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a sky of invisible constellations

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•—— •

The sky was invisible. Or at least that's what Harry thought, eyes glazed over, stumbling past people he didn't know, or maybe he did. The cracks in the floor melded into one another, until all that was beneath him was the endless void, and Albus Dumbeldore was falling, falling, falling—Harry's head span—there was a sickness in his stomach and acid in his throat—Are you alright there, mate?—and there was liquid seeping out of the walls, tears on Severus's cheeks, someone had spilt their alcohol, again, McGonagall would be pissed (Harry sure was pissed) and his feet slipped a bit on his untied shoelaces—

He hadn't seen in it a few hours, so it had to be invisible. The sky, he meant. There was a coldness on his back—Get up off the floor, you absolute git—and then there was a warmth on his front, his centre of gravity had changed. Blond hair, a sneer, arms around his back, steadying, nice, these were really nice hands and this body was just as intoxicated as his own, they were on the floor again, giggling. I'm glad we don't hate each other anymore and people were staring, not in a good way, not at The Boy Who Lived but at The Boy Who Drank To Terminate His Nightmares and everyone knew Harry had suggested a party for all houses in the Gryffindor common room because of course there would be Firewhiskey and of course that was the only reason Harry looked forward to anything these days, honestly.

You lot sure are a mess and Harry found that rather funny, sitting up, a hand resting almost on top his own, an ache still in his stomach but he couldn't tell if it was from alcohol or laughter or a mixture of both. There was almost an elegance to the way his head rested on this other body's shoulder, the atmosphere was bright and he felt that on the outside, the surface, the thin layer between his skin and his veins but something about his organs just wasn't right, a memory of a circle of ghosts—Quicker and easier than falling asleep—did they still haunt him? Harry pondered this, standing up, he didn't want this pale body to leave him, they shared similar demons, there was comfort in their suffering how ironic how foolishly romantic.

Earlier in their eighth year, Harry didn't speak much, to anyone. Neither did Draco. They began to acknowledge one another in the halls, not in a way that anybody else took any degree of notice to, but as their silence slowly became louder to one another they spoke in hushed whispers in empty corridors and alcoves and in the back of the library. Three o'clock in the morning in the Slytherin common room, they gushed about torture and death and what it was like to be a hostage in your own home and Harry understood Draco, better than he ever had, head in his lap when he got too drunk to think about what everything meant.

Snapping back, Draco was right here, they were walking elsewhere like always, the art on the walls was following them and the crimson ceiling reflected light across the carpet and Harry felt dizzy trying to trace the patterns, he ended up staring into Draco's eyes, velvet grey—Where are you two off to, then?—they really were quite pretty up close, twinkling silver, nicer when he smiled. Harry was tripping backwards, out of a hole in the wall how curious, since when was there a hole in our common room wall? Draco was catching him again—Is it? Is it Harry Potter? I can't-I can't be sure—the silence in the darkness of the hall was deadly. Filch could've been sauntering past any corner but in their drunken haze they rolled over old tiles and traced the walls, an arm wrapped around his shoulders and fingers tracing up and down his bicep in what an onlooker could probably describe as more than friendly but Harry Potter was not an onlooker. He leaned closer into Draco's embrace, happy to be led away, up switching staircases and muttering men on the walls tutting disapprovingly, Harry found a special kind of solace in Draco's touch.

They collapsed into a bathroom—Harry! Draco! Come to wallow in misery with me?—and Not this time, Myrtle, because there had been a last time, a thousand last times, Silencing Charms whilst they took turns wailing, grasping tightly to one another, soaking shirts with salty tears, chins dripping saliva, there was nothing beautiful about the screaming of emotionally broken men. It felt like Harry had wasted a lifetime in here, whispering in Draco's ear when he just felt empty and not heartbroken, when he had forgotten his own sadness, hated how good it felt to see someone else just as lonely and hollow inside as he. They were both selfish. They held hands not for the comfort of the other but for themselves. It was toxic, addictive, Harry lived it, breathed it, needed Draco, needed everything Draco was and everything he wasn't, when was the last time he had told Ron or Hermione anything of any importance? He didn't care to remember. It didn't matter in the grand scheme of all there would ever be, because here he was whispering in Draco's ear again as the blond boy retched into the sink, Harry's hands on the slimmer man's hips and this felt sickeningly good. Harry wanted to hex himself, but he couldn't step back from the feeling of Draco's spine against his chest.

