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Liberty

Chapter Text

Skeeter. 

That was the first thing — for whatever reason — that popped into Harry Potter’s head as he received the Wizarding Journalists Association fellowship that granted him with the opportunity to move to Brooklyn and investigate. Investigate, tell stories, and just be. That’s what he wanted to do. At first, he had thought that his dream was to be an Auror. And he truly did act upon that particular desire for months, in fact. He had prepared his NEWTs in Defense Against The Dark Arts. Hell, he’d even gotten an exceeding expectations in Potions, out of all subjects. In fact, he actually went through the arduous training process of becoming as such, and he even did a pretty good job at it. The Prophet was printing daily articles praising about how the Saviour himself was enacting his true potential of vanquishing all evils once again. It made him nauseous.

Skeeter, in fact, wrote perhaps one too many articles about him in a column specifically dedicated to him called “The Appraisal.” On exactly page 11, she poured out her questionable journalism and so-called investigation and insight. It had made Hermione delighted when the front-pager journalist was pushed back to the teens, writing what was essentially celebrity gossip.

Harry couldn’t help himself, though, from reading those godforsaken columns. Perhaps it stroked his ego, god knows why it would, or maybe he was just simply…bored

That particular realisation — the fact that he was bored, out of all possible emotions — was what made him sign the resignation letter to quit the promising career he had as the next potential Head Auror, join a journalists’ association, attain a degree in journalism and ethics (because he sure wasn’t going to end up being Skeeter), and move to Brooklyn. 

So when he received the piece of fancy parchment that certified the fellowship, he thought of Skeeter as he shook the dean’s hand. Strange, he thought, how life can shift because of one choice, one realisation, one shift of mind. He admitted to himself that he didn’t particularly know what he was going to do as a journalist. What do you do anyways — go on the streets with a classic pen and paper? Or was that to 1960’s? Maybe he should invest in those Muggle gadgets — iPhones, they called them. 

Ron and Hermione came up to him, congratulated him, with Ron still giving him that lingering, worrisome look that he could so see through. It screamed, “are you sure?” And to be honest, he wasn’t. So despite the obvious, he simply smiled and asked, “anyone fancy a Butterbeer?” Ah, the joys of the good old times. 

“I think I might go and see Skeeter.” Harry said, sipping his mug, being careful not to leave a white halo around his lips. Ron almost choked on his Butterbeer. 

“Come again?” Ron asked through a fit of coughs. 

“I said,” he swallowed the remaining Butterbeer, “that I wanted to go and see Skeeter. For advice, you know.”

“Advice for what?” Ron looked befuddled. 

“What do you think?” Harry raised his eyebrows. 

“No. That can’t be right, mate. You’re going to end up writing ‘The Saviour Diaries’ on page eleven if you go to her. You can’t honestly expect to get actual advice from that gerrymandering bitch.” Ron huffed. “Isn’t that right, Hermione?” Ron looked to his girlfriend for support. 

“I… guess. I mean, I don’t know, Ron.” Hermione carefully articulated. 

“What do you mean you don’t know? Of course you know, you know everything.” Hermione rolled her eyes at Ron’s baffled expression. 

“What I mean is,” Hermione set her mug down slowly, “that sometimes we have to look up to the worst examples to learn.” 

“Oh.” Ron simply stated. “So is that why, mate?” Ron looked to Harry. 

“I… sure. Let’s go with that, sounds reasonable enough for me.” Harry shrugged. 

“You don’t sound terribly sure.” Hermione turned on her worrisome face. 

“When am I ever?” Harry laughed despite himself. Hermione’s frown lines increased at that. 

“Harry, you know—” Hermione started, but Harry cut her off. “No it’s okay. I’m fine, really. All of this has nothing to do with her.” 

Harry had broken up with Ginny not long after he quit his job as an Auror. They were similar actions but different motives. He quit the Aurors because frankly, being an Auror involved a lot more bureaucracy and politics rather than a servitude of justice. There were certain moments where a case he had been working on and was close to solving was wrapped up hastily due to “commands from above” saying that it was prudent that they move on to more “major” cases. That went against Harry’s philosophy entirely. Every case was of equal importance to him — even if one of the cases meant 13 hour long stakeouts. The fact that the Aurors moved in accordance to political significance defeated his purpose of becoming an Auror, which frankly made his job, well, boring. He didn’t particularly mind the mind-numbing paperwork and reports that he had to file in — it was part of the job, after all. Nothing that he wasn’t expecting. He wasn't the type of person that expected a job, out of all things, to be entertaining 24/7. That just wasn’t possible. It was also a way in which he could recollect the happenings, to reflect on what he had learned, and to be once again reminded that this file was more than just a file — it was the story of a human being. And that he did not take lightly, especially after what he had gone through. 

Ginny was another reason entirely. He did not get bored of her, he did not “lose the spark” as all the others had suspected, even Ginny herself, when he announced his wanting to break things off. It was just because of the fact that, in the midst of all the heavy Auror training in the very hyper-masculine department that is the Auror Division, he discovered his newfound fondness for men. The softness of a female body was comforting and safe, but the solid ground that the male body offered was far too distracting, far too tempting, and oh-so-very dangerous. He was curious, just like that time when he had started reading “The Appraisal,” which was why he found himself getting battered in gay clubs in Muggle London, getting blowjobs from unknown faces in bathroom stalls with rainbow graffiti spelling out the word ‘liberty’. Oh, who knew liberty felt so good?

So, for all intents and purposes, it made perfect sense to cut things off with Ginny. He couldn’t continue this façade of nonchalance when he was getting his soul sucked out through his cock by random strangers in the backstreets of London. That wasn’t who he was. Admittedly, he felt horrid about breaking her heart and thus was rendered into a phase of mild despair. Everyone had thought that he was regretting his decision to break up with her, that he would finally come back to his senses. “You just need some time mate,” that’s what Ron had said. No, it wasn’t time he needed. It was liberty. 

So when Hermione asked again, “Are you sure?” He had no problem with answering, “Yes.” 

Liberty indeed. 

It was time to go see Rita Skeeter. 

 

 

Chapter Text

Rita Skeeter’s place was, indeed, eccentric.

What gave that impression, you might say. Well, the parrot holding a QuickQuotes quill by its beak was one contributing factor. But the whole house just gave Harry the vibe of lime green and it was honestly just…too much to handle in one scoop. Squinting his eyes at the vibrant green colour of the interior, he approached the front steps of Rita Skeeter’s home, perhaps to knock, but he was quickly interrupted by the door opening abruptly followed by a large snap of the camera shutter and an even more blinding flash.

“Harry Potter, age 20, walked upon the steps of Rita Skeeter’s very own home, without notice whatsoever, with a hopeful expression plastered across his ever-so-valiant features, wishing to chat with his soon to be colleague in the field of journalism, ever so passionate in his new career — no, Gerald, cross that last bit out — wishing to chat with his…” Rita Skeeter stopped mid-sentence, the parrot, apparently named Gerald, stopping mid-Quill as well. Rita Skeeter did not just stop mid-sentence. Now that was a rare occurrence, and it gave Harry a bit of reassurance.

She studied Harry very carefully, as if trying to squeeze a story out of this situation by simply looking at him. Harry didn’t say anything, he merely just stood there, waiting for Skeeter to finish dissecting him virtually.

“Nothing.” Rita sighed. “Absolutely nothing.”

“Sorry?” Harry asked, confused.

“You heard me,” Rita took the quill from Gerald’s beak, “Nothing. Nothing to write about.”

“Oh.” Harry frowned. “Well, to be fair, I only just arrived here. And also, you never seemed to have any trouble writing scandalous and frankly untrue stories about me on page eleven of the Prophet. Not to mention daily.” Harry remarked bitterly.

Rita, on the other hand, looked delighted, as if he had just shown her Christmas for the first time. “Ah, I see you have indulged yourself in some of my finest works! Aren’t they just absolutely brilliant and juicy? The daily columns aren’t easy, mind you, but they’re always so good fresh out of the oven!”

Harry just sighed. “Well, may I come in?”

Surprise flickered in Rita’s eyes for a bare second before she put on that all-knowing smile of an “insightful” journalist and ushered him inside.

“Sorry about the state of my lodgings, if I had known that Harry Potter himself was going to be visiting my quarters on a Monday evening, my, my…. Oh, Gerald, do check how much time I have until tomorrow’s deadline. Good bird, now up you go.” Rita went on as she led Harry into what was supposedly the living room. The hallway was a little less blindingly green but green nonetheless. It was green and it had newspaper clippings all over the walls — all her articles, undoubtedly — with yellowed pictures between some of them. Harry found himself in many of those articles and pictures, and he was also forced to relive some of the memories that he did not wish to endure.

“Here we are. Would you like some tea, Mr. Potter?” Rita gestured for Harry to sit on a plush looking purple chair made of velvet.

“A cuppa would be lovely, thank you.”

“How do you like your tea?”

“Black, with sugar, please.”

Harry found himself surprised at how…civil they were being to each other. Considering their history, that is.

Rita came back with a tray loaded with little cakes and biscuits alongside two chinas. She put a generous amount of milk and sugar in hers, and started stirring, all whilst studying Harry carefully.

“I didn’t put any sugar in yet, didn’t know just how much you would like. If you could help yourself, it would be lovely.” Rita said, not taking her eyes off him.

“Thank you. That was…um…very considerate of you.”

“Anything for Harry Potter.” Rita smirked.

Harry helped himself to his tea, silently wishing he could see if she had put anything dangerous in there, perhaps vertiaserum. As if reading his thoughts, Rita remarked, “I didn’t put anything questionable in the tea, in case you were worried, Mr. Potter. A journalist has her moral duties.” Harry did everything in his power not to laugh.

“Now, I admit that it is rather curious that the Saviour of the Wizarding World himself decided to come and visit me on a Monday evening.”

“Trust me, it is rather curious for me too.”

“I would imagine.” A moment of awkward silence passed by, with only the sound of Rita stirring her tea, causing bubbles to form on the surface.

“And may I ask the reason of having the pleasure of your visit?” Rita set her tea down.

“Well…I’m going to Brooklyn.” Harry unhelpfully supplied.

“I am well aware.” Rita affirmed confidently.

“I don’t doubt it.” Harry smiled despite himself.

“I guess… I wanted to talk to you about your experience,” Harry swallowed, “As a journalist.” He couldn’t believe he was calling Rita Skeeter a proper journalist. At this, Rita’s eyebrows arched and he could see her wheels turning inside.

“Ahh… Now, that,” Rita sipped her tea, “Is some quality information you are asking for, Mr. Potter.” Harry struggled not to snort. “As an aspiring journalist, you ought to be well aware of the value a piece of information possesses.”

