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The Boy at the Robe Shop

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I recently went down a nostalgia rabbit hole and re-read what I'd written about Harry and Draco more than 10 years ago. Some parts were a little bit cringe (I was writing about things I wasn't familiar with! I was a teenager back then!) but overall it was a surprisingly enjoyable read, haha. I actually realized I had written a couple of unpublished chapters, so decided to publish them, for the record :)

17. Unexpected Turn

“Irma,” Dumbledore said gently, facing the trembling librarian. “Tom Riddle is long gone.”

At Dumbledore’s words, Pince released Harry and Draco. Harry quickly massaged his wrist—Pince had a nasty grab.

“I guess you’re right, Albus,” Pince said, voice uncertain. “But, how…?”

“There’s nothing to worry yourself. Harry has more than earned the right to know,” Dumbledore said. His eyes twinkled behind his half-moon spectacles as he smiled at Harry and Draco. “You may leave us, Irma.”

As soon as Pince left Dumbledore’s office in a flurry of robes, Dumbledore offered them a lemon drop, as usual, and ended up being the only one in the room popping one in his mouth, as usual.

“Um. Professor,” Harry started, because although usually Draco did most of the talking, Draco was not exactly fond of the headmaster; he firmly believed that Dumbledore favored Gryffindor, what with being the ex-Head of Gryffindor and all, and was wary of him.

Dumbledore peered at Harry over his spectacles. “Madam Pince was alarmed,” he started, talking slowly, “to have caught you boys looking at the childhood picture of the deceased . . . Lord Voldemort.”

Harry’s brain didn’t connect with Dumbledore’s words for a moment. Harry turned to look at Draco, to make sure that he had heard right. On Draco’s face was an expression of horrorstruck disbelief.

“But,” Harry blurted, “but Tom Riddle, he was—” Draco pinched his elbow, hard. Harry winced and shut his mouth.

“Was . . . ?” Dumbledore prompted.

“A Head Boy,” Draco finished for Harry, although that wasn’t what Harry was meaning to say. Frankly, Harry didn’t know what he’d been meaning to say, because it was bizarre—Voldemort? Tom Riddle? Voldemort? Tom Riddle, whose journal they’d been reading and making use of for the last couple of years? Voldemort had been the one writing about the passage to the Hogwarts kitchens, Hogsmeade, the Come and Go Room and all the other things Harry and Draco had studied and marveled over?

Harry didn’t know what to say. He looked at Dumbledore for some clue. Dumbledore’s gaze was still fixed on Harry, his eyes still harboring that ominous twinkle. Staring into the pale blue orbs of Dumbledore’s eyes, Harry felt a trickle of something probing the edge of his thoughts. It felt familiar and foreign at the same time . . . so similar to the way Harry’d felt when Snape was practicing . . . Legilimency.

Harry slammed a wall in front of his mind almost automatically.

“I take it Tom Riddle’s identity has escaped you until now?” Dumbledore said, looking so composed and completely unaware of what had just happened in Harry’s mind that Harry suddenly found himself doubting it had happened at all. Dumbledore’s eyes were no longer on him but skimming through an assortment of sweets on a circular table near by.

“Yes, professor,” Harry said.

“Indeed, Voldemort has been a student at Hogwarts himself,” Dumbledore continued. “He charmed most teachers with his brilliance, to tell the truth. It is no secret, Harry, Draco, but few know of this fact.” He gazed into the fireplace before turning toward Harry and Draco once again. “Be careful with this knowledge. Knowledge maimed the Kneazle, after all.”

Harry’s mind was reeling already without having Dumbledore sprinkle puzzles at him.

It was not until after Quidditch practice (after shouts from Flint to watch the Bludgers, mind the Quaffle, and why the hell wasn’t Harry grabbing the Snitch hovering right next to his ear?) that Harry stumbled over an alarming prospect concerning one specific area of interest in Dark Arts that Tom Riddle had obsessed about in his journal: Horcruxes.