I think I'm quite alright, Potter, he had flipped himself around, Harry was giggling at his messy hair because despite how dishevelled Draco had been around Harry recently there was a part of Harry that loved the sight, every time. Draco was giggling, too, and Harry felt his heart jump at the sound, he was far too drunk—Always, always, always—every mirror reminded him of his own state of pathetic he wanted to pity his reflection but it was hard when it was too blurry to make out, a hint of brown mixed with white, Harry's palm flat on Draco's back. Harry wasn't thinking, because lately he never did, but there was a beautiful breath on his cheek and a catch of lips between his teeth, hand in his hair if only for a second, a face falling into his neck. Draco was crying again—My father will hear about- I want to want you without worrying what everyone else will think—and they were falling into Draco's bed, Myrtle had said something about the unexpected, Harry didn't know where the bathroom had gone. Arms tightly wound, under the covers, no tongue or lips or unzipping zippers just soft words and caressing until the curtains were drawn and Draco was calm, almost, hidden under a mask, a confident exterior only Harry knew to be a facade. He felt privileged, pathetically. Draco was his to know. Draco was everything Harry needed and it was unhealthy and destructive and wrong in all the right ways but when he was breathing in the scent of apples from Draco's scalp he felt safer than he knew he should, the room wouldn't stop spinning even when his eyes were closed—You'll stay with me? Until the very end—Harry wished he and Draco could just be free, for once, forever.

•— •—• •

Harry woke up with a creak of the bed frame and a groan. He rolled over decisively, leg stretching across a body that wasn't his, fingers coming into contact with the skin of somebody's spine. Harry opened his eyes, calmly, hands gently caressing the pale flesh, almost translucent, Harry could nearly see the blue rivers beneath the skin. The boy rolled over at the contact, eyes fluttering open, a lot more startled than Harry had been but he soon relaxed upon seeing Harry's face. They lay like that for a few moments, neither speaking, neither wanting to ask the question both of them had on their tongues, headaches tearing open the insides of their skulls, expressions not exposing this because they were both good at hiding how they really felt.

"We should get up," Harry murmured, just to avoid everything a little bit longer, to keep his hand resting on Draco's jaw, thumb tenderly outlining his cheek.

"We've got nowhere to be," Draco countered, smiling slightly, but Harry frowned.

"I've got Quidditch this afternoon. Against Hufflepuff," Harry remembered, sighing, turning onto his back to run his hands across his face. He'd almost forgotten. He vaguely remembered students telling him to lay off the alcohol, but of course he hadn't cared back then. Now, however, was a different story.

"You'll win," Draco said confidently, still lying on his side, heart hammering in his chest. There was a particular beauty to seeing Harry Potter this way, glasses on the bedside table, hair flattened from the pillowcase and eyes a little watery. Nothing had happened of particular interest last night, Draco convinced himself. They'd gone to the bathroom, like they usually did. Their lips had brushed, like they rarely did, and today they weren't going to talk about it, like they always did.

"Only if you're there," Harry whispered, words that of friendly banter, tone half filled with an undertone of plea. Please watch me, please notice me, please don't leave me alone—

"I might be," Draco teased causally, but since when was he not there, since when didn't he follow Harry with his dilated pupils from the stands, shifting in his seat at the tightness of Harry's Quidditch pants, ignoring the rush of blood when Harry gripped the Snitch tightly between his fists. There was something so satisfying about winning, even when it wasn't exactly his own victory.

"I'll let you wear my Gryffindor scarf," Harry offered and Draco knew this was a joke, knew how much he loved to wear Harry's clothing when it was just the two of them, how scared he was to expose himself like that to the world. There was a line between them, crossed day after day, backwards and forwards, but nothing ever changed, nothing was ever spoken about, they were just Draco and Harry and Harry and Draco and nothing else. The lie stung even in Draco's thoughts.

"Hmm, how'd you know that was my deepest fantasy?"

"Legimency. I'm a huge fan of your dreams." Both of them winced. Legimency wasn't something either of them liked to talk about. "Anyway," Harry dismissed, and Draco knew, so he said nothing. "I'll probably have to get going. I'll see you at the game, yeah?"

