, go get refreshments, jump up and down over our heads. He tucks himself away finally, and so do I.

“You miss it?” he asks.

I know what he means: the flash of the Snitch in the sky, your heart racing, the wind like ice on your face even on a warm day.

“Sometimes. Do you?”

“No,” he says.

We lie like that, listening to it go on above us, without us, everything moving like machinery, and the two of us outside of it, alive but maybe not yet living.

 

Spring erupts around Hogwarts like there was never a war. I know Potter feels the incongruity. I feel it. And if I feel it, it’s hitting him ten times worse, I think.

He’s sneaking into my bed more now. I’ve let him fuck me twice. The first was sort of like I’d pictured how things would go, though I never thought it would be Potter. And through this whole year… everything is more and more him.

He entered me from behind, the both of us on our sides. It was an exchange of whispers. “This?” And “Yes.” “Like this?” “Oh, Harry, yes.”

Two days later we were in a row, but… I’m starting to get used to the fact that the angry, hostile part of things doesn’t last. He always finds me a little later, his muttered apology like a child’s, my nod an agreement that neither of us wants to dwell on it.

And sometimes we don’t apologize. Sometimes we fuck right through a fight and end up on the other side winded, a little bruised from the rough words, but still touching, my fingers light on his naked hip, the backs of our hands lying together, the twitch of a finger like an accident.

 

He makes it up with his friends, and I’m glad. He needs them. More than he needs me. Or differently. They steady him. I seem to be unable to keep from running into him like a rogue wave into a sailboat. He hits me like that too. A freight train. Some unrelenting force over my life. We’ll never steady each other, I think. And as I think it, his eyes, across the common room, meet mine.

Upstairs? I think at him.

And he gives an illicit little nod.

 

Mid-April, we’re caught.

Despite giving Potter numerous hickeys in prominent places, nobody’s ever commented on the fact that we’re shagging. I’ve assumed we’re either flying so successfully under the radar that no one knows anything, or we’re so obvious it’s just assumed.

But after this, there’s no question, because Potter’s got my dick in his mouth in the Slytherin showers and in walks Theo and Blaise.

“Oh holy fuck,” laughs Blaise as my cock pops wetly from Potter’s bowed lips.

I whisk the shower curtain closed, but Potter… he just calls out, “Could you give us five more minutes, please?”

And then silences my laughing with the best head I’ve ever gotten.

At breakfast the next day, I notice Weasley gawking at Potter like he’s mental, while Granger’s look is more long-suffering. Like she’s known maybe. And like her boyfriend’s an idiot (who might owe her money).

I’m getting ribbed left and right. It helps a bit that Pansy gets caught with her legs wide open for Luna Lovegood’s face not two nights later, which diverts the attention off Potter and me for a minute.

We don’t talk about how neither of us told any of our friends. I don’t think it was shame on Potter’s part. If I had to guess I’d say it was something more like… I don’t know, that maybe he was holding a place for himself. A place that was his, that he could have without talking, something not subject to the gaze or conjecture of others, not even those closest to him.

The longer he and I do this, the more I think that’s what he needs: a little room for himself. To get out from under the lung-crushing weight of the last several years and their relentlessness.

Not that he seems to mind them knowing now. That, too, seems like a relief. He’s drinking less. Hasn’t stopped, but I don’t think that’s been the aim. He’s started using his wand in Defence again, and McGonagall has started letting him go without sometimes too. She’s giving him more than Acceptables now. Those must have hurt, being that he’s by far the best of us.

The year legs on. My friends have made space for Harry: on the sofa, on the bench at our table when he chooses to eat with us, when he ‘sleeps over’. Muffliato is a godsend, and there’s only a little bit of good-natured taking the piss about what we need it for.

Granger and Weasley have budged up for me too. A little. I’m not pushing too hard. It’s not like he’s my bloody boyfriend. I don’t know what he is. He’s… Potter. Although sometimes he’s Harry. Sometimes he’s almost more than I can stand, and we go our separate ways for a bit, just to breathe, just to know that we can.

Then the year is ending, and it’s too soon. Potter finds me alone in the middle of the Quidditch pitch past curfew the night before we’re all to leave Hogwarts for good. I just needed the open wound of night, the hollow bowl of the stadium, in case I felt a scream coming on.

“How’d you know I was here?” I ask.

“Didn’t. I come here sometimes too.”

I picture it for a minute: Harry Potter out on this pitch by himself, tossing up a Snitch and flying after it alone. The imagery is both beautiful and oddly painful. I hold it almost tenderly, somewhere deep in my chest.

“Want a shag?” he offers.

“Yeah. Sure.”

But despite my agreement, we still stand there. I look up at the stars. “What do you think you’ll do?”

“I haven’t thought about it,” he says, but I know he has. I’ve caught him with that pained, haunted look on his face. It’s his future face, only slightly different than the expression he wears when his mind’s stuck in the past. The past I can fuck out of him usually. Not so much this.

“Think I’m going to look for my own flat,” I say, a negligent sigh of a thought.

“Yeah?”

“I think I’d like the privacy. For things.” When I catch his sideways look, I shrug. “I could maybe… let you into my wards. If you’d like.”

He gives me a crooked grin. It’s so much easier to think about shagging than living. “Sure,” he says, as breezily as I’ve tried to sound. But then, after a moment of just looking at me, he takes my wrist. He lifts my arm. And he does something he usually refrains from unless we’re deep in the throes of a good fuck, and mostly not even then. He lifts my arm and drops his lips there, to the awful ink. And it’s not like a supplicant. It’s not adoring. It’s something else entirely. Something I haven’t earned.

When he starts to let go, I grab him and pull him close, into a long kiss, a deep breath of a kiss. He winds his arms around my back hard and kisses me back. My nails claw at his neck, not in anger, but to relish that we can feel the pain, that this is a pain of our choosing.

He holds me closer, sinks into it, and over our heads the stars, bright gears in their own machinations, slowly streak across a departing sky.