Draco had just finished his breakfast when a multitude of owls, personal and school-owned alike, swooped through the cavernous room, dropping their bounty of cards, packages and various other items in front of their intended recipients. It was nothing new for the students of Hogwarts, other than the fact that there was a higher volume of items to be delivered on this particular day.
The day of love.
The Slytherin’s derisive snort went unnoticed as those around him collected their items and began opening them. Slowly, the Great Hall became a cacophony of sounds: cards and love letters being read aloud by students, enchanted ones that read themselves, as well as those charmed to relay their messages by way of song. Draco’s ears hurt from all of the high-pitched girlish squeals erupting around him. Seriously, could they be any more childish?
With a flick of his wand, the blond righted the precarious stack of things he had received, watching with detached amusement as everything sorted itself into two groups, gifts and cards, and then keeping his mask of indifference securely in place, methodically worked his way through both sets. Experience had taught him that it was unwise to laugh and snarl at his admirer’s pathetic attempts to catch his eye, regardless of what his father had tried to instill in his offspring. Someone had taken offense to Draco’s reaction to their gift the previous year and his normally perfect alabaster skin had become covered with tiny red hearts, making Draco look as if he had contracted some type of strange pox. Better to err on the side of caution this time around.
Every now and then he would glance around the room, as if inspecting everyone-else’s haul, making sure that he had accumulated more than the others. His eyes always landed on Potter, or what he could see of his boyhood rival behind the massive mound of gifts and cards on the Gryffindor table. It seemed things never changed where the Boy Who Lived was concerned. Everyone wanted a piece of him, wanted to be noticed, wanted to be the one he chose.
Draco chuckled to himself. If they only knew.
A few minutes later, he turned back to his own treasure trove and continued to work his way through the gifts. He had become adept to tuning out everything around him, leaving him to his thoughts in peace, but something was nagging at him, something he couldn’t put his finger on. It was only when Blaise nudged him and looked to the ceiling that Draco became aware of the complete absence of sound.
Hedwig had flown into the room with one single card attached to her leg.
“Leave it up to Potter to upstage everyone,” Zabini said as he watched the snowy owl circle overhead, making several circuitous trips around the Great Hall, as if searching for someone. “Wonder who the Boy Wonder is after this year?”
Draco’s heart nearly stopped when Harry’s owl flew over the Slytherin table and began her descent. He really wished that Apparating was allowed inside the school because it would come in extremely handy right about now. They had talked about the possibility of coming out, but only in the vaguest terms, and then only to their closest friends. It seemed his brave, yet incredibly idiotic, Gryffindor, was about to make a statement that no one could misconstrue, or would soon forget. Grey eyes met green across the hall and Draco cringed as Harry rose from his seat at the same time Hedwig landed.
Right in front of Draco.
With a quiet hoot, she offered her leg to the blond Slytherin and waited until her parcel had been removed. With this done, she nudged his hand, giving away a small, yet tell-tale bit of information, that she was already familiar with this wizard, before stretching her wings and taking flight again. When Draco looked up, Harry was gone.
“Draco?” Pansy asked from his other side. “What in the bloody hell is going on?”
He felt hundreds of eyes on him and while he enjoyed being the center of attention as much as possible, now was not one of those times. Apparently not for Harry either since the git had scarpered off to some unknown, and probably safe, destination. Harry would pay dearly for this, Draco thought as he schooled his features and reached for the envelope, only to be brought up short by Pansy’s hand on his arm.
“NO! It might be hexed,” she said before drawing her wand and pointing it at the piece of mail. After quietly casting several spells and finding nothing amiss, she shook her head. “Nothing,” she relayed. “I don’t like this Draco. What game is Potter playing?”
Draco reached for the card again. “I won’t know unless I open it, will I?” he asked and carefully opened the envelope, prepared to deal with whatever Harry had sent. He breathed a small sigh of relief when the card remained silent. His brows furrowed when he noticed that the card was blank, as well as quiet. At least there wasn’t anything incriminating inquisitive eyes could see. The sneaky Gryffindor must have used disappearing ink, which had just earned Harry a few brownie points.
“What’s the meaning of this?” Blaise asked as he plucked the card from Draco’s fingers, only to yelp when he was magically shocked. Dark eyes turned to the witch. “I thought you said it wasn’t hexed.”
Pansy huffed. “I didn’t detect anything. I don’t know why that happened.”
Draco had a feeling he knew why, but wisely kept his thoughts to himself. Now, how to deal with everyone, he mused. Taking a deep breath, he schooled his features. “I’ll take care of this. Everyone stays here,” he said to his Slytherins with a voice that brooked no argument. He rose from his seat and strode from the Great Hall, the red envelope clutched in his fist.
Once he had stepped out of the occupied room, the envelope began to vibrate. He knew he had only a few moments before all hell broke loose in the Great Hall, so he quickly slipped the card out once more and watched as words began to appear, light at first and growing darker with each passing second.
Catch me if you can.
“Potter!” Draco shouted into the quiet corridor and then took off running. “You have some nerve doing what you did! When I get my hands on you…” he started only to end his threat abruptly. At the end of a deserted hallway lay the set of robes Harry had been wearing.
“You realize we don’t have time for this,” he said as he quickly snatched up the discarded article of clothing and moved further down the abandoned corridor. At least he was on the right track. “Once everyone recovers from their momentary shock they’ll be all over this castle looking for us.” Draco had taken ten or so more steps when he caught sight of Harry’s red and gold striped tie hanging on a suit of armor.
“Then it’s a good thing I know where all the secret passageways are,” came a disembodied voice from right behind Draco.
Eyes narrowed, the Slytherin turned and reached out, his hand coming into contact with something invisible, yet solid. Harry and that bloody Invisibility Cloak. Long fingers clutched the material and gave it a good tug, revealing the smirking Gryffindor who was in the process of unbuttoning his white dress shirt.
A wave of lust slammed into Draco and he had to fight the urge to pounce on his secret lover right then and there. It would certainly serve the impulsive Gryffindor right to be caught in a compromising position with the one person whom everyone assumed was his number one enemy, but in doing so, their fellow students would get an eyeful of that delectable body Harry hid under the too-baggy clothes he wore, and that, as far as Draco was concerned, was for his eyes and his eyes only.
The sound of voices caught their attention, growing louder with each passing second.
“Then I suggest you find one and get us out of here before we’re mobbed,” Draco said as he looked back down the corridor. He could see shadows along the wall at the end, indicating that the students were closer than he had originally guessed.
“Behind there.” Harry tilted his head towards the suit of armor. He stepped around the blond and withdrew his wand, tapping the bricks in an obscure pattern Draco knew he would not remember.
The voices grew louder as the bricks vibrated and then rearranged themselves in the form of a doorway. Without a moment’s delay, they slipped into the darkened passageway and cast a quick lumos. They turned and watched as the bricks moved back into place, a solid barrier between them and the real world, at least for the time being.
Draco turned to Harry and pushed the dark-haired wizard against the wall, their bodies aligned perfectly from thigh to chest. “Now that I’ve caught you, whatever shall I do?”
Harry let his head fall back so that it touched the stone, his eyes darkening to a deep forest green. “Anything you wa…” he started and then Draco’s lips were on his before he could finish.
They were only putting off the inevitable, knowing that once they emerged from their hiding place, they would be hounded by hundreds of questions, probably threatened and most certainly checked over for nefarious spells, but in the end it didn’t matter. The school’s most eligible bachelors, as well as previously self-proclaimed enemies, had somehow moved beyond their childish antics and realized that fighting wasn’t nearly as fun as some of the other things they did together.