“I am enlightened in the field of journalism, I assure you.” Harry confirmed. “But I came to you hoping for a hands-on approach to the field, before going out in the real world.”

“I see…” Rita smiled deviously as she stirred her tea once more. “And what would I get in return?” As they say, once a Slytherin, always a Slytherin. Rita Skeeter was not going to be an easy one.

“I’ll give you a story. A proper story, with factual information. I’m sure you are well aware of the value of facts versus lies, as a working journalist.” Harry articulated, using her previous rhetoric.

Rita seemed to carefully consider this notion for a few minutes before she whistled, startling Harry. The bird from before — Gerald, Harry’s mind supplied — came swooping down from above, dropping a roll of parchment on Rita’s lap. Rita unrolled the parchment and presented it to Harry.

“This, Mr. Potter, is a binding contract. It states that in return for my experiences in journalism, you are to give me a proper story. A story about you, Mr. Potter, are we clear?” “What? I never said anything about the story being about — ”

“Or the deal’s off, Mr. Potter,” Rita closed the parchment abruptly, “It’s your call.”

Harry considered this. Why was he so caught up about getting advice from Skeeter? He could find loads of well-accomplished and ethical journalists wishing to pour their hearts out for Harry. But for some twisted and mind-boggling reason, Harry knew that the only advice he wanted and needed was from Skeeter.

“Fine.” Harry concluded. “And if I break the contract? Are there any consequences?”

Rita seemed to find this funny. “Oh, consequences? My, my, my. Don’t forget who you are talking to, Mr. Potter.” Rita recovered from her fit of laughter, turning solemn. “Don’t worry about the consequences, Mr. Potter. You’ll find out about in the next morning’s paper shall you not keep your end of the bargain.” Harry swallowed.

“Sign right over here, and this contract will be legally bound.” Rita handed over her alarmingly green quill for Harry to use. Harry tried his best to keep his hand steady while signing the parchment. As soon as he marked his name, the parchment rolled itself and was sealed by an emerald ribbon tied around it.

“Well done, Mr. Potter. Now, I shall keep my side of the bargain. Admittedly, it’s a long read but, I’m sure you’ll get through it in no time.” Rita said as she reached to scavenge for something from behind.

“Read? What do you mean read?”

“This, of course.” Rita pulled out a leather-bound copy of “Rita Skeeter, A Story Never Untold.” Harry looked at her in utter disbelief.

“This — this is a copy of your goddamn autobiography. I could get it right now in Flourish and Blotts if I wanted to.” Harry barked. “What the hell are you playing at, Skeeter?”

“Firstly, no, you wouldn’t be able to get this very book — it’s the first edition copy, leather-bound, signed with my famous QuickQuotes quill and all.” Rita said haughtily. “And also, I’m not playing at anything, Mr. Potter. We had a deal — my experiences for a story. I’m just keeping my side of the bargain. What better way to enlist my experiences than giving you the full story?”

“Everyone knows that your books are full of shite, Skeeter.” Harry glowered at her. “I want something real. I want something true. Factual.”

“Who’s to say what’s true or not, in this very age, Mr. Potter?” Rita exhorted. “You’ll soon find that people don’t believe in the truth — they believe in what they want to be true. That, I believe, is more than enough advice for a rookie journalist.” Rita chided, all while sounding terribly proud of her bargaining tactics.

“I once believed that people actually valued truth, you know. That the merit of journalism was veritas.” Rita jeered on, standing and turning away.

“Isn’t it?” Harry challenged. Rita stopped mid-track. She turned around abruptly, coldness in her eyes.

“No, it’s not!” Rita fumed. “You are so, very foolish. So naïve.” Rita stomped across to where Harry stood. “You think that you can get anywhere in life with your petty little truths? Try again in another world, Mr Potter, because the world isn’t as pretty as you’d think.” Rita looked him dead in the eye. “Now tell me, are my books still full of shite?”

Harry was silent for a few seconds before answering, “absolutely.”

Rita looked outraged. “Get out of my premises, Mr. Potter. And don’t come back before you have my scoop. Or else you’ll regret the day you stepped into this very field of journalism. You may be the Saviour, but in print, you’re still a wannabe rookie journalist. Good luck, Mr Potter.” Rita all but pushed him outside of the door and slammed it in his face. Harry ran up to the doors again and was about to knock on it again before a deflecting charm took effect. The parrot was still there on the porch. “Not until my scoop! Not until my scoop!” Gerald the parrot echoed Skeeter’s words. The damned bird.

Sighing fretfully, Harry dusted himself off and got up. He wondered if he had made the right decision coming here, signing that contract. At that moment, with a sharp pain, the word ‘liberty’ appeared across his wrist in crimson ink and he, with a rude awakening, was reminded of the purpose of this visit and decided that it had, or would be, worth it.

 

Chapter Text

“Is this the right time to say I told you so?” Ron snickered as Harry recollected his encounter with Skeeter as they had their weekly drink at the Leaky Cauldron. 

“Why not. Go ahead.” Harry sighed, defeated. 

“Ron, don’t—” Hermione started, but not before Ron drew out, “I—told—you—so—” in frighteningly long syllables. Hermione looked at him disapprovingly. 

“I’m sorry mate, but I really did tell you so.” Ron cajoled. 

“I can tell.” Harry glared without any real malice. Ron laughed nonetheless. 

“So, Brooklyn, eh? When’s that happening?” Ron changed the subject. 

“I don’t know. I’ve yet to schedule an international portkey, to be honest. And I’ve got to pack…” Harry found himself wondering why in Merlin’s name he wasn’t ready yet. 

“Harry! You’re supposed to leave by Friday! It’s Wednesday now! You’ve got to get ready!” Hermione chided him, and he deserved every vowel and consonant. 

“I do realise that, thank you.” Harry reasoned. 

“We could help you, you know. I mean, you’ve yet a place to live there, in Brooklyn, am I right?” Hermione inquired intently. “I’ve got a cousin who’s got an empty flat in Bed-Stuy. Admittedly, it’s not the best neighbourhood in Brooklyn, but…”

“That’s perfect, Hermione.” Harry exclaimed. 

“What?”

“I said, it’s perfect.” Harry added, “I mean, it wasn’t like I was looking for a good neighbourhood. Not much stories there, to be honest with you.” 

“Hey, Hermione, didn’t you say that your cousin rented it out to a bloke last time? I think the bloke was also a wizard.” Ron reminded. 

“Right, I’d forgotten about that! I’ll tell my cousin to ask if he’s okay with sharing. That is, if Harry’s okay with it.”

“I’m fine. If he’s a wizard, then even better. Best not to be completely alone out there, innit?” Harry concluded. “Now that I’ve got an idea for where to settle, I’ve just got to pack and schedule a portkey. I can do that in a day or less, so no harm done.” Hermione still looked dissatisfied at that. 

“Oh, blimey, if it helps, I’ll pack in front of you, Hermione. Would that relieve your worries?” Harry said good-naturedly. That seemed to relieve Hermione’s tension a bit. 

“No, it’s fine Harry. It’s just that I’m worried, I mean, you’ve never been abroad before, and this is America, citizens have the right to bear arm by the second amendment, and—” Hermione ranted, and Harry held up his hands. 

“Firstly, I have been abroad, once, actually. To France. I visited Bill and Fleur. And also, I happen to be an ex-Auror. I’ll be fine, Hermione. Don’t you worry. I’m Harry Potter, after all. I don’t even know what it means to die.” Harry joked. That earned him a slap on his shoulder. 

“I’m serious! What if something happens! Promise that you’ll floo-call every week? Or you could Skype us.” Hermione insisted, her frown lines deepening again. 

“I don’t know if the fireplace is connected to an international floo system, but I’ll figure it out. As for the Skype thing, I have absolutely no idea what that means.” Hermione sighed at that. “God, I’ve forgotten that you don’t know these things. Sorry.” Hermione contemplated it for a few moments before coming up with, “Well, I could show you how Skype works, set you up with a laptop —a journalist’s necessity, mind you—and I could also inquire whether floo networks are connected from America to England. I’ll let you know as soon as possible.” 

“Sounds good to me,” Ron remarked, “What would we do without her?”

“We’d all die without her, mate.” Harry chuckled. “I’m going to miss you two.” 

“We will miss you too Harry,” Hermione took his hand, “Just find what you’re looking for, and it will be worth it.” She traced the inside of his wrist where the word ‘liberty’ was still etched across his skin. She looked at him meaningfully. 

“I will, promise.” Harry assured her as he once again contemplated just what it is he was looking for. 

 

*

 

Draco Malfoy was in the middle of writing a melody for his upcoming album when he received an international floo call from London. Strange, he thought, he never got floo calls from London. He got occasional calls from his mother in Paris after she had moved there when Lucius went to Azkaban. He couldn’t bear to look at his mother’s tears every midnight as she stood by the balcony, looking towards the sky. So he did himself a favour and moved to New York. New York was crazily expensive, and with the Ministry stripping away most of the Malfoy fortune, which left still a considerable amount, he couldn’t afford the places in New York City. So he chose to rent a small flat in Bed-Stuy, a small borough in Brooklyn. So many muggle singers seemed obsessed with Brooklyn, why not make it his muse? He was, after all, a singer-songwriter. 

He put his guitar down and moved towards the fireplace, where he found his landlord calling.

“Ah, Mr Malfoy. Good to see you.” His landlord was a muggleborn. He knew. Did that bother him anymore, he no longer knew. 

“Likewise.” He said, “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“Well, I’m meant to ask you about your preferences regarding sharing your flat.”

“Sorry?”

“I’ve got another tenant wishing to share the flat with you over there. A bloke, in his twenties, a wizard too.” He explained, “It would half your rent.” That was tempting. He didn’t have problems getting by at the moment right now, but less money spent by him meant more money able to be spent by his mother in Paris. He knew being frugal was not in the blood of a Malfoy and he sure knew that, despite her obvious efforts, mother would not be able to survive being frugal. So, despite the distasteful notion of living with a stranger, he obliged. 

“I’d be fine with it. Be sure to ask that bloke if he’s okay with late-night music. I do tend to have my creative juices flowing at midnight.” 

“I’ll do just that. He’ll be here Friday. He’ll use the room next to yours.” That was earlier than expected. Draco decided that he better move out all of his instruments to the attic by today. 

“Alright. Thanks for the notice.” Draco attempted a smile. He knew it wasn’t exactly successful. 

“Welcome. Thanks for the kind acceptance.” His landlord smiled and he detected something similar to pity in his expression. That made him a bit angry — he did not require pity. But before he could say anything, the floo shut off, leaving him alone in his flat. 