“You killed him, Harry,” Draco said, flinging his Firebolt over his shoulder. “He’d dead. He’s not a danger anymore, short of endangering your tenuous relationship with your passing grade in Potions by making you waste time going after bits of his soul. Which isn’t even alive anymore.”

Harry made a frustrated sound and trotted forwards to overtake Draco. “Voldemort”—Draco frowned at the name—“killed my parents. He’s a murderer. And bits of his soul are left scattered over the school! Our school. Tell me, exactly how am I supposed to let it go?”

Draco bit his lip. “Harry, I know you must hate him—”

“You know that’s an understatement,” Harry said darkly.

“Yes, okay. But you already had the ultimate revenge when you obliterated him. As a one-year-old, to boot. Just let it go. He’s gone.”

“Horcruxes—” Harry took a breath. “Riddle, he wrote on the journal that they were supposed to make him immortal. He certainly wouldn’t have meant ‘immortal’ to indicate little parts of his soul rotting away trapped in objects now, would he? That means—it means that somehow, there must be a way to . . . to resurrect him or something from the bits left behind.”

Draco had gone completely still. “You mean,” he said slowly, “Vol—the Dark Lord might rise to power again?”

Harry swallowed. “He might. If we don’t destroy his soul.”

Draco sighed and shifted his weight. He was relenting, Harry could tell. Draco sighed again. “All right,” he said.

“Good. Right,” Harry said, stepping aside so that he could walk beside Draco instead of blocking his way. “So. We should, er, start looking for them.”

Draco threw him a baleful glance. “No, you dunderhead. What’d we do with them when we find them? We can’t just . . . They could be dangerous, you know. You remember how Snape told us certain Dark artifacts tend to entrance their holders if left in their clutches for too long?”

“Right,” Harry said sheepishly. “Then. Er . . .”

“We should get a hold of some way to destroy them first,” Draco said.

“Oh,” Harry said. He thought for a minute. “I guess . . . we could learn to cast Fiendfyre?”

Draco fixed him with a stare that said, I know you’d go mental some day.

“Well,” Harry said, determined to explain himself. “A Horcrux is a soul part, and Fiendfyre is the only spell that completely destroys the soul. So, er . . .”

“And where exactly, Harry, would we learn to cast such a Dark curse, pray tell me.”

“Snape?” Harry suggested, shrugging.

Draco slapped his hand onto Harry’s forehead rather forcefully.

“Ow!” Harry said, taking a step back and rubbing his forehead. “What was that for?”

“Testing for fever,” Draco explained. “Your temperature seems fine, so nothing wrong in the physical department. Apparently, you’re simply off your rocker,” he declared. “I’ve been suspecting this for a long time, Harry. There were signs, but I convinced myself that while you might sometimes act mental, you actually weren’t. Thanks for disabusing me of my—hey! This is absurd. I’m in an abusive friendship.”

Draco rubbed his shoulder where Harry had punched him lightly.

“You deserved that. I thought, I mean, Snape apparently knows how to cast Fiendfire, so . . .” Harry mumbled.

“What kind of questions would that lead to?” Draco huffed out an impatient breath. “You’re such a strong-headed, stubborn dimwit. I sometimes think you’d fit right in with the Gryffindors. No, we’re not going to Snape with this.”

The next evening found Harry and Draco standing awkwardly outside Moody’s office waiting for the Defence professor to finish telling off a Hufflepuff upper-year boy for not being able to Crucio a spider. Harry shivered a little. He hoped he’d never have to stick around to do that himself. Just watching the spider twist and jerk in unnatural angles screaming a silent plea under Moody’s wand was enough to make him want to retch.

After a particularly savage bark from Moody, the Hufflepuff boy ran past them into the corridor with his hands covering his face, sobbing all the way.

“What brings you here?” Moody said, his eyes—both—darting between Harry and Draco.

“Er, we—” Harry started, but Draco stepped on his foot. He took the cue and shut up.

“We’re sorry to cause an inconvenience, Professor Moody,” Draco said, his voice and face the epitome of politeness. “As you know, we’re the only students who’ve mastered how to repel your Imperius.” Draco paused, looking up at Moody for confirmation.