Draco nodded, burying his face back into the pillows, inching over as Harry left to let himself drown in the aftermath of his scent and he didn't question himself or why he did it, just opened one eye and watched as Harry put a shirt back on and gave him one last thoughtful look as he left, the ghost of a smile on his lips and a joking wink.

Draco let out a breath after he'd gone. His hands wandered the empty sheets, the warmth of Harry still hot on his skin, the pattern of his fingers still etched into his spine.

When Harry arrived back at the Gryffindor common room, more people looked up and made a curious face at him as he entered than he expected. Most people were used to this by now, Harry disappearing midway through a party and coming back at some time during the next day, but this time it was different. It was only almost eleven in the morning but the eyes trailed him as if they knew something, a secret they shouldn't know, didn't dare to ask. Harry felt rather than heard the hushed whispers, eyes dropping shut briefly as he sat down on the couch next to Ron and Hermione. They finished their short discussion before turning to Harry, no longer strangers to the way Harry's feet wandered in the night, no longer feeling inclined to bombard him with questions upon his return, knowing he would never answer them.

"Heard you went to the bathroom on the second floor last night," Hermione said coolly, and Harry jumped slightly, because she shouldn't know, nobody knew about the bathroom, Myrtle had never said a thing—

"With Malfoy," Ron added, wincing at his own suggestion, biting his lip.

"It's Draco," Harry snapped immediately, then regretted it. His tightness with Draco Malfoy was a mystery to the entire Wizarding World, including to the minds of his two supposed best friends. Nobody understood Draco the way Harry did. Harry felt selfish as he thought this, because whilst he wanted Draco to feel comfortable in his own skin, he didn't want anyone to know him, not the same way Harry did. Draco was his to know. He remembered this thought exploding in his mind the previous evening as he clutched the shivering blond man to his chest, he was his, he was his, he was his—

"Okay, with Draco," Ron corrected, hesitating slightly, the name feeling unnatural slipping off his tongue, unaware of the current struggle inside Harry's skull. "Apparently you both... Y'know." Ron made a gesture with his hands. Harry didn't know.

"Ron, that's a stupid way to say it," Hermione scolded, slapping his arm. She turned her attention back to Harry. "You know you can tell us anything, right? I know you haven't very recently, but we don't want you to drift away. We love you, Harry. We always will." Harry felt uncomfortable. They hadn't talked deeply like this for months. It felt wrong in Harry's blood, legs twitching. His mind had associated these sorts of words with only one other person, and that was neither of the people sitting in front of him. His person of interest was rooms away, still lying across his open mattress, eyes glued to the shadow Harry had left.

"Yeah, sure, but, seriously Harry, Malfoy? Why Malfoy?" Ron let out, exasperated, obviously having been holding it in for a long time, falling back into his usual way of referring to the former Death Eater, running a hand through his hair. "Ginny's gonna freak. Wait, no, Mum's gonna freak—" Hermione slapped him again.

"Ron!" she hissed, disapproving. "We talked about this." Harry felt like he was missing something.

"I have no idea what either one of you are talking about," Harry admitted, finally looking up to properly assess the pair of them, taking note of their very awkward stances.

"Harry, it's just—"

Hermione was interrupted by a shy fifth year, whom none of them had noticed approach. "Sorry. Hi," the girl murmured, turning around, eyes falling on a group of her friends giggling behind their hands, the Golden Trio's eyes following. The girl turned back, and so did the three eighth years. "My friends, they dared me to come over here, I didn't want to," she insisted, looking down at her feet. Hermione smiled softly.

"It's okay. Did they say you had to ask something? We don't mind what it is." The three of them were very, very used to questions about the war. They hadn't gotten any in a long time, but they'd grown accustomed to answering for Harry, for making everything seem so much simpler than it actually was, just to get everyone off their backs.

"They—they just wanted to know—about the second floor bathroom—if the—" She hesitated over the next word, as if not knowing how to place her words, then the name came out in a whisper, "Death Eater, if he and Harry really—"

"That's quite enough," Hermione interrupted, face turning pink, whether from embarrassment or anger Harry couldn't tell.

"What do you mean?" Harry asked, vision flickering for a moment. He was so sick of being talked about, of people staring at him in the street—Is that him? The one who- You-Know-Who?—but the questions were always pointless, because everyone knew who he was, everyone was obsessed with his life, a life he would gladly pass over to somebody else.