 

*

 

Brooklyn, he decided, was not at all romantic or edgy as muggles made it sound in songs and movies. Harry knew that the state of New York held some significance to Americans, despite not being the capital. Even Harry, having almost no relations outside of the Wizarding World, knew that Gringotts had many financial ties with the wizarding sector of Wall Street. He’d once heard that Goldman Sachs was a quarter goblin. Made a lot of sense, to be honest with himself. Goblins were great bankers and they were notoriously greedy. He stopped by New York City for a while, touring the famous city, visiting the Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty, eating street food, doing all of the most cliché tourist things. New York gave him a vibe of constant movement, cosmopolitanism, bright neon signs, infused with a heavy dose of corporatism. It was practically heaven for journalism. 

He got found himself on the platform of the underground — subway, they called it in America — and checked the sign: next stop, Brooklyn. He was on the right track. He got off when the train had indicated that it had indeed arrived at Brooklyn and he sort of stumbled his way out, not yet used to this immense feel that America gave him. England was contained and safe and home. America was so very different. It felt like roaming into a giant’s territory, with nothing but an Englishman’s compass and a book full of inspirational idioms. Oh, and of course, a laptop. Best not to forget that, for Hermione’s sake. 

He got a cab — god knows how he managed to do that here — and he asked for the 81st Avenue in Bedford–Stuyvesant. He looked out the window as the cab drove on — the grey skies reminded him a bit of England. He saw wooden posts here and there, rows and rows of houses and buildings, and he found himself gawking out at the surroundings like a five-year-old. It was his first time out of Europe, after all. 

“We’re here. That’ll be $20.50.” Harry fished out some of his muggle currency and handed it to the driver. He gave him 21 dollars, “keep the change,” he said. 

He thanked the driver and got out, to find himself standing on an avenue with rows of basically bland, identical houses that blended well with its surroundings. He found the number he was looking for and, with a deep breath, knocked. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The sunlight gently settled upon the cream-coloured sheets, indicating that it was indeed time to wake up. Draco Malfoy lazily rose from the cocoon of comfort that his bed provided him, moving towards the window, opening it in one big swoop and letting the crisp, cold air of the city waft over him. He breathed in deeply, and exhaled slowly, letting the morning air fill his lungs then escape. The mixed scent of  the rows of the common London planetree of New York and the Jasmine tree he had planted by the front when he first got here — there would be no telling which house was his without the tree — was truly euphoric. ‘This is why we live.’ He thought to himself, ‘Not fame, not glory, not money… this.’ 

In an unusually good mood, he shed himself of clothing and hit the showers, examining himself in the mirror as he waited for the water to heat up. He looked at his reflection — the faded scars, the faded mark, the faded bruises here and there — everything was so faded. He chuckled lowly, at the irony. Those scars may be faded, but it certainly wasn't faded inside. 

The glass fogged on the shower stall and he decided that it was about time he went inside. He stepped in, basking in the hot steam that engulfed his entire body, making him feel slightly drowsy but in the best way possible. God bless showers — makes everything so renewed. 

He made himself a quick breakfast — the usual, triangle-cut toast with crispy bacon at the side. Everything was going perfectly normal and it was just like any other Friday morning here, on the 81st Avenue of Bed-Stuy. He made himself a cuppa — old habits die hard, even in another country — and sat by the fireplace, reading the Arts section of The New York Times, a Muggle paper. He found that muggle art and music was quite insightful sometimes. Lucius Malfoy would roll over in his grave. He was halfway done reading about “The Future Of Music in 25 Songs” when he heard three consecutive knocks at his front door. Knock-Knock-Knock. The knocks sounded determined, crisp, and incredibly reliable — if knocks could ever sound a certain way, that is. But Draco was a musician and musicians knew the subtle differences in a sound and laced them with emotions. He made a note to incorporate that sound into his music one day — perhaps it would provide him with some stability. 

The knocks felt like home — it felt like the corridors of Hogwarts, the Great Hall, the warm yet cold atmosphere of the Slytherin common room — and he found himself wondering how the mere vibrations of the air could remind him of such things. He deduced that the person behind those knocks may be someone from his past. He silently hoped that it would give him some stability. Merlin, he needed that right now.

There was a knock, the scent of Holly and cashmere sweaters, and Harry Potter was standing in his doorsteps. 

 

*

 

Harry couldn’t believe his life anymore. One minute he was humming along to Somewhere In Brooklyn by a Muggle singer called Bruno Mars, the next minute he was on the 81st Avenue in Bed-Stuy, on the steps of the only house with a Jasmine tree, staring at Draco Malfoy’s face. 

They stood there in silence for what felt like an eternity. 

“Potter?” Malfoy seemed to have regained his ability to enunciate words. 

“Malfoy.” And luckily, Harry seemed to be able to do so as well. 

“What in the name of Merlin are you doing in America, not even mentioning the fact that you’re at the front steps of my house?” Malfoy asked as he leaned sideways in his doorframe. 

“I came here to investigate.” Malfoy scoffed at that. 

“Investigate? Oh, so our Saviour has become the Auror he wanted to be after all. Good for you, Potter, come to brag? Did you need to pat me down for weapons? Please, I can’t believe the Ministry is still obsessed about me, after all this time. I’d say that someone has a crush on me.” Harry now remembered how absolutely infuriating this bastard could be. He couldn’t remember, though, how he’d manage to forget this

“No, I’m not investigating for a case, Malfoy.”

“Then what?”

“I’m investigating for a story. I’m a journalist.” Malfoy seemed a bit dumbfounded at that. 

“You’re telling me that Harry Potter, the subject of all papers in Wizarding London, has actually turned into the man behind the paper itself? Merlin, tell me, does that stroke your ego in all the right places? Do you interview yourself in the mirror?” Malfoy sneered. 

“No, I’m not investigating myself, you git. I’m just here because I was granted the opportunity to come to Brooklyn. It wasn’t like I knew you were going to be here. My life doesn’t revolve around certain blond gits, you know.” 

“Your sixth year self would disagree.” Malfoy retorted. Harry couldn’t believe that he still remembered Harry’s minor — okay, a little more than minor — obsession with Malfoy in sixth year. 

“Sorry to crush your ego, Malfoy, but my obsession wasn’t technically directed at you. It wasn’t as if I had a schoolgirl’s crush on the forthcoming death eater.” Malfoy flinched a bit at the word ‘death eater.’ “I was simply doing it because it was in my best interest. To make sure that Voldemort doesn’t destroy everything that was valuable to me, you know. It wasn’t like I was actually obsessing over you. Please, get over yourself.” Harry spat, despite knowing that he was being meaner than necessary. But the git fucking deserved it, in Harry’s opinion. 

“You still say his name.” Malfoy murmured. 

“Never stopped me before. Why would I stop now?” Harry said matter-of-factly. 

“Of course.” Malfoy huffed. “Why are you here, then, at my house? I assure you that I’ve no stories for an English journalist.”

“I was informed that I’d be sharing rooms with a certain wizard down in Bed-Stuy. They left out quite a bit of an important information, in my opinion.”

“So you are the new roommate.” Malfoy seemed to contemplate this for a few minutes. Then he seemed to make a decision. “Well, there’s no stopping it now is there? Come on in, Potter.” He spat the name Potter as if it was a bad omen. 

“God, I feel so welcome already.” Harry mumbled to himself as he followed Malfoy into the house. 

“Over there is your room, Potter. I’ve even took the liberty of cleaning it out myself. You can thank me later.” Malfoy spoke, sounding incredibly proud of himself for keeping it together. 

“Wasn’t going to.” Harry grumbled. 

“What was that?” Malfoy turned around, his gaze narrowing. 

“Nothing.”

“Anyways, I’m sure you have been informed that I conduct my art at night, am I correct?”

“Wait, you are the musician?”

“Who else would it be?”

“Oh…. Just, well, can’t picture it, you know.” Harry scratched the back of neck. 

“I assure you that I am more than capable of producing quality music.” 

“We’ll see then, looking forward to it.” Harry replied sarcastically. 

“You’ll see, alright.” Somehow, Harry couldn’t help himself laughing lightly about how this felt just like the old times, when everything was a competition. It was always a competition between him and Malfoy. A competition for the snitch, for attention, for power, for fame, and for… life. He shook that thought away, heading into his room to get settled in. 

“It’s nice.” Harry said out of nowhere. 

“What is?”

“The Jasmine tree. It differentiates this place from all the others.”

“Oh.” Malfoy seemed a bit startled. “Well, thank you. It’s one of my most prized possessions.” Harry took out his wand and started to unpack all of his things into the room with magic, feeling blessed again of how amazing and convenient magic was. Malfoy seemed to be lost in thought by the fireplace. 

“Jasmine. It’s her favourite.” Malfoy noted. 

“Sorry?”

“Jasmine. It’s my mother’s favourite flower.” 

“Oh.” That surprised Harry. “One would think Narcissus would take her fancy, given her name and all.” Harry pointed out. 

“Well, she did like them too.” Malfoy got up from his seat, moving to where Harry was standing. “But she loved the fact that nobody knew what Jasmine really looked like.”

“What do you mean?” Malfoy rolled his eyes at Harry’s apparent confusion. 

“You see, Potter, the common Jasmine is white, with thin white petals. But there are different types of Jasmine all over the world. Some are purple, some have thick petals, some have thin. Do you know why?” Malfoy was standing right next to him now. He could smell the clean, refreshing scent of peppermint on him. 

“No, I’m afraid I don’t.”

“They adapt, Potter.” Malfoy turned around to look at him. “They adapt well to their surroundings, shifting form when it is needed of them, making them one of the abundant floral specimen out there.”

“That sounds quite powerful.” Harry remarked, 

“It does, doesn’t it? And everyone thinks they are just itty bitty flowers. So minuscule, so helpless.” Malfoy smiled minutely. “My mother gave me the seeds when I left for New York.” Malfoy turned away now to stand by the kitchen counter, looking out the window to where the Jasmine tree stood. 

“I imagine it was her way of telling me that she would be here with me, always. That she still loves me.” Malfoy speculated. Harry was awestruck. He had no idea that Malfoy, of all people, was capable of that sort of intricate emotions, let alone love. 

“That’s quite….deep of you.” Harry supplied uselessly.

“Happens when one is put on the edge.” Malfoy stated. 

“I know.” Malfoy looked at Harry from across the room. 

“Do you now?”

“You’d be surprised.”

“I don’t think so.” Malfoy smirked, with that all-knowing smile that made Harry want to hate him more. Except he didn’t. Harry no longer hated Draco Malfoy, but it wasn’t because he forgave him of all his past deeds. He hadn’t. It was just simply…. faded. Like a scar. But it was still very much there, very much present. Which was why Draco Malfoy was even more intriguing than any other. 

Harry laughed at the irony. Years after Hogwarts, he still found himself with Draco Malfoy. He remembered the word liberty on the inside of his wrist and remembered Rita Skeeter. He wondered once again if life was playing a cruel joke on him.

