"I didn't think you'd really be that stupid, Potter."
Harry stopped dead in his tracks. He slowly turned to look at Malfoy.
"I know you're there. That cloak could never fool me." the blond claimed. "And unlike Longbottom I also don't buy your stupid excuse about 'doing something else'."
Hesitating slightly, Harry pulled the invisibility cloak off. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
Malfoy stalked closer, until they were standing face to face. "You're on your way to the forest, to meet him, aren't you? Do you really think he'll let everyone else go if you sacrifice yourself? He was lying, Potter."
"I know that."
"And yet you go? You've got no chance of surviving this." Draco pointed out.
"I know that, too." Harry admitted quietly.
"I can't explain, but I have to do this. If we want to have any chance of winning this war, I need to face Voldemort now." He had no idea why he was telling Malfoy of all people. Even if he had chosen their side in the end, he was still an evil git. On the other hand, Malfoy had always been at the centre of his attention. All through their years at Hogwarts. They had always fought. And then they had saved each other's lives. Maybe it was fitting that the Slytherin should be the last person he ever talked to.
"You're really sacrificing yourself." Draco whispered in disbelief.
"I am. I need to go now. I need to do this. Please… please, don't tell anyone." They would never understand. How could they?
He started to walk away, ready to put on the cloak again, but the blond held him back.
Harry turned around and gave him a pleading look. "Please. I need to go."
Draco looked torn for a moment. Then he closed the distance between them in two quick strides, grabbed Harry's head and pulled him into a passionate kiss. And Harry kissed back without thinking, swaying closer, the sudden rush of feelings making his head spin. Was this what he had missed out on? Was this what they could have been doing all this time, instead of fighting?
It didn't matter, because it was too late now. Only one more missed opportunity. One more regret he would take into the void with him.
Draco pulled back slowly. The look on his face was indecipherable. "Goodbye, Harry."
He turned his back on the blond, pulled the cloak over himself again and went to meet his death.
"You okay, mate?"
Startled by Ron's question, Harry turned away from the window. Both Ron and Hermione were giving him worried looks. He smiled, hoping to reassure them.
"Sure. Just lost in thought."
They didn't seem convinced, but were obviously willing to let him get away with it.
"Feels a bit weird, going back, huh?" the red-head murmured.
"A bit, yes." Harry agreed.
They were sitting in the Hogwarts express, on their way to school. Despite the damages done to the castle during the battle only four month ago, new headmistress McGonagall had decided to open Hogwarts again at the start of term, stating that most of the repairs were completed. Since no-one had been able to take their NEWTs last year, not even those students who had actually spent most of their seventh year at the castle, she had also decided to give last year's seventh years the chance to return and finish their education.
Harry wasn't really sure how he felt about going back. On one hand Hogwarts had always felt like home to him. More than any other place. On the other hand he was a little afraid that the castle would now be tainted with dark memories of the war. So many people had died there. He was afraid that when he walked the familiar halls now, he would always see Remus and Tonks, lying dead in the great hall. He would see Fred's battered body and tiny Colin Creevey and all the others.
Of course Hermione had immediately jumped at the chance of going back. Ron was mostly going back to be with his girlfriend, Harry suspected. He himself had allowed his friends to drag him along, because there had been no real alternative for him. He simply wouldn't have known what to do with himself otherwise.
He had spent the first two weeks after the final battle at the Burrow, feeling like an intruder, despite Molly's continued assurances that he would always be part of the family. In the past he had always loved staying with the Weasleys. But the grief for Fred had been overwhelming. George was a mere shadow of his former self, Arthur seemed to have aged within a day and Molly was prone to bursting into tears for no real reason. Ron had been quiet and withdrawn and Harry hadn't known how to comfort him. He'd been glad when Hermione had joined them, back from Australia, after making sure her parents were alright. Ron seemed more himself with her around.
Worst of all had been Ginny, though. She had turned to him, looking for comfort and when Harry had been unable to provide it, she had understood that their relationship was over for good. She had taken it in stride, he had to give her that. No shouting, no tears or accusations. The conversation had been awkward as hell, but when Harry had told her that too much had happened and that he just wasn't the same guy anymore, she had simply nodded and agreed to stay friends.
He hadn't been able to stay at the Burrow after that, so he had left, claiming to need some time for himself. Not knowing where else to go, since he had no real home anymore, he had ended up at Grimmauld Place. He wasn't sure how many weeks he had spent wandering the empty halls, feeling strangely like he had back at the battle, when he had left the castle to meet his death. Like a ghost among the living. He'd ignored all the owls he received, only took the time to assure Ron and Hermione that he was fine and just wanted to be alone for now, so they wouldn't come looking for him.
He probably would have gone on like that for month, hiding away from the world and the reporters and even his friends, with only Kreacher for company, if Andromeda Tonks hadn't shown up on his doorstep one day. She'd invited him to stay with her, claiming she needed some help with Teddy. Harry had known that it was only an excuse. She was more than capable of taking care of her grandson. But he'd been grateful for the lie and accepted, even if it always pained him a little to look at Teddy, because he was reminded of Remus and Tonks. And of Sirius.
But he was Teddy's godfather and he vowed to take that responsibility seriously. He would be the kind of godfather Sirius would have been for him, if only fate had been a little kinder to both of them. Teddy was an orphan like him and Harry would make sure that the boy had everything he'd ever dreamed of, when he himself had been a child, stuck at the Dursleys. He would make sure Teddy grew up feeling loved and cared for. He would be there for Teddy, no matter how lost he felt himself.
Once again Ron's voice startled him out of his musings and he found his two best friends gazing at him worriedly. He hated worrying them and he hated it even more when they were coddling him. Although he knew that they just couldn't help it. They had been furious with him when they'd found out that he had gone to meet Voldemort without even saying goodbye. Maybe it really hadn't been fair, after everything the three of them had gone through together. But it had been easier. On all of them.
"Sorry. I was just thinking of Teddy. I'm going to miss him." he claimed, hoping to reassure them.
"I can imagine. But I guess you'll visit him during Christmas holidays, right?" Hermione asked with a smile.
"Yes, Andromeda invited me. Though she warned me not to spoil him too much."
The thought brought a genuine smile to his face. Andromeda knew him too well. He would probably buy Teddy a whole toy store, if she'd let him.
"I can imagine." Hermione said, her relief at seeing him smile evident. "He's lucky to have you as godfather."
"I'm lucky. He's a great kid."
"Mum's been gnawing our ears off with how lovely she thinks it is of you to spend that much time with him." Ron chimed in, rolling his eyes. "She thinks it's a great exercise for when you have kids of your own."
Harry's smile became a bit strained at that. There would be no kids in his future. He was sure of that now. If he was quite honest with himself, he'd never been really certain of his sexuality. Sure, there had been Cho and Ginny, but things had never gotten further than a few kisses with either girl. He'd mostly been too busy fighting Voldemort to consider what and who he was really attracted to. But now he knew. It had become startlingly clear, after that one kiss on the battlefield…
He quickly shook the thought of, knowing he would only go silent and worry his friends again, if he allowed himself to dwell on thoughts of Draco Malfoy and his very confusing behaviour. Instead he suggested a game of exploding snap, to while away the time until the lunch trolley came by. One thing that would probably never change was that you could easily distract Ron with food. Harry found Hermione giving him searching looks every now and then, but at least she didn't say anything and when they finally arrived, Harry felt some of the old excitement of being back at Hogwarts return.
Hogwarts, as it turned out, didn't look at all different. Harry had no idea how McGonagall and whoever had helped her had done it, but there was no trace of the battle left and it was easy to push the images aside. The great hall was magnificent as ever, the enchanted ceiling showing a clear night sky and the house tables filling slowly among the usual chatter. But when he sat down Harry realized that some things were different and some reminders of the battle were inevitable.
There was Lavender Brown, head ducked down to hide the scars marring her face. Parvati sat next to her as always, but for once they weren't giggling or gossiping. And there were the empty seats of people who had not returned, or could never return, like Crabbe for example. Harry caught Malfoy looking at the spot where the boy had usually sat with a frown and quickly looked away, before the Slytherin could catch him staring. The most noticeable reminder was the teachers table, with the absence of Dumbledore and Snape.
Harry swallowed hard and tried to push the dark thoughts aside, as McGonagall rose from her seat to welcome the students. She talked a little about the war and asked everyone to take a minute to honour those who had died. Then she talked about new beginnings and professor Sprout led in the first years. The sorting hat commented on the war as well, before stating that this year was a chance for everyone to overcome old prejudices and move on from the past.
After the sorting and the feast, McGonagall spoke again. She gave the usual warnings about the forbidden forest and banned items Harry had heard at every feast so far. "There are some major changes this year. We have an eighth year class, for the first time in Hogwarts history. I am happy to see so many of you return to take your NEWTs. Unfortunately there is a little problem where space is concerned, since all four houses were only built to fit students of seven years. Therefore we have decided to separate our eighth years from the rest of their respective houses and place them in the old east tower, where they will share a mixed common room and dormitories. I hope that this will also help us all in overcoming old prejudices and house rivalries."
She then introduced the new DADA teacher and head of Gryffindor house professor Bale, a tall woman in her forties with long, curly blond hair, wearing dark red robes and looking rather grim and professor O'Donoghue, a grinning Irishman in his late fifties, who would be taking over Transfiguration. Professor Slughorn would continue to teach Potions and serve as head of Slytherin.
After sending the students off to their beds, McGonagall led the eighth years to their new quarters. The entrance was guarded by a stone gargoyle, much like the one who had guarded the entrance to Dumbledore's office. The headmistress gave the password "Unity" and the gargoyle sprang aside to let them pass. The common room was cosy, with a big fireplace, soft rugs, comfortable couches and armchairs. Brown was the dominant colour, but Harry could see all house colours present. Banners of all four houses were placed on the walls. A staircase on the right led to the girl's dormitories, the boy's dorms were located on the left.
"Since we have quite enough space here, you'll be rooming in twos and threes." McGonagall explained. "You will find your names on a plaque on the doors to your respective rooms. Since you are all technically adults, curfew has been prolonged for you by two hours. You may also visit Hogsmeade on every weekend, as long as you are back by four o'clock. I believe I don't have to tell you that this right can be revoked if necessary and that you are to beave accordingly. You will still share your respective house tables for meals and you will be able to win or lose points for your houses. Since you are living separate from the other students, Miss Granger and Mr. Goldstein will function as prefects for your group. You cannot join your house Quidditch teams, I'm sorry. This would mean too many potential players. You may however use the Quidditch pitch in your free time, as long as it hasn't been booked by one of the teams. This will be all for now. Goodnight."
"Well, I suppose we'd better go to bed. We've got a busy day ahead of us." Hermione decided, taking charge.
"She's right. Goodnight everyone." Anthony Goldstein agreed.
Slowly they all made their way up to the dormitories. Harry found his room quickly and was unsurprised to find that he would be sharing it with Ron. It looked a lot like their old room in Gryffindor tower, only a bit smaller and with just two beds. Their trunks had already been brought in, but Harry ignored it and flopped down on his bed instead.
"Only one room-mate. I like being and eighth year." Ron commented with a grin, flopping down on his own bed.
"Yeah… Do you think that also means no more fighting with Dean when he's hogging the bathroom?" Harry wondered.
"Nah, I think they didn't go so far to give us our own bathrooms." the red-head said with a sigh. "We've probably got to fight with Malfoy now. Did you see that he, Goyle and Zabini are in the room right next door?"
Yes, Harry had seen it. But he had decided to ignore it for now. Really, he had no idea how to act towards Malfoy this year. He hadn't seen the blond much after that kiss. Which was a good thing, since he was still confused as hell about the kiss. Why had Malfoy done that? Had it been a spur of the moment thing or had he been thinking about kissing Harry before? Would he like to do it again? Did Harry even want him to do it again? He had no idea.
"Well, I'm beat. I'm going to bed." Ron decided.
"Yeah, me too. Like Hermione said, busy day and all that." Harry agreed.
But he lay awake for a long time after that, his thoughts still revolving around Malfoy.
The first few weeks went by in a blur. Harry decided quickly that it had been a good idea to come back. Hogwarts still felt like home, despite the dark memories of the battle and the daily lessons, homework and study sessions (which Hermione insisted on, since you couldn't get started early enough) gave him a purpose he'd been lacking the past few month. He managed to catch up with his friends and spent time with Neville, Dean and Seamus, who were sharing a room further down the hall and with Luna, who seemingly hadn't changed at all during the war.
Ron and Hermione seemed glad that he was no longer isolating himself and stopped hovering all the time, deciding to spend some time with each other instead, now that their relationship was finally progressing. Harry was happy for them and assured both of them repeatedly that he would be fine and there was no need for them to stay by his side constantly and hadn't they been cooped up together long enough during their hunt for Horcruxes to want some space? Ron usually laughed when he brought that up, but Hermione made sure that Harry knew she would always be there for him. Both of them would.
He did know that. Of course he did. And he was grateful and glad to have friends like them. And he even understood their lingering worry to some extent. But really, he just wanted them to stop worrying and leave him alone. He felt like he might actually start to heal, despite the still quite frequent nightmares and the odd panic attack. He just wanted to leave it all behind and move on. Start living the live he wanted, now that he no longer had the shadow of Voldemort and that stupid prophecy looming over himself. If only he knew how that live might look.
So he made sure that Ron and Hermione saw him smiling, going about his daily routine, complaining about trivial things like homework or Potions and interacting with others. He did everything he could to show them that they didn't need to worry about him. That he was fine. And when they weren't looking he would slip away and wander the halls of the castle alone, lost in thought and unable to sit still. Sometimes it felt like that was all he did. Just drifting through the empty halls, with no destination in mind, until the late hour made him return to the common room, so his friends wouldn't notice his absence.
It was during one of those wanderings that he ended up in the seventh floor corridor and suddenly found himself face to face with Draco Malfoy. He had done his best to avoid the blond so far, which hadn't been all that hard. People mostly tended to sit separated by houses in the eighth year common room, especially the Slytherins. Despite the fact that most of them had turned against Voldemort in the end, had even fought side by side with the others in the final battle, their reputation was still tainted. Draco himself seemed very quiet these days. He was no longer strutting around, insulting people or starting fights. Harry wondered if he felt lost as well. Or maybe he was simply ashamed, with his father in Azkaban and half of their fortune confiscated by the Ministry.
For a moment they just stood there, staring at each other. Both unsure how to behave. Too much had happened to go back to their petty rivalry and they both knew it. But where to go from here?
"Do you think it's still there?" Draco finally broke the silence.
It took Harry a moment to realize that he was talking about the room of requirement.
"I don't know." he answered honestly, staring at the blank wall. "Have you tried to wish for it?"
"I … didn't really dare to." the blond admitted.
Harry couldn't blame him. They had both almost died in there, thanks to Crabbe and his fiendfyre. He knew that Draco had tried to stop the other boy. He'd heard him ordering Crabbe to lower his wand. Most of the Slytherins had already switched sides by then, Draco among the first to do so. He wouldn't have given Harry over to Voldemort. But for once Crabbe hadn't listened to the other boy. And it had cost his life.
"The castle has been repaired. I guess the room of requirement has been too, but it probably won't turn into that version of itself again." Harry mused.
"And what if the fiendfyre destroyed it beyond repair?"
"You won't find out if you don't try."
Draco looked at the wall again, but instead of starting to pace, he slumped against it with a sigh. Harry realized that it would be better to leave, but in the end his curiosity got the better of him.
"Why did you do it?"
The Slytherin shot him a dark look. "I didn't cast the fiendfyre. That was Crabbe."
"I know that Crabbe cast it. And I know that you tried to stop him." Harry assured. "What I meant was… Why did you kiss me?"
Draco flinched and averted his eyes, folding has arms protectively over his chest. Harry took a few steps towards him.
"Draco…" That got the blond's attention. "Why did you kiss me?"
"Because… because I thought you were going to die." he admitted finally. When the Gryffindor just gave him a puzzled look, he explained: "I thought I'd never see you again. And that I… wouldn't have to face the consequences."
"That doesn't really make sense." Harry complained.
"Why did you kiss me back?" Draco wanted to know.
Harry hated it when people turned the tables on him like that. He shrugged uneasily. "I don't know. It just… felt right?"
For a few, tense seconds they simply stared at each other. Then Draco pushed off the wall and stalked towards him and this time Harry knew what was going to happen. But he made no move to stop it. The first brush of lips on lips was almost tentative. But when Draco encountered no resistance he deepened the kiss, burying one hand in Harry's hair to pull him closer, while the other grabbed his hip. Harry wrapped both arms around the Slytherin's back and when Draco's tongue nudged against his lips, he parted them willingly.
What had started as a light kiss soon turned into a full blown snogging session. Draco pushed Harry back against the wall and pressed their bodies flush together. Harry gasped. He was hot and light headed and his jeans were starting to feel too tight. This was all going way too fast. They hadn't even properly talked about what it meant. He reluctantly broke the kiss when breathing became an issue and couldn't hold back a whimper when Draco's mouth latched onto his neck and a thigh pressed against his rapidly hardening prick.
The sound of laughter and raised voices startled both of them and they hastily jumped apart. For a moment Harry could only stare at Draco, who looked thoroughly debauched, with his lips kiss-swollen and his eyes darkened almost to black. Then the approaching footsteps spurred them into action. Draco turned and hurried down the corridor, away from the noise and Harry quickly ducked into a nearby alcove.
He waited until the group of chattering Hufflepuffs had passed by without noticing him, before leaving his hiding place and walking in the opposite direction. Taking a left turn he decided spontaneously to visit the owlery, knowing it would most likely be deserted this time of day. And maybe once his racing heart-beat had calmed down somewhat, he'd be able to find out what the hell had just happened.
As it turned out, visiting the owlery hadn't been such a good idea after all, since it brought back painful memories of Hedwig and made it even harder for Harry to compose himself. When he finally felt ready to face other people again, he was already late for dinner. Hurrying into the great hall, he took a seat next to Ron, who actually abandoned his food to give him a worried look. Had to be a first.
"Sorry, I forgot the time."
The apology didn't do much to comfort his friends.
"What were you doing, Harry?" Hermione asked from her seat on Ron's other side.
"Ummm… just … thinking about… Christmas." he blurted the first thing that came to mind. "Pondering what to get for Teddy, you know?" He'd discovered that mentioning his godson usually got them off his back.
Luckily it worked this time as well. Hermione gave him an exasperated look and reminded him that Christmas was still month away, while Ron joked that he would've loved to have Harry as a godfather. The dark-haired boy grinned, which seemed to appease them even more. They both went back to their dinner and he started piling his plate with food as well. Then his eyes strayed over to the Slytherin table, like they did so often. Draco looked up as if on cue and their eyes met. Harry blushed and quickly looked away, but he swore he could feel the blond's eyes on him quite a few more times during dinner.