"I—um..." The girl looked so awkward Harry almost pitied her. "Guys, I can't do this," she called out, turning her head. "Sorry," she apologised one last time to the group, scuttling away like they'd burnt her, face bright red as her friends teased her for being unable to complete the dare.

"He's not a Death Eater," Harry hissed to nobody in particular, realising only now that she'd left how she'd referred to Draco, his blood boiling. "I really wish someone would make it clear to me—"

"Mate, did you top or bottom?" someone snickered across the room, and Harry whipped his head around, trying to find the source of the sound, but he was so shocked by the question he could hardly see. His vision was beginning to drop even though his glasses were clearly sat atop his nose, because what did they mean, why were they saying this, what had Myrtle said?

"Would you shut up!" Hermione hissed, but the damage had been done. Harry stood up rapidly, stumbling forward, almost collapsing as his feet were unable to support him. "Harry, wait," but Harry wasn't listening, taking the stairs two at a time, running as far away from everyone as he could, how did they know how did they know how did they—

Harry fell face first into his duvet, curtains shooting shut around him from a mumbled spell cast into the pillows. Ron didn't follow him and Harry hadn't expected him to, because nobody ever followed him when he ran these days. Except Draco. Harry's heart squeezed at the thought of him.

Nothing had happened. Harry knew nothing had happened. But he couldn't deny that his lips still felt hot from where they'd brushed against Draco's the previous night, how good Draco had felt pushed up against the bathroom sink, how rare these moments were for them. Harry wanted to forget how complex this world was, choosing to instead let his ears listen to the chirping of the birds outside the tower, wondering how hard it would be to Transfigure them into dragons and watch silently upon the damage they would make. How easy it would be to slip away then, become small and unnoticeable, sneak down to the dungeons and crawl back into Draco's bed, the emerald sheets reminding him of Christmas against his ruby Gryffindor tie.

Harry didn't know how long he lay there, dreaming of better things. Soon Ron was rustling his curtains—We have a game to win now, mate—and as if switched on autopilot he got up, changed, ate and practised blindly for their match in less than an hour once down on the pitch.

If there was one thing Harry could do even when it felt like his entire world was collapsing around him, it was play Quidditch. There was a comforting familiarity in the way the wind whipped against his skin, how attuned his eyes were to the golden flicker of wings in his peripheral vision. Stepping out onto the pitch to the roar of the crowd was regular, almost boring, not enough to make his heart leap anymore. He only had one thing on his mind, and that was catching the tiny ball between his fist, winning the game for their house yet again and doing a victory lap like he always did, like clockwork, like a routine he had written down on an old to-do list.

The game began like games always did, slow, meticulous, calculating. Harry searched for the Snitch and the other Seeker searched for Harry, because Harry had a keen vision when it came to Quidditch despite his terrible eyesight, and that boy would spot the Golden Snitch a lot faster than any other Seeker probably had a hope of achieving.

At some point during the game, Harry's eyes fell on the stands. He caught sight of a blond head of hair almost immediately, because he wasn't just attuned to the Snitch but rather Draco Malfoy, too, but it wasn't the blond hair that immediately gave him away. It was the Gryffindor scarf, only just poking out from the collar underneath Draco's robes, a flash of red and gold only Harry would ever be able to see and his heart lurched, he wanted to fly down, kiss that boy square on the lips like he needed his tongue to breathe—

Draco was pointing, every so subtlety, to the north east of Harry's head, and Harry didn't need to think anymore. He spun, eyes catching the wings in the centre of his vision, and he was off again, so fast the eyes in the stands could hardly catch up. The Snitch headed directly upwards and Harry followed, the screams becoming fainter beneath him, hair flowing out behind him he really needed to get it cut and his hand was reaching, through the mist of the sky, around the clouded dreams children often thought felt and tasted like marshmallows—Focus on your happiest memory—Draco's skin the same colour, pale and alive against his, hands against his chest, desire to kiss the scars away strong beneath his teeth, Draco's eyes boring into his own, mornings spent together counting veins on Draco's neck and the unspoken secrets of Harry's lips—

Fingers, clasped around the fluttering desperate object of his desire, Harry related to it, the freedom, the need to fly away his broom was taking him down again—

He dropped rather ungracefully off his broom and rolled over in the grass, mind unfocused, eyes flashing green and grey. The sky was still there. Harry searched for constellations, but there weren't any there. Perhaps they were invisible.