“Go on,” Moody grunted, his magical eye fixed on Draco.

“Since we’re ahead of other students, Professor,” Draco continued, “we were wondering if you could be convinced to teach us some more.”

“Teach you some more of what? Depends on what you want to know,” Moody said, an amused tone creeping into his voice. “Harry Potter”—he nodded at Harry, his magical eye briefly resting on Harry’s scar—“and Draco Malfoy, eh? Son of Lucius Malfoy.” Moody’s face darkened for a second.

“Do you know my father, sir?” Draco asked, his mask of politeness cracking a little with his anxious voice. “He—he used to tell me that you were a fine Auror in your time, sir.”

“Fine Auror indeed,” Moody said, his mad eye rolling backwards for a second, his face unreadable. “Enough of that, now. Come inside. I have a feeling you boys don’t want to be overheard, correct?” He leaned in towards them as if he were about to reveal a grave secret. He whispered, “Walls have ears.” Then he laughed to himself as if he’d just said a hilarious joke. Harry and Draco followed him in, a bit uneasy.

“So,” Moody said, grinning, after Draco poured out his practiced speech. “Fiendfyre.”

“Yes, sir,” Draco said, nodding his head. “I’ve read that the mechanics of the spells to control Fiendfyre are very similar to that of resisting the Imperius. And we are sure that . . . that we’d pick it up soon enough if we were to learn from you.”

Moody stopped grinning. His magical eye whizzed around in his socket. He leaned forward, looking back and forth between Harry and Draco. He stayed that way for an unending minute before he opened his mouth. “You ever think of becoming Aurors?” he snarled.

“Er, not exactly,” Harry mumbled.

“Um,” Draco said.

Moody let out a bark of a laugh. “Few Aurors know Dark Arts to the extent where they’d know how to cast and control Fiendfyre. Luckily for you, I’m one of those few.”

“Great,” Harry said, giving him an awkward smile.

Contrary to Harry’s plan—which never amounted to much because Draco always scoffed when Harry came up with one—to learn Fiendfyre, unearth Riddle’s Horcruxes and destroy them just like one, two, snap, lessons with Moody were tedious.

Moody locked his office when Harry and Draco slipped inside every week. Apparently, Moody knew his stuff. He could cast the curse with a flick of his wand. It seemed so easy—he didn’t even say the incantation out loud.

“CONCENTRATE!” Moody snarled at them when they failed to conjure even a lick of anything remotely resembling fire on their first, second, and third tries.

“He seems too committed to teaching us Dark Arts,” Draco complained after a particularly grueling lesson during which Harry’d managed to conjure a thin stream of black smoke inside Moody’s cauldron. Moody had laughed and said that it wasn’t the spell. It was simply Harry’s magic concentrating on one spot.

“Wonder if we should tell him about the Horcruxes and get it over with? We wouldn’t have to learn how to cast Fiendfyre ourselves, then,” Harry said, weary with the effort of it all.

Moody had said only a handful Aurors knew how to control Fiendfyre. The few fully-trained Aurors who’d fought many a Dark wizard in their prime. It would take forever for them to learn to cast the spell without posing any danger of burning down all of Hogwarts.

“But,” Draco said—Harry could hear the pout in his testy tone—“then we’d have to tell him all about the Riddle diary, about how it belongs to the Dark Lord. It’s too big. In the least, we’d get in trouble for having had something like that, because we read and followed the directions written in the journal for secret passages and rooms. We’d lose the Come and Go Room, and the passages to the kitchens and Hogsmeade might get blocked.”

Draco abruptly stopped walking and turned to Harry. He gasped. “What if,” he started, his eyes wide. “What if my family gets in trouble with the Ministry for having had something like that in our library? For all the Ministry knows, there might be countless other Dark objects hidden in the manor—the Aurors might search our home! And Father—his reputation, we have to think about that, he’s a politician, his reputation is his lifeline, and then what would happen?” Draco shook his head determinedly. “No. No way. We won’t tell a word of this to anyone.”