Once they had eaten their fill, Harry returned to the common room with Ron and Hermione. They claimed a couch near the fireplace and got started on their homework. Gradually the other eighth years arrived as well. Harry couldn't help but notice that they still mostly stuck together by houses. Their fellow Gryffindors took seats closest to them, while the Ravenclaws settled by the windows, the Hufflepuffs chose spots near the entrance and the Slytherins sat across from the Gryffindors.
Only sometimes people would interact with people from other houses. Padma Patil, for example, could be seen sitting with her sister and Lavender every now and then. Anthony Goldstein would sometimes join Hermione, to discuss their special prefect duties. And he'd seen Neville helping Hannah Abbott with her Herbology homework just a few days ago.
But Harry was too tired to ponder that strange fact, let alone think about doing something to change it. It had been a long, tiring day and he had a harder time than usual trying not to stare at Malfoy. His mind was still reeling from their earlier encounter and he felt more confused than ever. Realizing that he wouldn't get any more work done, Harry went to bed. As always it took him a long time to fall asleep, but at least he wasn't plagued by nightmares for a change. Instead he found himself drenched in sweat and a sticky mess in his pants upon waking up and he could distantly remember dreaming about a certain, blond Slytherin. He wasn't sure which dreams were worse.
He managed to avoid Draco for the next two days, aside from a few shared glances across the great hall or in the common room. The third day however had them running into each other in the seventh floor corridor again. It was Saturday and Ron and Hermione were in Hogsmeade, like most other eighth years. Harry had told them he didn't want to intrude on their date and claimed to join Seamus, Dean and a few others at the Three Broomsticks. Now he only had to hope that they wouldn't detect his lie. Because instead of joining his fellow Gryffindors, he had taken to wandering the halls again.
"Fancy meeting you here." Malfoy drawled with a smirk as Harry rounded the corner.
"Malfoy! ... I was just…"
"… just… on my way downstairs. To go to Hogsmeade with Seamus and Dean." Harry claimed.
"Really? Because I thought I saw the other Gryffindors leaving quite a while ago."
"Oh, yeah. I… I meant I was going to meet them there."
He didn't like the calculating look Malfoy gave him. Or how the blond suddenly stalked closer.
"Is that so?" The Slytherin sounded disbelieving.
Harry defiantly stood his ground. "Yes. I'm actually late, so if you'll excuse me…"
He tried to walk past Malfoy, but the blond blocked his path.
"They probably figured you're not coming. So why not save yourself the hassle? Stay here?"
"Malfoy…" Harry tried to argue, but the older boy stopped his protest with a kiss. And Harry responded eagerly, without even meaning to. He'd told himself over and over again that this was a bad idea. That they had to talk about what they were doing, at least, before actually continuing to do it. But all his resolutions vanished as soon as the Slytherin's lips met his.
When they had to break apart for air, Draco's mouth slid over Harry's jaw, dropping little kisses.
"Malfoy… Draco… wait, we…" the younger boy protested weakly.
"Right. No interruptions this time." Draco agreed.
And without warning Harry found himself pushed into the alcove where he'd hidden from the Hufflepuffs last time. But this time Draco followed him, pressing him back against the rough stone and leaning in for another round of kisses that made Harry's head spin and his pants feel too tight. He could only cling to the blond's shoulders desperately, while their tongues duelled and Draco's hands skimmed over his body erratically. He gasped when one hand slipped beneath his shirt and trailed over the naked skin of his side. Once again they had to break the kiss, both of them breathing heavily.
Draco's mouth latched onto the side of Harry's neck and Harry responded by letting his head fall back to give him more room. One of his hands slid through soft blond strands, while the other still clutched Draco's shoulder for support. Then the blond bit down softly and Harry groaned, his whole body jerking slightly. His hips brushed against Draco's and he bit his lip to stifle another groan as his erection came into contact with the Slytherin's. The blond seemed to take this as invitation and started rubbing against him. And even though Harry knew that this was a bad idea and that any moment now someone could walk past and see them, he couldn't help but arch his hips to meet Draco's.
"God, Draco!" And when the hell had he started using the blond's first name?
"Harry!" came the answering gasp and he had to admit that he liked how that sounded.
And soon coherent thought became impossible anyway. Draco's hands came to rest on Harry's hips, pulling him forward into his thrusts and both groaned every time their clothed erections brushed against each other.
Their lips met again in a desperate, open-mouthed kiss, as their movements got more frantic. Harry felt his head spin. Their moans and gasps sounded loud in the otherwise silent corridor, but right now he couldn't care less if someone caught them. His world narrowed down to the feeling of Draco's body against his, Draco's hands on his hips, guiding his movements and Draco's lips covering his, though they were both too far gone to kiss properly by now. And then he shuddered, as his orgasm crept up on him and swept him away in a tidal wave of pleasure. Draco's hips pushed forward two more times, until he too trembled and stilled.
Harry slumped back against the wall bonelessly, panting for breath. Draco leaned heavily against him, his face buried in Harry's neck, making him shiver with every puff of air against overheated, sensitive skin. Finally he pulled back and smiled at the other boy, while drawing his wand. Harry felt a cleaning charm washing over him and felt his face heat, the realization of what they had done sinking in.
"See? Staying here was the better option." the blond whispered.
"Yeah." Harry found himself agreeing without thought.
The Slytherin grinned and then leaned in for another kiss, this one surprisingly soft and gentle, one hand cradling Harry's jaw, the other still on his hip.
"See you around, Harry."
And just like that he was gone and Harry was alone, slumped in the alcove, once again wondering what the hell had just happened.
Thankfully Ron and Hermione had been too busy snogging and enjoying their date to notice Harry's absence from Hogsmeade. They did however notice that he was unusually quiet that evening in the common room. His eyes kept straying over to Malfoy, who was playing wizards chess with Blaise Zabini and didn't seem to notice. But Harry could swear that the blond knew he was being watched.
"Are you okay, Harry?" Hermione inquired worriedly and he realized that he'd forgotten to nod along to her story.
"Yes, sorry Mione. Just a little tired." he lied.
She didn't seem convinced. "You would tell us if something's bothering you, right?"
"Yes, of course. Don't worry about me. I'm fine." he assured her with a smile.
He really appreciated their concern, but their constant worry was stifling. He just wanted some time to himself, to think about his earlier … encounter with Malfoy and ponder what it meant. He wasn't really sure what to make of it. They had gotten over their mutual animosity a while ago. War changed your perspective on a lot of things and they were no kids any longer. But making up was a long way from kissing. And it hadn't only been kissing this time. They had gotten off together. And it had been good. Scratch that, it had been bloody brilliant. But what did it mean?
"You were right about Puddifoot's by the way. Too bad that thing didn't get closed down during the war." Ron's voice startled him out of his musings.
"Yes, it was rather … pink and frilly." Hermione had to admit.
"I thought it had only been that bad on Valentine's day." Harry mused, drawn back into the discussion.
"It was horrid!" Ron insisted. "We left early, strolled around for a bit and went to the Three Broomsticks later. We didn't see you there. Guess you must've left already, huh? Only Seamus and Dean were left at the table."
Harry made a non-committal noise and changed the subject to Quidditch.
Two weeks later Harry still had no idea what that thing with Draco was. The blond ignored him most of the time, acting like Harry didn't even exist. Unless they ran into each other in a deserted corridor. Then he would drag Harry into an alcove or just push him up against the nearest wall and proceed to snog him senseless. They had also gotten off together again and it had been just as amazing as the first time.
The Gryffindor knew that he shouldn't go along with it all so readily. He should ask Draco what the hell they were doing. Force him to have a serious talk about it. But every time Draco's lips touched his, he forgot all about talking. It just felt too good. Even if he knew that he'd regret it later, when the blond would go back to ignoring him. That he'd feel used and oddly betrayed again. He had no idea what to do. He didn't even know what he really wanted. And he also didn't dare to ask anyone for advice. Usually he'd go to Hermione or maybe even Ron and ask for their opinion. But he could imagine their reactions all too clearly. Talking about this was out of the question. He was on his own.
Deciding that a distraction might be a good idea and that he also shouldn't make it that easy for Malfoy to catch him alone, he agreed to join the others in Hogsmeade on the next Saturday. Hermione and Ron were visibly glad to have him tag along. They did their best not to act too couple-y and the three of them had a lot of fun browsing through different stores. It felt a little like old times.
Later they joined Seamus, Dean and a few others at the Three Broomsticks for drinks. Since it was a Hogsmeade weekend for the other students as well, the pub was crowded and noisy. But with Seamus telling outrageous stories and everyone laughing, it was easy to ignore the bustle and the stares directed their way. Harry would never feel comfortable with all this stupid hero worship, but he'd gotten quite good at ignoring it over the last years. And at least he wasn't the only one being stared at anymore. Hermione and Ron were famous for helping him and Neville was a hero for slaying the snake.
Harry chuckled when Seamus said something that caused Lavender to squeal indignantly and Parvati to whack him over the head. It was nice to see his friends acting so carefree again and he felt glad that he'd joined them today. Even if a little, niggling voice in the back of his mind whispered that he could be kissing Draco right now, if he'd stayed back at the castle. He shook the thought off. It would really be better to stop kissing Draco altogether. Before he got more invested in this … thing than he could afford.
Harry got up from his seat, startling Ron next to him.
"You're not leaving already, mate?"
"Nah, just have to use the loo. I'll be right back." Harry promised.
The red-head nodded, so he made his way to the toilets. The noise and laughter faded, once the door closed behind him and Harry breathed a sigh of relief. It really was loud out there. He quickly relieved himself and had just washed his hands when he heard the door open and close. Not paying it any mind, he turned away from the sink and yelped when someone grabbed his arm without warning, pulling him into an empty stall.
"What the … Malfoy! What the hell?"
The blond grinned wolfishly. "Fancy meeting you here."
The words had become somewhat of a code and Harry blushed, knowing what was to come. If he allowed it.
"You can't be serious." he hissed. "We're in a public loo and … hmpff."
Once again Draco cut off his words with a passionate kiss and Harry found himself responding automatically.
"I've been watching you out there." the blond whispered hotly, once their lips had parted. "It got me all hot and bothered."
He ground his hips against Harry's to prove his point and the younger boy groaned when he felt the clothed erection, realizing that Draco was hard just from watching him having a drink with friends.
The blond started kissing and nipping at his neck and Harry felt himself hardening as well, his hips snapping forward of their own accord.
"Shit, Draco.. we can't." he protested weakly. "They'll be wondering where I am."
And if Ron came looking for him and caught him with Malfoy … Harry didn't even want to imagine it.
But Draco wanted to hear none of that.
"Tell them you got held up. They'll survive a few minutes without you."
Harry wanted to protest. He really did. He wanted to tell the blond to stop. But then Draco's lips found the sensitive spot just below his left ear and all that came out of Harry's mouth was a breathy moan.
Draco pushed him back against the closed door of the stall, aligned their hips and started rubbing against him in earnest. All of Harry's protests vanished, wiped away by the pleasure cursing through his veins. He wrapped an arm around the blond, anchoring him in place, while his hand came up to tangle in Draco's silky hair. He loved how those soft strands felt against his fingers. And he loved messing up the perfectly styled hair even more.
The Slytherin didn't seem to mind. He kissed Harry deeply, mostly to keep him quiet, the younger boy suspected, since his moans had gotten louder. For a second he'd completely forgotten where they were.
"I can't believe… we're doing this… here." he gasped out.
Though he had to admit that the public place and the risk of getting caught added a certain thrill.
"Yeah. One… one of these days I … fuck… I'm going to find us a bed." Draco promised.
And just the thought of doing this properly, in a bed and quite possibly without any clothes on, was enough to drive Harry over the edge. He had just enough presence of mind to muffle his groan against Draco's soft sweater. The Slytherin buried his face in Harry's neck, as his hips thrust two, three more times and then stilled.
For a moment they stood cuddled together, trying to regain their breath. Finally Draco pulled away and gave him a satisfied grin. Harry couldn't help but grin back, once again amazed at seeing the usually so controlled Slytherin like this, open and relaxed. He was panting, sweaty and his hair was a mess. The dark-haired boy was sure that he'd never looked more beautiful. Then Draco dropped his gaze and the moment was broken. He pulled out his wand and a cast a cleaning charm on both of them, before starting to fix his hair.
"Hurry along then, before the Weasel comes looking for you."
Harry felt a pang of disappointment, realizing that he'd fallen for it yet again. Nothing would change. They would leave the bathroom and Draco would go back to ignoring him, until he felt like getting off again. He really needed to break this circle. He stalked out of the room in a huff, without looking back.
When he emerged from the loo the pub was still just as crowded, if not more so. Harry reclaimed his seat, noticing that Ginny and a few other seventh year Gryffindors had joined them. A black-haired boy was having an animated discussion with Seamus about Irish pub culture, while Dean threatened to punch them if they started singing and Parvati insisted that she wanted to hear them sing.
"Everything alright, Harry? You've been gone an awfully long time."
He turned to face Ron, noticed Hermione looking at him as well and prayed that he wasn't blushing.
"Yeah, sorry. Got held up at the bar. You know how it is."
"Was it those awful girls again? I thought I saw Romilda Vane earlier." Hermione muttered.
Harry nodded, glad for the excuse. "You know how hard it is to get rid of them."
"You do look a little disheveled. I think you should report them to McGonagall." the bushy haired girl advised.
"What good is that supposed to do? She can't stop them from stalking Harry." Ron chimed in.
Harry's eyes drifted to the back of the pub, where Malfoy had just emerged, looking immaculate as ever. He strutted through the room and disappeared into the crowd. Harry scowled after him. Stupid git.
Misinterpreting his scowl, Hermione suggested going back to the castle. Which was just fine with Harry. He suddenly felt very tired and angry at himself. And Seamus had really started singing now, loud and off-key, undeterred by Dean hitting him in the side.
"Yeah, let's go back." Ron agreed with a wince.
Sunday started quiet and lazy. Harry, Ron and Hermione went to visit Hagrid, before heading back to the castle for lunch. Later Harry left Ron and Hermione curled together in front of the fire in the common room and started wandering around the halls again. Ever since coming back to Hogwarts he felt too restless to just sit around for long. He roamed the halls, occasionally checking the Marauder's Map to avoid running into people. Especially a certain, blond git.
He was just pulling out the map again when he rounded the corner and nearly ran into Luna.
"Oh sorry, I didn't hear you." he apologized, his gaze darting down to the fluffy pink slippers she was wearing. Well, that explained why he hadn't heard her footsteps.
"That's quite alright, Harry." she assured with a smile.
He smiled back and was about to continue on his way when she stopped him.
"I was just heading down to the lake to try and catch some flittery-flies. Would you like to join me?"
Harry was once again struck by the fact that Luna seemed completely untouched by the war. She hadn't changed at all. Being around her always made him believe that things could go back to normal. That maybe he could move on as well.
"I'd love to. I'll just get my coat, okay?"
"I'll wait by the front doors."
A few minutes later they left the castle and headed down to the lake. It was a beautiful day, despite the already chilly October weather. The ground was still a little wet from last night's rain and Harry was worried Luna's slippers would get soaked, but she seemed to have placed a charm on them. Typical Luna to run around in fluffy slippers in weather like this, though he had to admit that the colour matched her radish earrings.
"Flittery-flies usually live on rock formations. I think we might find some over there." Luna explained.
Harry just nodded and followed her, taking the jar she pulled out of her coat, to stash the creatures in.
When they reached the stones she had indicated, Luna started running her hands over them, looking for cracks. Harry simply stood back, content to watch her. There were worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than hunting imaginary creatures with Luna.
"You seemed a bit distracted lately. You're not having trouble with Wrackspurts again, are you Harry?"
The question startled him. He tended to forget that she was a lot more perceptive than people gave her credit for.
"No. No Wrackspurts." he assured.
"That's good. They can get very annoying. So let me know if they give you trouble."
Harry smiled fondly. "I will. Though I think Wrackspurts are the least of my problems right now." If only it were that simple. "I've been.. snogging someone." he admitted. "And… it's all pretty complicated."
Luna turned to look at him, patient and understanding as always and he remembered why he loved talking to her.
"It's nice and all, but… we're doing it in secret, you know? And when other people are around, he acts like I don't even exist."
Harry didn't even realize that he'd just confessed to snogging a boy. He was too caught up in his thoughts. Too glad to finally get it off his chest.
"I hate that. I hate that he ignores me and then expects me to just go along with it when he feels like snogging again. But … I have no idea what to do about it. I don't even know what I really want."
"Of course you do." Luna claimed. "You want commitment. And someone who loves you for yourself and not for being a hero."
Harry stared at her, speechless. She had summed it up precisely. He wanted something real. Something like what Ron and Hermione had. He wanted to be able to hold hands in public, to talk about anything and spend lazy afternoons doing nothing. He wanted someone who wanted just Harry and not the boy-who-lived. And yet he had no idea if Draco could be that someone. If he even wanted Draco to be that someone.
"You shouldn't let Draco kiss you in empty hallways, you know? It gives him a wrong impression." Luna piped up again.
"What..? How.. how did you know…?" Harry stammered in shock. He'd never mentioned Draco's name.
"The nargles told me."
Of course. The nargles. For a second he'd almost forgotten who he was talking to.
"You should tell him what you want."
Harry sighed, knowing that she was right. He couldn't let this thing with Malfoy go on any longer, now that Luna had made him realize what he really wanted. He was glad that he had confided in her. Unlike Ron and Hermione she never made him feel bad about himself. And despite all her imaginary creatures and wacky behaviour, she was surprisingly wise.
"I'll talk to him."
"Good. He likes you a lot, you know?"
No, Harry didn't know. And obviously Draco didn't like him enough to be seen with him in public.
"It will all work out, you'll see." Luna claimed, giving him a serene smile. "And now come on. There might be some flittery-flies in the rocks over there."
Her smile was contagious.
"Lead the way."
Harry had a lot of fun crawling around the rocks with Luna and managed to forget his problems for a while. Of course they didn't find any flittery-flies, but they managed to catch a few plimpies, which Luna decided to give to Hagrid during her Care of Magical Creatures class the next day. When they finally ventured inside it was already getting dark and Harry was once again late for dinner.
"Sorry, forgot the time."
Ron and Hermione looked at him worriedly.
"Happens often lately." the red-head commented.
Harry shrugged. "I was out by the lake with Luna. Hunting imaginary creatures. It was more fun than I expected."
The explanation along with his grin appeased his friends.
"As long as you don't start seeing those creatures now, too."
"Sorry, Ron. What did you say? I was just listening to the nargles." Harry joked.
They both laughed and Hermione shook her head with a smile.