Voices, crowding, so much for that victory lap—Is he unconscious? I'm getting flashbacks to third year—none of them were the voice Harry so desperately wanted to hear—No, dumbass, his eyes are open, he's just a bit dazed—footsteps encircling him—I wonder if he looked like that after fucking Malfoy against the mirror—Harry sat up.

"I'm fine," he said, and physically he was. The crowd backed off. His team pulled him into a hug—Congratulations, you did it again, Potter, you absolute legend—but he didn't feel their embrace. He found Draco in the crowd, Gryffindor scarf hiding against his collarbone, and Harry felt like his entire world would revolve around that boy if he allowed it to. He already allowed it to.

The birds were singing. Harry wondered if he could Transfigure them into dragons—But past an hour, the prospect's black, too late, it's gone, it won't come back—he couldn't miss his chance. He was beckoning himself to Draco, like always, like a magnetic pull; no matter which way he faced, there would be a tugging on his heart, searching for someone he couldn't see, a soul he couldn't touch.

••• — •—• ——— —• ——• • •—•

That night wasn't spent celebrating like it was supposed to be. Everybody knew Harry didn't attend the victory parties anymore. Instead, he found himself lying next to Draco Malfoy on his Slytherin sheets, hands resting next to one another, hearts too far apart for Harry to cope.

They had been silent for several minutes, but Harry knew that wasn't right this time, even though they spent many hours just the same, searching for the unspoken words between them—And while you're searching ponder this—Harry couldn't wait any longer, because if he did—We've taken what you'll sorely miss—he didn't think he'd ever have the courage to say it again. It was ironic, how Harry didn't find himself courageous enough to speak what he was afraid to say, even after all he'd been through. There were different types of courage.

"Hey, Draco?" he spoke up finally, voice betraying him, cracking at the end.

"Yeah?" Draco responded, startled.

Harry didn't know how else to put it. He needed to speak before his body pulled him back, under the water, away from the air that would keep him alive and able. "Everybody wants to know if we fucked on the bathroom sink."

Draco was silent. "...What the fuck?" he whispered eventually, heart collapsing in on itself, because this was a confrontation, they were both going to have to actually think about who they were and what they were doing and Draco wasn't ready. He didn't know if he'd ever be ready. He didn't want to lose Harry. He didn't want to let go.

"I guess Myrtle said something," Harry whispered, just as astounded, as if saying it any louder would make it more real.

"We didn't even—nothing even—" Draco stuttered, hands fidgeting, mind trying to process the information that had just been given to him. It wasn't supposed to go like this. Life was never meant to happen like this, lying side by side with the Golden Boy, hands inches apart, heart beating loudly in his chest.

"I know," Harry replied, sparing him the words. They finally chanced a glance at one another, and once they were there they couldn't look away, lost in similar expressions of confusion, fear and desire. Draco gulped. Their hands brushed together.

"I don't know what this is," Draco admitted. He didn't know if he was referring to the incident, their holding hands, or the way their souls were intermingling between them, dependant.

"Neither do I," Harry said, just as afraid, just as lost in this big bad world.

"Sometimes I-I just." Draco hoped he wasn't wrong in finishing the sentence. "Your lips. They're so—"

"I know. So are yours."

"I've touched them before." Harry knew Draco didn't mean with his hands.

"We've always been so damn afraid," Harry said, squeezing the hand tighter, souls twisting closer together, they could hardly be distinguished anymore—All face the choice, what is right, what is easy—Harry didn't know which he was thinking of. "I'm still fucking terrified."

"Maybe we shouldn't be," Draco said, blinking quickly, as if maybe Harry would disappear if he kept his eyes closed for too long.

"But we are. That's okay. It's okay to be scared." Harry didn't know if he was trying to convince Draco or himself.

"I don't want to be."

"Neither do I."

Then they collided, and their souls burst apart into nothing then everything, until there were no longer two, just a giant single beam of light, bursting from their touching chests. Their hands fell apart but then they were on one another's skin, they were sober, they were alive and afraid and stronger, together, connected, like this. Harry felt as though he could conquer anything, Draco's tongue on his slowly parting lips, flitting across his teeth. Harry bucked into Draco's hand, resting on the waistband of his jeans, curious trailing fingers under the fabric.