 

Chapter Text

 

Living with Malfoy was, unsurprisingly, very difficult. Surprisingly, though, that irritation did not come from the fact that Malfoy was an irritating git. It was because of the fact that Malfoy was an irritatingly fit git. See, it even rhymed. 

Every morning, Malfoy would wake up, open the windows, letting the cold air waft in the living room, and breathe in and out, reminding him of the Dragon from Gringotts. It was as if it was his first encounter with fresh air. Harry would inevitably wake up and go outside, only to find Malfoy half-naked with only a skimpy towel wrapped around his torso — the water from the shower dripping down his lean stomach in infuriating drops — all while drying his dampened blond hair, letting Harry gain a full view of all of that lean muscle on his biceps. Harry had to do everything in his power not to go back to the bed and wank himself raw at that image. Oh, but he was tempted to, on multiple occasions. 

And the worst of it all was the fact that Malfoy seemed completely unaffected by Harry being around when he was wearing nothing but a towel around his waist. And he expected purebloods to be prudish. 

“It’s New York, Potter.” Malfoy told him when Harry approached him about ‘so-called Pureblood prudishness.’  “Adaptability, remember?” Malfoy smirked, reminding Harry about their admittedly strange Jasmine-talk

“Right.” Harry told himself. “Right, okay.”

He attempted on multiple occasions to try walking out of the shower like Malfoy did, with only a towel wrapped around his waist, but he honestly couldn’t just do that. He just couldn’t. That frustrated him more than he’d thought. It was just Malfoy. Why was he getting so caught up about this?

And one day he even got to see the whole Malfoy. At least, the backside of him. He was just minding his own business in the living room when he heard a familiar voice call out “Potter!” from the direction of the bathroom. Feeling insane, he went over to the bathroom the two of them shared (yes, only one bathroom in this godforsaken place), and said “Yes?” 

“Oh, you’re not deaf, I see. I was starting to worry that you were.” Malfoy snapped. “Then perhaps I should just leave, then.” Harry retorted. 

“No, no, wait!” Harry laughed, feeling a bit successful. 

“What is it?”

“Could you grab some towels from my bedroom?” Malfoy asked, though the tantalising sound of the shower that made Harry increasingly uncomfortable. 

“Why?”

“Why would one ask for towels, gee, Potter. Let me think, to dry oneself?” He could almost hear Malfoy roll his eyes. 

“Fine, but only if you stop being a sarcastic twat.” Harry said and left to grab some towels from Malfoy’s bedroom. He stopped a moment before stepping in, though, feeling a bit strange about waltzing into Malfoy’s bedroom. Granted, he did have his permission, but nonetheless it was… strange. 

When he stepped in, the familiar scent of peppermint and the homey scent of clothes fresh out of the laundry surrounded him. There was something so inherently Malfoy about that particular combination. He scavenged the room for some towels, and took two or three of them upon spotting the neatly stacked towels at the corner of his wardrobe. The room was immaculate except for a couple of music sheets strewn haphazardly across the table, alongside his guitar which lay across the bed, also coupled with some music sheets. He really was a musician, then. Harry had his doubts because, despite his staying up late at night, he never really heard a stroke of a chord or even a soft hum. He stepped out of the room and made his way to the bathroom, knocking once, twice, and a third time. 

“It’s open!” Malfoy called out. Oh no, Harry was not ready for this

Harry opened the door slightly ajar, pushing the towel in while not looking inside. “Oh for god’s sake, come in, Potter, and leave it on the sink!” Malfoy sounded mildly annoyed. Harry rolled his eyes, took a deep breath, and went inside, letting the steam of the shower engulf him, fogging up his glasses, blinding him for a second. After his glasses cleared up, though, he had a clear vision of the interior of the bathroom and most  importantly, the person inside. 

Merlin.” Harry whispered despite himself. Malfoy had his back turned against him, rinsing out his hair, the studs flowing down his shoulders, down the length of his back, and settling near the curve of his arse, only to be rinsed away by even more water, flowing like a  river down his long, lean legs and to his feet. His back was the perfect form of handsome masculinity, with just the right amount of muscles flexing as he lifted his arms to rinse out the peppermint-scented shampoo from his hair. He couldn’t even describe the pertness of his arse, round and inviting altogether, and he couldn’t remember why the media was so obsessed with sexualising women’s behinds when men had this sort of action going on at the back. He stood there, entranced completely by the beautiful creature standing in front of him that was Draco Malfoy, forgetting the original purpose of why he came in here in the first place. 

“Like what you see, Potter?” Malfoy said without looking back. “By all means, admire this fine piece of art. However,” He reached down to grab more soap, “Please do so with the door closed. You’re letting the cold air in.” Malfoy remarked sarcastically, every inch the Slytherin himself. That broke Harry out of his entrancement. 

“Oh, um, no… I was just… I was just wondering where to put this, that’s all.” Harry stumbled over his words, feeling terribly awkward and embarrassed. “I’ll just put this here then. Um, have a nice shower.” Harry mumbled and made his way out as fast as he could. 

He closed the door and ran to his room, closing the door immediately, perhaps in fear that Malfoy might follow him in with his stupidly perfect arms and legs and oh god that arse. He rested his forehead against the door, feeling entirely stupid.  

Have a nice shower, really?” He chided himself, feeling absolutely stupid. He could almost hear Malfoy laughing his head off in the bathroom. After a considerable amount of drowning in remorse of his life decisions, he managed to scour up enough courage to go outside. Just his luck, Malfoy opened the door to reveal himself, once again, in only a towel, just as Harry opened the door of his bedroom. They locked eyes for a moment, and Malfoy smirked. That bastard

“Thanks, Potter.” Malfoy said, stepping closer to him, making Harry freeze on the spot, “I indeed had a nice shower.” Then Malfoy left, leaving Harry standing awestruck and quite possibly — no, definitely — aroused. 

 

*

 

Living with Potter, was, unsurprisingly, difficult. Surprisingly enough, however, the difficulty did not arise from the fact that Potter was a git full of himself. It was the fact that Potter was a fit git that full of himself. See, it even rhymed. 

It didn’t help that Potter dragged himself out of bed just as Draco got out of the shower all the time, his hair messed up (well, a bit more messed up than usual), his lips a bit swollen, glasses askew, and his trousers hanging dangerously low on his hips. He looked well-shagged. He always stretched his arms above his head, revealing a strip of his torso with a strip of hair travelling south, down to the waistband of his trousers, leaving much to be desired. If only Potter could drag himself out of bed before Draco got in the shower, he could deal with the inevitable erection that he got from looking at Potter. But Potter, as infuriating as he is, never did that, leaving Draco to console his one-man band in his bedroom, leaving water stains on his perfect sheets as he wanked himself into oblivion. He didn't even bother to restrain his moans as he stroked himself, not with the permanent silencing charms he put on the walls, originally meant to keep the noise of the music down. You see, despite his warnings, Draco was, in fact, a gentleman enough to put a silencing charm for the sake of Potter’s sleep.

One day, he decided he had had enough of this wanking-after-the-shower business and called for Potter instead. He called Potter, waited for what seemed like hours until he heard a small “Yes?” by the door. He asked Potter to bring him his towels, which he did, albeit very slowly. The oaf. Potter apparently couldn’t even step in, annoying Draco. He, in the depths of his mind, wanted Potter to see him naked. Wanted Potter to see himself in all his glory. Not that he would ever admit this out loud. When Potter did come in though, he was, for the most part, silent. That made Draco even more curious and infuriated. He made some snappy comments, leaving Potter to stammer and leave as soon as possible. 

As soon as Potter had left, Draco wrapped his hands around his already half-hard cock and started stroking slowly, taking his sweet time. He played around with his nipples, feeling his nipples harden under his touch. He imagined Potter on the cream-coloured sheets of his bed, his tan skin a stark contrast to the whiteness of the sheets, naked and writhing in pleasure as Draco made his way down. He stroked faster, faster, and oh just like that, yes, yes, yes, yes… he came explosively, shooting semen down the drain as he bit his lips to keep himself from calling out Potter’s name. 

He didn’t love Potter — pfft — Draco laughed at the very notion. He didn’t even like the git. It was just the fact that his anger and hatred for Potter in his past years had faded away with his scars — time really was a disastrous notion for humanity — and he found the git mildly attractive. Just a little bit. Maybe a bit more. Enough to make him come like never before. 

He cleaned himself up, put the towel around his waist, and walked outside, just to find Potter opening the door with his face all red as if he spent fucking someone into oblivion just minutes before. It took all of Draco’s willpower to keep his cock from twitching in interest again. 

Instead, he just walked closer to Potter, taking in the crisp scent of Holly as he brushed past him, and said, “Thanks, Potter.” He smirked to himself. “I indeed had a nice shower.” 

Chapter Text

“How come I never hear your music?” Harry asked one day, when they were having dinner. Harry left in the mornings to visit the downtown Manhattan to cover news stories, check in with the NYC Wizarding Journalists’ Association Firm, and pick up some staples. Draco usually worked out in the morning, taking a long route down the beach, bringing his guitar along sometimes to compose if the weather was alright. They never really saw each other at lunch since Harry mostly spent it out in the city. Draco usually stayed around the house, composing and writing lyrics, recording then scrapping and doing it all over and over again — he was quite the perfectionist. But exactly around 7PM Harry would arrive home, bringing in the crisp scent of the city as he greeted Draco with a short, clipped, “Good evening.” How much more anti-climactic could you get, Draco wondered. Draco, despite himself, always prepared dinner for two ever since then, and Harry obligingly followed without much comment on the way Draco had learned how Harry liked his tea — black, with a moderate amount of sugar — and Draco never commented on how Harry silently took to washing the dishes without Draco even asking him to do so. It was all around strange, but it never felt more natural. 

“Because you leave at 7 and come back at 7, that’s why.” Draco said after swallowing a mouthful of bolognese pasta. It was one of Harry’s personal favourites, god knows why he knew that. These were just things you picked up as you lived with that person, and he’s already lived with Potter for — how long — an entire month. 

“Yes, but you also told me, even before I moved in here, that — how did you put it — ‘my creative juices flow around midnight.’ So much for those creative juices, eh, Malfoy?” Harry nearly got stabbed with the tine of Draco’s fork for that. 

“In case you haven’t noticed, I put up silencing charms. Not to mention the fact that they were specifically put up there for the ‘potential tenant.’ Merlin knows whether or not I would’ve done the same if I was provided the knowledge that the potential tenant was none other than the Saviour himself.” Draco put an emphasis on the word Saviour because he knew it pissed Harry off. 

Harry seemed to consider it. He looked as if he wanted to bite back with another ‘death eater’ retort or something from his past. Draco knew that even Harry did not use the word ‘death eater’ around that often unless the circumstances were severe. He just stayed silent, deep in thought, and then made a decision. 