Making good use of the Marauder's Map, Harry actually managed to avoid running into Malfoy alone the next week. He took detours when he wandered the halls and avoided the seventh floor, where they had met quite a few times now. On Saturday he joined the others in Hogsmeade again, making sure that he was always surrounded by people. He even went to the loo with Neville. If Ron and Hermione noticed his strange behaviour they didn't comment on it. On Sunday he joined the other eighth years for a friendly game of Quidditch, initiated by Hermione and Goldstein. He wasn't surprised when Draco and he were chosen as Seekers for the two teams. He managed to reach the Snitch seconds before Draco did, their hands almost touching, but his team still lost by ten points. That moment up in the air was the closest he came to Draco in that week.
Of course he knew that he couldn't simply avoid the blond forever. Luna kept dropping hints and he noticed the Slytherin lurking around the seventh floor after classes, obviously in the hope of catching Harry alone again. On Monday evening Harry decided that enough was enough. It was time to gather that famous Gryffindor courage and get it over with. Stalling would get him nowhere. That and he really needed to get out of the common room, where Hermione and Ron were making eyes at each other in the corner, while Lavender and Parvati discussed Quidditch players amidst a lot of giggling.
He slipped out without anyone noticing and slowly made his way to the seventh floor. Draco smiled when he saw him.
"Fancy meeting you here. It's been a while."
He sauntered over, but Harry held up a hand to stop him.
"I didn't come for that."
The words did nothing to deter the Slytherin, who only smirked.
"Of course you didn't."
"I mean it, Draco. I… don't want to do that anymore."
"Do what?" Draco whispered, closing the distance between them and leaning in for a kiss.
Harry ducked away.
"You know exactly what."
The blond frowned and opened his mouth to reply, but Harry cut him off. He knew that he needed to keep talking. Stay out of reach. Because if he allowed Draco to try and change his mind or even kiss him, he would surely give in again.
"Let's just end this okay? Don't kiss me again. Don't touch me. And most importantly, don't molest me in a loo again."
"You weren't complaining at the time." Draco pointed out.
"It was a mistake, okay?"
"A mistake? Why are you suddenly so uptight about this? I thought we had fun."
Yes, just a bit of fun. And there was the problem for Harry.
"We did, but… this casual thing… it's not working for me, okay? I want something real. Something serious."
Draco's frown deepened. "Is this a weird way to ask me out on a date?"
"I… no. It's… it's not just about…" Harry stammered.
He was getting frustrated. How could he explain this? Preferably without sounding like a complete fool?
"We don't even talk, Draco." he pointed out. "You ignore me. In the common room and during classes. You act like I don't even exist."
"I… I thought that was what you wanted." the blond muttered.
"Why would you think that?"
"When term started you ignored me, too. And I got it, okay? With everything that's happened… We used to be enemies."
He was right about that. But Harry was tired of fighting.
"And that means we can't try to be friends?"
"Wouldn't it be weird? People would talk." Draco pointed out.
"I don't care about what people think."
A noise at the end of the corridor made both of them jump. It sounded like Peeves was wreaking havoc again. And he seemed to be coming their way. So Harry decided to use the distraction and escape this awkward conversation.
"You know what? Let's just forget it, okay? Ignore me all you like. As long as you stop stalking me in empty corridors and loos."
That said, he turned and walked away quickly. Draco didn't follow him.
For the next couple of days, Draco continued to ignore him and he also stopped hanging around the seventh floor. Harry told himself that it was better this way and that he was only imagining the pang of regret. He'd miss snogging the blond git, but that was all. He hadn't developed any sort of feelings for Draco. That would be completely ridiculous. And that also wasn't the reason why he felt like moping on Friday afternoon. Malfoy had absolutely nothing to do with that.
His bad mood was only due to the fact that he was trying to do his Potions homework, but completely failing to understand what Slughorn was on about. He'd never gotten the concept of antidotes and he doubted he'd get away with writing "Just use a bezoar" this time. Hermione was trying to help him, while simultaneously having a discussion with Goldstein, but her explanations only made him understand less, if possible. And Ron, the lucky sod, had taken off to watch the Gryffindor Quidditch team practice. Demelza was captain this year and he felt the need to help her. He'd probably charm Hermione into letting him copy her homework later.
"Really, Harry. It's not difficult. If you would just concentrate." Hermione scolded.
"I am concentrating." he grumbled petulantly.
She shoved the book at him. "Here, Golpalott's third law states that the antidote for a blended poison will be equal to more than the sum of the antidotes for each of the separate components…"
"Seriously, Granger. Quoting the book at him isn't going to make him understand any better."
Harry stiffened at the familiar drawl. Without warning Draco sat down next to him.
"Why don't you finish your discussion with Goldstein, while I take over tutoring Potter?"
The younger boy looked at him in obvious surprise. Hermione seemed equally shocked. Without waiting for an answer, Draco settled onto the couch more comfortably, closed Harry's Potions book and started explaining:
"Forget Golpalott's third law. First thing you need to do is break the Potion down into its components."
Harry had to stifle a stupid grin. Because he realized what Draco was doing. The blond was giving them a chance.
"Hey, are you listening to me?"
"Yes. Break the Potion down into its components." he repeated dutifully.
Draco nodded and went on: "Then you need to measure the components…"
Hermione continued to watch them for a few more minutes, but finally she seemed satisfied and focused her attention on Anthony Goldstein. Harry for his part listened to Draco with rapt attention. The way the blond explained it, the stuff actually started making sense.
"Why don't they write it like that in the books?" he complained.
"Probably because they expect NEWT students to have a certain knowledge already."
"How is anyone supposed to understand that shit? NEWT student or not."
Draco's lips twitched. "You really shouldn't give me an opening like that, if you don't want me to insult you."
Harry couldn't help smiling back. "Since when do you need an opening to insult me?"
The blond inclined his head in agreement and Harry's smile widened. He had no idea what the hell they were doing here, but he liked it. It made him feel giddy somehow.
"Thanks for the help."
"Well, I can't let the Saviour fail Potions, just because he's too dim-witted to understand the explanations in the book."
Hermione, who was obviously still listening to them, while planning something with Goldstein and jotting down notes (that girl took multi-tasking to a whole new level), gasped in indignation. But Harry only laughed. He'd actually kind of missed the insults.
"I'm more a practical kind of guy." he claimed.
Draco snorted. "Keep telling yourself that. And if you need help again, feel free to ask."
"Oh don't worry, I will." Harry promised.
"What have I gotten myself into?" the blond asked theatrically.
Draco actually chuckled and went back to sit with Pansy Parkinson, who was giving him a calculating look. Harry settled back into his seat with a smile.
"You and Malfoy seemed to get along surprisingly well yesterday."
Harry looked up from his breakfast, glancing at the Slytherin in question, before focusing his eyes on Hermione.
"He's not as much of a git as he used to be."
"He insulted you." she pointed out.
"And I insulted him back. It's what we do." the dark-haired boy said with a shrug.
"And he really just went over and offered to help you? Just like that?" Ron asked for what felt like the hundredth time.
"Yep, he did."
"That's just weird."
"Harry laughing about his insults is weird." Hermione muttered.
"Hey, he laughed too, when I called him a Drama Queen."
Ron and Hermione shared a calculating look.
"That doesn't mean you're friends with him now, does it?" the red-head checked almost warily.
"I don't think we're friends yet. But we could be." Harry mused.
"You really want to be friends with the ferret? Why?"
"Why not? The war is over and I think it's time we left old grudges behind. We're not kids anymore."
"He's right about that." Hermione agreed. "I also feel that we should finally start living inter-house-cooperation. Anthony and I are working on some projects…"
"I'm fine with that. But why Malfoy?" Ron insisted.
"Because I think he wants to move on as well."
"I think it's very mature of you, Harry. And it would certainly set an example, if the two of you could put your differences aside." Hermione mused.
Ron looked pained. Harry was glad to have found an excuse. And if his friends could get used to him and Draco as friends, then maybe something more could come of it as well. If Draco even wanted that. For now he was just glad that the blond was no longer ignoring him.
Over the course of the next week, Harry and Draco studied together two more times. Draco turned out to be a surprisingly patient tutor and Harry found himself actually understanding Potions for the first time since 6th year. The blond explained it all in a way that was surprisingly easy to understand. Of course he managed to insult Harry here and there, but it was always said in a joking manner and the Gryffindor felt that he'd miss the insults if the Slytherin suddenly started being nice all the time. Bickering with Draco made him feel a little bit more normal. By their second study session people even stopped giving them curious looks.
Hermione had been seen in deep discussion with Anthony Goldstein a few more times, but when asked would not reveal what they were planning. Only that it had something to do with inter-house-cooperation. Much to Ron's displeasure. But it looked like they were going to find out more now. It was Friday again and Hermione and Anthony had gathered all the eighth years in the common room.
"Thank you all for coming." Hermione gushed with a smile. "As you all know, headmistress McGonagall wants to strengthen inter-house-unity. And we, that means Anthony and I, feel that us eighth years should set a good example. We all share a common room, yet we are still mostly divided by houses. In order to change that, we have decided that it is time we all get to know each other better. And we thought it would be a good idea to do that in a way that promises to be fun. After all, the mixed Quidditch game last weekend was a big success. So from today on, Friday will be games night!"
She looked around with a gleam in her eye that Harry had only seen there when she was talking about SPEW. He exchanged a quick look with Ron and they both knew that there was no getting out of this. Hermione was relentless when she set her mind on something. And it looked like she had found the perfect accomplice in Goldstein.
"What exactly does that mean?" Padma Patil spoke up, amid the overall chatter.
Goldstein pointed at her with a slightly manic grin. "A good question, Padma!" he enthused. "It means that from now on we will meet here every Friday evening to play different games. For now Hermione and I are going to choose the games, but you are all more than welcome to hand in suggestions."
"And what if we don't want to play?" This was said by Blaise Zabini, who looked appalled at the mere idea of playing games.
"Well, of course attending games night will be voluntary. But I believe that we all want to show our headmistress that we're making an effort, don't we? Otherwise she might feel the need to make attendance mandatory."
Goldstein's answer was received with quite a few groans and muttered curses. Because no-one had any doubt that he would rat them out to McGonagall if they didn't participate. And the headmistress actually might force them to.
"So, I say enough with the talking and on with the fun!" Anthony said, still in that falsely cheerful voice.
Harry felt the sudden urge to strangle him.
"For our first games night we have picked - Charades!"
This announcement received a few groans and a lot of puzzled looks.
"Good of you to ask, Ron." Anthony's grin got bigger still. "It's a Muggle game. Hermione, why don't you explain the rules?"
Hermione's smile seemed a little more genuine. But her voice was equally cheerful when she replied:
"Of course, Anthony. Charades is a game of pantomimes: you have to 'act out' a phrase without speaking, while the other members of your team try to guess what the phrase is. The objective is for your team to guess the phrase as quickly as possible. The rules are quite simple. Players have to act out clues without using props or words while their teammates guess the answer. The goal is to correctly guess more clues in less time than the other team. At first we divide into teams and determine the maximum time a player gets to act out a clue. We usually use three minutes. Then a player of Team 1 chooses a clue from the bowl and secretly reads it. The 'timer', which would be Anthony and I, starts play and the Team 1 player acts out the clue until a teammate guesses the correct answer or time expires. The quicker the clue is solved, the better. The game then continues with a Team 2 player and so on. Members alternate to allow every player to act out a clue." she explained, like she was reciting from a book. Which, knowing Hermione, she probably was.
"Since we want to get to know each other, we will have mixed teams, of course." Anthony took over again. He pulled out a small bag and held it up. "Each of you will pull a marble from this bag. Everyone who has the same colour of marbles is going to be on one team. Any questions? No? Good, then let's start." He passed the bag to Padma, who pulled out a purple marble, before passing it on to her sister.
In the end they had four teams.
Team purple consisted of Padma Patil, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Susan Bones, Daphne Greengrass and Goyle. Team white consisted of Pansy Parkinson, Ron, Dean, Mandy Brocklehurst, Parvati Patil and Lisa Turpin. Team black were Neville, Seamus, Blaise Zabini, Millicent Bulstrode, Michael Corner and Terry Boot. And Harry, Draco, Lavender, Hannah Abbott and Ernie MacMillan made up team orange.
"Who wants to start?" Goldstein asked enthusiastically.
After a few tense seconds, Ron hesitantly raised his hand. Mostly to please Hermione, Harry suspected.
"Wonderful, Ron." she beamed at her boyfriend. "Now pick a clue from the bowl and tell me when you're ready."
About an hour into the evening Harry had to admit that maybe Hermione's idea hadn't been that bad. He was certainly having fun and judging by the gales of laughter all around, so were the others. Team orange was currently in the lead. Thanks to Draco, who was actually very good at Charades. His expressive gestures made it surprisingly easy to guess the clues. And Lavender was rather brilliant at guessing. Team black was hard on their heels however. Neville turned out to be surprisingly good at acting out the clues as well, while Blaise Zabini and Terry Boot were good at guessing. Seamus was mostly laughing his ass off.
By the end of the night they were all exhausted from shouting, laughing, running around and generally making fools of themselves. Team orange had won narrowly by only one point, but it was still a victory and they congratulated each other accordingly. Harry laughed at Draco's surprised look, when a squealing Lavender hugged him. It was nice to see the girl acting so exuberant once more. Catching Hermione's eye, he gave her a thumbs up.
On the next morning at breakfast people were still talking about the game of Charades.
"Parvati was brilliant, acting out the Triwizard Tournament, wasn't she? I can't believe it took us so long to guess it."
"Remember Terry acting out that Troll? I can't remember ever laughing that hard."
"I still think we got all the hard clues. How the hell are you supposed to act out a Niffler?"
"So… games night was a big success." Harry said, sitting down next to Hermione.
"I'm so glad it worked out. Anthony and I really invested a lot of time into planning, you know?"
"I've got to admit, I was sceptical at first. But it was fun."
"Would've been more fun without Parkinson screaming in my ear all the time." Ron chimed in.
"Yes, she was very enthusiastic." Hermione agreed with a smile.
Next Friday they played 'Who is it', a game where one person at a time was blindfolded, while the others stood around in a circle. The blindfolded person then had to reach out to the circle and ask “who is it?”. The first person caught had to answer, only in a weird voice and the one with the blindfold had to guess who it was. They all had a lot of fun.
It turned out that Goyle was really good at masking his voice, while Seamus was horrible at it. Harry caught Draco and recognized him instantly, despite the blond's rather good attempt to fake Seamus' accent. Hermione for her part was rather displeased when a blindfolded Ron accidently groped Susan's tits. Luckily Susan took it in stride, while Zabini proposed to change the game to recognizing people not by voice, but by groping them. He shut up when Pansy hit him with a book.
The week after that it was "Partners in Pen". For this game they were divided into pairs (again by pulling marbles from a bag). They had to sit back to back, while one of them was given a bag filled with odd objects and the other pen and paper. The one with the bag then had to pull out the objects and describe them, without saying what they're used for. The other one had to draw them. They scored a point for every correctly drawn object and the pair with the most points in the least time won.
Harry was partnered with Ernie MacMillan, who was about as horrible at describing stuff as Harry was at drawing. They didn't even manage to score one point and tied in last place with Seamus and Ron. Pansy Parkinson, who was surprisingly brilliant at describing and Hannah Abbott won this game, with the same amount of points but about a minute less time than Draco and Parvati.
Three weeks after Draco had first helped Harry with his Potions homework, their study sessions had become a regular occurrence. Harry still met up with Ron and Hermione in the library to study for Transfiguration and DADA, but he now studied Potions, Charms and Herbology with Draco. They usually sat together in the common room, sometimes joined by Neville, Pansy or Terry Boot. But mostly it was just the two of them and Harry was just fine with that.
Studying with Draco was actually a lot more fun than he'd ever anticipated. While Hermione insisted on them being quiet during study sessions, unless anyone had a question or needed help, Draco usually talked a lot. They compared notes and discussed their assignments, but they also talked about other things as well. Nothing too deep or personal. Just random things like Quidditch, music, hobbies or favourite food. And they made fun of their classmates. Draco had a snarky commentary about almost anyone and Harry soon found himself joining in, delivering a few jabs of his own. Even against Ron and Hermione, though he always made sure that no-one was within hearing range.
He could now freely admit that he liked the blond. He liked spending time with Draco and he liked bickering with him. And he would very much like to kiss him again, but had no idea how to go about it. Would Draco even want a serious relationship with him? Or had he chosen to simply become Harry's friend instead of snogging him in secret? Would one exclude the other? Would Harry have to choose?
He was about ready to ask Luna for advice again, but couldn't manage to catch her alone. At least not without appearing suspicious and the last thing he wanted was to get Hermione and Ron on his case again, now that they had finally stopped showering him with concern all the time. He decided to try and catch Luna on the weekend. Maybe they could go down to the lake again, if the weather held up. It was still surprisingly nice for late October.
But now it was Friday night and he was sitting in the common room with the other eighth years, curious to see what Hermione and Anthony had come up with this time. He was surprised to find himself actually anticipating games night by now. At first he had been sceptical, but it was actually a lot of fun and even more surprising, it seemed to be working. People had stopped grouping together by houses all the time. At least a little. New friendships were forming, albeit slowly.
"Okay, tonight we decided on a different sort of game." Hermione spoke up. "We've gotten more comfortable around each other now, so Anthony and I thought it was time that we got to know each other better."
"I knew it. We're playing truth or dare!" Pansy piped up.
"No, Pansy, we're not. At least not tonight." Hermione declined.
"But it is something about truth." Anthony chimed in. Luckily he had abandoned the falsely cheerful voice and too-big smiles by now and was talking like a normal human being. As much as he was able to.
"The game is called 'two truths and a lie'." Hermione took over again. "It's very simple. Each of us will state three facts about him- or herself. Two of them will be true and one will be a lie. Then the rest of us has to guess which one is the lie."
"We don't want to make anyone uncomfortable, but since we're all friends here and the reason for this game is getting to know more about each other, we would ask you to share some secrets." Anthony said.
"And please chose things that aren't common knowledge, even among your friends. We don't want to make guessing too easy, right?"
Quite a few people looked uneasy about this game and Harry could already tell that this wouldn't be a fun night like the others had been. He only hoped Hermione and Anthony knew what they were doing. Reluctantly he joined the others, sitting down in a circle on the floor.
"Alright, since we'll be able to participate in this one, I'll start and then we go around the circle clockwise, okay?" Hermione asked. When everyone nodded she went on: "Good. My favourite colour is blue. I think my parents are a little scared of me, which really hurts. And I've always been afraid of not being good enough."
Harry looked at her in surprise, as did quite a few others. It seemed that no-one had expected her to tell them something quite so personal. It only made his unease grow and he started wondering what he could share with the others.
For a long moment no-one spoke. Finally it was Draco, who broke the silence:
"Weirdly enough, that first one was the lie."
Hermione looked at him in surprise. "It was. How did you guess?"
"Well, you're Muggleborn. I think a lot of Muggle parents must be a little scared when their kids turn out to be witches. And with your obsessive studying it isn't hard to guess that you're scared of not being good enough."