“Oh,” Harry said, suddenly very aware of the seriousness of the situation. They were dealing with Voldemort, the Dark wizard, murderer of his parents and countless others. They were dealing with Dark spells and Dark artifacts and a dangerous and slightly mad ex-Auror who was willing to teach his students how to cast Fiendfyre, who could cast the curse himself, easy peasy.

“Right. Then we should . . . just go on with what we were doing, I guess,” Harry offered.

“Wait,” Draco said, squinting his eyes. “I think,” he said slowly, “I have a plan.”

“Er,” Harry said.

“We don’t have to learn the curse ourselves, Harry. Moody will do that for us once we have that Horcrux. We’ll just tell him that we want a demonstration and give him the Horcrux to cast the Fiendfyre on.” Draco sighed. “Where would you be without me?”


It was strange to flip through Tom Riddle’s journal, now that Harry knew the same hands that had murdered his parents when he was a year old had touched the pages and wrote the entries. The same hand had wrote secrets that had somehow found way into the hands of two fourteen-year-olds, secrets about how he’d torn off three pieces of his soul and bottled them into objects. Two of which he’d hidden at Hogwarts—one in the Come and Go Room, one in the Chamber of Secrets.

“Why don’t we try the Come and Go Room for the first . . . er, thing?” Harry said, avoiding saying “Horcrux” out loud. Draco was making a face at the Weasley twins. They were retiring from the Quidditch pitch, and the Gryffindor team was booked right after. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Flint exchanging slurs with Oliver Wood.

The twins shouldered them roughly as they went past. “Brutes,” Draco hissed, shooting daggers with his glare at their retreating backs. “Wouldn’t expect otherwise,” he muttered through his teeth. “Raised in a hovel of Weasels. Savages.

Draco adjusted his Slytherin scarf around his neck in a vicious gesture, no doubt conveying his hate for the Weasley twins. Draco wearing a scarf was something new—Draco had told him that wearing anything around his neck made him uncomfortable. Maybe he tolerated it because of the chilly weather. It was only a few weeks to Christmas and the wind was freezing, especially when you had to race against it up in the sky. Maybe that was also the reason why Draco’d decided to wear full Quidditch robes to practice today. Harry was rather grateful, really. He didn’t want to get distracted after his disastrous practice the other day.

Catching himself staring at Draco’s scarf, Harry shook his head and coughed, “Horcrux.”

Draco rolled his eyes. “I heard you. No need to be so impatient, Harry. He”—Draco looked left and right to check they were alone—“the Dark Lord’s gone for now. Sure, he’s left pieces of himself here and there like the sloppy prick he was—considering that he’d left his valuable journal in the Malfoy library to be found by us—but still, he’s gone for now. No need to hurry. A day or two won’t make a difference.”

“Why not get it over with? We have time right now. I brought my cloak.”

You have time,” Draco said. “I don’t.”

Harry frowned. “If you’re talking about that Transfiguration practical tomorrow . . . ”

“Not that. You know I can transfigure objects easily now. I’ll breeze through the practicals. I’ll show that McGonagall woman, just you wait.”

“Er, so what is it?” Harry asked, bemused.

“You want to know?” Draco said smirking.

“Sure,” Harry replied.

“I’m going to ask Pansy to the Yule Ball tonight.” Draco beamed.

Harry felt his stomach lurch uncomfortably. Draco and Pansy had had a spectacular row in the middle of the Great Hall during supper last evening, one of those rows that started out with trivial matters like a snappish attitude or an inconsiderate remark and ended up with both people screaming out each and every fault they hated about each other. And after the row, Harry had hoped . . .

“It’s not a given?” Harry asked, swallowing around the lump in his throat. “I mean, you two are . . . She’s your girlfriend. Why’d she go to the ball with anyone else?”