There was a moan passing between their mouths but Harry didn't know where it started and where it ended, who was giving, who was receiving. Harry was hovering above, elbows either side of Draco's face, there were fireworks in his lungs—she had a hard, blazing look in her face as she threw her arms around him—this was different, better, more powerful, all consuming. Every past memory, every time he glared at Draco across the room, every angry thought or expression or obsession was irrelevant, Draco's hips were butting into his, they were fumbling with zippers and hands were trembling—

Draco's pale neck was too tempting and Harry couldn't keep his lips away, Draco was gasping mark me mark me make me yours and Harry was choking, licking, baring his teeth, the writhing body beneath him was sending snakes up his spine, he shivered. A chorus was cheering inside Harry's brain, a rush of euphoria consuming his bones, they were together, they were free, for once, forever.

Clothes piled amongst the shoes on the floor and Harry's hand reached down, past the base of Draco's spine, Draco was arching into him, moaning as Harry's fingers slipped between his cheeks and pushed beyond the skin, curling, stretching him apart and it was Draco's turn to reach up, tongue on his neck, licking up his jaw mine mine mine Harry panted shamelessly into Draco's mouth when he returned, their tongues mingled in the middle, reached for one another in the dimness of the room, they opened their eyes and green met grey, a star was born between them.

When Harry pushed in, Draco mewled. There was a special kind of attraction in the way Draco breathed, how his chest filled, neck arched back, how as the breath escaped his body sometimes he whined and gripped at Harry's hair, pulling him forward, meshing their lips together messily and completely. Harry was thrusting, frantic, needy, he'd always needed Draco, always had him on his mind—The cold went deeper than his skin. It was inside his chest, it was inside his very heart—and Draco conquered it, the warmth of his blood, the warmth of his insides pushing away the chill, Harry was sweating, Harry needed Draco in his lungs.

The slide of their bodies together was greater than heaven itself. With every stutter of his hips a wave was building in his gut, fingers firm on Draco's hipbone, lips bitten and neck bruising, Harry didn't want to let go, not yet. He remembered how empty he used to feel, how full Draco was right now, filled to the brim with him and his love, they couldn't fix one another, they could only fix themselves but they were stronger with their arms wrapped around one another, stronger with their mouths connected and their hearts touching between their chests.

He was pounding faster now, Draco's groans entering his ears and swirling inside his mind, encouraging him, there was fire in his soul—You can exist without your soul, you know—Harry didn't think so, he'd feel so incomplete without Draco in his bones without his breath swallowing down his throat, how had he existed without this for so long?

Then, there was the release, a tipping of the iceberg and the Titanic fell, sinking, Harry was falling and flying simultaneously with Draco sucking on his tongue, pulsing around him buried so deeply inside—I love you because I need you, I need you because I love you—they occurred, together, coming together, coming loudly and uncensored and there was nothing holding them back, not this time. Harry hadn't felt this alive since his awakening—Is Draco alive? Is he in the castle?—the relief, the rush of everything back into his body, when his soul returned it wasn't just his own, it was Draco's, Draco was everything, Draco was panting, eyes closed, their cheeks touching, Draco was bright and beautiful and he was smiling now, he hadn't properly smiled whilst not intoxicated in months, he truly believed Harry had to be his miracle.

Harry was smiling, too, and the sun was in his eyes. Draco was blinded, in a good way.

They rested against one another, hearts touching, bodies entwined, Harry slipping out with a silent groan, burying his face in Draco's neck.

The room was dim, but outside the drawn curtains, the Slytherin dorm room was flooded with light. Two silver wisps were dancing, touching, twisting about one another in the late evening. One wisp formed a mighty stag, prancing around a graceful Arctic fox, swirling, together, across the room and bringing light even to the darkest corners.

The sky was invisible, to them, inside, in the dark dungeon with no sun or constellations to give evidence of its existence. Except now they had Harry's eyes, and the light of the Patronuses in the empty room; they were no longer lonely. Beneath him, arms wrapped around his back, Harry thought Draco was enough of a constellation to always guide him home, back into his arms, where he belonged.

— ——— ——• • — •••• • •—•