His explanation left a lot of people speechless, Harry among them.
"Well, I guess you're right." Hermione said finally. "On with the game then. Ron, your turn."
The red-head swallowed hard and looked around the circle nervously. "Okay, umm… In first year I dreamed of becoming head boy. I always envied Fred and George, because they were so close. And … I always wanted a pet kneazle."
The fact that he listed three things rather effortlessly made Harry realize that Hermione must have warned him about the game. And neither of them had warned Harry, which really pissed him off. Some friends they were.
"Last one's the lie. We all know you don't like cats." Lavender spoke up.
"I don't exactly dislike them either." Ron tried to defend himself, which made everyone laugh.
It did nothing to lighten the mood however. People were still tensely awaiting their turn, but everyone was surprisingly willing to share secrets. As the game went on they all learned that Parvati was glad to have been sorted into a different house than her sister, since it was finally something they didn't have in common. Susan Bones admitted to liking girls, which in turn made Terry Boot admit that he was gay. Seamus had had a crush on Dean back in fifth year and was still undecided whether he liked girls or boys. Millicent Bulstrode hated that she was so tall and envied Daphne for her beauty.
Goyle felt lost without Crabbe and had no idea what to do once he left Hogwarts. Padma had been jealous of Lavender for most of their Hogwarts years, since her twin liked Lavender better than her. Pansy Parkinson told them about the row she'd had with her mother, because she didn't want to marry some rich pureblood her parent's had picked out for her. Lavender broke down in tears after admitting that she'd considered suicide because of the scars marring her face. Everyone tried to comfort her, assuring her that she was still herself and Daphne offered to share some make-up tips. A few people admitted to still having nightmares.
Then it was Harry's turn and he swallowed hard as every gaze fixed upon him. "Err… I don't really want to become an Auror anymore." He saw Ron look surprised at this. He hadn't had the nerve to tell anyone yet. Casting around for a lie that wouldn't be too obvious he settled on: "I miss my Muggle relatives." and tried not to grimace. Only one more thing now. He didn't feel ready to come out just yet. Shooting an apologetic look at his two best friends he admitted: "I'm a little jealous of Ron and Hermione. Because I really want a relationship like they have."
The silence stretched, grating on his nerves. He just wanted the attention to shift to someone else.
"You don't miss your relatives." Draco finally stated.
Harry just nodded, glad that it was Neville's turn now. Everyone turned to stare at Neville, but Draco's gaze lingered on Harry for a moment longer.
"Until I was ten, I thought I might be a squib. I hate visiting my parents. And I always wanted to learn to fly properly." Neville said without hesitation.
"The last one is the lie." Hannah Abbott spoke into the silence.
"Yes. I've always been a bit scared of flying."
A few people laughed and even more joined in when Justin Finch-Fletchley admitted that his mother had found his wizard porn collection while cleaning his room. But the laughter died down quickly as the game went on. Ernie MacMillan had developed an addiction to the Dreamless Sleep potion in the first two weeks after the war, which he still had to fight. Lisa Turpin was afraid she'd fail DADA, since she couldn't cast a defensive spell without getting a flashback of the final battle and breaking down in tears.
Harry became anxious again when it was Draco's turn, wondering what the blond would reveal.
"I'm looking forward to Christmas at the manor. I… I'm glad that my father ended up in Azkaban. And… I'm feeling sort of … lost."
Tense silence followed his words.
"The first one was a lie." Harry heard himself speaking up.
Draco looked up from where he'd been staring at the floor and their eyes met. He nodded and the game continued with Blaise Zabini, who admitted to hating all of his stepfathers and shared his plans to move to France after graduation.
When they were finally through, everyone was silent for a moment.
"Well, thank you all for being so open and honest." Hermione spoke up again. "I know it wasn't easy. But we learned a lot about each other tonight and I think this brings us closer together. Feel free to talk about what you've learned and if you think you might be able to help someone, please try to do it."
Slowly people started getting up and retiring to their rooms, some of them chatting quietly. Harry was pulled aside by Hermione and Ron.
"We just wanted to say we're sorry that seeing us together pains you." the girl murmured.
"It's not that." Harry assured them. "You're the two most important people in my life and I'm really, really happy for you. And it doesn't really pain me. It's more that seeing you together made me realize what's missing in my own life."
"Hey, you'll find the right girl, mate. Even if it didn't work out with Ginny." Ron tried to cheer him up.
Harry forced himself to smile and vowed to tell his friends soon that he was actually looking for the right boy. But not tonight. He had shared enough about himself tonight and he felt very tired and drained.
"I'm sure I will."
Saturday found Harry once more wandering the halls alone. He'd had a hard time convincing Ron and Hermione to go off on their date. His two friends had insisted that he should come with them, that he could still hang out with them like they used to do, despite the fact that they were a couple now. Harry had assured them that he knew that, but just didn't feel like going to Hogsmeade today. Only when he had mentioned wanting to spend time with Luna had they finally backed off.
He really had thought about finding Luna, but in the end had decided against it. At least for now he felt more comfortable walking around aimlessly by himself. He knew that he was isolating himself again, but he just couldn't help it. He couldn't stand to be surrounded by so many people all the time, everyone looking at him, worshipping him even worse than before the war. He hated how a lot of people idolized him. And how they all just expected him to be okay, after everything that had happened. To go on with his life like planned.
He wasn't sure if it was really coincidence that he ended up on the seventh floor, where he found Draco leaning against the wall, seemingly lost in thought.
"Fancy meeting you here."
Harry snapped his mouth shut as soon as he'd said it. He had no idea what had possessed him to say it. The blond was giving him a curious look.
"Didn't feel like Hogsmeade?" he asked finally and Harry relaxed.
"Not really, no."
"Yeah, me either."
For a moment they just stared at each other. Then Harry walked over to the blond and leaned against the wall next to him.
"That was… pretty intense last night, huh?"
Draco snorted. "You could say that. I still wonder what they were thinking."
Harry wondered about that himself, but didn't voice that thought.
"I was surprised that everyone seemed so willing to share secrets." he said instead.
"Peer pressure." Draco guessed. "And I believe most of us kept the darkest secrets to ourselves."
"Guess you're right about that." the Gryffindor agreed. He had kept his darkest secrets to himself.
He hesitated slightly, before voicing his next question: "What you said… about feeling lost… What did you mean?"
Draco shrugged. "Growing up my future was already planned for me by my father. I was supposed to get good grades and graduate as top of the class. Then I would marry a nice, pureblood girl that he picked out for me, carry on the family name and eventually take over for him." His voice sounded bitter. "But now he's rotting in a cell in Azkaban. As he should be." he continued harshly. "Which means that I actually get to decide my own future. Make my own choices. It means that I finally have the freedom I always wanted. And now I don't know what to do with it."
"You're not the only one who's lost." Harry said quietly. "I only know that I don't want to become an Auror. It's what everyone expects of me, but…"
"You shouldn't do something you don't want, just because people expect it. It's your life." Draco reminded.
"I know. And… I've been fighting Voldemort since I was eleven. I'm just tired of chasing dark wizards. Tired of the constant danger."
"I can imagine. You never enjoyed being the hero, did you?" the blond whispered.
"No, I didn't. I hate it. I hate all the fame and what everyone makes me out to be. They just called me the Chosen One and expected me to defeat Voldemort. Even Dumbeldore. I was only sixteen! I was never allowed to be just a kid, you know? There wasn't one year at Hogwarts where I didn't have to fight for my life. I never got to be just Harry. I was the boy who lived, the Chosen One, the Saviour… And I'm just so tired of it all. Of trying to always do the right thing and pleasing everyone…" He was glad to finally say these things aloud. To voice these thoughts that had been plaguing him for so long.
"I know what you mean." Draco said quietly. "I never got to be just Draco, either. I was my father's son, Slytherin prince and junior death eater. I had to try to live up to father's expectations and when he failed the dark lord I was forced to take the dark mark. I never wanted to, but they threatened my mother. I had no choice. I never had a choice. Until now."
Yes, strangely enough Draco understood. Probably better than anyone else. Maybe they weren't all that different after all. Maybe it was only natural that they should end up together.
They were silent for a while, both lost in thought.
"Maybe it's okay … to be lost for a little while." Harry mused. "We've still got time to figure out what we want, don't we?"
"You're right. We've got time." Draco agreed.
Their eyes met and Harry felt like the breath had been knocked from his lungs. He moved closer to the blond unconsciously, which seemed to be all the invitation Draco needed. The first brush of lips on lips felt heady and the Gryffindor found himself grabbing Draco's shoulders, pulling him closer, wanting more. His tongue pushed past unresisting lips and he moaned softly when he felt Draco's arms encircling his waist.
"Fuck, I've missed that." he murmured when they had to come up for air.
"You're the one who wanted to stop." Draco pointed out.
"I know. Silly of me. I take it back."
The Slytherin chuckled and pulled him in for another heated kiss. Harry melted against him. Merlin, he had missed this even more than he'd realized. And right now he couldn't understand why he had told Draco that he wanted to stop it. No-one was making him chose, so why couldn't he have both - Draco's friendship and this?
Ron and Hermione returned from their date just in time for dinner. They found Harry already in the great hall, smiling and feeling thoroughly snogged. He and Draco had spent a long while making out in the corridor and then they'd run into Luna on their way back to the eighth year common room. He grinned, thinking back to the interesting afternoon he had spent with the two blondes.
"Did you have fun with Luna?" Hermione asked, obviously relieved by his good mood.
"Oh yes, she had Draco and me running through the whole castle, looking for glitterblimps."
"You and Malfoy?" Ron wondered with a slight frown. He was still sceptical about Harry's new friendship with the Slytherin.
"Yeah, we ran into him." Harry lied, hoping he wasn't blushing. "And then Luna asked him to come along. You know how she is."
"And he just went along with it?" the red-head wondered.
"He likes Luna. And it was fun. Especially when Draco complained about getting his clothes dirty."
Because glitterblimps obviously preferred old, dusty cupboards and Luna had had them crawling through at least a dozen of them.
"Ha, I can't imagine that pompous git crawling through dusty cupboards." Ron laughed.
"But he did. He complained, but he did it."
While Luna had always waited outside, now that Harry thought about it. If he didn't know any better he'd think she made it all up to force the two of them into those cupboards together. Hadn't her smile been a bit too knowing when they'd taken the time to snog for a minute or so, before leaving the cupboard again?
The next week went by in a breeze. Lessons and studying kept everyone busy and the piles of homework seemed to increase daily. Harry and Draco discovered that the library had a few hidden corners, which were perfect for snogging. By now no-one batted an eyelash anymore at seeing the two of them studying together, so it was easy to sneak off every now and then. The last games night had made more of an impact than Harry would have guessed. Daphne could now often be seen giggling with Lavender and the Patil twins, Terry had asked Seamus out on a date and Neville had struck up a friendship with Goyle.
Harry had to admit that he dreaded the next games night a bit, but luckily Hermione and Anthony had decided to go back to fun games again.
"Tonight we're going to play a game that's a lot like Charades, only that instead of acting out the clues, you have describe them." Anthony explained. "And to make it a bit more difficult, we made normal clue cards and colour coded clue cards, which have a little twist to them. But we'll explain that when we get there. Every player has two minutes for his clues, each correct guess gets your team one point. For the colour coded cards you get two points."
He then brought out the marbles again to build four teams. This time Harry was on team black with Seamus, Pansy, Millicent, Ernie and Hannah. Team purple were Padma, Daphne, Neville, Terry, Goyle and Draco. Team white were Susan, Ron, Mandy, Blaise and Parvati. And Dean, Lisa, Justin, Michael and Lavender made up team orange. Hermione and Anthony were once again leading the game, instead of actively playing.
As it turned out, the colour coded cards had been a great idea. Seamus had to describe his clues with his mouth full of Droobles Best Blowing Gum and Justin had to describe while hanging upside down (Hermione had obviously gotten over her disgust at the Levicorpus-spell). Harry had to hop on one foot, Lavender had to sing instead of describing and Pansy had to do a handstand. Goyle had to fake accents, which he was very good at, while Dean had to use different 'emotions'. His improvisation of a 5-year-old girl on a sugar high had them all laughing so hard they were rolling around on the floor. Draco had to jump on a trampoline, Hannah had to balance a book on her head and Millicent had to describe her clues while being tickled by Hermione.
Harry went to bed with a big grin and a stitch in his side from laughing so hard that night. Ron kept gushing about the brilliance of his girlfriend for almost 20 minutes, before finally falling asleep.
Saturday dawned with looming clouds and a strong wind, which was pretty typical for the end of November. It started raining during breakfast, so a lot of the eighth years decided against visiting Hogsmeade that day. The novelty of being able to go there every weekend had mostly worn off by now. Harry spent some time in the common room, playing wizards chess with Ron (and losing as always) and chatting with Neville. When he left the great hall after lunch, Ginny suddenly fell into step beside him.
"So, I hear games night is a big hit." she said out of nowhere.
"Yeah, it's usually a lot more fun than I'd anticipated. How do you know about it?"
"Ron keeps gushing about it. Says how brilliant Hermione is for thinking of it." She rolled her eyes. "Unfortunately I have to agree with him. I heard a few other people talking about it as well. Do you think Hermione would mind if I copied her idea? I wanted to talk to McGonagall about hosting an inter-house-party every now and then and making it a games night sounds like fun."
"I'm sure Hermione would be delighted to let you copy her idea. But why are you organizing this thing?" Harry wanted to know.
"Because I'm head-girl, silly."
He stopped walking and turned to look at her. "Head-girl? Really?"
Ginny giggled. "You seriously didn't know?"
"No, I…" he broke off, not sure what to say. Somehow 'I haven't really been paying attention to you this year' didn't strike him as a good idea. He knew Ginny's talent for Bat Bogey Hexes after all. But she seemed to sense what he'd been thinking, because she gave him a sad smile.
"We haven't seen each other much this year."
"Well, with us eighth years having our own common room and all…"
Ginny shook her head. "It's not just that, is it?"
She had always been able to read him too well.
"No, I guess it's not." Harry admitted.
"I know that it's awkward since we broke up and all, but… I miss hanging out with you. Just as friends, you know?"
He nodded, unsure where she was going with this.
"Can't we just go back to being friends again? Like before?" Ginny asked.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief and found himself nodding. "I'd like that."
She grinned and grabbed his arm to make him start walking again.
"Brilliant. Then you're going to tell me all about games night, now. And you're coming to our match against Ravenclaw tomorrow, right? I'm Seeker for Gryffindor now, in case you missed that, too. We've got a new Chaser. His name is Alan. He's from my year and rather brilliant. Pretty cute, too. He asked me out last week, but I'm unsure if I should say yes, since we're both on the team. I don't want a repeat of the drama with Dean. What do you think?"
Harry laughed and tried to keep up with her chatter, admitting to himself that he'd sort of missed that. And since Ginny was starting to ask relationship advice from him now, he felt that they really could go back to being friends again. Maybe he'd even tell her that he was gay. He had to start telling people at some point and Ginny would most likely take it in stride.
Harry spent a nice afternoon with Ginny, trading gossip and giving her tips for the upcoming match. She decided to take Alan up on the date after all and he encouraged her. He'd gone back to viewing her as a little sister and he wanted her to be happy. He also agreed to accompany her to Hogsmeade on the next weekend, so they could do their Christmas shopping together. He'd need some help with that anyway.
When he was walking back to the common room some time later, he was suddenly grabbed by the arm and hauled into an empty alcove. Before he had a chance to react, warm lips covered his and he found himself melting into the kiss, grabbing Draco's shoulders for support. The blond pushed him back against the wall and slid a knee in between Harry's legs. The Gryffindor had to bite back a surprised moan.
"Whoa, slow down."
"Catch up." Draco shot back, mouthing that spot below his left ear that always made Harry's defences crumble.
Before he could give in to the blond however, he heard Ron calling his name.
"Harry? You there, mate? … I don't see him."
"I'm sure Padma said she saw him headed this way." Hermione's voice chimed in. Both of them were coming closer.
"Maybe he changed his mind and went down to dinner already." Ron suggested.
"You're probably right. Let's head to the great hall."
Harry breathed a sigh of relief as their footsteps retreated. When Draco leaned in again he pushed him away.
"Not now. They'll come looking for me if I don't go down to dinner."
"So? Let them look."
"Draco, I mean it. Not now."
The blond scowled and stepped aside. "Fine, run along then, Potter."
Harry gave him a startled look. Draco looked incredibly pissed for some reason and he hadn't called him Potter in ages now.
"Hey, I didn't like that interruption any more than you did." he assured, stepping closer again. "I'll catch you later, okay?"
The blond looked torn for a moment, but finally he nodded.
"Seventh floor, after dinner. Don't make me wait."
Then he grabbed Harry and pulled him into a hard kiss. The Gryffindor just managed to gasp out: "I won't.", before he was gone.
Dinner was torture. Hermione and Ron kept talking about random things and seemed very pleased that Harry had spent the afternoon with Ginny and would be going to Hogsmeade with her next weekend. He only nodded and gave short answers, too focused on Draco, who was giving him looks from his seat across the hall. Lucky for him, Ron and Hermione didn't seem to mind his lack of enthusiasm. When dinner drew to an end, the blond Slytherin winked at him and left, so Harry got ready to head out as well, but Hermione suddenly decided that they should spend the evening together. Harry cast around for an excuse, when Luna suddenly chimed in:
"Actually… Harry promised to help me look for glitterblimps this evening."
Hermione and Ron gave her a startled look. Probably because they hadn't heard her approach, since she was wearing her fluffy slippers again.
"Oh, that's quite alright. We'll get together another time. Go ahead." Hermione urged.
"Lovely. Come on, Harry."
He followed Luna out of the great hall, more than a little confused, since he'd promised no such thing. She stopped at the foot of the stairs and turned to him with a serene smile.
"Off you go then. Draco must already be waiting."
Harry gave her a startled look. "You… knew?"
"About your date? Of course. It was quite obvious."
Yes, to her it probably was. So she'd come up with an excuse to get Ron and Hermione off his back. Harry was once again glad that Luna was his friend.
"Thanks, Luna. I owe you."
"You can help me look for figgwiggies in the Spring. And bring Draco, if you like." she suggested.
Harry grinned. "I'll do that. And I'm sure Draco will be delighted to come as well."
He bid Luna goodnight and then rushed up the stairs to the seventh floor. Draco was casually leaning against the wall and Harry was so busy staring at his lithe form that it took him a moment to notice the door next to him.
"It's still there, then."
"And it still works." Draco confirmed, opening the door and ushering him inside.
They entered a small, cosy room with soft rugs and a blazing fireplace. Harry's gaze however was immediately drawn to the big four-poster bed. He felt a ball of nervousness coiling in his stomach at the implication.
"I told you I'd find us a bed." Draco whispered into his neck and Harry shuddered.