“Harry, Harry, Harry,” Draco said, shaking his head and sounding a lot like Blaise. “With girls, you have to constantly make them believe they’re wanted. Pansy hates it when I ignore her or take her for granted. Pansy’s my first girlfriend, but that doesn’t mean I’m totally ignorant about these things. Besides, the reason we had a row at all was that Daphne got asked to the ball by Michael Corner and Pansy was in a testy mood.”

“So you . . . you made up with her after the row?”

Draco grinned like a wolf. “Yes we did. We made up spectacularly.” He unwrapped the scarf, revealing a trail of bruises running down the side of his neck to disappear under his collar.

For a moment, Harry thought Draco had been beaten, and incredulous anger surged through him, because how dare Pansy hurt Draco that way, she didn’t know how lucky she was to have him, Harry wouldn’t ever even dream of hurting him if—if he belonged to Harry.

But then Harry caught up with his thoughts and realised how ludicrous they were. Pansy wouldn’t hit Draco. Those weren’t bruises.

“You have . . . ” Harry swallowed—it hurt to swallow, his throat was too dry. “You have,” he started again. “Love bites,” he spat out.

“Yes I do,” Draco said in an awed voice, fingering the trail of angry purple and blue along his throat. Then he grinned. “Guess what? Pansy’s a minx. She wanked me last night, and it was amazing. I’d never imagined having another person wank me could feel so good. It doesn’t really make sense, does it? I mean, a hand is a hand. Why would it feel so different from my hand?”

“Oh,” Harry said faintly. It felt as if his stomach had twisted itself into a knot. He felt sick.

“Pansy even let me touch her chest,” Draco continued, the excitement showing in his eyes. “To tell you the truth, I didn’t know what I was doing. But Pansy liked it anyways. So I guess I did alright, you know?”

“That’s enough,” Harry snapped.

Draco frowned. “What?”

“Just . . . enough,” Harry growled.

Draco cocked his head. “You’re jealous, aren’t you?”

Harry glared at his feet, clenching his fingers into tight fists at his sides. Draco had no idea.

“It’s really all your fault, Harry,” Draco went on blithely. “You have your beloved Ginny, but would you make a move like we suggested? No. What’s there to be shy about? We all know you fancy Ginny Weasley, and she obviously fancies you like mad—all it would take is a . . . I don’t know. Simple kiss? Just hold her hand and tell her you’d fancied her all along, and that you’d like nothing better than to cradle her in your arms at the Yule Ball. She’d swoon right into your arms. I have no doubt that her making Gryffindor Seeker this year was motivated by an irrepressible desire to press herself into you during a Quidditch match, under the pretense that she’s competing you for the Snitch. High up in the air, just the two of you, unfettered, blissful . . . ”

Draco had no idea. Harry knew he shouldn’t feel this way at all; Draco had been going out with Pansy for almost a year now, but . . . but Draco was just so clueless. Didn’t he know that Harry’d never felt anything more than reluctant tolerance for Ginny? Did he never notice the way he’d tear her letters after Draco had gotten a good tease out of them? For that matter, how could Draco miss which way Harry’s glance always tended to linger? How Harry treasured the nights Draco would slip into Harry’s bed, how he was always awake early on those mornings after because he loved to watch Draco sleeping, his face peaceful and his mouth slack, his cheeks sleep-warm? Did he never notice how Harry always took the shower furthest from Draco after Quidditch matches? Because once, when he’d made the mistake of taking the booth opposite Draco, Harry’d not been able to tear his eyes away from the way water streamed on the blond locks, darkening their color to honey-dipped corn silk, raining rivulets down the contours of Draco’s smooth back, sliding down the supple line of his spine, pooling at the base, around the curve of his arse, slipping into the cleft between his arse cheeks, racing down his sleek thighs to cascade onto the tiles.

And it wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair that Draco didn’t have a clue while Harry was trying so hard not to say or do something stupid, something completely idiotic that would drive him away from Harry. Scare him. Ruin their friendship.

“I’m going with Zach,” Harry growled. It didn’t sound like his voice—it was too low and raspy.

“. . . you’d be—pardon?”