“Thank you, Malfoy. That was very thoughtful of you,” Harry went on, “And I’d like to believe that you would’ve done the same, even provided with the knowledge.” Harry looked at Draco straight ahead. Draco was more than a little bit confused. 

“What the hell, Potter?”

“Sorry?”

“What are you playing at?”

“Thanking you for your considerate actions?”

“No, not that. I mean, yes that, but why?”

“I’m just trying to be civil, Malfoy, if that’s what you’re trying to get at. Like it or not, we are kind of stuck in this situation, it’s already been a month, so why not just be civil, if not nice, to each other? Is that too much to ask?”

“But we’ve always been uncivil towards one another, why change it now?” At this Harry sighed, looked down, pondered for a moment, and looked back up, meeting Draco’s gaze. 

“Because, Malfoy, in life, it’s not always about doing things you want to do. If you want to get somewhere in life, you’re going to have to be in situations that you don’t necessarily want to be in. I think you and I know this more than anybody else.” Harry gave Draco a long, meaningful stare, and put down his fork on his nearly-empty plate. Draco was silent. 

“Thanks for the meal, Malfoy. Leave your dishes after you finish, I’ll come wash up after fifteen or so.” Harry said, getting up from the table. He wiped his mouth on the napkin and started walking towards his room, only before turning to Draco and saying, “Consider it this way: what we’ve got here isn’t half as bad as what we have already endured. Just another thing to get done down the road and we’ll all be fine. Just relax.” Draco turned slightly to meet his gaze, and immediately wished he hadn’t. Because the damn bastard smiled at him and winked. The bastard winked at Draco. As if they just shared an inside joke or — merlin forbid — flirted. From what little experience Draco had with the concept of flirting, this was nowhere even near that zone. So why did the bastard have to— “I’ll see you around. If you ever want to discuss this, I’m a room away.” Draco was broken out of his horrified trance by Potter yet again interrupting his thoughts, the door closing behind him as he retreated into his bedroom. 

Draco was left in the kitchen, alone, staring at the plate of his half-eaten bolognese pasta that was now cold. He contemplated. “It’s not always about doing things you want to do.” Potter’s voice echoed in his head. He still couldn’t understand. Wasn’t life all about maximising happiness in the one life you got? Wasn’t life about doing what you’re passionate about? Peace? Love? Happiness? 

Carpe Diem. After a while of battling his own demons in Brooklyn, his sense of purpose seemed to have slowly faded along with his scars. He had forgotten why he came here. And Draco thought that his music was supposed to be about peace, love, happiness, seizing the moment. He realised why he couldn't produce a single song the past few months. The mantra of the Dead Poet's Society - seize the day - no matter how it might be convincing for some people, was not a notion that Draco could work with. Draco's art was derived from pain, not happiness. When Potter barged into his life, he found himself reconnected again to London and he was slowly reminded of his initial purpose of arrival. With a startling clarity, he was reminded again of his purpose. 

He, with the force of a lightning, stormed out of his chair, marched into his room, grabbed his guitar, and started composing. 

*

It was around midnight when Harry heard three consecutive knocks at his door. If knocks could be shy and uncertain, this was it, he thought. He smiled as he imagined Draco’s expression behind that door and slowly moved towards the door to open it. When he opened the door, he found Malfoy dressed in a white linen shirt that was practically see through with some faded denim trousers. Malfoy wearing blue jeans and a white shirt — the universe must have collapsed, Harry thought. 

“You asked why you never heard my music.” Malfoy plainly stated. 

“Yes…?” Harry replied uncertainly. 

“Well, would you like to hear it?”

“It’s midnight.”

“I thought you appreciated my creative juices, Potter.” Malfoy smirked. Harry snorted, amused. 

“Fine, then. Come in.” Harry invited Malfoy in, despite being a bit embarrassed about the state of his room. His room was a mess, with clothes strewn haphazardly across the floor, the bedsheets rumpled, stacks of newspapers and photo clippings of events strewn across his desk. Malfoy didn’t seem to mind. He just pulled out a chair, slung his guitar over his chest, and started strumming away. 

Harry did not expect Malfoy to write cheery songs in a D Major, and Malfoy did well to live up to his expectations by strumming an intro laced with the bluesy rhythm of B minor with a hint of F major. He thought the intro was pretty nice — it felt so authentically Malfoy that he would have never believed it if anybody else said otherwise. 

But the most striking part of all was his voice — Malfoy had a beautiful voice. His voice ripped through the air with shocking vibrations that left his fingertips and toes tingling, his voice a beautiful melody like the symphony of every string instrument that he knew. He found himself slowly entranced by the deadly seductive rhythm that was Draco Malfoy’s voice, coupled with his guitar. Blue, he thought, his voice was blue. Just beyond the red and just above the purple, it held endless depths of the ocean and held the capacity of the sky. 

He only sang one verse, but that was all he needed. The lyrics melted his heart in a way that he knew was only possible between those who have gone through the war, because of their mutual suffering. He knew this by the unique scraping sound that Malfoy made when he reached higher notes, the subtle shifts of keys in his sounds, and the way he played around with his vocal acrobatics as if they were water and he could shift it into any form he wanted to. Music — the true art of it — was derived from deep-felt pain, the same reason why so many true artists like that of Mozart and Beethoven never led a happy and peaceful life, the same reason why only those who have seen death can appreciate the majestic features of a Threstral. It was all within the heart, and Harry felt it sear through his bones and seep through his marrow. He knew, he knew, he knew… He understood. The pain of it all — the richness of it, the depth of it, the beauty behind the madness — he knew. Malfoy, of all people, understood why Harry found himself down in Bed-Stuy, where he knew absolutely no one, perusing a career he had never imagined taking on before. He knew this before Harry could even grasp the meaning behind all of this. 

When the music ended, Harry found himself in tears. The air still tingled from the vibrations of Malfoy’s music, leaving Harry trembling in the beauty of it all. 

“Malfoy.” He breathed out his name, barely. He was at loss of words. No one, no one had been able to capture this need — this need for an artistic freedom, for a way out, for an alternate route, to scrap and move on — the need for liberty. He felt an itch on his wrist, where the very word stood crimson-red against the paleness of his inner skin. 

“Potter.” Malfoy set his guitar down, stabilizing the instrument until looking up to meet his gaze. Time felt strained, the air felt tight, and the atmosphere was infused with the smell of apparition — the scent of the ozone collapsing. 

“Do you… do you feel…that?” Harry implored, his voice slightly trembling. 

“Yes…yes…. yes.” Malfoy sounded unsure at first, but he grew more and more confident as his eyes pierced through Harry’s soul. 

And, as the thunder cracked above them, with the forces of the universe clashing, they pulled towards each other like opposing poles of the magnetic field, ever so drawn to each other. Their lips met in a fury, in a battle of tongues and teeth, and it felt like electricity. 

God, Harry thought, how could he ever have thought to get through life without kissing a man like this. He grabbed the back of Malfoy’s neck, pulling him closer, deepening their kiss. Malfoy grunted as he tugged Harry closer to his body, and Harry could feel Malfoy’s irregular heartbeat against his own and felt pure ecstasy run its course through his body. 

“Can…Malfoy….Can we…?” Harry spoke in between heated kisses, hoping Malfoy would get the message. Right on cue, Malfoy arose to pull Harry into his arms, moving them towards Harry’s messy bed with startlingly crimson sheets that was oh-so-very Gryffindor. Malfoy didn’t even comment on the sheer irony of it all. 

They fell together on the bed, devouring each other as if there were no tomorrow. Malfoy tasted of spearmint toothpaste and lemon drops, and Harry decided that this was his favorite flavor, hands down. When Harry traced the inside of Malfoy’s mouth with his tongue agonizingly slowly, Malfoy moaned into his mouth. He felt the vibrations of his moan travel through his body like his music had and he found himself incredibly aroused. He pushed his hips up against Malfoy’s to find Malfoy just as aroused, and smiled at the helpless noise he made when Harry ground his hips against Malfoy’s. 

They finally parted from each other, breathing heavily, the air between them sharp as their cognition at this very moment. 

“Don’t you think…” Malfoy slowly drew out as he slowly dragged one finger down from Harry’s lips down to his stomach, stopping just above the waistband of his trousers, “that there are far too many clothes?” 

For the first time in his life, Harry couldn’t agree with Malfoy more. “Right.” 

With a snap of his fingers, Harry vanished all of their clothes, leaving Malfoy awestruck, his eyes as big as saucers. 

“What the bloody hell?”

“What?” 

“What was that?”

“Oh that? Wandless magic. Comes in handy sometimes.” Harry smirked mischievously.

“You can do wandless magic?”

“Yes…?” A moment of silence passed between them. “Is there something wr—” Harry started, but was cut off by Draco practically attacking him down to the bed, with a renewed fervor that lit up Harry’s nerves from head to toe. In between impossibly breathtaking kisses, Draco parted just enough to say, “That’s — bloody — hot.” Harry had never thought, in his lifetime, that Draco Malfoy would ever say anything he did was hot. The universe really must’ve collapsed, Harry thought again. 

In the dark, Harry honestly couldn’t see all of Malfoy, despite wanting to, he simply pulled him closer and kissed him until he didn’t even recognize that burning need anymore. After a while, Malfoy pulled away, just enough to be touching foreheads, his eyes directly locked with Harry’s. If being naked under Draco Malfoy did not make him feel vulnerable, being locked under his intense gaze did. Harry suddenly became very aware of where they were, what they were doing, and what they were about to do. 

A million years must have gone by as Malfoy and he just looked at each other. Just looked — nothing else. Neither of them commented on their hard pricks lined up between their stomachs. Harry, with a stroke of Gryffindor courage, broke the silence, albeit unhelpfully. 

“Um…So…” Harry started, breaking his gaze from Malfoy for a moment, “Are we… are we doing this?” He looked back to Malfoy for an answer. 

“If by this you mean fuck, then sure, why not.” Malfoy was rather straightforward about it, which surprised Harry. “Did you think I meant something else?” Harry inquired, feeling a bit stupid for asking that question. Malfoy seemed to consider this before saying, “No, of course,” Malfoy said, flipping them over so that Harry was on top of him, “I most certainly was able to deduce that you meant to have sex with me, despite your rather lacking form of articulation.” Harry scoffed, unable to believe that he was about to engage in such an intimate act with this infuriating and annoying and beautiful git, with his white-blonde hair almost iridescent in the moonlight and his body unbelievably lithe and every bit arousing spread across his bed. 