He turned around and their lips met in a heated kiss, which did a lot to ease his nerves. For a long while they just stood there and snogged. Harry was starting to feel light-headed and his jeans were getting way too tight. He didn't protest when Draco started walking him backwards, without breaking the kiss. When his knees hit the bed he finally pulled away and turned to climb onto the mattress. Draco slipped his robe over his head and followed him, helping Harry to shed his robe as well.
They kissed again and when the blond started tugging at his jumper, Harry lifted his arms immediately, allowing Draco to pull it off. He realized that now would probably be a good time to let the blond know that he was still a virgin, but he couldn't bring himself to say the words. He didn't want Draco to stop or maybe even mock him for his inexperience. So he decided to just act on instinct for now. He reached out and started unbuttoning the Slytherin's shirt, before sliding it off his shoulders, gasping in shock when he saw the faint, white lines crossing the blond's torso.
"I made those." he choked out, unable to tear his gaze away.
Draco shifted self-consciously. "I know they're not pretty. Just … don't look at them, okay? Or… I can put my shirt back on if it bothers you."
Harry looked at him sharply. "The only thing that bothers me about those scars is the fact that I caused them."
"It's okay. I know you didn't really mean to hurt me."
"I had no idea what that spell did." the Gryffindor whispered. "I'm so sorry."
"Hey, it's okay. Really. I deserved it, after everything I've done." Draco muttered.
"No, it's not okay. And you didn't deserve it."
"But it's the past. It's… nevermind. Guess that was a turn-off, huh? I sometimes actually forget that they're there. And how ugly I look."
He tried to turn away, but Harry caught his arm.
"You're not ugly. Not at all. I told you, the scars only bother me, because I caused them. But you … You're beautiful."
"Really?" Draco asked hopefully.
"Yes, really. You're… perfect." Harry assured.
He reached out tentatively to trace a scar with his finger. When Draco didn't object he got bolder and bent his head to place gentle kisses onto the slightly raised skin. The blond laid back on the bed to give him more room, carding a hand through Harry's hair and murmuring in appreciation. Then he gasped suddenly and Harry looked up in alarm.
"Did I hurt you?"
"No, quite the contrary." Draco assured with a smile, before pulling him up for another kiss.
Blushing lightly Harry ducked his head back down and continued his ministrations. Encouraged by Draco's breathy moans he started using his tongue, while his hands gently traced the blond's sides. Draco let him continue for a bit, arching into the soft touches, small moans spilling from his lips, before dragging him up for another kiss and reversing their positions.
Harry moaned when he felt first Draco's hands and then his lips and tongue on his naked skin, nipping and tasting, moving slowly downward. When the blond reached the waistband of Harry's jeans, he didn't hesitate to undo them.
"Take those off."
The Gryffindor nodded jerkily and got up to remove the jeans, noting out of the corner of his eyes that Draco was shedding the rest of his own clothes. He tried not to stare, but failed miserably. It was the first time he got to see Draco naked and he simply couldn't take his eyes off him. The blond was a vision, with his chiselled features and smooth, pale skin. Catching the Slytherin's knowing smile, Harry blushed even harder and blurted:
The smile morphed into a smirk.
"Thanks. So are you. And now come back here."
Harry crawled back onto the bed and allowed Draco to pull him into another passionate kiss. The blond hooked his fingers into the waistband of Harry's underpants and pulled them down. Hesitating only slightly, Harry kicked them off. He was rewarded with the blond's hand wrapping around his cock, giving it a few slow strokes that had Harry arching against him with a groan. He did his best to return the favour, despite the odd angle and the fact that he'd never touched a cock aside from his own. Judging by the way Draco moaned into his neck, he did alright.
The blond continued his teasingly slow strokes, while his other hand caressed Harry's back, moving steadily lower, until it reached his ass. He gave it a gentle squeeze, one finger dipping between the cheeks. Harry tensed and pulled away, jolted out of his pleasure-induced stupor.
"Don't." Reluctantly he met Draco's eyes. "Not… not yet, okay?"
Just being naked with the blond and touching him like this was a big step. He didn't feel ready to take things further just yet and was a little afraid Draco wouldn't understand. But the Slytherin only gave him a searching look, before nodding and smiling softly.
"Okay. No need to rush."
Harry breathed a sigh of relief and allowed Draco to push him onto his back again. The Slytherin crawled on top of him, settling between his open thighs and Harry gasped when their erections brushed against each other.
"This okay?" Draco checked.
"Yeah, that's… good."
Draco leaned down to kiss him again, while he started moving, rubbing against the younger boy. Soon Harry was arching into him, matching his rhythm, groaning as each contact sent sparks through his whole body, driving the pleasure higher and higher. Until it all became too much and he shot between their bodies with a muffled cry. Draco's movements became erratic then and he followed Harry over the edge only seconds later.
Harry groaned when Draco collapsed down on top of him. For a moment they laid like that, panting and sated. Finally Harry poked the Slyhterin in the ribs.
Draco chuckled and rolled to the side. When he'd caught his breath he grabbed his wand from the floor and cast a quick cleaning charm on them.
The Gryffindor muttered a quiet thanks and waited for the blond to give him a clue on what to do next. Should he just … get up and start dressing? Or were they supposed to talk now? When Draco simply flopped down on the bed again, Harry decided to take a chance and gave in to the urge to cuddle up to him. Draco sighed and pulled the covers over both of them.
"Don't fall asleep." he warned.
"I won't." Harry murmured, his eyes already fluttering closed.
Harry was grinning when he entered his room later that night. Of course they both had ended up falling asleep, but luckily only for an hour or so.
"Had fun chasing … whatevers with Luna?"
Ron's question made him jump. He only hoped he wasn't blushing.
"Err.. yeah. I wouldn't have thought so, but spending time with Luna is always fun."
That at least wasn't a lie. He enjoyed spending time with Luna. And it was always fun. Even when she made him crawl through dusty cupboards.
"Ever thought about trying your luck with magical creatures? As a job, I mean." Ron asked suddenly.
"Hmm, no. Not really. Why?"
"Well, since you don't want to be an Auror anymore, I was just wondering what you wanted to do instead."
Ah, yes. There it was. They hadn't talked about that yet. He'd been surprised that the red-head hadn't cornered him earlier, truth be told. But both Ron and Hermione had obviously been more hung up on the other thing he'd shared during that game.
"I don't really know what I want to do. I just know that I don't want to be an Auror anymore." he confessed.
"I get that, mate. After everything we've been through…"
"So you're not mad?" Harry checked. "I know we planned to join Auror training together."
"Nah, truth be told, I don't really feel like becoming an Auror anymore, either." Ron admitted.
Harry breathed a sigh of relief. "You're tired of fighting, too?"
"Sick and tired of it."
They were silent for a minute. Finally Ron admitted: "George asked me to join him at the shop."
"Really? That's cool."
"I… wasn't sure at first. I know that I can never replace Fred. But… I think it would be nice. Fun, you know?"
"No-one asks you to replace Fred. And if you think you'll enjoy working at the shop, then that's exactly what you should do." Harry advised.
"What about you?" the red-head wanted to know.
Harry shrugged. "I'll find something. I've still got time."
Time to be lost for a little while longer, he thought, remembering his conversation with Draco. Which then made him remember … other activities with Draco. And thinking about that while trying to keep up a conversation with Ron was probably not a good idea.
"I guess I'll head to bed. Goodnight."
On Sunday Harry went to the Quidditch game with Ron and Hermione and cheered with the other Gryffindors. The new Chaser was pretty good, he had to admit, but their Keeper wasn't quite up to Ron's level. His friend beamed when Harry mentioned that. The Ravenclaw Keeper however, a bulky sixth year girl, was rather brilliant. Gryffindor had a hard time keeping up and won narrowly by only 20 points when Ginny caught the Snitch. Harry joined the others for a victory party in Gryffindor tower, but snuck out after about 20 minutes to meet Draco in the room of requirement.
The next games night finally brought the long awaited game of Truth or Dare. At least long awaited by some of them. Harry actually felt rather anxious about the whole thing. And looking around he guessed he wasn't the only one.
"Alright, you all know the rules to this one, I guess. However, we don't want to make anyone uncomfortable here, so please don't ask things that are too prying, no dangerous dares and nothing of a sexual nature. Also, everyone has the right to not answer a question or to forfeit a dare. As penalty you have to donate a few knuts. The money will be used to buy sweets from Honeydukes for our last games night before Christmas holidays." Hermione explained.
After that there were a few discussions about what would count as a dangerous dare and what exactly she meant with sexual nature. Everyone vetoed Zabini's idea to use Veritaserum to make sure people really told the truth. They agreed however, to spin a bottle in order to determine the next player.
Once the rules were more or less decided, they all sat down in a circle, with an empty butterbeer bottle in the middle. Anthony took the liberty of starting the game and spun the bottle. It landed on Justin, who picked truth.
"What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?"
"Ummm.. that would be when my mother found my porn collection."
Amidst gales of laughter, Justin spun the bottle. This time it landed on Hannah, who chose truth as well.
"Who do you think is the most attractive bloke in this room?"
Hannah blushed crimson and muttered shyly: "Neville."
Hearing this, Neville blushed too, though he looked quite pleased.
The bottle landed on Seamus next, who picked dare, of course. Hannah blushed even more, before daring him to run around the castle in only his underpants for at least 10 minutes. Everybody laughed and looked at Hannah with newfound respect. Seamus got up with a grin, gave her a wink and started stripping off his clothes. Once he was back, he told everyone that he'd run into a Ravenclaw prefect, who took five points from Gryffindor. After everyone had calmed down again, the game continued and got more raucous as the night went on, Hermione's warning about dares of a sexual nature quickly forgotten.
Pansy was dared to give Susan a lap dance, about a dozen people were dared to snog someone (Harry luckily escaped that fate and was glad when Draco did as well), Ron had to flash his naked butt and Parvati had to do a striptease (which prompted a lot of catcalls, but did nothing for Harry whatsoever).
There were silly dares as well, like Lavender having to hop backwards through the common room or Anthony having to sing the national anthem while doing a handstand. Blaise had to declare his undying love to the first person he met out of the common room and they all fell over each other laughing when that person turned out to be Filch. Who of course ran off to fetch the headmistress. They could only guess how McGonagall reacted, because she never showed up and no-one saw Filch again that night.
The truth questions got more prying as well. They learned that Millicent had lost her virginity when she was 16, Ernie had a bondage kink and Goyle dreamed of an orgy with the Holyhead Harpies. All things Harry never wanted to know, if he was quite honest. Just like the fact that Lisa had had a crush on him in fifth year or that Terry had gotten a blowjob in the library in sixth year, with Madam Pince only a few feet away.
It was also a good thing that the game allowed them to forfeit dares and not answer questions. Justin dared Harry to sneak into Gryffindor tower and get a girl to write her name onto his prick. Something he'd obviously seen in a Muggle movie once. Harry chose to forfeit that one and paid the money.
Just like Draco paid, when he was dared to kiss the most attractive person in the room, which prompted some speculation about who he might find most attractive. Harry wondered if he'd imagined the blond's eyes straying to him briefly. Lavender didn't want to answer the question whether or not she was still a virgin. As did Hermione. Michael refused to kiss Harry, who breathed a sigh of relief. Ron chose not to answer when Seamus asked him if he'd shagged Hermione yet.
While the game was mostly fun, Harry was still glad when Hermione decided to end it and call it a night. He was among the first who retreated to their dorm rooms this time. Seamus, Dean, Padma, Terry, Pansy, Ernie, Lisa and Blaise stayed back to continue playing.
On Saturday Harry met up with Ginny after breakfast. It was a cold and windy day and the clouds promised snow. Bundled up in coats and scarves they made their way down to Hogsmeade to get their Christmas shopping done.
"Where to first?" Harry asked.
"How about Gladrags? I wanted to buy a scarf for mum."
"Alright. Let's go."
They made their way through the street, already crowded with Hogwarts students out to do their shopping as well, and entered the clothing shop. Ginny settled on a scarf for her mother pretty quickly and then helped Harry to pick out a beautiful silk scarf for Andromeda and some colourful socks for little Teddy. He also found a pretty flower-necklace he bought for Luna and a bracelet for Ginny, while she was getting that necklace Ron wanted for Hermione.
After that they went to Spintwitches Sporting Needs, where Harry bought a Chudley Cannons fan shirt for Ron, a broom-servicing kit for Charlie and a tiny baby shirt with the words 'future Quidditch champion' written on it for Teddy.
Next stop was Tomes and Scrolls, where they got a few books for Hermione and Percy. Harry looked around for a while, but like in the two previous shops couldn't settle on anything to buy for Draco. So they left the shop and went into Dervish and Banges, where they got presents for the rest of the Weasley's without much difficulty, but Harry still found nothing for Draco. He was getting increasingly frustrated. He didn't want to get some stupid, ordinary last minute gift, but also had no idea what the blond might like.
Ginny ignored his foul mood and dragged him into Scrivenshaft's Quill Shop, where he bought a new quill for Hermione, before finally stumbling over the perfect gift for Draco. It was a set of special drawing quills. Harry remembered their conversation from a few weeks ago, where the Slytherin had told him that he liked to draw. The Gryffindor had seen him doodling on some parchment, while he waited for Harry to finish his essay and had to admit that Draco was really good. Feeling immensely pleased with his purchases he left the shop and followed Ginny towards the Three Broomsticks.
"Why don't we get lunch and then pay a visit to Honeydukes before heading back?" she suggested.
"Sounds like a plan. I can get some chocolate for Teddy."
"Harry, he's just a baby. He doesn't eat chocolate yet."
He looked surprised at this. "Oh. Right. Well, then I'll get some for Andromeda." And for Draco.
Ginny gave him a fond grin and dragged him into the pub.
Of course they ran into some friends at the Three Broomsticks and ended up staying longer than originally planned. Ginny introduced Harry to Alan, who turned out to be a nice bloke. And he really was rather cute, with his long, dark hair and the crooked smile, though Harry didn't say that aloud. After lunch and a few butterbeers they finally left the pub and spent some time at Honeydukes, before heading back to the castle with their bulging shopping bags.
"Mind if I come to the eighth year dorms with you? I want to drop the necklace off. And Ron owes me two sickles now. You'd think he'd remember how much the gift he'd picked for his girlfriend would cost." Ginny grumbled.
"Sure. Do you want to go to Gryffindor tower first to drop off your purchases?"
"No, I want my money." the girl insisted.
Harry just nodded and led her towards the eighth year quarters.
The common room was mostly deserted. Susan and Terry were studying for an upcoming Arithmancy test, while Ernie, Justin and Mandy played Exploding Snap in a corner. Hermione and Anthony were bent over a pile of paper on the floor, intently discussing something, with Ron watching from the couch. He got up when he saw his sister and motioned for her and Harry to follow him.
"Did you get it?" he asked excitedly, once they were safely in his and Harry's room.
"Of course I did. And you owe me two sickles, so cough up."
"Two sickles? Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm sure. Do you need to see the receipt?"
Harry ignored their bickering and used Ron's distraction to hide his gifts. He wouldn't put it past the red-head to go snooping. When he finally turned back to the other two, Ron was grudgingly handing over the money.
"Thanks ever so much, dear brother." Ginny smirked. "And now help me carry my bags to my room."
"Sod off, Gin. You can carry your stuff yourself." Ron shot back.
"So much for chivalry. How does Hermione put up with you? Fine. Harry, help me carry my bags."
And before Harry could protest she had deposited her shopping bags in his arms and was marching out of the room. He rolled his eyes, flipped off Ron, who grinned at him and followed her. When they reached the portrait of the fat lady, Ginny took her bags back.
"Thanks, Harry. This was fun. We should do it more often."
"Not too often." he protested weakly, which caused her to giggle.
She kissed him on the cheek, muttered the password and slipped through the portrait hole.
Shaking his head, Harry turned away from the portrait. It had been nice, but shopping wasn't really his thing and Ginny dragging him from one shop to the next got really annoying after a while. He'd put up with it during the brief time they'd dated and today, because he had really needed some help finding something for Andromeda and Luna, but he vowed not to make a habit of it. The next time she asked, he'd just tell her to take Alan instead.
He started walking back towards the eighth year quarters again, when he was suddenly grabbed and pushed against the nearest wall.
"Draco!" he gasped in shock.
"Harry." the blond answered, before proceeding to snog him senseless.
Harry responded eagerly, losing himself in the kiss for a moment, but when Draco's hands started roaming his body, he suddenly remembered that they were standing in a very public corridor. Gryffindor tower was just around the corner and any minute someone could walk by and see them. He caught Draco's hands when they reached his fly, pushing the blond away slightly.
"Fuck, Draco! Not here."
The Slytherin looked startled for a moment. Then he grinned and Harry shuddered. That twinkle in his eyes never bode well.
"Right. Come on."
He grabbed Harry's arm and dragged him a few steps further down the corridor, before opening a door and pushing him inside. Harry recognized one of the old storage cupboards Luna'd had them crawling through. It was stifling and dusty in here and not all that private either. Only a thin door separated them from the very public corridor. A door with several long cracks, which allowed slivers of light to filter into the small space. Enough to make out the expression on the Slytherin's face, once Harry's eyes had adjusted to the dim lighting.
Draco shoved him up against the wall and started mouthing at his neck, turning his protests into a quiet whimper. His hands moved to Harry's fly again, deftly undoing the button and pulling down the zipper, before pushing his jeans and underpants down over his hips. He pressed another heated kiss to Harry's lips, before sinking to his knees. Harry had a second to wonder if the blond was really going to do what he thought he might. Then Draco's hot mouth slid over his cock and cut off all rational thought. He let his head fall back and his eyes fluttered closed as Draco began to suck, using both hands to pin Harry's hips to the wall.
"Oh god, oh fuck. Draco!" he gasped and then bit his lip when he realized someone might hear him. He was too out of it to cast a Muffliato and he didn't want Draco to stop. Not even long enough to cast a privacy spell. So he pressed his arm against his mouth in an attempt to stifle the noises, while his other hand carded through the blond's hair. He wasn't trying to guide his movements. He simply needed something to hold on to.
It took an embarrassingly short amount of time. Harry tried to warn Draco with a gasp and a (probably too sharp) tug at his hair, but the blond didn't budge and he could only groan as he came in Draco's mouth. His knees threatened to give out and he was glad for the wall at his back, supporting his weight. He opened his eyes and looked down in time to see his prick sliding out of Draco's mouth. Harry was sure he'd never forget this incredibly erotic sight.
"That was… wow."
Draco stood up with a grin.
He sounded so incredibly self-satisfied that Harry felt the urge to punch him for a second.
Instead he tucked himself back in and did up his jeans, as soon as his limbs started cooperating again. Then he reversed their positions, pushing the blond against the wall this time. Without thinking about what he was going to do he sank to his knees and started fumbling with Draco's pants. The blond helped and Harry suddenly found himself staring at Draco's very erect cock, without really knowing what he was doing.