“I’m—” Harry glared at Draco, because it was all his fault, Harry wouldn’t be this way, Harry would have been happy with Ginny bloody Weasley if it hadn’t been for Draco. “I’m going with Zacharias Smith to the Ball,” Harry said, low and clear.

Draco looked dumbstruck. “But. But he’s a—”

“Bloke,” Harry finished. “You have a problem with that?”

“No! I was just . . . ” Draco stared at Harry, eyes wide. “It’s just . . . unexpected.” He stared at Harry with a blank expression.

At that, Harry felt the tenseness leaving his shoulders, only to be replaced by a sense of resignation so bitter he felt it burn on his tongue. “I’m sorry,” he said, deflated. It really wasn’t Draco’s fault. He’d done nothing wrong. He’d always just . . . been there. Smile at Harry. Laugh. Trust him with secrets. Take care of him. Press little touches that made Harry’s heart flutter—but he didn’t know that, did he?

“I’m sorry,” Harry said again, feeling wretched and miserable. “I didn’t mean to snap at you.”

At Harry’s apology, Draco looked a bit lost. “Um. It’s all right. I’m . . . sorry for not noticing.” He bit his lips, uncertain, for a few seconds before looking up and down at Harry appraisingly. “Now that I think of it,” he said slowly, “I should have known, the way you were blushing at Smith and stammering at him last week at the meeting. I can’t say that I entirely approve of your choice of partner—I mean, hello, Hufflepuff—but hey, if you’re happy, then I guess it’s all right.” Draco dropped his glance and played with his fingers, seemingly uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable. Harry was suddenly struck by the significance of what he’d just admitted.

“Draco,” he choked out. “Draco, we’re . . . we’re all right, yeah?” He felt a hint of desperation clinging to his tone. “It won’t change anything because . . . because I’m—”

“Of course not!” Draco said, stepping forward and grabbing Harry’s hand. “What do you take me for! Slytherins are loyal to the grave.” His lips curved upwards. “Besides, who would I have to boss around if I lost you?”

A rush of relief flooded Harry. Draco was Harry’s friend no matter what. He would be stupid to assume otherwise. Or to jeopardize this with some stupid inappropriate attraction he felt for Draco. Harry wouldn’t lose this, ever. He would do anything in his power to keep it this way.

“Right,” Harry said, smiling wanly.


Fetching the Horcrux in the Come and Go Room was surprisingly easy, Harry thought as he followed the hum of the Dark Detector amulet along the clutter of abandoned objects and hidden goods. Draco was probably asking Pansy to the Ball with a bouquet of roses in the common room while Harry fished out the crown of sorts that Riddle had called Ravenclaw’s Diadem from the pile of junk.

Asking Zach to be his partner for the Yule Ball was even less of a challenge. Sick of having to watch Pansy croon at Draco with renewed affection during breakfast, Harry strode up to the Hufflepuff table, squared his shoulders, and confronted Zach. “Want to go to the Ball with me?” Harry gritted out, and after a very unattractive sputtering of his pumpkin juice, Zach nodded a yes, bewildered yet apparently pleased that the Boy Who Lived fancied him enough to ask him for a date on his first Yule Ball.

Harry’s proclamation ignited a fiery debate among his Housemates about why and how they’d not known Harry was queer. Blaise clapped him on the back and told him that he was proud of how Harry had taken the initiative with Smith, and to come for him for relationship advice. Which was ridiculous, because it wasn’t anything remotely like a relationship, contrary to all the rumours Zach seemed to be spreading. Pansy scowled and suggested that Harry check out Terry Boot instead—she’d heard he was gay as well. Harry said nothing, biting down and not snapping at her how just because he was gay it didn’t mean that he’d go for anyone.