“Well, what are we waiting for?” Harry spoke seconds before pulling Malfoy in another blinding kiss which elicited a moan from him that rekindled his furious desire. He did not care much for the fact that neither of them knew what they were doing or most importantly why they were doing it. He only knew that he felt free and liberated when he was kissing Malfoy. 

Harry let go of Malfoy’s plump lips before latching his mouth onto Malfoy’s neck, kissing various places before finding the right spot that made Malfoy draw in a sharp breath and let out a rather loud moan. Feeling satisfied, he continued his ministrations on Malfoy’s sweet spot. 

“No, no, no, Potter, Potter, stop.” Malfoy pushed him away, albeit reluctantly. “I want you inside of me before I come.” That certainly sobered up Harry, who had never had sex with another man. He decided that it would be better to be honest about this, if it meant that he was going to be inside of another person’s body—he had no wishes to hurt Malfoy. 

“Er..Malfoy. I… I’ve actually never..” “Merlin, you’re a virgin?” Malfoy looked at Harry as if he couldn’t believe that the Saviour of The Wizarding World never lost his virginity. 

“No… Well, yes, kind of. I’ve never done this with another man before.” Harry looked at Malfoy from under his eyelashes, feeling a bit embarrassed. First times were always so awkward.

“Well, I assume it would be more practical that I ride you, then.” Malfoy simply stated before reversing their positions once again, climbing on top of Harry. Now that his eyes had adjusted to the darkness of the room, he could see the faint outlines of the scars slashing across Malfoy’s chest. He figured he should say something about that but Malfoy stopped him before he even said anything. “Don’t. I know.” Harry just nodded to compensate, making a mental note to talk about this someday. He didn’t know when that would be. Preferably after numerous rounds of shagging, he thought. 

Malfoy searched for something from the floor, and he produced his wand. Well, not his wand. It was a new wand, not his old hawthorn wand. Harry still had it. He figured Malfoy wouldn’t want to talk about this at the moment as well, so he just stayed put while Malfoy cast a lubricating charm on himself. Setting the wand by his bedside and placing his knees on either side of Harry’s torso, Malfoy looked at him and asked, “Do you trust me?”

Harry was stumped. He didn’t know if he trusted Malfoy. He was certainly attracted to him, and he felt like they understood each other quite well, given their history and also from that strange moment of connection a while ago, but trust was another concept that he didn’t know if he could handle. Not yet. 

“No. Not yet.” Despite Harry’s worries, Malfoy softened and smiled a little bit, a rare smile that Harry was shocked to see that Malfoy even possessed. It was like seeing heaven for the first time. His heart started to beat impossibly fast. 

“Thank you. For your honesty.” Malfoy remarked, smiling a bit more before turning it into a smirk, then a wink. With the wink, he lowered his head down to Harry’s crotch, taking in the length of him with his mouth, engulfing Harry in the velvet heat of it. 

Ahhhh—! Draco—!” Harry shouted, not even understanding why he was yelling Malfoy by his first name, but he figured that if his prick was inside Malfoy’s mouth, it was about time. 

Mmmm…” Malfoy moaned around his cock, which made Harry even harder than before, if that was possible. Malfoy teased at the head with slow licks that drove Harry to the brink of insanity before engulfing the whole length of him, taking all of it as far as it could go. Harry just stared down at the blond head bobbing up and down, making obscene slurping noises, unable to iterate a single vowel. “Ah, ah, ah, ah, Draco, Draco, I’m close, I’m close.” Malfoy pulled off of Harry with a single slurp from his mouth that was absolutely filthy. 

Malfoy moved towards Harry, turning his back on his way so that Harry had a full view of the length of his back and his arse. Malfoy reached behind with his hands, dipping one finger into his already lubricated arsehole and flexing it in and out, continuing the process until Malfoy was full of three of his own fingers, twisting and stretching it out. Harry used all of his willpower not to come just from the sight of Malfoy preparing himself for him. 

Malfoy turned around again to face Harry and moved up, aligning his arse with Harry’s cock. “Ahhhhhhhrrg—!” Harry shouted unashamedly as his cock was sheathed with Malfoy himself, incredibly tight and hot around his cock and it was even more intense than the time Malfoy had put his mouth around him and Harry bit his lips to will himself from coming directly into Malfoy. 

Ahhh…Potter…” Malfoy was closing his eyes, his head tilted back, the muscles of his neck drawn tight as he seated himself on Harry, his chest heaving up and down as he breathed in and out. Inch by inch, Malfoy slipped down onto Harry until he was fully inside of him.  Harry observed the taut shoulders and the fluttering of the blonde eyelashes as they opened to meet Harry’s darkened eyes, and he found himself gasping at just how fucking beautiful Malfoy was, sitting on Harry’s lap with his cock inside of him. He was so graceful, so majestic, every bit so gorgeous and memorable it felt like he was trying to fuck the city of Rome.  

Then Malfoy started to move, and holy Merlin and Morgana, it was unreal. Pleasure coursed through his spine not just in waves but in crashes, storming into him like a tsunami. “Malfoy, Malfoy, oh Merlin,” Harry chanted, as if Malfoy was his religion and this was his prayer to him. Malfoy let out little sighs of pleasure and grunted as he tried to gain pace. Harry thrusted his hips up to meet Malfoy’s movements, unable to keep himself still. “Ahhhhhhh—! Potter! Just..Just there, right there. Don’t stop, right there.” Harry, despite Malfoy’s orders, stopped, wondering what the hell just happened. Malfoy slapped his shoulders, bringing him back to reality. “I — said — ahh — don’t stop.” Harry obliged this time, with great enthusiasm, rewarded with moans and shouts of pleasure from Malfoy with Malfoy panting, “Harry, Harry, Harry, faster, faster, please, please—!” Harry happily obeyed his commands, thrusting his hips up as fast and hard as he could, pounding into the slender body. “Oh god, yes, yes, yes, right there, ah, ah, ah, ahhhh—!” Malfoy came with a shout, shooting his come up his stomach, spilling himself onto Harry’s abdomen. That look of pure ecstasy was enough to bring Harry to his orgasm and Harry shouted Malfoy’s name as he came inside of him, his body shaking and convulsing with insane amounts of pleasure coursing through him. 

After Harry finished and regained his breath, Malfoy slipped off of him, wincing a little, and Harry caught sight of his own come dribbling down Malfoy’s thighs. That sight was by far the most erotic thing he’d ever seen, and he was suddenly overwhelmed with the desire to claim him, to make Malfoy his own and his only.

Malfoy promptly cast a cleaning charm on the both of them, getting rid of the evidence of their intercourse. Malfoy got off the bed, stark naked, standing still, as if in deep thought. It worried Harry. 

“Hey, Malfoy, we can—” Harry prompted, but Malfoy held up a finger to silence him. “No. I… I… I made a mistake. We shouldn’t have… we shouldn’t have…” Malfoy stammered, which was very much unlike him, worrying Harry even more. “Malfoy, calm down, just sit, we can talk about this,” Harry reasoned, but Malfoy was obviously not in the state to be reasoned with. Then Malfoy winced, his face contorting into pain. 

“Malfoy, are you alright, did I hurt you?” Harry got up to stand beside Malfoy, terrified that he hurt him. Malfoy didn’t answer for a while until his breathing evened. Malfoy looked down, to his ankle, and his eyes grew wide. 

On his ankle was the word “liberty” written in crimson, just like the one on the inside of Harry’s wrist. 

Chapter Text

 

Draco was absolutely and unequivocally fucked. Both literally and figuratively. After the incident and the weird letters appearing on his ankle, he did what he knew best: he ran for it. 

He ran for it like a bloody coward and locked himself in his room, where Potter would eventually follow, knocking on his firmly shut door. 

“Malfoy! Come on, we can talk about this.” Potter said, knocking insistently on the door. “Don’t be a prat, Draco.” Potter insisted, making the prospect of ever going out that door seem daunting. After a while, the knocks died down, but he could still hear Potter’s ragged breathing on the other side. 

“You know… I thought…” Potter mumbled, leaning his back towards the door with a thud. “I thought… there was something.” Potter stopped, as if waiting for Draco to comment. He didn’t. Potter sighed. “I thought that I felt something. I thought we felt something. Didn’t you feel it, too? You can’t tell me you didn’t.”

Potter, seeming to have given up, moved away from the door. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, Draco, but if you could just be a fucking adult and face me in the morning, that would be bloody fantastic. I’ll be in my room.” With that, he left. Draco let out a breath that he hadn’t realised he was holding in. 

Draco scrambled to find his guitar, but cursed as he realised he had left it in Potter’s room. Just his luck. He needed it, to keep sane. He trudged towards his bed, feeling sore in places he hasn’t been for many years. He laid down, contemplating the ceiling and also his terrible life choices. 

Draco knew it was dangerous to be around Potter. He was just so much like home, so very familiar. He knew his past, his present, and he had his future with him, at least for the time being. It felt so… comfortable. Draco couldn’t have that. Not when he left his mother, his home, and everything that he was so used to behind for this. When Draco decided to move to Brooklyn, it wasn’t an escape. In fact, it was actually a search for pain. Draco found his muse in pain and he made his art with tears and they were crafted with fragility.

After the war, his father had gone to Azkaban, leaving Draco and his mother alone. Thanks to none other than Potter himself, he and his mother were spared from rotting in Azkaban. Instead, they were placed under house arrest for a year, and then they were free to go. Albeit the house arrest was awful, it was far more preferable than going to Azkaban. During the year Draco did spend under house arrest, his mother slowly tore apart, losing her usual grace. It hurt him so much to see her so fragile, so delicate, and so unlike the person she was before. Draco found her by the gardens once, under the jasmine tree she cared for religiously, speaking to it as if it was sentient. His heart broke a million times and over again when he saw that. 

During the house arrest, he didn’t do much — he didn’t do anything at all. He did all of the perfunctory things — eat, sleep, breathe. He didn’t really do the sleeping part all that much, though, because he could never escape the nightmares that inevitably arose from being stuck in the bloody manor. Despite his incapability to sleep and his slowly growing paranoia, he didn’t think he deserved even that much. Not after all of what happened — so many people died — and he could never escape any of the deaths, not when they haunted him in his dreams.

He still didn’t know why Potter testified for him. He was too heroic for his own good. When he couldn’t sleep, he pondered the reason why Potter would do that. He came up short — there was no logical explanation for Potter’s actions. But then again, Potter was never the purveyor of logic. 

After the house arrest was over, they sold the Malfoy Manor for anyone sick enough to take it and with the money they had, they managed to get a nice flat in Muggle London for themselves. It took a while to get used to things like electricity and such but they managed. Everything seemed fine. Draco even managed to get a job in Muggle London at a local coffee shop. Brewing coffee was terribly alike to brewing potions, which Draco was definitely good at. But everything seemed too fine. The guilt of it all ate him from inside, gnawing at his conscience, just like the time back at the manor. He still couldn’t sleep, his mother was still a bit delusional, but yet it was so calm, so serene after what had happened. Something was definitely wrong. He was not supposed to be this fine, safely situated in London, brewing lattes for Muggles. 