He felt a gentle hand carding through his hair and looked up.
"You don't have to." Draco assured.
"But I want to."
And it was the truth. He wanted to make Draco feel as good as Draco had made him feel. He wanted to know how Draco tasted. What it felt like to perform this intimate act. Not giving himself a chance to chicken out he leaned forward and licked along the hard length, jumping slightly when Draco's hips thrust forward.
"Sorry." the blond gasped.
Harry gave him a nervous smile and placed one hand firmly on the narrow hips to keep them steady. His other hand stroked the hard shaft a few times, before he leaned in again and took the head into his mouth, sucking lightly. The hand in his hair returned, carding tenderly through the dark strands. The touch felt comforting and Harry got braver, sliding his mouth down further, nearly gagging himself in the process.
"Hey, take it slow."
Harry hummed to indicate he understood and was rewarded with a low groan. Since it worked so well he did it again, before starting to bob up and down slowly, using his hand to stroke the base, trying to imitate that thing Draco had done with his tongue. He was obviously doing it right, if the breathy gasps and moans spilling from Draco's lips were any indication.
"Yes, just like that. Fuck, Harry! Gonna…"
This was all the warning he got, before his mouth was flooded with salty liquid. He swallowed as best as he could and let the rest dribble down his chin. Then he pulled off and got to his feet, wiping his face with the sleeve of his jumper. His jaw ached a little, but it was worth it to see the blissed out look on Draco's face.
"Sorry." the blond muttered, grimacing slightly as he pulled his pants back up.
"Don't be. So… I guess I did alright?"
"You did great."
Harry smiled a little at the praise and allowed Draco to pull him into a kiss, neither boy caring that he could taste his own come in the other's mouth. When they pulled apart, the Gryffindor cautiously opened the door and peaked out. Seeing no-one, he stepped out of the cupboard, unconsciously smoothing down his clothes.
"We should probably freshen up. It'll be time for dinner soon." Draco commented.
"You're right. And Hermione always gets worried when I don't show up on time."
"We can't have that. Better hurry up then."
Sharing one last, secret smile they made their way to the eighth year quarters. Harry had just enough time to brush his teeth and grab a fresh jumper, before Hermione and Ron came looking for him. He went down to dinner with them and nodded along to Hermione's rants about using the next games night to make Christmas decorations and put them up in the common room. But his eyes kept straying to the Slytherin table.
Later that night he watched Draco and Ron playing wizards chess (the one thing they agreed on was that Harry was horrible at it) and smirked when the red-head lost. Ron huffed about cheating Slytherins and joined Dean and Padma for a game of Exploding Snap, while Harry took a seat next to Draco.
"Did you want to play?" the blond asked.
"No way. It's bad enough that I lose to Ron all the time."
"Yes, you really are terrible at wizards chess. Even worse than Potions, I'd say."
Harry hit him with a cushion, which only made Draco laugh. A few heads turned their way, but by now people were used to their bickering and quickly lost interest again. Harry got comfortable on the couch, not caring that he was half-leaning into the blond, who didn't seem to mind either.
"What are your plans for Christmas?"
Draco gave him a startled look. Then he shrugged, a little uncomfortable.
"I think mother and I will spend a quiet Christmas this year. Just the two of us. … What about you?"
"Well, I'll be spending most of the holiday with Andromeda and Teddy. My godson, you know?"
Draco nodded and motioned for him to continue.
"And then I promised to go to the Burrow for the last few days. And New Year's Eve, of course."
"Right. Well, I'm tired. I'm heading to bed."
Harry just stared after the blond, surprised at the sudden departure.
Time seemed to accelerate as Christmas holidays drew nearer. The teachers were relentless when it came to lessons and homework and Harry was reminded of fifth year, with all the extra work he had to do to prepare for his NEWTs. The eighth years spent the last games night before the holidays making Christmas decorations and putting them up in the common room, despite the fact that none of them would be staying at Hogwarts during Christmas break. As promised, Hermione and Anthony had used the money from their truth or dare game to buy different sweets from Honeydukes and everyone had a good time.
Harry had a few more, pleasurable encounters with Draco. They mostly planned it beforehand now and then met up in the room of requirement. But Draco also ambushed him again in a public corridor and dragged him into an alcove. At least he waited until Ginny, who had been telling Harry about their first inter-house party, had rounded the corner and disappeared out of sight.
And then the holidays were there and they were all boarding the Hogwarts express to go home for Christmas. Harry felt a little awkward, sitting with Ron and Hermione, who were acting all lovey-dovey since they'd be apart for most of the holidays and Ginny, who kept rolling her eyes and making gagging noises at them. He was glad when Luna joined them halfway into the journey and he could discuss nargles and blubbering humdingers with her.
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were already waiting at Kings Cross, so Harry spent a few minutes talking to them, assuring them he'd be at the Burrow on the 30th. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Draco hugging his mother, but they were gone by the time the Weasleys took their leave. So Harry grabbed his trunk and apparated straight to Andromeda's house, like they had discussed. She greeted him with a hug, gave him a critical once-over, reminiscent of Mrs. Weasley and finally commented that he looked good.
"Teddy's sleeping. You can take your trunk upstairs and wash up before tea, if that's alright."
"Yes, sounds good." he agreed.
He was just about to grab his trunk when Andromeda held him back. She suddenly looked nervous.
"Harry, wait. There's something I need to tell you first. I… I invited someone else to stay here over the holidays."
Harry smiled at her. "That's nice. Who is it?"
"It's… my sister. Narcissa. We've finally put our differences aside and patched things up. Of course she's going to bring her son. I know you and Draco don't really get along and I'm sorry if this makes you uncomfortable. I'm also very sorry for not telling you sooner. I just… I didn't want them to spend Christmas at this horrible manor."
Harry's smile got wider.
"Don't worry, Andromeda. Draco and I put our differences aside as well. We're actually friends now."
"Really? Oh, that's wonderful, Harry. So you don't mind them coming?"
"Not at all."
Actually the idea of spending Christmas with Draco sounded rather brilliant.
"I'm glad I worried over nothing, then. But you better go wash up now. They should be here any moment."
"Okay. See you in a few minutes."
Still grinning Harry bounded up the stairs to his room.
Once he'd put his things away and freshened up, he stepped out into the hallway and nearly collided with Draco, who had obviously just left the room next door. It was another guest room, Harry knew, but it hadn't been used in a while.
"Hey. Andromeda just told me you'd be staying here, too."
"Yes, mother told me at the station. We just went to the manor to get a few things first." Draco let him know.
"So, we'll get to spend Christmas together."
"Looks like it."
They stood there a little awkwardly for a moment, until Harry remembered that Andromeda was waiting for them. He lead the way downstairs and they found Andromeda and Narcissa already in the living room, a tea tray on the table in front of them.
"Hello, Mrs. Malfoy. It's nice to see you again. How are you?" Harry asked politely.
"I'm fine. But please, call me Narcissa."
They sat down and Andromeda poured the tea. It was awkward for the first few minutes, but soon they were all chatting animatedly. Harry and Draco were talking about school, while Andromeda and Narcissa regaled them with stories about Teddy. The sisters obviously spent a lot of time together lately. Harry was glad that they had made up. Glad they had each other. He caught Draco's stunned look a few times and had to stifle his laughter. It should probably feel more surreal than it did, having tea with his maybe-boyfriend and his mother. But it was actually nice.
Later Harry took over feeding Teddy, who had grown a lot since he'd last seen him. He read him a bedtime story and tucked him in and then spent a few minutes just watching him sleep. Once again looking at the baby made him realize how much he missed Remus and Tonks. And Sirius. He suspected that this ache would never really go away, but at least it was getting more bearable.
Dinner was just as easy as tea had been and soon Harry found himself wandering back to his bedroom and changing into his pyjamas. But as night fell he lay in his bed, tossing and turning and too restless to sleep. He'd had trouble sleeping ever since the war. It had only recently gotten better. Mostly because he was usually exhausted from a long day at school, he suspected. But this day hadn't been exhausting at all. A little after midnight he wandered down to the kitchen to get a glass of water.
When he reached his room again he found Draco emerging from the bathroom.
"Can't sleep?" the blond whispered.
After a slight hesitation, Draco grabbed Harry's elbow and pulled the younger boy into his room. They settled on the bed, not looking at each other.
"I'm glad aunt Andromeda invited us. I really didn't feel like going home this year." the blond broke the silence.
"I can imagine."
"It just… it doesn't feel like home anymore, you know?"
"I know what you mean. I was glad Andromeda invited me as well, because… I don't really have a home right now."
Sure, he had Grimmauld Place, but that didn't feel like home. There were too many ghosts there. Too many memories of Sirius and Fred, of Remus and Tonks and so many others he had lost. And the war. Maybe it would get better, once he'd get around to renovating. Though he wasn't looking forward to living there all on his own. And he had the Burrow, but after his break-up with Ginny he felt like and outsider there.
"I'm also glad we get to spend Christmas together." Harry muttered after another bout of silence.
They moved closer together unconsciously and Harry's gaze dropped to Draco's lips.
"Mother is sleeping downstairs with Andromeda."
Taking that as cue, Harry cast a quick silencing charm at the door and then they were kissing and touching and it was brilliant. And afterwards, wrapped in Draco's warm embrace, Harry slept peacefully and without nightmares.
Christmas Day dawned with sunshine and a thick layer of snow. On Andromeda's insistence they had breakfast first, before settling in the living room to unwrap their presents. Harry groaned when he saw that Hermione had gotten him a new homework planner. The various sweets from Ron were a lot better and of course there was also the usual jumper from Mrs. Weasley, red this time, with a black H on the front.
A gasp drew his attention to Draco, who was sitting next to him on the couch and had just unwrapped the set of drawing quills.
"Thank you, Harry. They're amazing." he said in awe.
Harry grinned and hoped he wasn't blushing.
"Glad you like them."
Turning back to his own presents, he spotted a small basket. As he reached for it, it sort of wobbled and he paused with his hand halfway there. He was just debating with himself whether it would be safe to open or not, wondering if Hagrid had decided to send him a baby Acromantula or something equally horrible, when Draco spoke up next to him:
"That's from me."
Harry gave him a curious look, noting the Slyhterin's sudden nervousness. Feeling only slightly relieved he pulled the lid off the basket and gasped in surprise. Intelligent eyes were blinking up at him from a small, furry face with big ears. Hesitantly he reached into the basket and lifted the young Kneazle out. It fit into his hands easily and started purring as he cradled it to his chest.
"You said you wanted a new pet, but not an owl, so I thought…" Draco tried to explain.
Harry looked at him and they both smiled when the Kneazle reached up to paw at his glasses.
"Thank you. I… it's great. Perfect."
There was no mistaking Draco's relief.
"It's a girl. She doesn't have a name yet, but there's a license in your name." he explained.
Harry stroked the soft, grey and white flecked fur and found himself falling in love with the little creature instantly. "What am I going to call you, hm?"
"You'll think of something." Draco muttered, reaching over to pet the Kneazle as well.
Neither of them noticed the smile Andromeda shared with Narcissa or how the two women were watching them.
They had a nice day with lots of great food and laughter, but a few sombre moments as well. The visit to the graveyard was one of those moments. Harry's chest felt tight, staring at the grave of Remus and Tonks. Andromeda had little Teddy cradled in her arms and was leaning against Narcissa. Draco's hand slipped into Harry's, giving it a gentle squeeze and he smiled at the blond, grateful for the silent support.
Back at home they warmed up with steaming mugs of hot chocolate and Andromeda brought out a few photo albums. Looking through the pictures brought joy and sadness in equal measure. Dinner was quiet that night, with all of them lost in memories and Harry was glad when he could escape to his room. He sat down on the bed and played with his Kneazle, already besotted with her. Draco joined him after a while.
"Have you found a name yet?"
"Yes. I'm going to call her Alice." Harry let him know. "It reminds me of a book I read as a kid. Alice' Adventures in Wonderland."
"I know that book."
Harry looked at the blond in surprise.
"Really? But it's a Muggle book."
"I've always loved to read. And I had a tutor when I was about nine, who encouraged that. She got me lots of different books, some of them Muggle."
"And did you like it?" Harry asked.
"Oh, yes. It was weird, but really good."
"I thought so, too."
They shared a small smile and went back to playing with the little Kneazle, who demanded their attention with a loud meow. That night Harry slept with Draco spooned against his back and Alice safely tucked into his arms.
The next morning Harry was getting dressed for breakfast, late thanks to Alice, who had stolen his socks and then made him chase her around the room to get them back, when he heard Teddy wailing downstairs. He quickly pulled his new jumper on and started towards Teddy's bedroom, but when he reached the stairs the wailing suddenly stopped. Thinking that Andromeda had gotten there before him, he went to the kitchen, surprised to find both Andromeda and Narcissa seated at the table.
"Harry, thank you for getting Teddy." Andromeda greeted him.
"Err, but I didn't. I thought you did." he said dumbly.
"No. He stopped crying, so I thought…"
The mystery was cleared a moment later, when they heard footsteps padding closer and a soft voice:
"… and then Alice followed the white rabbit all the way to his rabbit hole…"
Draco entered the kitchen with the baby cradled in his arms. He was smiling down at Teddy as he talked and the baby looked up at him with big, interested eyes. Andromeda and Narcissa shared a soft smile, but Harry was unable to take his eyes away from Draco. His chest suddenly felt too tight. And in that moment, staring at the blond cradling his godson, he realized what should have been obvious all along. He was in love with Draco Malfoy.
Draco sat down, still holding Teddy and smiled at Harry. The Gryffindor smiled back automatically, heart in his throat.
The moment was broken when Andromeda spoke up:
"You'll make a good father one day, Draco."
The blond's smile fell and he dropped his gaze.
"I'll never be a father."
At this, Narcissa got up and put her hands onto his shoulders.
"Don't say that, darling. You can always adopt, once you've settled down with a nice wizard."
Harry couldn't help the surprised gasp that escaped him and blushed when she turned her attention to him.
"I'm sorry, Harry. But I'm sure you know about Draco's … preferences."
His blush deepened and Draco suddenly looked rather red as well.
"I do. I just… wasn't aware that you knew." Harry admitted.
"Of course I know. A mother always knows. Draco could never really keep anything from me."
"Homosexuality isn't as frowned upon in the wizarding community as it is among a lot of Muggles." Andromeda joined the conversation. "While there are some purebloods who insist on their sons marrying a woman to continue the line, most of us aren't as narrow minded."
"Oh. That's… good to know." Harry said without thinking.
Andromeda smiled at him. "We certainly don't mind, Harry. We're happy for you both."
He looked at her uncertainly, before exchanging a quick look with Draco, who seemed resigned. Did that mean that they… knew?
"Don't look so shocked." Narcissa admonished gently. "As I said, Draco could never keep anything from me. And quite aside from that, you two really aren't doing a very good job of hiding it."
"Not at all. It's painfully obvious." Andromeda agreed with her sister.
Harry had no idea how to react to that.
"You also don't need to hide it." Narcissa assured.
"As I said, we're happy for you."
Both women smiled at him. And Draco, though he looked rather mortified, managed a wry smile as well, so Harry simply nodded and breathed a little easier. They knew and they were okay with it. He was in love with Draco and Draco's mother was okay with them … dating. Or whatever. He still had no idea how the Slytherin really felt about him, but maybe everything would work out in the end.
The next few days were great. The fact that Andromeda and Narcissa were so encouraging made it easy for Harry to just relax. He could curl up with Draco on the couch, while they all listened to the wizard wireless (obviously Celestina Warbeck was a Christmas must in every wizarding household) and the two women would only smile at them. He could lean against the blond or hold his hand, whenever he felt like it. One morning when they passed each other in the kitchen, he even risked a quick peck to Draco's lips and neither woman batted an eyelash.
It was liberating. And it also meant that he got to see a new side of Draco. Even at school, surrounded by their friends, the Slytherin always appeared a little guarded. A little wary. But now he was completely open with Harry. He would laugh freely when they had a snowball fight and smile softly when he held Harry's hand while they took a walk through the snow or when they sat on the floor, playing with Alice.
He was also really great with Teddy. Andromeda was more than happy to leave it to Harry and Draco to feed and bathe the baby and they soon found out that nothing got Teddy to fall asleep faster than Draco reading to him. He and Harry had found Tonk's old copy of 'Alice Adventures in Wonderland' and Harry loved sitting there, listening to his soothing voice, as Draco read the story to Teddy. It all felt natural somehow. It felt like family.
On Harry's last day at Andromeda's, the two sisters decided to take Teddy out on a little trip.
"We'll take a walk, browse through some shops and get hot chocolate at the 'Crup and Unicorn', just like we used to do when we were girls." Andromeda told them.
"Don't wait up for us. We'll probably be back late." Narcissa added with a slightly mischievous smile.
Of course Harry and Draco used this opportunity and wasted no time getting to Harry's room. The Gryffindor had no idea how long they spent just kissing. For once they had all the time in the world. There was nowhere they needed to be and there were no friends, who might start looking for them. They undressed slowly, enjoying the unhurried pace and then spent long minutes mapping each other's body with hands, lips and tongue. Draco smiled down at Harry, who was a quivering mess below him. His hand traced a path up the dark-haired boy's thigh and Harry trembled, opening his legs wider in invitation.
The blond hesitated, biting his lip. "Harry…"
"Yes. Do it."
Harry took Draco's hand and moved it to the swell of his ass. Draco looked stunned for a moment, but his hand moved of its own volition, a finger slipping into the cleft.
"Are you sure?"
Harry smiled softly. "Yes, I'm sure."
And he was. Now that he'd finally realized just how much the blond meant to him, he wanted them to be as close as possible. He'd always wanted his first time to happen with someone he really loved. And for once in his life something was actually going the way he wanted.
But that didn't mean he wasn't nervous. At the first, light touch to his hole he jumped, muttering and embarrassed "Sorry.".
"It's okay. We don't have to." Draco assured.
"No, I want to. I've just… I've never…" Harry admitted, feeling his face heat.
He looked up at the blond in obvious surprise, earning himself and eye roll.
"It wasn't that hard to guess."
"Oh. Okay. So, ummm… have you?"
Now it was Draco's turn to blush.
"Once. With Theo. Theodore Nott. It was last year and … it didn't really mean anything. We were just … looking for comfort, I guess."
Harry nodded. He'd already known that Draco had at least some experience. He was actually surprised that it had only been once.
"Okay. But I want to. Really."
Draco assured him that he could back out anytime and Harry's heart swelled with emotion. The blond was gentle, watching him intently as the first slick finger breached him. Harry gasped when Draco hit his prostate, barely noticing when a second finger joined the first. Three were a little uncomfortable until his body adjusted. When Draco finally positioned himself, Harry's nerves made a reappearance. And it did hurt at first. But Draco had obviously developed the patience of a saint, easing into him slowly, inch by inch, giving him time to get used to the intrusion.