His partnership with Zach, however, was quickly considered old news (except for the Hogwarts gay population, of course; people Harry barely knew kept accosting him to verify that yes, Harry was going to the Ball with Smith, no, they weren’t an item, yes, it still meant that Harry was gay) as the Yule Ball neared with a flurry of propositions among students. Blaise flaunted his newest romantic entanglement with a Glamorous Older Woman, a Ravenclaw upper year called Marietta Edgecombe. Theo had come up with a truce with Millicent to partner up for the Ball. The Weasley twins had thought it was a great idea to Sonorus themselves and sing a duet love song during breakfast in the Great Hall to the Patil twins—until Draco shot one of them with a stinging hex that made him slip and fall face-forward onto a bowl of pudding.

Love was in the air, and Harry was perpetually miserable. He slouched on the leather sofa in the common room with a copy of Quidditch Through the Ages in his lap, staring gloomily into the hearth, contemplating his discontent with the world. He must have been a serial killer or something equally hideously immoral in his former life to have a madman kill his parents when he was a year old, then to be entrusted for a whole decade to the care of the Dursleys, who treated him like shit. Then the heavens saw to it that he discovered the madman’s soul bits scattered around school, as if falling for his best friend, a bloke who had a girlfriend that just happened to be the most grabby, coo-y, babying, irritating exhibitionist out there wasn’t enough of a karma. Saddling him with the unexpectedly loudmouthed Yule Ball partner was just a bonus.

Everyone, even the upper years, had retreated into their dorms. But Pansy, who’d been at a detention for the better part of the evening, wanted to “catch up” with Draco for the missed time (some would think they’d been apart for more than three hours). Harry wasn’t about to leave them alone in the common room. The hickeys on Draco’s throat were now mostly gone, and Harry wanted it to stay that way. That was why Harry was pretending to be unable to sleep while Pansy fussed over Draco’s hair next to him. Harry hated his life.

“. . . so the other night,” Draco was saying, “I was lying in my bed, gazing at the stars, wondering—”

“Whatever happened to your ceiling, pet?” Pansy interrupted, a teasing smile on her lips. For a moment Harry felt triumphant. Harry had given Draco a charm that would bring the night sky into the dungeons for Draco’s birthday last year. Pansy, nosey as she was, wasn’t in on that particular secret.

Draco opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by the sound of the stone entrance sliding open. A fifth-year Prefect walked inside, carrying a small box.

“Malfoy? Um. I was asked to give this to you,” she said, looking at Draco with apprehension. “I can’t tell you who it was . . . ” With that, she turned and disappeared down the fifth-year girls’ dormitory, leaving in her wake a bemused Draco.

“What is it?” Harry asked, curious. He put down the book and leaned towards Draco.

Draco frowned at the unadorned box and flipped open the card attached to it. “Hey,” he said, brightening. “It’s from my secret admirer!”

“Good for you, sweet,” Pansy said. “Too bad you’re already mine.”

Draco smiled winningly up at her and opened the box to reveal chocolates. He made a delighted sound. Harry picked up the card Draco had abandoned in favour of the heart-shaped chocolates. It was one of those cards that said “I love you only” and were available in multipacks in Flourish and Blotts. It read:

I wrote this to let you know

My heart goes wild

Every time your lips

Curl into a smile

Your Secret Admirer

(Whose name will be revealed when you’ve devoured my hearts)

The poem didn’t even rhyme. Harry made a face and tucked it away. He wanted to see who it was when the name was revealed.

Draco was already reaching for his third chocolate.

“You don’t know who it’s from,” Harry warned. “You shouldn’t just eat it like that.”

“Say ah,” Draco said, and shoved a piece of chocolate into Harry’s mouth.

Pansy reached for a chocolate herself—only to be batted away. “Just a bit of etiquette, Pans,” Draco drawled. “Can’t let my girlfriend eat my secret admirer’s chocolates. Don’t you think so, Harry?” He turned his head and beamed at Harry. Which was a bit odd, but it’s not like Harry minded.

“Mm,” Harry said, swallowing. He noticed Pansy’s miffed expression out of the corner of his eye.

Draco popped the last of the chocolates in his mouth. He was completely ignoring Pansy, who’d left the sofa with major pout and a sulky expression. She looked over her shoulder once, looking coy, but on discovering that Harry was the only one interested in her whereabouts, stormed away without so much as a good night. Harry couldn’t understand how Draco put up with her—she was so demanding and moody. She’d sulk for the slightest things. She wasn’t even that pretty.