Also, despite the fact that London was very nice, it wasn’t his home. He lost his home the moment the snake-faced man entered the premises. He wondered if he’d ever find his home. It seemed highly unlikely. 

So one day, he told his mother that he wished to move to America to make music. His mother simply looked at him for a long moment and answered in the affirmative, telling Draco that she would find a place in Paris. He didn’t deserve that from his mother, but neither of them said anything about it. The guilt he felt at the thought of leaving his mother behind, alone in Paris, made him feel uneasy, but they didn’t talk about that, either. He knew his mother had made her call the moment she handed him the jasmine seeds. 

Brooklyn was not an easy call. The flats were ridiculously expensive, everyone seemed so preoccupied with something, and the overwhelming sense of the city suffocated Draco. But then, Draco was able to make music. He found his muse in the city. He liked to sit on the windowsill sometimes, looking out to the skyline of the city that never sleeps, and strum his guitar. He thought about his mother and the flat they shared in London and found himself missing the safe stability of it all. He wondered if he should just give up and move back to London where he could live in fairytale land again where the only responsibility he had was brewing decent lattes. Where he didn’t have to worry about what was going to happen next. But that wouldn’t be right. 

Draco didn’t know at first why he wanted to make music badly, but as time passed he slowly understood. When he sang, he sang of the past, he sang his repents and woes with melancholy chords that fit the grey evening sky after it rained. If he could do nothing to compensate for his actions, he thought he should at least try to give something back with music. And he was determined not to stop creating until he felt like he had done enough. And it was never enough, it seemed. The pain of creation and the pressure of it all was pretty intense, but it was a self-imposed task and he couldn’t back out now. Not this time. 

He remembered the letters on his ankles. He also remembered seeing the same letters on Potter’s wrist. He had absolutely no idea what the hell it meant, but stranger things have happened to him. He silently wished that this was finally an omen that he had done enough, that he could go back to the way it was. But it didn’t feel enough, and the letters just frustrated him because he wanted to apply a meaning that simply wasn’t there. He just wanted it to mean something. 

Potter. It all came down to him, again. The one who set Draco in London, only for him to escape it, followed him to Brooklyn and now he was about to send him back again. He knew that Potter was going to leave this place soon, after whatever the hell he came here for was over. But Draco wasn’t sure if he could go, even then. If it would be enough. But if he let himself…. fall for Potter, he was sure that he wouldn’t be able to part from him when the time comes. And Potter just felt so damn safe and familiar it sucked all of Draco’s pain out of his body. Every kiss he left on his body felt like drops of dittany, healing his wounds of the past. He couldn’t have that, not now. Not ever. 

So, yes, Draco was very much fucked. 

 

Chapter Text

Sunlight flooding in the cracked window. Breezy wind. Familiar scent in the air. Soft sheets. A small ache in the back. Christ. Morning

Bloody hell, Draco thought to himself as he rose. He carefully used his Occlumency to clear his mind. Not for the safety of his privacy, but for the sake of his sanity. 

Rise. Sit. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. 

After a solid five minutes, he felt his mental walls weakening and he decided to take it apart, piece by piece. One tear in the wall, one stream of thoughts. One at a time, slowly. A tear, and he could hear himself composing music. A tear, and he heard his voice, ringing low through his room with the echoes of his beloved guitar. A tear, and he heard the crack of the skies. A tear, and images of soft flesh and heated breaths passed before his eyes. Inhale, Exhale. 

Tap, tap, tap.

Sound by the door. Three consecutive knocks. Solid. They felt familiar. Potter. 

“Malfoy, er, you up yet?” Draco almost snorted, despite the circumstances. How bloody eloquent. Are you up yet.

“If you are referring to my state of awareness, then yes I am up, Potter.” Draco replied without moving an inch from his position on the bed. 

“Look, I brought you this… this… your guitar. You left it last night. Um, in my room.” How could Draco forget. He had planned on rescuing his beloved instrument from Potter’s lair after Potter scurried off somewhere. Just his luck, today was Sunday. Fine day, Sunday. He muttered to himself in a sarcastic tone. 

“Can I… Can I come in?” Potter asked, still outside Draco’s door. It probably wasn’t a good idea to let Potter in. He considered it a moment. Then he decided the universe could give it a break today and just let him fuck everything up. That was one thing he could be trusted to do well. 

“Yes.” Draco clipped shortly, still not moving from his spot on the bed. The doorknob turned slowly, as if it was unsure that moving was a thing that it was truly meant to do at this moment. To be honest, he wasn’t sure either. Ever so slowly, Potter entered with a creak. 

“Smells like you.” Potter remarked, snapping Draco out of his admittedly strange doorknob-induced reverie. 

“Excuse me?” Draco asked when Potter finally seemed to have understood what he said, turning a bright shade of red that was oddly fitting. 

“No, um, I meant…. The room. The room, it smells like you. I mean, yes, obviously. The room.” Potter stuttered. 

“Naturally.” Draco rolled his eyes, unable to believe Potter’s ineloquent behavior. Did he start stuttering in front of everyone that he fucked?

“It smells nice.” Potter added, probably unable to help himself. Draco snorted a little despite himself. 

“Why, I am very glad that my scent suits your aromatic preferences, Potter. Now, please, may I have my guitar back so we can all get on with our lives?” Draco implored as he held his hand out for Potter to give him his guitar back. It seemed to be intact, thank Merlin, and he sighed inwardly. 

“Yes, right. Here.” Potter made his way towards Draco, making him flinch a little bit. Draco didn’t know why he did that, it wasn’t as if he was scared of Potter, Merlin forbid. 

“I’m not going to hurt you, you know.” Potter assured as he handed Draco his guitar. “Or do anything else that you wouldn’t want me to do.” Potter searched for his eyes, two emerald orbs darting there and forth to meet his own grey ones. He didn’t let him. 

“I’m not scared of you, Potter.” Draco clenched his teeth. “I’m not another evil for you to conquer and I am most definitely not your damsel in distress.” Draco spat as he moved further away from Potter. The distance he made by moving away from him almost physically hurt. Almost

“Look, Malfoy, we don’t have to do this like this. It doesn’t have to be that again. Come on.” Potter sighed, visibly agitated. 

“Be what?” Draco glared at him, finally meeting those green eyes. He instantly regretted doing so. 

“Be, you know, us. Well, before… nevermind. This isn’t about friendship or love or anything — this is about mutual respect, Malfoy. Think we can manage that?” Potter questioned, looking irritated by him in general. Draco wasn’t about to have that. He wasn’t some child that Potter could lecture at about mutual fucking respect. Look who’s talking about mutual respect — Potter, who had the manners of a troll. 

“It astounds to me to see that you have decided to take on that path. Lecturing me about mutual respect? Get a fucking grip, Potter, then come back with something halfway decent.” Draco fumed, hoping that this would really tick off Potter and he would leave him. Or even better, pack up and get the fuck out of Brooklyn. This was supposed to be his solitary confinement. 

Potter, on the other hand, just seemed resigned. Strange. He should be arguing. Potter sighed and looked down at the floor for a while before turning his head straight at Draco, his gaze narrowing on his face. He stomped over to where Draco was sitting and he took him by the wrist, yanking him up so that he was standing. Startled, Draco lost his balance and landed face first in Potter’s chest. He found out that he, too, liked Potter’s scent, despite the anticlimactic method of discovery. 

“Potter—” Draco started, but he was cut off by Potter’s hand snaking around his face, pulling him swiftly in for a kiss. He smelled like spearmint toothpaste and tasted like Earl Grey tea. Draco was horrified at the thought that he still hadn’t brushed his teeth and he had a bad case of morning breath, but that trail of thought was immediately disturbed when Potter slipped his tongue inside and started kissing him. Really, really kissing him. This was a kiss that children shouldn’t be allowed to see — hell, no one should be allowed to see this kind of kiss. It was just too intimate, too passionate, too profound. He was giving his all to it. It was so, so Potter. 

Draco should have really thought to break apart from him. He really should have, if he was smart. But how could he do that when his limbs were turning into jelly? Before he knew it, he fell backwards toward his bed with Potter still latched onto his lips. Draco clutched at Potter’s shirt and he felt Potter’s hands pulling on his hair. The hot slide of his tongue against his own was making him heady and he felt intoxicated. He was falling, falling, falling….

Stop. 

There was a burn by his ankle. The letters, he thought. In one corner of his mind, he fucking despised the damned letters for breaking him out of his Potter-induced trance. However, his more rational side was thanking Merlin and Morgana for bringing him back to sanity. He broke away from Potter’s admittedly incredible kiss.

Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Breathe. Startling cold air traveling down his trachea, his lungs, slowly being distributed through the bronchioles, calming his senses a bit. Inhale, exhale. Diaphragm contracting, relaxing. Contract, relax. Only focus on this one thing. He didn’t even notice Potter sitting ajar from him, looking at him worriedly. 

“Malfoy. Malfoy!” Potter shook him. Draco broke from his trance for what seemed like the hundredth time just today. Fuck Potter. Heart rate increasing, arterial tension heightening, cortisol and testosterone coursing rapidly through out his veins — anger, anger, anger. 

“Get. The. Fuck. Out.” Draco snarled, keeping his fist clenched, which was about the only thing keeping him from punching Potter’s face in. He’d hate to see that — to see an evidence of it on his face every time they crossed each other. It would be a reminder of how reckless he was, how careless he had been, how he had given in to his touch — no, no, no. 

“I— Malfoy —” Potter started, but Draco gave him the best glare he could manage. “Didn’t you hear me? Get the fuck out. And stay out.” Control, control, control. Do not hit the bastard. Do not give in. 

Draco  was past anger by now. Anger was irrelevant. Just another poke in the left hemisphere of his central nerves. The cold, shrilling sense of regret and pure, unadulterated pain seeped into his marrows. Oh fuck, Draco knew this. Knew what this meant. He was going to have another panic attack. A breakdown, quite literally. He noticed his hands starting to shake on their own accord. No, no, no, not in front of him. Not in front of Potter. Potter’s eyes were as big as saucers at this point, looking at Draco with terrified eyes, his hands not knowing what to do — he looked as if he was scared that he would break him. 