When Harry nodded he started rolling his hips in slow, shallow thrusts, that soon had the Gryffindor panting and begging for more. Draco sped up the pace little by little and once he found Harry's prostate again, it was pure bliss. Harry arched into his thrusts, feeling nearly incoherent from the pleasure, little gasps and moans spilling from his lips. His orgasm built slowly, rising like a tidal wave, crashing through him with just as much force. When Draco wrapped a hand around his cock it took only two strokes and he came with a startled cry, spilling between their bodies. Draco thrust into him three, four more times, before going still, his cock pulsing inside Harry.
They collapsed together on the mattress, panting for breath.
"Wow." Harry gasped.
"Yeah." Draco agreed, for once not all that eloquent either.
Once they had recovered somewhat, they shared a languid kiss, before cleaning up and cuddling under the covers together.
"I should probably thank mother for giving us time to ourselves." Draco mused.
Harry made a face.
"I got that you tell your mum a lot, but she doesn't really need to know what we just did."
“You really think she doesn't already know? Why do you think they left us alone today?"
"You… wait, you mean they left so we could… shag?" Harry asked, totally mortified by the idea.
"Of course they did. Didn't you catch mother's comment about being back late?"
“So they know we've… oh god!"
Harry buried his face in Draco's shoulder with a groan.
"If it makes you feel better, I guess they think we've already been shagging for a while." the blond mentioned helpfully.
"Better? That makes it even worse. I'll never be able to look them in the eye again."
Draco chuckled and poked him in the ribs.
"Don't ever call me Drama Queen again."
Harry looked at him then and his heart skipped a beat. He looked so happy and carefree.
"Why are you taking this so lightly? I mean, I'm totally happy they're okay with us and all, but.."
Draco shrugged. "She's my mother. I've gotten used to her meddling. At least she means well and takes my feelings and wishes into consideration."
The "unlike my father" went unsaid, but Harry knew that he meant it.
"I like your mother. Even if she's sneaky and knows too much."
"I'm glad to hear that. She likes you too, you know?"
"Hmm… I figured. Otherwise she probably wouldn't be okay with us shagging."
And that was still just too weird, but Harry tried his best to push that thought from his mind. She meant well. And her meddling was a lot better than an angry tirade. He was glad that Narcissa was okay with them. He really was. And Andromeda, too. But the thought that they knew… Well, at least he could take comfort in the fact that he would only have to face them for breakfast tomorrow, because he was going to leave for the Burrow after that.
Draco on the other hand wasn't at all happy with Harry going to the Burrow and spent most of the evening and the next morning trying to convince the Gryffindor to cancel.
"I can't. I promised Molly I'd be there." Harry said for what felt like the thousandth time.
"Just send them an owl. Tell them you're not coming. Say you want to spend more time with Teddy."
"I'm not using my godson as excuse." the Gryffindor grumbled, conveniently forgetting that he had in fact used Teddy as excuse more than once before.
By the time Harry's departure rolled around, Draco was sulking in his room. Narcissa took Harry aside and advised him not to take it to heart, admitting that she'd probably spoiled her son a bit too much.
"He's impossible when he doesn't get his way. Always has been."
Harry thanked her and decided to make a last attempt at placating the blond. Draco looked up when he entered his room.
"I guess you've come to say goodbye? Goodbye then." he snapped.
"Actually I wanted to ask if you'd mind looking after Alice for me. The Burrow can be pretty loud and crowded and I know you'll take good care of her."
Draco sniffed, but took the Kneazle from him, cuddling her close.
"Hey, it's only three days." Harry reminded, sitting down on the bed. "And the next holidays are solely yours. Okay?"
The promise coaxed a small smile from the blond.
"Do I get a goodbye kiss then?"
Draco rolled his eyes, grabbed Harry's head and proceeded to snog him senseless for a few minutes. The Gryffindor was breathless when they finally pulled apart.
"I'll see you at Hogwarts."
"Yeah, see you then."
Still feeling a bit out of sorts, Harry said goodbye to Andromeda and Narcissa, ignoring their knowing smiles and then took the floo to the Burrow.
Harry had always enjoyed spending holidays at the Burrow in the past, but this time it felt very different. Fred's absence was like an open wound and despite everyone's best efforts to muster some holiday cheer, the atmosphere was tense. Bill and Fleur were visiting Fleur's parents in France and Percy mostly kept to himself. George barely left his old room, still only a shadow of the man he'd been before, like he'd lost a part of himself with the death of his twin. Molly was bustling around and smiling like always, but sometimes her eyes would cloud over and she'd stare off into the distance for a few minutes. Ron spent most of the time attached to Hermione, who had only arrived at the Burrow the day before.
Harry missed Draco and regretted coming after only half a day. He should have cancelled after all. But now it was too late to turn back, so he spent some time with Ron and Hermione, until their couple-y behavior started grating on his nerves. He talked to Charlie and listened to his tales of dragons and he took a walk with Ginny. He followed Arthur to his shed and looked at his newest Muggle objects, barely able to feign interest. He slept fitfully that night, already missing the feeling of Draco's body curled against his.
New Years was even worse. George and Percy got drunk to the point of passing out and Molly kept pushing Harry and Ginny together all day long. At first Harry thought he was only imagining it, but after dinner Ginny finally had enough and confronted her mother about it.
"I only want what's best for you." Molly defended herself.
"Mum, we broke up ages ago. It didn't work." Ginny reminded her.
"You broke up because there was a war."
"We broke up because it didn't work."
The others looked on as the two women argued back and forth, their voices rising, the argument getting more heated by the minute. No-one dared to intervene.
"A relationship needs work. You can't simply give up when things get difficult." Molly insisted.
"You also have to know when to give up. There are difficulties you can't overcome." Ginny argued.
"Nonsense! You were perfect for each other. What difficulties could there be?"
"How about the fact that I'm gay?!"
A sudden silence descended over the room as everyone turned to stare at Harry. He blushed, regretting his outburst. But he also wouldn't take the words back. It was the truth after all and maybe it was time he told them.
"I'm the reason it didn't work. I'm gay." he said again, feeling lighter now that it was finally out.
"I knew it!" Ginny said, almost triumphantly.
"You did?" Harry asked in shock.
"Of course I did. I've dated you. And not even you can be that much of a gentleman. You never tried to grope me. Not even once."
She blushed when she realized that her parents were still listening.
Harry smiled ruefully.
"You could've told me. It took me a lot longer to figure it out." he admitted.
"Of course it did. You're clueless."
He couldn't argue with that.
Finally Molly seemed to have recovered from her shock.
"I'm sorry for pressuring you, then. And don't worry, Harry. We still love you. You'll always be part of this family." she assured him.
"And when you find a nice boy, you're more than welcome to bring him along."
Yes, somehow he couldn't really picture Draco at the Burrow. And he doubted the blond would be too welcome here. But he appreciated the gesture, so he simply smiled and sighed in relief when Arthur produced a rubber duck from god-knows-where, held it up and asked Hermione what Muggles used it for, successfully taking the attention away from Harry and making everyone groan in fond exasperation.
Harry somehow managed to dodge Ron and Hermione and their obvious questions for the rest of the day, even going so far as to fake sleep when Ron entered the bedroom that night. But on the next morning after breakfast his two best friends finally cornered him in the living room.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Hermione asked a little accusingly.
"Yeah, we don't mind, mate. We support you. No big deal." Ron assured.
"I'm sorry." Harry murmured. "I wanted to tell you. I just… I needed to come to terms with it myself first."
After growing up with uncle Vernon's comments about freaks and nancy boys and Dudley's nasty jibes, the realization that he was bent hadn't been easy on him. And then there was that whole thing with Draco and he still had no idea where they stood exactly. He'd wanted to be sure, before confiding in his friends. And he also hadn't known that wizards didn't have as many problems with homosexuality as a lot of Muggles did.
His words seemed to placate his friends somewhat.
"Is that why you've been so distant these past few month? Because you had to come to terms with being gay?" Hermione guessed.
Harry shrugged. It wasn't quite that simple, but… "Sort of, yes."
"Oh, Harry. You know you can tell us anything. We could have helped you."
"I know. But I had to figure this out by myself, Hermione." he insisted.
"Is it because of your Muggle relatives? Are they homophobes? I bet they are, aren't they? I'm so sorry you had to go through this uncertainty on your own. But wizards are a lot more liberal than most Muggles. Homosexuality really isn't an issue, so you shouldn't worry."
"Expect for some stuffy pureblood snobs." Ron chimed in again. "You probably shouldn't tell Malfoy."
The red-head grinned, like he'd just made a great joke and Harry's heart sank. He didn't know how to reply. How to tell them that Draco was, in fact, gay himself and very okay with Harry being bent. Thankfully Hermione wasn't done with her monologue and kept assuring him that it would be fine and that people wouldn't give him a hard time about it, when he decided to out himself openly. And she and Ron would be there to support him, no matter what.
“Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it." Harry finally managed and they beamed at him.
"So… is there someone you like?" Hermione suddenly wanted to know and he blushed.
"There is, right? Who is it?"
"Yeah, mate. Tell us. Terry Boot? Or that Ravenclaw prefect, who keeps giving you looks?"
Harry squirmed in his seat, trying to find a way out of this predicament. He couldn't bring himself to tell them that there was no-one. It would feel like betraying Draco. But he also couldn't tell them about Draco. At least not before talking to the blond about it. But if he said there was someone and refused to say the name, they would get suspicious. He hadn't been this cagey when he'd fancied Cho. Or when he'd though he fancied Cho, more likely.
He opened his mouth, unsure of what to say, but all that came out was an "Ooof!" when Ginny suddenly landed in his lap.
"Stop pestering him. He'll tell us when he's ready. Won't you, Harry?"
Harry was eternally grateful for her timing.
"See? And now come on, Harry. Percy volunteered us for kitchen duty."
He allowed Ginny to pull him to his feet and drag him to the kitchen to peel potatoes.
"Thanks for the save, Gin."
"Don't mention it. And don't worry. They probably won't take it too well when you finally tell them, but they'll get over it."
When he gave her a puzzled look she giggled and leaned closer to whisper in his ear:
"I'm talking about your sexy blond Slytherin."
"How… how did you…?"
His stammering made her giggle even harder. And he was most likely blushing as well. Ginny cast a quick silencing spell around them.
"How did I know? Well, aside from the fact that it's painfully obvious, since you've only been obsessed with him for years and can't stop staring at him - and vice versa - I saw you snogging in an alcove."
Harry wished the ground would open up and swallow him. And Ginny basked in his obvious mortification.
"You know, I'd be dutifully pissed - ditched ex-girlfriend and all that - but you look really hot together."
God, that was even worse than Draco's mum and aunt leaving them alone in the house so they could shag.
"Oh, don't act all prudish now. That's what you get for making out in a public corridor. After I had only just rounded the corner, I might add."
He had no reply for that and was actually glad when Molly suddenly poked her head into the kitchen.
"Ginny, I hope you're not harassing poor Harry."
"Just yesterday you tried to shove us together and now you're afraid I'm harassing him?"
"That was before Harry bravely told us that he's gay." Molly defended herself.
Ginny rolled her eyes. "We're only joking around. Right, Harry?"
Despite his discomfort he nodded. "Since Ginny's gone back to being the little sister I never had, I guess it's her job to pester me."
"Alright then. But those potatoes won't peel themselves."
They dutifully went back to peeling potatoes and Harry actually found himself smiling. Yes, the fact that Ginny had seen him and Draco was mortifying and he probably wouldn't get over it too soon. But he was glad that she was taking it so well. And her ribbing really meant that they'd gone back to the brother-sister-relationship they'd had before their failed try at being a couple. She would have given Ron just as much grief, he knew. And that made him feel a lot better about the whole thing. Like it was okay for him to love Draco. Like it was normal.
Harry had seldom been so glad about the end of Christmas holidays. He drove to Kings Cross with the Weasleys and Molly assured him again that he was still part of the family and would be welcome to spend his summer with them. He thanked her and told her that he'd already promised Andromeda to spend the summer holidays with her and Teddy and he felt only slightly guilty about using his godson as an excuse. Again.
He got a compartment with Ron and Hermione, while Ginny rushed off to find Alan. They were soon joined by Luna, who told them all about hunting Crumple-Horned Snorkacks with her father during the holiday. The train had only just started moving when the door to their compartment slid open and Draco entered, carrying a wicker basket.
"Someone missed you." he murmured, handing the basket to Harry.
"Hey, I missed you, too." Harry said, looking at Alice in her basket and hoping Draco understood that he actually meant him.
"What's that?" Ron asked, leaning over to peer into the basket.
Alice hissed and tried to scratch him. Draco snickered.
"Don't tell me you got yourself a bloody Kneazle!" the red-head grumbled.
"She was a Christmas present. Her name is Alice." Harry announced, reaching into the basket to scratch Alice' head.
"She's really cute, Harry." Luna said, scooting over for a closer look as well. Alice didn't hiss at her.
"Who gave you a Kneazle for Christmas?" Ron wanted to know.
The red-head glared at Draco.
"Great, now I have to share my dorm with that furry menace. You did that on purpose."
"Yes, Weasley. I bought a Kneazle for Harry, only to spite you. You've uncovered my evil master plan."
Harry laughed and the two girls snickered as well.
"That's not funny." Ron protested with a pout.
"Just be glad I left her with Draco, instead of bringing her to the Burrow with me."
"I wouldn't have minded. I'm sure Crookshanks would have liked the company." Hermione mused, looking over at her cat, who was currently asleep in her own basket.
"But I would've minded." Ron grumbled. "And when did you see Malfoy anyway?"
"Oh, he and his mum stayed at Andromeda's, too. Didn't I tell you?"
"No, you forgot to mention that." Hermione said.
"Well, as much fun as this has been, I've got to head back now. See you at Hogwarts." Draco said suddenly, turning around and marching off without waiting for a reply.
Harry looked after his retreating form with a frown. Had he imagined it, or had the blond's voice sounded rather cold all of a sudden?
"You had to spend Christmas with that git? Poor sod. You could've come to the Burrow earlier, you know?" Ron's voice shook him from his musings.
Harry felt an irrational burst of anger at his best friend and had to refrain from telling him off. He reminded himself that Ron didn't really know Draco. Not like he did. And he also didn't know what Draco meant to him.
"Draco is really nice, Ron." Luna came to the Slytherin's defense.
"He's changed. You said so yourself." Hermione reminded her boyfriend.
"He has changed. And Christmas was … fun." Harry said with a shrug.
Ron muttered that he was still a git and pouted when Hermione pointed out that he was simply still pissed at Draco for beating him at wizards chess three times in a row. At least they dropped the subject then, quarrelling for a bit, before making up and cuddling together. Harry felt a sudden pang. Only a few days ago he'd cuddled like that on the couch with Draco. Everything had been so easy. And now that they were on their way back to school, things already started getting complicated again.
Harry's mood took a definite turn for the worse when he didn't manage to catch Draco alone when they arrived back at Hogwarts. He was always surrounded by other people during dinner and he went to bed early. The next day it was the same. In class they had to concentrate, so even when he was sitting next to Draco (which he only did in Potions), Harry couldn't really talk to him. In the great hall and the common room there were always other people around and when they met in the library to study that evening, the blond was accompanied by Pansy, who didn't leave his side. Harry was getting increasingly frustrated.
The next day was Friday, which meant they didn't have lessons in the afternoon. Draco wasn't in the common room, so Harry decided to go looking for him, hoping to catch him alone. The blond had acted strangely distant since the train ride and he wanted to know if he'd done or said something wrong. But when he tried to leave the common room, after quickly fetching the Marauder's Map from his room, he was stopped by Pansy.
"Potter, I need your help with my DADA essay."
"Umm… sure, but I was actually…"
She didn't let him finish the sentence. Before Harry really knew what was happening, she had grabbed his arm, her sharp nails digging painfully into his skin, dragged him across the common room and pushed him down into a chair in the corner. She sat down next to him, opened her book and cast an inconspicuous privacy charm. Harry resigned himself to helping her.
"Okay, what exactly do you need help with?"
"Don't be daft, Potter. I don't need help with DADA."
"But you just said…"
Pansy rolled her eyes. "It was an excuse, you idiot. I want to talk to you. About Draco."
Harry swallowed hard. "About Draco?"
"I want to know what your intentions are."
"Are you going to repeat everything I say?"
He gave her a blank look, not sure what she wanted from him. He was also a bit intimidated by her, if he was honest.
Pansy sighed and shook her head.
"What exactly do you want from Draco?"
She looked furious with his lack of answer, but visibly reigned in her temper.
"Alright, if I have to state the obvious… Draco is my best friend and I don't want him to get hurt. Now, while I don't think your Gryffindor morals would allow you to hurt him on purpose, you're just dense enough to do it by accident. So if you're only leading him on or if this is just some kind of weird experiment for you, you need to stop right now. Before he gets even more invested in this."
"I'm not leading him on. And it's no experiment." Harry assured her, somehow resigned to the fact that obviously all the women in Draco's life knew about them.
"So he does mean something to you?" Pansy checked.
"He means a lot to me." he admitted, blushing lightly.
Pansy stared him down and he tried not to fidget under her glare. She seemed satisfied with what she saw, because she nodded and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Thank Merlin. I wasn't looking forward to putting him back together when you've eventually had enough."
Harry frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You really don't get it, do you? He's completely smitten with you, Potter. Always has been. And he's so scared that you don't feel the same. He's scared you're going to leave him for the Weasley girl. I know he acts all tough, but he's really very sensitive. And you have the potential to hurt him very badly."
"I'm not going to leave him. Not for Ginny or anyone else."
"You don't need to tell me, you imbecile. Tell him." Pansy snapped.
"I will." Harry promised, ready to get up and start looking for the blond. But Pansy held him back.
"Potter? If you break his heart, you will have to answer to me. And I'll make the dark lord look like a freaking Hufflepuff."
Harry grinned, feeling a sudden fondness for the girl. She was to Draco what Hermione or Ginny were to him, he realized. And it warmed his heart to know that Draco had friends like her. Even if she was a bit scary. "I'll bear it in mind."
He had just gotten up when the door opened and Draco entered the common room. Their eyes met and Harry felt his heart skipping a beat. But before he could even take one step towards the blond, the door opened again to reveal Seamus, Dean and Terry, carrying several bottles of firewhiskey.
"Gather round everyone!" Seamus shouted.
"Anthony was kind enough to let us take over this games night." Terry added.
Goldstein looked like he didn't have much say in the matter.
Harry sighed in defeat and joined the rest of his peers, sitting down in a circle on the floor. Dean flicked his wand and a shot glass appeared before everyone. Terry proceeded to fill all the glasses, while Seamus started explaining:
"As Terry said, we've taken over games night. So tonight we'll be playing … Never have I ever!"