Draco fluttered his eyelids shut, letting out a moan of appreciation. “These are really good,” he murmured, licking his fingers one by one. He didn’t seem aware that his girlfriend had just walked out on him. Harry didn’t feel the need to bring it up.

When Draco opened his eyes, Harry noticed that his eyes were almost entirely dark—his pupils were blown, all black with only a thin silver rim.

“Are you all right? I think there’s something wrong with your eyes,” Harry said, suddenly worried.

Draco didn’t say anything—he was looking at Harry as though he had never seen anything so amazing in his whole life.

“Um,” Harry said, definitely concerned now. “I think, er, there might’ve been something wrong with the chocolates.”

Draco’s lips parted in a small O, but otherwise, his intent gaze was still fixed on Harry. Despite the situation, Harry felt his face heating up.

“Come on,” Harry said, averting his eyes. He clasped Draco’s wrist to pull him up, but the next second, he found his wrists confined in Draco’s tight grasp.

“Harry,” Draco breathed, leaning towards him.

“Er,” Harry said, scooting backwards deeper into the couch. “The hospital wing . . . we should really . . . the chocolate, I think it was—”

“Harry,” Draco said again, bringing up his other hand to pet Harry’s cheek. Harry inhaled sharply. The warmth of Draco’s palm was shockingly pleasant, and Harry found himself pushing into the contact involuntarily.

“Your eyes,” Draco whispered, mesmerised. “They’re beautiful.”

“Um,” Harry managed say.

“Like . . . ”—Draco’s eyelids fluttered again—“like spring leaves and dewy grass and . . . ”

Harry let out a strangled sound when he realised he’d reached the end of the sofa—and, oh God, Draco was climbing into his lap. Harry’s heart leapt into his throat. He felt his pulse quicken, his blood rushing in his ears. Something was obviously wrong, Draco wasn’t in his right mind, Harry should do something, but—

“Your hair is so soft,” Draco was saying breathlessly. “So downy, like soft feathers…” He was running his fingers through Harry’s hair, over and over and over, his fingers so tender and soothing, and it was as if Draco were using wandless magic, because a touch simply couldn’t feel this good.

“Stop,” Harry gasped, helplessly, feebly trying to push Draco off him.

“You’re so warm, Harry,” Draco said, his voice soft and low, as if Harry were something that would blow away, as if he were somehow experiencing a wondrous feeling that would melt away if he weren’t careful. He slowly leaned to rest his head on Harry’s chest, running his fingers over Harry’s face and neck and arms and leaving a trail of tingles that spread into other parts of Harry’s body, setting his nerves alight. “I can hear your heart beating,” Draco whispered, and Harry could hear the smile in his voice. At every inhale Harry thought, I should push him away, he’s drugged, it’s not right; at every exhale, but this feels so good, so right.

And it was right. The most right feeling Harry had ever experienced: Draco’s hands petting Harry’s nape and collarbone, his breath hot against the thin cloth of Harry’s shirt, his warm, snug weight on top of Harry’s thighs—and Harry’s blood thrumming and heart pounding wildly against his ribcage, the rush of blood in his ears almost deafening.

Harry squeezed his eyes shut and willed himself to pry open his death-grip on the leather of the sofa and force Draco off. He repeated the order like a mantra, but his hands didn’t budge—Draco was nuzzling into the spot underneath Harry’s ear, and Harry wanted to sob, because how cruel was it that he’d be at the receiving end of something he so wanted, but only as a result of some enchanted chocolate hearts, something so obviously false. Harry felt Draco’s head lifting off his chest and let out a shaky sigh, feeling relieved—and bereft.

The next moment, something impossibly soft and warm pressed into Harry’s lips. Harry snapped his eyes open, wide in shock.

Filling his vision were Draco’s eyes, his blond lashes quivering against his flushed cheek.