Draco clenched his teeth, being careful not to bite his tongue, and used the last of his strength to tell Potter to leave. Potter, being ever so stubborn and unhelpful, claimed that he wasn’t about to leave, that he could somehow help Draco. As if it was help that Draco needed right now. Fucking selfish arsehole, always needing to be the hero in situations. He was reaching his peak now, he knew that by his uncontrollable shaking, his teeth clattering, tears streaming down his face. All of that was probably portraying extreme distress to Potter, who looked as if he had murdered someone and was now regretting it. Well, Draco thought, then you shouldn't have killed someone in the first place

Strange word — panic. It replaces reason and logic and thinking in general with overwhelming feelings of anxiety. Anxiety and fear. Most people associate it with extreme distress and pain. And that is most certainly true to some extent. The physical signs culminate to prove the notion. As much as Draco hated panic attacks, he truly felt a sense of peace in the midst of the chaos. This was the time when all logic and reason was amiss, and he could simply let go of all the ropes binding him and just… panic. Quite a spectacular defense mechanism for the unstable and coping likewise himself. Finding peace in chaos — that sounded like him. Perhaps that could be on his gravestone, it was much more preferable than “giving into fear” or “running away from responsibilities.” Yes, yes, much better indeed. 

This very panic felt exactly like Potter’s kiss. Disrupting, chaotic, shocking, alarming but a certain firmness to it, a factor so undeniably grounded that he never felt safer. It made sense that he would be having an attack right now. 

With that revelation, he knew that his attack was over. Something made sense. A connected with B, a causal relationship was established and the universe was yet again restored. Reality slowly faded back into him. First to return was his vision as he learned to open his eyes, his pupils contracting rapidly to the daylight, causing irritating but not unbearable pain. Squinting, he was reminded of his surroundings. Yes, he was in his room, in the flat in Bedford-Stuyvesant, he could even smell the familiar mix of Jasmine and honey that permeated his room. Last to come back was his tactile sensation. A warmth on his body. A hand. Potter’s hand. Potter’s hand on his left shoulder, his other holding his left forearm with a firm grip. His eyes frantically searching. Draco lifted his eyes to meet Potter’s. His full eyebrows lifted a bit when he saw Draco’s eyes meeting his, his pupils narrowing. He never noticed how Potter’s eyes were not just green — it was a deep shade of emerald, with specks of yellow and silver in the irises, fading into a slight red. It felt too precious to simply be used for the mundane task of seeing. It ought to be used for something truly magnificent. Ah, but he already had used them for something of that nature, hasn’t he? Those marvelous green orbs had witnessed the death of the villain of the century, and they had looked so prodigious while they were at it. 

“Of course.” Draco scoffed, leaving Potter utterly confused. Typical.

“What? Of course what? Are you alright?” Potter further examined, not letting go. Draco couldn’t help but sigh.

“What you have just witnessed, Potter, is an extravagant example of a symptom called a panic attack. Panic attacks are typically characterized by—” Draco started to educate, but he was cut off. Again, typical. 

“Shut it, I know a panic attack when I see one. I’ve gone through a war, I’ve seen enough of them in my lifetime, surely well enough to identify one when I see one.” Potter chided, moving his hands away from his shoulders to encase Draco’s now still hands with his own. 

“The question I want to ask is not what, but why.” Potter didn’t meet his eyes when he said that. Guilt? Fear? He assumed it was a little bit of both. The problem was, Draco didn’t have a straight answer for that. He’d need years of intense therapy before he could depict a cause of an attack right away. He had a plethora of experience with mental illness, but not enough to know whether or not it was Potter’s kiss that had triggered the attack, or if it was something else. Draco considered his options. He could tell Potter it was something that just occurred randomly, leave it to him to believe or not, and relieve Potter of the guilt or whatever he was feeling that was prohibiting him from meeting Draco’s eyes. But it was technically Potter’s fault. Technically. It wasn’t as if Draco was absolutely sure of it. After a short contemplation, Draco decided that he had done enough lying for a lifetime, and it was about time he told the truth, no matter how insipid and vapid the truth may be. 

“I don’t know.” Draco carefully enunciated each word, being careful not to trip over them. He still had minor speech impediments after a panic attack, and he did not want to be exactly like Potter and stumble all over one’s own words, thankyouverymuch

“That’s it? You don’t know.” Potter uttered flatly. Draco huffed. Was he expecting some sort of proclamation? Perhaps a confession of his undying love for the Savior? Perhaps his simple presence was oh-too-much to to bear for Draco and he went breaking down like a little glass flower? 

“Yes, I don’t know. I can’t know everything, can I? I do need some unoccupied space to filter unnecessary conversations such as the one we are currently engaging in.” Draco spat, but Potter just cracked a small grin, not quite reaching his eyes, but a smile nonetheless. How on earth he found this situation amusing, Draco would never be able to find out. He almost looked…. fond. That was terrifying—no one, not even Potter, should be given the burden of divesting emotion in him. He was a heavy liability—he knew that—which was one of the many complicated and frankly depressing reasons he imposed this self-exile on himself. Well, before someone barged his way in, that is.

“Don’t… do that.” Draco managed. Potter’s eyebrows quirked up, looking bewildered. “Do what? I wasn’t doing anything.” Draco would have rolled his eyes if he could. “Don’t do that. This. Don’t barge into my house one day when I’m supposed to be alone, don’t make suggestive looks whenever I come out of the shower half-naked — and yes, Potter, it is entirely your fault that you can’t keep your libido restrained, please learn the subtle art of masturbation — and most importantly, don’t sit by my side as I go through a panic attack that I most definitely do not want to share with anyone, let alone you, and then smile at me like you’re in love with me or something. And don’t lie to me, I know you don’t.”

Potter maintained his silence. His eyebrows narrowed in concentration, seemingly working the rapid spur of words that was just handed to him. Potter was probably not used to hearing sentences that exceeded five words, so Draco let that slide. It was admittedly a strange feeling to watch Potter so deep in thought — Draco had seen him concentrated before, but that was purely physical: in battle, on the run, always doing something for the greater good, and as of yesterday, in the bedroom. Draco couldn’t help the flush that rose to his cheeks at that particular memory. 

He was about to become worried that Potter himself might be going into another panic attack, but his worries were proven nonessential since Potter broke out of his reverie. He snapped his head towards Draco, his intense gaze narrowing on him, observing him with a light yet careful gaze.

“But what if I do?” He spoke, and Draco’s world collapsed. Usually the universe made sense, with a few roundabouts here are there, but this — this sudden admission made little to no sense and Draco felt his grips from mortal reality slowly shrinking. Maybe he misheard him, maybe he was hearing things as an aftershock of the panic attack — could be a possibility, certainly not a far-off deduction — and maybe this could all just be a dream and he could wake up from it any second. The last hypothesis was not as probable, since the universe was rarely ever that lazy. Draco calculated in the little lapse of time he was provided with the possible explanations of such an outlandish sentence, racking his hormone-addled brain to reach an outcome of a certain truth. 

“It’s not that complicated, you know.” Potter seemed to have noticed Draco’s rather distressed state of mental capacity, disregarding the panic attack aforementioned, that is. 

“What is and what isn't complicated isn’t your decision to make, Potter. Not when I happen to be on the receiving end of that particularly alarming piece of erudition.” At that, Potter rolled his eyes all-too-much affectionately. “It’s only complicated because you make it so complicated. It’s actually quite simple. I cannot tell you at which point I decided it was appropriate to feel this way, because it doesn’t happen like that — could have been the moment I walked through the front door and saw you again for the first time in, Merlin, years. It could have been long before that.” Draco snapped his gaze up at that, only because it was such an unlikely and quite an unnerving fact — long before that. That was when… he didn’t want to think about it. It didn’t matter. The fact stood fair and simple, which was the fact this entire fiasco was inconceivable, unthinkable, unbearable, hopeless, problematic, and every other negative adjective in the English language that was synonymous to the term “impossible.” Potter probably didn’t know that many words, Draco thought, a shame. He completely ignored the impulse of wanting to buy Potter a thesaurus just to see the gleeful expression that Potter got when he was delighted by something, a christmassy smile that could only be achieved by Potter. If Draco desired to see that smile on his face, or perhaps to be the one to put it there, it came entirely ignored by his conscience. He deleted it right away. 

“It doesn’t have to be exactly that, you know, if that’s what’s freaking you out right now,” Potter assured, as if trying to calm him. Draco hated it, it made him feel too delicate, but it also made him feel incredibly relieved. “I don’t even know what it is myself. I only mentioned, er, that word because you brought it up, it just seemed about right.” It was incredibly Potter of him, to go with the flow, to work on impulse rather than tactic. It was a polar opposite of what Draco was used to and he couldn’t deny the fact that it intrigued him, if not fascinated him, a little bit. 

“The word love has been a subject of tiresome debates and irksome literature for centuries, and I’m most ascertain that you cannot be the one to, once and for all, find an substitute for that damning four-letter-word, Potter. Not with your range of diction.” Draco elaborated. “I, unlike you, have a vast knowledge of the intricate web of words that is our English language and perhaps I can assist you in that realm, purely out of the goodness of my heart, of course.” Potter smirked, and Draco felt somewhat accomplished at the fact that he was able to bring that out of Potter. “Although I do not know a substitute for the word love, I happen to know many alternatives. Such as: affection, adoration, fondness, romance, admiration, passion, desire, and in your case, I think, obsession. I wonder if you recall sixth year, Potter.”  Potter flushed slightly at the mention of it, pleasing Draco. 

“I wasn’t obsessed with you. I just—” Potter rebutted, but Draco wasn’t about to have a chit-chat about sixth year — it wasn’t as if he had happy memories to reminisce about. “No need to fret, Potter. Past is past, is it not?” Draco asked, hoping Potter would catch onto his tone of voice. Potter seemed to understand. “Past is past.” Potter conceded, and he had a feeling he wasn’t talking just about sixth year. 

“Now, if you please, I have certain matters I need to attend to. Thank you for returning my guitar. That was rather civil of you, Potter.” Draco, no matter how much he resented Potter for barging in and kissing him and declaring that Potter was apparently in love with him or some other fitting substitute, appreciated him for bringing back his lifeline, his purpose — his music. 

“But—” Potter started, obviously not done, but Draco knew it wasn’t time right now. Not now, he wouldn’t be able to keep his rationale and he might be swept away again. He couldn’t let that happen. 

“Perhaps tomorrow, perhaps in a month, perhaps in a decade, or perhaps never. But I can tell you with full confidence that it won’t be today.” Draco noted firmly, but Potter still seemed hesitant to leave. Sighing, Draco added, “Please.” 

That must’ve shifted something in Potter because he stoutly nodded and lifted himself up from his position adjacent to Draco, and stood up, making his way to the door. Before he left, however, he did leave one remark that Draco was probably going to examine and fret over countless nights and was most definitely going to write music to.

“Ever thought about the word ‘liberty’?” Potter paused, lingering by the door. “Just… it appeared to me, well, quite literally. Thought it might be a muse.” Potter nodded his head towards Draco’s guitar. “See you later, Malfoy.”