"It's another Muggle game and the rules are very simple." Dean took over. "The first player says a simple statement starting with 'Never have I ever'. For example: 'Never have I ever cheated on my girlfriend.' If you have cheated on your girlfriend, you must drink. And so on. Everything clear?"
There were murmurs of agreement. Quite a few people looked apprehensive. Hermione looked like she wanted to murder Anthony, who shrugged helplessly. And Harry knew that this would be one of those games where he learned a lot more about his classmates than he'd always wanted to know. This had the potential to be even worse than 'Two truth and a lie' had been. On the plus side, they might all get drunk enough to forget the whole thing.
"Alright, I'm going first." Terry announced. "Never have I ever walked in on my parents."
There was a round of "Ewws" and some giggling when Ernie and Padma drank.
Seamus was next: "Never have I ever had a threesome." No-one drank to that.
And also no-one drank when Dean followed up with: "Never have I ever watched porn with someone else."
The next few sentences were a bit more harmless, which caused Terry and Seamus to boo and complain that their classmates were boring. The most creative thing Goyle could come up with was that he'd never dated a Muggle. Only a handful of people drank to that. The game went on like that for a few turns. Harry only had to drink when it was Hermione's turn and she stated that she'd never forgotten to do her homework.
Then Padma stated: "Never have I ever kissed a girl." and Seamus whistled when Susan, Daphne and Parvati all drank. Terry was the only boy who didn't drink.
Susan went on with: " Never have I ever kissed a boy."
This time Daphne was the only other girl who didn't drink. Harry blushed and downed his shot, casting a nervous glance around. Terry drank, of course. As did Draco, Seamus and Justin.
"Really, Harry?" Seamus yelled, successfully drawing everyone's attention to the dark-haired boy.
Harry felt the sudden urge to strangle him. He forced himself to shrug and sighed in relief when Ernie announced that it was his turn and the game went on.
"Never have I ever fantasized about anyone in this room."
Pretty much everyone drank this time.
Michael Corner seemed totally on board with the sexual statements. "Never have I ever performed a striptease for someone."
The fact that Pansy, Parvati, Susan and Terry drank prompted quite a few catcalls.
With a grin Lisa Turpin announced: "Never have I ever had sex with a girl."
Harry blushed crimson and hoped that Susan and Daphne both drinking to that would assure that no-one noticed him not drinking. Unfortunately Michael happened to notice and since he had always been a bit of an arsehole, he couldn't keep his mouth shut.
"What, the Chosen One's still a virgin?!"
"I thought you shagged Ginny." Dean chimed in.
"Oi, leave my sister out of this." Ron protested, but everyone was too busy staring at Harry to notice.
"Well, obviously I didn't. Can we get on with the game now?" Harry asked through gritted teeth.
"Yeah, my turn right?" Justin agreed. "Never have I ever gotten a blow job."
Harry wished the ground would swallow him up. But he forced himself to down his shot and stare at Michael defiantly. The arse smirked at him.
Then it was Susan's turn and she announced proudly: "Never have I ever had sex with a boy."
Harry tramped down the urge to glance at Draco as he downed the next shot. Once again people were staring at him. It was starting to grate on his nerves.
"Yes, I'm gay. So what?"
"The more the merrier!" Terry shouted happily, breaking the silence and raising his empty glass in salute. "Anyone else?"
"Yes. Me." Draco spoke up calmly.
"Like that one's a big surprise, poncy boy." Michael sneered.
It was the last straw for Harry.
"What's your problem, Corner? Afraid one of the poofters might try to hit on you? Don't worry, none of us could ever be that desperate!"
Michael looked at him in shock, opening and closing his mouth like a fish. Others were gaping as well.
Then Draco started laughing. "Couldn't have said it better myself."
Harry looked at him and they shared a grin.
Corner muttered something about "fucking fags", got up and stormed to his room.
"Don't worry, none of the fags wants to fuck you!" Terry yelled after him.
They heard the door slam and suddenly the dam broke and they all started laughing.
"Your turn, Harry." Seamus finally announced.
And all of a sudden Harry didn't mind that everyone knew. This game was meant to be embarrassing, right? Well, time to embarrass someone else.
"Never have I ever jerked off in the showers after Quidditch. With some of my team members still there."
Ron's face went as red as his hair as he downed his shot, glaring at Harry.
Lavender declared: "Never have I ever eaten food off of someone’s naked body."
There were catcalls and whistling when Padma, Blaise and Terry drank to that.
Hannah blushed furiously while muttering: "Never have I ever given a blow job."
Harry downed his shot with a grin and looked around to see Draco, Terry, Seamus, Pansy, Lavender and Mandy doing the same.
"Never have I ever had sex in a toilet." came from Mandy. And once again Harry drank.
"Harry!" Hermione sounded completely scandalized.
Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that he should feel embarrassed or at least a bit sheepish. But thanks to the firewhiskey he'd already ingested, her shock was actually quite funny. So he just shrugged and grinned at her. He wasn't even worried about the smirk Pansy shot him, before whispering something to Daphne, who was supposed to go next.
"Never have I ever had sex in a semi-public place. Aside from a toilet."
Draco shook his head at Pansy, before taking a drink. Pansy drank as well. As did Harry, Blaise, Terry and Lisa.
Then it was Draco's turn: "Never have I ever been naked in the common room."
"Hey, we agreed to never talk about that." Blaise protested, before downing his shot. The blond merely smirked.
The game went on in that fashion for quite a while. Finally Hermione and Anthony put an end to it and told everyone to go to bed. There were some protests, but slowly everybody complied. About half of them were more than a little drunk by that time. Anthony had to support Terry, who could barely stand at that point. Seamus wasn't much better off and neither were Pansy, Parvati and Blaise.
Harry was more than a little tipsy as well and he swayed slightly as he made his way towards his and Ron's room. By the time he reached the door, Ron had already fallen face first onto his bed and looked close to passing out. Harry grabbed the door for support and startled when Draco appeared next to him, holding out a small phial.
"It's a sobering potion. Prevents the hangover." he explained.
Harry downed the purple liquid, wincing at the bitter taste and the tingling feeling that spread through his whole body. He felt like someone had drenched him in iced water. The sobering effect was immediate. Nothing of the alcoholic buzz remained.
He watched Draco disappear into his own room and waited until the door closed behind the blond, before closing his door as well. For a second he stared at Ron, who was sprawled over the bed, fast asleep, still wearing his clothes. Then, shaking his head, he changed into his pyjamas and went to bed as well.
About an hour later Harry was starting to regret the sobering potion. While Ron snored away happily, Harry lay awake, staring at the canopy of his bed, a thousand thoughts racing through his head. After a particularly loud snore from Ron he finally gave up and slipped out of bed. Alice growled indignantly and curled up on his vacated pillow. Harry wandered into the common room and stopped in surprise when he saw Draco sitting on one of the couches, staring into the almost burned down fire. He slowly padded over and took a seat next to the blond.
Draco shook his head.
"Yeah, me either."
They were silent for a moment, both staring into the dying embers of the fire.
"We've admitted quite a lot tonight, huh?" Harry finally spoke up again. "Do you think they'll remember in the morning?"
Draco shrugged. "Boot and Finnegan probably won't. They got thoroughly pissed. But quite a few people stayed at least half-sober. And don't forget that Corner left early. I wouldn't put it past him to spread the news around."
Right, Harry hadn't thought of that. It was one thing for his fellow eighthh years to know all that stuff about him. They all knew a lot about each other by now and thanks to games night they had actually gotten pretty close. But for the whole school to know? And once word got around, it probably wouldn't take long until the Prophet got wind of it, too. He could already see the headlines: SAD DAY FOR ALL WITCHES - CHOSEN ONE ADMITS TO BEING BENT. Or something equally ridiculous.
"Let him. I'm not ashamed." And he wasn't. His private life was nobody's business.
"You really mean that, don't you?"
"Of course I mean it. I wasn't going to hide it forever, you know? I actually told the Weasleys at New Year's. Though that was a bit of an accident."
Draco regarded him with raised eyebrows. "You accidently outet yourself? How did that happen? Too much firewhiskey?"
"No, I was completely sober. But Mrs. Weasley tried to get me and Ginny back together. They had a bit of a row about it. Well, more than just a bit actually. And then I just… sort of blurted that I'm gay."
"How did they take it?" the blond asked after a moment.
Harry shrugged. "Pretty well. Ron and Hermione were a bit disappointed that I hadn't told them sooner. And Ginny obviously knew before I did, since I never tried to grope her."
Draco gave him a funny look at that, but didn't say anything.
"What?" the Gryffindor prodded.
"It's just… you were a virgin when we…"
Harry blushed and averted his eyes. "You already knew that. I told you that I'd never… done it."
"I thought you meant you'd never done it with a guy."
Harry looked back up at him, caught off guard. "Wait, so you thought I'd … slept with Ginny?"
The blond simply nodded.
"Ewww, no. I could've never… I think she was always more like … the little sister I never had than anything else."
"You always seemed awfully close. Still are." Draco pointed out and it sounded almost accusing.
"We're friends. I know her almost as long as I know Ron and Hermione."
The Slytherin looked unconvinced. And suddenly Harry remembered Pansy's words. He's scared you're going to leave him for the Weasley girl. He remembered Draco pulling him into an old cupboard and proceeding to snog him senseless (and blow him), only seconds after Ginny had left his side. Draco asking him not to go to the Burrow for New Year's. Could it really be…?
"Are you jealous?"
Draco didn't answer, but the stubborn tilt of his jaw and the look in his eyes spoke volumes. Harry couldn't keep the smile off his face, even when the Slytherin's scowl deepened.
"Draco, you have no reason to be jealous. Yes, Ginny is my friend and I'll always care for her. But I don't want her. I want you. Only you. I love you."
He hadn't really meant to say it. Not so soon. But he also wouldn't take it back. The blond looked at him with wide, hopeful eyes. But then a shadow passed over his face and his expression became guarded.
"Do you really mean that or are you just saying that because Pansy threatened to hex your balls off?"
"I would never say it if I didn't mean it." Harry assured. "I love you, Draco. I know it took me a while to realize, but I don't want anyone but you."
He wanted to say more, but Draco suddenly lunged at him and cut him off with a kiss. When they broke apart he smiled that gentle, unguarded smile Harry had come to love.
"I love you, too."
Only four words, but they made Harry happier than he'd ever been before.
They traded kisses for long minutes, before Draco wrapped his arms around the Gryffindor and pulled him back against his chest. Harry leaned against him with a happy sigh.
"Do you still want to know why I kissed you that first time?" the blond asked after a while.
Harry didn't even try to turn around, knowing it would be easier for Draco if he wasn't looking at him.
"I'm… I've been half in love with you since fifth year. And when you said that you were going into the forest, that you would let him kill you … I thought I'd never get another chance. I just … I couldn't die without at least getting to kiss you once."
"I'm glad you did. That made me realize so many things." Harry confessed. "And I've actually been obsessed with you in sixth year, without really knowing why."
Draco chuckled. "Well, we got there in the end, right?"
"We did." Harry agreed. "Hey, does that mean you're my boyfriend now?"
He grinned when the Slytherin's arms tightened around him.
"You bet it does."
Harry awoke to hushed whispers and giggling. A female voice cooed over something being cute. He blearily opened his eyes and blinked against the harsh light. The first thing he noticed was that he'd fallen asleep wearing his glasses. The second that he wasn't in his bed. Coming a little more awake he realized that he was lying on a couch in the common room. Half draped around Draco. And most of the other eighth years were standing around, staring at them.
"Loverboy's awake." a male voice joked.
Harry sat up slowly, his face heating. He could feel Draco stirring beside him.
"Aww and now he's blushing." that same voice mocked.
"Blaise, stop harassing my boyfriend."
Draco's comment was met with gasps and more whispers. Harry turned to look at the blond. They had talked long into the night, but they'd forgotten to discuss whether they would continue to hide their relationship or not. Draco appeared calm, but Harry knew him well enough by now to see that he was nervous.
"Boyfriend?!" Ron spluttered suddenly.
Harry gave Draco a soft smile, before turning to his best mate. The red-head looked slightly green, but he had no idea if that was due to his hangover or Draco's words.
"Yes, boyfriend. Draco and I are together." he confirmed, slipping his hand into the Slytherin's and smiling when Draco gave it a gentle squeeze.
More gasps and whispers. Ron looked like he might be sick.
"Way to state the obvious, Potter." Pansy drawled. "Now I'm sure we can get all the dirty details later. I for my part am heading down to breakfast."
Harry shot her a grateful smile. A few people muttered that they were hungry too and Anthony asked if anyone else needed a hangover potion. He'd obviously already handed out a few. Others headed for the showers. Gradually the focus shifted away from Harry and Draco. Terry and Seamus gave them a thumbs up in passing and Padma let them know that they looked totally cute together.
After what felt like an eternity the common room was finally empty, save for Harry and Draco.
"Guess it's official now, huh?" the Gryffindor muttered.
"Yeah. You okay with that?" Draco couldn't quite hide his uncertainty.
"Of course I'm okay with that. Let them gossip or tell the Prophet or whatever. I don't care what they think. And I'm done hiding my hot boyfriend."
His words had the desired effect and the blond smiled.
"Damn right, you are. Mother will be ever so pleased. And now come on, shower and then breakfast."
"Shower as in shower together?" Harry asked cheekily.
"What do you think?"
Breakfast went better than expected. There were the obvious stares and whispers, but Harry had gotten quite good at ignoring those over the years. Worse were the looks Ron and Hermione kept shooting him. They stayed silent for now, but he had no doubt that this would change as soon as they'd catch him alone. He knew that they were hurt that he hadn't told them. And he indeed owed them an explanation. So once he finished eating he nodded at them and by some unspoken agreement they went back to the common room together.
Harry sat down on the couch again, while Ron and Hermione took chairs opposite.
"So… you and Malfoy." Hermione broke the tense silence.
"How long has this been going on?"
He blushed. "Errr, well… it started in September, but…"
"You've been shagging the ferret since September?" Ron interrupted.
"And you didn't tell us?" Hermione added, sounding hurt.
Harry shifted awkwardly under their stares.
"I didn't know what it was at first. And back then you still hated Draco. I wanted to see where this was going, before telling anyone. Make sure it's serious, you know?" he tried to explain.
"So it… is?" Ron asked hesitantly.
"Yes. I love him. And he loves me."
The red-head looked pained. Hermione appeared thoughtful.
"What about his parents? They won't be pleased. Have you thought about that?" she asked.
"Draco doesn't care anymore what his dad thinks. And Narcissa is okay with us." Harry blushed lightly, remembering how okay she was with it.
"Wait, she knows?"
"We didn't tell her, but apparently she knows everything about Draco. She and Andromeda were very encouraging over Christmas."
Hermione and Ron shared a long look. Finally the girl sighed.
"Well, as long as you're happy…"
"Then we accept it. And we're happy for you."
Ron nodded, though he still looked pained and Harry breathed a sigh of relief.
"Thank you, guys. That means a lot to me. And I would have told you in the next few days. It's just… we only really talked last night."
"Right. And before that you just… no wait, I don't really want to know." Hermione muttered.
Ron suddenly looked horrified. "Last night… the game… you shagged Malfoy in a loo?"
"Err, well we didn't really shag, but…"
Somehow this didn't seem to comfort Ron, who cast a wary look in the direction of the toilets.
"Umm… at the … Three Broomsticks." Harry admitted, flinching slightly at their shocked looks.
"Harry, are you really trying to tell us that you and Malfoy had sex in a toilet at the Three Broomsticks?" Hermione asked accusingly.
He winced. "Yes?"
Her eyes widened. "Oh my god! That one time, when we got worried, because you took so long and you told us you got held up by Romilda Vane…"
"Technically I never said anything about Romilda Vane. You just assumed…" he stopped when she gave him a dark look.
"It also wasn't really my idea, you know?" Harry tried to defend himself.
"Well, you could have told him no."
"I tried, but… he knows my weaknesses."
Which was probably a stupid thing to say, because now Hermione looked alarmed.
"Weaknesses?" she repeated.
"He meant to say that I'm simply irresistible." Draco claimed, flopping down beside Harry and wrapping an arm around the Gryffindor's shoulders. "Of course there's also this little spot just below his ear, see? When you nibble that…" he leaned over to demonstrate, but Harry shoved him away with a giggle.
"Too much information." Ron complained, looking green again.
Draco grinned and leaned back and Harry couldn't help but snuggle up to him.
Hermione smiled. "Okay, then. I guess we are happy for you both." she said, before focusing her attention on Draco: "But if you hurt Harry, we'll…"
"…chop off your bollocks and feed them to the giant squid." Ron finished for her.
Draco rolled his eyes.
"Surprisingly creative, Weasley." Pansy commented, wandering over with Blaise. "I hope you remember our little talk, Potter."
Harry grinned at her. "Of course I do."
Draco shook his head. "I take it you got a warning as well?" he asked.
"I did. Oh, don't roll your eyes. I think it's sweet that our friends are concerned."
"Don't go all Hufflepuff on me, Potter."
"Hey, nothing against Hufflepuffs!" protested Hannah from where she was sitting between Neville and Goyle.
"Oh Shit!" Ron exclaimed suddenly. When all eyes turned to him he went on: "Ginny! She'll freak when she finds out about them."
"No, she won't. She already knows and she doesn't mind." Harry let him know.
"What? You told Ginny, but you didn't tell us?"
"I didn't tell her. She … sort of… saw us snogging in an alcove." the dark-haired boy mumbled, which prompted a round of giggles.
"Hey, since we're all here and have nothing better to do, why don't we play another game?" Dean proposed suddenly.
Hermione complained that they should be studying instead, but when even the Ravenclaws agreed that they could take a break for half a day, she gave in as well.
"As long as we don't play Never have I ever again. I already know way too much about their sex life." Ron complained, pointing to Harry and Draco.
"I wouldn't mind knowing more." Lavender admitted, prompting another round of giggles.
"Let's play truth or dare!" Seamus chimed in.
Everyone agreed. Harry took Draco's hand and pulled him to where the others were sitting down in a circle on the floor.
"I expect you to forfeit any dare that makes you kiss or touch anyone but me." the blond let him know.
"Of course. And the same goes for you." the Gryffindor agreed.
They took their seats and he looked around at all the smiling faces. Even Michael Corner had gotten over his attitude and sat down to play. For the first time Harry really realized that they weren't sitting separated by houses any longer and hadn't been for some time. They had actually become a group. Inter-house unity indeed. He laughed along with everyone else when Blaise dared Terry to flash his naked butt to the first group of people he'd encounter outside the common room.
And with sudden clarity he knew that everything would work out alright. He had Draco and a lot of friends. For once in his life he could just enjoy being a student. Concentrate on his school work and his boyfriend. There was still time for the big decisions once they'd passed their NEWTs. They could all be lost together for a little while longer. But maybe they weren't really lost at all. They were home.